Sorry for the grumpy post last week, but it did feel great to get my crankiness out.
The week got better, then it got terrible again. Potentially lost a big client to stuff outside my control, and then I got news about my writing career.
I don't want to discuss anything yet about what's happening, but let's just say that everything is very uncertain at this point. I've been talking about my debut novel, Dragonfly Warrior, for so long now...and when I signed my contract back in January of 2011, I was all high on life.
But six months later, when the publisher shut its doors, I crashed and burned. For those of you that were there, you know how down I got. But I got my rights back and signed another contract with a new publisher last year. Dragonfly Warrior is the first of three books in my Steampunk series: Mechanica Wars. I signed a second contract with the same publisher for the second book, Shadow Warrior. My niche for these novels was Asian steampunk.
I have plans on writing a second trilogy in this series, where I would go beyond exploring Asian myths and inject some African and South American mythology as well.
Oh, I had big plans.
But now it's just a waiting game. And I keep thinking, why do I put myself through this? Writing books and getting them published is really just self-abuse. I won't lie. I've thought about quitting (again). My last hiatus lasted a good 10 years. If I hadn't gotten into blogging back in 2005, I probably wouldn't have started writing again.
So I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I'm Type-A, and pushing myself to fulfill a lifelong dream just doesn't seem to be working. I'm thinking maybe I should just sit back and just let things settle first. Wait and see...which is so very not-me.
It's Monday morning, and I'm not in a good mood. My traveling has been nuts the last few weeks, so I apologize for my lack of visiting. This weekend was crazy too. Got food poisoning or a stomach virus. Yeah, not fun at all. And this week is going to be busy.
So I'm not in a good mood. At all.
When I'm cranky, it seems everything bothers me. So today, I want to give you a quick list of things that seem to really get on my nerves lately.
1) People who don't use the left turn lane. Remember when the road was shut down for two months so they could build that turn lane for drivers to use instead of blocking traffic? So why can't drivers get the hell out of the main road and go to that convenient turn lane to go buy donuts or get their coffee addiction-on?
2) Bitchy Mothers. Dealt with a bitchy lady yesterday - someone I don't even know. A neighbor's sister with 98 children and one on the way. I know hormones can play havoc on your emotions, but for the love of Vishnu - then stop reproducing.
3) Snazzy dialog tags. I've blogged about this a couple times. And I've been helping a few writers break their habit of using them. But another "author" argued with me about this. Shrieked, muttered, growled, hissed, screeched, sassed, retorted, etc....all of these are shitty dialog tags. Dialog tags should be invisible. If you feel the need to use descriptive dialog tags, either your writing is poor or you're insecure about the strength of your prose and dialog. Using descriptive dialog tags is like putting $1000 rims on a Yugo.
4) Prequels. What's the deal? Look, I have a big ego too. Most writers do. But holy crap, must an author indulge and write stuff about characters they love so much, that there's a need to detour a series' main plot and go backwards? Look what happened with Star Wars Episode I. Almost every prequel I've read has been the Jar-Jar Binks of literature. Please...no more damn prequels.
5) Novellas. This goes hand in hand with prequels. Why write a novella spin-off? Look, I know you "killed your pretties" during the editing process and you're left with 10,000 - 20,000 words you've hacked. There's a reason why. Don't reshape and repackage that backstory crap into a spin-off novella. Again, it's pure indulgence. Go forward with your series' story and stop taking so many detours. It's annoying, and I've read so many "pure" readers' negative reviews on prequels. It's unsatisfying for them. Fellow writers and maybe a select few die-hards might appreciate it, but they're not your main audience (hopefully not).
6) Television. I don't watch TV that much these days. There are a few gems, but they are truly rare. Reality television sucks atomic donkey balls. So sick of it. Look, when "Celebrity Wife Swap" now has Melissa and Joan Rivers going to Alaska, and Bristol Palin taking over their shallow show that critiques what celebs wear on the red carpet, they're obviously out of ideas. These people are hardly celebrities, and they're not even wives. I'd rather watch an old Scooby Doo episode than any of the stuff on TV right now.
7) The weather. What is going on? I'm on the road a lot. And I've been stuck in tornadoes, floods, storms...last summer it was drought and heat. Seriously, the only things missing are the locusts and Death on a Pale Horse.
8) Justin Bieber. 'Nuff said.
9) Twitter. Everytime I get on Twitter, I'm entertained for maybe 30 seconds. Then I'm reminded why Twitter sucks. #tweetthisyoumutha$#@!
10) Hipsters. God I hate hipsters. You know, I don't care about how you dress, the music you like, or even your political views. I try to get along with everyone. What I hate about Hipsters is how they believe that they are above everyone else. And they're really a bunch of hypocrites. Hard to take a Hipster seriously talking about how greedy the 1% is when you're in your $500 jeans, holding your $600 iPad, talking on your $700 iPhone 5. Not to mention how you eat out all the time, until you start dating and all of a sudden you become gastrosexuals. You're part of the problem. Now go suck it.
Growing up, one of my most favorite things to do was to play with my father's shortwave radio. Often times, I'd hear really strange sounds coming from the radio - very weird transmissions. Morse code, weird music, and the voices. The voices spooked me out the most. Sometimes it was male, more often female. Several times, I swear it was a child's voice.
The voice would often just drone on and on, saying a series of numbers over and over again. Then the whole transmission would repeat itself.
For years, I would just listen to the voices saying their numbers - wondering what the hell it all meant. Who was sending this message? And more interestingly, who was receiving them? Eventually, the shortwave radio wasn't as interesting to me, and I forgot all about it.
Until I started doing some research...
The phenomona of strange transmission via shortwave frequences is called Number Stations. These mysterious transmissions are heard all over the world, and the voices are in a mulitutde of languages. The voices are most often a woman, but can also be male, a child, or mechanically generated. Sometimes the transmission will begin with a little music, or the word "attention" can be heard. Then the voice will be reading a series of numbers, letters, or phonetic alphabet (i.e. "Charlie" for the letter "C"). The transmissions will normally follow a very tight schedule, and each might last hours.
So what exactly are these Number Stations???
The most popular theory is that it's a method for undercover spies to get their orders. To transmit messages via shortwaves is not that difficult, but more importantly, it's cheap and simple for your undercover spy. You can get a shortwave radio from Wal-Mart for $20.
Why use shortwave signals? Why not use cell phones or the internet? With the advent of technology, it's become even easier to intercept messages from a phone or a computer. With shortwave signals, the messages are often coded orders.
If the spy is using a one-time pad to decrypt these numbers, the code is unbreakable. The numbers or letters being broadcast from Toronto to Bejing are easy to listen to, but they're meaningless unless you have the "key" to decoding them and receiving your messages. (Russian spy book of one-time pads pictured left).The spy decodes the numbers into letters, back into numbers, and then into letters once more to get the message. He then burns the one page key. It's random, it's encrypted, and it's impossible for anyone to break.
The world's governments will not admit to using Number Stations, although recently, the US government accused Cuba of having a spy on American soil. The "Atencion" number station was believed to be the method by which Cuba's spies would receive their orders. Ana Belen Montes was accused by the CIA of being a Cuban spy when her laptop was recovered, and the "key" to decrypting those shortwave messages was found.
Below is a real sample of the famous "Atencion Number Station."
One of the most famous Number Stations is the "Lincolnshire Poacher." It begins with the English folksong, and then goes into it's coded voice message. The voice is female, and you'll notice that at the end of a series of numbers, she will raise her voice on that fifth and final number. This transmission is believed to be from the British Secret Intelligence Service being sent from the island of Cyprus. Listen for yourself right below. James Bond indeed!
One Number Station I find a little creepy is one called "Swedish Rhapsody."It begins with a few beeps, and then this little Swedish song would play as if from a music box. Then this freaky kid's voice starts saying numbers in what I think is German. It even says "achtung" between five number sets. I've read this Number Station is still quite active, and for those with shortwave radios, you can here it on three frequencies simultaneously at: 4779, 5340, and 6779 on Saturday evenings.
What orders are being given out in this clandestine method? Meeting places for undercover spies? Call to arms for terrorist sleeper cells? Or perhaps orders to assassinate someone is a message being sent over the airwaves.
The funny thing is, one would think since the end of the Cold War, these kinds of secret transmissions would've at least slowed down. But the contrary is true, as Number Stations enthusiasts have noted that it's picked up since 1990.
Exactly what are these mystery voices in the air saying?
The mystery continues...
For more Number Station recordings, go to The Conet Project by Iridial to listen to more.
Or, get a shortwave radio and just start listening.
Blogging since 2005.
Medical sales warrior by day, writing ninja by night...
I am the author of the Mechanica Wars series. The first book, Dragonfly Warrior, will be published in 2013 (stay tuned for details).
I love science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, biographies, and chocolate chip cookies.