dr_phil_physics: (delete-hal)
Last Time in Office: 38 days ago (Monday 15 December 2014)

So... although I am on my "sabbatical" right now, it is important to get some work done. I could have left one of my own working computers at the office, but it was really time to get OUEST, the College of Arts and Sciences laptop that they so generously provided in the Fall, and turn it into a fully operational battle station.

Of course OUEST wasn't here in time to set up for the beginning of the Fall semester, so I didn't haul it out much after a brief set up. At home, I was dealing with Wendy's Windows 7 Home Premium laptop ZEPPELIN, so in a sense I was prototyping what I needed to do for the Windows 7 Enterprise Edition OUEST. And it was a real help, because in under 2½ hours I had actually done several real pieces of work and got most of the updates in place. It didn't hurt that I was on the very fast hardwire network connection, not WiFi or even WiFi+DSL, as in home

Complicating matters was I actually had a student appointment at 1pm -- application recommendations for postgraduate work. I always like to have the student in situ when I write these things and upload them, so they can see exactly what I said about them -- and they learn a little about the process. First real time I had to deal with Word 2013, ugh, but at least four months of heavy writing in Word 2010 has helped that learning curve.

I had planned to leave home between 9 and 10, to try to get in between 11 and Noon, but alas, I had One More Thing To Do at home, namely updating files on SUMMER and the Zip files on the 8GB Swiss Army Memory. And I had to stop by the one lot over at GVSU and steal back my nifty new sunglasses from atop the dashboard of the Bravada, leaving miniature heffalump tracks in the snow with the four-footed cane. So it was noon before I got into the office and off to the restroom.

The first step was determining what the password on OUEST was... (grin)

Didn't get to start updating files until 12:20pm. But I'd left OUEST in a "wild state" -- it immediately began updating Windows and with the fast dataline, updating Symantec Endpoint Protection, the corporate/university version of Norton Anti-Virus, took no time at all. Green indicators by 12:37.

Found the control to turn the touchpad off at 12:45. I don't think it's as much a problem on OUEST, which isn't a small laptop, than the two netbooks LARA and KATNISS or Wendy's giant widescreen laptop ZEPPELIN, where I kept brushing my thumbs against the surface of the touchpad, which makes Word 2003/2007 do crazy things.

Then my student came and we wrestled with the wording and with Word 2013 -- naturally none of the "real" working directories were yet in the defaults. Plus all the good files are on an 8GB microSD card stuck in the SD adapter in the SD card slot -- and had been removed and locked up over the break. They want me to protect the files on their computer? Fine, they won't even be on my version of their computer.

Still, we started on that and were done by 1:45, which was good because my student had a 2pm class. This even with the common application recommendation uploader warning that you might have trouble uploading a PDF -- and although OUEST doesn't have the Full version of Adobe Acrobat XI, my work with Word 2010 pointed me to have Word 2013 write an acceptable PDF file -- using IE or Chrome, it went fine with Firefox.

Oh, another country heard from. Adobe is automatically updating Acrobat Reader XI.

2pm and Windows has finally updated, so I shutdown Windows, which gives me the DO NOT TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER OR YOUR LIVER WILL FALL OUT and starting 1 of 28 Updates. Time to eat lunch. Reboot, 28,000 plus updates updating... and before it even gets to a login prompt, Windows reboots. Fine. Do some email on the Kindle Fire HD...


28,509 updates to go,
28,509 updates,
if one of the updates
should happen to load,
28,508 updates to go...
Fuzzy phone picture from LG Cosmos 3 -- I think it had trouble focusing on the LCD screen, which was rapidly scrolling through the updates.

©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Simple re-size of picture in Windows 7 Paint. Oh, have to download and install WinSCP 5.5.6, since I need an SFTP program to upload things to my WMU webpages anyway.

Meanwhile, I fired up Amazon Music and downloaded all the music files I'd added in the last few months. In the middle of this, Amazon Music wants to update. Fine, because I'd just discovered that the version I installed in September didn't have the nifty little miniplayer icon in the lower right corner. That took about twenty seconds and the only issue was I had to restart the song I was in the middle of playing.

3pm. Time to eat my clementines and write up a blog report. I imagine Symantec is doing a background scan, but otherwise, I'm in decent shape. Yeah, it's a Windows 7 machine, which means that Write/WordPad has gotten stupid and doesn't read .DOC files anymore, only .RTF and .TXT. And Word/Excel 2013 are even dumber than 2010 in producing giant big splash screens for file opens which CONTAINS NO INFORMATION OR FILES. Geez, guys, have you ever USED a computer?

My student was watching me doing some steps before we started on the letter of recommendation, and wondered what kind of program I was running. It's old school -- it's called an MS-DOS command line. (snicker) They'd never heard of such a thing. (sad-grin) And even THEY are not contemplating the switch to Windows 8 on their next machine. (cries-for-a-whole-generation)

3:40pm. Finish this first draft, edit, post, crosspost to Facebook, call it a day and get out of here a little after four.

A good half day of work. Hey, it's not like they're paying me. (evil-grin)

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
I'm adjunct. I don't get sabbaticals, unless I want to declare one.

So we've been talking about this for a while and today I did it. I am not going to teach for Spring (i.e. Winter) 2015. You might think it's a little late, but as per usual, adjunct contracts go out late.

You might think it's all about the weather. And that's a factor. I managed to soldier in last winter, except for the odd snow day and a vehicle failure, but that was when we thought the errant heel was healing.

So late last night I sent my boss the following in an email:
We haven't talked about 2015 courses since last summer. I think I commented at the time that we wouldn't know until December or January or so whether the bone infection in my left heel has been beaten back or not -- I am just finishing up the six months of antibiotics in the next two weeks. If they were going to have to amputate, I was happy to teach in Fall 2014 and take Spring (i.e. Winter) 2015 off.

Well, it's still too early, but we've already had a taste of a hard winter in November -- 31" in Grand Rapids or 40% of the whole 2013-14 snow season. While I soldiered in last winter, that was when we thought we had normal healing going on.

I think it's best that I "take a sabbatical" for Spring 2015 and keep off my foot as much as possible. And if they need me to have surgery, there's plenty of time for recovery and rehab. Otherwise I would still try to keep some weekly office hours, subject to weather, and whatever happens, I should be able to teach Summer I and Summer II 2015 if there are courses available ***. I really would hate to start teaching and then have my foot blow up and leave the department and my students in the lurch. Being pro-active and taking the time off is the best solution for all concerned.
Now most people would be bummed to not work and lose the money, but I'm not most people. First of all, with my long commute and its costs, it's not like I really make anything on my adjunct salary. So teaching or not is practically a wash for our budget. And I'm an optimist. Having the time at home AND not having to face the wintry roads for months will not only be nice, it's really nice for Mrs. Dr. Phil.

And I can really rest the heel. And if it goes? Well, I won't be missing anything.

So I have declared Spring 2015, my 69th semester of university work, as my Sabbatical 2.0. What shall I do with this time? The obvious thing is write. Have not done a lot of submissions in 2014, though I am writing up a storm on my YA series -- 113,000 words so far and counting -- which means I've written more this year that in the last several years combined.

But... while I was talking to my department chair today, he happened to glance at my PHYS-1070 textbook, Inquiry Into Physics / Vern J. Ostdiek and Donald J. Bord (7th Edition), and asked what I thought about it. The thing is, it's not a bad textbook for an all-of-physics-algebra-level-in-one-semester class. But Chapter One sucks. I mean, if you had a GOOD high school Physics or AP Physics class, the first chapter is a nice review. But I have to assume we are starting at ground zero and working our way up. I spend weeks bringing everyone up to speed on just the first chapter. And then I extend the material, so the students end up with the kinematic equations as we use in PHYS-1130 and the calc level PHYS-2050. This allows them to talk to other students or people working the Help Room and get help they can understand.

I once spent two hours talking to a company rep about exactly what was wrong with that chapter. Years ago. It hasn't changed.

I've taught PHYS-1070 and its earlier variants a total of 28 times now. Early on we were using Hewitt's Conceptual Physics, which is too light. And we've been using Ostdiek & Bord since about the 3rd edition, I think. Other professors have taught PHYS-1070 over the years, and no one has found a "good" textbook. There just aren't many suitable for this course.

I've even thought about writing my own textbook.

So I told my boss I was going to rewrite my syllabus over my sabbatical and that I was thinking of using the full-year algebra level textbook, especially as we are currently using a loose-leaf edition which means we can pull just the sections we are going to use. And then my boss points out that actually, PHYS-1130/1150 is switching to a new text, one available for free and published with a Creative Commons license. Huh.

Bottom line, during my sabbatical of six months or so, I will also be taking that online text apart and figuring out the sections we need for PHYS-1070. Perhaps get the authors permissions to edit down the PDFs. And so I'm penciled in for PHYS-1070 for the 29th time in Fall 2015, where I will field trial the new text.

And we'll see how it goes. (grin)

What. Fun.

Now, just need to make it through December 16th and the noon grading deadline, followed by half a dozen doctors appointments... (evil-grin)

Dr. Phil

500 / 10 Years

Friday, 1 June 2012 22:54
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
The Long Haul Burn To Space

Earlier this evening I sent in my 500th submission to any market. I thought it was my 499th, but my log sheets don't lie. 500. Friday 1 June 2012. And just eight days shy of ten years since I made my first submission.

It took 1427 days after 9 June 2002 to get to the first hundred submissions on 6 May 2006, 725 days for my second hundred on 30 April 2008 and 689 days to the third hundred on 20 March 2010 and 532 days to the fourth hundred on 3 September 2011. And now, largely due to last year's sabbatical, just 272 days for the fifth hundred.

75 completed stories sent out 500 times, with 19 publications including two reprints. One recent sale awaiting publication.

Wow.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
A Light Period

Coming off the six-month 2011 sabbatical was always going to be a letdown. At least in terms of churning the Invenstory through submissions. Not much activity since January 1st, except for rejections and the odd sale. After a record high of 31 stories out at one time, coming into Spring Break I was down to a mere 11.

Some of this drop came from reviewing some of my longer submission times and discovering that two markets have dropped dead. You don't always hear from dead markets, though in this case there was some notice on their site or blog that all submissions were released. And the hope that maybe they might come back, though few do. A third market announced its indefinite suspension on Sunday. The three markets are Basement Stories, Darwin's Evolution (after it had already evolved from e-zine to anthology publication) and Brain Harvest.

So I've sent out 9 new submissions, including one involving an envelope and postage to Gordon Van Gelder at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. And one with a rapid turnaround which has already been rejected, leaving me with a grand total of 18 stories out tonight.

Lightspeed, by the way, has recently switched to a new online submission system, after being an early adopter of the Clarkesworld sub system. With the new system I was unable to upload my story as an RTF. Tried writing the RTF from three different programs -- same result. Finally sent a Word 2003 DOC file. I am told that they had file restrictions locked down too tight -- we'll see the next time I need to send something requiring John Joseph Adam's near lightspeed rejection. (grin)

I've also written two bios, updated my website dr-phil-physics.com slightly and gotten one of two sets of edits done for my two April publications. Not a lot of new writing, as I've also been busy this week working on my sister's accounts -- don't ask.

Ack! Another rejection just slunk in. Seventeen Dr. Phil stories out in the wild, Seventeen stories out, Take one down, Shop it around...

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
Sabbatical 1.36 Report -- December 2011

In the last month since I reported on my sabbatical progress (DW), I managed just 10 submissions. All told I made 112 submissions since the 29th of July. 1 sale (DW) to the Rocket Science anthology. Plus an Honorable Mention and a Silver Honorable Mention (DW) from Writers of the Future.

I had five new stories to add to my Invenstory in 2011 -- three of them during my sabbatical. Though that's not a record for new stories, but it is a huge record for total new submissions. I even added fourteen new markets to the mix.

Did I accomplish my goals for not quite half a year? We-elllll, no. Not really. But there were a lot of extenuating circumstances -- things that I could take the time to deal with without leaving either students or job in the lurch. I came up with a new workflow for getting stories out. I'm going to call this a win.

And you know? I may be teaching two classes this winter, but I manage to find time to write. And I have a lot of notes for new stories and I have that new novel to work on.

It's 2012 and I already have three new submissions. And no new rejections. Not bad considering how many editors and slush readers were working over the holidays. (grin) Can't sell if don't submit. (double-grin)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (seasons-best-kate)
Gray and Damp

At 12:30 the radio was saying we were having freezing rain turning to snow, accumulation about an inch, as part of a winter storm advisory until 1pm. Maybe for Grand Rapids, but halfway to Lake Michigan not only was there no rain, freezing or thawed, or snow, but for a brief moment full sun burst out of the overcast skies. One thing about living by a Great Lake, weather is wildly local.

Next snow possibility is New Year's Eve Eve, i.e. tomorrow evening -- we'll see.

Year End Bills

One of the last things I do each year is renew my professional memberships -- American Physical Society, American Chemical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers -- as well as renew subscriptions to The Chronicle of Higher Education and PC World, and donate to Northwestern and Michigan Tech. Doing most of these online has become relatively easy. I didn't even have to open the society statements.

Why wait to batch these all at the end of the year? Because I can write them on the same page in my check register so they'll be all together when I do my taxes. Yeah, have to think about taxes again. Plus I get to do Wendy's and will have to wade through the Georgia forms, too. Or at least the screens in TurboTax.

Time Sinks

Still taking time to make phone calls and otherwise deal with Wendy's finances. While online billpaying may be convenient when you're alive, I don't have access to her email statements, so have to wait for paper bills to get generated and forwarded. Oh the electric bill isn't a bill but a check for a buck-and-a-half refund on her final bill? Oh that's amusing. And unexpectedly different.

And the two days I spent coming aboard Dreamwidth as LiveJournal rolled over everyone with their misguided Release 88 rollout was time and expense that I hadn't planned for, dammit.

But "I'm not complaining."™

Really?

Haven't written about gas prices much this fall. Guess not having to buy gas every two days pushed it a bit off the radar -- and on long road trips you just pay whatever it is. Gas on Tuesday was $3.27.9/gal for regular -- today just two days later it was $3.48.9/gal. 21¢ in 48 hours? Okay, I suppose the jabbering about the Strait of Hormuz makes oil speculators nervous. But there was also a report that the U.S. is a net exporter of refined gasoline -- refineries are struggling against a drop in U.S. demand. So much for all the commuting done by all the jobs created by the rich people after years of the Bush tax cuts... (cynical grin)

Writing

Too early to close out the year or even the sabbatical, but travels and holidays are hell on the writing. But in the last two days I've shipped four stories. Saturday I hope to get a new story written for WOTF while watching Northwestern and other Big Ten teams play bowl games -- or punt and send an older story if I don't finish by 10-11pm. (calculating grin)

Holidays

It's Thursday? Huh. Every day seems like Saturday. Have to keep up with the day of the week, though, in order to not run out of 2011 for tax purposes or miss getting our last couple of weeks of garbage out to the road. At least I'm caught up with the newspapers.

Getting a certain amount of reading done. TV has been an inconsistent mess. And the news channels started in on the Year in Review stuff before Christmas and now it's all Iowa Caucuses All The Time.

How are your holiday leftovers?

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
Sabbatical 1.35 Report -- November 2011

In the last month since I reported on my sabbatical progress, I've made only 19 submissions -- 102 since I officially started Sabbatical 1.3 -- including ONE SALE! I have to say, that given the unexpected death of my sister and a long trip to Atlanta, I got more done on the writing front that I'd thought. Currently, a week into December, I still have 27 stories out to market. And I'm getting more rejections with positive comments, instead of just "No".

The End is Nigh

Can't believe it's December already. In a month my classes will be starting up. Haven't done nearly as much groundwork on the new class as I thought a month ago. While the sabbatical as a whole hasn't gone as planned, what six month plan ever goes as planned? (grin) Currently fighting an infection -- feeling better but I knew I was in trouble Monday evening when my teeth were chattering and my temp was 102.0°F. Dammit, in the past year I've had too many things that required a course of antibiotics. We'll get over this, too.

Hope y'all had a happy Thanksgiving... and on to the Big Name Holidays.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
Sabbatical 1.34 Report -- October 2011

In the last month since I reported on my sabbatical progress, I've made 27 submissions -- 83 since I officially started Sabbatical 1.3. Currently, two days into November, I have a staggering 30 stories out to market -- a new personal record -- including 1 new story. If editors aren't reading it, they can't buy it.

Working on some new writing, of course, but though the conceptualizing phase is going great on all these things, I wish I had more words written. Still, I know of at least two or three stories under consideration. And actually, I've been getting more rejections with comments, even from markets which haven't sent comments before. So this massive sending of stories is certainly not a wasted effort, even though nothing's sold. Yet. (grin)

Next weekend is WindyCon 38 in Chicago (Lombard IL) -- 11-13 November 2011. As of right now, I'm on one panel:
How Not To Get Published
Sunday, 11:00 am–Noon, Lilac D
Mike Resnick, Bill Fawcett, Phil Kaldon, Jim Hines, Steven Silver

This should be a great panel, and if you're a new writer, or have thought about writing, you need to come to this one. Mike Resnick is a powerhouse and tells excellent stories and knows the publishing business. Jim C. Hines is a wise, wise man, who is also a terrific writer.

The Double-Edged Sword of New Stories

I mentioned above that I churned out one new story in October. I wanted to get in one more submission to an anthology which closed in the U.K. on Monday, but I needed another near-term SF story. The good news is that between Clarion and the WOTF workshop's 24-hour story challenge, writing 4600 words in a little over a day is quite doable. The downside is that it was pretty much one writing and one editing session. The danger in shipping a Version 1.00 of a story, is that I always feel like it's 80% there. That is all the major components are there, but surely it would benefit from a rewrite or two, pumping up the conflict, etc. On the other hand I've sold first versions of stories, so what do I know? Mrs. Dr. Phil is just now reading it, so it didn't get the benefit of my first reader/copy editor. (grin)

We'll see.

Classes Looming

I've picked up a second class starting in January -- so I'll have PHYS-1000 for the 1st time and PHYS-1070 for the 24th time. Something old and something new.

I've been printing out worksheets of my sabbatical progress about once a week. Just printed out the 13th set. Hard to believe that there's just two months left.

Dr. Phil

A Busy September

Saturday, 1 October 2011 22:43
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
October Already?

September ended cold and rainy and gusty. October dawned with blue skies and sunshine and cold. Sweater and jacket weather.

Sabbatical 1.33 Report -- September 2011

In the last month since I reported on my sabbatical progress, I've made 22 submissions -- 56 since I officially started Sabbatical 1.3. Currently I have 25 stories out to market. For a brief time I had an insane 28 -- a new record of sorts. One new story shipped. At least two stories are in the second round.

My plan is to spend a bunch of October-November working on a new novel. I've had several projects lying around, both new ideas and taking some novellas to novels. Well, Monday I attended a nice colloquium on the Crab Nebula -- funny how most semesters I'm teaching or have to leave at colloquium time -- and now I have started my new novel. And it's definitely a novel, because the complexity doesn't easily lend itself to pull an episode out for a short story or write it in 20,000 words. Ex-cellent.

And future planning for Chicago. Registered for WindyCon in November. And caught next year's Chicago WorldCon attending registration before it went up. Should be a couple of really great events.

Spring 2012

Also this week I received my contract letter for next semester. And a new course for me: PHYS-1000 How Things Work. Yay.

This was also the first time I made it down to my office since August. I'd planned on missing the first week of class, because the students always count on not getting ticketed for filling up the faculty spaces for the first week. Then we had the flu, then I had an allergy to an antibiotic... Thank goodness I wasn't teaching! (grin)

Dr. Phil

400

Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:04
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
Milestones Continue To Accumulate

Today, Saturday 3 September 2011, I shipped my 400th submission to any market. 72 completed stories sent out 400 times, with 16 publications including one reprint. Not bad for just over nine years of sending things out, if I do say so myself.

It took 1427 days after 9 June 2002 to get to the first hundred submissions on 6 May 2006, 725 days for my second hundred on 30 April 2008 and 689 days to the third hundred on 20 March 2010 and 532 days to the fourth hundred. Clearly I'm continuing to decrease the average time between subs.

Sabbatical 1.32 Report -- August 2011 (and into September)

August was the first full month of my Sabbatical 1.3. Back on August 19th I had a record 26 submissions out to market. With rejections, that dropped down to 18. But with #400 -- sabbatical submission #41 -- I am back to 26 stories out to market. In 3373 days of sending stories out into the world I have never let the number of subs drop to zero. It's been a motivator, that's for sure.

[livejournal.com profile] jakobdrud wrote about Writer, Take Heart. I commented:
Just before I started submitting stories in June 2002, I'd read some authors talking on the order of 600 rejections before they made it. Closing in on submission 400 with two pro sales and 13 others, so I suppose I could argue that at 2/3 the way to SFWA pro status I'm right on track.

That and enduring 300+ rejections for my post-Ph.D. job search, had already toughened me. (grin)

oh, and average and typical results mean nothing in specific cases. (big-grin)

Dr. Phil

Into THE FUTURE!

I'm full of new stories right now and I need to get back to novels. But I'm still working back into getting sufficient Time In Chair. Still, the amount of work I've gotten done on my Fujitsu U810 UMPC since the end of July is astonishing.

Go me. (grin)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (velveeta)
I'm Alive

That's official, by the way. Had the annual physical today and my doctor was pleased with some progress on some outstanding issues. (grin)

Two Thoughts on Writers and Writing

Three, actually if you count the nice piece I read the other day and failed to record the URL asking the question about whether you want to write or be a writer. (triple-word-score-grin)

Ken Schneyer talks about the mixed emotions we can have about the Jealousy - Envy - Regret of our writing and the success of others. In particular, he addressed the question of regret over not starting earlier. I think, though, that everyone's mileage is different. In my case:
I "could" have started submitting stories in 1976. Well, no I couldn't -- I had notes and ideas, but no writing.

I "could" have submitted stories in 1985, but they were pretty raw. In 1990 I started writing a novel -- that one isn't done but it spawned my 29th century and half my stories. In 1997 I started on a tear -- and when I discovered that writers were worried about word count, I checked and this second "novel" was three-quarters done... at 1.5 million words.

I started submitting with a 5000 word story in June 2002. It helped get me in Clarion and finally sold six years later on its 11th outing.

Yeah, I could've started earlier, but it wouldn't have been the same.

Then Tobias Buckell wrote on milestones versus goals. Or the difference over which things you can and cannot control.

If you're a writer -- or want to be -- you should read these two pieces.

Which Brings Us To...

Assuming my stats are right, my 388th submission today is my 300th commercial submission and the 30th in the month since my sabbatical began. All I can control is what I write and taking charge of sending it out.

Still have 24 stories out in the world tonight. Better than lottery tickets. (double-edged-grin)

And the Velveeta? That was lunch. The cheese, that is, in a tomato sandwich. Mmm... summer.

Dr. Phil

Going All In

Friday, 19 August 2011 22:27
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
And Off To Market We Go

Thought I'd update about my writing since I last reported on my sabbatical.
From Friday July 29th to today Tuesday August 9th, I shipped 18 stories to 18 markets -- submissions #360 to #377. Two markets had fast turnarounds and have already rejected, plus the five I had out prior to the binge, means that I have 21 stories out in the wild right now
Well since I wrote the eleven days ago, we're up to submission #385 with 26 stories out there right now, including one new story for Redstone SF's Identity Crisis contest. That's amazing.

Of course there's no guarantee that I'll ever sell another story, but you can't sell if you aren't shoving things under the editor's nose. Most of the 26 markets are pro paying or close to it. Not that I'm "counting my money before the sale", but to indicate these are quality markets.

Now... back to new stories. (grin)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
Sabbatical 1.31 Report -- July 2011 (and into August)

A six-month sabbatical should have six months in it, but I didn't actually know that July was the first month until very late -- Tuesday 26 July 2011 to be exact. And no sooner had I officially started my self-imposed sabbatical, then I had to spend a lot of time in a chair with my left leg propped up. Great. Today, in fact, is the first time I've been in my office since the 26th.

Now from the title of this post, I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking that I think that writing and submitting is a competitive action. Editors are going to buy what editors are going to buy. They may be buying from people they know, they may be buying stories that resonate with what they want for their publication and this particular issue. Rejection is just part of the game. I recently had a novella rejected in part because the market already had a couple of novellas bought and didn't need another one. Had I submitted at a different time, who knows? So I'm not really competing against "you".

But I have been productive.

Being Prepared

Knowing that I'd be doing a lot of sitting, and not planning to spend 7-10 days just watching TV, I updated my flash drives from my main Sony at home, then brought out SUMMER, the tiny Fujitsu U810 UMPC (Ultra Miniature PC), USB numeric keypad and Microsoft LED travel mouse.

SUMMER (Fujitsu U810) versus WINTER (Fujitsu 1510D) -- same specs, different size

Once I'd downloaded a couple hundred meg and got connected to the wireless HP Deskjet 6980, I was in business. Mostly.

See, as a Very Large Person, I don't have a lap, so I can't sit with a laptop balanced on said nonexistent lap. I could put a laptop on the "arm table" next to me, but not with my leg propped up. So, it's hold the U810 in my left hand and type with one finger on the small keyboard. Needless to say, I was not writing much in the way of new stories, but with a mouse and an arrow keypad, I could do cover letters, editing, etc.

You Can't Sell Stories Unless You Submit

From Friday July 29th to today Tuesday August 9th, I shipped 18 stories to 18 markets -- submissions #360 to #377. Two markets had fast turnarounds and have already rejected, plus the five I had out prior to the binge, means that I have 21 stories out in the wild right now.

That should be a record. I think once I had 19 stories out at once.

In addition, the two recently rejected markets have 7 day delays before next submissions built in, which will soon be expiring. I've got one window closing on the 15th if I can get a new story written in time -- and I should be able to start devoting some real Time In Chair on that project Real Soon Now -- another closing on the 31st, and a couple of markets opening up on the 1st. So I'm not done yet.

To put this in perspective, I have 71 stories in my Invenstory which have shipped a total of 377 times now. 15 have been published, with 1 reprint. 21 of 56 stories means that 37.5% of my Invenstory is out to market right now. And of the 25 remaining stories, well, 3 are tied up with an outfit that may or may not ever get around to publishing them -- see The Lost Stories -- and some of the rest either are awaiting a rewrite or aren't worth rewriting.

So I'm pretty happy with all the productivity. And as markets reject (or buy) and reopen, the stories will churn through all the places they need to go.

But having some time to sit down and plot this out, reject all the market submission guidelines and get the stories in order, this has been golden. It would've been done eventually, but this has sped up the process immensely. Go me.

Oh, and for the record. Of the 18 submissions I've just made, exactly two of them have been mailed. All the rest have been e-subs.

Dr. Phil

Sabbatical 1.3

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 17:45
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
Semester 59 - Fall 2011

One of the adventures of teaching part-time is that I never know what's next, particularly at the end of the school year. Am I teaching in the Fall? It doesn't help that the fiscal year ends and begins in the middle of the two summer sessions, so that departments can't make immediate decisions early. Or that for the last decade we've had uncertain budgets and adventures in state funding and university priorities, so that departments don't always even know how much money they're going to get. I've been doing this for nearly twenty years and, like enduring rejections from market after market, all you can do is go with the flow.

Alas, Tuesday I learned that I didn't have an assignment for Fall 2011, though I should have a class for January 2012 -- I don't count anything until I get a signed contract letter AND enrollment passes the threshold.

The Third Time's The Charm?

Rather than be upset or depressed about this, I am taking advantage of finishing 2011 free and clear -- though the free part is annoying (grin) -- and declaring this to be Sabbatical 1.3.

As some of you may recall, Mrs. Dr. Phil had a six-month sabbatical in the first half of 2009, and when it looked like I wasn't teaching from July to December that year, I declared that I'd get a six-month sabbatical to do writing. But a funny thing happened, and I ended up teaching a class in Fall 2009 anyway. So lather, rinse, repeat and in 2010, a similar situation developed and I did two months off for Sabbatical 1.21 in May-June, taught a course and scheduled Sabbatical 1.22 for September-December. Once again, however, a course showed up for Fall 2010.

So this is my third attempt at having a half-year -- five months effectively at this point -- sabbatical and switch into full-time writing mode for a while. I need to hit the start of this hard, because there is always the possibility that something will happen in the next four weeks and I'll find myself back in the classroom anyway after Labor Day. (whistling-in-the-dark-grin)

So, What's Next?

During Sabbatical 1.1 in 2009, one of my projects was finishing a novel and sending it off. So I have several other novel projects that I just need to spend Time In Chair on. I have a rewrite to work on and a number of other shorter projects. With novels ready to go, I shall start working on getting an agent as well.

Nearly a year ago I did something which ended up compressing a nerve in my leg and that's caused all sorts of problems. Including limiting the amount of Time In Chair I could stand (or sit if you want to be precise), so it's just as well that Sabbatical 1.22 in Fall 2010 was canceled and I was back in the classroom. I also skipped WindyCon -- that is not going to happen this year.

Also this summer I've already made one trip to my mother's house in Greensboro NC. And I was planning to do an August trip. But... given the opening up of my schedule and the heat which had gripped the South for so long, it makes sense to defer that trip to the fall. Maybe I'll have to take pictures of the fall colors in the West Virginia mountains. (grin) Though I can see it now -- as soon as I work through the time that I would've used for my August trip, I'll get a class for Fall, you wait and see.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (wmu-logo)
Grading Continues

My exam grader has informed me via email that the Finals and the last quizzes are now graded -- I'll get them Monday. Yay! That's one nagging worry I can forget about for a while. Sometimes I don't hear from graders for a lo-ong time and it makes me very, very nervous. The hard deadline is Noon on Tuesday -- that's when they shut down the online grading system to start processing Fall semester grading.

And On To Spring 2011 Semester News

Back during the summer, my boss told me he didn't have any classes for me for the fall, but I'd have two sections of the first semester Physics for scientists and engineers, PHYS-2050, for Spring. That was going to be my Sabbatical 1.22. But in fact I did end up with a Fall PHYS-2050 section, so four months of writing didn't happen. (grin)

For the regular semester it's best, given the economics of my long commute, to teach two classes. I agreed to one for the Fall because (a) it kept some money coming in, (b) it gave me a class to teach (!) and a reason to come down to the office (!!) and (c) I was expecting to teach two courses in the Spring. Alas, when contract letters came for Spring, there was only one section. At least it was the 1pm and not the 9am, as I currently have. While a nine o'clock is much better than an unholy eight o'clock, especially in the wintertime, it still has me leaving the house just about the time that Mrs. Dr. Phil is getting up -- and we do like to see each other on a regular basis.

Tuesday my boss said some things were changing and was I up for adding back the 9am section as well. I said sure, though it would be nicer to get a 10 or 11am class. I figured it wouldn't hurt to mention that. Well, there's that adage about the squeaky wheel...

An Upper Division Class

So then it was mentioned that if I was interested I could take the 10am PHYS-4400 Electromagnetism class. Oh well now there's an interesting thought.

Pretty much since I began teaching, I've been doing the introductory Physics courses, including the "third semester of the first year" Modern Physics course, at both Hope College and WMU. Twice I've taught upper division classes -- half of a math physics course at GVSU and a special Solid State Physics course for two zoomer seniors at Hope, using Kittel as a textbook. That last was in 1997. So (a) it's been a while since I taught an upper division class, (b) yes I was interested and (c) it isn't the graduate level course out of Jackson. (evil grin) That last point would be lost on most of you, but suffice to say that while I could probably teach the lectures for a Jackson-based class, there is no way I could do the exams, homework or grading. It's been too long, the materials are really tough and it's too short a notice.

But on Friday, I got an email from my boss wondering if I'd be in the office on Friday or Monday, as he had a revised contract letter for me, and I said I'm here now. And a few minutes later he came upstairs and dropped off the letter.

So... I DO get to teach two courses in the Spring and I DO get to teach a fun new course. (As opposed to teaching PHYS-2050 for the 21st time.) Ten registered so far, a typical load, about 1/3 of the names I recognize from first year courses without even doing a search of previous classlists -- all juniors and seniors. Already arranged to get a desk copy of the textbook shipped to the P.O. Box, rather than languishing in the university's mail room over break. (crafty grin)

All in all, a very pleasant way to end Fall semester's finals week. Now, back to grading papers...

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (rolling-stone-boat-2)
A Busy Month Of May

I haven't quite done the writing I wanted to get in this first half of Sabbatical 1.21, but that's largely been my fault -- and probably a good thing, too. The office at work needed cleaning, and that's started, with the critical work of wiring in a new Internet phone accomplished. And I spent a good amount of time starting on fixing up my website dr-phil-physics.com. Hope to have the next level of revisions rolled in by 06.06.2010. This thing about trying to do a good job on one's own website is that sometimes there are tasks that just take a long time to get the data entry and coding to look right.

Then there are things like getting our calendars arranged for the next couple of weeks and months -- and then last week going over to Hope College and getting our annual season tickets (since 1997) for the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre when their box office opened.

The Last Few Days

Already this week I feel like I put in a Real Writer's Life work week -- and it's only Wednesday!

Sunday I checked over the proof page for my comments for the 25th Anniversary Writers of the Future coffee table book. You know, 25 years × 12 winners/years = 300 authors + additional Published Finalists like moi. Not everyone contributed comments, so to get nearly a full page in the book, which is also supposed to be chock full of pictures and not comments from writers, is making me feel pretty special. Yeah, I think the WOTF contest was helpful to me, even before I was tapped for Volume XXIV.

Since I didn't come close to finishing the story I started a year ago, Monday was the big push to finish my Memorial Day-II story and post it. Which reminds me that part of the 06.06.2010 revisions for dr-phil-physics.com has to be a better list of any and all stories I've posted for free either here on my LJ or on my website -- or as published stories.

Tuesday began the new month and I managed to get two submissions in the afternoon and then squeezed one more submission in before dinner. Helpful to keep track of new markets and when markets re-open to submissions. And even when I forget about one, or let a date slip by, thankfully other writers make note of these things, too. Cathrynne M. Valente [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna is the new fiction editor at Apex Magazine effective 1 June 2010, so that was the third sub I sent out. (grin)

Then Tuesday night I had to finish my essay for the Pyr 25th Anniversary on "Five Reasons Why Science Fiction and Fantasy are Important to Me." How do I love thee? Let me count the ways... What? Only five reasons? And under 1500 words? Eeek! Talk about agonizing over the things you love. I don't dare hope that my essay will be the top dog in this contest, but the top prize is to get flown to Atlanta for DragonCon over Labor Day weekend as Pyr's guest. My sister lives in Atlanta and has been begging me to come to DragonCon for years. So I did try really hard and I did get it in before 11pm. (grin) Of course this morning I got an email saying that the Rules said I had to submit a street address and I'd sent the P.O. Box address. For the record, though, the HTML website just said "address (within the Continental United States)" -- it was in the separate PDF file where it had "street address (within the Continental United States)", so it's not like I'm totally nuts. I go over Submission Guidelines pretty closely, but had been looking at the cut-and-paste file I'd saved from the HTML site, not the PDF. (whew)

Then late night Tuesday I had to go back to my work file and make sure I made all the updates to my submission tracking and make sure I was up to date with all that. Currently I have 12 stories out to market, which is the highest number so far in 2010 -- I've been mostly between 9 and 11 all year. In March, I noted that I'd shipped my 300th submission to any market. Back on May 25th, I achieved my 300th result of any kind. It was, as statistically realistic, a rejection of course. (grin)

Well, No Wonder!

That's a lot of things worked on, so I guess that's where May went to. We welcome our new June-ish overlord masters and hope to placate them with good works, too. 'Cause when July 1st rolls around, we'll be back in the classroom, double-time, for Summer-II Session. (grin)

Dr. Phil

Busy

Sunday, 16 May 2010 02:32
dr_phil_physics: (undercon)
Since I Turned In Grades...

I haven't been doing a lot of writing the last 10-11 days. At least not fiction writing. As I mentioned in my Sabbatical 1.21 posting, I had to spend some time last week getting my office moved around so that this week IT can play with changing phones. It's been most of ten years since I accessed that wall jack, so it's been something of a pain.

Then there's been my website, dr-phil-physics.com, for which I've finally been able to spend the time to upgrade. Sometimes adding content is easy. Sometimes, it's a lot of work. Take the list of previous cons attended. Had to go back through my records from January 2003 and work out the 16 cons I've attended, comb through old LJ entries for those cons which I blogged about, etc. And formatting. One of the things I worked on I'll have to go back and fix, because when I uploaded Saturday afternoon and checked it out, it wasn't quite right.

I needed a break.

I Have A Lot Of Stories To Work On

So what do I do when I need a break, and face a long list of Things To Do? That's right -- let's start something totally new. I need something new for the Invenstory anyway, something that's not a Fleet story. Maybe something near term SF. Took out a folded piece of paper, while a rerun of Criminal Minds on A&E was nattering on in the background, and started. Immediately pulled the title from the first commercial that showed up and we're off and running. There was the beginning, there was the conflict. And a little while later, there was the idea we need for the finish. (grin)

Ah, I love it when a story idea comes together. Now just need to write the middle. (double-wide-grin)

Dr. Phil

Sabbatical 1.2

Thursday, 6 May 2010 16:31
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
Sabbatical 1.1

Last year I declared my time off from teaching to be a six-month sabbatical, following on the heels of Mrs. Dr. Phil's first sabbatical. The plan lasted about two months, and I got a lot of writing done. But then the Physics department called and I ended up with a Fall 2009 class teaching PHYS-1060 Stars and Galaxies. Despite "only" teaching two days a week during the Fall, there were a lot of things going on and frankly, it really isn't a sabbatical if you're still teaching and updating class assignments, researching the latest astronomy photographs, etc.

Which really isn't surprising. The whole point of a sabbatical is to make a break with the relentless schedules and demands of teaching -- and do something different to recharge the batteries.

May to December 2010

Fast forward to this year. The department didn't have classes for me for the May-June Summer-I session, and so far hasn't got anything for me for Fall 2010 -- though we're expecting classes for Spring 2011. And yesterday I was told that I should be teaching PHYS-2070, the same second semester calculus-based Electricity & Magnetism course I just finished teach two sections of, for the July-August Summer-II session. This is good on quite a number of levels, but it again leaves with a potential full six months of free writing time, "subject to change." (grin) So let's tackle that six-month sabbatical thingie again:

Sabbatical 1.21: May-June. I will be going in about once a week to the office. There's a bunch of old papers that need to be cleaned up -- you can't just throw away anything with a name or a grade, so it involves some sorting. Also, in two weeks they're going to start coming by and changing from the RJ-11 jacked phones to a VOIP Internet phone plugged into the RJ-45 network connection. That means clearing out some stuff so one can pull out the desk and get to the jack. (grin) And we need to schedule getting the roof replaced. But... I have a couple of deadlines closing during these two months so I can AND WILL get a lot of writing done.

Alas, it is too late and probably too expensive to take advantage of being off at Memorial Day and going to WisCon, one of my favorite SF/F cons. (Damn, I just checked by the WisCon website and unlike the last couple of years they (a) are NOT sold out of their maximum 1000 memberships, (b) have closed pre-registration and (c) cannot guarantee that there'll be any memberships available at the door when one shows up. So hope of going to WisCon has both faded and is annoyingly winking and waving at me. Stupid hope.)

Summer-II Session: July-August. I love teaching the 7½ week summer classes with their double-length 100 minute classes four days a week. The students are taking fewer classes, so they're concentrated on Just This Class for the most part. And for those who have to repeat the class, doing it in half the time must certainly reduce the boredom factor, allowing them to focus on those parts of the course they need work on. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that my very first full course I ever taught was a Summer Session PHYS-1150 algebra-based E&M course at Western Michigan University. The downside? I won't be able to attend the August 5-8 NASFiC in Raleigh NC.

Sabbatical 1.22: September-December. Subject to the department discovering I really am indispensable for the Fall 2010 semester, this is the big four-month block of "sabbatical" that I didn't get in last year. I have a number of big projects that I've started in the last year and I'll have the time to close a couple of these out. Really looking forward to it. (grin) This will provide no conflicts with attending either WindyCon for November 12-14 or the newly revived MadCon for September 24-26. Who knows? Maybe Jeff Silver will come up with the movie financing before the end of the year. (huge-grin)

So... what are you doing this summer?

Dr. Phil

Locked Out

Tuesday, 25 August 2009 22:12
dr_phil_physics: (fence-winslet)
Office Hours Today

As I breeze into campus and wander in from the parking lot, I get to the front door of Everett Tower. And it's locked. Huh. Pull out my ID card and swipe it through the card reader -- no joy. Blinked red LED and it beeps at me.

Are they telling me something? Has the disastrous Michigan economy crashed the university?

Just about that time the department chair came out of the side door -- and I was able to snag him. He was surprised that the door was locked at 11:30am, but his ID card did open it. Turns out the office said that the security computer crashed the other day and things have been wonky ever since. And the system seems to delete people in Physics randomly in its database.

So it's not me yet.

Next week it's two office hour days, then after Labor Day it's PHYS-1060 Introduction to Stars and Galaxies on Tuesdays and Thursday -- and sabbatical time the rest of the week. Should be a fun Fall Semester!

A Few More D9 Comments

Over the weekend we saw District 9, and while I gave it a Highly Recommended, I also expressed some concern about some of the ways racism was portrayed. Was this supposed to be part of the film's message? Or too much revealed about the filmmaker?

Well, science fiction/fantasy novelist and professor of creative writing at Chicago State University Nnedi Okorafor came out with a stronger comment which I think is worth reading. Link courtesy of writer [livejournal.com profile] jimhines Jim C. Hines.

And In Honor Of Starting A New Novel

Jim Hines also had a link to a column at SF Novelists he did on That New Manuscript Smell. He encapsulates the love/hate relationship of starting with the blank page very nicely.

Both of my current novels, OAS which just went to the first novel contest and GRV just started, began as short stories, so on Day Zero of the novel there was already something to work with. But I know what he's talking about.

The Gravediggers is turning into a lot of fun after just a couple of days. The original short story is now the basis for Part II, I have a good idea of how Part I will go -- but the real fun is that Part III is turning into something very unexpected. Cool!

Had things not gone so well at the start, I'd be tempted to set it aside and pick a different project. I'm always working on multiple stories, but this sabbatical time is a gift this year and I don't want to waste any of it. (grin) I'm sure I'll be eating these words when I get stalled three weeks from now. (double-jeopardy-grin)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
A Beautiful Fall Day

Driving in to the office today was quite striking. Huge, towering mountains of clouds -- they rapidly alternated between blanketing the sky and allowing brilliant sunshine to light up the world, almost immediately followed by heavy rain squalls. You name it, you got it. And it was still 66°F at 11am! This is the Dog Days of Summer in August?

The Usual Gassy Complaints

Wednesday, when I didn't need gas, it was running at $2.42.9/gal for regular. Thursday and Friday? $2.59.9/gal. So with a sudden 17¢ jump, my 25¢/gal discount from the grocery store was mostly eaten up. Arrgh. And what were they just saying the other day? That crude had dropped below $69/bbl?

Revving Up For Semester 53

Fall 2009 semester starts late this year because Labor Day is so late -- and WMU is actually following the public schools which are required by Michigan state law to open after Labor Day, to help eke out the last tourism dollars -- so classes actually begin on Tuesday 8 September 2009. My PHYS-1060 Introduction to Stars and Galaxies astronomy course is a Tuesday/Thursday course, so the 8th it is! You are supposed to be able to link class webpages to the registration pages. This didn't work the other year, but I decided to give it another try. Unfortunately, as faculty I get a different view than the students, so I don't know if it worked right.

Been getting a steady stream of emails about whether one has to buy the 5th edition of the textbook. Well, actually, yes. Now sometimes I am honest and have pointed out in other classes in other semesters that if they are one or two editions behind, it probably won't hurt them. Most of the introductory physics courses are well-established and I don't teach "out of the book" and I don't assign specific homework problems, so that's all right. But astronomy has been very dynamic, what with the amazing array of new tools, upgrades, methods and theory which has blessed the field, especially since the Hubble Space Telescope first flew. So yeah, the 4th edition won't cut it.

"But I was told in the other class (PHYS-1040) that we'd use the same book!" True, but upon questioning I found you took the course three semester ago, so it wasn't adjacent semesters. Sorry. Buck up and spend the bucks.

Updated a number of class webpages, so things are well set up for Fall. Will work on my authorly webpages at dr-phil-physics.com over the weekend and bring them up to date. If I have the time.

Next Novel

I have an ending to a short story to revise for Abyss & Apex -- I haven't actually officially announced that yet -- so I am planning on starting the second sabbatical novel project on Monday. I think I'm going to spend some time expanding my short story "The Gravediggers" to a novel. This was my first story to appear in print, but as an Honorable Mention in the CrossTIME anthology contest it earned no money. It's 2009, which is 2004 + 5 years, so the short story should be released. But I'd have to rewrite it to bring it up to current 29th century universe specs (grin) and if I have to do that, why not look at the novel length? Note: I haven't actually done anything to the story, just taken the word count as the short story stands.

GRV Project

Due Date: none

Away!

And now I should probably back up my files and pack up for home. Maybe I won't get rained on heading out to the Blazer. (double-trouble-grin)

Dr. Phil

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