Hermit Time

While I haven't posted in a while, I have been reading peoples postings here. However, this is going to stop for a few months.

Due to pressures to get my dissertation done, I have decided I need to eliminate as many distractions as possible - this includes fun things on the internet, Facebook, and phone games. So it's not that I don't love you all, it's that I need to become a hermit for a while and get my work done.

In the meanwhile, if you have something *very important* to tell me, you can email me or give me a text/call. See you in a few months. (I might even make a real post then.)


It has been far too long since I have posted here. I seem to have been largely abducted by the ease of 30-second Facebook posts. Sorry, folks. I still intend to use this journal, though. I think I've covered most of the following there, so please bear with me if I repeat myself too much.

So what has happened since my last post? Lots. My life is more or less split at the moment doing two things: work, and spending time with Chris (and other friends, and family).

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So, to summarize:

1) I am making progress with work, which I never feel is fast enough but is still progress so I'm feeling OK overall. I still have no idea what kind of jobs to start looking for, except I don't think I want to teach at a large research university. Howard still is throwing the occasional curve ball, but at this point I'm pretty Zen about those.

2) I wish I were writing more, but the creative side of me seems to be on hiatus at the moment.

3) Chris is the most amazing boyfriend I could ask for. Things are very, very good between the two of us, and the relationship has been progressing smoothly. He's come home and met my family, and there is approval on both sides. Honestly, there is nothing I can ask for in a relationship I don't currently have (Well, okay, he's not a mult-millionare or anything, but those aren't things I'd ask for....they'd just be bonus perks :P)

So overall, life is good.
geeky, tonberry, rpg

State of the Cas

It's been a while since I posted here. I am doing fine. My proposal / dissertation is moving forward more slowly than I would like (and I have yet to receive any formal comments from my advisor), but I am making progress. I have a third draft of the actual proposal I need to send out very, very soon and I need to make some final selections on my committee....but I also have been too long without making any analytical progress so I've started doing that again.

There's nothing worse than writing something without any real guide or template, without an expert to review it. I'm about at the point I never want to see it again, but I need to finish it and send it to folks to read so I can defend (the proposal, not the thesis!) this summer....

So, stressing about being perpetually behind, but making progress.

I've been remiss in visiting local friends, while my schedule has slowing been coming to equilibrium with seeing BOY! This needs to be fixed, but as said BOY! is amicable to spending time with local friends for gaming and other shenanigans, I may be able to set something up.

Things with BOY! are fantastic. Utterly, completely fantastic. I couldn't ask for better, really. It's hard to believe we've been dating for six months. It feels like no time at all, and at the same time I have a hard time picturing my life without him. Odd, ne?

This weekend was absolutely made of win (sans discovering mold on the tuna sandwich I bought after dropping BOY! off Sunday night....but let's focus on the amazing stuff from this weekend, shall we?)

Friday I drove up to Baltimore to hang out with BOY! (Chris) and some of the other Baltimore crew. Chris and I went out to dinner at the same place we had our first date, then headed over to Craig's house. We played Risk, which I haven't played since grade school. I didn't even come close to winning, but I did manage to keep North America for a while, and there was one glorious moment of "Get out of my continent!" after being thoroughly invaded. ^_^.

Saturday Chris, John and I went mini-golfing. We played all 3 courses at the place near where John's folks live. Each one of us won one of the courses. John won championship, Chris won Monster, and I won Mini. Yeah, I won the kiddie course. :P. The highlight of the day was when I pointed at the anthill hole in the mini course, and said "Hole in one." Then I putted at hole in one. "HaHa! Called it B-ches!"
After mini-golf Chris and I went to the Mouse House to see Lucy, who was in town. We had an amazing dinner prepared by the War Mice and then played Betrayal. In candlelight. Because you know, atmosphere is important. The scenario ended up being one that was broken - basically the bad guys were able to set up a no-win scenario for the good guys. Oh, playtesting. Haven't you heard of that, WoTC? It was still fun though.

Sunday Chris and I went out to brunch at Plato's (we're becoming regulars, I think), then went to see the Avengers.

Chris is a giant comic book fan and especially likes Captain America. I didn't realize Joss Whedon wrote/directed the movie until the credits....despite a conversation taking place over dinner on Saturday about it. I somehow missed that fact. >_<. It was very, very good. Chris got more little in-jokes and subtext than I did, as I'm only remotely familiar with the Avengers (except Iron Man....which is of course the only of the lead-up movies I saw). He was kind enough to fill me in before on the major stuff before the movie started, though. ^_^.

I can honestly say that movie is the one that has had the most reaction out of the audience watching it...that I've ever been to. There were a couple of scenes when there was so much cheering and applause that we couldn't hear the characters on the screen. Something about that made it even better. The action and dialogue were very, very well done. The characterization was also really good considering the size of the ensemble. I wish there were more awesome female characters (And well, I have to blame the non-Xmen Marvel-verse for that more than this movie), but they did a good job with Black Widow.

It was the kind of movie that could do homage, be able to snark at the genre, and still be something that holds together of its own accord (as I can attest, having not seen the other movies).

Okay, and now for a bit of more specific thoughts:
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So, yes. You should go see it if you are even remotely a comic book fan. Seeing it with a big fan only makes it more awesome.
geeky, tonberry, rpg

Centennial Sakura Viewing (Sakura 2012)

This weekend was full of win. I spent the first half of Saturday afternoon doing science demos for kiddos in Washington, DC. One was cloud in a bottle...which may be my new favorite demo. It was rainy and cool but worth the trek. (Also, there were far fewer people on the metro than I was expecting.)

Chris came over after I finished with the science fair...hyped up on sugar. (Earlier that day, he decided to challenge our friend Craig's bowl of candy to a duel. I'm still not certain who won.) It was quite the contrast with him bouncing and me having freshly awakened from a nap....^_~.

Chris stayed over Saturday, and in the morning I made us breakfast before we headed into DC to go see what was left of the Cherry Blossoms. As is tradition for the cherry blossom viewing, I styled my hair in some fun way. This year was hair loopies. Chris got it right away. ^_^. (One other person later commented on what I had done, and that makes me happy. There's nothing better than making subtle geeky references and people realizing it. ^_~)

We arrived in DC and waited for 3 members of our party to arrive (two others, having come early were waiting for us at the Jefferson Memorial). Fewer people than invited came (I think maybe half the people on the list I sent out), probably in some part due to the questionable weather. It turned out well, though. The weather was cool and damp when we first arrived, but became progressively better (as I had forecast). Plus, the people who came all get on very well together.

Upon arriving at the tidal basin, it was clear the cherry blossoms were decidedly past prime, but there were a few trees with blossoms still, and the petals on the ground were still very fresh. We walked around and just enjoyed each others' company. I also hugged the cherry tree mascot and got a centennial pin for my efforts. Now I do just want to state for the record, the mascot asks people not to pick the cherry blossoms. It doesn't say anything about eating them.....(And no, it wasn't me doing the munching.)

In a moment of typical playfulness of my part, I threw a handful at Chris' head when I thought he wasn't suspecting. (Of course, he later informed me he suspected I would do just such a thing as soon as he saw the petals on the ground. Ah, at least he puts up well with my shenanigans.) Then I got our friend Craig, whose hair was particularly well suited to keeping the petals trapped once they were in there. Encouraged by my successes, I made it my goal to put cherry blossoms on the head of every member of our party.

I succeeded.

This wasn't the only fun had that photo evidence indicates. Craig had a brand new camera and was taking many, many pictures. I'm sure just a few of them may be slightly incriminating. Also, just a few probably are going to end up on the web. *Shrugs*.

After we walked around the basin, we walked to Clyde's for dinner, and then parted ways. Chris came back home with me and I inflicted a game of badminton upon him partially to work out some energy on my part (I was full of it - no idea why, either). We had a really good time (well, I did - and Chris certainly seemed to) playing, then headed back inside and watched Tropic Thunder. That movie is insane...and apparently Robert Downey Jr. was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor. It's a crazy role and he did it well.

Okay, now I'm curious. . . .

Johari Window (compares positive traits you see in yourself most vs. what others think of you):

Nohari Window (the same as above, only negative traits):

...please contribute! Do it anonymously if you like, but I'd kinda like to know what you all think. (Also, on the Nohari window "egotistical" should be an option, but if it's there, I missed it....)
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geeky, tonberry, rpg

Super Nerdy Weekend of Awesome

I spent this weekend with Chris, and it was one full of win.

On Friday night, we made the Voltron-inspired Blazing Sword Burgers as invented by Jamie Noguchi (anyone who doesn't read his comic, Yellow Peril, should). We decided that we had to go full-geek on these and instead of making gigantic burgers, we would make gigantic sliders (okay, regular-sized burgers) and dye the buns the 5 colors of the Voltron Force. The dye may or may not have been my idea. ^_~. It worked even better because there were 5 of us eating them. By the way, they are delicious. Even our friend who is somewhat picky about his food (or at least commentary) ate them with only positive marks. ( There are pictures on Facebook )

After dinner, we played Chrononauts, which I picked up at Labyrinth Games down in DC. In the game you are time travelers. To win the game, you have to change events to create the timeline where you exist or collect all the items for the mission you are on. Items include live dinosaurs (with names!), 3 different Mona Lisa paintings (the real one, an excellent forgery and an obvious fake), and Videotape of the Creation of the Universe. Changing the timeline has ripple effects, and if you change too much you can in fact destroy the universe as we know it. I believe the game was a success. I do need to figure out which booster includes the Nihilist, though. I thought it came in the original, but I was wrong.

Saturday was DnD, which probably doesn't need much more said. We managed to not have a fight through the entire session due to a combination of fast thinking, spells, and our bard being an excellent diplomat liar.

Sunday I thought I would have to leave early, but the snow that had been threatening tracked south so I spent the day hanging out with Chris. We played a fair amount of Soul Calibur V, including not a little character creation. I made a foot-clan ninja goddess, and we made several Homestuck characters. There is most definitely a Prince of Heart alternate costume for Sigfried, as well as god-tier DAVE and dog-tier JADE original characters. There will be more - JOHN and ROSE are next on the line. (Rose will decidedly have Viola's fighting style; Jade has Z.W.E.I.'s ).

EDIT: There is now a JOHN, too. His fighting style is Xiba's (basically a Kilik clone). No hammer, but "lots of flailing arm movement, and youth rolling". ^_~.
writing, leaty

When Big Booksellers Won't Stock Your Book....

This is a repost from the LJ of author Jim C. Hines (Mel has posted about at least one of his books, if I recall correctly, and I encourage you all to go read his LJ, because it contains various combinations of informative, hilarious, and thought-provoking).

I normally wouldn't post this sort of thing, but I think that it's important for any aspiring authors to be aware of such situations.

The following is written by author Joshua Palmatier (aka Benjamin Tate), whose newest book Barnes and Nobles has decided NOT to stock. Given that there are so few bookstores around now, this is a very large, very real problem. Of course, it also is a great reason to support local bookstores.

* * *

My newest novel, Leaves of Flame [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy]–sequel to Well of Sorrows–has just hit the shelf . . . so to speak. Typically, an author is ultra-excited when the new book is released, and I am, but almost immediately after the release date I learned some rather disastrous news: Barnes & Noble, practically the only large-scale bookstore chain left in the U.S., elected not to carry the new book on its shelves. For an author attempting to build up an audience, this decision is, in essence, a death knell. It’s also not something that authors generally talk about. We tend to curl in upon ourselves and keep such heart-breaking news hush-hush. I know that was my initial reaction. But Jim asked if I wouldn’t mind talking about it here at his blog, and after some thought I asked myself, “Why shouldn’t I talk about it? It’s the real world of the publishing industry. It happens. Why keep silent?” So here’s why this decision on B&N’s part is so disastrous for me, and what I, as the author, have attempted to do to correct it.

Let’s face facts, I’m writing under a pseudonym now. The reason, to be blunt, is that my first trilogy, published under my real name, Joshua Palmatier, didn’t sell as well as hoped or expected; it didn’t find the audience it was intended for here in the US. So when the new series was set to be released, it was decided to send it into the world with an open pseudonym, Benjamin Tate. The hope was that the new name would attract new readers, and that fans of the Palmatier books would find out about Tate and buy the books as well.

To be honest, I don’t think this happened. WELL, in trade format, did not attract readers. When it came out in mass market with a brand new and incredibly cool cover, B&N decided to put only a few on the shelf, because of the sales of the trade. DAW designed an eye-catching cover for the sequel, LEAVES, that would pop on the shelf. But of course, LEAVES isn’t even on the shelf, which ultimately defeats the purpose of the eye-catching cover.

This means that the chances LEAVES will sell (and potentially bring in sales for WELL) have plummeted. I have little to no hope of a random reader—someone who has never heard of either Palmatier or Tate—even SEEING the book, because the browsing capabilities online at places like and are geared toward the books that are already hot sellers. For all intents and purposes, LEAVES doesn’t exist for the random browser, so my chances of expanding my audience are gone.

What can I do to make LEAVES (and thus WELL) more visible? I really only have two options: cons and word of mouth. Cons are easy, but costly. I’ve signed up for numerous cons over the course of the next few months, but I have a day job, so I’m limited, and besides, each con costs a significant amount–money that I’m unlikely to get back in terms of the sales generated at the con. So cons, while extremely fun (I’m ticked that I couldn’t be part of Author D&D at ConFusion), aren’t cost effective.

Which leaves (ha ha) word of mouth. Immediately after learning B&N had decided not to carry my book in its brick and mortar stores, I e-mailed every friend and author I knew asking if they could help by hosting a guest blog or posting an interview or perhaps just mentioning the book online in Facebook or Twitter. I already had some of these lined up, of course, but now I needed as many as I could get, because the only way to reach new readers was to make the book visible online. You may have noticed numerous blog entries from me posted by my friends and fellow authors over the last few weeks, including this one by Jim. In general, authors are an extremely supportive group. Word of mouth—not just authors supporting other authors, but readers talking about books they’ve read or noticed to their friends in person and online—is the best way for a book to be seen. And for an author to pick up new readers.

So, I would turn to you, the readers: If you’ve read a book that you liked, or you’ve seen a book that you thought looked interesting, talk about it. Mention it on Facebook, tweet about it on Twitter, blog about it. Hit up or or your favorite online bookstore and leave a brief review. Or go to the book’s page at any of those sites and “like” it. Do the same at reader forums like Goodreads or Library Thing. Every little mention, every good word here and there, may bring in a potential reader for that author. In essence, YOU are the balancing factor when a single person at B&N makes the decision—for you—about what books you’ll be interested in. YOU are the ones who make books bestsellers.

For some of us, whose books are only going to be seen online, *cue R2-D2 holographic image of Leia* “You’re our only hope.”
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Happy Holidays!

Hello all!

I am safely in Maine, currently with my Dad. I'll be headed up north tomorrow after the snow ends. I've been incredibly busy lately - proposal drafts and AMS work and doctor's appointments and getting home and all. I still have work to do over the break (blah), but I may just leave the majority of the work to do when I go back south. Because I desperately need a break.

I'll be on hiatus for the next week or so, thus I am wishing all of you Happy Holidays - Chanukah (I know it's started already), Christmas, Kwanza, Yule, Festivus, and New Year (plus whatever else you may happen to celebrate).

Also Happy My Birthday to everyone - It's my Special Birthday this year and I'm hoping for a good one. Not only do I turn 28 on the 28th, but my birthday also falls on the same day of the year on which I was born! ^_^. I've heard tell there's an awesome LARP that will be happening on my birthday as well - not one I'm playing in, but the thought still makes me happy.

Best wishes to all!

PS. I also apparently make a pretty awesome JRPG character: The Stormcaller, courtesy of WT (his entire project is awesome and full of win!)
kittenfood, facepalm


I just sent off the first draft of my proposal to my advisors.

I still have a presentation to put together for Saturday (luckily it's going to be composed of stuff I already have), and I haven't even *started* on my poster for AMS. It looks like I'll have a bit of work to do over break....

But at least I got my draft done. This is no small thing.