Saturday, January 5, 2013

2013 Plans

Where on Earth have you been all these months?  Releasing a novel, you say?  How amazing, me too!  Here's my link below.  Let's swap titles and do lunch next Friday!

Kids and gymnastics are beckoning... More to follow...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Flurry or Tizzy?

So much to be excited about on the novel publishing front!  New website skeleton, check.  ISBN numbers, check.  Final text tweak coming up shortly and I'm hoping to have the fine folks at the United States Postal Service hauling a draft copy to my house before the 15th. 

Before I forget - remember to click over to for a peek!  Send comments, suggestions or flames as appropriate. 
Today was exhibit 'A' of how hard it is to do your own publishing and marketing work as an independent.  Got a text message at 9am that my subscription link on the site was faulty.  Where a marketing team would have leapt to action, I instead drove down the hill and watched the kids leap around at gymnastics.  Then a little lunch and grocery shopping.  Then house cleaning and awesome quantities of child care.  Of course the two year old didn't want to sleep, not forgetting that the new sod needed watering, and voila - I got to repair the email link at 10pm!

It is fun to keep the dream going though - all day long kicking around options and upgrades.  Got an itch to build a HISTORY tab on the site to share some of the historical research done on the book and hint where the history books are going to mingle with my imagination.  But, first things first.  The book, always the book.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Imperfect Pursuit of Perfection

Random musings for fellow aspiring authors:

Well, I'll be darned.  Blog is still here underneath the cobwebs and fluff of a hectic 2011.  Let's catch up, shall we?  Lots of good stuff happened in once the winter sickness quaranteen was lifted - house upgrades, birthdays, family road trips and lots of learning about being a dad to two children.

As planned at the start of last year, writing happened in there somewhere.  Not here on the blog (obviously), but elsewhere in quiet corners of dark rooms, late at night away from the constant call of corporate life and family responsibility.  I finished a full and detailed revision of my western novel and got deep into a new project, which I am dying to push to completion.

Behind both of those projects, my greatest acheivement of 2011 was the realization that being "THERE" as a writer is a destination that exists far off the highway of life; it is more like the clouds on the horizon than a dot on a map.

I wrote my first novel at the age of 17 and dreamed (well, assumed) I would find success before my 21st birthday.  My fourth novel was finished in '98 - and I boldly predicted that with hard editing I could be a literary rock star by 25.  Years passed, edits continued.  "Awesome" revisions turned into "Perfect" revisions, which gave way to "More Perfect" revisions.  Years passsed and life demanded time and offered perspective - the "More Perfect" manuscripts becoming mediocre and unworthy.  I finally wrote another book during Nanowrimo in 2008 and for the first time in my life knew that the end product was experience worthy but not print worthy.

That's a heavy wake up call, one that I never imagined coming as a brilliant 17 year old.  Say it with me: "MY STORY IS NOT PRINT WORTHY."  Ahhhhhh....  Nice.   Does it feel good?  Feel bad? 

Now try this one on for size:  "I AM PRINT WORTHY".  Better, isnt' it?  That's the whole objective here in growing as a writer: the imperfect pursuit of perfection.  You can't hone your craft if you're not open to reshaping your vision of the future.  Hope.  Dream.  Try and experiment.  Fail - it's an integral part of the process.  Then, pick yourself up and move on.  Even the best of stories end.  After that comes another story and another Chapter One.

Open the cover.  Scratch down some words.  Learn.  Live.

Ok, time is up.  Part of the new resolution, you see.  Purge the mind and chew bubble gum, then move along.  Be well, write well - see you soon.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Children Are A Blessing (Episode 2)

For those not familiar with Episode 1 you can catch up by clicking here.

There are a number of sayings that revolve around the concept of History repeats itself.  I notice that no specific reference is usually made to whether said events are good or bad.  Taken in context, however, they are almost universally speaking to bad things.  Baaaaaaaaaad things, even.  And thus prepared, I present to you the following cautionary tale:

(No chronologically important events have been omitted from this tale. To protect the innocent, all names have been removed.  NOTE: "Baby" from episode one is now four years old and is not a participant in this scene.)

Something foul is afoot in the land of the hilly suburbs.  The usually happy toddler is off.  36 hours of tears instead of giggles.  36 hours of "NO!" instead of "YAY!".  36 hours of pristine diapers with nary a spot of soiling.  Steeled for the worst, Mommy and Daddy start the day.  All goes well for far too short a time.

8:55 - Toddler is hiding in the corner in the front room.  Daddy thinks Toddler is trying to reach a stuck toy.

8:56 - Daddy walks over to help Toddler.  Toddler shouts, "GO!" and knocks Daddy's hands away.

8:56:20 - *sniff*  There it is.  A putrid mix redolent of dead animal and summertime National Park bathroom is rapidly insulting the air.

8:56:30 - Daddy scoops up the now flailing Toddler.  Screaming ensues.  Portions of the child are disturbingly... mushy.  Something is wrong.  Horribly, horribly wrong.

8:56:38 - Daddy calls for Mommy.

8:57:00 - Toddler is carried to the changing table.  The sounds of bloody murder fill the air.  The one-piece sleeper is unzipped half way.  The movie Spaceballs springs to mind as Daddy discovers that the lower half of his beloved child looks like Pizza the Hut.

8:57:03 - Daddy yells for Mommy.  Daddy grabs Toddler's leg and back and carries him balanced flat like a wedding cake, double time into the bathroom.

8:58 - Daddy almost enters shower, which is filled with sister's bath toys.  Daddy pivots to the trusty bathtub, also filled with toys and towels.  Toddler's screams echo and fill the room along with the ungodly stench of a half-dozen unfulfilled diaper loads.

8:58:30 - (It is important to note that Daddy has a weak gag reflex).


8:59 - Daddy stands Toddler up and starts to peel pajamas away, holding a wad of wipes futilely in the air, not knowing where to begin.  PJ's are halfway down and no flesh is visible.  It has been consumed by the evil.

9:01 - Mommy brings more wipes and paper towels and clears the bathtub of toys.

9:02 - Daddy reaches down to lift Toddler by the safe zone below the armpits.  Either Daddy miscalculated or gravity has shifted into reverse.  Daddy's right hand pushes deep into a slimy mess that runs up Toddler's back.

9:02:05 - (It is important to note that Daddy has a weak gag reflex).

9:03 - The rest of the PJs are pulled free over the bathtub, keeping all waste contained in the primary storage pool.  Daddy lifts Toddler from the tub and over to the running shower.  The flowing water from the tub and shower combine to force all air in the bathroom into the corner where it circles and churns like an otherworldly fog of yuck.
9:03:32 - (It is important to note that Daddy has a weak gag reflex).

9:03:52 - Daddy yells for Mommy to clear the floor of poo and start the other bath.
9:03:56 - (It is important to note that Mommy has a weak gag reflex).
9:05 - Toddler is screaming with gusto.  Daddy's eyes and nose are running from the acrid smell and chaos.  Daddy sprays some of the still cool water onto his hand and wipes it across his face to shock away the gag reflex.  Daddy then wonders which hand had been recently buried in an explosion of poo.
9:05:15 - (It is important to note that Daddy has a weak gag reflex).

9:10 - All unsavory traces of the event have been removed from Toddler and Toddler's lips are turning blue.  Mommy returns to announce that the bathtub is ready at the other side of the house.  Daddy shuts off water and rushes Toddler to the guest bath, mentally scoring two points for using three baths for one child for the first time ever.

9:12 - Crying has stopped and Toddler's lips are no longer blue.  Daddy leans in close with a tissue to wipe clean a severe runny nose.  Todder reacts with a violent sneeze, projecting a hefty wad of mucus from his adorable button nose and into Daddy's open mouth.

9:12:32 - (It is important to note that Daddy has a weak gag reflex).

9:16 - Toddler has returned to a joyful state.  Toddler breaks into song, sings the ABC's and laughs for the first time in a day and a half as Daddy holds him tight and then towels away the water and the terrible memories of the morning that once was.

And that, my friends, is all he wrote.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Call Me A Whore

Greetings, Strangers!  Five weeks goes fast when you're having fun.  It goes even faster if you are ensconced in a shell of miserable illness that no one in San Diego County appears to be able to shake.  2011 is shaping up to be the Year of the Month-Long Illness.  Still, hope does spring eternal and so, despite the fact that my daughter is sitting behind me barking like a harbor seal, I remain confident that the white blood cells will get off the couch and do their damn job sooner rather than later.  Once that day comes, I will have no one to blame for my lack of literary progress than myself.

Because I am a whore.  I'll admit it:  An Overtime Whore in the corporate grind.  For the past four months I can't go even three days with a stack of projects or jobs blowing up and someone "offering the opportunity to please take care of it by tomorrow, doing whatever I have to do."  In a world of 9% unemployment, it is a blessing that many would kill for and I have to give it the respect that such an opportunity deserves... but at what cost?

I am never going to fritter my way into poverty.  I know I've got bills to pay.  I've got mouths to feed.  I have a budget sheet and a checkbook balance that demands supplication.  And I'm going on five years now of insisting that "This is the last year I work hard for The Man!"  I keep catching a window of four or five months to crank out some quality fiction and just when I feel like a breakthrough is at hand, the OT Gods speak from on high and *poof* there goes the manuscript.  Sure, it's another few grand to the credit card or or against a home repair - but it's such an empty satisfaction as The Dream slips further down the time stream to some new and later mythical date.

Any writers with sage advice can feel free to throw it down or just you can just nod solemnly in agreement. I think that being artistic and being responsible are two character traits completely at odds with one another.  In some sense then, I feel fortunate that I still get the chance to indulge both, albeit at long and interrupted intervals.

Side Note: Every person who offers a heart felt "You should just drop everything and do the book!" has to make a car payment for me as a sign of loyalty and unyielding support...

And if any scientists are working on a project to make vitamin enriched printer paper to turn failed manuscripts into dinner - I'm willing to join - at a rate of $52.00 an hour.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Musings Whilst Sickened

Getting sick is pretty much a rite of passage for new parents.  No matter how organic, how sterilized, how granola you attempt to be with your precious bundle of joy, you will eventually let your spawn mingle with other, less health oriented spawn of other, less health oriented parents and WHAMMO - you're sleeping 18 hours a day and sucking your lunch through a straw in the mouth of a 7-up bottle.

My three year old took ill on New Years Eve.  She was pushing high 103 all night and we ran her to the hospital New Years Day for precaution.  She slept.  She cried.  Her eyeball swelled up like an angry volcano.  8 days later, she rallied and passed the quaranteen test in time for her baby brother's temp to flare.  102-103.  7 more days.  One more flaming red eyeball of bruised and oozy death.

Pretty solid recovery on his end and he didn't complain much.  (Boys vs Girls, I'm told by more experienced parents).  Then the 15th... I didn't feel well and went to bed early.  Woke up at 1pm on the 16th.  For two whole hours.  Passed out again until midday the 17th.  102.5 fever.  Chills.  Inability to function.  Crazy stuff.  Wife slapped the kid's QUARANTEEN sign on the bedroom and ran for the couch.  I stayed in bed for 4 days and took 3 days longer just to get moving around again.  Good times.

Here are some thoughts I pondered whilst sickened:

1) Even a $3,000 bed feels like CRAP after 4 days.

2) When you can't lift the phone to your face to check emails, YOU ARE SICK.

3) There is no point to paying for cable television because at any point in the day, if there is not a game on, there is NOTHING ON TELEVISION.

4) The Nyquil company is stupid.  Doseage for adults is 30ml.  Pretty much NO ONE ELSE should ever be taking this stuff, based on the warnings.  Why then, do they notch for 20ml, 15ml, etc?   What's the point?  Engineers got nothing better to do?

5) Even when you can't taste your breakfast, lunch or dinner - Chinese herbs still taste like crap.  However, acupuncture is AWESOME.

6) People just don't use whilst in everyday language enough.

7) I have no idea how to properly use whilst in everyday language.
Finally - should probably make a comment about writing.  I am compelled to launch what will be the first salvo in a full clip of ammo I have dedicated to the destruction of the most well worn writing adage of them all: 'You Must Write Everyday!"  BANG!  Fuck you, adage.  There, whew - that felt good.  Here is a short tip for you family guys out there: if you're sick and out of commission for five-six days, here is the LAST THING you should say to your wife:  "Thanks for single parenting it this week.  But I'm behind on my unagented novel and I feel like I could be awake for maybe a little bit, so if you could sack up and handle another couple of hours, you'd be a peach. Thanks."

You may become an author faster, but you are never, ever going to score.  Going to check a diaper now. Peace out.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

One Track Trainwrecks

Why, hello January 1st!  Nice to see you here on the sunny 15th, lounging around with the rest of the past fourteen days while you wait for football games to start.  Me?  No, I can't watch the game today.  Kids are still sick with some sort of alien scuffaluffagus they picked up before New Years.  There is screaming to subdue, snot to wipe and toys to disinfect.  Thanks for asking though.

What's that?  Yes, I know that computer time is like tv time.  But I owed you a blog post at the crack of the new year and well, that just didn't happen.  But I did learn that Children's Hospital is a special kind of wreck on New Years Day and that's the kind of experience you keep with you forever.  The other fourteen days?  Well... The single track intentions of an overwhelmed writer go something like this:

(1/1) I MUST POST A BLOG:  Dammit!  I know I planned to hit the blog running in 2011, but I was first supposed to finish that edit in 2010 no matter what.  So much for deadlines.  Maybe I can knock it out before work starts up on the 3rd, then do the blog after work on Monday.  Yeah, good plan.

(1/4) I MUST POST A BLOG:  Well, the 3rd came and went.  Wow are these kids are sick.  I've slept four hours total in 2011 and it's back to the corporate grind.  Since I can't dedicate tired brain cells to editing, I guess I can blog.  Ugh.  But I should really clean up the look of the page first.  Won't do to pin a diamond broach to warthog.  Maybe I'll do that (yawn) tomorrow.

(1/8) I MUST POST A BLOG: Ah, hell.  It's the 8th.  No book edit.  No blog.  No sleep.  My day job has just moved - turning a 25 minute commute to a 45 minute one.  Not helpful.  Meanwhile, no amount of coffee can salvage my exhausted state.  Screw it, let's play on Twitter and meet folks.  Self promotion is a crucial step in the independent author's game - all the pros say so!  Hey, what time is it?

(1/10) I MUST POST A BLOG: It's the 10th.  Are you kidding me?  The 10th?  So much for resolutions and well laid plans.  Fine, I'll post a blog and link it to the site.  The site with no updates.  My God, what a dump that is.  Let's update it first.  Have to have a good looking portal to the attractive front end to the well designed page with my initial pitch.  Yeah, good thinking.  I'll fix it all up in the 25 minutes I have before the screaming in the background brings down the Rapture.  (insert child puking here)  ...Or not.

(1/11) I MUST POST A BLOG: Why don't I hear fans running in my PC?  Why does the thermometer panel read 175 degrees?  Why did the monitor just black out?

(1/13) I MUST POST A BLOG: Computer is fixed, but this stock blog page is awful.  How pedestrian can one be and expect success?  Let's tweak this background.  Awful.  How about this one.  Ugh.  Why is the damn header about 250px narrower than the rest of the page?  Page = 920px, graphic = 920px - the damn things should match.  Oh goodie, now the gadgets are embedded into the body.  Screw this, where's the Jack Daniels?

(1/14) I MUST POST A BLOG: Or not.  Why does my throat hurt?  Oh yeah, those canisters of VX gas that my children brought home from daycare. Speaking of which, why haven't we all bubbled away into nothingness by now?  Oh, just pink eye and the flu? Well, that explains something.  Hey, I got a jpg file to load correctly!  A MIRACLE!  Who says prayer doesn't work?!

(1/15) I POSTED A BLOG:  Now pass the Tylenol Cold.  Where's my pillow?