Saturday, July 5, 2008

Muddling through as usual

Back to work today. For the rest of the country it's Saturday, and a lot of people get to take one off; and in the States it's July 4th, and millions of people will be standing beside the BBQ, watching fireworks and parades.

I was in Anchorage for July 4th, 1998, and saw the parade ... another year (don't ask me which), I was in Seward, which is the deep-water port on the Kenai. Independence Day is quite the event in Seward; the inbound motor homes outnumber the local residents about 10:1, and they all park, side by side, nose-in to the shore, down Resurrection Bay. It's quite a sight -- I guess I need to upload the pictures.

It was 32 degrees F that day; I took a hike around the town while the rest of the company (having more brains) were below decks on the yacht, drinking something warming and laced with stimulants. The clouds were heavy on the mountains which guard the bay like fortress walls, there wasn't a patch of blue the size of your thumb, and the wind that was cranking was strong enough to hold you up if you leaned on it ... and cold enough (right off the hanging glaciers that never go away) to slice you to the bone. The wind chill must have been down around zero F. The pictures (optical; digital was a couple of years away, still) are 'soft,' because the lighting conditions were so dark.

Okay, let me dig out the prints and scan them -- I'll upload them in a day or two. (Gives me a reason to try out the scanner in conjunction with this new PC, too.)

Meanwhile ... as I began, it's back to work for me. I'll be dividing my writing time between the edit of AQUAMARINE and the in-depth, middle-section plotting of the haunted house tale. I'm just getting some very early, very tentative 'purple flags,' which I need to assess seriously. I think (mind you, think), I might have plotted myself into a deep, dark hole. This is, in itself, no bad thing, because (as any serious writer will tell you) by the time you've dug yourself back out again, the book has gotten much better, stronger (I won't say faster ... I'll wind up sounding waaaay too much like the Six Million Dollar Man. And I don't type that fast). The downside to having to dig oneself out of the bottom of a pit filled with mud and raptors is that it can take some fair time to escape --

Don't let this get you down: I have a fantasy novel, finished and ready to go, which DreamCraft can have in the meantime. A big, sprawling gay fantasy? How can you go wrong? So there will be a new title following on after the reissue of AQUAMARINE, even if the haunted house piece is giving me a hernia. And it looks like it might. Blast. (And that was a euphemism.)

Now, to answer a question which has nothing to do with writing. I quite understand that folks in the north will find it difficult to imagine how a tree can possibly hang onto its leaves year-round and yet shed its bark. It sounds bizarre. It sounds, in fact, like Keegan made it up. Not true. Would I do that to you? So here's a couple of images I shot just yesterday:

These are gums, two different kinds; and here they are in all their bark-shedding glory. The second of the two is a blue gum, which is a fast-growing, long-lived, flowering tree ... and just to make sure everything gets done backwards they (!) flower in winter. The trick is, they shed their bark as it's scorched by the summer sun, and the tree inside is protected. Blue gums are the right kind of trees to have in your yard if you want to attract koalas (the critters don't come into the inner suburbs, but in the hills, sure, you often see them, and hear them, especially at night. Incidentally, they have no road sense. They're delighted to step right out in front of the car and go waddling across the road while you scream your tires, come to a halt with the front fender dug two inches into the bitumen, and your heart jumping out of your chest). The last interesting thing about blue gums is that, like many gums, their limbs can and do get hollow as they get very old and big. They CREAK ... it's weird and spooky, walking through the woods on a still day, summer or winter, not a breeze moving, and there's just this CREAKING. And yep, the old, hollow boughs break off. They can weigh tons, and smash the roof in, on a house. A couple of years ago, one dropped a branch at a golf course, and there happened to be a woman standing underneath. She never knew what hit her.

So, there you have it: Shedding Bark 101!

Parting shot: the new website was spidered overnight ... Google has visited, and the engine seems to know what we're all about. I searched on 'gay science fiction,' and without any further work we're ranking page 37 on Google. Of course, there's also a hell of a lot more work to do, so we're hoping to rank in the top ten for gay SF reasonably soon.

Here's the kicker: it's the NARC page that's top of the gay SF rankings for pages on the Mel Keegan OnLine site. And that's great. There's a trick to this. You don't 'optimize' for search engines. You accomodate the buggers. They want you to roll over and wink, you roll over and wink. I do believe they call it search engine compliance ... and it seems to work.

Speaking of which, I have to get some done.

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