After the Storm

Okay, well, here I am back again, after a hiatus last week, for which I apologize.  I suppose that I can’t be held entirely to blame for that break—after all, the cause was hurricane Irma, which did a fair amount of damage to south Florida, and kept the power out where I live for over a week.  My neighborhood is fairly old, and there are quite a few trees, and the power lines have seen better days.  This is not a great combination when a category 5 hurricane comes through, though thankfully we did not get hit by the main force of the beast, as we thought was going to happen.

I had intended to do my fiction writing even when the power was out—I had my clipboard and a stack of notebook paper all ready—but the sheer annoyance and mugginess of south Florida without either regular lights or air conditioning just made the whole thing too unpleasant.  Actually, it was fairly unpleasant to do most things, even to sleep.  Late summer in Florida is no joke.  I guess if I’d known that I was going to be stuck in those conditions on an ongoing basis, I would have just buckled down, bitten the bullet, and mixed my metaphors—goodness knows I’ve been through worse—but given that I knew it was quite temporary, I used the occurrence as an excuse to be mildly lazy.

However, as of Monday morning, I am back at the word processor, and have been writing steadily on “Unanimity.”  It’s moving along well.  I’ve been writing what I hope is one of the most intense and dark scenes in the book, and it’s becoming longer than I thought it would be.  I fear it will need some serious pruning before I’m done with it.  Oh, well, I’ve had a lot of practice lately with cutting up unnecessary and troublesome branches of one kind or another.

I’ve been working toward the making of my planned video log, which will be named the same as my other blog on WordPress (Iterations of Zero), though I don’t know if I’ll officially name the channel or anything.  I expect that, before I come out with my next post here, I’ll have created the inaugural video for Iterations of Zero, and that’s kind of exciting.  It may be uncharitable of me to inflict my face on the viewing world, but since no one is forced to watch, I say caveat viewor.  Hopefully I’ll be able to make it worth your pain.  It’ll be worth it to me, anyway.

In the meantime, things are returning to normal, or what passes for normal in south Florida (those of you who have read Dave Barry or Carl Hiaasen, or their ilk, will know that Florida is a bizarre place indeed…especially if you realize that they do not need to embellish most of what they write).  The trains are running again, the weather is muggy and hot, the drivers are almost uniformly terrible (apparently something about the local climate interferes particularly with the function of turn signals) and greenery takes root on anything that sits still for longer than five minutes.

I’m going to cut it a bit short this week (I’m sure you’re all devastated); we went back into work last Thursday, as soon as the power came back at the office, and have been working straight every day since, to try to make up for the days that we missed while the hurricane raged and ranted.  So, I’m a little tired from that, and just from trudging my way through the hurricane and its aftermath.

Hopefully my next posting here will also contain a link to my latest (and earliest) video on YouTube, and you can let me know what you think.  In the meantime…

TTFN!

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My plans to conquer other media

Okay, a quick little post today, since I’ve used up a good portion of my usual Thursday morning writing time by working on “Unanimity.”  I couldn’t help it.  I’m in a lovely, chilling, horrible moment in the story, and such scenes are hard to escape.  It’s a strange perversion, I suppose, but writing moments where very bad things happen to people who are—if not completely innocent—not deserving of the horrors in store for them can be terrifically fun, especially when the writer can imagine readers being frightened by the scene.  I remember, early in the writing of “The Chasm and the Collision,” when my son read an early draft of the “frightful night” occurrences near the beginning of the book.  He said (more or less), “That was kind of scary, Dad.”

Of course, I felt like rubbing my hands together and giving a Monty Burns-style, whispery exclamation of, “Excellent!”  And I did tell him that I was glad he found it scary, since that was my intention, and he understood.  I owe him a lot for that report!

Anyway, I’m writing “Unanimity” enthusiastically, even as hurricane Irma approaches South Florida, where it’s almost certain to cause me at least temporary inconvenience.  But I’ve been through quite a few hurricanes, and through worse life events than those, so I’m not as panicked as many people in the area seem to be.  Nevertheless, the storm bears caution:  specifically, I had to make sure that I had pens and notebook paper so I could continue writing even when the power goes out, as it almost certainly will.

One has to have one’s priorities straight.

I’ve been going back and forth on my secondary blog, “Iterations of Zero,” and just in the last few days, I think I’ve come up with something I’m going to do instead.

I’m going to do a Vlog.

In other words, I’m going to create videos (easy to do nowadays) about various subject and topic matter that I had intended to move on over to Iterations of Zero.  In fact, I think I’ll probably call the new video channel just “Iterations of Zero,” since I like that title and idea so much (I’m easily pleased).  Though I may just leave it under my name.  We’ll see.

As for why I’m doing this, well, there are no doubt reasons of which I am not aware, but among those of which I am, the main two are:  exposure and time.  It’s simply a fact that more people watch videos (probably orders of magnitude more) than ever go out of their way to read blogs, or even other print media.  This is a lamentable fact, but I think it’s empirically undeniable.  So, getting videos out there in which I talk about everything from black holes to criminal justice, to medical science, to philosophy may get what I think are important thoughts to more people than they might reach otherwise.  And the videos will serve to promote me and my fiction writing as well—indeed, I can be my own primary sponsor, which is kind of a pleasing notion.

With respect to the “time” input to the decision, the term might be misleading.  After all, it may at times take longer to make a video about a certain topic than it will to make a blog post—as I’ve said before, I tend to write very quickly.  But it is a different kind of time.  I tend to write earlier in the day, and I often write while on the train going to work, and so on.  When I’m writing (with the exception of Thursdays, when I write this blog) I want to be writing my fiction.  I have foolishly let decades pass without working on most of my novels, so I have a tremendous backlog of them to get out before I die!

That being said, there seems to be only a certain amount of writing in me on any given day.  That can sometimes be a pretty huge amount—I’m very lucky that way—but it’s finite, and I’ve already noticed how difficult it is for me to dedicate some of that resource to two separate blogs.  Speaking to a camera, on the other hand, like speaking to other people, is a different mode of communication, and seems to draw upon slightly different resources.  I’m not particularly good at making small talk, or interacting at a purely social level, but when I have something to say, about subject matter that I find intriguing or important, I can gab with the best of them.  I tend to write my first drafts rather as if I were talking aloud to someone, so I expect there won’t be too much difficulty, and I foresee that this will be a potentially useful venture.

Anyway, that’s my provisional plan for the moment.  Obviously, once I get it going, I will let you know.  Things might be temporarily delayed by the lovely hurricane approaching South Florida, which may curtail any use of electricity or electronics temporarily, but I’ll be back as soon as I may.

TTFN!

The Other Side of the Chasm

Okay, so today’s post is going to be rather free-form, just going over a bit of housekeeping, as it were, and touching on several subjects.  I haven’t forgotten my stated intention to start running down the list of my favorite villains, and why they are my favorites, but I just haven’t gotten around to doing it because of the stress of recent events, both good and bad:  the death of my mother, the publication of “The Chasm and the Collision,” and a walloping middle ear infection in my right ear (with a perforated eardrum).  So, my personal energy has been slightly drained and diverted.  I’ve also gone back to my day job, after having gone up north for a week, so there’s been backed-up work there with which to deal.

Despite all that, I have managed to initiate my secondary blog, called “Iterations of Zero,” and which you can look at here.  If you want to know what the title of the blog means, I explain it in the blog’s initial post.  Subsequently, I’ve been moving my political, philosophical, and science-related posts from this blog to that one, to leave this main page as my author/personal blog, and the other one to be my “commentary” blog.  I’d love it if anyone here who liked my posts would follow that blog as well, but it’s by no means obligatory.

Iterations of Zero has a darker look to it that this blog has, but I’m thinking of doing something a little different with the look of this one as well.  I’m not going to change the overall layout (I think), but I am probably going to change the color scheme.  I also might change the header photo.  The one I have now is one of the stock photos offered by WordPress, and though it is very nice, it’s not personal.  So, I may work up something new for it in the relatively near future.  Keep your eyes peeled.

“The Chasm and the Collision” is well published now, if you will, and you can, of course, purchase the paperback version here, and the E-book version here.  If you do buy it and read it, please give an Amazon rating and review.  It’s very helpful for an author to get this kind of feedback, and also for potential purchasers to see what other people thought about the book.  You can, of course, also give me feedback in the comments section on this blog, and would be delighted to interact with you, but that’s more narrowly useful than feedback on Amazon.

In the meantime, I’m making pleasing progress on “Unanimity,” my current novel.  In the roughly ten writing days since I started working on it again, I’ve written over 19,000 words, which adds up to a nice daily count, especially considering that I do most of my writing on the train to work and then a bit of it in the office before the work day starts.  As I’ve said before, I’m very lucky in being able to write quickly.  In fact, I’ve written all that you’ve read above on this very post in just thirty seconds!

Kidding.

Anyway, as I say, “Unanimity” is coming along nicely, and is truly beginning its spiraling descent into the darker parts of the story (though that descent began early on, it’s going to get much worse before the other end of the tunnel is reached, and not everyone is going to get out alive).  I’m happy that it’s going quickly, because I have so many stories to write, and I tend to come up with many more as time goes by.  I’ve taken to using the “notebook” feature on my smart phone to write down little tidbits of story notions as they occur to me, and which may later turn into short stories or even full novels.  For instance, I was on the bus coming home from Ohio and saw what looked like a scarecrow underneath a big old pecan tree (or some similar tree), right near a convenience store by an exit on the freeway.  It occurred to me that this was a peculiar place for a scarecrow—certainly no crops were planted nearby—and it was quite a bit too early to be a Halloween decoration.  Well, what if such a thing were not really, physically there, at all, or if it were not simply a stuffed facsimile of a person, but something stranger, darker?  I have no idea where such a story might go; I’d want to be careful not to repeat too many of the motifs that are found in “Prometheus and Chiron,” for instance, and that could easily be done with such an image.  But it was an interesting thought, and good to write it down for later.  I’ve long been doing that for points I want to discuss in what is now Iterations of Zero—so many posts are waiting to be written there—and it’s working nicely, so it’s good to keep track of little story ideas and triggers.

The nice thing about writing these is, when I read notes that I’ve written, my brain tends to do a good job of bringing me right back into the state of mind I was in when I wrote them.  Perhaps this is true of most people, I don’t know, but it works nicely for me, so I intend to make the most of it.

Okay, well, this has been a meandering and unfocused post, which is what I intended to write, so that’s fine, but I think I’ve covered most of what I wanted to cover for this week.  I’ll leave any unaddressed items for future posts, and just once again invite you to get yourself a copy of “The Chasm and the Collision,” or one of my other books.  I can certainly recommend them without reservation, by which I mean I’m proud of them and enjoy rereading them myself.  If you like them, tell two friends.  And then they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on, and so on…

TTFN

Today’s blog post

Well, for those of you who follow my Facebook timeline, you already know that my mother died last Saturday, August 12, 2017, at 5:42 pm eastern time, in Marietta, Ohio.  My sister and I were with her at the time, though she had been unconscious for the previous day or two.  My brother was at Mom’s house; he had visited her, but simply doesn’t handle hospitals and related things very well.  Being a physician myself (no longer in practice), obviously I am more accustomed, but it’s still different when it’s one’s mother.

It was sad, to me at least, that she was unable to read any of “The Chasm and the Collision.”  That’s not just narcissistic author-talk; she really had been looking forward to reading it.  My sister and I both tried to read some of it to her in the hospital, but she was basically unable to pay attention.  Looking back, I regret every evitable delay in the editing and production process, but that’s probably not very useful.  She did know that it had come out, at least, and was as excited as she was able to be about it.

It is out, of course, and I’ll post another link to it below, before the end of this entry.  If you like a fun fantasy/adventure story that’s good for “all ages,” then consider reading it, please.  Although I’ll give a caveat that I’ve probably given before:  technically there is no “magic” in the story.  All the extraordinary happenings are parts of natural processes taking place within the universes of the novel; it’s just that those natural forces are (slightly) different than some with which we are familiar.  Or, perhaps, they’re simply forces and phenomena we have yet to discover.

Now that CatC is out, I have resumed work on “Unanimity.”  Since last Friday, I have written every day, even on the bus, no less than 1600 words a day (and as many as 2100).  Today is an exception in the sense that I am using my writing time to write this blog entry, which is not as interesting as “Unanimity” (most likely), but it’s hard to be too entertaining given the circumstances.  As I’ve stated before, I am extremely lucky in being able to type/write very quickly.  My grandmother gave me my first typewriter when I was eleven (her arthritis had made it difficult for her to use), and I began hunting and pecking away on creative writing almost immediately.  I was much slower then, and I certainly never learned any formal typing system, but my process works well for me.  It was, in a way, good that the aforementioned typewriter had no self-correct key, so when I made the mistake, I had to back up, insert a white-out tab, and retype the mistaken letter.  This irritating process will quickly school you in being careful.

My mother set me up at a little table in the breakfast nook in the house where I grew up.  There I wrote a good portion of a fantasy novel involving (what a coincidence) three middle-school students—we called it Junior High, then—who were transported to another world.  Other than that, though, it had almost nothing else in common with CatC, but I still have the whole origin story/mythology of that world in my head.  Maybe someday I’ll try to recreate that story.  Probably not.

“Unanimity,” the story I’m working on now, is NOT a family-friendly story, and is NOT good for all ages.  It’s also one I never would have wanted to read aloud to my mother.  It’s very dark, and has sex, and violence, and whatnot, at least some of which is awkward to read to one’s parent.  Especially the whatnot.  I like it, though—so far, at least—and the writing has been proceeding swimmingly.

Speaking of writing—writing of it, really—I’ve been, in recent weeks, studiously avoiding writing my political and philosophical musings.  I think people who read this blog seem more interested in the subject of creative writing.  Certainly, I get many more “likes” from these articles than I do from my other types of articles.  Nevertheless, I do have a great many things to say, about subjects that I think are important.  They are important to me, at least.  With that in mind, I’m thinking of starting another blog, as I had done once in the past.  This time, I think I’ll do another WordPress blog, since part of the issue I had before was that the blog system through Google was a bit clunky.  I’ll let you know once I start it, assuming that I do, and I’ll probably transfer all pertinent blog entries from this blog to that new one, if I do so.  I’ll let you know.  In the meantime, if you have any feedback on the idea, please feel free to leave a comment below.

There’s not much more to say at this point.  I’m still a bit emotionally fatigued, and I imagine that I will be for a while.  I’m also in the midst of a fairly uncomfortable middle ear infection in my right ear.  It started Monday, as I was getting ready for the bus ride back home from Ohio, and the eardrum apparently perforated just before I got on the bus.  Great timing, ne?  I was oozing from my ear all the way back from Ohio, and through the day since.  But now I am on antibiotics at last, and my tinnitus is returning to its previous, possible-to-ignore levels.  Still oozing a bit, unfortunately, and still rather sore, but life’s like that, isn’t it?  Oozy and sore.  (Don’t try to find any meaning in that; I’m just being silly).

Okay, well, that’s pretty much it for today…except, of course, the aforementioned link to “The Chasm and the Collision,” just below.  Please note, though the link goes directly to the paperback version of the novel, it’s also available for Kindle, and that form gets delivered more quickly.  I think I may also get a slightly greater royalty on the E-book version, given the much lower production costs, but I could be mistaken about that.  Of course, there will always be charm and beauty to a physical book.  I like them both.

Please stay well.  If your mother is still around, do give her a call—and a hug if you can.

TTFN

CatC cover paperback

Link to Amazon

Some great news, and some not as great news.

Okay, well, I’m not going to be writing all that much today, but I do want to make an important announcement, one to which I’ve been building up for some time:  “The Chasm and the Collision” is out!  Here are the two versions, paperback and Kindle, from which you can choose (or if you can’t decide, you can feel free to buy one of each.  Or more than one of each.  Why not?  ^_^  ).  Just click on the image and you’ll be brought to the Amazon page where the book is listed:

CatC cover paperback

Paperback

 

CatC cover kindle

Kindle

Unfortunately, on the very day it was released (two days ago, now), my mother’s health took a downward turn.  She was already in the hospital after having felt a bit weak and having some other, more specific troubles, and her situation had become more complicated than it was expected to become.  Certainly, it was more complicated than I had expected it to become.  Anyway, now I’m writing this while sitting in the Greyhound station in Knoxville while they clean the bus, having left from Fort Lauderdale (on a different bus) yesterday morning.  I have not spoken with my mother’s doctors directly, but my sister has, and my mother is apparently not expected to recover.  She is certainly very weak.

This makes the whole situation quite bittersweet.  My mother was very much looking forward to this book—at least she said so, and I believe her—so it’s unpleasantly ironic for it to have come out the very day her health took a downturn that may prevent her from reading it.

Incidentally, I apologize that the cover differs somewhat from paperback to Kindle.  For some reason, I was unable to reproduce the paperback’s cover for the Kindle version, so I had to do something else.  (Something Other, you might say.)  Looking back, I actually kind of like the forced, ad-hoc Kindle cover.  Maybe I’ll release a second edition of the paperback that has the same cover as the Kindle one.

Ugh, I feel like my writing is terrible right now.  Of course, that doesn’t stop it from coming out.  One thing I can say for me, I don’t have trouble just getting some words out onto paper (or computer, as the case may be).  But my brain is quite foggy.  Even though I’ve spent most of my time sleeping since leaving the south Florida area, no one could ever claim that sleeping on a bus is actually restful.  Well…I guess they could claim it, but they would be lying, and what on Earth could lead them to such a deception?

Perhaps they are on the payroll of the Greyhound company…

Okay, well, that’s really all I have to say, more or less.  I was hoping to be as excited as Hell (and those who know Hell know just how excitable it is) when I announced the release of CatC.  And I am excited, of course.  But it’s an excitement tempered by grim anticipation and worry.  Hopefully you readers can be excited on my behalf.  I would be deeply grateful.

Also, please call your mothers, if you still have that option.

TTFN

The Chasm approaches – watch your step!

CatC promo

Okay, well, another week has passed, and we are a week closer to the release of “The Chasm and the Collision” in both paperback and E-book formats.  In fact, as the above Facebook ad shows, it will be released this month (which comes as no surprise to those of you who read last week’s posting).  Even more excitingly—to me, certainly—is that it will be released within the next two weeks, and possibly within the next week.  There are still a few variables at play, so I don’t want to be too specific. Continue reading