Into 2017

I always say that I am not going to make any resolutions for the new year, but as every new year comes (with my birthday happening only days later) I find that I am examining the prior year and resolving to change things. With 2016 having been especially tough on my family and I, my goals revolve around building stronger foundations to battle against adversity.

So here we go, here are my “resolutions” or targeted goals for 2017. First some writing, then some general goals.

  • Try to write every day.
    This one has been tough for me in the past for a number of reasons. Probably chief among them has been my pursuit of perfection. Every word I write I try to make worth keeping. Insane, I know. Most often, this hinders my writing. If I can reduce my dependence on perfection (which is a worthy pursuit, but something one will never achieve) then I believe I can make this one work. And that brings me to the next goal:
  • Just write.
    This is that goal against the pursuit of perfection. I love writing. I have fun with it. Even if I never gain genuine success as a writer enabling me to quit my job and focus exclusively on writing, I will continue to write. So why worry so much about how perfect or flawed whatever I write is?
  • Publish 4 (or more) titles this year.
    This one will be tough, but is possible. I have one title about ready, but the other 3 will take some work. I believe I can do it. This will help build my catalog.
  • Improve my marketing presence.
    This one I’ve already worked on some. It includes getting my current titles into the correct categories and assign the right keywords to improve their SEO (I hate even using that term). I have a good base of stories out there now, people just need to find them and they need to garner enough interest that not only does someone find them, but they are interested in actually reading them.
  • Read more.
    ‘nuff said.
  • Create a life where I chase the process rather than the result.
    Look up stoicism for a glimpse of what I mean by this.
  • Continue to switch over to paleo/primal eating regiment.
    I’ve already done some of the basic steps, increasing fat intake and significantly reducing my carb intake from what it was. Because of that I’ve lost 15 lbs. That with the holidays and being sick enough (shingles, car accident, tooth problems, etc) and enough going on to be unable to get to the gym for over a month. The gym itself isn’t a goal considering the only thing stopping me was illness combined with a hectic month.
  • Reduce the amount I rely on social media.
    I did really good for weeks this past year almost completely ignoring all things social media. I need to be able to use it for marketing, but beyond that, it isn’t necessary in my life. But here I am always using it as a tool for entertaining myself. I need to get back away from that.

By no means am I expecting an instantaneous transition to these traits, but rather I am expecting to make slow, steady, progressive movements towards these goals. As long as I can keep moving towards them, if I haven’t achieved them all by the end of 2017, at least I know I am getting there… so long as I keep momentum.

Here’s to a new year! 2017 should be better. Let’s make it so.

The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle

agnes-cover-attempt-3c4cIt’s here!

After working on this project for over 2 years, I have finally released my first Young Adult novel, “The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle.”

Available now: the kindle edition of “The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle” for only $2.99! Within hours of posting this, the print edition will also be available for $7.99 (with free kindle edition when purchasing the paperback version). Link is below to the amazon kindle version, paperback will be available through it as well.

“The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle” follows the adventure of Agnes as she learns the skills to survive her mission of helping defend the barrier between the spirit and mortal realms.

Buy it now! Share with your friends!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NBPGO2R

What to do…

What to do; what to do… For over the last two weeks I’ve been sick, while stupidly trying to start up on a new diet/health regiment. Not a diet so much really as it is a lifestyle change, but that is for another post. But couple that with holiday activity and the fact that my day job has been relentless lately due to those impending holidays, I am just barely keeping afloat. I am afloat, but there isn’t much more that I can handle.

Writing, getting my next book finalized for publishing, the gym, and blogging are the things I’ve let go of just so I don’t fall too far down, so I don’t burn out.

Writing this post is a manner of my admitting that to myself.

A few weeks ago I posted that I wanted to create a political opinion blog and a blog that discussed my atheism. While I still want to, getting to a point like I am now has gotten me to reexamine what I should do.

Here’s the deal: I want to be a fiction writer first and foremost. If I ever see success as a blogger in other realms, that would be nice, but that isn’t the goal. And when I am having issues keeping up with things as I have been the last few weeks or longer, what I should be doing is doubling down on what work is needed for my primary goal: fiction. Meaning that even though I am spending time to write this post, I should be getting myself back onto the job of writing fiction and then publishing those projects. As I free up more time, that’s what I will be doing.

So what the hell does this even mean? Really nothing. It’s me being a writer and doing what writers do when they are trying to work out a problem: write about it. And I don’t think that I am having so much of a problem as much as just going through the normal rough patches one has. But this rough patch has given me the desire to reflect.

I will still do a political blog and a blog on atheism, but it will just be a little longer for them to happen. Plus when they do, they’ll be the first thing I slack on when other priorities (or life) get in the way. So keep your eyes peeled for when these do come up. They’ll be happening, but in due time.

5 Titles for Sale!

Starting on Friday, November 25, 2016, I will have 5 of my (ebook) titles on sale!

For 3 days, (11/25, 11/26, and 11/27) the ENTIRE Gravity saga as it stands right now will have the ebook versions FREE! That’s right, you can pick up all 3 current titles for FREE. Click the links below to get them on Amazon.

1: Remember the Yorktown

2: Awakening of a Predator

3: The Movements of Pawns

Also, until December 31st, or for the rest of 2016 (however you wish to frame it) 2 titles will be priced 50% of their current price (for ebook copies only).

Both “The Good Teacher” and “Change of Seasons: Selected Poems” will be $1.49 each. Click the links below to get them too!

The Good Teacher (novel)

Change of Seasons: Selected Poems (poetry)

Please download, read, enjoy, and rate on Amazon! Thanks for your support!

Separation

I’ve given this option months of thought. As I continue to work on my main site and my writings, I still wanted to occasionally write about politics and now my religious leanings… otherwise known as atheism. But months ago, my brother had suggested that perhaps it wasn’t in my interest to keep all of that lumped in with my writing. I am a fiction writer first and foremost, so these topics almost were a distraction as neither should be considered when one is going to look at my site to read a story. It took me some time to see why, but I now agree.

So from here I am purging prior posts on politics, some social commentaries, and mentions of my theological leanings. I will keep anything on writing or non-political and religious items that I wish to yap about.

I have not created my site for my atheism yet, but for politics, my other brother’s and my old blog uspoliticalnonsense.wordpress.com will be where I post from now on.

Links will also be available up in the menu. I won’t post often on them. I’d rather keep my primary focus on fiction. If you are curious of my posts on those topics, you are welcome to click over.

Quitting Social Media

Well I am not exactly quitting. Not entirely anyway.

There’s a number of reasons behind this. The foremost is that I had been getting far too distracted by social networks in recent months to the point that I found it difficult to do much of anything without having a smartphone or tablet or computer in front of me. I’d be in the middle of a conversation and out will come my phone. Rude, I know. It became nearly unmanageable.

Then I saw a Ted Talk held by a guy that purported that we should in fact quit social media. I wanted to. I wanted to so badly. Despite the momentary flicks of enjoyment that I might get in seeing a few random status updates, I just didn’t honestly see value in my staying online with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. There is a value… but I’ll get to that in a bit.

This multimedia, social networking institution has impacted me negatively in a lot of ways. My concentration is off. My ability to focus into my writing has suffered. Listening to a person during a conversation without wondering if I can sneak a peek at my phone is a chore. I pick up my phone rather than write or draw. And whatever happened to scribbling when I was bored. Hell, most of my poems I wrote when I was younger was a response to boredom. I recognized these all as problems building up to bigger issues over time. It might be innocent in the moment, but after some time, a dripping faucet can flood a house.

I haven’t run time studies on it. If I were to, I am sure that I would find an absurd amount of time being dedicated to effectively nothing. When am I supposed to get time to myself to write, meditate, read, draw, or anything when I am burning it up just to distract my mind?

Additionally, the recent binge reading I’ve been having on self-help style books such as “The Way of the Superior Man,” “The Right Questions,” and “Flow,” social networking was being demonstrated as an evil that I could not afford to give power to.

So when I got home from work on Thursday 10/27, I put my phones down and vowed to drop social networking. Aside from brief stints on Facebook to approve posts to my profile I was tagged in (being honest more with myself, that is all I did), I managed to ignore social media altogether so far.

But it hasn’t all been easy. I have a constant compulsion to grab my phone and open apps. I want to jump on Instagram to see the latest snaps. I want to blindly scroll through Facebook to pass my boredom. And then I tend to write most proficiently on a computer, so there is always that urge to minimize Word, or Google docs and click the link to the next distraction. Even the other night I had a dream where I was fighting with myself about checking Instagram, and how I should reward myself for “good behavior.” Yeah. I am an addict. This is my withdrawal.

I’ve seen this behavior from me in the past. I’ve tried to cut back in the past. Hell, I’ve even deleted profiles in the past. I feel that this is the wrong approach though. Cutting back, deleting profiles, or setting an allotted time each day to surf my newsfeeds wouldn’t serve me any justice.

I need to have the stuff right in front of me, taunting me. I need to beat it while it tempts me to succumb to its siren call.

Because there is the good in social media I wish to use.

It can be a tool. When used properly, it is a highly effective means of communication. Improper use leads to the issues I stated above. And when trying to create a career as a novelist, not having some sense of a social media presence is absurd. Possible, but absurd and less likely.

The problem is how do I manage this without falling back into the trap? I almost feel like a recovering alcoholic bartender. I need a way to be around the stuff without allowing myself to succumb to the temptation to relapse. I might be looking at a week of success, even while having access, but there is always that looming threat.

I can tell you one thing though: I don’t feel as though I am truly missing anything. And already I have been seeing little signs that I can concentrate more. I can remain present in a conversation.

Someday soon I will return, particularly when I release my next stories in the coming weeks. Until then, and even during then, I will continue to push to not allow it to regain the hold it had a week ago.

Why I am not participating

It’s NaNoWriMo. For those not familiar with that term, it is National Novel Writing Month. And with that comes the yearly challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month’s time-frame. As one can decipher from my heading, I am not going to be a part of it. That isn’t to say I am not going to write, it just means that I am not going to take part.

What is required is simple: write 1,667 words on average every day to complete the 50,000 goal by month end.

My average is generally most comfortable just north of 500 words per day when I am actively writing. I can, and have, maintained an average above 2,000 words per day for weeks at a time, but there are a lot of factors that determine my ability to do so. By rights, I can and should participate. But I am not.

There’s a few reasons I am not going to try this year, and here they are:

  1. I do not have a good project set aside.
    Now while this might be a weak excuse, it isn’t without some merit. To be able to run NaNoWriMo the right way, I feel that I need a project well planned out and ready to roll, err write. A lot of my projects don’t necessarily function this way, but that’s beside the point. I am not trying to keep up a short burst of writing over a week, I am trying to run a whole month at that word count. I need something ready to write a marathon. I just don’t have something ready.
  2. Other projects require my attention.
    I have 1 book dreadfully close to publication date. 2 other projects are in desperate need for my attention (book 4 of my scifi series Gravity, and part 2 of my novel-in-parts Of Earth and Ice). There’s about a ½ dozen or so other projects I am trying to move on as well. Starting a new project isn’t wise for me.
  3. I have a busy month ahead.
    I work a full-time job (with hours that go beyond full time). Sometimes I work 6 days a week. That’s under normal circumstances. With my line of work, we are now into the 4th quarter which is big for the company I work for. Couple that with vacations that I will have to cover for on top of normal responsibilities and I will find myself with a heavier work load than I manage for the other portions of the year. Less time to focus on writing
  4. I want to get my blog and social media accounts fixed.
    Not super important, but I am trying to break my addiction to social media at the moment and my blog (prior to this post) has been on a black-out. Marketing my books will require the success of my being able to responsibly handle both my social media presence and my attention to my blog. Writing in NaNoWriMo will only distract me from these goals.
  5. I am trying to fix myself.
    I have been on a slow path on realigning my goals in life. While writing is still top, I must admit that my other, hidden, goals have gotten in the way. (I speak of hidden goals which is a reference from a book I recently finished called “The Right Questions” by Debbie Ford.) These hidden goals were ones that led me to a social media addiction, a smart-phone addiction, falling off of my gym habits, and struggles in other areas of life. Directing energy towards NaNoWriMo will only allow myself distraction… again. Sure, it’s writing, but that isn’t the point.

For those of you taking part, I wish you luck. Maybe next year I’ll be ready. We’ll just have to see where I stand then.

Blog Black-Out this Month

Going to be quiet on here for the remainder of October.

In early November I will be releasing my first YA and second full-length novel, The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle. In the 16 days remaining until November, I am focusing all of my efforts on ensuring that the story is ready, including formatting and cover design. (Unfortunately having to do the cover art myself still. I had an artist already slated, but it fell through. Eventually the art work will be updated.)

Agnes is slightly over 80,000 words long and took me a little over 2 years to fully write. It has been “done” for a few months, but has been in a state of review to ensure that I didn’t mess something up.

It tells of a 12-year-old girl (Agnes Pyle) whose parents were recently killed leaving her to enter into apprenticeship far sooner than was planned as she and her parents belonged to a group of mortals tasked with protecting the barriers between the spirit realms and the mortal realm. But there has been something hunting them down and killing them. Now Agnes must learn to defend herself or face the same fate as her parents.

Novella Ideas

I wrote earlier about how I like novellas, how they are making a comeback, and why I tend to see that as all good. Short, concise, and counter to the long, overwritten, intimidating books we often have seen in the last few decades. I mean, books got long!

Sure, there’ve always been classics that were very long, but that’s not the point.

In referencing the Psychology Today article I mentioned in yesterday’s post, it said that polls about reading showed that 40% of those under the age of 44 in the US haven’t read a single book. I’ve also made hypothesis as to the reason for this.

In my liking novellas, I thought, why not write a non-fiction book with the same target length of a novella (less than 40,000 words)? Be the book about politics or religion or one of the other topics I am interested in. Couple that with lighter language and it may encourage learning that other books tend to intimidate people away from.

Two points here that I can assert are the cause of the reading decline: a growing divide between intellectuals and non-intellectuals, and book length (i.e. that book is just too damn thick to read).

Point 1:

I see this in listening to and reading Sam Harris. The man speaks very well. But he also speaks very intellectually. He doesn’t speak in a manner a normal person will not see as off-putting and non-hoity-toity as some might assert. He has his audience, so that is fine for them. But for those who are laypeople or non-intellectuals, or who have little interest in that, the language is often pretentious (though not intended as such).

Point 2:

Book length coupled with the prior point and people are just more apt to want to switch on the TV for something more entertaining thinking that it is informing them of whatever. Again, just rehashing prior points.

 

So this all came in when thinking about what I am going to do with this passion project I have been slowly writing I am calling “Godless” right now, about my atheism. Although I know it will take me well over a year to write it, I debated on just how “intellectual” or long I was going to make the book. Now I think I figured that out.

Celebrity Culture

As a lover of celebrity gossip, I am beginning to see the problems with my fascination. Sure, it’s a bit of escapism, but with real problems going on in the world, the fact that Kim Kardashian had several millions in jewels taken from her at gunpoint is really of little consequence.

She’s still a person, and as such doesn’t deserve the treatment. But have we become so enthralled by these outward displays of fame and wealth? There’s plenty about how Kim and others like her live a lifestyle built on a void of talent or societal contribution. That isn’t the problem. The problem is how we hold such people aloft.

For days now I have seen nothing but the primary headlines on several internet news sources site stories about Kim’s robbery. Tragic that any person go through that, but she’s alive and still a millionaire, so why is this continuing? Vice Presidential debate? Down the site a ways…

I read an interesting article from Psychology Today on today’s anti-intellectual culture and this whole thing on Kim came right on time to further demonstrate the article’s point. We are failing. We hold fame, fortune atop real contribution or intelligence. We worship these stars and jeer at scientists (who are often portrayed as bad or ill-intentioned in movies or books). I just don’t see this ending.

And it worries me.