A Lesson I Forgot (New Video)

Following up on the effectiveness/efficiency episode from last week, here’s a bit about a lesson I re-learned recently: how to be a bit more efficient with office work …

I keep trying to do better!

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Related Videos:
Don’t Sacrifice Effectiveness for Efficiency
Just Doing Our Best
We Are All Unfinished Products

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The Gray Man … is on a Bookplate

If you want a signed copy of Walking on the Sea of Clouds or Quality Education — or of either of my CDs — but you’re not going to be with me at a convention and you don’t want to pay for postage to mail your things to me, I’ll be happy to sign and send you a bookplate:


Ninth Moon, LLC did this custom bookplate design for me.

Just send me a stamped, self-addressed envelope, and be sure to tell me if you want the bookplate personalized. (And if you want to throw in a buck to cover the cost of the bookplate itself, I’d be okay with that.)

Thanks, and have a great day!

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Guest Post! from Author Beth Cato: Cinnamon Twist Cookies, and CALL OF FIRE

In honor of her new novel, Call of Fire, being released today, welcome my friend, Beth Cato!

I’m Beth Cato, the author of two steampunk fantasy series with Harper Voyager. The second book in my Blood of Earth trilogy is Call of Fire, which is out today. These books feature a 1906 America that is allied with Japan as a world power, and in the process of dominating mainland Asia.

My heroine, Ingrid Carmichael, has spent much of her young life working as a secretary, housekeeper, and cook, all while hiding her powerful earth magic. I do a fair share of cooking myself — I run a food blog called Bready or Not. Every Wednesday at BethCato.com, I post a new recipe. I’m most famous/infamous for my cookies, which I’m known for bringing to conventions and signing events.

These Cinnamon Twist Cookies give you a chance to play with cookie dough. The result is a delicious cookie with a pretty appearance and delightful oomph of cinnamon.

Cinnamon Twist Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven at 375-degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Divide dough in half. Stir cinnamon into one half until it’s mixed in and brown.

Grab equal pinches of both kinds of dough, place them side by side, and gently twist into a short rope. Place on cookie sheet, with several inches around each to account for expansion. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until the cookie is set with the pale dough just tinted brown. Let cookies cool on wire rack. Store in a sealed container for several days.

The original post with the recipe and more pictures can be found at:
http://www.bethcato.com/bready-or-not-cinnamon-twist-cookies/

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More about Call of Fire:

At the end of Breath of Earth, Ingrid Carmichael had barely survived the earthquake that devastated San Francisco and almost crippled her with an influx of geomantic energy. With her friends Cy, Lee, and Fenris, she flees north, keenly aware that they are being pursued by Ambassador Blum, a cunning and dangerous woman who wants to use Ingrid’s abilities as the magical means to a devastating end.

Ingrid’s goals are simple: avoid capture that would cause her to be used as a weapon by the combined forces of the United States and Japan in their war against China, and find out more about the god-like powers she inherited from her estranged father. Most of all, she must avoid seismically active places. She doesn’t know what an intake of power will do to her body — or what damage she may unwillingly create.

A brief stopover in Portland turns disastrous when Lee and Fenris are kidnapped. To find and save her friends, Ingrid must ally with one of the most powerful and mysterious figures in the world: Ambassador Theodore Roosevelt.

Their journey together takes them north to Seattle, where Mount Rainier looms over the city. And Ingrid is all too aware that she may prove to be the fuse to alight both the long-dormant volcano … and a war that will sweep the world.

Call of Fire is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers.

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More about Beth herself:

Nebula-nominated Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the new Blood of Earth trilogy from Harper Voyager. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.

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Thanks, Beth! I love cinnamon, so those cookies sound awesome, and I wish you much success with your new novel!

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An Old But Simple Prescription for a Better World

(Another in the series of quotes to start the week.)

Today’s quote comes from English novelist and playwright John Galsworthy (14 August 1867 – 31 January 1933), who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1932. In one volume of his “Forsyte Saga” series of novels, In Chancery, he included this:

I don’t know much about morality and that, but there is this: It’s always worth while before you do anything to consider whether it’s going to hurt another person more than is absolutely necessary.

That reminds me of a Heinlein quote from “The Notebooks of Lazarus Long,” as well as the “Silver Rule.” Where the Golden Rule is positive — “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you” — the Silver Rule (as I understand it) is similar but negative: “Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.”

A moral compass
(Image: “A moral compass,” by John LeMasney, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

Sometimes we don’t intend to hurt others but we fail to foresee all the consequences of our actions. Sometimes causing a little bit of hurt seems necessary, as when a surgeon cuts a patient in order to remove diseased tissue. However, if we anticipate that the consequences of our actions will include hurting someone, then Galsworthy’s approach seems to me like a nice principle to apply. We might refrain, or so something different, if we think we may hurt them more than necessary.

Perhaps we can all give it a try, at least for this week.

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There Will Be War

(Another in the series of quotes to start the week.)

Today is U.S. science fiction author Jerry Pournelle’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Dr. Pournelle!

After winning the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1973, Dr. Pournelle (PhD, political science) served as President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for the 1973-74 term. He is perhaps best known for several bestselling collaborations with Larry Niven (including The Mote in God’s Eye and Footfall), and with Niven and Steven Barnes.

The subject of this post refers to a series of anthologies Dr. Pournelle edited in the 1980s, based on the axiom “There Will Be War.” The phrase is not a wish for war, but a recognition that we are a violent species living in an often violent and unfortunately limited world; and that we are unlikely now, in the near future, or over the long term to resolve our deepest differences for very long in any way short of war.

From the first of the “There Will Be War” anthologies, published in 1983 and recently reissued by Castalia House, we get this quote:

Historically, peace has only been bought by men of war. We may, in the future, be able to change that. It may be, as some say, that we have no choice. It may be that peace can and must be bought with some coin other than the blood of good soldiers; but there is no evidence to show that the day of jubilee has yet come….

History shows another strong trend: when soldiers have succeeded in eliminating war, or at least in keeping the battles far from home, small in scope, and confined largely to soldiers; when, in other words, they have done what one might have thought they were supposed to do; it is then that their masters generally despise them.

With respect to the first quoted paragraph, it is one thing to wish for peace, to hope for peace; everyone with whom I had the pleasure of serving did so. We did not want war, but we were determined to be ready for war and, if called upon, to do our duty in the crisis.

With respect to the second quoted paragraph, some people have despised the military for a long time; some have come more recently to despise those of us who served and those who still do. Perhaps not you, but perhaps someone known to you, whom the danger has not reached and who might not recognize it until it was upon them. Thus it has ever been, and thus it will ever be. Yet some of us still serve, knowing that not everyone who lives under the flag appreciates those who serve to defend the Republic for which it stands.


(Image: “Morning Salute,” on Wikimedia Commons.)

As for me: To all those still serving, I thank you, and salute you, and wish you peace. “There will be war” — but I pray it will not reach us for a long, long time.

I hope you have an excellent week.

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Being an “Exitpreneur” (New Video)

This might have been little more than an excuse to make up a new word….

How about you? How good are you at abandoning some ideas — especially good ideas — in order to concentrate on others?

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Related Videos:
We Are All Unfinished Products
Looking at Education as a System
Just Doing Our Best

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Congratulations! Prizes Are Going Out Today

Last week we held a drawing for several copies of Walking On The Sea of Clouds — we organized a fun little “Facebook Live” event where three friends drew names out of an actual hat — and I announced the winners in my newsletter.* The prize packages will be on their way very soon, and here’s a look at everything in the Grand Prize:

If you didn’t win, you can of course pick up the novel on Amazon as an e-book or as a trade paperback. In addition to Amazon, it’s also available on the Barnes & Noble website, on Kobo, on Smashwords, and a few other places as well.

You may prefer to support your local bookseller, and you can certainly get them to order a copy for you. Fair warning, though, whether ordering online or at a bookstore: the paperback is a bit pricey — turns out it’s a pretty thick book!

If you like realistic science fiction, Walking On The Sea of Clouds might fit the bill for you — but don’t just take my word for it! Among other testimonials I’ve posted now and then, these get the point across quite succinctly:

Everything about Walking on the Sea of Clouds feels amazingly authentic.
— Edmund R. Schubert

This is meat and potatoes for the hard science fiction fan.
— Martin L. Shoemaker

I hope you’ll give it a try, and that something in it resonates with you! Let me know what you think — and if you like it, tell your friends!

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*I try to share different things in my newsletter than I do here on the blog or over social media, so if you’re not already getting it, I’d be pleased if you would sign up on my mailing list. At the very least, I think you’ll find it to be more personal, and more conversational, than the blog. Plus, you get a free nonfiction e-book for signing up!

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We Need Government, But Not Necessarily Governing

(Another in the series of quotes to start the week.)

Fantasy fans may be expecting a quote from the Harry Potter series this morning, since today is J.K. Rowling’s birthday; while that was tempting, I decided to take this in a different direction.

In addition to being Ms. Rowling’s birthday, today is also the birthday of US economist Milton Friedman (31 July 1912 – 16 November 2006). Friedman received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976, and is something of a hero to libertarians because he argued for smaller government and a freer economy. However, it’s important to note that Friedman understood the importance of government, as he said in 1973:

We need a government to maintain a system of courts that will uphold contracts and rule on compensation for damages. We need a government to ensure the safety of its citizens — to provide police protection. But government is failing at a lot of these things that it ought to be doing because it’s involved in so many things it shouldn’t be doing.

And in 1978 Friedman said:

We have to recognize that we must not hope for a Utopia that is unattainable. I would like to see a great deal less government activity than we have now, but I do not believe that we can have a situation in which we don’t need government at all.

The problem is that often government spends too much time and effort governing — that is, imposing requirements and restrictions on citizens as to what they must and must not do. If we as citizens need governing, it is only because we have failed to govern ourselves; and if we freely impose upon ourselves a government to rule us rather than to operate alongside us — if we accede to be governed in that way — then we will have admitted that liberty is too great a burden for us to bear.


(Image: “US Capitol at Dusk,” by Martin Falbisoner, on Wikimedia Commons.)

I prefer the idea of a government that governs itself well; that leaves the rest of us to govern ourselves as best we can; and that intervenes and interferes in our lives very little.

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And now, if you’ll permit me an aside on “This Day in History” … I was interested to read on the Internet (so of course that means it’s all true) that today marks three separate events in the US space program, each having to do with the Moon:
– In 1964, the Ranger 7 spacecraft sent back the first close-up photographs of the Moon;
– In 1971, Apollo 15 astronauts David R. Scott and James B. Irwin became the first to ride across the Moon’s surface in the lunar rover; and
– In 1999, NASA crashed the Lunar Prospector spacecraft into Shoemaker Crater at the lunar south pole.

I was interested in all of those things, of course, because last week my lunar colonization novel, Walking On The Sea of Clouds, was published. And not just that, but I mention the Lunar Prospector mission in the novel! It comes up as a group of colonists pass Shoemaker Crater on a journey to retrieve polar ice needed to keep the colony alive.

Walking On The Sea of Clouds is available as an e-book on Amazon or as a trade paperback on Amazon, or if you prefer it’s also available as an e-book from Kobo and Smashwords.

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Thanks, and have a great week!

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First Sighting in the Wilds of the Internet: Smashwords

If you want an electronic copy of Walking On The Sea of Clouds, you can now buy it on this Smashwords page.

Amazon and other links for print versions are still pending, but you can get it for your e-reader now!


That really is a fine-looking cover, don’t you think? (Click for larger image.)

Hope you like it!

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