So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Doing My Part for Charity

Okay, those three of you who also know Charity Pontsler and are thinking this post might be about her: it isn't. Nor is about her brother Erik and his walrus mustache. Except that I just mentioned them, so partly it is, mostly it's not.

It's about the $2.98 I dropped at St. Vincent de Paul's last night and what I scored with it. Okay, it's really about what I scored; the charity part, not so much.

So what can you get for under three bucks at StVdP?

Okay, so it's not like I dropped a krugerrand in a Salvation Army kettle. Still, three bucks is three bucks.

Mikesell : 5:02 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas from Phil

Here are a couple of Christmas-y pix of Phil for your enjoyment.

Serious Pose

Festive Pose

Please note the height on tree at which it changes from a mix of lights and ornaments to just lights. Hmmm....

Merry Christmas!

Mikesell : 1:48 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Merry Christmas: My Gifts To You

Here are the two stories I wrote earlier this month for the short story contest sponsored by faith*in*fiction/Infuze Magazine (formerly Fuse). I haven't heard yet if I was a finalist (I think that comes out next week), but here the stories are anyway.



* "By Any Other Name" is the one I submitted to the contest.

These stories are currently unavailable; if you are desparate for entertainment, please let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Mikesell : 8:30 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, December 24, 2004

Good Apple. Smart Apple.

My Apple Powerbook has the ability to read blocks of text out loud. (See here for examples of one of the "musical" voices.) As far as I know it's a feature of their new OS, if it hadn't already been, so it's not limited to just my Powerbook.

It comes in handy to help proofreading stories, although some of the words aren't pronounced correctly ("Mikesell" has the common "Mick-uh-sell" mispronunciation). Hearing it read aloud helps to find typos and words you thought you put in, but left out, but still mentally insert when re-reading.

When it came to "Xmas" in one of my stories it read it correctly as "Christmas."

Very cool.

Mikesell : 3:35 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Christmas Comes Early: A Festive Book Review

Maybe you've been delaying buying that special something for that special someone. You've played the 12 Days of Christmas repeatedly, trying the Allan Sherman and Bob & Doug McKenzie variations in addition to the traditional one.

Maybe eleven pipers piping is a bit out of your price range ($2,050 according to CNN/Money. Maybe your honey's a vegetarian and would be insulted to receive four pounds of backbacon. Maybe you've searched everywhere for a pink satin pillow that says San Diego, with fringe all around it, but to no avail.

That's where my latest review will help you out. Last summer I picked up a few I Spy books at an outlet mall in Southern California (I blogged on it here), including the Christmas edition. If you're stumped for what to give this Christmas, you could do worse (though five golden toques would look snazzy).

Why you should read my review of I Spy Christmas: The hardest part about writing a review on an I Spy book is describing what they're like to the uninitiated. It's like a hidden picture book, but not like the old Highlights for Children puzzles where a man in the background has a comb for a mustache. In my blog entry for the I Spy Ultimate Challenger review I described it as "kinda like Where's Waldo, kinda like trying to find a AAA battery in the junk drawer." I ought to have included that description in the review itself. With the Christmas edition I described what the process is like. Even those of you who wish Waldo would stay lost or have immaculate junk drawers, I think you'll be able to relate.

Plus it's more fun that a Japanese transistor radio, even if it is a discontinued Nakashuma Mark IV with a leatherette case with holes in it, so you can listen right through the case, and a wire with a thing on one end that you can stick in your ear, and a thing on the other end that you can't stick anywhere, because it's bent.

Merry Christmas!

Mikesell : 3:03 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Top 50 Blogged NaNo Projects

Blogger.com has listed all the NaNaWriMo participants (that they know of) who blogged their novels (text and/or experience).

Mine was listed 49th.

I can't imagine any kind of actual ranking took place when the list was generated. Still, it's nice to be so high on such a lengthy list.

Mikesell : 1:52 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Two Phil Pix

Phil got his grubby little mitts on the digital camera today and among a lot of bad shots and shots of pine needles in our carpet these two came out okay:

Mikesell : 11:35 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

What I'm Reading Rollover + New Book Review

All three of the books over in the "What I'm Reading" section to the right have changed. I hadn't actually been reading the web publishing/CSS book that had been listed, so I changed it to something I picked up the other day. Next month I'll begin revising my NaNoWriMo project during the week and start tackling a mystery novel on the weekends. If I'm shopping two manuscripts by the end of the year it will be not only a miracle, but an extremely cool miracle.

The second book was a birthday present from Dina, and since my non-fiction "to be read" pile was down to The Dummies Guide to Golf her book flew to the top of the two-book stack.

The third book I picked up from a message board buddy who is a contributor for CCM Magazine and was looking for book-reviewing guinea pigs for an upcoming change to their fiction department. So all my Amazon reviewing is paying off in free books (well, free book). Plus, networking is good. Woo-hoo!

Speaking of Amazon reviews, there's a new review up for William "Funk'n" Strunk Jr. & E.B. "I wrote Charlotte's Web, too" White's Elements of Style.

Why you should read my review of The Elements of Style: I cite a couple examples of the wacky humor found in the book. Okay, wacky is overselling it, but it does mildly amuse. I also demonstrate that I am teachable - which will come as a complete surprise to my high school English teachers. (The book also taught me to leave off "the initial A or The from titles when you place the possessive before them" as demonstrated in the terminal sentence of the preceding paragraph.) Good stuff, Maynard.

Mikesell : 12:38 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Monday, December 20, 2004

Life Goal Realized

Among my many life goals has been the desire to submit a story for publication before I turned 36. Rumors have it that the age was originally 24 and has been pushed back every Dec. 20 since 1992, but who can say for sure?

Last night (11:05p), I submitted a short story to a Christmas story contest sponsored by an acquisitions editor at Bethany House and the editor/publisher of online-mag Fuse. Winners get named next week.

Today is my 36th birthday so it looks like I got it in just in time.

I'll keep you posted on the story's success.

Mikesell : 1:36 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Here are the pictures we took on our trip to Sacramento, categorized so you can go straight to Philip's avant-garde shots.

At the Capitol

Old Town SacramentoPhil's PhotosGrandparents w/ Phil PortraitsAmtrak Pix

Mikesell : 5:05 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Monday, December 13, 2004

Rocket to the Moon

When I took November off from writing Amazon reviews to focus on my novel, I had 815 positive votes and a ranking of 2907.

At the beginning of December I had 875 positive votes, a rank of 2742. I just crossed 900 positive votes and am ranked at 2647 (I was as low as 2641 earlier in the week) and only added one review this month.

If I give up reviewing altogether, I'll be #1 in no time.

Whoever's responsible, THANKS!

Mikesell : 12:51 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, December 10, 2004

Tip for Panhandlers

When Dina, Phil and I went to the Sacto Amtrak station, a guy came up to me looking for $6.75 for a bus ticket to Chico.

When we arrived in Eugene, a guy (different guy) came up to me looking for $12 and change so he and his girlfriend could get bus tickets to Alaska.

In both cases I said no (in the latter case I said "no" 3 times, then a fourth when the guy asked me if I needed help with my bags).

Why? Because I'm a heartless jerk? Well, there's that.

But mostly because in neither case was the train station anywhere near the bus depot. If you're going to come up with a highly implausible story involving exact change, at least put yourself geographically near the correct mass transit terminal.

Just a tip.

Mikesell : 10:15 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Monday, December 06, 2004

Holy Tomato, Batman!

Dina, Phil and I are off to Sacramento by train this evening, to visit her folks (who are driving up from Ventura to visit us). If the Super 8 has free local calls there might be some posts/pix from the road. Otherwise, it'll be late Friday to Saturday before I have contact with the "real world."

Be excellent to each other in the meantime.

Mikesell : 3:13 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, December 02, 2004

A Month Later: Another Book Review

Well, with the novel out of the way for a few weeks, it's time to enjoy some shorter writing projects, like the Amazon Book Review. In order to transition comfortably into the new phase (same as the old phase, don't get fooled again), the first book back is No Plot? No Problem! by National Novel Writing Month founder, Chris Baty.

Why you should read my review of No Plot? No Problem!: If you haven't had much clue what I've been blathering on about for the past month, the review may clear up a few points. If you were able to comprehend my sleep-deprived rambling, the review includes the two most helpful things the book offered to get me through the month.

The review also contains a salute to my friends and co-lunatics who went through the month along with me. Since salutes are free and low-fat, I'll salute them here, as well. SALUTE!

Mikesell : 10:55 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Post-NaNo Depression

I wrapped up the novel last night at 11:30, and promptly fell into a funk.

Not a Sly & The Family Stone funk.

Not the Funk-y Chicken.

Just a funk.

I know I was pretty blissed out when I crossed the 50,000 word mark, which was the objective of the month. So I'm guessing the funk had to do with finishing the novel. Or of not making it to 75K words, which I thought I might have been able to do. Or maybe I needed more caffeine.

It was a long month and I'm glad to have gone through it. To have the thing out of my head and printed out on paper feels wonderful.

Tonight I begin work on a short-story that's been in my head for awhile, too. Having completed the first draft of Revival gives me confidence that this story will make it on to the page as well.

I'm feeling better now.

I'm not dancing the Funky Chicken yet, but I'm certainly feeling certainly less be-funked.

Mikesell : 3:15 PM : 0 snarky remarks