Monday, September 19, 2011


I really, really don't like spiders.

I wouldn't say that I'm afraid of them, but I will admit to being a little creeped out by the bigger ones. The little ones don't bother me that much. They scamper away quickly when they see me coming for them. Except for Black Widows, which we have always had up here in abundance. They seem to know their little hourglass covered ass is badder than the rest of the little ones, so they'd don't run. They do, however, get smashed a little quicker for it.

No, the ones that get me are the bigger ones. You know what I'm talking about. The Brown Recluses and the Wolf Spiders. These are the eight-legged little monsters that grow up to be a spider of intimidating proportions. I bet J.R.R. Tolkien saw one of these and found his inspiration for Shelob. They're just nasty.

I think I prefer the quick movements of the smaller ones. Whenever I see one of those big spiders creeping oh-so-slowly along my baseboard or down a tree, I can tell the thing is figuring out how it's going to eat me. Oh it's already decided it's going to have me for dinner. I can see it in that slow stalking creep in my direction. The spider would be moving faster if only it had figured out how it was going to jump on me and eat me. Depending on the size of the monster, I either kill the thing before or figures it out or move out of attack range pretty quickly.

The one I smashed this morning was on the upper edge of the killing range. A few more inches and I would've put the house up for sale.

I really, really don't like spiders.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Little Something

So here's a little something from my jaunt up Roaring Run Monday morning. You might not be able to tell it from this post, but this is actually a composite of three images that are combined and meant to be a panorama. I've recently hit on the idea of producing panoramas, mostly just to see if I could do it, and I've ordered the Falling Springs Falls photo you see at the bottom of the blog for a test run. Truthfully, this is mostly a combination of frustrated boredom coupled with a desire to get out of the house and the happiness of finding my favorite lens again.

I seem to have hit a pretty solid wall that's turned into a bad case of writer's block. The key, as Tony has reminded me in the past, is to just put one word in front of the other. I have. I've even come up with some pretty good passages, but right now they're all disjointed and I don't know how they fit together. Heck, some of them aren't even in the same story.

And that is the crux of the problem, I believe. I haven't found my next story. I will, I'm sure of it. These things come with time. Patience is a virtue.

I can't always claim it's one of mine, however.

On a somewhat related note, I've found a pretty decent read in The Magicians by Lev Grossman. What's intriguing to me is that I haven't yet figured out where he's going with it all. The pacing of his story is an odd combination of meandering and driven and my nose has been buried in it for three days.

As autumn is quickly making its early presence known here in western Virginia, I find myself looking forward to cooler weather and the rustic, macabre feeling that October brings with it. It's appropriate, I think, that All Hallow's Eve takes place in the fall. Autumn is a special season where the air just seems ripe with frightening ancient possibilities. I've never been a great fan of horror flicks and, with the exception of the occasional Stephen King and episode of Angel or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I generally stay away from the genre. Yet fall makes me think off the insane possibility that at least some of that stuff is rooted in ancient legends or stories buried so deep in our past that we retain only a basic, instinctual fear of what goes bump in the night.

Of course, it also inspires me to have a soup simmering in the Crock Pot all day long, so it's hard to tell, really, which urge is correct.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Itch I Can't Scratch

Ever have an itch you can't scratch?

I have one tonight.

Today is the opening day of the NFL football season, a day that typically finds me glued to a couch watching every possible game that's on cable. Yet today, I can't seem to make it through one.

The Pittsburgh-Baltimore game was less than exciting. It wasn't the hard hitting affair we all hoped for and turned out to be a blowout. The Jets and Cowboys are in a pretty good one right now, but it's not holding my interest at all.

I feel like I'm supposed to be creating something and I don't have the foggiest idea what I'm supposed to be doing. I'd pick up my pen (the nice new one I bought to go with my shiny and still blank new notebook) but I have no clue what to write. I'd work on The Sixth Sword but lately that hasn't been satisfying enough for me to really sink my teeth into. I picked a few chords on my electric guitar and that failed to hit the right note, just like The Hound of Rowan isn't keeping me glued to my Kindle.

So what, pray tell, am I supposed to be writing/playing/doing?

Tony, one my friends who often doubles as my editor and creative adviser, sent me a link to this site a while back. I like the message. "Talent is nothing without focus and endurance." Endurance isn't my problem tonight.

Focus is.

I'm having a bit of the same problem at work lately. I have a backlog of stories to be written that will be cleared out this week, come hell or high water. I've put them off long enough, some of them even too long. I have to chase down a couple of pieces of information this week or the one story I plan on writing is going to be pointless.

This happens to me on occasion. Nights like this one don't come very often, but they do happen, especially coming off of a fresh publication. Completing a major project like Blood & Steel leaves me with a complex jumble of feelings that is difficult to untangle. The major question that keeps the knot tied for the longest is what the hell am I going to write next? It's like staring into a deep, dark hole and hoping that somewhere down there is a man with a flashlight who's going to show me where my next idea is.

When I finished The Crownless King I spent weeks wondering if I'd ever be able to write something worth reading again. The same thing is happening since finishing Blood & Steel. I don't have the slightest idea what's going to happen next, especially since I don't intend to return to that world for a very long time, if ever.

I did have one stroke of good luck this week, however. Bethany found my favorite lens in an old camera bag that hasn't been used for so long that I barely even remember owning it. The lens was my 50mm, f/1.8 and I have looked everywhere for it over the past couple of years. I don't know how it ended up in that bag, but I'm thrilled to have it back. It's one of the most versatile lenses I've owned and I've more than made the $75 I paid for it back in the day.

A little camera tidbit for you: 50mm is the closest focal length to what your eye sees. There is very little difference in a 50mm lens and the human eye. That's what makes it such a great lens.

I have half a notion to go out tomorrow morning and find something to make a panorama out of.

See, right there, that's the problem. I started out blogging about what I'm going to write next and ended up writing about whether or not I'm going to take my first non-business related photo in years.


I could sure use some tonight.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What A Week

This week may be downright historic.

It started off with Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds Saturday night (sure, that was last week, but it was so much fun, I'm including it in this week. Writer's prerogative). It was, without a doubt, the most impressive concert I've been to. Dave & Tim came on stage at 7:45 and did not stop playing until the clock hit 11. At one point, Warren Haynes came out and jammed with them for about half an hour. They are the three greatest guitar players I've ever had the fortune to see in concert, especially acoustic. I hope that show comes around again someday, because I'd sure like to see it again.

Oh, lest I forget, I had a Five Guys hamburger and fries Saturday night. Best burger ever. If the opportunity arises, go to Five Guys and eat. They grind the hamburger when you order it, make your patty and throw it on the skillet. Best. Burger. Ever.

Did any of you feel the big 5.9 on the Richter scale earthquake today? The epicenter was about two and a half hours from my house. I was in the car at the time and missed it, but there are reports across the area of dishes rattling and pictures getting knocked off walls. The eastern part of Virginia was hit pretty hard, from what I understand, but I've yet to hear reports of many injuries. I spent the afternoon working the phones in the newsroom, tracking down local officials and fielding calls from citizens who wanted to know if we'd heard about the earthquake.

Thursday I'll be speaking at the Clifton Forge Public Library and signing copies of my latest work, Blood & Steel. These signings are always fun and I'm looking forward to it. I hope to see at least a few fans come out for it.

To top it off, there is a major hurricane lining up to hit the east coast of Virginia by the weekend.

Like I said, historic.