A cold morning here in Michigan, as it looks like they all will be for the foreseeable. I’ve just about gotten used to it.
Of course, that means I’ve no excuse not to stay indoors and get work done. So, for the purposes of enlightening all of you (and, more importantly, as an entry in what will hopefully be a good work diary of 2014 that I can look back on fondly when I forget what I spent the year doing), here’s what’s happening.
ENDLESS WEATHER, the history/education focused sabbatical project that has no actual name at this point is coming along well. I’ve just about finished with the Early US course content, very nearly by my self-imposed deadline. I anticipate that this will be the section where things take the longest—I’ve had a lot of instances where I’ve had to stop and admit that my initial ideas were not that great. For example, there are some documents that are just too long for practical classroom use among students in a 100-level survey. Thus, there’s some editing that I wasn’t anticipating. I’m also rethinking the “document + assessment = done” model as there are a lot of sources across time and space that would work well together. So, I think the early US section is going to take the most time and hopefully the lessons learned will make the rest go more smoothly. The web-side of things is still up in the air, which is good, otherwise I’d be tinkering with website stuff and procrastinating on the content.
BLACK SCREWDRIVER–the book project for Rowman & Littlefield, Publishers—is in the massive research and outlining stages. I’m spending much more time on the outlining with this project than I have with previous ones (because it’s a lot bigger—at least it feels that way). After looking around at outlining tools, I settled on Cloud Outliner because it’s cheap and it does what I need it to. I’m also dedicated (at this point anyway) to doing the writing in Scrivener. Niftily, Cloud Outliner will export outlines in OPML format readable by Scrivener, so that should save a step or two. I’m currently doing paragraph-level outlines of chapters, which hopefully will pay off when the drafting commences in a bit. The outline for the first chapter is actually at about 20% of my target word count, which is far more detail than I usually indulge in.
Of course, the fun part of this project is getting to watch (and re-watch) a huge amount of 1990s SF television.
It’s also allowing me to spend some quality time with the paranoid fringes of the Internet (and some of the older, non-Internet computer networks and BBS’s) as well as pondering on the significance of Omni magazine, which was a mainstay of my reading in high school. Wonderfully, Omni is available in its entirety in PDF format from the Internet Archive.
I also need to finish up SIENNA SMOKE, which I now feel comfortable mentioning (since the program for the conference is up and I’m actually on it!). it’s a brief (10 minute) lightning talk on storytelling and teaching for the LAND Conference, coming up next month in Bay City. Usually I don’t write out talks, but since there’s a strict time limit, I should probably make sure whatever I’m saying comes in under the wire.
Quick reminder, I’ll be on Where Did The Road Go? this Saturday from 11:00 PM to Midnight, Eastern time.
Okay—this has gotten my typing fingers warmed up. Time to go to work.
To the right is the cover to my new book, due out in time for the holiday shopping season.
I’m excited about this one, not least because it contains a foreword by Nick Redfern, one of the greatest authors on paranormal issues in the world today (not hyperbole, seriously). From the foreword:
Aaron Gulyas’ The Chaos Conundrum is a thoughtful, and thought-provoking, compilation of papers on a wide variety of paranormal phenomena. Or, as it’s collectively known in circles where the unusual is typically the usual: profoundly weird stuff. A cursory glance at the titles of the essays, and their attendant subject matters, might make some readers assume they are stand-alone pieces with no connecting or unifying parts. Well, those souls would be wrong. Actually, they would be dead wrong.
The connection is not so much the issues and topics that Gulyas places under his supernatural microscope. Rather, it is the fact that the essays all invite us to do one thing: address and consider alternative theories, paradigms, and ideas to those that the established figures of the paranormal would prefer we adhere to.
I invite you to indulge yourself in the work of a man who has made a major contribution to the domain of paranormal research, writing and observation.
Read it, consider it, and learn from it. Just don’t be an ostrich about it.
See, that’s pretty dang cool, right there.
This is a pretty diverse collection of essays on everything ranging from UFOs to religion to achaeoacoustics, which is pretty interesting. I also get to talk a bit about Gray Barker, who I touched on briefly in Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist. As I wrote about here, a couple years back, visiting the collection of his papers in West Virginia was an incredible experience and it was nice to be able to write about his work and its effect on me from a more personal perspective.
This one has been a much more intensive and compressed writing experience and the editing has been a really nice experience, with Paul Kimball of Redstar providing some great insights.
At this point, I’m thinking this may be my last (or close to my last) word on the paranormal for a while (at least in this particular form). I’m really looking forward to this one hitting the streets.
I’m in the beginning and middle stages of a whole bunch of new things, many of which are exciting to one degree or another. I’m a colossal dork, so I use the Project Name Generator to categorize projects in ways I’ll (hopefully) remember. I use Trello to keep track of the different stages and (again, hopefully) keep myself on track.
Some of these projects are purely internal and self-contained–new class ideas, new assessment ideas, and the like. Others will (once again, hopefully) see the public light of day in some way. I like code names because they’re fun, but also they allow me to talk about things publicly (like this) without giving too much away. There’s no legal reason why I shouldn’t talk about these things too much, but I’m becoming superstitious in my old age and don’t want to jinx anything. So, here’s a brief rundown.
I need to get back in that habit of using this site as a place for keeping track of what I’ve been doing with my work-related time. Stay tuned.
At 90,003 words (not including notes or bibliography), the not-yet-formally-titled Space Brother book is off to the publisher. A month, I point out, ahead of schedule, as I needed to clear the decks for the upcoming fall semester and some other projects. It may be the first time I’ve submitted anything before the deadline.
So now, I’ve got some time while the thing makes its way through the publisher’s system and they find all the things I need to fix. Watch this space for updates.
During the next six weeks or so, the blog here will be more focused on History and Teaching rather than “the Strange” as that part of my annual work cycle is gearing up and I desperately try to make my classes more interesting and useful for all involved. It’s not a moratorium on flying saucers, but it’s close…
…At least for now.
I’m about 2/3 of the way through the first major, full on edit of the Saucer Book Project and I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far. More words stayed than I thought would and I’ve been able to add a few thousand here and there, making connections more explicit and strengthening the argument.
And, of course, adding in the section about Billy Meier, the Swiss Contactee whose story spans decades. Whole lot of information to sort through there, but I think I have an approach that’s narrow enough that it doesn’t become the Billy Meier chapter (it’s in with the 1970s stuff). One of the biggest issues with the Meier material is that the original translations of the 1970s notes are pretty heavily edited (editor Wendelle Stevens removed inflamatory statements about religion and politics. I mean, what’s the point? Oh, and I think I met Stevens once, back in ’96 at a UFO slideshow in a hotel conference room. Not sure though…) Still, I think it works for my over all approach and, besides, a book about Contactees without Billy Meier doesn’t really work…
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It came in a bit under 80,000 words, but that’s fine. I still have some filling out to do, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s chapter and the conclusion is pretty under-developed. I strongly suspect that the final word total will be closer to 90,000 than 80,000 but I am happy to have some leeway for shaping the thing. I know there are places that are kind of flabby that could use some tightening up. I had a real fear that I’d get to, say, 45k and have absolutely nothing left to say. This will not, apparently, be a problem. Saying it well, however, is going to be the real challenge…
So now, I begin editing, with two more significant chunks of writing left. Then polishing, finalizing, and shipping the blasted thing off so I don’t have to think about it for a while!