Authors Life, Publishing, Writing

Holding onto a Dream

I suppose waxing philosophical is natural when a milestone is reached, but I tend to be a quiet observer. If you’re expecting a boisterous blowhard pontificating pompous bombast or boring people with flowery fluff, that’s not me. I write a bit, though. Fortunately, I have editors to ground me and help make sense of my ramblings that eventually make it onto a printed page.

There is nothing else like this feeling.

My love of writing compels me in a way that no previous endeavor in life ever has. The physical execution of the process consumes a portion of each day, but truth be known, I am writing all the time, even when I rest, and always when I dream. In fact, a writer is never not writing. Even while suffering from writer’s block, a writer is still engaged in the creative process, whether it is realized or not.

Yesterday, I received a physical copy of the third book I’ve published since signing with Pandamoon Publishing. I published a few others before becoming a Panda, a couple of self-published things, and a pair of works released through another, now defunct, small publisher. Personally, I don’t consider those in my totals anymore. There will come a time when I revisit them as newly minted manuscripts, heavily revised and reborn, because the stories within are important and tie into the overall creative universe that has spawned Fried Windows and The Thuperman Trilogy. But I never recommend them, despite that there are copies of them floating around. You see, publishing is a thing that cannot be undone, especially once an ISBN number is assigned. But One Over X served a developmental purpose for me as an author. It granted me insight into the publishing business and book marketing. And it established a foundation that produced an ambitious project that occupied my time for better than seven years. That series has yet to be published, but I learned many necessary lessons from creating The Wolfcat Chronicles.

I was a different kind of writer twenty years ago when I was working on my first manuscript. My processes and the quality of what I produce has changed, for the better, I think. My stories ramble less. They have coherent structure. The dialog is more realistic, which is always a challenge when you write fantasy. The characters have lives to which readers can relate. All of that was acquired through the processes of learning to write, something that one must teach to self.

A friend and fellow author told me that anyone can dream only to have it evaporate into the mist of morning wakefulness, but an author can capture a dream and give it physical substance. There is a lot of truth in that. And I’m reminded of it each time I hold one of my books. It takes weeks, months and sometimes years to compose a manuscript. It takes courage to send it in raw form to beta readers to test the viability of its story. More months pass in revisions based on feedback received and then several more months pass while the manuscript is edited. Dressing it up into a pretty cover and testing the nearly finished version of the story with advance readers who will hopefully offer some reviews is the next step in the publishing process. And then the book arrives, launched upon a largely unsuspecting world that, for the most part, does not read books anymore.

On the surface, writing professionally does not make sense. For nearly all of us who do it, it will never pay the bills. But there is satisfaction at the conclusion of each journey when you hold one of your dreams in your hands.         

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Two Weeks from Today

The launch of Homer Underby, Book 2 of The Thuperman Trilogy, is set for August 14. It continues the story of Will and Sandra, two precocious 8-year-old kids with active imaginations and budding superpowers. The story picks up where Becoming Thuperman, Book 1 of the series, left off. Sandra is grounded. Although Will is not, having his best friend unavailable is like being grounded. All they can do is wait until Saturday. If they win the first Little League game of the season Sandra’s grounding is over. But a new adventure is just beginning as the kids learn about a 20-year-old unsolved mystery involving the deserted old house down the street from where they live.

Homer Underby is a Pandamoon Publishing release available for pre-order at Amazon.

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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Feeding The Need

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Those of us who write understand the gnawing of an idea that enters our consciousness through a dream or, perhaps, a simple crazy, disjointed, random thought that occurs during any given day. Eventually, it can lead to a story. That story may be several pages, a novel or several novels. But that is pretty-much how the process begins. And it isn’t like you can ignore the impulse to write. If you try, it will make you ill or turn you into an alcoholic. There is no other option but to write until having writ you can move on – usually to the next warped idea that comes to mind.

As a published author one of the frequently asked questions is: ‘When did you first know that what you were writing was a novel.” I have to qualify some things before I answer that, with regard to my present novel in release, Fried Windows (In a Light White Sauce). Unlike the other thirty-some-odd manuscripts I have archived somewhere or the other, FW started out to be a collection of short stories. Those stories had recurring characters and the world – or rather universe – was shared. But when I wrote FW in draft it was sixteen separate short stories. At some point, fairly close to when I decided to submit it to Pandamoon Publishing, I decided to stitch it together as a novel. After that effort there were a couple of other chapters feathered into the story, just so that it made some sense and had flow as well as a story arc. Even so, I submitted what are the first two chapters to an online magazine. Independently a friend edited them, gratis – which was all I could afford. I loved her suggestions and went with most of them. The result: I submitted the two chapters as a single short story, fully expecting it to become my launch pad, a series submitted as installments to the magazine. At some point I would assemble the whole into a collection. That was my idea, anyway.

I was pretty much homeless at the time, and would have lived on the streets if not for the accommodations and largess of my brother-in-law and oldest sister. I did odd jobs for him as a way of paying my keep. But mainly I wrote and made great progress on a lot of that manuscripts I had never had the time to deal with while working 55+ hours a week as a retail manager.

I was not in a good place after what most have termed a mental meltdown. Of course, I don’t see it that way. Leaving my last previous job made all the sense in the world because. I honestly believe, I’d be dead by now had I not done so. After living in my brother-in-law’s house for nearly a year he delivered an ultimatum about my writing: sell something, or find a real job – as in anything that pays a weekly wage.

He and I have very different perspectives on money.

He has always believed I was my father’s prodigal son. I have always understood that money is as worthless as the paper it is printed on – a more durable sort of toilet paper, actually, especially so if  the majority of people ever bother to consult Webster’s as to the definition of fiduciary – which defines our monetary system. My sister got in the middle of all that. Of course, she loves me as her baby brother. But the reality of my situation put a lot of stress on her, and I appreciated that. I was divorced. My ex-wife pretty much sapped all my savings away in the process of paying debts for an ill-fated business venture. We filed for bankruptcy just before we divorced.

I’m not blaming her for everything here. There were more than enough errors to go around. But had I done what I wanted to do instead of listening to her, I think things might have turned out better. But, then, really, who knows?

What I am certain of is that my kids were better off for having experienced the negative side of happens to an otherwise apparently successful, affluent married couple. We had the $300k home in Connecticut. Paid cash for it. We had cars we owned outright as well. My company was making money and selling my stock options afforded me a lifestyle I had not yet earned. Our kids were attending the best school system in the state. But, within the course of a year and a half, it all unraveled. The tragedy took a few more years to fully play-out, but that when the decline started,around the time I was hospitalized for endocarditis.

I had open heart surgery in May of 1995 to repair a failing mitral valve. As I was recovering I was following O. J. Simpson’s trial on TV. I died seven times during the surgery. I would have never known that had I not needed to fax the transcripts of the surgery to the insurance carrier. They were disputing everything, of course. From my side of the experience, I had a couple of very long and persistent bizarre dreams during that experience. And those are also incorporated into The Wolfcat Chronicles, a series I have under contract with Pandamoon Publishing.

I toyed with writing for most of my life. I wrote a manuscript called Tarot while I was in college. Some of that lead directly to The Wolfcat Chronicles. I really and honestly believed Tarot would be published. I retyped it – you had to use typewriter back then – and allowed someone, a friend I respected, to read it. I expected her to tell me, “I love it send it away to a publisher now!” What she told me was a bit more sobering. “This is really a great rough draft. What you need to do is find a good editor.”

Dream shaken but not shattered. I still have that manuscript in a box somewhere about. I have consulted it several times over the years whenever I was beset with excessive hubris. It grounds me. Think of it as the portrait of Dorian Gray that is kept in the attic.

I went on a hiatus from writing fiction while I served it the USAF as a crypto-linguist and unit historian. In that secondary role I composed a 400+ page document that is, technically, my first published work. The distribution was exclusive to those with Top Secret SCI clearances. Maybe four or five people every looked at it. It won an award though. So, at some point, I assume someone must have read it. As odd as it might seem for a fiction writer, that was the impetus for me to pursue my other stories.  All of it came into resolute focus when I was recovering for the surgery. I needed to do something as a legacy for my children if not for myself.

It’s been a long and often frustrating journey spanning twenty years to this point. Fried Windows completes one part of my life and begets another, the life of a published author. Imagine that!

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Review of Chrissy Lessey’s The Hunted Book Two of The Crystal Coast Series

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The Hunted focuses on the interactions of the characters Chrissy Lessey created in The Secret Keepers and The Coven. The inherent conflict between the good witches of the coven in the small, picturesque coastal town of Beaufort, NC and the evil ones who are descendants of Blackbeard the pirate is extended in a thoroughly engaging way.

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First, Lessey reveals more of the backstory, allowing the reader to know about 17th Century events that precipitated the coven’s hasty departure from their homes in Salem, Massachusetts. As you will remember, under the leadership of their new queen Lucia, the founding members of the coven establish their own colony. Lucia’s daughter, Charlotte and two other young witches are sacrificed to deflect the interest of Blackbeard the pirate in their island home. The young witches are taken aboard Blackbeard’s ship and, in due course, transported to the North Carolina Coast.

Susan Moore and her daughter Vanessa are direct descendants of the notorious pirate. Queen Lucia’s lineage carries to the present as Queen Patricia, her daughter and heir, Stevie, and the five-year-old Charlie, Stevie’s son, who struggles with both autism and his emerging magical powers. Patricia possesses the fabled amethyst amulet that, in the past, Queen Diana entrusted to her daughter Lucia on the fateful night that Puritan Reverend Samuel Parris precipitated the witch hunts. Diana sacrificed herself so that her coven could escape.

The Hunted picks up shortly after the conclusion of The Coven as Stevie, Dylan and Charlie attempt to make a future together. But Stevie has yet to tell her ex-husband, Sam, about her new relationship. We also learn more about what happened to Vanessa Moore in the aftermath of the explosion of the boat she was on. And finally we visit with Susan Moore, Vanessa’s mother, who the local coven has stripped of her powers and had her committed to an insane asylum.

Susan befriends Chaplain Benjamin Parris, the proud direct descendant of Samuel, intending to use his interest in eradicating witches from the world to focus on the coven. Lessey sets the key players in place for the fiery confrontation ahead.

Despite Vanessa’s failure in The Coven to secure the amethyst amulet for her mother, Susan still covets it for its ability to enhance its bearer’s powers. If she can secure the amulet her bound powers will be restored and she will become the most powerful witch in the world. She plans to use her newly restored and enhanced powers to seize control of the coven and force those who banded together against her to bow down to her as their queen. In Chaplain Parris, Susan finds a willing, if at first unwitting, assistant.

The Hunted is very well-written, fast-paced and engaging. Lessey advances the storyline masterfully, more than fulfilling the promise of The Coven. The characters feel as real as their North Carolina hometown. You expect to be able to go there and meet these fictional people who are members of The Historical Society. At the conclusion there is little doubt where the tale is heading for the third installment. I look forward to reading it.

The Hunted is due out in the Fall of 2015 from Pandamoon Publishing. Review is based on an author supplied Advance Readers Copy.

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Origin of Pandaman

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The other day someone, a stranger, referred to me as Pandaman. I was amused and actually flattered. I’ve always liked pandas. But the reason for calling me Pandaman was more interesting. It seems there is a little girl somewhere in cyberland who wakes up daily and wants her mommy to show her the pandas. And so, the lady logs onto her Facebook account and hopes that I have posted my daily panda pictures. Now that I have a fan I also have an obligation to continue my posts.

It’s funny in a way that a little girl refers to me as the Pandaman though it certainly fits into the grand scheme, I suppose. I have been posting pictures of cute pandas now for well over a year. The reason I began was to gain some attention to my FB account. And my oldest sister, who also loves pandas, sort of suggested I do it.

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I started posting a daily picture. Then, after a couple of weeks, I began posting multiple pictures of certain days of the. A few months passed and I started posting daily multiple pictures, first five and now six. I’ve been doing the six picture thing now for several months.

I’m not sure how many people actually see the pictures. There’s no simple way of appraising that with FB’s weird and warped algorithms that throttle one'[s ability to send anything out to everyone – even those who are listed as friends. I post the pictures on FB to my main account which is under the user name “elgone” and to my Google + account which is under my real name. I guess that somewhere between a few dozen to maybe as many as a couple of hundred people see them on a daily basis. But knowing there is a little girl anxiously waiting to see my daily post seems to matter more to me than anything else.

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Most of you know I write professionally. My publisher is Pandamoon Publishing, so there is the panda connection if you were seeking one, though in truth one of the reasons I submitted a book, Fried Windows, to Pandamoon in the first place was that I like wore to a Jim Gaffigan concert and had the comedian autograph. In his routine he did a joke about pandas. Anyway, in the world of being and only Elgon, all of that fits together into a neat ball that I’ve adorned with a nice bow. That’s how I became Pandaman, I guess – at least in the eyes of a little girl somewhere.

#Pandas #Pandaman #PandamoonPublishing #FriedWindows

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Changes In Frequency

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Hey all who follow and read my blog. I will need to be changing things up a bit. I’ll still be posting to the blog but the frequency is about to change. There will be a weekly blog post but I cannot guarantee which day of the week at this point. Sorry about that.

I have been working more hours at my day job. Also I’m about to enter into a period of editing my next book(s) for publication as well as working on marketing and publicity campaigns for sixteen other authors. Yeah, I’ve become a plate juggler keeping sixteen plates spinning all that the same time, and sometimes one or two will wobble and I have to keep them from crashing to the floor and breaking.

We’ll see how things work out but I may post some random things at times, like updates and a few Throwback items. Some of you liked those enough to keep them going, however the latter takes a little research and continuing to do them on a weekly basis has become nearly impossible. I need to write sequels more so than blog posts about my favorite rock bands in the 70’s. Having said that, I like the subject of music in general. I might post some reviews of more recently produced music. We’ll see. There are several contemporary acts I enjoy. You might be surprised what I listen to…then, again, maybe not.

The focus on this blog is and has always been about my writing mores than my life but sometimes they two are inseparable. The more I strive to have my books become popular and my author’s brand recognized the less time I have to enjoy some of the things I like to blog about. Funny how that works out, isn’t it?

I’ve made a couple of strategic choices in the past week that may aid in my ability to keep up with blog posts. I have a portable computer that will be showing up later on today (Thursday). I decided to go with a Microsoft Windows based system, actually the Surface Pro 3. I got a good deal on a slightly used one. It will take a few hours to set it up properly to become the effective tool it needs to be. But this will allow me to take my writing with me to work at my day job so I can use my break time to post things to blogs, post promotional things for others and my myself and edit/revise my work – all on the go.

 

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I plan to use The Cloud more often  in the future as this “new” computer has a smaller SSD but it is a lot faster than the relatively larger drive I have on the computer I use at home. However I would like to have a couple of TB’s of space to store all the pictures, music and such I have. I haven’t decided whether to get a personal NAS drive that I can access via the Internet or upload everything to iCloud, One Drive, Google Drive or some comparable service. I may be doing a bit of the latter as a test of viability for what I need over the next few weeks as an alternative to purchasing a personal NAS device. However, I like the idea of being able to access things from a server drive on my home network regardless where I am in the world. As my portable computer will only have 256GB of on-device storage I cannot keep all of my files on the device. Still, I will need to access my stuff from time to time. I’m not so certain I want all my documents residing on someone else’s server 0f regardless of how secure.

 

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My publisher has a cloud drive I use for publicity an the work I have submitted for publication. In a pinch I could use some of that space, temporarily, I suppose, but I want to keep business separate from my personal things even if they are business related. Promotional stuff like this blog that is intended to increase awareness of my brand falls into the gray area between personal and professional stuff. That could be stored on my publisher’s drive.

A lot of my blog related stuff has used pictures I keep stored somewhere or the other on my local drives. I’d like to offload that to The Cloud but I don’t want that taking up space on my publisher’s server. Also I’d like to upload my personal music files but I would rather store all of that on a personal NAS that I can access from anywhere I am.

#NAS #PortableComputer #SurfacePro3 #Microsoft #PandamoonPublishing #Publicity #Blog