Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Folks, here are the questions I’ve been asked the most over the past week-plus:
Q: When will you start talking about the Milwaukee Brewers winning streak?
A: Today, I suppose.
Really, I’ve watched the Brewers with great interest over the past nine games. (Well, I always watch with great interest.) I’ve appreciated that they’re winning, that their pitching has improved, and that most of the hitters are starting to come around (with the noted, and glaring, exceptions of Rickie Weeks and Alex Gonzalez).
But I’ve been sick the entire time. And unless something really captivates me — and possibly even if it does (such as Jean Segura’s amazing feat of running the bases backward and getting away with it) — I just haven’t had the energy or health to comment on it.
Still, I’ve enjoyed watching the Brewers play. And I hope their much improved play will continue, even though at some point their current winning streak will come to an end.
Q: Barb, will you be playing the next concert with the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Community Band?
A: No, unfortunately not.
I’ve been feeling very poorly for the past five or six weeks, folks. I just haven’t had much energy. And I continue to feel lousy, which is not conducive to playing a woodwind instrument, to editing, or too much in the way of writing, either.
But I urge everyone to go out and support the Community Band, some of the best music being played in the Southeast Wisconsin area that has mostly been overlooked.
Q: What’s the status of your writing and editing?
A: Right now, I remain in a holding pattern. The bronchitis I’ve been dealing with seems significantly better, yes, but I don’t feel that much better. My concentration has not improved, my energy level has remained very low, and I’m concerned as to why.
Until I can regain some concentration, I just can’t do that much. Which is why my blog hasn’t had an entry since last Saturday’s book review and after-action report . . . and it’s why no editing of substance has been done in nearly two weeks.
Believe you me, I’d rather be healthy. (Or at least healthier.)
Q: What’s going on with ELFY?
A: ELFY remains on the schedule at Twilight Times Books, bless them. That’s all I can report right now.
Q: Do you plan to bring any of your husband Michael’s stories back out any time soon?
A: Actually, I do. But I must have more energy to first make sure they read well, then try to do the file conversions for e-books — something I’m not particularly good at, and something that worries me. So I need to be feeling better in order to get this done . . . eventually, I should feel better. (Right?)
Q: Why is your health so bad right now?
A: Beats me, but I wish I knew because I’d put a stop to it, pronto.
That’s all I know, but I hope this question-and-answer blog has been informative. Further information waits upon events, as always . . . maybe that’s all we can do in this life, is wait upon events no matter how much we, ourselves, want to be seen as acting rather than reacting.
Rest assured that when there’s some good news to report, I will be very glad to report it. (Promise.)
So far, folks, 2013 is starting out the same way 2012 did, as I am under the weather.
As I need to save my energy for the paying (or potentially paying) work, right now my blog is going to have to take a rest.
I hope to resume writing next week.
As for any reviews, expect them next week also.
Time for a roundup, folks. (Otherwise known as, “What has Barb been doing all week that’s kept her from giving any sort of update whatsoever?”)
As you can see from my previous blog, I just wrote extensively about US Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a Republican from Tennessee. DesJarlais’ behavior is so offensive that it cried out for a full blog.
But considering that is the only time I wrote anything during the entire week, regular readers of this blog might be wondering what I’ve been up to that’s kept me from blogging.
Mostly it’s the same stuff that I mentioned the last time: I’m still getting up to speed with the editing internship. I’m still working on two extensive book edits. And I’m doing my best to hash out some plot points in AN ELFY ABROAD (the direct sequel to ELFY), plus re-start some other projects as ideas occur.
I also sent out four stories in the past three weeks; one came back to me tonight with good comments, but no sale.
For those of you who are new at the fiction writing game, when an editor gives you comments, it’s a very good thing. Editors are busy people (I know this for a fact when I’m wearing my editor hat), and they won’t generally bother with even a one-line comment unless they see something in the manuscript — or the writer — that they want to encourage.
So that’s a positive step — the editor read the story and liked it, but just didn’t like it enough to buy.
Anyway, back to blog subjects — AKA, the things I would’ve blogged about if I just hadn’t run out of time.
There was one state story, that being the fact that the Wisconsin Assembly (our lower house) elected Robin Vos (R-Rochester) as their Speaker. Vos is one of the more hard-line members of the Assembly and isn’t willing to compromise, which may lead to further problems in months ahead here in Wisconsin.
But much of that story will have to play out in coming months; for all I know, Vos could have a change of heart and decide he’s going to behave in a more bipartisan manner from here on out. (Pigs could fly, too. But neither is too likely of an occurrence.)
There was one local story that nearly passed muster, that of the City of Racine setting off fireworks after a roundabout, of all things, was completed near City Hall. This seems like a tremendous waste of money, all for a roundabout that no one really wanted outside of the city fathers (and, perhaps, mothers).
But while that was annoying and stupid, it didn’t seem to warrant a whole blog, either. Which is why I initially let it go by without comment.
And there were a few sports stories that I felt like blogging about this week, too. One was about Ryan Braun, because I was certain he would not win the National League MVP award even though he was as deserving as anyone (but Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants was nearly as worthy, so I didn’t have that big of a problem with it when Posey won). One was about Tim Tebow, who got slammed — anonymously — by several teammates in the media, to the point that his own coach, Rex Ryan, then slammed the anonymous players in return. And one was about the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and how it needs to be seriously revamped . . . but then, the BCS has always been controversial, so my thoughts against the BCS weren’t so important that I just had to get it down now, right now, or forever hold my peace.
Nevertheless, these were all topics I considered blogging about. And if I’d had more time, I assuredly would’ve written blogs about Vos, the silly roundabout coupled with the even more silly fireworks, Braun failing to win his second MVP despite being a deserving candidate, Tebow’s teammates and their bad behavior, and probably the BCS, too.
But I just didn’t have time. (As it is, I’m cutting into my sleep cycle to write this blog, not to mention the previous one about the odious Rep. DesJarlais.)
Oh, yes. I reviewed THE UGLY DUCHESS by Eloisa James over at Shiny Book Review on Thursday. So that should give y’all a little bit more to read, should you be so inclined.
Anyway, that’s about it . . . though you might be looking for my review of Lois McMaster Bujold’s CAPTAIN VORPATRIL’S ALLIANCE in the next few days over at SBR. (My hope is to get it written and up on Saturday evening, but that may not be possible. We’ll see.)
Now, back to the salt mines. (Or at least to sleep. Whichever.)
If you, my readers, are anything like me, you’re keeping an eye on Hurricane Sandy. I have friends who live on the East Coast, and I’m worried about them . . . plus it’s a huge storm, one that will have historical impact, and as a writer I can’t help but be fascinated — and horrified — at the same time.
At any rate, according to the local news, Wisconsin and the Midwest will also be affected by Sandy. For example, waves on Lake Michigan are expected to be higher — quite a bit higher — than usual for this time of year tomorrow, and winds will be higher also, in the twenty to twenty-five MPH range. That’s nothing compared to what my East Coast friends are facing right now in the teeth of Hurricane Sandy . . . but we still have to plan for it. (And that doesn’t even touch the remains of the wind and rain that we’ll be likely to get later in the week, depending on the path of the storm.)
For all my friends in the direct path of this storm — be safe. Be vigilant. And keep an emergency radio and kit with you; if you have pets, make sure you have carriers (this will be essential if you have to be evacuated), food, and of course water for them.
As for the rest of us, we need to be compassionate, caring, and do what we can to help those who are directly affected. And we also need to realize that we will be affected by this, too, as per local radio, and plan accordingly.
Folks, I’m sorry to report that I’ve been sick for several weeks now. I have a particularly nasty sinus infection, have been diagnosed medication, and am taking it, but it’ll be at least another few days before I’m feeling up to snuff.
This is why I haven’t talked about the Brewers amazing stretch run in this past week (they lost today to the Nationals, but are in the thick of the wild card race), or about the eighth anniversary of my late husband Michael’s passing (something I’d normally discuss), or about various issues that interest me, either. Because while I’m still interested and am doing my best to stay current, I just haven’t been up to overmuch.
As for the coming week, Stephanie Osborn has consented to a guest blog — I’m excited about that– and I hope to being up to discussing baseball, politics (Wisconsin and national), and any other thing that strikes my fancy.
Just as soon as I feel a little better.
But for now, you might want to head over to a few of the other sites I have listed on the side — Jason Cordova’s blog is particularly interesting, and so is the Mad Genius Club’s blog (several authors, all with interesting takes on stuff) — in order to follow what’s going on with publishing, life, the universe, and everything.
Back soon, I promise . . . Deity willing and the creeks don’t rise.
Folks, once again I have very little time and way too many subjects to write about, so here’s some more “quick hits:”
First, I was saddened to see that the Milwaukee Brewers released lefthanded pitcher Randy Wolf today; worse yet, today was Wolf’s thirty-sixth birthday, which seems a bit cold even for the Brewers front office staff. The Brewers made this move because Wolf has a 3-10 record and an ERA over 5.00; that the Brewers are out of playoff contention also undoubtedly had something to do with Wolf’s early dismissal.
Second, the Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs today, 3-2, to sweep the Cubs. Today’s game was notable as it’s the second game in a row Brewers manager Ron Roenicke actually pulled relievers when they were doing poorly; by getting those relievers out quickly, rather than letting them stay in for a whole inning and give up several runs, the Brewers actually won yesterday and today’s games. (Maybe Roenicke is finally learning, eh? Either that, or pitching coach Rick Kranitz is shouting louder into Roenicke’s ear.)
Third, I spent a lot of time today — for me, anyway — signing various petitions to overturn Citizens United in the only way we can: by the United States Congress passing an amendment to the Constitution that would disallow exorbitant amounts of corporate money that are now flowing into every election in the country. We saw huge sums of money in Wisconsin during our past recall elections in 2011 and 2012, but those sums will be dwarfed by the various Congressional and Senatorial races, not to mention the 2012 Presidential race.
So much money in politics is very bad news for the average, run-of-the-mill citizen. This should go without saying, but as it isn’t, it’s time for a Constitutional amendment.
If you, too, want to sign the various petitions out there, I suggest you go to Sherrod Brown’s Web site first, then Google “overturn Citizens United petition” and go from there. (Change.org has a good one that I signed, too; it’s sponsored by CREDO Action. Even the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — the DSCC for short — has gotten into the act, and yes, I signed that one also.)
Finally, Missouri Senate Candidate Todd Akin (R) has not withdrawn his name from consideration. Akin seems to believe that he will be able to beat embattled Senator Claire McCaskill (D) despite his awful statement about “legitimate rape” and how if someone has been “legitimately raped” that she will supposedly not get pregnant. (I wrote about this a few days ago; follow the back arrow to see that post.)
Even though I’m not a Republican, I believe we need good candidates for every office in the land regardless of party affiliation. That’s why Akin should’ve stepped down; whether he wins or not (though my money is on him losing, and losing big, partly due to his new insistence that he only used one “bad” or “wrong” word — that word being “legitimate” — and that “(his) heart” shouldn’t be judged), he’s shown himself incompetent to hold the high and important office of United States Senator.
And if I were a voter in Missouri — I’m not, thankfully — I’d be hopping mad that this man refused to step down when a better candidate could’ve still been appointed. Because really, if Akin doesn’t think rape victims can get pregnant if a rape is “legitimate,” why should his appalling display of ignorance win him any votes at all? (Doesn’t he realize that women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and yes, even party affiliations, have been raped in the past? And that some of them have indeed gotten pregnant from “legitimate” rapes?)
It’s been a while, so it’s time for a periodic writing update (July 2012 edition). I decided to write this after being asked by more than a few people, “Hey, Barb! Isn’t this blog supposed to be just as much about your writing as it is about baseball updates?”
Well, yes, it is. But I haven’t had much to report lately. I’ve been submitting stories and none of them have been accepted — such is the writer’s lot — and while one of my poems was held until the very last minute at one rather good poetry market (I won’t say which), it ended up getting bounced out, too.
Other than that, I’ve been working hard on getting a story together for the UNIDENTIFIED FUNNY OBJECTS anthology as my main strength is writing funny urban fantasy. (If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time and have paid attention to any of these writing updates, you probably know this already.) But the story’s not ready to go; all I can say is that it’s in process, and that if you wish to submit a story to this anthology, follow the directions at the above link — you have until August 31, 2012, to get a story in of your own.
I have hesitated to even discuss my attempt to get a story into this anthology, because I’ve been somewhat afraid to jinx any chance my story might have down the line. Nevertheless, there’s still room in this anthology and I’m going to take my shot. Those of you who can write funny stories, or at least wish to give it a shot, should do the same.
Aside from that, I’m not giving up on any of my novels nor any of Michael’s novels. But none of them are going like gangbusters at this time, either — they’re just . . . there, like nagging guests that won’t quite tell me whatever important news it is that they have because they’d rather I guess. (And I don’t know about any other writers, but I hate guessing.)
The only thought I have regarding my recalcitrant novels is this: it’s been very hot and humid in Wisconsin, which has sapped my energy and strength. I haven’t been able to review anything since last week (though I hope to review at least one book over the weekend); I haven’t been sleeping well, either; I haven’t wanted to eat. And all of that can’t help but get in the way of my creativity as, last I checked, I’m still a human being. (I point this out mostly because some people seem to believe, perhaps with an excess of credulity, that science fiction and fantasy writers might not be precisely human.)
So that’s about it: I’m surviving the heat, continuing to write and edit, and I’m also thinking about what sort of story it is that might get through at the UFO anthology (listed above). And as always, if something changes/improves, I’ll be glad to keep you posted.
The recount for Wisconsin state Senate District 21′s 6/5/2012 election is over. Former Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) has won and is officially Senator-elect. According to the Racine Journal-Times (under a “breaking news” header), Lehman’s margin of victory is 819 votes as opposed to the 834 votes he had after the official canvass; this means Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) is now, officially, former Senator Wanggaard until and unless he files an appeal in District Court.
The Mount Pleasant Patch has a longer and better article, available here, that shows the final vote totals as Lehman 36,358, Wanggaard 35,539, and has a statement from Senator-elect Lehman:
“It shows that we won the election and all of these allegations of voter irregularities are false and are really much ado about nothing,” Lehman said. “The results from election night have been proven correct through tape and tallly totals.”
But, as I expected, Wanggaard is still crying fraud (from his statement):
“Anyone who argues that this recount was a waste of time, or that we do not need voter, ID, either wants to conceal these potential fraudulent activities or hasn’t been paying attention,” Wanggaard said in statement released this afternoon. “The list of problems now includes missing pages in poll books, missing signatures, wrong voter numbers, wrong and unverified addresses and most shocking of all, unsealed and sealed and reopened ballot bags – all without explanation. None of these issues would have been discovered if not for the recount.”
Of course, as I said all along, I was for the recount — for the same reasons I believed Joanne Kloppenburg deserved to know the truth regarding her race against David Prosser for the state Supreme Court last year. She, too, ran into some real problems — much bigger ones, in fact, than Wanggaard – with regards to opened/unsealed ballot bags, ripped and torn ballots, tape totals that didn’t match, tape dates that didn’t match, and many other inconsistencies and outright errors — yet the Government Accountability Board still certified that election. She went for a state-sponsored recount (as that race was within 1/2 of a percent and thus eligible for state assistance); many Republicans cried foul at the time, saying that the result was unlikely to change anything and because of that, Kloppenburg shouldn’t put the state through the recount. Even with the problems in Waukesha County, which were legion.
And, of course, the recount didn’t change very much; the tallies tightened, but Prosser still won. The only thing to come out of that recount was this: seventy-one of our seventy-two counties in Wisconsin do a good job conducting elections, while Waukesha County is a horror show.
In this recount, what came out is this: there were some inconsistencies. Wanggaard picked up, roughly, twenty votes overall. Some bags were open and/or torn, but not anywhere near to the point things were at in Waukesha County; the tape totals and tape dates were, for the most part, accurate — in short, this was a cleanly-conducted election that proves that Wendy Christensen, Racine County Clerk, does an excellent job even in high-turnout, record-setting elections like this one.
So now that the recount is over, whither Wanggaard? My guess is that he’s going to attempt to tie this up another round and file a lawsuit in court alleging election fraud. But doing so is unlikely to get him anywhere, mostly because the allegations of wrongdoing by Republican operatives are so much smoke and mirrors, meant to obscure the valid point that the voters have spoken and Wanggaard has lost. (The fact that Democrats have also alleged problems with these same Republican operatives, including voter intimidation and “electioneering,” something that is illegal under Wisconsin law, just hasn’t seemed to get much traction, though the Mount Pleasant Patch mentioned it a week or so ago even though I can’t find the link right now.)
For whatever it’s worth, here’s my advice with regards to Sen. Wanggaard: The recount was worthy, but it’s over. The voters have been heard; the original results stand. Now, Sen. Wanggaard, it’s time to do the right thing, what the voters expected of you when they voted you out, and admit that John Lehman has won. Then, go and enjoy the rest of your life.
However, Sen. Wanggaard, if you instead attempt a futile and time-consuming lawsuit a la former United States Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), you’ll only prolong both your own agony and the agony of your Senate district, with almost no likelihood of winning in court. This will spend time, effort, and money to little purpose. In this dismal economy, there’s absolutely no excuse for that.
That’s why I urge you, Sen. Wanggaard, to bow to the will of the voters of your district. You’ve been voted out. Now do the right thing, concede this election, and go live your life. Because assuredly you have far, far better things to do than to file frivolous lawsuits in court.**
And we, the voters of District 21, have far better things to do than worry about when our new Senator, John Lehman, can be sworn in. Because in case you haven’t noticed it, Racine needs serious economic development, soonest. So the sooner you, Sen. Wanggaard, do the right thing and bow out, the sooner he, Sen. Lehman, can get on with helping out the citizens of Racine (city and county alike). Because we desperately need the help that only our duly-elected state Senator can provide.
** Unlike state Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), I do know what the word frivolous means and am using it precisely.
Folks, if you love YA dystopian romances, you may well enjoy Lauren Oliver’s work. She can tell a good story; the main problem I had with both of her novels, DELIRIUM and PANDEMONIUM (both featuring the same character and milieu), is that the back story is not well thought out. (To be blunt, there’s no way on Earth that the nasty version of the USA Oliver’s conceived of could wipe out every religion except the state-sponsored one in less than seventy years. It cannot be done.) I expect more out of my YA dystopian fantasy romances than this.
That said, the romances here mostly work. And Oliver’s storytelling ability is sound. So you might like these books a whole lot more than I did.
Anyway, here’s the link:
It’s two days before the June 5, 2012, recall election against sitting Governor Scott Walker, sitting Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and against four Republican state Senators (three sitting, one who has already resigned), including my own Republican state Senator, Van Wanggaard. Basically, everything that can be said about the recalls — why I favor them, why I believe they are necessary and are a form of democracy in action — has been said.
But one thing I realized when reading over my previous blog, “Scott Walker: Bad for Wisconsin” is this — for whatever reason, I didn’t define why I felt Walker was bad for Wisconsin. Instead, I reflected upon all of the divisive things Walker did early in 2011 which caused a great deal of harm to public discourse and civility in Wisconsin, and hoped my views would be clear.
But in case it wasn’t, let’s try again.
Since Scott Walker was elected in November of 2010, he has divided this state in harmful, self-aggrandizing ways. He has not used his “bully pulpit” to good effect, as he could’ve explained why he wanted the so-called reforms as propagated by Act 10 (which repealed collective bargaining for public employee unions, something Wisconsin had since the late 1950s) rather than just do it by fiat. After Walker used his power to make such a drastic change, he proceeded to get upset because the 14 Democratic Wisconsin Senators left the state in an effort to delay Act 10 by any means necessary as the Wisconsin Assembly had already shown indications of passing Act 10. The “Wisconsin 14″ did this to promote civic — and civil — discourse, because if they hadn’t left the state, Act 10 would’ve been approved within days of Walker “dropping the bomb” on the state’s voters; by leaving the state, every single voter in the state was able to become informed.
At this point, Scott Walker and his Lt. Gov., Rebecca Kleefisch, went on various right-wing talk shows, including many at the Fox News Channel, to discuss these “modest reforms” — things that were no such thing — and to say that the “Wisconsin 14″ were a bunch of low-lifes who refused to “compromise” with Walker, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, or the Republican Speaker of the Assembly, Jeff Fitzgerald (brother of Scott). This was classic Orwellian doublespeak on the part of Walker and Kleefisch; while Kleefisch, to a degree, could be excused for this because her position as Lt. Gov. has very little power, there was no excuse for what Walker said, nor for how he said it.
As we all know now, the Wisconsin Republican Senators eventually passed SB 10 by the vote of 18-1 in order to make Act 10 the law in Wisconsin. (The lone dissenting vote was Dale Schultz of Richland Center.) Some of the Republican Senators, including my own Van Wanggaard, had strong ties to unions — Wanggaard being a former policeman and past union representative — yet apparently had no qualms about stripping other union members of their rights, probably because police and firefighters had been exempted from Act 10′s “union-stripping” provisions.
After the Senate Rs did this, the Wisconsin 14 came home to a deeply divided state, where Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch, the Fitzgerald brothers, etc., still said one thing and did something else. But the people on the ground (like me) who at that time weren’t affiliated with either party were outraged. Nine Senators — six Republicans and three Democrats — faced recall elections. Of those, four Rs and all three Ds were retained, while two Rs were tossed from office and officially recalled.
That, of course, was far from the end of the story, as in November of 2011 four more Senate recalls and the recall of Walker and Kleefisch started. Recall petitioners were told that we’d “never get” enough signatures, but we proved the naysayers wrong; ultimately, Walker, Kleefisch, Wanggaard, Scott Fitzgerald, and two other state Senators were recalled.
If you’ve read my blogs thus far, you know all this. You probably also know that Scott Walker has gone to more out-of-state functions than any other one-year Governor in the history of Wisconsin. He’s raised 60 to 70% of his campaign donations from out-of-state donors, some from extremely wealthy men and women. You probably even know that in some quarters, Walker is viewed as a hero, of all things, because he “refused to back down” when the unions “told (him) where to go.”
The only part of those beliefs that’s true is that Walker refused to back down about anything. But what people who insist on “standing with Walker” fail to realize is that Walker set this whole thing into motion himself — it’s not just the way he did things, which was execrable, but what he did that caused this whole mess.
All of this leads me to only one conclusion: Scott Walker is still very bad for Wisconsin. Because Walker has shown that he cannot and will not compromise with anyone, he’s shown he’s incapable of being Governor — a job where compromise is a must. And if Walker is retained on Tuesday, we in Wisconsin will be looking at more pain, more problems, and more frustration, as Walker will view this election as yet another mandate to do whatever he likes, even if he wins by .0001% of the vote.
That’s why I urge my fellow Wisconsinites to vote for Tom Barrett on Tuesday, June 5. Vote for Mahlon Mitchell as your next Lieutenant Governor, and for those of you in Racine County’s District 21, vote for John Lehman as your next Senator. All three men are moderates who will work to restore civility to Madison, which is why we need all three of them to be elected on June 5.
Edited to add: John Nichols explains very clearly why Scott Walker should be recalled and replaced here. Here’s a few words from his compelling and cogent blog:
Elected officials weren’t supposed to campaign on one set of themes and govern on another. They weren’t supposed to “divide and conquer” the state. They weren’t supposed to collect $500,000 checks from billionaires, and gather most of their campaign money in other states. They weren’t supposed to have criminal defense funds.