Writing is a journey, not a destination.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Piling Up

Is August taking an extremely long time or is it just me?

I seem to be caught in some kind of temporal loop where each day not only drags like a zombie with no legs, it speeds by at the same time. I have a growing list of little tasks that I can't find the time or motivation to tackle, yet must be tackled.

Without the clamoring human family, some things can be put off. Turns out a person can survive on Doritos for a week, especially if she keeps forgetting to thaw the chicken. That same person cannot survive without kitty litter. No way.

So, in the spirit of getting things done, I'm finishing this post and doing five or six little things before work that will allow me to do five or six things afterwards. I hope a good start will lead to a solid finish.

Happy Wednesday, dear readers. Say a prayer for those in Isaac's path. Iguana is one of them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm Not Upset

Finally got around to asking my publisher about online sales figures. Not glowing, dear readers. Not glowing.

TT: Adding in my personal sales make it look a little better. 

She sent some kind words along with them of the "don't worry, slow starts can build" sort, but I admit, I was surprised at the smallness of the whole thing. Were I the sort who cared about numbers, I would be disheartened. On the other hand, I am convinced slow and steady is the only way to build a real fan base. If those who read my book now like it enough to buy the next, I'm good, provided I produce a next. My plan has always been to saturate the market with "me" until a reader can't turn around without bumping into a Turtle egg. If I live to 111, I have almost 70 years to achieve that goal.

I've said from the beginning, for me, this isn't about selling or being published or any kind of ego trip whatsoever. My goal was to finish a book, and I did that. Publication was more of a symptom of finishing. However, for the sake of my publisher and small fan group and the world in general, I will try to promote my book a bit more. I have one advantage over the average writer: I'm not afraid of people.

My launch party will commence Oct 5, 6 - 8 PM at World Cup Cafe.

I'm heading south in a couple weeks. I should contact that bookstore near Wichita and see about dropping in and hosting a book signing or something.

I have a contact name for my old high school. I want to donate a book to their library, but, frankly, I suspect I'll need board approval and a PG 16 rating. I'll get on that.

And, I have one ace-in-the-hole I've been too nervous to play. Thinking it's time to play it. More about that later, I suspect.

Happy Tuesday, everybody.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Of Backaches and Cavities

I am prone to cavities. Have been all my life. I brush, I floss, I go to the dentist every six months for cleaning, but I continue to get cavities. Such is my life.

I got two fillings about two weeks ago, and I'm supposed to get another one this week. The cavities are on opposite sides of my mouth, you see, so filling all of them at once would not only cause my numbed face to slide right off my skull, it would make eating impossible.

I was warned that one of the filling replacements - yes, fillings can wear out - was close to the nerve and would be tender for a while. She wasn't kidding.

After two weeks, I can't chew chips on that side. No, I don't need to chew chips, but I do eat granola, and broccoli, and other things that require some pressure on the molars. The second filling to be replaced - I mentioned fillings wear out, didn't I? - is also a molar and also close to a nerve. What happens if it freaks out, too? I'll be eating my steak through a straw.

Just kidding. I rarely eat steak. It would be ground turkey through a straw.

Here's the second half of the story. Replacing fillings causes the mouthpiece I wear to go out of alignment. When it goes out of alignment, I can't sleep, I get horrible back and neck aches, and I lose feeling in my left arm. These symptoms started this weekend. I currently have a stabbing pain in my neck that extends to the base of my spine, and it won't get better until several days after a mouthpiece alignment.

TT: I do wonder if the nightly chewing is what's causing these fillings to wear out so quickly. They're not more than 10 years old, I'm sure. The mouthpiece protects me somewhat, but pressure is pressure. Don't think that doesn't give me something to chew on. Sigh.

I want to reschedule my next dental appointment to give my new filling a little more time to calm down so I can eat on that side, but I don't want to wait to adjust my mouthpiece or spend $85 to adjust my mouthpiece between fillings. I doubt I could get in to do so even if I wanted to on such short notice. My orthodontist is quite popular.

So, do I go ahead with the filling and plan to eat oatmeal for the foreseeable future, or do I reschedule the dentist and live with the backaches for a month or more? It's also possible the filling won't calm down and will require a crown, but it could be the first crown that's giving trouble instead of the new filling, in which case my next option is a root canal and that leads to a whole new set of problems.

I hoped laying it out here would make the correct decision obvious, but I fear no "correct" decision exists. It's all "what-ifs" and wishes. I guess I'll schedule the mouthpiece alignment and plan to go ahead with the new filling. I have three days in which to cancel. We'll see if they make the difference.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Behind the Scenes

I've been asked to guest post on another author's blog, soooooo, awesome. Deeply honored. I'll keep you up to date on that.

Another co-worker started reading Star of Justice. She's gotten to the walking forest (ch 3). Her face lit up while she was explaining her reactions to the whole scene and she ended with "They're settling in for the night, but I just know something interesting is going to happen next."

Well, that's a pretty intense compliment, I'm thinking.

She's not the first to mention the walking forest as a favorite part. Even Big Brother, who prefers books where someone's head explodes in the first 500 words and gave me endless grief over using the word "trencher," made the off-hand comment that "the forest is pretty cool."


Shall I confess?

The forest wasn't planned. I needed something to happen, and that was the first thing that sprang to mind.

When I directed puppets, one of the things we did as an encore was perform one of our songs with the curtains down. I wanted the audience to understand the kind of gyrations and coordination required to use signs, two-handed puppets, two-people puppets and puppets that move from back stage to front in a group of ten people in a confined space. It is something to behold.

I wonder if readers want to know those kinds of behind-the-scenes info on books? I always watch the "Making Of" segments of movies I like. Would I do the same for books? Or does that spoil the fun?

Let me know. I have reasons for almost everything I wrote. I'm willing to share many of them.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Titles Are Hard

After three years of blogging, I'm having trouble coming up with titles for my posts. Or my books.

TT: What about Elementary for Elementals? Make any more sense? I think I'm done worrying about it. The book is Elementals and that's that. 

I've stopped numbering or titling the chapter headings for Price of Justice. Asterisks will have to do the job until I've finished. Since I'm not 100% sure where the book is heading, and the same issues (you know, life and death, consequences for stupidity, power grabs, that sort of thing) keep coming up in every chapter for every POV character, the titles so far could all be "The Price."

Sounds utterly boring, doesn't it? I so don't want it to be boring. I don't want it to be depressing, either. Gotta find that happy ending.

I am writing, though. About an hour a night, which is all the stamina I seem to have at the moment, but an hour a night is better than nothing and it will get it done eventually. I'm back to writing on the laptop in the bedroom, away from the TV and the Internet. It's harder to edit using the fingerpad mouse, but it's easier to write new stuff. New stuff is what I need.

I'm also tentatively scheduling Star of Justice's book launch for Thursday, Oct 5, 6 PM at World Cup Cafe. I have to check with the owner that nothing else is happening that night, but I'm fairly confident that's the time.

TT: My Best Friend gave me a blank look when I told her about it. "Don't book launches happen when a book is published?" Yeah, yeah. I'm a Turtle. I do things in my own time. 

Just occurred to me I could do a reading of some portion of Price of Justice. That might be fun.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why Canada?

I was thinking about zombie movies - I do that sometimes - and noticed a theme. The survivors want to flee to Canada.

Granted, I may not have an extensive familiarity with the genre, but the movies I have watched - Resident Evil et al., Night of the Living Dead et al., a rather well-made low-budget film on Syfy this weekend (although it claimed to be about vampires, but they acted more like zombies to me), um, that's all I can think of at the moment, but I'm sure I've watched more - show people trying to get to some mythical colony of survivors in Canada.

Why Canada?

Are zombies immune to cold? They're dead, so that doesn't seem likely. Zombies can cover any terrain humans can cover, so that's not a hindrance. Does Canada's smaller population figure into this? Fewer people means fewer potential zombies? Canada has fairly open borders. It's not like a hoard of zombies couldn't overwhelm a few mounties and hello, brothers to the north, welcome to the feast.

In case of zombie attack, I'd go toward South America. It's way easier to survive in a tropical climate than an arctic one. Unless animals also get zombified, but if that happens, a grizzly or wolf pack or family of beavers will kill you just as dead as a leopard or tapir. Granted, I might run into groups of armed non-zombified humans on the way, but isn't that a good thing? If the movies are accurate, maybe not, but human survivors also figure into the "fleeing to Canada" equation. Who knows? Maybe with everyone going north, south will be a wide-open straight shot to relative safety.

Seems the safest place to go is water. If it's a land-based attack, get off the land and wait the thing out. Unless you're a chemist, waiting for nature to restore balance is really the only option in the zombie apocalypse anyway, other than suicide.

Just something to think about on a Tuesday.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Gardens In Babylon

So glad I had the foresight (for once) to schedule Saturday's post last Monday. After six weeks of spotty service, my Internet went out for good Thursday morning and stayed out until my new service provider installed a cable Saturday around 7 PM. That's an eternity in Farmville time.

I must now cancel the old service and move on with my new life of NOT watching FX and Syfy 24/7. Speaking of which, what idiot changed Scifi to Syfy? Was that a hooked-on-phonics marketing ploy? It looks ridiculous. Of course, so do many of the shows, so maybe I'm overreacting.

Anyhoo, now that I'm caught up a bit on my Farmville fix, I'll be tweaking Faith Awakened's blog tour post to connect for real to all the other Splashdown authors who previewed stuff.

I've read the book. It was a little slow in places, but by the end, it all came together in a satisfyingly DOS-programmer kind of way. You'll have to read it to figure that out. I won't explain more here because of spoilers.

On to today's real topic. I think I'm finished with the book of Jeremiah. Can't be entirely sure since the chronological Bible I'm reading this year rearranges stuff and I haven't checked how many chapters Jeremiah has.

Allow me to set the stage. The northern kingdom of Israel has been scattered, and it's Judah's turn to face judgment for idolatry. The Babylonians relocate the majority of Judah's citizens throughout the kingdom of Babylon. Judah's false prophets are telling everybody this is a temporary setback and they'll be home shortly.

God gives Jeremiah a different story. He tells the Israelites to plant gardens, have kids and settle in for the long haul because they'll be captive for 70 years and they have some repopulating to do in the meanwhile. Naturally, God is right.

What I take from this (especially considering one of my recent posts) is the command to get on with life. Yes, things are difficult. Yes, I'm in an alien land facing unknown dangers. However, life goes on until it stops. Plant my garden and live.

I'm not saying I'll be having children any time soon (or at all, for that matter), but I want to take this as a new resolution to occupy until Christ's return. I will write because I don't know the future. I will save for retirement because I don't know the future. I will hope in Christ, my only hope, because He's the only future that matters.

The garden is planted, Lord. Now to tend it.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Faith Awakened Video Campaign

Having seen a number of other authors’ successes with viral video collections, I decided to give it a go myself. The videos didn’t need to have anything much to do with the book – as long as they were funny, watchable and shareable and included the book details somewhere. I lived in Germany at the time and roped in lots of my friends to play parts. So you have a bunch of people holding my book who don’t even understand English. They were pretty good sports about it! Remember this was way back in 2007, with my first video camera, and judge accordingly...

Find Grace:


Blog Tour Sites:

R. L. Copple                      
Kat Heckenbach               
Diane M. Graham          
Travis Perry                       
Caprice Hokstad         
Frank Creed                       
Fred Warren      
Ryan Grabow     

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Silver Key

"When Randolph Carter was thirty he lost the key of the gate of dreams." The Silver Key, H.P. Lovecraft

Do you ever read an interview by an author who sounds so excited about writing? He just can't spend enough time at the computer. She can't wait to get up and blurt out that next chapter.

I occasionally hate those people.

I remember being excited about writing. In college, I wrote all the time. If I wasn't in class or getting a frozen yogurt from the gas station across the street, I was writing. It was mostly melodramatic garbage, but some fun ideas came from it. Elementals. A Star To Sail By (you all don't know about that one, but if the Earth continues to exist, I will write it). Past Ties, which laid the groundwork for Star of Justice and future forays into that world. Several really goofy romances that may or may not see the light of day. I couldn't write enough.

I hit thirty and something happened. I grew up. I looked around. I saw the world for the near-the-end place I believe it to be and nothing mattered anymore. Why write a book no one will have money to buy or energy to read? I became a fatalist, and the key to dreams slipped out of my hands.
"He had read much of things as they are, and talked with too many people. Well-meaning philosophers had taught him to look into the logical relations of things, and analyse the processes which shaped his thoughts and fancies."
Oh, Mr. Carter, I understand. That's the greatest horror of all. The horror of too much understanding.
"They had chained him down to things that are, and had then explained the working of those things till mystery had gone out of the world.
How do you write fanciful stories when you don't believe in fairy tales anymore? It is hard, dear reader. Very hard.

Doubt creeps in. Every typed word is over-analyzed and sterilized to correctness. Have I provided enough motivation? Am I missing some new scientific discovery that makes my storyline obsolete and ridiculous? When will I read that final comment that shatters any desire I have to share the stories I've dredged from the looming cynicism my life threatens to become?

I'm not depressed at the moment. I wish I were. I wish I could blame this on some chemical imbalance, but to do that, I'd have to say I've been mildly depressed for 10 years. Maybe I have. Reality can do that.

I keep hoping going through the motions will revive that excitement. One day I'll wake early to rush to my keyboard and spew out my next epiphany. Since the sun keeps rising and electricity keeps flowing, I'll keep trying. I have enough hope left for that.

Happy Friday, everybody. We have the day. Make the best of it. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Horror According to Lovecraft

I've never felt an inclination to write horror. Well, except for that time I read the spaceship chapter of How To Survive A Horror Movie. Part of me really, really wants to write a space horror spoof, but it would so NOT be glorifying to God I'm not sure I can justify it, even for the funny.

Lovecraft knows horror, and his early works managed creepy crawly without even describing the creepy crawly too much. That is my biggest gripe with some of his early stuff. There's only so much "unnameable hideousness" and "indescribable horror" I can tolerate before I want him to try to describe it.

He gets more graphic in the 1920's, so I won't dwell overlong on that criticism.

Here's what's scary according to Lovecraft:

Murky water (swamps, sludge-covered oceans, bogs) that eventually erupts with corrosive smells and blobby or gigantic figures from hell.

Ancient, abandoned cities visible only in unnatural moonlight that echo with weird screams and either suggest or disgorge blobby or gigantic figures from hell.

Cellars found in old houses or ancient, abandoned cities that lead to hell and often involve glimpses of or encounters with blobby or gigantic figures.

Caverns that lead to hell and... yeah, you get the idea about the creatures, right? The blobby or disproportionally large non-human creatures made the more hideous by a small resemblance to humanity in an otherwise completely alien life form?

Stars that glow with reddish light and cause hysterical dreaming and the occasional parallel dimension traveling. 

Parallel dimensions visible in drug-induced states that reveal glimpses of hellish, other-worldly creatures that would destroy us all if they bothered to notice we're here.

Swarthy, low-browed subhumans of far-below animal intelligence who somehow manage to exist in otherwise civilized cities.

Anything that pre-dates human civilization, especially savage rites involving human sacrifice.

Funny thing. He's right about the water and the cellars/caverns, and I'm willing to give him a nod on the abandoned cities. I've never been creeped out by a star before, and I won't be trying any consciousness altering drugs stronger than a Melted Snowball, but I've gotta admit, the man knows horror. 

Thinking should I ever write that space horror story, I'll have to work a blobby giant in somewhere.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Nightmares and H.P. Lovecraft

I won't be reading Lovecraft right before bed anymore.

Although I have been chewing on The Complete Collection of H.P. Lovecraft as compiled by cthuluchic from Amazon for Kindle at the ridiculously reasonable price of .99 for approximately 4 months like a ghoul gnawing on a freshly dug corpse, I have yet to pass the 25% mark.The man was prolific.

I've seriously enjoyed most of the stories and been completely creeped out by several of them (The Outsider and The Picture In The House being two I remember clearly). The Rats in the Walls gave me shudders, but Pickman's Model was apparently too much.

Yes, after reading that story, I succumbed to a terror so intense that after waking, I couldn't decide if I wanted to turn on the light to assure myself that all was well or leave it off in case it wasn't. The last time I had a nightmare that intense was following the debut of The Grudge.

This particular nightmare involved siblings Ivy and Isaiah, the basement level of a concrete parking garage and a child's toy whose unnatural proportions spoke of eldritch planes of existence. Yep. Been reading too much Lovecraft.

I won't stop reading, but I will be doing it earlier in the day. With all the lights on. And the curtains open. And a cat or two nearby. And maybe a neighbor.

Where's that nightlight?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Plumping Up on Bubbly Pies

If you've read any of Anne McCaffrey's dragons of Pern books, you know what a "bubbly pie" is. You know it has crystallized sugar around the edges and bubbles in the middle when it comes out of the oven and remains delicious even when cooled. You suspect it's about the size of a personal pot pie and contains some kind of berry filling. It's a special treat and when they're made, you stuff yourself. Oh, you don't know how to make one. You don't have a chance in Hades of ever eating one. But you want one.

You also know the people drink klah, some kind of hot beverage made from bark that to my mind is a hot chocolate-cinnamon hybrid. You know they use numbweed to anesthetize wounds - a salve distilled at great effort from aloe-like plants harvested on the Southern Continent. You've slurped into a redfruit and saddled a runnerbeast and oiled a fire lizard.

You know how you've done these things? Through description.

Creating a world is a complicated process, but showing that world to your readers takes work. It takes description. It takes you the author presenting your case to the reader in an interesting way that engages their senses through that most amazing sense organ - the brain.

I'm all for stories moving forward. I resent useless description as much as the next LOTR-fan who's slogged through three pages of hills to get to the "point." However, stories that move forward by sacrificing sensory details and world-setting descriptors leave me flat.

If you don't want to get rain in your eye, or stuff a sausage in your mouth, or dodge spatter from a sword fight, don't pick up my book. Go to those mainstream authors who write so fast you're panting by the time you turn the last page. I have no problem with that.

I'll be here trying to make bubbly pies.