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(pronounced Ko-Hane)
Dan is the Bram Stoker-nominated author of Plague of Darkness, Solomon’s Grave, and the critically-acclaimed Margaret's Ark. Writing as G. Daniel Gunn, he released Destroyer of Worlds and the novella (written with L.L.Soares) Nightmare in Greasepaint (Samhain Publishing),. His short stories have appeared in Cemetery Dance, Shroud Magazine, Apex Digest and many more. He and his family live in New England.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Just checking in...

I know, I start the blog and then don't put anything on it. Par for the course. Problem is, there's so much going on that's important, but this isn't the forum for it, and anything I would put on just feels flat in comparison.

When I re-did the look & feel of this virtual hang-out, I hadn't realized at first that my LINKS section got wiped out. Bummer. Until I figure out how to get it back, you can always visit my home page and select "Striking URL".

Well, I'll work out what should go here, soon enough, once Life shakes free of the state of flux it's fallen into, that holding pattern which sometimes crops up, leaving us standing at the end of a road checking our GPS to see which direction to head next.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Back Alley Coffee Shops, Obituaries, and Second Floor Clubs

Small groups abound in the big, big world. Especially when we look into this, the virtual world of the internet. Writers, for example, especially those of my ilk, have a number of places to wander and hang out. Some are wide-open plazas where hundreds congregate, others are dimly lit alleys with cigarette smoke and the ever-present presence of coffee and other questionable substances.

One of the former, for example, is the Shocklines message board where established writers, almost exclusively in the horror genre, talk about current events, writing, publishing, with up and comings, newbies, fans and clingers-on, filmmakers, novelists, etc. It’s well-moderated, and if anyone gets too out of hand or full of themselves, they’re crushed underfoot.

Nestled at the end of a back alley which most pedestrians might walk past without noticing is sff.net’s little world of newsgroups and posting areas. SFF.Net is the IP on whose shoulders my own dankeohane.com rests. They are the provider for quite a few sci-fi, fantasy and horror authors out there (sff stands for “science fiction & fantasy” after all). Anyhow, sometimes I go to the webmail to check what valid messages were eaten by their aggressive filter, and notice little obituary notes. One day I clicked one and wandered into an obit newsgroup. Newsgroups are a bit “old fashioned” (in Internet years, though only a few human years ago they were quite the rage). For the most part, message boards with their crisper formatting, better tracking of replies to a post, have taken prominence. But I like the sff.net newsgroups, they seem a little more intimate (as “intimate” as an Internet site can be). To be honest, I’ve only lurked so far. I should start poking around more, see which ones are active. Something pretty cool about wandering into a small shop and seeing who’s hanging out. On the other hand, the few patrons may turn out to be aloof to strangers. Never know until you speak up.

There are others, Faith*In*Fiction’s discussion board (there’s a link to it on f*i*f’s sidebar) is one I frequent, writers struggling with the labor of mixing their Christian faith with fiction.. Hence the name. The blog itself is maintained by Dave Long, an acquisition editor for Bethany House books. The discussion board is small and relatively new, the posts earnest and heartfelt. I have to admit, some of the threads can get awfully literary. Words I never knew are bantered around like porridge in the cafeteria of a crowded Dickensian orphanage.

Other examples exist behind the private walls of organizations like the Horror Writers Association or the SFWA. These boards, ironically, sometimes tend to be less civil, more nasty fights in them. Sort of like your own home – when away from the eyes of strangers, we feel more comfortable to be mean to our siblings, get it out of our systems in a safe environment - not a great way to be but how things sometimes are. Many members know this and grudgingly accept the handful of posters who feel it’s their job to poke their sister in the ribs to make her scream – no real reason, they just like to – and stir up the boards, safe behind the drawn shades, while others throw their arms in frustration and quit. And the world keeps turning...

In general, if there’s something you’re interested in life, in the world, there are many pockets in the Internet where folks hang out, yell, stomp. It’ll never replace finding a place to go in the real world, with the real smells of coffee. But I can’t just head into Worcester after work and have a chat with Adam Troy-Castro or Jim Moore. The latter I can chat in person once a year at Necon, the former I’ve never met, except online. Adam tends to hang out in the back alley coffee shops, and maintains his own sff.net newsgroup.

Someday I might pop in say hey, or I might not.

Time is scarce, though, isn’t it? Newsgroups, message boards, websites in general, not long ago it seems you had to join a group like the HWA or SFWA to meets others of your ilk. Ironically these and other organizations have recently made it harder to join without some credentials, while outside their walls the options for meeting other wanderers on your Road of Life have expanded such that the need for these org’s has changed. Maybe that’s good. Maybe they should become the upper-story, exclusive clubs they’ve been desiring to be. That’s not a bad thing - sometimes if you’ve made it up a rung or two you need to get inside and away from the traffic noise, as long as they’ll let you. But you do have to come out now and then, and walk on the street. Metaphorically speaking, all of this of course.

Technically I have my own newsgroup, here. Not sure how it works. Someday I might try it. Not now. I’m out of time and it’s hard enough getting the free moments for this stupid blog.

Talk to you later, I hope.
Danet

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Mister Rooney and Miss Garland Would be Proud

This past Saturday, my 10-year old daughter Amanda, along with a dozen of her classmates, performed an original play called The Legend of Lucy Keyes (Lucy Keyes was a little girl who was lost in the woods about town 300 years ago, never to be found, and for whom the ghost of her mother still wanders the woods calling for her. A movie has been made based on this legend and is going to be released soon). The play we're discussing here was written and directed by Amanda and her friend Amber. It was short (with break it probably still lasted only 20 minutes). There was a cool program booklet for it listing cast and crew, the various acts and thank-you's, etc. One girl actually brought an entire house-set with bed, fireplace screen, etc.

They performed the play on the stage at the First Congregational Church. They've been practicing on the school's stage at recess for weeks and weeks, choosing to stay in while various pockets of students hung out to watch (which was how they managed to snag their stage crew). There were occasional disagreements, personality issues, all of which were resolved, most of them by the kids themselves. We parents had to step in only minimally, to settle high-emotion disputes, arrange the stage, make sure they worked out a common date for the performance, etc. The girls, though, did most of it.

Last night, we all paid 50 cents a person to attend (they raised $47.00 for the Red Cross for Katrina relief) and had a wonderful time of it. While we enjoyed the 10 minute intermission with coffee and desserts, one of the parents made an interesting comment. If this had been a school-run event, with an adult director and organized by an adult, it wouldn't have been nearly as meaningful to them as this night was. To be sure, this would be a great thing for the school to have, and we're trying to make strides to get something like this going someday. But this night has something special about that they'll probably remember when they've grown and are parents themselves. The culmination of the old, long-lost-but-not-quite-dead line of 'Let's Put on a Show' and actually doing it.

For us parents, it's an inconvenience, putting up with the phone calls and high tension, not to mention finding the stage. As Opening Night began, parents found their seats or turned on cameras, then watched as our children began to perform something they themselves wrote, designed, rehearsed, and carried all the way to this Big Night. We shared in a communal sense of pride for our kids. Most children, we think to ourselves, would have lost interest a long while back, but something pushed them on...

...you know what it was? To be sure, their own drive and initiative. But what's the biggest momentum-killer for a child? Us. Mom and Dad. Come on, guy, you sound like someone in a bad John Hughes film.... No, wait, hear me out. It would have been so easy for us to roll our eyes, shake our collective fingers at them and say, 'Now, child, simply stop this craziness and get back to the real world!' It would have been enough, I'm sure, to stop most of the girls in their tracks. 'Ok,' they may think, quietly in bed, curled up next to their koosh pillow or stuffed bear. 'I guess he's right. It's probably stupid, it won't work, anyway, who did we think we...' yadda yadda. For some odd, wonderful reason, none of us parents said anything like this. I'm sure we were tempted, and may have skirted around it from time to time, but overall we let them move forward with it...

We gave them a chance to fail -- on their own terms, in their own way. Learn their own lessons the hard way. That's why we usually discourage them from taking chances, isn't it? To prevent pain? Keep them from failing, from landing on their little butts and crying? In this case, we let them have the opportunity to fail. It would be safe, in their own town, nothing fatal.

Funny thing is, they didn't fail. As the play ended and every cast and crew member wandered the small stage calling, 'Luuuucy,' pretending to search for Lucy Keyes before cleverly breaking into a cast bow as the play ended, and the audience clapped and their friends cheered them on, you could see such happiness in every girls' eyes. Pride, relief, and not a little concern over minute details which had gone wrong but which they soon realized no one in the audience ever noticed. In other words, they were able to stand on the stage and relish in the calm glow of success. It worked, they'd pulled it off, and learned whatever lesson they were supposed to pick up from all this. Maybe there wasn't any. Maybe they simply decided to Put On A Show, then did it. We stop our children from doing things, taking chances, because we don't want them to be hurt if they fail. But failing teaches lessons, and so does succeeding.

Let's remember this small tale from a small town in the middle of the Massachusetts woods. Sometimes, they fail. More often than not, if we let them, they win. With either ending, they learn and grow up just a little bit better for it.

Nice job, ladies and gentlemen of the fifth grade. Thanks for putting on the show, and adding a little bit of community, a little bit of art, and fun, to our little town.

Friday, November 04, 2005

As Halloween Fades into the Near Distance...

OK, so I started up this blog again and, as I expected, I haven't posted anything. Sigh. So much going on, but what to talk about and what to keep in the "I wouldn't post that to the world" category.

Halloween. More specifically Trick-or-Treat. Next to Christmas, this is probably one of the most anticipated "holidays" in the Keohane household. Something utterly joyous for the kids in going door to door and getting free candy! Man, it still rings with happy memories from my own childhood. Andrew's still going out with his sisters, even though he's a freshman in high school. Why not? It'll be one of those tough, coming-of-age moments when he finally has to accept that it's time to hang up the monster mask.

This year, though, we had a slight wrinkle. I teach Monday night religious ed in our sleepy little church in town. It's a lot of fun. The kids are great, and they're hungry – lots of questions they, usually, never get to ask, lots of answers they may or may not usually get. I might get a few of the answers wrong, but I try. It's rewarding to be able to give them the lesson du jour but sprinkle it with more Biblical meat, than they usually get in an otherwise Ritual-intensive Catholic world. I believe with all my heart the reason I'm still here at the parish is for these teenagers, to be able to share the Truth in my own mumbly way, share some of my own personal stories. It's nice to have a place to actually talk about these things, too.

Anyhow, we didn't get too many kids in class, naturally, so we combined classes. Rather than stick with the lesson – which I now wish we had – we played it casual, trying (not always successfully) to give spooks and scary things a Biblical twist. Mostly we hung out, talked, enjoyed each other's company. What’s that called... fellowship? Anyhow, the pastor's a little mad at us. Hopefully I can make it up to him by getting the kids back on track next week. Sigh.

By the way, before I finish, special hey and thanks to Gard Goldsmith of WNTK radio who had me on for a fun but brief time on Halloween afternoon, along with special guest Del Howison of Dark Delicacies Books! (If I knew how to embed links in a blog I'd do so, but check out my home page, it's there, too).



Thursday, October 27, 2005

Welcome To My Mind

I was the last person to expect to start one of these. They're called "blogs" (short for "web log" if you really want to stretch the rules for abbreviations). Still, it's worth a try, especially since this blogger place makes it so easy to keep the thing maintained.... I think. Time will tell.

In here I'll wax, whenever I have a few moments, on what's happening with writing, my faith and the recent merging of the two, about government and cheese and kids and Janet and movies and whatever springs to mind. We'll see if I can't drag the Internet so far down into the doldrums that it never recovers. I used to do something like this, years before a "blog" was ever fashionable. I think I still have some of those little nuggets of brain-vomit somewhere. I might post them now and again, call it a Keohane Classic or some such goofy-ism. :-)

I can say I'll be diligent with these, but that would be lying. Still, we'll see. Keep me honest (thankfully, they do have an edit feature – I envision myself using this often). Feel free to respond, debate, comment, ignore. Who knows? Maybe I'll be the next Peter Wiggin.

Dan