Happy Impending New Year to all my Prog Peeps!—and, oh yeah, my Not-So-Prog Peeps as well.
Warning: This post should be almost entirely non-political. It's a mini-travelogue, fer cryin' out loud! Unfortunately, nothing in my world is 100% without political content or implications. We'll save that stuff for the end.
For Winter Break this year, Kayleen and I traveled to some parts of Texas she had never visited, and even some that I had never seen. Our stops were in Castroville, Alpine, and Kerrville, with side trips to Langtry, Big Bend National Park, Marfa, the Prada Marfa installation in Valentine, Leakey, Fredericksburg, and Luckenbach.
This is also an unusual post for me, in that it links to multiple businesses' sites. Most of these sites are for privately owned food or lodging establishments, which I prefer to patronize rather than those owned by mega-conglomerates. Kayleen prefers that as well, although she must have comfortable, accessible accommodations and her occasional Starbucks fix.
Been busy, been traveling, been neglecting this blog for far too long.
Here's the first bit of not exactly earth-shattering news that I'd like to include in this entry. Another Houston-based author, Neil Ellis Orts, recently got an idea to create a Facebook event page for creative friends to advertise their wares, gratis. Check out the selection of books, artworks, and jewelry, some of it by Houston residents, including a certain novel about the exciting lives of Unitarian Universalists in a fictitious Texas college town.
I met Neil through Continuum Performance Art, the group with which we have both staged performances. I bought Neil's novella Cary and John shortly after it was published last year, and I recommend it, especially to those who might enjoy a good closeted love story with vivid, multi-dimensional characterizations.
Since my last post about four weeks ago, I have
Turning UH Green
At least I can report that a decision has been reached regarding the venue for the 2016 Green Party US Presidential Nominating Convention. The local and national folks put their heads together, after touring some possible sites, and decided to hold it at the University of Houston. The dates are set at 4-7 August 2016, with Saturday the 6th the most likely date for choosing the party's nominee.
Bear in mind that, while Dr. Jill Stein remains the presumptive nominee, the only Green candidate to file the requisite paperwork and pursue federal matching funds, all Greens should be cautious not to label her as "the Green nominee" or even "the Green candidate." She is a Green candidate. Other declared candidates include Kent Mesplay (for the fourth time), Earth First! organizer Darryl Cherney, and the redoubtable SKCM Curry.
Not Just Anybody, and Possibly Nobody
GPUS has a set of criteria for whom it recognizes as a presidential candidate. One of the criteria is "written support from 100 Green Party members to the GPUS Secretary, with no more than 50 from one state, and including members from at least five state parties; this requirement is not applicable until December 1st of the year preceding the presidential election."
In expressing this written support, Green Party members may indicate their support for more than one candidate. It's a standard practice within the Green Party to allow voting for multiple candidates when choosing its officials at the county, state, and national level. The method varies from state to state, but Approval and Ranked Preference voting are the most common; both have the advantage of ending up with a candidate approved by at least 50% of the voting members.
For public offices other than President and Vice President, states may also use a form of Instant Runoff Voting. However, for President, delegates the the Presidential Nominating Convention cast votes for just one candidate in each round. They may also choose None of the Above for any office. If NotA wins, the Party chooses not to field a candidate for that office.
The NotA scenario almost happened in 2004, when David Cobb narrowly defeated NotA in the second round of balloting. That year, some None-of-the-Abovers preferred to support the Greens' 2000 nominee Ralph Nader, who was running as an independent in '04; some just did not want to risk peeling votes away from Democratic nominee John Kerry in key states. As it happened, Cobb's vote totals did not upset any Electoral College apple carts. He did continue the Green tradition, started by Nader and carried on by Stein, of getting arrested or tossed out while trying to crash the presidential debates.
After the 2004 election, Cobb and Libertarian nominee Michael Badnarik went to bat for Kerry in Ohio, where the Republicans appeared to have used multiple dirty tricks to lock up the vote for George W. Bush. Kerry, VP nominee John Edwards, and the rest of their crew didn't bother.
Today I received the message below from a longtime church friend. This friend and her family switched from the church I still attend to the other large UU church in Houston during "The Troubles" that served as the initial inspiration for Earthworm.
She ordered the book directly from iUniverse, not from one of the big online vendors. It seems that iUniverse and Strebor have a deal with the same printing company. This news makes me wonder (and another friend has expressed the same thought) whether it's a sign that I should reach out to Caleb Alexander. Networking is usually a good thing. Also, his novel takes place, at least in part, less than two hours' drive from my fictitious college town of Santa Cecilia.
My other impression is that this right-cover-wrong-text foul-up will not happen to very many buyers of either Mr. Alexander's book or mine. iUniverse's model is on-demand printing, so it does not print and cover large numbers of copies of a book at one time—unless somebody orders a lot of copies. I'd be really surprised if the 20 copies I ordered for next week will have the same problem, but you'd better believe I'm going to check them before I try to sell them.
Did it, done it, waiting for release date.
I have signed off on the interior, cover, and pricing for The Earthworm That Blows No Trumpet. iUniverse says it's usually 15 to 20 days between approval and availability.
You should be able to purchase the hard copy or e-book around the first week of June. It won't be in your neighborhood bookstore, but you can order it through iuniverse.com, amazon.com, or barnesandnoble.com. If you search by author's name, I recommend using the whole name David Bruce Collins, because searching by just David Collins gets 224 hits, and I'm not responsible for all those books.
The one book currently on Barnes & Noble that I did actually write still has one review from 2001, and it's a five-star review. No, I didn't write the review, but I give it five stars too. ;-)
My Publishing Services Assistant at iUniverse sent back the correct book block last Thursday, and they fixed almost all of the errors that I had found. Fortunately or otherwise, I this the opportunity to read through the entire block again, and I found almost as many errors that I missed the first time.
As a rule, it's difficult to proofread one's own work reliably: Having a second pair of eyes on the job is always helpful. Sometimes it's even more difficult to find that second pair of eyes, unless one is willing and able to pay. I'll be paying extra for the second set of corrections, but not enough to break the bank.
iUniverse has plenty of ways to break one's bank. The company does many things I like, and a few I genuinely don't like. Yesterday one of their marketeers called from the noisy call center in the Philippines, inviting me to take advantage of a service that would get my novel reviewed in Kirkus Reviews and two other publications. Sure, a good Kirkus review can provide an invaluable boost to a book's sales. Sure, it also costs $3,499. Does that money guarantee a positive review in Kirkus? I do have scruples about such things.
I just sent iUniverse the proof forms for the book block and cover. In my proofreading, I found a couple dozen things I wanted to fix or change in the interior text, ranging from a missing close-single-quote to entire subordinate clauses. I also substantially revised the sloppy back-cover copy that I had originally submitted.
So that's yet another small step for Earthworm in the direction of becoming an actual book you can hold in your actual hands. If you're lacking actual hands, maybe the electronic version will work better.
A novel in which an assortment of UU's get to be heroes: Priceless?
I also still plan to re-publish A Small Town for Its Size, as I'm sure I have stated previously on this blog, with a few dozen errors fixed.
So it's been almost two weeks since my last blog activity. Some writer, eh?
Very soon I should receive a new set of cover mockups for the upcoming novel. I imagine that they will include assembled bits of the photos that I sent to iUniverse, rather than an assemblage of stock photos. I took a picture of some Texas prairie land back on 28 February, while my HAUSmates (1) and I were holding our Annual General Meeting (2) at Sky Farm (3). I also took a photo of a UU flaming chalice, which in this case is actually the heavily patinaed oil lamp used at First UU Church, Houston.
I took both photos with my phone, a Samsung Galaxy S4. The photos are blurry, especially at 300 dpi, but there's an artistic blurriness about them. I didn't get the sunset that I wanted, because there was no sun that day, and hardly for a week in either direction.
Once the cover design is set, I imagine that the next step is galley proofs, but I don't know for sure, and I don't currently have access to the material that iUniverse sent to outline the whole process. When they send the galley, I'll have some time to look it over & probably catch some errors that I've managed to miss over the past two years.
Footnotes (getting my Infinite Jest on):
(1) HAUS stands for Houston Access to Urban Sustainability, which is Houston's only housing cooperative, as far as I know. We have two houses inside Loop 610, within fairly easy reach of the MetroRail Red Line. It is not a student co-op, but some of our residents are students, some are working in the service industry, and some have office jobs.
(2) Annual General Meeting is what it sounds like: a meeting of the general membership of HAUS that occurs every year. We managed to get 20 of our 25 current resident members, plus several HAUS alums, to this year's AGM. I got to give a presentation on taking public transit as sustainable transportation, including how the new Metro route structure will change (for the better, I earnestly hope) the whole public transit picture in our beloved H-Town.
(3) Sky Farm is the rural Austin County outpost of the Crossley family, the leading lights of Houston Tomorrow. Its postal address is in New Ulm, Texas, but it is closer to the town of Industry. The house at Sky Farm, where we had our unspeakably wonderful meals, is a marvel of contemporary architecture (oddly, no photos on the Facebook page). The meeting portion of the AGM took place in the Conference Center, a repurposed temporary classroom structure with composting toilets.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.