Surprise – The New Bishop is Here.

bishop_salvatore_200(1)[1]If you have not followed me for a while, or are not a local you might not know about the troubles that the Rochester Diocese has been through in the last few decades. It has to be incredibly hard to be the bishop of a decent size Diocese, and especially one inn such a liberal area. Having said that, our previous bishop made some very questionable choices during his time in office. He even when so far as to detail some of them in his book, even saying that some of the things he was doing were against Church teachings.

Thankfully that Bishop has retired now, and the new Bishop has been put in place, The Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano. Very recently (last week in fact,) it was announced that at least one of the changes made by the previous bishop has been reversed, lay men and women will no longer be giving homilies So there is some real hope that things will start to get back to the way they should be.

That being said, it is always nice to have a chance to meet the man himself. This weekend he surprised one of the parishes that we have been frequenting lately, with a visit to celebrate the installation of a new pastor.

I have to say, it was a thrill to see him in person, and to watch him celebrate Mass. The little details like during the procession, he took the time to walk to the rear of the church where there tabernacle is, and kneel before it, before he went up on the altar, and preforming the entire Mass himself instead of delegating the duties to the three other priests and two Deacons who were there, made all the difference in letting us know who he really is.

After Mass two really nice things happened. First, there was a brand new priest there. He is actually the son of one of the other NFP teaching couples in the area. As I was saying, after Mass our second son went up to talk to him, and before it was over, the new priest had given him a blessing. It turns out that it was the very first time he had ever given a blessing, so that was really neat. The second one was that the bishop stayed after Mass and met with everyone who wanted to talk to him. He talked to the kids, blessed the family and even my wife and the new little one. He talked to the kids about laundry, told them he does his laundry on Sunday afternoon, and asked them if they did their own laundry. Believe it or not, being able to talk to the kids about something so intergral to our lives meant a lot.

You would expect someone who has gotten to the level of Bishop to be able to give a good homily. Though I’ve seen some who really don’t. This was not the case for our new Bishop. He gave a very good homily, and I very much enjoyed hearing him talking about how we can’t separate ourselves from the world, instead how we must learn to live in it while keeping our Christianity. He talked about heeding the call to do what is being asked of us by God. He used himself and the new pastor as practical examples, saying both of them were happy, where they were. But when The Pope asked him to move to Rochester, and in turn he ask our new pastor to move to this parish, even though they had been happy with where they were, the came and they will serve in their new roles as they best they can.

In short, it was a very nice treat to have the Bishop show up for Mass.

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No One Told Me About This

0706141318-00 This last week my wife and I have been alternately lamenting and rejoicing in the fact that our oldest three children are gone for a week. They are off camping with their boy scout troop. Oddly enough the oldest one was gone the week before to special camp to help him get his Eagle. In Short we have been short at least one of the kids for almost two weeks now.

Don’t get me wrong, we love having our older kids around. In fact, that is kind of the point here. The title comes from something that was said a couple days before or right after my wife and I got married. One of her younger brother’s friends said something about missing your kids when they move out. My Father-in-law replied, “That is what happens, kids grow up, get married and move out of the house.”

100_4923That statement has been in the back of my head since that day. But I will be honest, it is one of those things that sneaks up on you. I remember only oldest being a tiny baby and holding him my arms. While, it does not exactly feel like yesterday, it does not feel that long ago. This year he is starting his senior year in high school. Our kids are about every two years after that, and sometimes I look at my oldest son, and I can suddenly see the parade of children who will be growing up, getting married or religious life, and moving out of the house.

I do look forward seeing them grow up and seeing the people that they will become. They are all incredible kids. And I am so proud of the people they are becoming. But I am not in a hurry for them to get there.100_2961

For the Ones Who Don’t Make It Home

So have that beautiful wedding dress. Right now it is just hanging in your closet, and it will probably be out of date before your daughter is ready to get married.

But fear not. All is not lost. You can put that beautiful dress to a very good use again.

And I don’t mean wearing it to the store or just hanging around the house it in.

*** FAIR WARNING.THIS SUBJECT MIGHT VERY WELL BE HARD TO DEAL WITH ****

As it says in the warning, this is a pretty serious subject, so if you didn’t heed the warning, this might be your chance to bail out. I won’t be offended.

Ok you are still here? Good. Thank you.

Angel Gowns is a project helping parents and families of those babies who never get a chance to come home from the hospital. They take donations of wedding dresses, volunteers then make beautiful gowns for those precious little ones. Image-61-225x300[1]

I can tell you from experience that having things like this available, a gown, someone to come in and take pictures of our little one, and other support from NICU helping hands .org were invaluable.

I am making a very personal request here. In these modern times when infant mortality is very low, we don’t like to talk about these things, but they do happen, and then they do, the parents and families need your help. If you can donate to a group like this, if you have a wedding dress that is just hanging in your closet, consider donating it to Angel Gowns. If you are a photographer, consider donating your services to <a href="“>Now I lay me Down to Sleep. And take a moment to check out these sites and see if there is anything you can do.

Thank you.

Again those links are:
Wedding Dress Donation: Angel Gowns
Photography: <a href="“>Now I lay me Down to Sleep.
Other support Options: NICU Helping Hands .org

Great Hites # 28

 

Download Greathites 28

The Alarm Sounded
By: Guy David

It didn’t sound right. Sam brushed his long hair with his hands and adjusted his Lennon style glasses. He knew The Galactic Union relied on the sounds he could create, but it just didn’t sound right. It had to make a statement, give people a specific message. Someone hearing the sound had to instantly know it’s time for action. Someone hearing the sound had to know he will have to put down what he’s doing and get moving. Sam sighed. It was one thing to get hired for creating action adventure sound effects for virtual worlds, but that was different.

When the man from The Union approached him a week ago, he thought he was pulling his leg. Sam was just an average guy from the industry, one small fish in a huge pond, which was full of people with strange job titles such as “virtual lighting expert” and “cinematographic camera movement planner”. His expertise on the Machinima scene was in the field of getting the right sound at the right place. He was no one special. He was surprised The Union actually heard about him.

The Union was founded in 2025 as a result of the rising fear in the public about the possibility of hostile alien encounter. The Human race has just settled a first colony on Mars and it was already looking beyond his own solar system. Now, five years later, they where still working on ways of recognizing those alien threats and setting up an inter-planetary alarm system that could warn them of an approaching alien threat. Sam was put in charge of the actual sound of the alarm, and he was not sure why. The pay was good though, so he wasn’t complaining.

They already rejected three of his suggestions, so he had to be extra careful about how he approached this. He didn’t want to lose the contract and the prestige that came with it. After he finishes this, his name would be known in the industry and he would be able to get any job he wanted. He gobbled another piece of pizza and got to work, mixing the sound of a wolf from the archive with that of a wounded hound, then speeding them up a little, just for the effect. He was just playing around for now, between trying this and that, but something in that sound got to him. There was something there, something desperate, crying out. It was something he could work with. He got to work, using various filters to change the sound without destroying the feel. When he finished with it, the origin of the sound was not recognizable anymore, but the feel was there. He knew that was it. He picked out the phone and called the man from The Union.

23 years passed, and much have changed. It was 2053 now and Sam was very different. Everyone was different. The human race had enhanced itself and changed, became much more intelligent and faster thinking. They have developed an interstellar means of traveling and started venturing into the stars. Science had advanced and the speed of light was no longer seen as the limit of space travel, so it became a viable possibility. As Sam traveled with the new expedition, his thoughts wondered, and he was lost in them for a while, but then he was startled by a familiar sound. He didn’t recognize it at first, then he realized what it was. It was the sound of a wolf and a wounded hound, mixed together and masked by some filters. A chill went down his spine as he realized what the sound meant.


The Alarm Sounded
By: Robert Jahns

Paul awoke, sat up and then slowly started his daily routine. He swept the night from his eyes and glanced at the alarm clock. Six o’clock on the dot – time to begin the day.

Gail had the pancakes on the griddle. “Good morning, Paul,” she said. “The paper hasn’t come yet. Maybe you can relax a bit this morning.”

“No time for relaxing today. The guys have to get the trucks loaded and on the road by ten,” mumbled Paul. “If they don’t get their loads to the mill before noon, they will be waiting in line for hours to unload.” Mary plopped a half dozen flapjacks on his plate. “Where’s my sausage?”

Gail smiled and reached for her coffee. “You know what the doctor said, Paul. He wants to keep you on your diet. I do, too. We need you around here,” she said. All Paul could do was grumble and put the “fake butter” on his breakfast.

There was cold in the air, a sign that winter was on the way. Paul liked winter. Half of his drivers headed to the Florida sunshine. He got to do what he liked best, driving his trucks. He didn’t drive too far. Mostly, he rearranged the trucks in the yard as he plowed snow and tinkered in the shop with the behemoth diesel trucks. That’s how he started here, working for old Charlie Davis. When Charlie retired, Paul put everything he had in hock to buy this outfit. He hadn’t missed a day’s work in nearly thirty years. Finally, he had paid off all the debt and he no longer was beholding to any bank.

By 9:30, his drivers were on the road carrying their “40 bushels” (40 ton) of logs to the paper mill. They would return by dark when more men would appear to drive into the hills to pick up yet another load for tomorrow’s delivery. This was the same routine that old Charlie had developed and had worked well for nearly fifty years now.

“Get that old Cat Diesel into the shop,” Paul asked his mechanic, Greg. “I want to go over that one and see if I can find why the power is down. It’s not ready for a rebuild yet.”

The last thing Paul heard was, “Look out! The door is coming down!”

He felt the strong blow to his shoulders before things went black. Then the alarm sounded.

Paul awoke, sat up and then slowly started his daily routine. He swept the night from his eyes and glanced at the alarm clock. Six o’clock on the dot – time to begin the day. If he didn’t show up on time, that old Charlie Davis was sure to dock his wages.

Morning
By Chris Hite

Chris didn’t get his text to me so you will have to listen to hear his story.

Frozen
By: Jeff Hite

The cold was intense and made him wince at every move. Alex tried to move, but the pain in his joints was nearly enough to make him blackout but, he knew that if he did not move soon that he would freeze to death. He opened his eyes but there was little difference. The flight deck was black, and the little star light that filtered in through the two small view ports was feeble at best. When they had lost power to the rest of the ship two days ago, they had been forced to feel their way through the ship. After he had put his sister in a stasis tube he had sealed off all but the bridge and pumped what was left of the air up here.
Alex pushed himself up from the seat and nearly blacked out from the effort. He steadied himself on the back of the command chair until the room stopped spinning.
“Oxygen level, 20%.” The computers emergency alarms rang out.
“I know, I know.” He waited until his head cleared and then spoke again, “Computer, how long did the burn last?”
“Emergency engine burn lasted approximately 45 seconds.”
“Calculate time to Mars.”
“Mars is not along current trajectory.”
“Calculate time to nearest human outpost,” There was no response for several seconds.
“There are no current human settlements along current trajectory.”
“Damn.” Alex felt sleep beginning to overwhelm him, but he wanted to know if there was a chance. “Calculate time to nearest trade route.”
“Three years 25 days.”
“How long can the power cells run two stasis tubes and the distress beacon?”
“Three years six months.” He sagged against the seat. Just long enough he thought.
“Which trade route?”
“Mars, Ganamead.”
“That is only run about twice a year.” He needed to think but his mind would not function clearly. After some difficulty, “Is there enough fuel in the thrusters to stop the ship?”
“Not at current velocity”
“If we used the thrusters to attempt to stop the ship how fast would it be going when the fuel runs out?”
“Eight meters per second.”
He let out a long breath. Too fast. At that rate they could be thirty or forty thousand kilometers away from the trade route when a ship passed by. Way too far for their feeble distress signal. “Are there any ships in the area?” He knew the answer. He had already asked it at least a hundred times.”
“There are five ships within two days travel at current velocity.”
“Identify.”
“One Mars battle cruiser , and four Mars attack class vessels.” The ships that had attacked them. No chance of getting help from them. He had waited this long to attempt the burn, while their fuel leaked into space, and their chances dwindled, so that the attack group would not see them.
“expand search to oxygen limit.”
“Search is already three hours beyond the oxygen limit at current consumption averages.” He didn’t respond. There was no point. He had done all the searches before. Alex slowly went over the whole thing in his head again. The Mars battle group were the only ships even close. Those bastards had made sure of that. After the convoy had been attacked they had run. Run as far as they could, trying to get away from anyone. They had needed time to regroup. He had thought that it would be best.
The Mars battle group had followed them, just outside of the Pegasus’ sensor range, it was the second wave of the Mars group that had attacked them and destroyed the rest of the convoy. The Mars group had learned their lesson the first time, they waited until the Pegasus was so far out that there would be no one to come to their aid, and then mercilessly ripped her to shreds. The attackers disabled the main engines before he had even known they were there. Then with high powered lasers they had cut holes in all the major sections of the ship, letting her bleed to death.
Only three of them had survived the first wave of the attack. Most of the rest of the crew was either killed by massive decompression or blown out into space as the air rushed out the gaping holes cut into the ship’s skin. Only the engineer, Alex and Angel had survived.
The three of them had waited for hours, with only leaky emergency patches in place. Then, when they thought the battle group would have thought the ship devoid of life, Alex and the Engineer suited up and prepared to put more permanent patches on the ship and see what damage had been done to the engines.
The Captain of the battleship was cruel. The laser had cut the engineer in half with no warning, after they had gotten patches on only three spots on the ship. Then he nicked Alex’s suit.
“Now you will slowly run out of air like your ship and sister are doing right now, boy.” he had said over the suit’s communications link. “That will teach you damn rovers that no one ever gets the best of a Mars battle group.”
Alex had barely made it back to the airlock when the rip in the suit opened up exposing his whole left side to the cold of space, and he had completely blacked out by the time Angel had dragged him back into the ship.
He and Angel had waited three more days before they made another move. Before the engineer had been killed, he and Alex had managed to get patches on the holes in the engineering section and the bridge. Angel and Alex inspected the engines and the fuel status. The engines themselves were a total loss. The only thing left were the emergency burn cones, but the lines from the fuel tanks to them had been severed, and all but one of the fuel tanks were now empty, and it was leaking badly.
After compressing two of the living sections there was only enough air left in the ship for another two weeks. There were three working emergency stasis tubes and one working escape pod. They had agreed to wait until the ships had gone for at least the balance of a week before they attempted a burn, because one of them would have to go outside and repair the fuel lines. But on the fifth day, the patch in engineering blew out and they lost main power and most of the breathable air.
Now they had no choice. Angel would go into a stasis tube as soon as Alex was able to repair the lines to the burn cones. They had fired the retro rockets ever so slightly to slow the spin of the ship to give him more time when he would not be exposed to the mars ships while he worked, but it meant that he also had to waste more time waiting for the ship to turn back around so he could continue work. Then once the balance of a week had gone by he would fire the engines in an emergency burn and climb into a status tube himself after turning on the emergency beacon.
It was a long shot they knew, but it was better than both of them freezing to death or suffocating.
There was nothing more he could do. The Ship was moving now and if he wanted to live, the stasis tube was the only way. He looked for a moment at the one holding his sister. Her naked body floated in thick blue liquid, her eyes shut, there was no movement, not even the gentle rise and fall of breath. She could have been dead.
Then grudgingly, but quickly he stripped off his clothes. The cold air burned his skin, and threatened to overwhelm his already exhausted body.
“Engage stasis tube number three.” he said through teeth clattering so hard that he was not sure the computer would be able to understand him. He could barely feel the needles prick his skin as he leaned his back against the freezing cold metal and he briefly thought of the stories of children getting their tongues stuck to metal object during the winters on earth. Then he felt the liquid around his feet. It rose quickly and he felt the sudden panic of drowning just before the powerful sedatives from the needles in his arms took hold of him.

Defining moments – J.R. Murdock

Apollo_11_first_stepAfter being invited to a military retirement ceremony where the retiree talked about the defining moments in his career that shaped his life, I thought it would be interesting to ask other people about their defining moments. Many of these will be very personal, some of them will mean nothing to anyone but the person who is writing about them but for all of us, we understand the idea. There are moments in our life that shape us and change us forever.

Defining Moments by J.R. Murdock

Life is filled with many things that will change a person forever. Many are things that a great number of people will experience. Yes, these things will change your life, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Marriage (or finding a partner to spend your life with), getting a degree or two or three, children, burying one or both of your parents. It’s the course that life takes. For me, the biggest life-changing events were in moving.

There are other things that also change your life forever that may never happen to another person. Possibly a course of events that put you into a position to make that life changing event.

At thirteen I was living in a very small town. I had no prospect of a better life. Things were what they were. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I hated physical labor, but living with my mother and step-dad in the back woods of Minnesota, you did physical labor. Mowing lawns for spending money. Shoveling driveways. Raking leaves. Cutting wood. Helping neighbors. Going to a worksite to help shovel gravel, sand, cement, or carry roofing material. Never a shortage of things to do.

Then my mother left my step-father. Life took a turn I wasn’t expecting. My father, a man I’d only spoken to on the phone a handful of times over the years and gone to visit twice, wanted my brother and I to move and live with him.

The jump was made and we moved from the little town of McGregor, Minnesota to Durango, Colorado. Life was easier. Still, there was no shortage of things to do. The winters were a little lighter, but there was still snow to shovel and grass to cut. Fewer trees meant no leaves to rake.

After only a couple of years, my father decided to move back to Minnesota. My senior year in high school was in an even bigger city, Minneapolis. I liked the big city and I loved the house we had moved into. I didn’t like the cold and I hated the snow. I needed a change.

When I was eighteen, I joined the Navy. Sure, millions of men and women have joined the military. For me it was a chance to get away from the life I’d always known. I had dozens of reasons to join, but mostly it was to get away from home. To become my own man. To do my own thing. I moved from coast to coast while in the Navy. I lived in Orlando, Florida, Pensacola, Florida, Lakehurst, New Jersey, Seal Beach, California, Long Beach, California, back to Pensacola. In a few years I’d been on beaches from the Atlantic, to the Gulf of Mexico, to the pacific, and back again. Each time I drove across the country, stopping and seeing everything I could see. Before I was twenty-two, I’d been in over half of the lower forty-eight states.

When I got out of the Navy, I moved back to Durango. When I was in high school, and in the Navy, I played drums and bass. My best friend had lived in California while I was there and he’d moved back to Colorado. I moved there so we could start a band.
We did.

Durango isn’t known for its music scene. So we packed up everything we had and moved to San Diego.

At twenty-six, when I finally decided that the band thing was never going to work out, I was fairly confident that I would never marry, and I would never have kids. I had been to the bottom as a starving musician. Being a musician was awesome, but starving really sucked. I needed to reassess and start over.

I got myself back into school. I got a degree. I got a good paying job. Then I got a better paying job. I met my wife. Got married. We had my favorite daughter.
One thing doesn’t seem to have changed, though. We still move from place to place to get ourselves into a better place.

If it hadn’t been for all the moving I’d done throughout my life, I would be a completely different person. Now, at 45, I’ve lived in 24 different places across six different states. I’ve stayed in hotels in more than a two-dozen different cities and driven through at least 30 states.

For me, change is constant. Many things will never change, but I’ve settled down so many times, that I can call almost anywhere home. Yes, growing roots for many helps define their life. For me, it’s all that moving and uprooting that’s helped define who I am. Sometimes I think I don’t want to move any more. Then I find myself moving yet again. For me, that’s just a part of life. Something that will probably never change. Sometimes, I hope it won’t. It keeps me guessing just where I’ll lay my head next and when the next adventure I will have.

Despite what you may think, J.R. Murdock did have a normal childhood. If you consider swimming in lakes, playing hide and seek in the woods, and spending more time with his imagination than a television, then yes, it was normal. There are those times when little voices will talk to him inside his head. This was never a frequent occurrence and he learned to ignore them. Most of the time.j.r.murdock_1361732631_04[1]

His first book was attempted over several years (probably closer to a dozen) and somehow that book about Dungeon and Dragons characters just never really worked out the way he wanted it to. Someday it might! Just you wait and see. Those characters will not stay down. They will have their story told! I’m telling you here and now…

Shhh, calm. Relaxed. Don’t scare away the nice people that have come to this page and might want to buy a book (or three).

Where were we? Oh, yes, the voices inside his head. They like to talk to at inappropriate times. Fortunately they also talk to at appropriate times and that’s when books happen. Yes, the voices must have their story told or they just keep talking over one another and it’s just a big old jumbled mess and nobody will want to read anything like that, right? So it’s good that they get their chance to come out so that you’ll have something to read and enjoy.

When not listening to the voices inside his head, J.R. Murdock spends time with his wife and his favorite daughter (yes, there is only one daughter that’s why she’s his favorite). They reside in sunny San Diego which is about as close to paradise as you can get and still be in a big city.

Find out more about Mr. Murdock
http://jrmurdock.com
http://ofgnomesanddwarves.com
http://about.me/j.r.murdock

If you would like to participate this this and submit your own essay please use the contact form below to let me know.
Thanks,
Jeff

Great Hites # 21

Originally Posted Oct 8 2008


Download GreatHites 21 Audio

This weeks prompt came from Mur Laferty’s news From Poughkeepsie. Learn more at Murverse.com

Time Traveler
By Christopher Hite

Date: Tuesday March 19th 1945
Time 2:30 Pm
Place London, England

So many times he had walked this road and so many times he had come upon, battle tanks, damaged planes and dead bodies of men who had fought for freedom from the Nazis. But the war was over, and there was nothing or anyone to worry about. Nothing but the black smog of the burnt gun powder, that came of the guns.
It was as if he James Henry Jr. was the last person thing alive. james walked the road for many miles until he stumbled on a device that looked oddly like a rock, but he could not be sure. he pushed a button and ZAP!

Date: Tuesday March 19th 2010
Time 2:40 PM
Place London, England

James found himself in the same place that he started from, only it looked newer. There were skyscrapers as tall a hundred suburban houses put together. Oh well it must me my imagination. He moved on. The place that he called home was up ahead. It was a really a building that had been destroyed by bombs during the war. He soon came to a building that looked like his, but it was some how different, in a way that he could not put his finger on. It had been repaired of course and painted white, had doors of glass, but there was more to it than that. He looked down at his shoes. His clothes were different.
A man rushed out of the building, and said quickly, “The meeting was suposed to be started already. But because you were late, we were late to start.”
“But, but,” James said.
“No buts,” said the man who had come out of the building. “Lets go,” he said pulling his arm.
“Ouch!” James said. “My name is James Henry.”
“No matter,” said the man.
“let go,” said James “I came from the year 1945. What year is this?”
“This is 2010,” said the man urgently pulling on his arm. “I come from the year 1920, but still they don’t believe me.”
“But I…” he was hauled on to an elevator. he thought, I wonder if I will ever get home.
They entered the meeting room, and greeting them was a jumble of noise. “Welcome to the meeting,” the man at the head of the table said. “My name is Phil Smith. Sit down and enjoy one of our doughnuts, and some coffee.”
James found a seat and happily enjoyed a Boston cream, one of his favorites, it hit the spot because he was starving. When the meeting ended he left the building and he immediately found the time remote, and pushed the button on it. ZAP!

Date: Tuesday March 19th. 1945
Time 2:50 PM
Place London, England

He returned to the destroyed building, knowing that one day it would be inhabited by people again.


NOTHING IS NEW AGAIN
Robert Jahns

The Beamer office building rose majestically over San Francisco’s skyline. The owners insisted that recycled steel beams be used in construction. Bright steel and blackened glass captured the bright September day’s light. It was 9:00 a.m. A thousand workers were there this Tuesday.

FLOOR 74. Hal sat at his desk, searching for a clue to solve that elusive program problem. His mind drifted toward his stray thoughts. His eyes slowly, quietly closed.

FLOOR 35. Alice was a good manager, perhaps with too much dedication to her people. Promoted to the job she always wanted, her task was now to cut the staff by ten per cent. Tears fell as she reviewed the hefty list before her. She lowered her head to the desk, cried,then dozed off.

LOBBY LEVEL. Sammy O’Neal was not an educated man. He knew how to work hard and his bosses were pleased. After an hour’s fight with an ancient floor buffer, Sammy stopped for a short rest. He sat heavily into a wooden chair, slowly pouring his coffee. He slept peacefully.

First was heard a low and constant rumble.

Was this an earthquake? Was the city falling into the ocean?

No one knew for sure until the planes hit the tower.

Then, they too slept.

Mine!
By Jeffrey Hite

“Geeez Susan, I’m sorry I was late,” Neil said walking to her office. She signaled for him to close the door. “The directions that they gave out on Friday were horrible and I got lost. But I was only fifteen minutes late, I didn’t think that warranted a closed door meeting.”
“Come on Neil, you know that is not what this is about. I wanted to show off my new office.” She stood and spread her arms “Look I can’t touch both walls at the same time.”
“It is pretty big.”
“And look at this view,” She said turning around to face the window. “How is your office?”
“Not as nice as this one, but much better than that rat hole they had me in in our old place.” They watched the ducks in the pond out the windows for a few minutes.
“Neil, since you have a guilty conscience I do have a problem for you to work on.”
“Susan, you know my work load.”
“It is not a big deal, just something I want you to look into when you have a few spare moments.”
“Alright, so what is this little project you want me to do?”
“Simple, my desk lamp is missing.”
“Oh come on Susan…”
“Now wait a minute,” She interrupted his protest. “It is not the only thing. The C.E.O’s favorite coffee cup, and a few other people have reported things missing.”
“You know those things could have just been lost in the move.”
“Well that is where this starts to get weird, they were all here yesterday when the management team and I moved in. I talked to the Custodian this morning, and he said that the things might be in the mine. I don’t have the slightest clue what he is talking about, and well, I know you are into the weird stuff.”
“You know just because I have a suit of armor and go to the renaissance festivals, does not really make me into the weird stuff, but fine. What is it you want me to do?”
“Simple, talk to the custodian, find out what he is talking about and get our stuff back.”
“Fine. Sounds like fun.” The phone rang and he showed himself out of the office.
He made his way back to his office mumbling the whole way. “How do I get myself into these things. I don’t even know how the heck to find the custodian.” But he knew that if he didn’t do what Susan had asked there would be hell to pay. He turned his computer on and watched the emails spawn in his inbox.
Hours later as he made his way out of the building he remembered Susan’s tasking. He spun around and tried the door, but it had already locked.
“You forget your key?” The muffled voice of the older man in coveralls came to him from behind the glass doors.
He had forgotten about the passkey to get into the door. So he nodded. The old man opened the door and let him in.
“Are you the building custodian by chance?”
“That would be me, name’s Bob,” he said holding out his hand. Neil took it. It was rough and showed the signs of a life of manual labor.
“Neil.”
“What can I do you for Neil?”
“My boss, Susan said that some things were missing from our new office, I think she talked to you this morning about it.”
“Ah yes, that is one pretty lady,” the older man said wistfully.
“Well she wanted me to get the things that were missing back from you.”
“Oh, I ain’t got them. They’re down in the mine.”
“Well, can you take me down there so that I can get them?”
“I tried to explain to your boss this morning, that ain’t gonna work. You can take them back, but once the are down in the mine they will stay there.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It happens some times with these new buildings especially when they get to be a couple of years old. See, they are like little kids. They take things that catch thier attention.”
“A building can’t do anything like that. A building is made of steel and concrete. It can’t take things.”
“Suit yourself. You believe what you want to believe. What do I know, I am just the custodian,’ he said mumbling and shaking his head.
“Look, just take me to this mine and let me get our stuff back.”
“It won’t do you no good.”
“It’s our stuff.”
“Fine. Follow me.” He lead the way down several sets of stairs to the sub basement.
Finally they stood, in a dark corner of. Before them was a small collection of things, arranged neatly on the floor. Above the items was the word ‘mine’ scrawled on the wall.
“There, that is my boss’s lamp and the C.E.O.’s coffee cup.”
“Look, I’m telling you that is a bad idea. You can take those thing, but she might get upset. It would be better to just go get yourself a couple of replacements. I ain’t never seen one that was this possessive. She’s got herself a temper.”
Neil ignored him and walked back up to their offices. He put the desk lamp on Susan’s desk and the coffee cup in the kitchen, it looked like it needed to be washed any way.

*****

“Neil I need you to come into my office.” Susan’s voice came from his phone, but instead of her normal calm, it had a definite edge to it.
“Be right there.”
“Come quick!” He set the phone down and walked over to her office in time to hear Susan’s scream.
The scene in the office was utter chaos. Paper and furniture were everywhere. The cord of the desk lamp was tangled around Susan’s neck and her face was beginning to turn red.
“Help me!’ she choked.
“Mine.”
“What?”
“Help me! Help me get this thing off me.” She scratched at the cord.
“Mine!”
“Who said that?” He looked around for who or what was pulling on the other end of the lamp and strangling his boss.
“Mine! Mine!” He managed the get his pocket knife out and cut the cord.
“What the heck is going on here?”
“The lamp, it started to fall off my desk,” she said through shallow gasps. “I tried to grab it, but then the cord got wrapped around my neck.”
“Did you hear that?”
“What?”
“The voice, it kept saying, mine.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Never mind I better go check on Bill.” He rushed out of her office and down the hall to the executive suite.
Bill’s receptions smiled a greeting until he rushed past her.
“Wait you can’t go in…” That was all she got out before he opened the door.
Bill was laying face up on the floor with a mark the shape of a coffee cup on his forehead. The cup lay broken on the floor next to him.
“Mine,” the voice sobbed. “Mine, mine, mine.”

*****
Neil walked out next to the stretcher with Susan on it. As the walked across the lobby, Bob came up to them.
“I told you to leave it alone. She has got one heck of a temper. And being two she thinks everything belongs to her.”
“Mine,” Neil whispered.

BLOG HOP – TAG – Doc Coleman

As I said in my bloghop post I would be tagging two other authors in the blog hop thing.

The second of those two authors is my friend and voice actor extraordinaire, Doc Coleman. (See the Questions for Zachary Ricks)

Doc has this to say about himself:
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Doc has been working with computer technology for over twenty years. He started working with mainframe computer systems and has transitioned to client based systems using Windows based PCs, and then to platform independent web-based infrastructures. Through all this time, Doc has been the go-to guy when any of his co-workers have had problems because of his ability to discuss complex technological problems in simple, easy to understand language.

In February 2010, Doc took his skills online and created The Nifty Tech Blog in an attempt to share his enthusiasm for technology with those who can best benefit with letting the technology do the work. Since that time he has discovered a love for writing and new media and has embarked upon a number of different projects.

In July 2010, Doc turned from writing technology articles and started writing fiction as a contributing writer for the Every Photo Tells… podcast. Three of his short stories were nominated for the 2011 Parsec Awards, but he was shut out of the Finalists list by fierce competition in the Best Speculative Fiction Story (Short Form) category. Doc continues to write short stories, and has also written an article on writing that appeared in the February 2011 issue of Flagship Magazine from Flying Island Press.

Doc ventured into the podcasting world in the summer of 2010, going on microphone with Tee Morris in a six episode crossover series between The Nifty Tech Blog and Tee’s Bird House Rules podcast. Sadly, a dispute with Tee’s publisher has prevented the last episode of the crossover from going live.

Doc returned to the world of podcasting as a guest on Flying Island Press’ podcast Galley Table in September 2010. The Galley Table crew invited Doc to come back any time. And he did. After several guest appearances, Doc was made a part of the Galley Table crew as the Galley Table Stowaway.

Doc also started his own podcast in December of 2010 with The Shrinking Man Project, a journal of philosophy and personal change. He shares his experiences and observations in the hopes that others will be able to discover their own solutions to dealing with their weight by talking about their issues with others making the same journey.

And Here are my questions for him:

1. You seem to be a very regimented person. I might be wrong about that, but how does that translate into your writing process? Where do you fall on the seat of your pants / outlining scale?

2. A lot of writers get the question, where does your inspiration come from, which is a pretty meaningless question if you ask me. But on the other side of the coin is the question what inspires you to write? For example, do you hear the stories in your head, and feel the need to get them out.

3. When do you find time to write, and when you are writing what does it look like? Do you have a certain time and place you have to be, are their any other requirements for when you are writing, quiet, music, special pen, pre-writing warm-ups?

4. Have you had a mentor in your writing process? And if so, how has he or she influenced your writing? If not, can you point to something in your life that has most influenced your writing, and can you share that with us?

5. You have written short stories and novels, you have done voice work and produced podcasts on your own. from all of that, what would you say was the greatest take away for your creative process?

6. Do you have any other things about your writing process that you would like to share with us?

Your post is due on Monday May 12th 2014

Blog Hop – TAG – Zachary Ricks

As I said in my last post I would be tagging two other authors in the blog hop thing.

The first of those two authors is my friend and co-founder of Flying Island Press, Zachary Ricks.  (See the Questions for Doc Coleman)

Zachary has this to say about himself:

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I am a blogger/writer (here), editor/publisher (Flying Island Press), and attorney originally from Southeast Idaho. I attended BYU for my undergraduate degree, and Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland OR for my law degree. It was at Lewis and Clark that I caught the blogging and podcasting bugs. And also was inducted into the school’s Cornelius Honor Society for service to the school. I now reside in beautiful Austin, TX with my wife and daughter.

This website is where you’ll find my own short stories (as I write them) and longer works (as they’re written and I edit them into a releasable state), as well as my personal views on everything from political philosophy and education to video games and cool stuff I’ve found on the internet. In other words, this is the place where I practice all kinds of writing.

Random bytes of writing. Enjoy.

And since he is a writer, I have some questions for him about this writing process.

1. When you sit down to write, what does your process look like? Do you have certain hours each day that you write? Do you need to be in a certain room, with the music just right and your lucky socks on? Do you do anything like writing warm ups, prayer, reading, even singing first? Are you an out-liner or seat of your pants kind of writer?

2. How has your life, your career choice, you religion and faith, your early childhood, influenced what you write? Can you point to one thing that changed the way you think about your stories? Do any one of these things effect your writing process?

3. We are all very busy people, you have your job, and your now teen-aged daughter, church and professional classes, your family life, how do you balance all of those things and still find time to write and produce podcasts?

4. We can all look at the same thing and all see it differently. With that in mind, what piece of writing advice have you gotten that has effected you the most, and what did it mean to you? How did your process or writing change after that advice?

5. Research – Do you research, and how do you go about doing it? Are you like some people who book learning is enough, or do you have to actually go out and do things before you can write about them.

5. Do you have any other thoughts on your writing process that you would like to share with us?

Your post is due on Monday May 12th

Blog Hop – Writing Process – Interview

I have been tagged in a Blog Hop interview about my writing process.  I was tagged by my Alter-ego and Co-editor Michell Plested. Little is known about the origins of Michell as they are shrouded (or at least covered with a moth-eaten towel) by the mists of time. What is known is largely obscure and often contradictory. Oh and he sometimes speaks about himself in the third person.  He is The author of Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero which was nominated for several awards and the forth coming sequel.  He has been faithfully podcasting his Great show about the writing process Get Published since 2009.

He has many more credits to his name, and you can find out more about him at his website michellplested.com 

Mike was tagged by Robert Runte, who was tagged by Joe Mahoney, who was tagged by Susan Rodgers… There is more, feel free to follow it all the way back to the beginning of the internet.

So on with the interview:

Michell: You are a very busy guy. Two jobs, a large family, a farm to tend and several projects on the go in writing, editing, slush reading and podcasting. How do you manage to juggle everything?

Jeff:  The best answer to this is a quote from one of my favorite books, Captain’s Share by Nathan Lowell
I apologize ahead of time if I get the quote slightly wrong.

Captain Delmen: How are you managing?
Captain Wang: The truth is I’m not, except by massive applications of avoidance behavior.

 

In all fairness. At this point I don’t have that much of a farm, our sheep have all been turned into food, or given back to their owners, and we just have chickens who really don’t take much work, but the sheep are coming back, and there is always the chance that we could fall off the grid at some point and go “full time farmer,” as my kids say. But back to the question.

The reality is that I just find a way to make time if it is really important to me. It is one of those things, if you have a lot of projects going on, no matter how busy you are, you can make time if you want to. It is a real balancing act, and I won’t lie, I have dropped a number of balls from time to time, but I usually manage to keep the important things up in the air. I wish I had a magic secret that I could share with you, but I really don’t.

Michell How do you balance having so many projects on the go? Do you work on one at a time for each one: or a certain number of hours; or a % of your writing time; or is it just a matter of focusing on each deadline as it comes up? Or do you switch from one to the other as you get blocked or bored with what you’re currently working on?

Jeff: Yes! It really is kind of a combination of all of those things. Obviously deadlines play a pretty big role in determining what I work on but that is only part of the story. I usually will work on something until I get stuck and then jump to the next project until I get stuck there, and them come around to the next one. Since I don’t really have any dedicated writing time I can’t say if I spend a % on any one project or another, but I do try to give any given project my full attention while I am working on it.

Michell What is your writing process? Where on the “just sit down and write <—> detailed notes/outline” continuum do you fall? Do you revise as you go, or first draft and then revise? Any routines or rituals that need to be followed?

Jeff: My writing process. Ha! What writing process? That is not really true. I have a process, but it is much more of a by the seat of your pants kind of thing than most people would like. I don’t outline. I have tried several times and usually end up just tossing the outline out the window by the point I get to point # 2 on it. For that reason I tend not to do it, as all the time I spent outline ends up being wasted, and I have precious little time to create in the first place. That also means that I tend to write much shorter works a lot more often then I do longer ones.

As far as once I get writing, I will often sit down and write an entire short story in one go. There is something about the momentum that allows me to just get it out there. I do not revise as I write. Occasionally I will correct a typo that is really bothering me, but most of the time I tend to leave them until I go back to do an editing pass. Because, as I said I write by the seat of my pants I do find myself re-writing stories from scratch sometimes. That seems counter intuitive as far as not having enough time, but once I get that initial idea down, the rewrites come very quickly.

Probably the thing that surprises people, is a lot of times when I sit down to write I don’t have a clear idea of what I am going to write.  Some times I have a general idea.  A very general idea.  Something like, a writing prompt, a picture I have in my head or some times even just a character that I want to explore.  Once I have that Idea, I just start writing.   I make something up until an idea clicks.  Usually this consists of writing a scene that I have decided to put my protagonist in, until something happens.  A lot of times these opening scenes get trashed, but that is ok since they are really just there to get my creative juices flowing.

Michell: You have written short stories and novels. You have edited anthologies and you have produced podcasts. From those experiences, what stands out as the most important learnings and principles or advice so far?

Jeff: It is going to sound rather trite be you need to write.  It does not matter how good it is, or even if you get published.  If you want to write then you have to do it.  Don’t make excuses why you can’t, just do it.

Feedback.  Getting feed back is essential.  If you don’t get any feedback, you have no idea what people think of your work.  You might be making simple mistakes that you can’t see.  You have to ask for feedback sometimes.  But accepting feedback gracefully is also very important.  Understand that you might not be the best writer, podcaster, whatever, right out of the gate.  It is going to take time, and there is no such thing as an over night success.

Like everything else writing is work.  Sometimes it is a lot of fun, sometimes it is a lot of work and you are going to hate it.  But in the end it is ultimately worth it.

Michell Anything else you’d like to add on your writing process?

Jeff: I have a very unique process.  In the 20  or so years I have been working with other writers, I have never found anyone who writes just like I do.  The reality is that everyone has a different writing process.  I tried very hard in the beginning to make my writing process like other peoples processes, and I really struggled.  Nothing I was writing was very good.  And I really started hating writing.  Then one night I sat down and wrote a story.  I wrote it the way I wanted.  At first it felt like I was cheating or something because I was not being regimented or sitting at my writing desk or wearing my “special writing socks.  Then I showed it to someone and they liked it better than what I had been writing.  What had happened was that I was able to incorporate some of the lessons that I had learned by studying other people’s processes styles, into my own without really changing the way that actually wrote the stories.    The moral of this story, do what works for you but don’t be afraid to study and learn from other people’s methods and styles.

 

So that is it for the interview.  Thank you Michell for tagging me.  This was a lot of fun.  Later this week, I will post links and questions for the two people I have tagged.

 

Gypsy In The Attic – Interview

GITALogo[1]Recently I was interviewed by my good friend and Arch Nemesis Laura Nicole for her podcast / vodcast Gypsy In the Attic. The interview was myself and My good friend Zachary Ricks. We talked Flying Island Press, Audio production, podcasting and the future of our works in audio form.

Ha! I just realized that if you look closely when I am on screen, you can see what is left of the “portal” that inspired the “There’s a Portal Under My Sink and Stories of Portals to Places You Don’t Want to Go”

Thank you so much Laura for having us on.

Here is the interview.

Check out the rest of her podcast and future video interviews, at her site gypsylaura.com/