The Smoldering Crater Set Before You

Oh what a rough week or two.

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A very old WIP I did in Bryce and Poser.  Not a selfie, but it’s how I feel right now.

Special torture followed up by a work week from hell… (84 hours in 7 days) has left me a mess.  No writing done in that time, but a lot of anxiety over book sales and everything I should not be concerned with.  But… it has been illuminating to struggle through this.  I’ve learned how easily a single sale pops up your ranking, if only for a day or even a few hours, not to mention how important listing your book in the right list will help in exposure.

It is also surprising to see how Amazon ads work.  Not what I thought, and certainly not as effective as I thought, but then again, that could be also because of my pricing.  $3.99 seems to be daunting for many people, so I have an idea and if you are out there listening, I’d sure like to hear opinions. 🙂

I’m thinking of splitting the book up into 3 volumes.  Price the first one as free and the second two at $0.99.  It will not have the same cover, just something simple, tasteful and elegant using the seal.  Nor will it have the map.  Those are the benefits of buying the whole book in one piece, but perfect for those not sure if they want to invest in the first book of the series.  Opinions now accepted. 😉

I’m also a little concerned with who to use as my POD supplier for my hardcover and paperback.  I’m not thrilled with Createspace (because your royalties for their Expanded Distribution are beyond laughable.), nor Ingram Spark (For reasons not worth going into).  Direct2Digital looks the best, but they can’t sell on Amazon, so that’s a big concern but it could sell on Kobo and Smashwords among others.  So… it’ll still be on Barnes & Noble too.  Sigh.  Plus the cost is looking as high as $15.00 for trade paperbacks!  Yipes!  (Most not for me)

Anyway, that’s why the silence for a long period.  I could not get around so many things.

BTW Reviewers!  I haven’t seen too many around save for a few of y’all who have been fantastic!  They really do matter a lot for sales and rankings and promotions, so if you haven’t done one yet on Amazon, Smashwords or Kobo, (or Goodreads if you use it)  please do!  😀    BTW, if anyone has had any problems purchasing on Amazon, let me know!  Please!  One person tipped me off that Kindle’s and the iPad ap may not be accepting purchases for my book.  That’s just dirty pool if it’s happening to others.  Otherwise you can still get it from the other two main vendors.

Okay, now… the plan as it sits right now.  Stop focusing so hard on book 1.  Work a new cover image, and see about splitting the book into 3 parts for sale, cheap.  And of course, I will be ecstatic if I can get 10 chapters done by this time next week, 5 by Monday.  So that’s the hope and the goal.  I am going to be pushing hard to finish book 2’s first draft by Easter again.  So that’s the big goal.

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Fear of Failure, Fear of Success

Nothing creative to post today.

Although I have a correction to make in my timeline to post coming up.  A small bit of significant history I forgot to include.  Oh well.

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The second draft of my novel, (currently titled Reimarsoga) is now in the can and I’m letting it cool for a few days before I dig back into it.  I need to give my brain a chance to rest and think.  I have sent it out to a couple of alpha readers for feedback and seeing if I missed some major things that must be addressed, and then we move forward for the third and fourth edits… which I hope will be the last of them thanks to each step involving outside input.

What made the second draft so hard was simply how much new content I had to write.  The first draft was great exploration but when I started learning about editing and better storycraft and functional use of the three act structure, I realized I had a beginning hook and great middle build… but no real conclusion.  Part of this might be because I had expected this to be only the first part of a bigger book (which the remainder is now to become an even bigger second novel), the other is just because of bad planning and storytelling on my part.

So I re-plotted and decided to look at all of the “Chekov’s Guns” I’d drawn in the course of it all.  I considered major tropes that fantasy novels loved to have in.  I thought about all the things that I loved in novels and said:

“Self, you need to fix this and write write write.”

“Okay… but only if you hurry this up, rational thought.  I have a deadline to meet.”

“Deadline, Schmedline.  It’ll be done when it’s done and that’ll be when its good.”  Rational Mind snapped

“Isn’t it always good?” Self whined?

“No.  Now shut up, here’s a Vonnagut colored crayon for your mouth.  Get writing!”

And that was the way of it.  I put out over 120 pages of new content, scattered throughout the entire plotline.  There were so many holes!  Not to mention converting the whole book over from first to third person!  Ugh!  You realize how frustrating that can be?  It may be easy to change “I” to “He” and what not, but just that delay in moving forward can be disheartening.

Then came the worst sensations of the edit:  I started to fear its completion!  One half of the brain was freaking out because the book could suck and I’d be just wasting my time.  Many times I spit the crayon out of my mouth or bit it in two, frustrated at my own inability to make myself coherent.  Time and time again, like many a good writer I suspect, I threw out what I thought was good, but in the ended up with a “this fish tastes funny” so I spit it out and tried again.  At times, I was fortunate enough to be blessed with two very precious people to give me feedback just when I needed it most (take another pair of bows Torfinn and Francois… aren’t they lovely folks?) and help me conquer so many questions that finally… FINALLY, the end was in sight last on Wednesday night.

Then fear of success jumped up and kicked me in the ding ding.  What if I did succeed?  Then what?  I started having a bit of a freak out over that.  Now although it seems to be rare for people to have anxiety over succeeding, I get it, and it can be powerful enough to destroy the whole creative process.  Why?  Because you get comfortable with the creative process and do not wish it to end for fear of not knowing what is next.  Or something else more fitting for your own situation.  So I wrestled with it as it stole my creativity and voice.  It did not want me to produce anything of good enough quality that I could complete the work.  It was not writer’s block per sey for I could pump out pablum and be done with it… but my conscience would not allow that.

Thankfully, I was able to have a small spark of inspiration and make a leap forward and those last pages shot out like a lovely last silver salute and chrysanthemum (know your fireworks), and I could relax.  The hardest work so far was done.

And I was surprised at the peace that I had.  Now it was clear how often I was fearing doing this novel right as much as I was fearing doing it wrong.  I am looking forward to the third edit and the beta read and the cover competition, and hiring an editor…

and finally maybe… just maybe…

making my ultimate deadline and book release dates.

So much more to learn and do.

The Editorial Two-Step

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Buster sez, “Ai r nawt teh happiez wif dis process.”

I think I finally burned down the impediments, and now can start the final battle.  Not only literarily… is that even a word?  As well as compositionally.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my two main characters I’ve driven to a “all is lost moment”, and I just have a little ‘grace note’ of a scene I need to do to drop out the bottom in my other main character so the two are both there.  As I think of it, that scene just grew too into something exciting before the big “Fire in the hole” moment for the battle.  I set my plotline and wove all the pieces together that were fighting me, and I took a few days to let my brain refill, and now… I just need to get real life out of the way so I can push forward.

So why the title?

To get all the weaving done, I was pulling my hair out.  I have in this part, a bit of story that could be off-putting for some of the audience.  I’m going to definately get another alpha reader opinion on it, but once again, one of my sounding board readers in this, Francois, came to the rescue and pointed out where I was overthinking it.  Something I really don’t want to do.  So I wrote, then threw out, wrote then threw out, wrote again… thought about it, forged forward, had another think and a talk, went back and rewrote, throwing a bunch out but not as much as I thought.

The editorial two step.

At work, after listening to the Presidential Debate… wow… just… trust me, my Facebook is a bit singed this morning, I listened to another Creative Penn Podcast and had a nice thought hit me.  I might not get this done before the one year anniversary of my major push starting, but I might be able to do a pre-order for the book and put the first book on sale right out of the gate with maybe some other promo things if it looks like it won’t make it for Christmas.  It’s a thought at least.

So, tonight, when off work, I’m going to hopefully kick off the battle and be one YUGE step forward to polishing this bad boy off… and get to beta readers sooner rather than later.  I was also encouraged by Ms. Penn discussing her need to abandon false deadlines too.  I sighed a large relief at that.  Then realized that she’s also cranking out far more words than I am, so I need to start getting my act together.  Inspiration, not competition… inspiration not competition.

;c)

 

Besides, she already won if it was.

Delays: Explained by Snaps Provelone

A quick description of me struggling to meet my deadlines a la the movie “Oscar”.  (You should watch it if you haven’t.  Awesome stuff.)

I went away for a couple of days to get away from interwebs and focus on writing.  It sort of worked.  Sort of.  Two longer chapters written to the tune of around 8,000 words in 2 days.  Not bad if I do say myself.  Of course, I had probably written about another 4,000 words on top of that, but it just wasn’t working, so I had to throw all that out.

Sometimes writing is like that it seems.

But every time I turn around and think “Ah hah!  Now I have you and I can wrap this up!”  A loose end or ragged concept raises its meek little finger and says “What about me? I need resolution”

Hence the above clip.  Seriously, go watch “Oscar”.  It’s well worth the laughs.  Great cast.

I managed to write myself into a corner because I’ve been pantsing again.  I pants a lot.  I need new writing britches I think because of it.  Thankfully the solution was provided by science.  Yes!  I threw science at the wall and some of it stuck.  I fretted it was too Deus ex Machina, or in this case Deus ex Meteorology and Cartography, but the more I thought about it, it flows perfectly with the set up and is a logical and plausible solution.  As you can suspect I worry about coming off with pat silly or contrived solutions.  I really try not to invent them, but I’m learning this is also part of being a writer.  You are the sole filter in which the reader experiences the world.  So work on internal consistency of logic and causation, and it will be all right.  It’s when you do something that people go “Oh come ON!  Really?  How stupid do you think we are?”

…and suddenly the book the achieves sufficient velocity to land in the trashcan.

I worry about these things.  So I think very hard, even when pantsing about what I wrote and whether or not it is internally consistent, whether it needs something written before to set it up so it’s not an out of the blue “surprise!  contrived solution here!”.  I’m rambling.

Long story long, I thought I’d be closer to done than this.  arr rarr rarr.  I’m not, but I set up key parts I needed to in order to throw the switch on the big finale conflict….  annnnnd I just had an epiphany.  No seriously.  Right here thinking about the final act as I considered my whole “All is lost” moment from which triumph is snatched from the jaws of defeat.

Oh this is good.  Straw is flammable, right?  Right!

I’m indecently pleased with this solution and I’ve already set it up!  Ohhh I am now just beside myself with squee, but I have two scenes I have to write.  Well maybe three… sigh… probably three knowing me, in which to throw the switch, but that might be able to be compressed into one chapter.

Okay, so that’s stuff I have yet to do and hope to have it done by Monday.  Boy howdy, this is down to the wire of my grace period. (Labor Day)  And of course Monday I’m not going to get much done because it’s my fantasy football league draft and I’m seeing my good friend and his thundering herd of kidlets.  Le Sigh.  Better buy an energy shot or something.

There is some positive news too.  I finished polishing 2 chapters early in the book, and am considering releasing chapter two as another teaser once I’m one scrubbing it up for y’all.

For those of you enjoying my timeline, I have those posts ready to go for two of the biggest events in the timeline.  Den Lange Vinteren (The Long Winter) and the Aettirkrigen (The War of the Clans… thanks for the linguistic save, Torfinn!)  So those are coming probably Monday and maybe Thursday?  Haven’t decided yet, but expect one Monday as usual.

Okay, rambling done.  Off to bed in a little then work, then maybe sneak some more editing in.

Hasta la byebye!

 

 

Cooling Down

For the first time in a month, the air is finally pleasant at night. I cannot believe how long it has been since I have wanted to have a window open to experience the night there. The constant drone of the air conditioner is no longer a comfort. It had been like a jailer for me for so long.

My life is lived overnight. While the rest of the world is awake and moves around doing their chores, I sleep. There are times that I wish I was up during the day, but it has significant downsides for someone who is not a big social person. That isn’t entirely true, because I do like the social aspect of life in some respects, but on my own terms. In a way I guess this is a very mild form of agoraphobia. Then again, I am not qualified to make any sort of diagnosis.

The cooling also seems to come in concert with the cooling of my creativeness. Over the weekend I had written two new chapters and upon listening to them again I discovered how poorly they sounded. It was quite a shock after filling a little hubris I guess is the right word. I have never purchased an independent published book before, let alone an ebook. Odd to say probably, particularly since I will be publishing e-books in the near future. But that’s the way it is. It’s my own fault, my own work to enjoy reading a book in paperback or hardcover over and you look. That’s not to say that it might not change, but when I am dealing with an electronic device, it seems to be more comfortable to me to listen to a book on tape instead.

I threw out recently on my Facebook feed that I ought to look for a native Norwegian speaker when I decide to make my book into an audiobook. Then they could get the names with the proper pronunciation I can get a hint of the true accents of the characters that even I cannot do properly. Do you know how insane it is sometimes when you realize that as the author you cannot even truly pronounce the names correctly that you needed for your book? I’m sorry, but in my mind that is a tad nutty. If I had money, at least I could say I was eclectic.

I had not really planned what to say this blog as the Meandering probably gives away. I’ve been wondering though, what people are curious about? I get very different feedbacks from my blog posts and it seems that the statistics are working quite properly or something. I have people telling me they love the blog that have no indication of reading it but they talked to me about it. I know I went through Facebook but I have absolutely no idea how they’re reading the whole thing through Facebook. I don’t want them to be able to do that. But then again I’m so ignorant in the methodology and functionality of sharing links and things like that with blogs that I have no idea how this is supposed to work.

So I’m starting to experiment a little bit with times and days blog Publications. Seeing what time’s work better for exposure. Currently releasing new posts at midnight on Monday and Friday seem to be very good for overseas circulation. But I have not found a time that bolsters the North American time zones. I started with doing this on Mondays and Fridays, I’m starting to wonder if there are better days in which to do new information. What do you guys think? I would love to have your opinion. Go ahead and comment below.

That’s all for now. I think we will try to put up something more creative regarding my book on this coming Friday. And if any of you guys have good ideas please share them on what are good posting times and what is interesting stuff you want to hear about let me know!

 

Three Years On: A Personal Anniversary

Three years ago just before midnight on D-Day, my life was turned upside down in a flash.

I drove spotter truck at the time, pushing semi trailers back and forth from dock to lot and vice versa.  It was physically difficult in a way not even many truckers realize when you are doing 7-10 moves an hour.

In and out.

Up and down.

Slam, bang, bump.

I had been driving professionally in various forms for going on five years and had just earned my Class A the autumn before.  I wasn’t sure I enjoyed trucking as much as I enjoyed bus driving.  But, I needed work, and this was work that paid the bills, so I did it as best I can, but slowly was starting to dread it.  Although, there were good times too.  Working overnights, and only four nights a week, that’s not bad money, and it wasn’t like the grueling 14 hour days 5 days a week with 16 every Tuesday I had to endure running inter-modal to Chicago and back.  That was psychological torture.

No.  this was physically harder, but my mind was at peace.  I no longer felt like a criminal 24/7 whenever I drove.

It was dry out, and a clear sky.  Sure some puddles remained on the ground from the rain two nights before, but my feet were not wet.  I just saw on my computer I got a “Freebie” move.  A liveload where the driver was still there, but they put the move up inside.  So I got credit for a move, doing nothing.  I just had to go wake him up and say “Yer outta here!”

It did not happen that way.

I pulled up to his cab with the spotter and got out to knock on his door.  The spotter door slid open behind me, and I went through onto the deck.  Spotters go in and out of a sliding back door, you know.  I started going down the stairs, and then disaster came.

Now, falling off my truck was one of my worst fears as a driver.  I have seen people break ankles and knees.  I almost broke my right ankle in a rail yard thanks to a lump of rotted out concrete.  But falling was particularly worrisome, cause I’m a big guy.  So I planted my feet, and took hold of the railings to go down the stairs.  Yes, spotters have very steep stairs with two railings that bent to angle with your motion.  Three points of contact.  Yes indeed.

Suddenly, it was two points of contact.  My left foot lost its grip on the worn-smooth metal.  Its timing a split second earlier or later would have made a world of difference.  No seriously, it was that precisely timed you would swear it was planned.  It slid under the fender a little, and partially in the open wheel well.  I still had both hands on the railings.  Two points of contact left.

Then inertia proved to be a harsh mistress.

My right arm hit full extension just as my grip was at that stupid bend in the railing.  That small, insignificant spot.  I lost grip with my right hand.  My strongest arm, and began to whip around by my left arm out and away from the truck.  All 380 pounds of me, swinging out like a swing ride at a carnival.  The centrifugal force was tearing my left hand’s grip free but it felt like I was sliding down the railing faster than I was losing my grip, and thought there was a chance to control my fall.  Amazing I can remember that in the split second of the time.

Then I hit the side of the truck with a loud bang that shocked me…

…hard.

Then I bounced clear and in a freefall.  I felt like I was suspended in air by that arm for a second, but it wasn’t the case.  Gravity took over and I was falling the rest of the way, my feet were maybe only three feet off the ground, but it felt so much higher.

I remembered faintly my judo training from decades before and tried to brace to roll with it.

Then I did the same thing that nearly dislocated my shoulder as a student:  I reached for the ground.

You ever play with those pose-able leg Barbies as a kid?  You know the ones with the plastic ratchet inside them.  That was the sensation I felt from my elbow.  And pain.  A whole lot of pain and shock to that right elbow.  I had saved myself from striking my head, but my elbow payed the price.

Flopping on the pavement of the lot and let out a long howl of agony and shock.  I couldn’t help squirming around, as I fought with the shock of what had happened…

Impressively, I managed to keep my right arm glued to the pavement.  A semi drove by me and ignored me.  He looked right at me… and kept driving.  I realized I was not getting any help at that moment, and had to get it myself.

I moved my arm, or tried to.  It refused to move at first.  So I tried to curl it back to me.  I felt that horrifying Barbie doll ratcheting and knew something was pretty damn bad.  I prayed it was just a dislocated elbow.  With my arm to my chest, the throbbing came, but the pain had subsided a lot.  I was quite surprised and started thinking, well, maybe I got this after all.  But I had to report the fall.  So I tried to climb back up into the spotter and my right arm was in agony with every move.

I’m sure now it’s dislocated, but prayed that it wasn’t broken.  I called on the radio for help and told the lead driver to meet me at the office and then drove, slowly, with every bump and crease in the drop lot causing shocks of pain to rattle my head as I drove.

Filling out the report was an ordeal.  Being forced to drive myself to the hospital they chose was brutal.  The agony of waiting and then maneuvering my body around as they took X-Rays and then an MRI.  There was a hairline fracture, but the doctor would have to tell me more.  I finally was given something for the pain, but it wasn’t much.  My arm was wrapped in fiberglass and gauze.

Then the next challenge came:  Going home.  I had to drive all the way back, 35 miles to home, by myself, on pain meds.  No family or friends were available in the middle of the night.  My boss tried to claim I did not follow safety regs, which I proved false the next day.  I was swimming with grief as I drove home.  I called my parents, and my father drove over 100 miles from their campground stay to help me get back to the hospital six hours later.

The next morning the surgeon gave me the news.  It was called “The Terrible Triad”.  A break so bad that it had it’s own nickname.  My Radius and Ulna broke through the head into multiple pieces.  The Humerus snapped right above the joint.  Every tendon was snapped free, and the ligaments were torn loose.  My cartilage was shredded.  So much for the hoping against hope it was dislocated or sprained or something that in a week would be fine, or at least just sore.  I asked him if it was the worst he’d seen.  He said no.  Later on I learned that he did this sort of surgery for the US Military, and could only imagine seeing the ruined limbs he had repaired.  Mine would be a cakewalk compared to a limb jellied by an IED or shrapnel.

Surgery was scheduled for three days later.  And then would begin the entire year ordeal where I would also face a second surgery because something else would not heal in my arm, and had to suffer a partial elbow replacement.  Just before Thanksgiving.

My life fundamentally changed three years ago today.  My career as a commercial driver, gone.  My record of never breaking a bone, gone.  My belief in my ability to recover naturally from anything?  Gone.  Ability to effectively wipe my own ass, gone for months but not forever!  Talk about a true discovery of how frail and dependent we are on our dominant arm.

That event transformed my life and all things in it.

But I thank God.  To this day I am thankful.

Although I am permanently scarred and partially disabled, I know how much worse it could have been.  Had I not gone above and beyond the call of duty with safety procedures, this slip would have put me head first into the pavement from a height of about nine feet.  I would have been lucky to be only paralyzed then.  More likely I would have died outright.

Worker’s Comp covered my medical bills completely, and if I healed well enough (which never happened) I would go back to work when it was over, with no fear.

Therefore, I praise God.  He gave me peace and supplied my needs throughout this crisis.  It makes me wonder why it happened, and I suppose some day, I will be shown why it happened and what was caused by it.

I’m still a safety lecture example of why drivers use three points of contact at my job and at my driving school.  I guess that might save someone’s life some day, and that’s a good thing.

But D-Day is no longer just a memorial for Operation Overlord for me.  It is a personal D-Day where I lost my former life and health forever.

In a split second.

Just before midnight.

 

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Ugh a horrible picture.  But this was my arm for almost three weeks!