Upcoming Change on the Blog

Announcement Time:  For over a year now, I’ve been posting mostly Doctor Who-related items here.  This project started thanks to Reddit’s /r/Gallifrey subreddit, of which I have since become a moderator.  Often I would browse that site and see posts in which fellow fans would rewatch classic or new series episodes–or sometimes entire seasons–and review them, giving their own thoughts.  I learned a lot about the series, which has been one of my favorites since childhood; and finally, I decided to conduct my own rewatch, and begin posting my own reviews.  I posted them, of course, on /r/Gallifrey; but I also decided to cross-post them here, where I can expand a bit, adding things such as photos and links to streaming sites that carry the episodes.  Such things don’t work well on the subreddit, but they belong here.

It’s grown into quite the project, as I’ve sought to expand into other media (beyond the television series), with the ultimate aim of covering, well, everything–or at least, everything I can get my hands on.  Doctor Who is a franchise that spans more than five decades, with entries in television, the big screen, prose of all types, comics, audio dramas–even stage plays, which are mostly available now as audio recordings.  It’s more than a world; it’s an entire universe, or better yet, a multiverse, with incarnations as diverse as those of the Doctor himself.  I am unashamedly a fan of the series, and cataloguing it this way is a labor of love for me.

However, with the expansion of that project, it’s become clear that it’s more than this blog is set up to handle.  This blog was created several years ago as a place to showcase and discuss my own writing–fiction, that is–in anticipation of eventual publication.  While the publication efforts have been put on hold due to changes in my family situation, they haven’t been abandoned completely; and I still intend this blog to be used for that purpose.  Already I’ve separated its content once, removing posts that relate to family, beliefs, and personal matters, and relocating them to another blog, Thoughts of a Formerly Dead Man.  (To be precise, they haven’t been removed from this blog, but I did stop adding such posts, allocating new posts of that type to the other site.)  Now, it’s time to do the same with Doctor Who.

To that end, I’m announcing a new home for my Doctor Who reviews and discussion.  You can find it at The Time Lord Archives (http://www.timelordarchives.wordpress.com); I will be adding a link to that site to this blog’s link section.  The content I’ve already posted here will remain available here, and has also been exported to the new site, so that everything will be available in one place.  You’ll find that that site has been organized by type of media, a feature I had wanted to implement here, but never fully realized.  For the past week, I’ve been adding new posts to both sites; but effective yesterday, new Doctor Who material will only be added to the new site.

I maintain no illusions about the reach of this blog.  I am a small person doing small things for a small audience; and at this point in my life, I’m fine with that.  Eventually I do hope to devote more time and energy to original material, and to publication; it’s to that end that I’m maintaining this blog after the split.  Still, I do have followers here, and I appreciate all of you; and I owe you openness about my plans.  You can expect that the number of posts here will drop back to the level I was maintaining prior to beginning the Doctor Who project, for now at least.  If you joined this blog BECAUSE of the Doctor Who material, and you want to continue receiving the reviews, PLEASE consider following the new blog!  At the moment, I haven’t done much to publicize it, so there are few (if any) followers over there as yet.  Don’t let that deter you; the content will be the same as it was here, just in a new location.  The fact is, I’ll keep doing this regardless of followers, because it’s a labor of love for me, and because I’d like that site to be a resource available to fans of the series.  But it’s certainly good to know that I have a regular audience, no matter how small.

Thank you to everyone who’s followed along…and, happy reading! ~Timewalkerauthor

A Temporary Diversion: Doctor Who Rewatch

I’ve been away for a long time.  For various reasons, it’s been hard to write lately; and since I’m not driving myself toward publication at this time, I chose to stop for a while instead of agonizing over it.  It’s still difficult, and you’ll see that this post and the ones that follow in the near future are not fiction.  I’ll get back to it at some point, but I’m not sure when that will be.

In the meantime, here’s something new; or rather, in a sense, something very old.  Older than me, in fact.  For the sake of keeping my mind and my writing “muscles” in tune, I’m starting a series of review posts for–and if you know me, you should have guessed–Doctor Who.  I’ve started a rewatch of the classic series (1963-1989), and I want to share my thoughts on it as I go along, season by season.  I realize this may not be everyone’s area of interest; feel free to check out of this experience if you like, as I’m doing it for myself anyway.  But I hope you’ll stick around, and I hope–I really hope–you may find something interesting here.  And soon, if all goes as planned, I’ll return to the short stories and the posts on writing as in the past.

Happy reading!

~~~

I’m a fan of Doctor Who.  A Whovian, if you will.  There, I admitted it!  And that’s the first step to recovery, right?  Admitting you have a problem?  Well, I hope not, because I LIKE this problem.  It may be an addiction, but it costs less than heroin, and has yet to destroy my life, so…I think I’ll keep it.

Recently I began…well, what should I call it?  A rewatch?  Not exactly, because my experience to this point includes only a smattering of episodes, at least from the earlier seasons.  At the same time, I’ve seen considerable portions of the Fourth and Fifth Doctors’ runs, and so I can’t really say I’m seeing this for the first time, either.  But, for lack of a better word, I’ll go with “rewatch”; and I began at the very beginning, 11/23/63, with the First Doctor’s first adventure.

First Doctor

My intention here is to make a post for each season as I complete it.  I considered just making a post for each Doctor, as some others have done; but then it occurred to me that some Doctors have seasons that are very thematically distinct from their surroundings (The Key To Time and Trial Of A Time Lord come to mind at once).  Those story arcs will deserve separate treatment; and I don’t know at this point if I may find anything else like that along the way.  Therefore, every season it is!

Easily the most famous episode of Classic Who—by merit of being the one that started it all—An Unearthly Child was an exciting watch for me.  I had seen it before, a few years ago, on Youtube; I’m not sure if it’s still available there.  For a program that was intended to be educational, it was a wise choice.  The prehistoric setting of the TARDIS crew’s first destination would have captivated me as a child, and though I was watching it late at night, after my own children had gone to bed, I have a feeling it would have done the same with them (once they got over the black-and-white, that is).  With Ian, Barbara, and Susan, we have something for everyone—audience surrogates for man, woman, and child.  And then there’s the Doctor.

Totters Lane

76 Totter’s Lane–Where it all began

 

 

Many people have commented over the years on the Doctor’s overall development as a character—even the Doctor himself (as Ten) says it in the Time Crash short:

“Back when I first started at the very beginning, I was always trying to be old and grumpy and important, like you do when you’re young.”

What I didn’t anticipate was just how young the Doctor comes across (especially given William Hartnell’s age at the time!).  He’s both pompous and petty, embodying the idea that a little knowledge is dangerous—and he clearly only has a little knowledge at this point; far more than we mere mortals, but only a little by the standards that the series later establishes.  He makes mistakes, not of the “this was a miscalculation” variety, but of the “this was really stupid” variety.  Of course I’m looking at this through the eyes of a modern viewer, knowing that the Doctor is in fact very young by Time Lord standards; I see these things in him now, but had I been watching it in the 60’s, I probably would have just considered him to be a capricious and arrogant old man.  Still, with either interpretation, those qualities are evident all the way back to An Unearthly Child, in the way the Doctor treats Ian and Barbara—he kidnapped them, let’s not forget!—and even Susan.

first tardis crew

The first TARDIS crew, from An Unearthly Child

 

It didn’t take any time at all to introduce the series’ most iconic villains, the Daleks (in a serial named, shockingly, The Daleks).  I thought the serial was a well-rounded, fair introduction to the Daleks; all the basics are in place, and none of the weirdness we get in later appearances.  I was surprised to see that Davros didn’t appear; for some reason I had it in my head that his character appeared this far back, and I never thought to question it, even though the correct information is easy to find.  I’ll come back to it in a later post, but after watching The Daleks, I made a point of watching the Fourth Doctor serial, Genesis of the Daleks, just to get my history straight.  All in all, this introductory series was fair, but unremarkable; it’s noteworthy for introducing a science-fiction focus to the show, after the first serial’s historical emphasis.

I should note that, while I’m watching these classic seasons, I’m also in the middle of a rewatch of New Who with my girlfriend.  She’s not interested in the classic series, except where it intersects with the new and requires some explanation, so I’m going it alone on the classic series.  Still, it’s interesting to see the parallels between the two, even as far back as season one.  The third serial, The Edge of Destruction, introduces the idea of a “bottle episode”, where the cast never leave the TARDIS; this appears again in New Who Series 5’s Amy’s Choice, although with some clever variation.  I suppose that when a series has been around this long, new episode concepts are hard to come by; still, it was exciting to see this one being done so long ago.

First Tardis Interior

Ready to take off!  The first TARDIS interior

 

Skipping ahead (for the sake of brevity, not because of any commentary on the quality of the episodes), I noticed the first appearance of another New Who concept: Fixed points in time.  In the season’s partially-reconstructed final serial, The Reign of Terror (my personal favorite this season), Ian attempts to stop the imprisonment of Robespierre; Barbara comments on the futility of this attempt to change time, a theme which the Doctor has drilled into his companions at this point.  However, this is the first time that a particular event is portrayed as not subject to change; in earlier scenes—most notably in The Aztecs, where Barbara is the recipient of the lecture—the Doctor implies that the general course of history cannot be altered.  While the term “fixed point” is not used here, it seems that Robespierre’s imprisonment (and subsequent death) is such a point.

Reign of Terror

The Doctor going native in The Reign of Terror

 

One more:  The Ood.  Those aliens from the Tenth Doctor’s run don’t appear here, but their neighbors do; The Sensorites takes place on a planet in the same solar system, and its inhabitants bear some similarities with the Ood (with less hindbrain).  I like finding these references in New Who; it’s an easter egg hunt, I suppose, and I never get tired of it.  Other than the obvious—the major characters, the TARDIS, the Daleks, Skaro—this is the earliest example I’ve yet found.  Or rather, it was, until Clara Oswald went to work at Coal Hill School.

Susan Foreman

Susan, unhappy with the curriculum at Coal Hill

 

Overall, I liked the first season.  Occasionally I found it hard to follow, not because its plots were difficult, but because I’m immersed in modern television, which of course is much flashier.  Still, Doctor Who had to begin somewhere, and I’m glad it was here.  If only its creators had known what lay ahead!  But no one ever does.  Nevertheless, I’m supremely happy that it’s still going.

On to Season Two!

All episodes can be viewed on Dailymotion; links are below.  Due to the BBC’s early policy of junking tapes, some episodes exist only as reconstructions.

An Unearthly Child

The Daleks

The Edge of Destruction

Marco Polo

The Keys of Marinus

The Aztecs

The Sensorites

The Reign of Terror

Blogging Again!

This will be quick and painless.  Which is fantastic, because there’s been enough pain—of the literal variety—in my life lately.

I’ve been absent lately, and conspicuously so.  It’s not my fault, I swear!  Or maybe it is.  I can admit some responsibility here.  You see, seven long and arduous weeks ago, I received a visit from my new and least favorite companion in life, Crohn’s Disease.  (For more on my adventures with Crohn’s so far, check here and here.)  Through…okay, some fault of my own, I went without my medications for a few weeks, and that resulted in a flareup that I was almost certain would kill me, and I wish that that was an exaggeration.  For almost two months, it was all I could do to drag myself to work, and for a week in the center, even that didn’t happen.  During that time, not a single word was written, short of the paperwork that goes with my day job.  I would work during the day and collapse into bed almost as soon as I got home.

Frankly, you all deserve better than that.  Those of you who take time to read this blog, you deserve more.  But I’m back on my feet now, and here I am; and now, finally, I can get back to business.

In upcoming posts I’ll get back to my topical posts on the writing process, and I’ll fill you in on where I stand with my novel, The Last Shot.  I’ll post some excerpts, and give you an idea of where I’m headed with this project.  And hopefully, with any kind of luck (except the bad kind—enough of that already), I’ll get back to posting with more regularity.

Tonight I had the privilege of sitting in on a webinar hosted by the Washington, DC chapter of the Special Libraries Association (SLA), in which my good friend and fellow writer Cyndera was one of the presenters.  The webinar was part of SLA’s ongoing writing series, and was titled “Blogging for Work, Blogging for Life”.  The presenters were fantastic (and I may say, I was partial to one, but they were all great), and confidently knowledgeable in their fields of interest.  Particularly because I’m a bit on the thickheaded side (I’ve been called a caveman already tonight), I can’t often say that I learned a lot in a short time; but this is one such occasion, and I can’t congratulate the participants enough on a job well done.  If you’re interested in all things writing, blogging, and (of course) library-related, you should check out the SLA at www.dc.sla.org, or on Twitter at @sladc.  I’ve also included the contact information for the presenters of the webinar at the end of this entry; they are worth your time!

While the education I received was great and invaluable, I came away with something else just as urgent:  Motivation.  A key theme of all three presenters was, to borrow a phrase, “Just Do It” (Nike, please don’t sue me, I’ll take good care of it while I use it!).  They were speaking to new and aspiring bloggers, but after a two month hiatus, I feel new myself; and so I’ll take the advice.  Jump in, get started, and say what you need to say.  That’s the plan.

Thanks for coming along!

SLA Webinar presenters:

Marie Kadell (publishing as Marie Michelle Coleman):  Can be reached at www.makemineparanormal.com or on Twitter @M_M_Coleman.  She is the author of Bespoken, book one of the “Daydreamer and Nightangel” series, with book two forthcoming.

Christian I.J. Minter:  Can be reached at www.climbingthestacks.wordpress.com  or on Twitter @LibGirl09.  She is an adult figure skater and an accomplished librarian.

Aileen Marshall:  Our very own Cyndera, she has contributed to this blog, as well as her own.  She is the author of Rivers of the Mind, her first novel, which is in pre-production at this time.  She can be reached at www.cyndera.com or on Twitter @Cyndera.

Back On Track!

I thought this day would never come!

No, unfortunately, it’s not the day I publish my first book.  Nor is it the day I find an agent.  Those things are still firmly entrenched in the “In Progress” column.  No, it’s something less than that, but still exciting to me (and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that you take your good news where you can get it) :

It’s the first day of school!

Now, anyone who was with me in May will recall that I split off the family-related content into a separate blog (which you can find here), reserving this one for topics relating to my writing.  I haven’t gone back on that decision; and I promise you that this is not a family-related post.  Rather, I’m as excited about the first day of school as a writer as I am excited about it as a father.  Because now, it’s time!

Time to get back on track!

Time to get some work done!

Summertime, with the kids at home, is a great time—but let’s admit it, things fall by the wayside.  With forty-plus hours a week in the office, and all of the remaining daylight hours spent with the kids (who aren’t old enough to be trusted unattended yet), it’s hard to keep writing, though I made an effort at it (as seen in some of the short stories on this site).  Now, today, it’s time to set things back in order, and I am looking forward to it.  I hope you are, too!

So, with that said, here are some projects I have in the works, and where I stand on them:

  • My novel, The Last Shot, is complete in its third draft. I’m in the process of searching for an agent, which requires preparing and sending query letters—dozens of them, most likely.  I started this before the summer began, but was forced to set it aside for a few months.  The next round of letters will go out in the upcoming 1-2 weeks.  Stay tuned—as things progress, I will post excerpts and other news here!
  • Cyndera and I have a joint project in the works—a volume to be published jointly via Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, in which we will each contribute a novella. These novellas will be works of science-fiction, and are the projects upon which we are each currently working.  More details will be forthcoming as we have them—keep watching!
  • I have a new Facebook page! For up-to-date information about my fiction, check it out at https://www.facebook.com/Timewalkerauthor.
  • I’ll be expanding my posts on Twitter soon as well (after much persuasion—you know who you are). You can follow me on twitter @Timewalkerautho (and curse you, Twitter, for allowing one less character on usernames than I needed!).
  • New stories and posts will continue to be posted here at Timewalkerauthor. As well, for family and spiritual content, you can check out my second blog at Thoughts of a Formerly Dead Man.
  • In addition to the items above, I always have several other projects in the background. As I complete more urgent items, those will make their way to the surface.  I’ll post more as they arrive!

Thanks for reading!

Divide and Conquer!

A year and a half ago, I established this blog to promote my efforts to write on a professional level and be published.  It was my first foray into the world of blogging, and I have to say that the sensation went to my head.  There is so much flexibility in the blogosphere!  A blogger can, within reason, say anything he or she wants to say.  As a single father, it didn’t take long for my blog to become overrun with posts about my children and my personal life, and especially my faith–and while those are pleasant topics, they’re far afield from the original purpose of the blog.

With that in mind, I’ve started a second blog!  Going forward, posts about family, faith, and other life topics may be found at “Thoughts of a Formerly Dead Man“, which is up and running with a half-dozen or so posts at this time.  You’ll also find links to family-, spiritual-, and life-oriented blogs and sites there, some of which have previously been linked from here.  Although I will not delete previous posts of that nature from this blog, I want to narrow the focus of this blog and return it to its original purpose of supporting and publicizing my written work.  Posts here will include–as I originally planned–progress toward publication of my first and subsequent novels; observations on the art and craft of writing; and entries into my short-story series.

Readers of one blog are welcome at both, and I hope you’ll take the time to check it out.  Happy reading! ~Timewalkerauthor

Slow-Motion Avalanche

For any readers who were wondering, I haven’t died, or become a leper and lost my typing fingers, or any other colorful fate.  I had decided, some time ago, that I would only be posting when I actually have something to say; and that has proven to be “not that often” over the past several months.  As well, this thing called life keeps intruding, pesky thing that it is.  This is not an apology, but perhaps an explanation; and unless further intermissions are the result of some dramatic cause (which would get its own post), this explanation will be the last of its kind.  Moving on!

I went to work yesterday to cloudy skies and clear streets.  Silly guy that I am, I had paid no attention to the incoming weather reports—I long ago turned off the notifications for the weather app on my phone, and the last time I watched a weather report on television, they were giving alerts for an incoming comet that was scaring the dinosaurs.  No, scratch that joke; I have long since made it clear that I’m not an evolutionist, so I should be joking about the Flood instead.

I knew something was up when coworkers started bailing out of the office at an alarming rate.  It wasn’t until after the boss told me to leave early if it got bad out, that I looked out the window and saw snow.  Lots of snow.  It wasn’t falling fast, but it was relentless.  Within an hour, every visible surface was covered, and the 24-hour staff who nominally work under me (I’m not the supervisor, but I was the closest thing on duty) were refusing to drive anywhere, so I took the boss up on the offer.  Throughout the night, it was like an avalanche in slow motion, burying everything, but so politely that you could hardly be angry about it.

We topped out at about fourteen inches today.  That isn’t much for places like Minnesota or Maine, but it’s quite respectable for West Virginia.  The last time I saw a foot of snow here, it brought four of its friends with it, all in one night, and collapsed twenty-three buildings around town.  That was in 1998, and if I may say so, we’ve had an easy time of it since.  As a consequence, no one is particularly happy with the current state of affairs, if the level of complaining to be seen on Facebook is any indicator.  Most of the complaining, of course, is about that perennial fan favorite:  School closures.

Confession Time:  Some of the complaining was me.

Confession Time: Some of the complaining was me.

Is it really that bad?  With apologies to every parent I know, I don’t think it is.  If they were out for weeks on end, I might think so, but so far this year my kids have only missed one complete week of school, plus a smattering of other days.  In a mountainous state, that’s a fair bargain.

The problem that we parents, all of us, have with snow days is not the slow-motion avalanche I mentioned.  It’s the second slow-motion avalanche:  that gradual accumulation of cabin fever in the kids, and sometimes in ourselves.  It threatens to bury us, too.

I knew I was in trouble today when I found myself sending the kids out of the room for the simple crime of being bouncy.  It’s not always wrong to take a breather; sometimes it’s necessary.  I knew, though, that I wasn’t at that point; I knew I was only doing it because I was short-tempered.   I was the one who was in the wrong this time.

That’s what happens, isn’t it?

When you’re a parent, you’re in the business of being right.  You have to be.  You are the authority figure, and what you do is going to shape your child’s view on right and wrong.  The sad side effect is that when you’re always right, you’re always right.  You come to a place where you don’t stop to question whether there’s a better way.

I don’t know what decisions you might have to face as a parent.  There are enough pitfalls to go around, so I couldn’t deign to advise you on yours, because I don’t know which ones you have to navigate.  For me, today it was the choice between pushing my kids away, or spending valuable time with them.  I started to push, but then I stopped, thought about it, and pulled them back.  After all, they aren’t getting any younger, and I have precious little time to shape their lives.  This is something I’ve been challenging myself to work on.  I still have my own ambitions, and still chase them, but for the moment, I’ll live with the reality that my time is divided, and that they deserve their share of it.  They only have one father, and that’s me.

But, you, Other Parents, I will offer you one piece of advice tonight:  Stop and think.  In whatever situation you are, stop and think.  Think about the decision you have in front of you, and what each option will mean.  Before you act, think.  How will your choices affect your child, affect you, affect the world around you?  When you deal with your children, you deal directly with the future.  Choose wisely!

Maybe that advice isn’t for you, because you already live it.  Good for you!  Pass that wisdom on to someone who needs it.  And if you are the one who needs it, then, there is no time like now to start.  Then, maybe, your own avalanches won’t have a chance to bury you.

New Site Additions

I don’t have anything witty to say today.  This post is simply to say that I’ve added a few items to the site.  Check out the new Stories page–only one story at the moment, but more to come.  The story you’ll find there, “Fallen Angels”, is a short that I entered in the Fall 2012 Writer’s Market Short Fiction Contest, in the Science Fiction Category.  As I didn’t win, I decided to post it here.  Your feedback would be greatly appreciated, so check it out!  Also check out the “Strange Happenings at Ridgeline Drive” page.  More content coming soon!  Thanks!

New Year’s…Lack of Resolution?

2013 is upon us. Take that, Mayans!

The local radio station I listen to was asking listeners today what they had chosen for their New Year’s Resolutions. Hmm. I made one of those once. I actually kept it for a while, too, though no one who knows me will believe me. (Spoiler Alert: I took up jogging. I was terrible at it.) I persevered for three tortuous (and torturous) weeks, until my wife took pity on me and persuaded me to get a gym membership instead. The membership was a bad investment for the price, as it turned out, but that’s another story. At any rate, we continued pretty faithfully, about three times a week, for several months…and I lost forty pounds. Not too shabby for a guy that had never made a resolution before.

Here’s the thing, and I know it’s happened to you too: Ultimately, it didn’t last. The gym visits tapered off (and finally ceased when our lives catastrophically fell apart in August, but again, another story), half the weight came back, and my resolve flickered and died. It happens all the time—it’s a wonder I made it as long with that resolution as I did. Why, though? Why does it happen?

Don’t look to me to be an expert on anything, I will severely disappoint you. But I do have an idea about this. It’s because changing is harder than staying the same. Dare you deny it? How’s it coming with quitting smoking, or balancing work and home? I’m not scolding, I’m sympathizing. It’s tough! Who doesn’t know that it’s easier to put pounds on than to take them off? The body, the mind, the soul, they all resist change. Positive change, anyway…perversely, negative change seems to be pretty easy.

There is some hope. We can use our laziness! By that I mean, small changes are easier to make, and easier to maintain. Be realistic in your goals. When I made my jogging resolution, I had the goal of losing a lot of weight, but I purposely kept that enormous goal nebulous, “out there” somewhere. More realistically, I just said, “I’ll do this three times a week, as long as I can.” I did narrow it down with a planned day of the week and time of day; the more concrete you can make your goal, the more likely you are to keep it.

Sorry, that’s all the resolution advice I have. But I would be interested in knowing what resolutions you have this year…IF they are unusual. Everyone says they want to lose weight/stop smoking/stop drinking/read more/balance work and home/exercise. How about the more out of the ordinary ones? Feel free to comment.

New Year’s isn’t just about resolutions, of course. It’s about change. If your life is changing dramatically this year, you have my sympathy…mine is also changing, my friend. My wife of ten years and I are divorcing, for one—something I never dreamed would happen, but here it is, for reasons I don’t want to talk about now. With that said, I find myself single-parenting, a challenge I couldn’t have imagined before. If you are facing anything even remotely close to that—or worse, I know there is much worse out there—then again, you have my sympathy. And if you can handle more than that, then you are Superman, and need to be out saving the world instead of reading my blog.

Not all change has to be bad. And this is where I pull these two threads together: This blog. For me, this represents both a change and a resolution. It’s a change, in that I’ve spent years writing, and saying I wanted to be a writer, and never DOING anything about it. No more of that (and thank you to the friends who pushed me—you know who you are!). And it’s a resolution, in that I’m resolving to maintain it. Don’t expect daily content, but we’ll shoot for at least weekly, and more often if I can. Who knows…maybe I’ll surprise everyone, including myself. We’ll find out.

Happy New Year’s!