Friday, December 30, 2011

In Closing

The end of 2011 is coming up fast and so I thought I'd look back and see where I've been this year.

It's been a busy time.  My first novel, Aure the Topaz and gone from being self published to being of interest to a publisher.  While it will not be re-published in 2012, it will be prepared for publication, assuming I agree to the terms of the publishing contract.  That is very much TBD.

At the same time, I completed writing my second novel, Vorn, the Topaz, and began writing the third novel, Telep the Diamond.  I am hoping to finish writing Telep in Q1 2012 and then go back and revise Vorn.  From there, I will probably submit it to my publisher and then begin writing the fourth novel, Calen the Emerald.

I also spent time this year writing short stories.  I released two on Smashwords and I am revising a third which I submitted to my publisher for consideration in a quarterly online magazine.

Poetry has also been in the mix.  I am experimenting more with poetry and wrote several that I like and that other people have responded to.  One, Regret, won a contest on Facebook and was included in an anthology.

I have also kept this blog going, which to me is the most incredible thing I've done in 2011, since I wasn't sure I could.  Guess, there are more words in me than I realized, which is a nice way of saying, I talk too much.

Looking ahead, I have no clue what 2012 has in store.  I suspect more short stories and poems are in my future but much of my time will be focused on my novels.  At least that's the plan.  Life is constantly through me curves; my problem is I keep striking out.  Maybe next year I'll hit one out of the park.

Thank you all for reading my blog in 2011. Best wishes for a happy new year to you all and hope to see you in the new year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Reruns or Greatest Hits?

I've been tempted to repost some old blog entries for folks who recently decided to subscribe and haven't combed through the 165 posts I've written.  But then I thought, are reruns permitted while blogging?  Isn't the point of blogging fresh new content?

What about a list of greatest hits (posts)?  Again, I don't think so.  I'm reminded of a recent link a friend of mine shared on Facebook about what atheists and christians have in common.  While the post was interesting it was four years old, which upset me.  This wasn't a new thing, it has been collecting dust for a few years.

And it's not that the post still didn't apply, it was that the post was four years old.  I suppose I'm making more of this than I should and but it gives me pause.  What are the rules here?  Are there rules?

I suppose it depends on the purpose of the blog and what you, my audience, want out of this blog.  Why are you reading this?  I know, I invited you.  But besides that.  What keeps you coming back?  Are you too polite to unsubscribe?  Do you think everyone has something to say and you want to hear it?  Are you a friend and you're curious as to what I've been up to?

Obviously, I have no idea why you read my blog.  But I know its purpose and reposting content from last year seems like cheating.  Perhaps when the blog is a little older and I have more like 300 or 400 posts here, revisiting my views on something like writer's block or burn out or handling rejections making some sense.  Perhaps.

But until then I will keep delving into the recesses of my mind hoping to find some nugget or vein not mined.

Hi Ho Hi Ho it's off to work I go ...

Which dwarf am I?  About now I'm sort of mix between Dopey, Grumpy, and Sleepy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lightning But No Sparks

I reported about a week and half ago that I had heard from the publisher that wanted to purchase the rights to my novel, Aure the Topaz.  I was told, after supplying my contact information that I would hear from them within two weeks.  That time is nearly expires and I've not heard a word.

This makes my wonder: were they serious about the contract or are they slow and understaffed?  I can certainly appreciate if it is the latter, but without so much as a 'Hello, please standby' kind of message, I'm forced to think that this is a large joke on me.

Does that sound paranoid or like I'm feeling persecuted?  Maybe it does, but in my own defend let me say that I've had nothing but an uphill climb getting my stories written and out to the general public.  Each step is like I'm wearing a lead weight while climbing an incline and attempting to balance a stack of dishes on my head without any of them breaking.

But I'm also angry because as a joke this one is in very poor taste.  I don't want to miss an opportunity but I don't want to get hung up here either with a publisher that will not ultimately produce the book.  This is especially true now that I know the book is good enough to be published by a small press.  If these folks want it, others are likely to as well.  I just need to find them.

But for now I will sit tight and see what happens.  Given it took a week for them to get back to me, after I sent my contact information, I think they may be very slow.  So I'm going to give them a little extra time.  How much time remains to be seen.  It depends on when my patience runs out.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Age Your Stories

I have three books in play at the moment:  the first one, Aure, the Topaz, now has a publisher ready to buy it and that is going to require some of my time to review proofs, discuss changes, work on promotions, revise my web site, etc.

The third one, Telep, the Diamond, is being written.  This is where a bulk of my effort is going now because I need to have as many books as I can drafted.  Without even a draft of a book, nothing will be going out and everything grinds to a halt.

And so the second one, Vorn, the Onyx languishes, mostly because I have no time to focus on it.  But I am not concerned about that.  The story needs to age.  Or more accurately, I need time away from it so that when I return to it, I will see it with fresh eyes.  I call this aging the story because like aging wine or cheese, aging a story let is gain a fullness, a maturity that the first draft will not have.

I've read about Stephen King's suggestion that story drafts should be put away for about six months.  That seems like a long time to me.  So I don't know if I will wait that long.  But I will wait a little while because I'm trying to figure out if Vorn works as a story.  I suppose the only way to know that is to let it out and get feedback, but I need to make sure I've done everything I can to make the story a good one first and I've not done that.  Not yet.

I recently found two of my short stories had aged over a year so I cleaned them up and released them on Smashwords because I'm pretty sure they are ready.  Please are downloading them so there is some interest.

But Vorn will sit while I work on Telep and see what the publisher wants me to do for Aure.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sometimes I Get Lost

There's a line from the Shelley poem, "The world is too much with us." by which the speaker of the poem laments that far to often we forget to stop and appreciate the things around us. 

I've have frequently felt that; it is easy to get caught up in the world and all the things that come at you.  I frequently lose sight of what is truly important to me and get caught up in the crisis of the moment instead of standing back and taking stock of what's going on.

But that's life.  My task is to stay on the course I've set for myself while the storms of life battered me and threaten to out me off course into some rocks or shoals or coral reef.  And that's not easy.  It requires I remember my plan and a steady hand on the tiller.  It requires strength.  Not physical strength, but strength of character and resolve.  The ability to see something through to the end.

I don't know that I am that strong; I suspect I'm more persistent (a good trait in a writer) and too stupid to know when to quit.  But the effect is the same.  I reach my goal but not after getting lost in unfamiliar territory.

The best advice on this is a line from Hamlet, "To thy own self be true."  Know your mind and stay the course.  Ignore the siren song of intrusions, personal disasters, and emotional upsets.  The writer, in this way, is part Jedi knight, mastering fear, anger, and hatred, and part scientist, seeking to reveal the truth through his or her writing.

That's probably a bit over romanticized but still true, I think.

So hang in there and do the best you can.  After all, each of us is only human.  We will falter and stumble and fail.  And when we do, we need to get up, dust ourselves off and start all over again.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Paraphernalia and Other Things

I heard back from the publisher the other day just long enough to know that they got my contact information and they will be in touch by December 20.  So now I wait.

Meanwhile a friend of mine (the last person I thought would self-publish) decided to release a book on Smashwords.  I spoke with him about this and decided it was time I released my short work on Smashwords while I writing Book 3 and proof Book 2.

So my first short story is on its way.  Long time readers of this blog may remember I wrote this story, Baby Muran, in May 2010.  I re-read it the other day and it still holds up.  So off it goes.

I did struggle to work out cover art for the story.  I'm not artist but Smashwords requires a cover image.  I can't use the artist for my novels because she costs too much to use for everything.  For the novel that takes months to write, that one thing.  So a bunch of small items too, I can't afford her.

So I dug into the clip art collection I have and found an image to use.

Now I'm struggling with Smashwords.  It also lets me upload occasionally.  So it will be a few days I think before the story is available.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lightning Strikes

Back in October I submitted my first novel to a publisher because they claimed to help writers get published.  They've come back now and have agreed to publish it.

That's right binky.  I found a publisher who wants to buy my work.  I have been offered a contract.

They asked from my contact information, which I supplied and I am now wait to hear from them on details.

Despite this development,  I don't feel like this is done deal because these guys are really small.  By my count they have only three novels out with a four due Q1 2012.  In this economy they could fold before they are ready to starting my project.  

Additionally, I have many questions about the deal:  Can I use the existing cover art I have?  Will they be willing to publish the other books in the series when they are ready?  Which rights am I transferring to them and for how long?  If I'm unhappy after six months or a year, will the publication rights revert back to me so can I go find another publisher?  Have they been successful so far with their other novels?  If yes, how do they know?  What measures are they using?  What size will the first print run be or will they use a print-on-demand service?

Notice there are no questions about payment because I'm not really interested in that part.  However, I will insist that I be paid something.  I'm sure they have standard deals when they sign someone.  I just need to figure when that is.

So until I hear from them (it's been a week now) and have a signed deal, I'm not breaking open any champagne.  This whole development, while good news, remains a little too much like vaporware.  I can't see it or touch so it does not exist... yet.

Still it does tell me that the novel is good, as I suspected, despite the three star reviews I got last year.  The book is better than that.

Meanwhile life goes on.  Work on Book 3 continues.

You can be sure that more information on this event will be shared once I know more.

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's Your Health

I recently threw my back out.  I've had lower back problems most of my life because of bad posture and little exercise.  I've not so much a couch potato as a computer jockey.  But the fact is, I find regular exercise boring.  Give me a chore, like raking the yard and that's fine, exercise in disguise, but have me do twenty push-ups and I'm outta here.

But the sad fact is I have no interest in writing when I'm in pain and the last few weeks have been painful.  Most of my life has ground to a halt while I nurse myself back to health.   And I've learned a few things in the process that I want to pass along so that you can avoid the same fate.
  • Stiff muscles require stretching.  Figure out which stretches are best for you and do them, daily.
  • Keep your muscles strong; so exercise them regularly to keep them toned.
  • Good nutrition is important so that your muscles and joints work properly; I started taking a multi-vitamin, which my doctor suggested years ago.
  • Watch your weight.  Excess weight can pull your spine out of alignment.
  • If you spend hours in front of a keyboard, stop once an hour (or more) and stretch to relax your shoulders and your lower back.
  • Above all, make a plan on how to keep yourself healthy and strong and stick with it.  I'm now on a routine of stretches and exercise to keep my muscles strong and the pain under control.  I plan to do this for the rest of my life since the pain was quite intense and anything that interferes with my writing needs to be deal with and resolved so that I can continue what I'm doing.
So take care of yourself and keep writing.