Circling the Wagons

One of the unexpected benefits to keeping a – more or less – weekly blog is that, if you go looking, you can spot trends and patterns in life, the universe, and everything.

Looking back over the past few weeks, every Sunday post I’ve tagged with “Challenges” and “Life,” and I hadn’t noticed that until this morning.

Here’s why that’s significant: I’ve been struggling with…Something…lately. I’m not being vague, I simply can’t articulate what it is, but it’s there. It may not even be a single thing, it may be a combination of things but, whatever it is, it’s triggered a serious need for me to have more control over my environment, to the point where, earlier in the week, I walked clear down a hallway to throw a switch so that they (there are 3 in that hallway) were all pointing in the same direction.

We joked about it at the time and, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but, looking back on it, it was a hint that something wasn’t quite right.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve got a pretty good idea that it reached some kind of tipping point at the beginning of the month. I’m not going to go into details, but there had been a lot of “This-just-happened-and-now-you’ve-got-to-deal-with-it” going on. They’ve come from different areas in life, but usually it’s been more spread out.

The way I figure it, I’ve been circling the wagons, mentally, for the majority of February.

And I never mentioned it to anyone.

A big part of that is because I don’t have a solid answer to the inevitable “Why?” That alone makes it difficult to talk about.  Take that and mix in a predilection for being quiet, and you’ve got an eventual problem.

I’d been dealing with it inappropriately, letting stuff slide, etc.

I realize that I’d been venting some of that back pressure here on the blog. I’ve said before that this blog was as much for me as for you, but it hasn’t been enough. I’ve been waking up, telling myself that I just had to get through the next 12 or so hours, or the next couple of days and I’ll be ok.

That’s no way to live.

So what am I doing about it?

More Self-Care. I’m taking a look at my habits: Sleep patterns, the amount of exercise I get, the amount of mental “Down Time” I have (I suspect that it’s not enough). I’m stepping back from stressful environments, and that includes reducing the amount of time I spend on Social media.

That’s going to be a bit of a juggling act, because, as a writer, I do need to engage and instill interest in me and my work.

But I’ll be checking it less often and I’m going to be using Twitter’s “Mute” feature.

A lot.

There’ll be more of the things that make me happy, that I’ve been putting aside because there wasn’t time, etc.  Maybe I can skip the 15 minutes of scrolling through Facebook and go do something that matters more.

We’ll see how it goes.

In the mean time, take care of yourselves.

Time: 11:50 am – ish

Music: Blind Guardian – Wheel of Time (Live)

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Friday Fess-Up: February 16th

Happy Friday Folks!

Short post today because I’m about spent, mentally.

I’m sure I’ll get into more detail on Sunday. Time for some self-care this weekend.

 

And sleep. Definitely sleep.

 

If you’re reading this, Congratulations: You made it through too!

 

Be sure to check back Sunday.

Be Safe, Y’all

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Digging Out

This is what it looks like from my desk this morning.

 

 

 

 

What you can’t see is the layer of ice coating the top of all that white-stuff. What you can see is the top of, what seems now, like a foolishly long driveway that I am going to have to force my way through.

Eventually.

I thought about trying to tie this into writing, somehow. You know, comparing it to the resistance of getting started, or the uphill battle that is publishing in any medium, or even the glacial pace that some aspects of the industry progress along.

Instead, if you were to walk out there, like I did just a few moments ago, you’d find it quiet. Peaceful. With enough tooth in the air to remind you that you were alive.

In an odd way, relaxing without allowing you to get too comfortable.

Like writing. Like the stuff that you can control.* Like the work that is its own reward. That turn of phrase that warms you. Stepping back after all the work is done, both glad it’s over, and glad for having done it.

 

If you’ve got to go out anywhere today – regardless of the weather – be safe.

 

I’m up on the Million Words Blog today talking about Author Websites. Go check it out!

If you haven’t seen it, I’ve got a Freebies page where you can read some excerpts.

Time: 12:10 pm-ish

Music: Blind Guardian – And the Story Ends (Live)

 

*No, you can’t control resistance. You can control your reaction to it.

 

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Friday Fess-Up: February 9th

I’m getting this down early, because I’m not sure what the internet status is going to be like in the next couple of days.  I’m looking at a pretty decent snow storm today and over the course of the weekend.

Total of 9 inches when it’s all said and done.

So here’s what I’m Fessing up to this week.

If you’ve been following me on Twitter you’ll be aware that I’d been suffering from a lack of heat and Domestic hot water for nigh on a week.

I won’t bore you with the details, Suffice it to say that I may have been endangering innocent folk by taking my unshowered self out of doors after 5 days.

I didn’t write much at all.

Now you might think (and you’d be right) that getting up at 5:30 in the morning when the temperature in the house is 43 Degrees is a bit too much to be expected out of any writer.

That doesn’t keep the guilt at bay.

And I know that it’s utterly ridiculous. I know that, for me at least, under those conditions, you’re not doing much more than mentally circling the wagons and praying that something significant (Like frozen\burst pipes) doesn’t happen.

You’re enduring. Surviving.

And still there’s that voice…

Why aren’t you writing? Why don’t you take this seriously? Might it be because you’re a fraud?

You get the picture. Set the scene in the wee hours of the morning, where it’s just you and the voices, and things get pretty dark.

Yes. I circled the wagons. Yes, the WORK took a back burner to the realities of the situation.

And I got through it.

That’s what I want you to take away from this.

This, too, shall pass.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here:

“Do what you can for as long as you can do it.”

That’s all any of us can do.

Be sure to stop back on Sunday!

And, if you happen to be in my neck O’ the woods today, be safe out there. It’s supposed to get ugly. Hunker down with me and it’ll pass.

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Slow Going

I like to think I’m a patient person.

I mean sure, that’s a sliding scale for all of us to some extent, and there have been days when I’ve been as steady as a brick wall and other days…well…maybe not so much.

But on the whole, the mental picture I have of myself in this regard is more like a brick wall than, say, a desert landscape.

This book I’m working on? What it’s doing to me? Totally desert landscape.

I don’t feel like I’m doing enough, going fast enough, like I should be farther along than I actually am.

Part of that has to do with me not following my own advice when if comes to social media: Don’t compare yourself to others – What you’re seeing is their A-Game, not the day-to-day stuff.

Another part of it has to do with the extra stuff that I picked up at the beginning of the year. All of those things that I’d been putting off, saying that I’d get around to them. I made a commitment to myself that I was going to stay on top of that, and it’s taking time. It’s also an adjustment, a mental shift to remind myself to stay on top of those things.

Yet another part is that this book is forcing me to stretch as a writer. I hoped it would. I wanted it to do that. So, naturally, it’s not going to go at the same pace as the first book.

I know all of this, but it is still a drag on my mental state. Sure, the desire to push harder, reach farther is a good thing, but beyond a certain point, the focus shifts to how far you haven’t gotten, rather than what you’ve accomplished.

So I’m feeling the former and, to combat the latter, I’ve got two things going for me:

The first is that this is still the beginning of the year. As the year progresses, those things that I’m staying on top of will diminish. Yes, I’m sure that other things will crop up, but what I’m talking about is a backlog, rather than the usual stream of stuff.

The second thing is that, I can feel myself starting to get used to the new normal. As I grow and stretch and adapt, I know that it’ll get easier and that the pace will pick up again.

I just have to keep at it.

Be Safe Y’All

Time: 10:06 am-ish

Music: Blind Guardian – The New Order

 

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Friday Fess-Up: February 2nd

Welcome to the first, February, Friday- Fess-up Post

This week, it would be more like a Frazzled Friday than anything else. As I type this, I’m sitting in the office with the door closed, the heater going and all the dogs in here with me trying to keep warm. I’m closing in on 24 hours without heat or hot water. and I’m looking at, at least Monday before life might return to something resembling normal.

Speaking of normalcy (or the lack thereof), I discovered that the battery in the new (Just over a month old) laptop is dead.  No warnings about the power being low, nothing. In fact, right now, the battery meter is showing that the battery is fully charged. If I were to unplug the power cable, the laptop would shut off. Period.

I found out about this yesterday.

See, I ran into a bunch of local writers this year at ConFusion and, as it turns out, a few of them have been meeting pretty regularly at a coffee shop that I drive past darn near every day*. Yesterday I took the laptop in, paid my table fee,** and sat down to write. Part of getting set up is unwrapping the power cord, and plugging in. It’s like reflex for me.

So I’m sitting there, working and folks start to trickle in. I figure I’ll hop up and join them, but I don’t want to bother with shutting down and restarting, so I pull the power cord out.

One inert laptop. And I’d been writing.

Not good.

I plug in, power on, and fire up Scrivener.

The scene that I’d been working on was gone. The entire scene – even the stuff that I’d been working on that morning.

Really not good. Sure, it wasn’t like the entire book was gone, but still it was about a 1000 words.

I knew that Scrivener made backups, so a little bit of Google-Fu later and I knew where those back-up files were stored.

In the end, I’d lost close to two hours of work.

After I moved to join the rest of the group, and plugged in, I was able to recreate some of that before it was time to go (and discover the lack of heat in the house)

But this was a new laptop. Granted, I don’t normally go places where I’ll need to run off the battery, but when I need the battery, I need the battery. That means that tomorrow, I’ll call the store and see what they can do for me.

I’ll have to people, people.

So a wonky laptop, the day-job, no heat in the house, and I’m here in a closed room with a bored border collie. Life is feeling all out of sorts at the moment.

But we’ll make it work, and things will be back to normal soon.

Here’s hoping that you haven’t been as out of sorts as I have this week.

Be sure to check back Sunday!

 

*Conventions are often well worth the price of admission in this way.

**Bought a coffee – a nice French vanilla eye-opener.

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Site Update – Excerpts

This weekend, I got a call from the “Better Late, than Never” department.

The conversation went something like this:

BLTN: Is there any reason why you don’t have excerpts from your stories posted on your website?

ME: What?

BLTN(very patiently): Excerpts. Your stories. On your website.

ME: Why, that’s a fine idea. Not sure why I hadn’t thought of it earlier, but I’m glad that I just did.

BLTN: Very good, sir.

 

And there you have it. I’ve now got excerpts from my stories posted. You can find them here:

Haven” – from the Weird Wild West anthology

The Price of Power” – from the Trials anthology

And, while I was thinking about it, I created a page for those and all the future goodies that may make it up there.

It’s called Freebies

I hope you enjoy them.

 

Time: 12:44 pm – ish

Music: Blind Guardian – Somewhere Far Beyond

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Friday Fess-Up: January 26th

Hi there, everyone!

Welcome to another Friday Fess-Up post.

It’s been a long week. I can’t really say why, but that first, post-con week just seems to drag ass. Probably because the weekend previous was full of great people, great conversations, and abject geekery. As an aside, if you were there and said Hi, or came to one of my panels, I’d like to thank you. There was a ton of awesome stuff  to do that weekend and you chose to spend part of it with me, and I appreciate that.

So, Monday comes along and reality settles in like an ill-fitting pair of shoes.

And I fall back into the routine, because that’s what lets me get through the week, getting everything done – perhaps not as quickly as I’d like to do it, but I’ve only got 24 hours and at least 7 of them are reserved for sleep, damn  it.

This week hasn’t been slow, but it’s been clunky. In the middle of the week, I got the edit letter back for an anthology that I’m contributing a story to (more on that later). That took me two days. The rest has been working on Jade Moon Waning.

For those of you that don’t know what that is, here’s the elevator pitch:

A smuggler turned Empress has to unite three disparate races in order to stop a renegade AI from wiping out humanity.

This morning, I struggled with something as simple as a tank-top.  True, it was 5:30 am, and I’d not made it through my first cup of coffee yet, but I struggled with the idea. Was there something else I could call it, without going into punishingly intricate detail?

Sometimes you’ve just got to get it down and let a different set of eyes look at it later on to determine if it’s too close to popular culture. That’s what I did today.

And that’s what’s going on. This weekend, I plan on adding excerpt pages for some of the stories that I’ve got out, so stay tuned for that.

Be sure to stop by on Sunday!

Be safe Y’All.

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Introvert Authoring

So today was the last day of ConFusion. The panels are done, the goodbyes have been said (in most cases, I won’t see these people again until next year), and I’m back home.

I am exhausted.

I don’t mean in a physical sense, although the thought of doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the day is ~very~ appealing.

I mean mentally.

I’ve spent all weekend being “on.” Being on for the wonderful folks running the con, with the folks that showed up for the panels (and my fellow panelists), and being on enough to socialize with my peers.

Call it lack of nerve, call it social anxiety, call it whatever you want. The plain fact is that there is a cost for me in mental energy when it comes to walking up to someone and introducing myself.

But it’s worth it. I met some amazing folks this weekend. Folk that, had you told me a week prior that I’d be sitting down and having a drink with, I wouldn’t have believed you, I hadn’t expected to be hanging around with. Folks that I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of meeting if I hadn’t made that effort.

And, while I’m recovering now, the experience was well worth the price of admission. And what you don’t hear very often is that it’s part of the job.

There is a lot of networking that goes on at conventions, and word of mouth is a big part of this industry. It’s what sells books, and it’s what gets your name into the ears of the folks that are looking for authors.

So – and believe me I know what I’m saying here – get yourself out there. Introduce yourself. And it may be difficult, but it’s worth it. I suspect that it’ll get easier the more I work at it.

We’ll see.

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday Fess-Up: January 19th

Before I get into anything else, This post is going live on the first day of ConFusion. It’ll be going all weekend. My panel schedule is on the Events page. If you’re in the area, stop by. It’ll be a great time.

 

I confess that this week hasn’t been the most productive. It isn’t that I haven’t been writing – OK, I didn’t get up to write on Thursday morning, but I’d put in a nearly 14 hour day-job day.

I’m starting to get to the point where I’m not sure if it’s worth it. Yes, there is overtime for days like that (which is nice) but I honestly don’t know if it’s worth the disruption in my life. It throws me off my schedule, as often as not, it cuts into my writing time (which frustrates me to no end), and I usually end the week dragging-ass into the weekend, because, for two days, my sleep schedule is all wonky.

But that’s not the point here. It hasn’t been a productive week because this book is more of a discovery process than an outlined one. I do have an outline. Now that I’m thinking about it, I have two of them. One is a kind of bullet pointed list of things that I know I want to have happen. The other one is a sketchy telling of the story to myself  to fill in some of the gaps between those bullet points.

To date, I don’t think I’ve given either outline more than a glance since I’ve started. To quote the man, himself: “I’m making it up as I go.”

So the daily word count has taken a hit. And that’s kinda a downer, especially when everyone is posting their “A Game” on social media.

The thing is, I ~know~ I shouldn’t compare my latest 250 word day to somebody else’s “Slow” 1000 word day.

A part of me does, though. This is a Fess-Up post, and I’ll own up to it. I do.

A serendipitous, saving grace is that I get up really early to write. Before the day-job, before anything has a chance to suck the energy out of me. Before those “A-Game” posts, where I can at least fall back on the fact that I did write today.

And, assuming that I’m not at work more often than I’m not, in the past 24 hours, I’ll get up and write tomorrow.

And that’s what I focus on. Eventually, my head circles back around to that. I wrote today. I’ll probably write tomorrow.

Do the work. Get better. That’s what I can control. The rest is just stuff that happens.

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