Books, Computers, Publishing, Technology, Uncategorized, Writing

How Dying Changed My Life

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On May 4, 1995 I died seven times. That’s what the surgical notes revealed. I might not know any of that except my health insurance required that I obtain the full transcript and forward it to them – so that they could later tell me what they considered unnecessary and therefore were not going to cover. But that’s another story for another blog.

Shortly after returning home to Connecticut from a trip to Florida to visit my parents, I came down with the symptoms of what I believed to be the flu. After running a high fever for an entire weekend, my wife insisted I see my doctor. Since I had been diagnosed with a heart murmur my primary care physician was a cardiologist. After doing some blood work I was admitted to the hospital for treatment of a both a strep and a staph infection in my blood. It was the beginning of a month long ordeal.

The blood borne infection pretty much destroyed my mitral valve requiring open heart surgery to replace it and repair a fistula – a hole inside my heart between the ventricles. The procedure took seventeen hours to complete and, as previously stated, I died seven times before finally being revived.

As an aside, if you can prevent the need for open heart surgery by exercise and eating properly, do so. It’s no fun waking up in a recovery room with cotton mouth from being on with the distinct sensation of a four-ton boulder resting on your lungs.

I survived, of course. It sucked spending my 39th birthday in a cardiac care ward but it was preferable to how things  turned out otherwise, had my wife not insisted I go to the doctor.

What changed in my life from before to after the surgery was my general outlook on life. I was a workaholic retail manager, pretty much married to my job. Prior to the illness I believed I was on the fast track to being promoted to general store manager and all the time I spent away form my family was more than justified because of how much I was being compensated in stock options and such. I was going to wealthy, after all. After a month in the hospital and three months of recovery, my status at work changed – though not officially.

I was still a salaried manager. While I was on medical leave I was compensated with regular checks, same as if I was working. Despite having to fight with my health insurance to cover my hospitalization and treatment, all but $7000 of the nearly $130,000 in bills was eventually paid. It could have been a lot worse. But, even after returning to work without any medical restrictions, every time someone from upper management came to visit my store, the first thing they asked me about was my health. Over time, it became clear they were never going to promote me into a higher stress position. And I’m certain they thought they had my best interests at heart.

Still, there were other changes as well, mostly with my relationships with my kids who I had all but ignored for the eight years I had been working as a retail manager. I valued my time at home and spent it with my son and two daughters. However, something else happened while I was sick. I had vivid dreams that lingered well after my recovery.

Although I had been playing at writing for some time – one and off since junior high school, really – I had never taken it all that seriously. I suppose that in the back of my mind I thought about publishing a book one day. I’d finished a manuscript at one point during college and considered submitting it to publishers. I’m glad I didn’t because it really sucked. At the time I thought it was an achievement, though. And maybe it was in a sense. I mean, after that I knew I could write something of considerable length and complexity. Afterwards, while I was military, I served as unit historian and wrote and published an award winning 400+ page unit history. So, I knew I had it in me to publish things. It was just I’d never done anything with my fiction stories.

I submitted a few things of a technical nature to computer technology periodicals. Some things were posted online. I had become a self-taught computer technician and some people sought my advice on things.

Before the illness I had begun digitizing the material I had composed on typewritten pages. I continued doing that while recovering from the surgery. So I had a few hundred pages of stuff formatted so that I could edit and revise with my computer serving as a word processor. But even after I returned to work I set aside at least three or four hours a day for writing and/or revising. In the process those fever generated vivid dreams I had carried around in my head since the illness began to erupt onto the virtual pages of  my computer screen.

Those hours were stolen from my wife, of course. Nightly she would ask me when I was coming to bed. She never understood the obsession that I’d developed and eventually it ended our relationship.

I can’t say whether I’d been a writer had I never fallen ill in the Spring of 1995. I have had the writing bug for most of my life. But I doubt I would have ever finished One Over X, my first novel. You see, I was comfortable with a practical life founded on going to work every day. I made enough money that it was easy to forego pursuing any dreams left over from my youth. I never envisioned how much my life could change, or that I would eventually become a author.

Books, Editing, Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing

Ironing Out the Wrinkles in a Plot

In some ways publishing Fried Windows in May of last year created a few paradoxes for the main character Brent. WARNING: If you haven’t read the book, you might want to before continuing on. I’m about to reveal some things about the plot.

There are some relationships Brent and characters in my other novels, particularly Andy Hunter, Terry Harper, Lee Anders Johnston and Caroline Henderson from One Over X (two of six books published) and The Power of X (as yet unpublished). There is also a loose connection between the mother  in Becoming Thuperman and Terry Harper – as they attended high school together. Brent meets Terry Harper while he attends Purdue University where the latter is pursuing aa doctorate in applied physics and eventually becomes a professor before taking a tenured position at the University of Texas.

Brent and Lee Anders Johnston hale from neighboring towns in rural Ohio. Both were musicians in their teen years. Brent actually played bass for a brief while in a band that Lee led. Lee was best friends with the lead guitar from Brent’s garage band – which is how they met. Ironically, as they were both the sons of farmers, their fathers knew one another, though not very well.

After the disintegration of Brent’s garage band over an issue about performing a Rock Opera Brent wrote for his senior English project – a piece on Beowulf – Brent and Lee perform an acoustic set at the Christmas party of a friend of Brent. It is the last time Brent and Lee perform together for nearly twenty years, though the two of them conspired during their connection to compose a few songs that will end up reuniting them in later years – and reinvigorating Lee’s career as a professional musician.

Lee departs Rock as his vehicle of musical  expression and begins playing Blues with a couple of musicians while he attends Purdue University – where he studies Engineering and meets Terry Harper, his professor of physics. In Lee’s Junior year at Purdue his folks sell their farm in Ohio and retire to Texas. Lee transfers to the University of Texas. The following year, Terry Harper is offered a tenured position at UT, based on his recently published best seller on astral physics the university. And, so Lee and Terry reconnect at UT and the Lee changes his major to physics.

While in Austin and immersed in the vibrant artistic community, Lee joins a country band called Faction. At a bar in Austin he meets Caroline Henderson, the daughter of Joseph Henderson, CEO of HENCO. They share a few dates before establishing a relationship.

When Lee is offered a research job in Colorado, three of the original members of the band follow him there. They form the nucleus of a new Faction that lands a recording contract. Lee and Caroline have a long distance relationship until she completes college.

To pursue his musical career,  Lee quits his job and accompanies the band to Memphis where they record their first album.  Then, against her father’s protests, Caroline joins Lee and goes on tour with Faction, actually performing with the band as a background singer.

So, where is Andy Hunter is all this? Anyone who has read One Over X, knows that both Andy and Lee have a relationship in another version of reality, where both work for Henco. Lee works at a product assembly facility while Andy is a coder for the instructions loaded into the devices the company makes. The company’s CEO is Caroline Henderson who took up the reins when her father, Joseph Henderson passed away – never knowing she is to the Andy who was born of an unwed mother who used to work for the Hendersons.

In the other world, the one where Caroline and Andy grew up as siblings, Andy studies applied physics at UT Austin and becomes enamored with Dr. Harper to the point that he begins writing a boot about him. In the process he attempts to create a device based on Harper’s hypotheses that can cancel out the effects of the electromagnetic fields of the Earth – theoretically opening portals to every other dimension.

The powers that be – as in the Universal Powers That Be – are not amused with Andy’s devise of how it throws a significant distortion into the over all matrix of fabricated reality – the shell they created as the distracting illusion of life. With it Andy can, pretty much, go wherever he wants – as long at he knows his destination. Therein lies the rub.  Andy knows that the device can do but doesn’t understand it’s potential. And in the process of exploring it he becomes genetically altered to be more like an extraterrestrial ancestor of humanity than a man.

Brent is a transplanted straddler, born into the world to correct the problems Andy will eventually cause. He gets sidetracked with his own issues and adventures but, moreover, he is intended to defeat Andy’s modification to the design. Brent is naturally drawn toward the people he needs to connect with in order to fix things. Yet he is uncooperative in dealing directly with any of his new found friends.  As a result, Andy changes many things both for Earth and Anter’x, a directly connect world – via wormholes – on the other side of the galaxy. There the wolfcats thrive – for a while anyway, along with a primordial ancestor of humanity called the Hovdin and a race called Sabatin that enslaved the Hovdin for a time.

In The Attributes, a two book set that I wrote a while back, all the timelines and plot lines are resolved. Imagine that! Me crop 2

 

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My Years at the Home(less) Depot

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My kids and I used to joke a bit when I worked for a certain major home improvements retailer. We called it “The Homeless Depot” because it seemed I was almost never home. What time I could spend with my kids was tempered because I was usually exhausted from the strain I was putting on my body. I was a lot younger then, otherwise I would have never survived the 65 to 70 hours per week (on average). Retail management can be like that, not that it makes it right for anyone having to endure long hours.

For a while the rewards were there, though. I received stock options and performance bonuses as incentives to continue working all those crazy hours. There was a stretch of time what I worked between 90 and 110 hours a week while converting an older store to a new system for receiving and handling merchandise. I was a superstar with the company at the time, on the fast track to becoming a store manager. But the company was a lot different back then than its present day version. In many ways it was a lot like running your own business with someone else money. General Managers were like kings in their own little realm. Everyone in management, even the hourly department supervisors,  wanted to be a general manager. Otherwise why be a manager at all? And the advancements were there. In fact the company had more opportunities than they had qualified people. Due to its rapid growth, we hired managers from he outside and tried to train them in our ways of thinking. Sometimes it worked. I was part of that. I hired and trained some people who are store managers, district managers, regionals managers and corporate buyers. Many of them passed over me, but at the time I didn’t mind because it was for the good of the company’s growth and many times they did have more overall experience in magnet – just not within the company.

That was the company’s strength, really, growing. Each of the managers and most of the employees were stockholders and had a vested interest in ensuring the customers were treated in a way that few if any other retailers at the time did. That is why the company grew from 63 stores when I started in 1987 to over 1200 by the time I left in late 1999.

My family circa 1990

So, what changed that made me leave? A good bit of it was my personal life. I can’t blame the company for a lot of that, though my work schedule played some part in establishing the premise for my marital problems. You see, when you wok all those hours you are’t home enough to keep an eye on things. And, as I mentioned earlier, when you are home you’re bone tired. So your performance as a husband as well as a father is diminished. Apart from the usual honey-do lists like mowing the lawn and fixing this or that around the house, spending time with the kids was what I did on my days off. We went places, like the park, or places that were designed to entertain kids like amusement centers. We took in movies they wanted to see. Dad time was fun time for them. Sometimes my wife, their mother, went with us but often that was her day off from handling her duties with the kids. She spent it with friends and/or shopping.

Gradually my now ex-wife and I drifted apart. Add to that mix my hobby, writing. Since my son, my oldest child, was a baby, I had been resurrecting a story I had been working on since I was in high school – what would eventually become One Over X. Also I was formulating some of the material used in The Wolfcat Chronicles. Before 1993, the major obstacle to writing, other than the time doing other things, was that I was using a typewriter. That changed when we bought our first computer, ostensibly for the kids. From that day on I was the one learning how to use it as a prelude to teaching my kids. At first they were not all that interested. So basically it was my machine. It sat in my study on my desk. I played Solitaire on it and transcribed my novel in progress. Sometimes I experimented with other things, but mostly that’s what I did.

People at work were much more seasoned users. Some of the guys used Auto-cad. They had relatively powerful machines compared to mine. But from talking to them I learned a lot about personal computers and proper maintenance. Also, I knew I would eventually have to upgrade my machine in order to accomplish what I needed it to do. You see, I wanted to scan all those typewritten pages, 10,000 of them, and use an OCR program to convert them into digital word processing documents. The machine I had would not do that at anything near the speed I sought. Also I wanted to scan family pictures into the computer.

Somewhere along the line I began using the email address I had acquired through an online service and took an interest in locating and reconnecting with people I hadn’t seen since high school. All of that also took away from the time I spent with my wife. Since i did most of that at night after I got home, and often into he wee hours of the morning, it was not time away from my kids but from her.

Looking back on it, a lot of what happened my completely my fault. My wife and I separated. She took the kids back to Florida with her, except she went to the east coast not the west coast where we had lived previously. She wanted to be close to her best friend who live on the Space Coast. Most of my family lived on the West Coast near Clearwater. I tried for two years to get my company to transfer me back to Florida – anywhere in Florida so I could at least visit my kids on my days off and spend time with my other family – my mother and father were both getting on in years. Mom was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s and Dad was still vigorous but he had some health issues related to Parkinson’s. Despite asking everyone my store managers to the CEO’s personal assistance for help in getting a transfer the answer was no.

You see, I had become a dinosaur for the new wave of people, the future of the company. I was an old timer with ideas rooted in the company;s formative years that the powers that be were no longer interested following . They wanted to nudge people like me into retiring. After all, most of us had plenty of stock. They didn’t realize that we were the soul of the company if not it’s heart. When they lost us, they lost a lot more than what the bean counters were considering, our relatively high salaries.

They believed they could hire tow or three younger guys to do the work we did. What they lost was the experience and expertise upon which the company was built. That is why the company is nothing like it was when I started working for them and, when I left fourteen years ago it had already started down that path. The founders and several of the major players were retiring. There was no one willing to do for me what I was asking. So I resigned.

#PersonalHistory #writing #TheWolfcatChronicles #OneOverX #RetailManagement

 

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Update on The Wolfcat Chronicles Book 9

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The revision for Book 9 of The Wolfcat Chronicles started yesterday – well, actually the previous night but I only did a couple of pages. So far, so good. I reviewed the first chapter twice and decided to flip chapter one and chapter two. Now the flow is better. I’ve made it to page 70 and, if things progress as well as they have thus far, I should finish the revisions this next week, which would put me a month ahead of schedule – sort of. It’s my schedule, anyway, and therefore, open to revision.

Yesterday, I also wrote a rough outline for a companion piece that would probably be released shortly after Book 8. There are some references to events mentioned in the companion piece appearing in Book 9. You see, the ideas and the plot are nothing new, just something that was never fleshed out in story form. The companion piece also leads into The Power of X just as the conclusion to that book leads into Book 10 of The Wolfcat Chronicles. However, reading The Power of X is not required prior to reading any of The Wolfcat Chronicles. In fact, it would likely be best to read The Wolfcat Chronicles before The Power of X. And since that book does not yet appear anywhere, potential problem averted – except for the couple of dozen beta readers who read The Power of X on Fan Story a couple of years ago.

Since some of the characters from One Over X appear in The Wolfcat Chronicles, I have been asked if it is advisable to read the first two books of One Over X. It’s not necessary unless you want to know where Andy Hunter, Terry Harper and Brent Woods come from. The event stream of One Over X is actually separate from  The Wolfcat Chronicles, due to the concept of concurrent time. Brent Woods also appears in Fried Windows, which technically takes place after The Wolfcat Chronicles.

Now that I’ve thoroughly confused everyone, let me make it clear. You do not have to read anything else to understand what is going on in The Wolfcat Chronicles. However, there is more background material forthcoming through other manuscripts that will be published int he future. That’s how you build a universe, one book at a time.

Now, back to work.

#revisions #TheWolfcatChronicles #FriedWindows #OneOverX #writing #publishing

 

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Update on The Wolfcat Chronicles

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A dear friend of mine from the UK, Maureen Brindle, is an amazing poetess. I was chatting with her in the wee hours of the morning – for me at least – and sometime since that she composed the following poem that is inspired by the characters in my soon to be released series, The Wolfcat Chronicles. Unlike me, composing poetry is part of her nature.

Elgon William’s Wolfcat Goddess
by Maureen Brindle
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Ela’na, wolf goddess beauty born,
Amidst a universe war torn.
Consummating spirit dance,
Levitating lustful trance.

Wolfcats magically can change,
To a wolf the plains to range,
Into a fearsome Battle cat,
Or human, alluring attract.

A wolfcat is a powerful creature,
With many a magic feature,
Control of matter, time and space,
Spirit of love, warmth and grace.

Rotor, Ela’na’s lover star,
Worshipping from afar.
Banned in dogmatic disgrace,
From looking on her fair face.

The Heart of the Forest condemned,
Their love to a calamitous end.
To spend their life chained to duty,
Devoid of love, happiness and beauty.

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For other poetry by Maureen Brindle, including children’s poetry and poetry about the British Isles go to her Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.com/Maureen-Brindle/e/B00I05SJC8/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1421502845&sr=1-2-ent

For those in the UK, here’s that address:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Maureen-Brindle/e/B00I05SJC8/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1421502845&sr=1-2-ent

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The revisions for Book 8 of The Wolfcat Chronicles are progressing well despite my crazy work schedule this week. Not only was a scheduled more hours – which is a good thing as I needed the money – but also I’ve been called in to cover for people who have come down with the flu, or some other affliction. Anyway, that has also limited the time I often use to compose posts for this blog.

Currently my revision is at Chapter 22 of Book 8, which leave about 150 pages. I get off around 7:15 tonight and will get home around 8. I could be able to knock out a couple of chapters tonight and a few more tomorrow morning before heading back to work. I have a conference call tomorrow morning as well, but, still should be able to get to chapter 28 or so. That means I should be able to finish Book 8 sometime Monday, run it through spell checker one last time and submit it. Then it’s on to Book 9.

I expect the ninth book of the series to require a bit more rewriting, especially toward the end as I am making some minor changes to the plot. I have already been foreshadowing the new ending for Book 10, that concludes the series. I estimate I’ll be working on Book 10 by the end of the month. That will allow me two months, if needed, to rewrite the last half of Book 10. That should be ample time consider how quickly I compose, especially when I have already established the characters.

I have decided to begin writing a supplementary piece to the series. I’m not sure if it will be novel length, though. It may be a novella. There has been interest in the past with readers in knowing what happened with characters introduced late in Book 7 that will now, as I am rewriting it, will affect the ending of the series. So, I will begin writing the draft concurrently with writing the conclusion to the series in order that there will not be conflicts between the two stories.

Another part of the story that beta readers wanted to have told has already been written and will likely be one of the projects I pursue having published toward the releases of the last two books of The Wolfcat Chronicles. It doesn’t really belong in the storyline but, again, provided background material. Titled The Power of X, it draws together some of the plot lines of One Over X with The Wolfcat Chronicles and features Brent Woods, of Fried Windows, as a supporting character. Never fear, there are many manuscripts about Brent. I’ll eventually publish those as well.

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#TheWolfcatChronicles #FriedWindows #OneOverX #Revising #MaureenBrindle

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The Wolfcat Chronicles Book Seven Revisions Complete

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For those of you following the saga of the entire series revision for The Wolfcat Chronicles, Book 7 was submitted to my publisher this morning. Now I move on to Book 8 – after a brief break.

As I have said before, I’ve not worked on Books 8 through 10 for several years. Over that time my writing style has changed a bit. Also I completed and self published The Attributes and signed with Pandamoon Publishing to see Fried Windows released this past May. In other words, a lot has happened.

The Resurrection Colonial Authority One Over X 2 One Over X 1

I’ve always planned a substantial revision for the final three books that comprise The Last Wolfcat section of the series. As I have written several of the other tangential pieces that tie into The Last Wolfcat, I have some new ideas for the conclusion. I have never been happy with the way the original draft ended.Now that I know how everything connects to Fried Windows, The Attributes, One over X and The Power of X – along with some as yet untitled pieces – I will tackle the task of rewriting the last third of so of Book 10. I am also considering an 11th book that falls outside of the storyline of The Wolfcat Chronicles but would provide some backstory support. I’m thinking of calling the supplement, The Offspring – not to be confused with the musical group.

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So, although I’m happy to have completed the Spectre of Dammerwald and One Pack sections of The Wolfcat Chronicles, and would love to take the day off and celebrate, I have a lot left to do. I really need to have the entire series wrapped up before April to fit into my plans for other books that remain on the back burner – including sequels to Fried Windows and Becoming Thuperman.

As for Becoming Thurman’s release date, expect it sometime around summer. Since it has a baseball theme that is a better time of year for it to appear, I think.

I’ll be promoting Fried Windows locally in some bookstores with signing and personal appearances over the next few months as well as building interest in the first book of The Wolfcat Chronicles and having some launch parties. So if you live in Central Florida be looking for the announcements. My publicist and I are considering some other promotional events, perhaps in other states. Nothing has been officially scheduled yet but it’s in the works. Also, I’ll be offering personally autographed copies of Fried Windows online. I’m working out the logistics of that as well.

#FriedWindows #TheWolfcatChronicles #BecomingThuperman #ThePowerOfX #OneOverX #TheAttributes #Revisions #Publishing #PandamoonPublishing

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Where and How I Write (and Where I Have Written)

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Yesterday was a pretty good day for progress with my writing. In fact this whole week has been fairly productive. I completed  revisions on book four of The Wolfcat Chronicles and sent it to my publisher. Also I began revisions on another book in the same series. Yesterday I received a better desk chair from an unlikely source, my ex-wife. And it came on her birthday! Yeah, well, it makes some sense but only in my ass-backward universe.

My ex heard about a place that was updating its office furniture so they were throwing away stuff like office chairs, The once she snagged for me has padding which makes it much better than that I was using. And it is not too worn out.

You might thing it is an odd arrangement between my ex and me, but we have always been on speaking terms, even when all we did was argue. We drifted apart over the last ten years we were married and it got to a point that we didn’t get along well enough to still be married.

Over the twenty five years we were married I became more and more engrossed in writing and she became more involved with her friends. He stayed together mostly for our three  children who were all in their teens at the time. They knew what was going on. If nothing else our kids were always smart.

Besides having issues with how much I worked outside of the house – upwards of 70 hours a week – my ex was jealous, accusing me of cheating on her, which is something I had neither the time nor the inclination to do. However, in a way I suppose I was doing just that, except I was taking what free time I had creating a universe and populating it with people I could at least marginally understand.

The main reason or our problem were financial. We had it all and lost it all. In some ways I’m glad things worked out as they did. I think the kids grew up with a much more realistic perspective and I seriously doubt I’d be published had I maintained wealth. You see, it’s easy to think of writing as a hobby and extremely easy to accept rejection and not pursue ever publishing anything. It happens all the time.

Some of my at home situation while married comes through in my writing. For example, the main character, Brent, in Fried Windows has a life that closely parallels mine, when the kids were younger, anyway. There are many differences too, but that’s what makes it fiction, right?

Over the years I have written in many different places. Usually I had a desk, but not always. In high school and college I always had a small writing desk in my room, apartment or wherever I was living. I continued to write after college and while serving in the Air Force, though I really wasn’t working on fiction at that time.

When I was preparing to exit military service I picked up on writing stories again, spending an hour or two each day after I came home from work. That grew into a routine and the hours devoted to it expanded as well. When I began writing One Over X my son was an infant and I used the kitchen table and a Brother electric typewriter. Although that is not where all of those stories began it is when I began assembling everything with some structure and started calling it From the Inside. As I have said several times before in this blog, portions of both One Over X and The Wolfcat Chronicles can be traced back to high school and college, especially my first attempted manuscript titled Tarot. But everything began coming together on Saturday afternoon in San Angelo, Texas while I was babysitting for my son and my wife was shopping at the mall that was within walking distance of where we lived.

In case it is of any interest, here is a list of the towns and cities where I’ve lived while writing (by state):

Ohio: South Charleston (home) and Springfield (apartment)

Indiana: West Lafayette (dorm, fraternity and apartment)

Texas: Mission (home), Austin (apartment), San Angelo (dorm and apartment)

California: Monterrey (dorm)

Republic of Korea (dorm, apartment)

Florida: Palm Harbor (home), Dunedin (apartment) Melbourne (home), Satellite Beach (home), Kissimmee (apartment), Orlando (room)

Connecticut: Meriden (home), Wallingford (home, apartment)

Most recently I have been renting a room. Throughout the summer I used an end table as a desk. Also, over the past three years I have used a dining table a few times and even a lapboard sitting on a stack of boxes. I’ve used laptops, desktop computers and even an iPad with a bluetooth keyboard to write, edit and revise. A time or two while traveling I editing on a plane and in an airport between connections using that configuration. The point is that I have and continue to write anywhere I may be. Having said that, I prefer writing at a desk or at least something like that environment. At the moment I have that again.

In my present arrangement I have been using a laptop with a non-functioning screen. It is connected to an external monitor. That computer has a battery that doesn’t work anymore, so pretty much it is a desktop computer as configured. It is much faster than my previous laptop, which also has a battery that no longer holds a charge. I still use that laptop to research stuff as that is about all it’s good for anymore. It is painfully slow at times for editing, so I have removed MS Word from it altogether. Both computers use Mac OS. Although I have used Windows and Linux int he past I prefer Mac OS.

As many issues as i have with MS word, especially its auto-correction, grammar and spelling checkers, I still use it for composing and editing. You need to understand the program’s purpose: business communication. It has improved greatly over the years as a word processor that can be adapted for longer projects, but it still suffers from the legacy of trying to do everything imaginable. It is mediocre for writing novels, in my estimation. It is a cumbersome process to use for revision unless you set up your book as separate chapters or even separate scenes and leave it that way until you finally assemble it into a book format. Since my writing often uses multiple storylines and follows several characters it is difficult to organize everything in any other way using MS Word. It is cumbersome and time consuming putting everything together as a book and making adjustments Fried Windows took most of a day just to turn it into a manuscript for submission

I am in the process of learning Scrivener, which is an effective writing program but it is especially well-suited for editing and revising. It imports MS Word documents (and other word processor formats) and allows them to be broken into chapters and scenes and rearranged easily before being compiled into a manuscript document or a finished product ready for eBook or print publication. And it is cheaper than MS Word!

The downside of the program is that all of its advanced features take some time to learn. Once acquired it is one of the simplest programs out there to use for editing, though. I foresee using it extensively during the publishing process for The Wolfcat Chronicles. Since my editor also uses the program we should be able to email the files directly in the program’s  format. That will same some time.

#writing #editing #revising #TheWolfcatChronicles #OneOverX #FriedWindows

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Progress on The Wolfcat Chronicles

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A couple of days ago I completed the most recent revision of the first book of The Wolfcat Chronicles, The Spectre’s Warning. I have submitted it to my publisher. Since this will be my third book with Pandamoon Publishing (if it is contracted) it is not the next one in the queue. When and if it is acquired, I’ll let everyone know and a tentative publication date when that information is available. For now I’m seven chapters into revising the second book of the series, A Warrior’s Heart.

I know I have discussed the evolution of The Chronicles previously on this blog, but as I continue to grow in followers, I wanted to sort of bring the whole story together in one place and say a few things about how the series came about.

Whenever I tell people I have a book almost always they ask what it’s about? And if the conversation continues beyond that, invariably the question comes up, where did you get that idea? I’m offering the answer to both here and now for future reference.

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The beginning of The Wolfcat Chronicles can be traced back to a creative writing course I took in the spring semester of 1977 at Purdue University. On January 13th, I submitted a character profile as an assignment. It pretty much described a wolfcat. As my instructor hated science fiction/fantasy he picked it apart. First of all, how could there possibly be a creature with he attributes of a wolf, cat and human? I proposed something along the lines of gene splicing but received laughs from the other down of so would be writers in the classroom. My response that anything is possible in fiction was unsatisfactory to one and all. I received a C for the assignment and suffered through the remainder of the course listening to the instructor pontificate about how choosing writing as a career is anything by lucrative (which is true) and that it is next to impossible to get a book published (which was true for him).

Also I spent most of my time in class justifying why I wrote what I wrote as part of in class critiques on writing assignments. You see, my dialogue wasn’t realistic enough to satisfy anyone else in the class – not their their writing was better, mind you. I took that last part to heart, though, and have spent a good deal of effort over the years getting a better feel for dialogue. As a result, I’m told the dialogue in my stories is pretty good.

Anyway, the first novel I wrote was titled Tarot. The characters were based on the major arcana of the fortune telling cards. Of course it was a fantasy story. How could it not be, right? I banged out a typewritten manuscript in 1978. A couple of friends read it and thought it was pretty good. I even thought about having several copies made at the campus bookstore and submitting it to publishers. Realize that back then each page of a manuscript had to be xerox copied.

At some point I decided to read it and as a direct result had serious doubts about my ability to write a decent story. In other words, after the euphoria of having finished something that was novel length had subsided reality set in and I could see the novel in progress for what it was – a lame, pretentious, uninspiring piece of crap. Having said that, I kept the manuscript and still have it stored in a box somewhere. If I ever feel like being humbled, I can always pull it out and read a few pages.

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I’ve come a long way on my journey to be a writer.

There are a few things that survive from the story line of Tarot, though. And they found their ways into One Over X, my first publication, and The Wolfcat Chronicles, my current major project.

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While I was revising One Over X in the summer of the 2000, about a year before it was published, I spent some of my free time online with several other people in an IRC chatroom. A lot of those folks played Dungeons and Dragons back int he day. They had invented a role playing game where we were all members of a wolf pack. We wrote our profiles and carried out adventures, some of them pretty humorous.

I was working two part time jobs at the time, one delivering newspapers early in the morning and the other involved driving to Orlando from Melbourne each day to service retail stores as a vendor representative. For those who don’t know Florida geography, Orlando is about a hour’s drive from Melbourne. Between driving, delivering papers and completing revisions prior to submitting them to my publisher, I had maybe a few hours to sleep. I’m not sure how I did it, except I enjoyed the role playing game and looked forward to chatting with the people for a few hours each night.

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At some point I told some of the chatters I I was a writer and that I was working on a book that was going to be published. Everybody is writing a book, right? It wasn’t a huge deal at all. But one of the folks said she’d like to read it. After explaining it was going to be about a year before it was released she was disappointed. She said she wanted to read something I had written. So, I committed to writing a story about the wolf pack and sending it to her. Thirteen weeks later there was a 413-page rough draft of the core story contained in the middle five books of The Wolfcat Chronciles. So let’s just say that between May and July of 2000 was when I started work on the series.

The server where the wolf pack’s chatroom was located went down forever. Some of us who had personal contact through email or instant messenger stayed in touch but it was never quite the same. Also, I lost all contact for a while the the lady for whom I had written the story, my muse. I figured I’d finish the book, publish it and she’d hear about it and get to read it in that way. So, in the background as I continued to work two jobs and revise a book for publication I was also revising a book titled One Pack.

As any writer can tell you the goal of revising a book is taking out all the parts that aren’t necessary or redundant, fixing grammar, misspelling and typos, and making certain the story is clearly written. The idea is making a book as complete as possible while being succinct. What usually happen, though, is the story expands and goes off on all sorts of tangents as the writer follows the characters on their adventures and misadventures. You see, a writer of any story is probably the worst person possible to revise a story. Having said that, who except the writer knows the story better?

While I wasn’t paying attention to page count One Pack outgrew the expected confines of a novel. All I wanted to do was see where the story was headed as it kind of took on its own life and wrote itself.

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The beginning of One Pack is pretty bleak. It kind of reflected my overall mood at the time of the writing. Each day I had to drive through smoke from a brush fire that continued to burn for several weeks. At times the visibility was nearly zero and the smoke irritated my eyes, saturated my clothes and stung my nose. Some of that found its way into the story, of course.

I never really paid attention to how long the story was becoming until much later on. But as of December 2000, when I made contact with someone who personally knew my muse who had inspired me to write One Pack, it was probably around 500 to 600 pages. She told me she’d give my email address to her friend and I could send the story to her that way. We made contact in January and I send her the wolf story, as she called it. She later told me she had no idea how long it was until she started to print it out – expecting something a few pages in length but having to halt the printing after twenty of the pages rolled out. She emailed me back asking me how long the story was. Honestly, that was the first time I looked at the page count. Obviously the story had grown in the course of filling in all the background and details about the characters.

So, from those beginnings The Wolfcat Chronicles was born. One Pack became five books. And the way One Pack ended left many loose ends so it demanded a sequel, which became The Last Wolfcat that evolved into another three books. While half way through The Last Wolfcat, I was editing a children’s book for a friend and my publisher suggested I try writing a book for kids. There were some things I need to know about Ela’na and Rotor’s past prior to One Pack so I considered a prequel to flesh out all those details. I originally conceived of it as a children’s book about Elana and Rotor as pups. It would be sort of like The Hobbit served The Lord Of The Rings, a story to set up the epic portion o the story to follow. A few chapters into the prequel, though, it became clear the characters weren’t about to let it be a children’s story. And so, another two books came into being that add a lot of history and detail to the series.

All the while I was working on other projects and working a full time job in retail management. I finished the drafts of all ten books of The Wolfcat Chronicles in 2005. By that time I’d become pretty close friends with my muse despite us living on different sides of the country. Along the way I asked her what her birthday way so I could send her a card. When she told me it was January 13th it didn’t register as significant. It wasn’t until I was sorting through my old papers int he process of throwing away things I didn’t need in preparation for moving that I found the notebook from college. It contained the character profile I had written all this years ago describing a wolfcat – though it did not name the creature or its species. I’d written the piece on the day she was born.

The first revision of the entirety took about a year as did the second revision. In 2007, after a major publisher rejected the first book – from the wording of the standardized letter citing economic conditions and the changing book market it was clear no one bothered looking at it – I attempted to self-publish a part of the series. That didn’t turn out exactly like I planned though it was experience with the fledgling systems available for authors at the time.

I revised the entire series again in 2009 and another time in 2011 after sampling the entire series on Fanstory. Roughly a dozen people followed the story from start to end and I picked up a few fans in the process. One of my fans is a British poetess who composed a poem about my story.

There was another revision to the first seven books of The Chronicles in 2013 just prior to my submission of Fried Windows to Pandamoon Publishing. The last revision of the first two books before this current session was in January of 2014.

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As a very wise author once told me you’d best love your story if you ever hope to have it published because you will read it many, many times before it is finished.

#writing #publishing #revisions #TheWolfcatChronicles #authors #muses #origins #PandamoonPublishing #FriedWindows #OneOverX

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Update – The Wolfcat Chronicles and Writing a Series

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It’s been nine months or so since I last looked at Book One of The Wolfcat Chronicles. Since then I’ve read a lot of books from other authors and experienced the meticulous process of professional content editing for Fried Windows. I’ve learned a lot.

It isn’t like I haven’t read The Spectre’s Warning several times in it various iterations with it previous tentative titles. I’ve always felt it was a good story. But I wrote it about ten years ago while I was concurrently revising The Last Wolfcat – the final three books of the series. The impetus to write the book came from from two directions. First my publisher at the time had asked me to proof read a children’s book for a mutual friend. After I suggested adding two more chapters and changing the ending slightly he suggested I try writing a children’s book. I told him I don’t do children’s books but regardless of my mindset I gave it a go. Second, since I was working on the concluding part of a epic fantasy I had something int he back of my mind akin to how J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit serves as a prequel to Lord Of The Rings. I recalled reading somewhere that he wrote that story intending it for his children.

Anyway, I started writing the prequel to One Pack, the initial story I wrote about The Wolfcats. It didn’t take more than a few thousand words to realize that despite my intent what I was writing was not children’s story.

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As happened with writing each of the volumes of The Wolfcat Chronicles, the story flowed mostly of its own accord. The difference was that, having written One Pack an about half of The Last Wolfcat, I knew where the story was headed, so there was some guidance to the development of characters that would populate the story. So it was more like filling int he gaps and writing a backstory. Still I didn’t know how all the pieces – the various backstory  elements mentioned in the subsequent books – could possibly fit together. Yet, in the course of writing about Ela’na and Rotor as pups growing into maturity those storylines fell into place. And pretty much, the tale told itself.

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I’ve always liked the story. Having completed the draft in 2005, I have revised it and tweaked it several times. And, having drafted the entire story across the ten books of The Wolfcat Chronicles I had the rare ability as an author to revise them as a collective whole ensuring continuity and concurrence between the books.

In 2010, as a member of Fanstory, I posted the entire series in draft, one chapter at a time. A dozen or so fellow authors read and critiqued the story. I took notes. Some parts needed to be amended. Other parts were repetitive and needed to be removed altogether. But the feedback was essential to improving the story. Most of the authors liked the story. Some had favorite characters and offered me suggestions about how they would like to see the events resolved. A couple of authors have become my cheerleaders and can’t wait for me to get around to publishing the books.

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Following that experience I revised the entire series of books. And last year I revised everything again up to book 9, which is the second book of The Last Wolfcat. You see, over the years I have written other stories that have threads that tie into these books. And yes, there is a connection to Fried Windows. There are several other threads connected to One Over X and The Attributes. Many character’s stories interrelate and they appear in one another’s lives outside of the immediate context of the stories written specifically about them.

I guess there are different reasons for writing a series. Sometimes its just that the ending does come about after 100,000 words. Maybe, as an author, you become too attached tot he characters to let go of them. Perhaps the author is not the creator of a world at all but serves as a conduit for a story from somewhere else to be told. The truth is that I’m not sure why it was necessary for all the books to connect one to another. That’s how it turned out, though. And at some point it occurred to me that I had not written a series of stories so much as was describing an alternate universe in which the characters reside.

I’ve made it to Chapter 8 in The Spectre’s Warning. I’ve removed about three pages of text so far and amplified this and that. But mainly I’m reading it again. This time I intend to see it through publication and distribution. I think the time has come for everyone to have the change to read about the wolfcats.

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#TheWolfcatChronicles #FriedWindows #OneOverX #TheAttributes #Writing #Series

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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Elgon – An Update

Ambitious title, I know. But since there’s not that much to tell, I think I can pull this off.

What’s going on in my publishing life?

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Fried Windows is doing fine. There were a couple of free ebook promotions that created more awareness of the book and a Goodreads Giveaway I did last month. There will be some more things coming down the pike. So look for them. I still need for everyone who has read the book to post a review to Amazon and Goodreads. I realize that’s a challenge for every author out there, getting readers to post reviews. Readers aren’t writers, after all. But it only takes a couple of minutes to write two lines about what you liked or didn’t like about the book. What you may not know is how important total number of reviews are for promoting a book, especially receiving some gratis attention from Amazon. I’m told you must have a minimum of fifty reviews posted to receive a serious push. I have seventeen.

Becoming Thuperman, my next project in the pipeline, is in revisions right now. I have about a day or two left on that before sending the new and improved, latest version to my publisher so it can be reviewed for subediting. The tentative release date on that book right now is the end of January 2015.

Once I finish the revisions on BT, I have committed to reading and reviewing a couple of new books, one a fellow Pandamoon author named Jeff Messick whose debut novel, Knights Of The Shield – a paranormal cop thriller – comes out in mid-November. The other book I just received and it looks interesting. It’s called Stealing Destiny and is in the paranormal genre. Its author, J. D. Selmser contacted me kind of out of the blue. I happened to have a gap in my schedule so I agreed to give it a read. It’s the first book of the Immortal Obsession series. I seem to be reading a lot of paranormal books lately.

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In my publicist gig I’ve been promoting Steph Post’s A Tree Born Crooked which launched yesterday. Readers of this blog know I’m very high on this book. It’s different in a great way, paving a lot of new ground in gutsy, gritty realism. It’s seriously a great piece of literature and deserves all the critical attention it has already received. Also, Steph is a sweetheart. I’ve only known her for a little more than a year but she’s a great friend and amazingly talented writer.

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Christine Gabriel’s Crimson Forest launched at the end of August and it’s been doing very well in sales. It’s another paranormal book but with a few twists and a lot of differences from the usual fare of vampires and creepy things. It’s a first novel for Christine and also the first in a series. She is nearing completion of the sequel work, Crimson Moon, that will launch sometime in March 2015.

Remember The Wolfcat Chronicles, that ten book series I penned between 2000 and 2005? Well, I’m going to be doing a new revision to the first book of the series and submitting it to my publisher. I have submitted a version previously. The problem is scheduling the editing required to release ten books in a fairly short time interval. Also I need to revise the entire series in a narrow window as well. The first seven books are pretty close to being ready for prime time. The last three could use another revision and I want to rewrite the ending because some of the plot ties into Fried Windows. Yeah, imagine that. I’m hoping Spectre of Dammerwald, the first two books of the series, can be released this summer and fall with One Pack, the next five books, coming out in 2016.

Other projects I’m working on: a sequel to Fried Windows tentatively titled Ninja Bread Cookies and a sequel to Becoming Thuperman titled Being Thuperman. On the back burner is a book I started last year titled Bongwater Moses. Those books will make it into print eventually, perhaps in between the individual Wolfcat books. Although there are a few threads of continuity between them and the Wolfcat books they are intended to stand alone.

There are a couple of other books kicking around that I’d like to publish. One is a background book about Brent Woods, the lead character in Fried Windows, titled Fifteen Days of Danielle. Another is a book that I haven’t decided what to call. It is loosely based on my experiences growing up around South Charleston, Ohio in the sixties. There is also a book I want to revise one more time before submitting it titled Selling The Morning Calm which is loosely based on a couple of years I spent in Korea while working with the military. And there is a supernatural book about text messaging that I wrote in 2009 and another supernatural one that has Brent Woods as a character that is set in a haunted house. Add to those a couple of books that sort of provide some backstory for The Wolfcat Chronicles that need to be revised and another book about Brent Woods and how he got involved with The Program that is mentioned in Fried Windows…busy, busy.

Later on I plan a rewriting of the One Over X series which I began last summer with a revised new edition that split the first book into two books. I self published that and posted it to Amazon back in August 2013.

All told there are some twenty books that will see their way into print over the next three or four years.

In my personal life, my nomadic nature continues. This time I moved only a few miles from where I had been staying. It’s a longer commute by bike to where I work part-time but it’s good exercise riding four and a half miles each way. Over the past year or so I have dropped over sixty-five pounds. I’ll probably shed a few more in the process of biking to and from work, now. I may pick up a second part-time job for Christmas season as I am closer to a major shopping area in East Orlando and those stores are only two miles away.

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#writing #publishing