Sesame Street Under Fire

M’kay. Going to steer a little political here. Generally, I try to keep such things off this page, but in this case, I feel too strongly. In regards to Mitt Romney’s claim that he wouldn’t cut education funding, yet would defund PBS, those are contradictory statements. I’ll ignore for the moment the absurdity of balancing the budget by pledging to cut “unnecessary” programs like PBS (0.012% of the annual budget), while simultaneously promising to ramp up our 700 billion dollar annual defense budget by 20%. Instead, I’m going to focus on the education aspect of this issue.

The plain truth is, Big Bird is an educator. Possibly one of the most important, yet under appreciated ones working. For many decades, Sesame Street has helped jump-start the education of hundreds of millions of children before they ever set foot inside a classroom. The foundation it gives children in language, math, science, and important social skills is simply unmatched in the history of television. For many children with parents of more modest means, who cannot afford private preschools, it is the first school they attend, and at a time that is absolutely crucial for brain development. Sesame Street has helped generations get a leg up before starting class, and continues to supplement and reinforce their education through the early years of school once they return home.

Now, ol’ Mittens almost certainly did what was best for his children by sending them to preschool where they were taught in person. I would never deny that luxury to those who can afford to do so. However, his success leaves him without a clear understanding of how important PBS and Sesame Street is to parents who can’t afford to. He doesn’t understand that Big Bird, the Count, Oscar, and all the rest may be the difference between a child excelling early on, or falling behind their classmates.

Help me explain it to him. If you grew up watching Sesame Street, if you learned the ABC’s from Muppets, if the skits and jingles are still in your head, please, repost this. Show Governor Romney that cutting funding to PBS IS a cut to education in this country.

Reincarnation

Good news, everyone! The site has been reincarnated with WordPress, making updates and general maintenance much easier than it had been before. The result will be more brain trimmings from me than ever before. Maybe this is a positive development in your life, maybe not. Either way, I’m excited.

A few things to announce with the new system. First, I had another sale a few months ago, to a wonderful project called Eighth Day Genesis. In short, it is a textbook for writers, game masters, and creatives of all stripes who want to learn how to craft believable worlds. Twenty authors came together, each contributing a chapter tailored to their own strengths in world-building. My own chapter, Building Worlds in a hostile Universe, focuses on the hard science of life around different types of planets, moons, stars, and galactic neighborhoods. This one was very popular at GenCon among both writers and GM’s this year, selling out of all of our paperback copies. Try it, tell a friend.

Next up is a short story I’m really happy with called The Business of Ferrets. I was asked to write a story with were-creatures, preferably not wolves, coming into conflict with steampunk. I picked a were-ferret, with a twist. A little bird told me it has a good chance at getting sold. Watch for an announcement soon.

I bit the bullet and joined Twitter, and I’m actually sort of enjoying it. Catch the random emissions of @stealthygeek by clicking on the Follow button over yonder on the left side.

Also, because the world of publishing doesn’t offer rejection in real-time, I took up stand-up comedy over the summer. Expect a smattering of videos of my attempts on stage soon.

Finally, as there has been some small controversy surrounding this subject inside my peer group of late, I’m going to re-post a diatribe from my Facebook author page from last week:

There seems to be some confusion among my nerdy friends about football and how it relates to being a geek. Yes, I am a massive geek, and yes, I am a massive football fan.

These are not contradictory stances. One does not exclude you from being the other. Let me tell you something about being a geek, maybe the best part, actually. Being a geek means not having to be embarrassed about the things that you love. It means you can shout your enthusiasm from the rooftops without caring what the mundanes think about it. It means being part of a community that doesn’t judge you for your over-the-top devotion to the strange, the off-beat, the obscure.

So why do some of us think it’s okay to be so dismissive of the love of things slightly more mainstream? I have a secret; sports fans are some of the biggest geeks out there. You want endless lists of stats to memorize? They have you covered. Merchandise to collect? Done. Throngs of rabid fans who will sit out hours or days in freezing temperatures for tickets? Honey, you have no idea. Costuming? Have you seen a BW3 on game day?

They’re no different, and no better or worse, than the rest of us. Sure, the guys huddled around their laptops in the sportsbar drafting their fantasy team may not recognize the parallels to a basement full of guys rolling character sheets, but they’re still there.So stop pretending there are different strata of geekdom, or that some types of nerdiness are less legitimate than others. That reeks of the same type of elitism that so many of us chaffed under back in school.

I am a geek about many things. I wear my Packer Superbowl XLV hat as proudly as I display my One Ring armband tattoo. And that’s okay.

Updates…

Brand new news to share. Firstly, The Crimson Pact: Volume III has hit the eShelves. For $4.99, you get fifteen demon-fighting stories from all over the multiverse. Many of your favorite characters return in sequels to stories from volumes I and II, while still others come from bright and shiny new faces for you to meet. Fifteen stories for five bucks, that’s thirty-three cents a story people. You can’t beat that kind of value. Still not convinced? Well, we have something to help sway the non-believers out there. No, it’s not the Spanish Inquisition, (you’d never expect it), it’s a FREE copy of our sampler Tales From the Crimson Pact. This sampler contains four juicy stories to wet your appetite for more, including my very first CP story Monsters Under the Bed. But act quickly, after tomorrow, the price skyrockets back to ninety-nine cents.

In other news, writing continues in earnest on my second Abyss Walker project, A Wererat’s Tale: Collar of Perdition. Kellacun travels south to find new adventures, and more dangerous enemies. Expect to see this one on the shelves around Christmas.

I’ll be in Madison, WI next weekend playing panelist at OdysseyCon. Swing on by and say hello.

And finally, I have a little treat for dedicated fans. As a big fan of The Onion, I was inspired to write a satirical article dedicated to the outrageous attempts of a particular political party to drag gender issues back into the 1950’s. Now I try not to get political here, but I think most of us can agree that things are getting a bit silly when equal pay protection laws are being struck down in midnight sessions. So, in the tradition of trading one absurdity for another, I give you…

Female Pilots Shove a Tampon in the GOP War on Women:
Continue reading

Hello Internets!

The last few weeks have been exciting around here. First of all, I need to talk about an amazing little convention in Springfield, MO called VisionCon. My After Action Report is a little late, but most of that was recovery time. In 2012, VisionCon entered it’s 20th year with a bang. I’ll say this, Missouri is the “Show Me” state, so when I landed, I said, “Show me a party.” They didn’t disappoint. The event was well organized, and the staff, including Melody, Keith, Michael, our gopher Jay, and all the rest made sure things went very smoothly, save for one fire-alarm incident brought on by a badgeless interloper. Everyone was very warm, hospitable, and quite drunk. Even though the con was small, (about 1500 attendees) it always felt very alive and moving. Sharing a booth with Shane Moore, we moved quite a good volume of books. Imagine that, geeks who want to read! I made a lot of new friends, met up with some great contacts, and acquired two new nicknames.

Oh, and if you’re ever at a Con and The Damsels of Dorkington are making an appearance, go! Unless you have something against smart, pretty girls making a ton of geek culture references and swearing a lot. Just don’t sit in the front row. In conclusion, if you’re within a thousand miles of Springfield, GO TO VISIONCON in 2013.

Even more exciting for me personally was the big announcement of the weekend, one I’ve had to be tight lipped about for over a month. As of now Shane Moore is handing off his popular “Wererat’s Tale” series of novellas to a new author. Starting with book number three, tentatively titled The Collar of Perdition, I will be penning Kellacun’s adventures as she works as a spy and assassin for a dark Elven King. We expect book three to hit the shelves around Christmas, although nothing is set in stone yet. Shane and I spend several productive, inebriated hours at the bar at VisionCon laying an outline for this book, and I must say I’m excited to write it. It will be epic.

On the same topic, my first stand alone Abyss Walker novella, Swords and Ploughshares, should be reaching stores in late summer. Keep checking in for more updates.

I’ve just found out that the third installment of the “Monsters” short story series has found a home in the next Crimson Pact anthology. This will be the third book, due out next month, so if you haven’t yet taken the opportunity, please give the first two volumes a try. Each has over five hundred pages of short stories from two dozen up-and-coming authors, many of whom are getting their first exposure to the publishing world through this project. And if you’re still bucking the e-reader trend, (like I am) volumes I and II are now available on Amazon in trade paperbacks.

I think that about does it for now. So until next time, sally forth and get your geek on.

Happenings…

Okay, long time no see. Real life and the day job got in the way for a while there, but now I’m back in the saddle. So, while I was out, my Abyss Walker project, now tentatively titled The Plowman, has been submitted to the publisher for a final review. A publication date has yet to be scheduled, but you can be sure I’ll be screaming it from the rooftops once it comes.

In other news, the BattleTech short, called “Sore Loser” has been cleaned up and resent to the editor. I hope you like it, Jason. I’ve begun work on the third and final story in the “Monsters” arch for the third installment of The Crimson Pact Anthology series, which is due out in June. A Hole in the Fence is still hoping to land representation soon, and I’ve made good progress on my second novel.

I’ll be attending VisionCon next month alongside Abyss Walker creator Shane Moore, actually meeting him for the first time in person, so there is a chance he doesn’t actually exist. Also, I’ve received my panel assignments for GenCon 2012, and I’m pleased to report that they’re going to let me talk about shooting and stabbing things for two hours. You can imagine how happy this makes me.

SFWA Reception 2011 and Other News

Mmm, some big updates to post today. Firstly, I’ve recently returned from a SFWA reception in New York. They did it right, renting out a private room in Planet Hollywood on Times Square, complete with an open bar, which I’m sure some of the participants came to regret the next morning as they stumbled into work. Fortunately, we Wisconsinites are made of tougher stuff, and I held my own. There were some amazing talents present, including editors, agents, publishers, and all the other behind-the-scenes people who make our little industry work. I must give a heartfelt shout out to Brooks Sherman and Alice Speilburg, who helped pass the evening with good humor and better advice.

In other news, I’ve completed and submitted the Abyss Walker novella project. Nothing left now but the waiting and inevitable edits. Also, another agent has requested a look at the full manuscript for A Hole in the Fence. So one ream of paper and a toner cartridge later, I have another torpedo in the water. Gotta hit something eventually.

Now that the novella is complete, I’ve returned to two projects that had been on hold, including a short story set in the BattleTech universe, and my second novel, which generated some considerable interest among the crowd at the SFWA reception. Nothing like having Charlene Harris’s agent ask to see some material to get a writer motivated.

I’ll be headed to World Fantasy Con in San Diego at the end of the month. Things are starting to get really exciting around here. Keep checking back for updates.

Hacked!

If you tried to visit the site in the last couple of days, but were unable to, I do apologize. Apparently, I’m important enough now to be hacked by a gang of unemployed, basement-dwelling teens in Bangladesh. Although I must admit that I am astounded by their skills, what with the labyrinthine system of biometric security features this site employs. My only question is which one of them had to do the whole Mission Impossible, dangle-from-the-ceiling-don’t-touch-the-floor routine. Truly, these were computer infiltration masterminds of nearly unlimited power and potential.

What I could have done to offend these masters of chaos enough to divert them from their work cracking the e-vaults at the Pentagon, DARPA, MI5, and Interpol truly baffles me. Whatever it was, gentlemen, I humbly apologize.

The Crimson Pact: Volume II

The Crimson Pact: Volume II is up and running on Amazon today. For your $5, you get 28 stories from all over the demon-fighting multiverse. You like steam-punk? We have you covered. Urban-fantasy, horror, sci-fi? There’s something here for you. With over 500 pages, it’s a great value. My short story, “Monsters in the Closet” is a direct sequel to the tale spun in the first volume. Katie and Jaws return, and Izzy is more powerful than ever. But can she control her gifts, as well as her hormones? Also, kick-ass car chase scene.

So please consider supporting my work, as well as the work of more than two dozen other talented writers, including an exclusive story from NYT Best-selling author of the Monster Hunter series, Larry Correia. And if you really like it, please write us a review.

Author, Comedian, Blogger