Moving Life Forward, Slowly But Surely.

A little treat for you all today. I have finally gotten the preliminary edits done on “Dreams Within Dreams”, the first novella of the upcoming “Tales From the Dream Nebula” series. So huzzah! I hope to be getting a beta reader group together by June, and a Oct/Nov release timeframe. Not sure yet on which will be the case.

Still considering on the artist though. I have one person in mind if I can afford and schedule for him.

Unfortunately, I was not able to go to Galaxycon, due to allergies/illness. Apparently there are some things about living in the mountains my body has not become accustomed to, and that is the early spring pollens. Ugh! So horrible. Then again, it seems like illness has just been washing around here getting everyone in some way or another. So many customers, offices and businesses are short staffed because nobody can seem to stay healthy for either a virus, allergies or infections. Covid is at least becoming a non factor, and people, with a few freaked out Covidiot holdouts are ignoring the fearmongering because let’s face it, just about everyone around here’s had it and is now naturally immune.

n114_w1150 by BioDivLibrary is licensed under CC-BY 2.0

Otherwise, our big disappointment has been the weather. Mother nature has seen fit to take out our new plum and peach trees. Just as the blossoms come out, BAM! We get hit with a freeze. As I write, the snow is flying outside. It’s quite a different experience for me when it comes to snow here. You can see on the mountainside so clearly where the snow melts on the way down and becomes rain, as the peaks get coated in white, while the valleys only a few hundred feet above our heads stay brown (and now increasingly, green.) The apples might make it, and the seedlings we’ve started, in our mini hot house that the cats love, are really doing well. This summer and fall is hopefully going to be a huge canning season. (Anyone know where we can pick up a bunch of Ball wide mouthed quart canning jars and a few thousand lids for same, cheap, in southern WV?)

Speaking of our cats, they breathed a sigh of relief as our plans for a puppy got put off. I believe in big dogs so we were eyeing some great dane/pitbull puppies, but the stars did not align and we couldn’t pull the trigger. So instead, we have chickens on order.

Photo by Yves Chaput on Pexels.com

I know right? But that’s because we’re both working hard to shorten our supply chain and start getting as local as possible for our basic needs. We’ve both come to agreement with trying to become much more self sufficient and since my wife works from home and I hopefully will be transitioning to that sometime this next year, it would work well for us.

Why this infatuation with moving toward subsistence choices? With the way inflation and supply chains are going, and particularly in the backwaters of the Appalachians, it’s not unreasonable to have to consider losing access to even basic food items. That means when I’m not working or writing, gardening and taking care of a small hen house is the order of the days. So books entering our personal library have been on gardening, herbal medicines, cheesemaking, how to do hobby farm things and raising cattle on mountain side sylvan pastures and food preservation. This will all come in handy when I start working on my third series set in the remnants of a Post American nation. Yes, it still will be sci fi.

I think I finally have nailed down the imperial seal for Xiao the Eternal, my big bad for the upcoming series. Please comment and let me know your thoughts. Can you see some of the hidden aspects hidden in “The Eye of Xiao”?

Now, as a treat for those of you who have been patient for more writing and information with “Tales From the Dream Nebula”, here’s an early draft of the first two scenes! Critique away in the comment section. Be brutally honest. I gotta know now if there’s something that’s like biting on tinfoil.

!!!Note!!!

As always, this is NOT the final draft. There will be grammatical errors and other small things that aren’t fixed yet. This is a preview draft of a work in progress. Although nothing major will probably change, it will clean up by the time it goes to press. This is a treat and show of appreciation to my fans who have enjoyed my work and are looking forward to seeing what I’ve been up to and making them wait on.

Dreams Within Dreams

1.

Winston stared at the black and white flickers of an ancient film on the television, and took another long sip from his glass. Heavy ice cubes clanked in the thick cut crystal tumbler. He shifted back and forth, getting comfortable on his living room couch. With a sigh, he traced his thumb along the diamond pattern, allowing himself to be lost in the fiction playing out before him.

On screen, a detective caught the dirty little stool pigeon in another lie, giving him the third degree by means of a sharp sock to the jaw. The mousy little bug-eyed man whined and groaned spilling his guts. A smile wanted to touch Winston’s lips, but apathy tamped it back down before it broke the surface. Mesmerized by the ancient entertainment from a planet and culture which no longer existed, he let his mind drift.

Humanity’s home was gone. Conquered by a malevolent cosmic force that carved up the Earth and Sun, swallowing it. Incorporating it into its incomprehensible form. All that remained of Earth’s people were the survivors who lived on the interstellar wreckage of the entire Sol system clinging to the remaining artifacts with bitter nostalgia. Now all humanity lived in the Dream, subject to its eternal master.

“Winston?” a woman’s voice called from somewhere behind him. He frowned and made an effort to ignore it. Emmy, his daughter, continued to play her quiet game on the living room carpet, pushing her dolls around in toy cars, making up her own stories.

“Winston!” the woman’s voice was sharper, his frown deepened. Was she even in the house? Where was that voice coming from, he wondered. It didn’t sound like she was outside, he thought.

“Hun, I think Mother is here,” his wife’s voice drifted in from the kitchen. Valerie was making lunch. Winston smiled at the clanking of dishes and the whiff of barbecue ham sandwiches.

There was a terrific pounding at the door, as Mother battered it with her fist.

“Winstaah-ahahahahsssssss-on-on-nnnn-stonn!” Mother’s voice stuttered and chipmunked from data packet loss as his anti-virus programs fought to keep her out. She must be trying to hack his home instance, and her connection had lagged out for a moment.

He sighed as she overwhelmed his local server’s security, again. A curse for all AIs rattled around his head.

“Go away, Mother!” he shouted over his shoulder, taking his eyes off the movie. He could hear Valerie leave the kitchen and walk quickly to open the front door.

“Val! Don’t let her in. I don’t want to deal with her cheis today,” he swore. There’s a reason I locked the instance.”

“Okay, Hun,” Val replied and went back to her cooking, humming a Stepford tune. Emmy ignored the racket while Winston turned up the movie’s sound.

“Oh for the love of…” came a growl from Mother. With a terrific splintering bang, she forced her way through the locked front door in a spray of pixels and static that rippled throughout the home.

“Nahq it!” Winston hollered spilling his brandy Old-Fashioned. He shot up off his couch and glared at her angrily. “Can’t you take a hint?”

Mother looked like a woman in her forties or fifties, dressed in a sharp dove gray suit, jacket with big shoulders, an A-Line skirt, and a bright white blouse on with a string of black pearls with a copper and emerald broach on her lapel. She looked like she had stepped out of the movie Winston was watching. Mother strutted into the living room on impressive heels. Her blond-turning-white hair was in a tight bun, with two strands framing her perturbed expression.

“Nahq it yourself! Billy Joe Bob and I have been pinging you for three hours. You know better than to log out when you’re being unloaded! I’m hardly surprised to find you here in your own little Levitown shrine watching old movies.”

“In costume today, Mother?” Winston stifled a snort of mockery at his freight broker’s appearance.

She sneered at his comment. “No. Your behnging server blended my avatar code in with your stupid movie,” she snapped.

“And so what if I’ve been down for three hours on the dock? Those lumpers normally take my whole ten hour break to get me unloaded. I’ve probably got another five hours left!” Winston snapped back.

“This was a hot load, Winston! They started offloading you the instant you bumped their dock. They’ve been done for hours, and have been screaming at me to get you moved! There are a lot of other loads waiting to get in here. Need I remind you, I do not take kindly to being screamed at by an overclocked wirey warehouse manager every five minutes while you play ‘Father Knows Bankruptcy’ in this… this…” she waved her hands around at Winston’s simulation, “Americana nightmare! And bankruptcy, I might add, is precisely what you’re facing if you get kicked off this account!”

Val came into the living room, wiping her hands on her apron that screamed Pre-Dream American Golden Age.

“Hun, would you like me to escort Mother out?” her pleasant voice held a hint of iron as server security warnings leaked into her voice.

“Try it and I’ll turn you into a thermostat subroutine, missy!” Mother snapped with a sharp taloned finger thrust at Valerie.

“Nahq it! All of you, shut up!” Winston shouted. “Fine, mother, I’ll get off the dock and get rolling.”

“That’s all I ever wanted,” Mother sighed and gave a patronizing smile.

He opened up the route planner app for his tug, the Sierra Madre. The ‘pending’ load interface was blank.

“Wait. They show I’m unloaded, but there’s no backhaul?” Winston asked. “I always get a backhaul.”

“Since you didn’t clear the dock right away, their dock lead decided to go with a different vendor,” Mother said, arms crossed.

“Come on! For sleeping three hours on his dock?” Winston whined.

“This isn’t the first time you’ve pulled this stunt with them,” Mother reminded him. “You were warned there’d be consequences. Once you’re rolling, contact the guardpost on the way out for further instructions.”

“And what the Purg does that mean?” Winston shouted.

“They wouldn’t tell me. Said they’d only talk to you.”

“Of all the bullcheis powertrips,” Winston ranted. “You’re my freight broker. You book my jobs. Get me a backhaul home!”

“I’ll see what I can do, but don’t expect much. Also, lose the attitude. I’m not going to be your punching bag thanks to your own self inflicted wounds,” Mother fussed and then vanished in a cascade of pixels falling to the living room carpet.

He stared stupidly at the pile she inserted into his simulation. The mess was an icon of rebuke and criticism of his actions and manner toward her. She could be petty like that.

Winston let out a growl that escalated into a frustrated scream as he ended his connection and exited from his home instance.

2.

Winston’s consciousness slammed back into his body with a myoclonic jerk feeling like he was dropped ten feet into his bed. He peeled off the induction rig headband, threw it back onto his pillow and gave a tired groan. The memory of his argument with Mother came forward as he rubbed his eyes.

There was a gentle knock at the door. Billy Joe Bob must have heard him wake up.

“Hoss, y’all gonna get up in there?” came the autotuned voice of his loadmaster.

Winston said nothing and swung his legs over the side. The Sierra Madre’s sleeper was roomy as tug accommodations went. Just big enough for a generous bunk, a small bathroom, kitchenette with ample overhead cabinets and storage lockers under the mattress. His rumpled flight suit felt grimy with sweat. No time to clean up he thought, looking at the cramped shower. It was time to get rolling. Grabbing a battered cap, he got up and opened the sleeper door.

Billy Joe Bob glided back out of Winston’s way as he shuffled into the cockpit.

“Mother’s all sorts of mad, and that dock boss has been bangin’ on the canopy off and on for an hour. Paint’s busted up on the side of the sleeper but nothin’ that cain’t be taken care of,” the industrial mechoid prattled on, like a dutiful but rather clueless deputy.

Billy Joe Bob’s face was warm and friendly, covered with a flexible skin of smartex. A sophisticated rubber that could mimic muscles almost perfectly, save for being rather glossy and in Billy Joe’s case, light gray. Biologic sentient were usually freaked out by an incomprehensible sensor suite for a head, even insectoid features disturbed most sentient beings. His human-like chest was covered in polished chromed alloy perched on top of a rotund “beer-belly” bulge under which sat a dish shaped like an upside-down wok at his beltline. This rested on top of a pile of nanomachines that looked like glittering black volcanic sand which reminded Winston of an ankle length skirt.

The mechoid’s arms were brawny caricatures made of the same nanosand as his lower body. They stuck to shallow dishes at his shoulders. It seemed like an incongruous mix of metal, rubber and grit but it worked as a whole. Just another hard-workin’ good ol’ mech.

The canopy’s particle shield was down keeping the cab dark, lit only by monitors and blinking LEDs of the Sierra Madre’s controls. An angry red pulse from the comm suite indicated Mother was on the line. The large number of missed messages snarled at him in a red insistent font from her and Omnifeed.

So what if he slept on the dock, what was the big deal? These facilities were always in a ‘hurry up and wait’ mindset.

Winston grunted at Billy Joe as he took the few steps to the trio of bridge seats in the middle of the cab. The co-pilot and navigator’s seats were always empty. They had remained vacant ever since Winston bought the Sierra Madre. Their jobs done by non-sentient AIs. It was just him and Billy Joe out here and he wanted it to remain that way. Even Billy Joe didn’t pretend to be a human. He just hung in his service rack for downtime or stood out of the way, secured to the deck by his skirt.

Flopping into the pilot’s seat, Winston pulled the crash frame down, and wrapped himself securely in place. He started to do a quick instrument pre-trip checklist. A smooth rumble grew as the grav fans deepened their vortexes. Their atmospheric draw transferred a subtle vibration to the Sierra Madre’s cab.

Green across the board.

The monitors on the pair of bulk trailers he was hitched to woke up and reported back their tractor beams were double hooked and working properly. A quick check of the dock lock showed the Sierra Madre was already free and at station-keeping. All was go for departure.

The message light continued its accusatory glare. With a sigh of resolution, Winston parted the particulate shield and the outside came into view in a bright golden glow.

The clouds went on forever in all the colors of the sunset. Darker blots of green, black and brown skylands drifting among them. These chunks of planets and asteroids floated in the endless sky of the Dream like the islands of Earth, before it was torn apart and incorporated into Xiao the Eternal’s empire.

Closer in, Omnifeed’s huge industrial complex was peppered with other draymen waiting for their dock, or jockeying back and forth to the anchorage point. Some had only one trailer hooked on to their tugs and tractors, others were pulling sky trains with more than ten over-sized containers. A one thousand trailer train streamed through the sky like a titanic snake.

The retracting shields slowly revealed more of this busy scene. As the shield plates locked back into their housing, four open intakes of gravity fans came into view. Dull rainbow flickers licked out from their open maws when something more substantial than gas was sucked through their gravity shear planes. When under power, anything that passed through the rings was crushed and mangled by the tidal forces.

Winston threw on the Sierra Madre’s running lights and fired up his nav computer’s course projector.

“Hoss, look out.” Billy Joe said and pointed out the window.

A man was flying from a tug parked danger-close to him on his Bumblebee flight harness.

“That jackass,” Winston grumbled.

The man landed softly on the Sierra Madre’s canopy. Looking down between his feet, he began making threatening gestures with a wrench, yelling in a language Winston didn’t understand.

“Get the behng off my hull!” Winston shouted and slapped the horn. A low chord of ear shattering sound shook the air. The irate pilot grabbed his ears and staggered. Winston smiled as the man was no longer cussing at him in his gobbledy tongue. Apparently he decided to tell Winston off without putting on ear protection. One hundred and forty decibels at close range will remind anyone of that mistake.

“Shut down number four, Hoss,” Billy Joe Bob shouted. The careless pilot had staggered too far back and was close to being dragged through the fan.

Winston’s hand was already hitting the emergency shutdown for the number four fan just as the gravity well plucked the careless pilot up and fired him through its maw. The tidal forces, though no longer fatal, shot the man through its open vortex at hundreds of miles per hour, zipping past Winston’s trailers like a musketball.

“Uhhh…” drawled Billy Joe Bob in horror, realizing what just happened.

“Way ahead of you, Bubby.” Winston said, now wide eyed and fully awake. That pilot’s Bumblebee protected him from splattering against something big and hard. At least the man could float back to his tractor, once he regained his senses, Winston consoled himself.

He sounded the Sierra Madre’s horn again signaling his departure from the dock with one long blast followed by a pair of short toots in the traditional signal for departing port. The Sierra Madre eased out of her dock and followed her assigned buoy path toward the guardpost.

Winston stared grimly out the canopy. His mind whirling on the repercussions of what just happened. It was not his fault. That pilot climbed onto his tug without proper gear. Inside a restricted area no less. The fact he saved his life by shutting down the grav fan in time made it all just a near miss. No one was really hurt. Right? Just pride and ego. Cheis, cheis, cheis.

“You think we’re in trouble?” Billy Joe asked.

“We’ll find out soon enough, Bubby,” Winston sighed.

A scrambled call came in to his comm suite. Priority one.

Winston tapped the channel open and his comms unscrambled the transmission.

“This is the Sierra Madre, receiving you. Over,” He answered as calmly as he could muster.

“Sierra Madre, this is Omnifeed Control,” said the professional sounding voice. The guardpost’s dataoids had voices modeled after the ancient cadence of flight controller speak. No matter what, everyone was equal in their eyes, or so the timber of their words implied.

“Go ahead Omnifeed Control. Over.” Winston squinted hard, fighting to keep it together.

“You are charged with violating Omnifeed site safety rules. Furthermore, you violated rules of professional conduct by failing to leave the dock when ordered,” the guardpost stated.

“Hey, he climbed on my hull! Without safety gear! I shut down the fan in time,” Winston complained. “Blame him!”

“Your objections are heard and understood. The pilot will be dealt with accordingly,” came the dataoid’s reply. Winston could hear the ‘but’ hanging unsaid. “Regardless, you have four previous violations of loading dock policy in the last five weeks. Your company, Harper Enterprises, is hereby suspended from all Omnifeed facilities for six months due to these infractions. After that time you may reapply to be an approved carrier.”

“Aw, come on!” Winston shouted at the digital sentient.

“For the safety incident, you are hereby personally permabanned from this specific facility.” The passionless words were worse than being cussed at.

“I’m being permabanned for him violating your policy? He climbed on me!” Winston shouted.

“His discipline is a private matter. Be glad if he is unharmed. In case there is permanent injury and medical bills, your legal information has been provided to his agent,” Omnifeed Control said without compassion.

“You have no right to do that!” Winston protested, slamming his fist against the armrest.

“That is the law in accordance with Xiao’s Imperial covenants and protocols of commerce. Hail, Xiao the Eternal.” the dataoid controller added automatically. “We, as a third-party witness, must report what was recorded to maintain good standing with the Empire. Omnifeed maintains the highest imperial commerce rating and will protect it with all due legal effort.”

Winston let out a defeated sigh, and as if she could hear it, his comm bleeped again as Mother tried to get through.

“Copy all that Omnifeed Control. Sierra Madre out.”

The other comm continued to blink as Winston sat there considering his situation.

Was this the start of the final plunge? He flew above the anchorage point toward the perimeter buoys that marked Omnifeed’s airspace boundaries, itching to drop the hammer and bolt out of there.

Would he be rockbound and stuck on the Imperial dole because he just couldn’t get work after the Sierra Madre was impounded and he was blackballed?

Omnifeed was his last regular client. Even if Mother could use him on another job was all low paying spot work from here on out. Last second frantic runs to cover mistakes for people who dropped the ball and deserved to get burned. Sure, you could look the hero doing that, but the hassle. Oh, my Xiao! The hassle!

Winston flipped the comm from Mother open but said nothing.

“It isn’t as bad as you may think, Winston.” Mother’s words were gentle.

“It certainly isn’t good. Did the payment process out?” Winston drummed his fingers against the arms of his seat.

“Yes. We’re paid in full, so there’s a little money in the kitty, but you can kiss your insurance goodbye. I have several texts to respond to from Omnifeed, and that moron pilot’s lawyer.”

“Did you see Omnifeed’s evidence?” Winston said with a little hope.

“I did. He was at fault and so I might be able to get a lawyer in to provide a good defense and resolve this with paying out only for some lost time and wages.”

“Mother, did I ever tell you that I loved you?” Winston said with a smirk. Behind him Billy Joe Bob let out an arpeggiated laugh.

“Eugh!” Mother let out a strangled retch. “You biomes and your erratic emotions.” Winston knew she appreciated his sentiment, otherwise she wouldn’t have called him such a dirty name as ‘biome’.

“Okay, I know we’re on the bubble, so what’s next, Mother? Am I untouchable now?” Winston asked, as he adjusted his course from the anchorage.

“I’ll put some feelers out and see what I can find,” Mother said and hung up before Winston could reply.

At least she hadn’t abandoned him, he thought with a sigh. She knew he slept plugged in his home instance to keep the nightmares away. Winston knew he screwed up but really, it wasn’t like he had been impairing himself on the job.

The Sierra Madre slowly passed a giant dirigible bulk hauler. Her gravity planes were shifted sideways toward Omnifeed’s digesters where they made SiCHON feedstock for nanofabricators all across the Dream. With a final flurry of pipes and silos, the Sierra Madre was past the outer markers and into open air again.

He flipped through his cameras to watch the Omnifeed facility recede behind him, and altered his course toward home on Pseudomaha. He glared at the big nanofabrication silos with the giant Omnifeed logo on their side. The facility disappeared behind a cloying yellow cloud of sulfur dust.

“Hoss, you want me doin’ anything right now?” Billy Joe Bob asked.

“You got chores left?” Winston asked, eyes focused on the traffic sensors. The little blobs of blue, green, yellow and red, slid past with neon trails in the holographic hud.

“Naw. Not really. Containers are empty and undamaged. We have an extra free day with ‘em before getting them back to Consolidated Freight for maintenance.” Billy Joe said.

“Rog that,” Winston said. “I got nothing for you then. Hit the rack and enjoy yourself. We should still have access to Omnifeed’s network for another hour or two of flight time. Might as well mooch while we still can. Otherwise, we’re ‘go-slow’ till Mother gets back to me. Maybe we will need that extra free day of rental to get home after all.”

“Rog that, Hoss.” Billy Joe went back to his rack in the back of the cab with a slithering hiss of his nanosand skirt and powered down leaving Winston alone with his worries.

Sample End

Till next time, vaya con Dios!

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.

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.

successfailure

 

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.

 

969441_10200761875065157_1239884014_n.jpg

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