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.

Uncategorized

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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Books, Editing, Publishing, Word, Writing

Preparing a Manuscript for Publication

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It seems that each time an ARC is created from a Word doc into Kindle MOBI a number of formatting errors appear. Amazon and CreateSpace have instructions on how to eliminate some common problems that will prevent a title from being accepted but, from experience, the guidelines do not cover every issue that may arise.

Part of the problem is that there seems to be as many different ways of creating a manuscript writing as there are authors. Some of us old timers started writing on typewriters and, at some point, graduated to word processors well before the advent of programs designed for personal computers. Since each word processor had its own set of rules, personal style was influenced by the hardware used. This created a lot of habits that complicate the use of Microsoft Word for producing a manuscript.

Here is a non-inclusive list of the known issues author can address and fix in advance of submitting a final version of a manuscript for editing and eventual publication. This list assumes you are using Microsoft Word, but it may apply to other, similar programs like Open Office.

  1. Do not use tabs when indenting. This throws off the spacing in an eBook.
  2. Use left justification only. At some point in the finishing stages of the editing process the document will be set for left and right adjustment.
  3. Do not use spaces to indent. Again this throws off spacing in an eBook.
  4. Regardless of what you were taught in school about two spaces between sentences, that is only used for scholarly work and is not done in novels. In the past typesetters charged by the character, including spaces, so publisher saved money by minimizing the use of spaces.
  5. Ensure there are no extra spaces at the end of a paragraph.
  6. Ensure there are no extra spaces at the beginning of a paragraph.
  7. Ensure there are no extra spaces between words throughout the document. A useful tool for finding extra spaces with Word is showing hidden characters. In the most recent version of MS Word it is turned on automatically when you show paragraph ends. Look for the paragraph symbol in the tool bar.
  8. Set the ruler in MS Word to automatically indent the number of necessary spaces at the beginning of a paragraph.
  9. Set up the Page Properties to single space between paragraphs. If your manuscript is later set to double space, as it should be for greater ease of editing throughout the process, when the document is converted, so will the spacing between paragraphs. Then, when it is converted to single space for publication, there will not be an extra 1 ½ lines between paragraphs (which is MS Word’s default). Word is designed mainly for business use. For writing a novel it must be adjusted.
  10. Book titles and chapter headers that are centered on the page need to be adjusted so that the centering is from the margin edge not the set paragraph indent. This also applies to any special characters used to indicate a change of scene in the body of a chapter. Also End or The End, if you have concluded your manuscript in that way, need to be centered from the margin not the indent.
  11. Now, here’s the biggy. Between chapters in a manuscript you will need to insert a page break. This forces the Kindle Conversion to start your next chapter at the top of a fresh page. Otherwise your next chapter will appear immediately after, as in the next line, following the concluding sentence of the previous chapter. Still, that may not be enough. If your chapter ends on the last line of the previous page, you will need to insert the page break at the top of the ensuing page, followed by a new line. For the sake of having the beginning of chapters look consistent through a book on Kindle, it may be necessary to insert a new line after each instance of a page break. A page break should be used on the title page, the dedication page, table of contents page and each blank page you wish you have in the body of the manuscript. If the table of contents page is longer than a single page allow the document to flow onto the ensuing page. Set the page break at the conclusion of the last page of the table of contents.

If manuscripts are created according to these standards or adjusted to them prior to submitting to a publisher in the editing process it will significantly reduce the amount of time and effort required for finding all the formatting issues created in the Kindle conversion process. Generally speaking, if the manuscript is set up for Kindle, the CreateSpace conversion will also go more smoothly, as will conversions to ePub and other eBook and print formats.

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Uncategorized

This Week’s Agenda

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I have a couple of projects this week. First there is a book launch, the second edition of Eightysixed by Emily Belden. It’s underway, kind of, so I’m finalizing a press release for that. For those who don’t realize it, launching a book in both paperback and ebook formats on Amazon is nearly impossible to synch up so both formats appear at the same time on the same day. Usually they are a few days apart because of the time delays involved between uploading and the posting of the books on each platform. Even then, it takes as much as a week for Amazon to connect the two postings together so that a prospective reader can choose between the two formats. Often the publisher needs to contact Amazon to have them manually connect the books. For that reason, release dates with Amazon are carved in hot butter.

At any rate, book realize dates with publishers are moving targets at best. Spring, Summer or Fall of whatever year tends to be about as exact as can be mentioned until content editing has begun. Even then, it is impossible to get the release date any closer than a week until the cover design and editing is completed and For Review copies are sent out – usually 60 to 90 days prior to release. Having said that, an exact date depends not he format and the distributor. There are a number of reasons a book’s release could be delayed at the last minute.

The second thing I’ve committed to doing this week is reading a book and writing a review for a friend. That’s in progress. I may finish the book tomorrow, depending on how long it takes to finish the press release and whether or not my new bike comes in at the shop and is assembled and tweeted properly. Yes, I have upgraded my ride. It now takes less time for me to get to and from work and my backside is a lot more comfortable in the process. Also, my have brakes that actually work! Anyway, I’m hanging onto the old bike for a while as a backup in case I get a flat tire or something.  I’ll list it on Craig’s List and see if I can get anything for it. It has good tires.

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I’ve been working more hours lately which is a good things for as long as it lasts. I’ve been saving the money for things I need. The first priority was a new bike, because i use it everyday. I also need to buy some paperback version of Fried Windows in bulk so I can do some personal appearances and book signings around Orlando. Also, I need a new laptop at some point, though presently I am using a computer that has an issue with the screen but works fine when plugged into a monitor. Another thing on my wish list is getting an actual Kindle because using the Kindle Reader on my old iPad is not as pleasant an experience due to its relative weight, etc. Everything has a priority, though. Having a supply of books to sell is at the top for now.

News about The Wolfcat Chronicles: nothing major yet. I’m expecting sub-editing to begin shortly on the first book of the series. I’m not sure about the timeline for release dates. My publisher has a lot of other projects in the queue. So, I’ll be busy doing promotional stuff for other authors until it’s my turn at bat. I have read some of the new manuscripts from other authors and there are some great books coming out this year from Pandamoon Publishing!

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There is Jeff Messick’s novel Knights of the Shield which should be out any day now. Emily Belden’s memoir, Eightysixed second edition will be out by the end of the week in both digital and print. Alisse Lee-Goldeberg has a sequel of Sitnalta due out this spring and Christine Gabriel has a sequel to Crimson Forest coming out later this year. Add to those books like Ramadan Drummer by Randolph Splitter, 122 Rules by Deek Rhew and Love’s Misadventure by Cheri Champagne – new books from new authors – and you have the makings of a great reading list.

#Publishing #Publicity #NewBooks #JeffMessick #EmilyBelden #RandolphSplitter #DeekRhew #CheriChampagne #ChristineGabriel #AlisseLeeGoldenberg #PandamoonPublishing

 

 

 

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The Wolfcat Chronicles Complete

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Friday morning I completed revisions for Book 10 of The Wolfcat Chronicles, which included a major rewrite of the final three chapters. I submitted the manuscript to my publisher. So the series that I have spend over a decade writing and most of my life preparing is one step closer to reality.

Before I move on to other projects, I’d like to reassure all those who have read early versions of the books that the essential story has not been altered. Some of the details have changed here and there in the process of revisions. One chapter was added and, in several other places the dialogue was modified a bit, to make the series connect with Fried Windows in a much more substantive way. Otherwise, it’s the same. I’m sure that as the editing process progresses there will be some other changes, though I expect them to be minor and more along the lines of ensuring consistency between the beginning and the end of the story and giving it a good hair cut here and there. The objective of editing is to trim away those things that do not directly contribute to the story, developing the characters, and advancing the plot,

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What’s next? Well, yesterday morning I did something I haven’t done for a while. In fact I’ve not done it since composing what has since become Fried Windows. I wrote a short story. I’m not sure I’ll do anything more with it. I could, though. There is an opening to expand the tale and I may pursue that – kind of like I did with Fried Windows – and we see where that ended up. But for now it’s a back burner sort of things.

The short story I wrote was my attempt to fulfill a prior commitment to write a piece for a collection with a theme “the seven deadly sins”. My challenge was to write something about greed. I’m not sure if I actually accomplished that with the story. What I wrote was more about wealth, money and large corporations mistreating the little guy. To me that’s practical reality of the sin or greed. However, I also believe that all the seven deadly sins are interconnected in many ways. If you ponder the subject for a while you will eventually get to a place that I am, where you understand how one thing leads to another and so on. Greed, envy, avarice… it’s all connected.

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The next two things I plan to work on are the sequels for Fried Windows and Becoming Thuperman. That leaves the stand alone story of Bongwater Moses still lingering in the background, but I need to finish that one too. Somewhere along the way I also want to revise a couple of other stories about the Brent character from Fried Windows.

Having the major weight of ten books off my shoulders – at least until substantive editing begins – I can work on a number of other projects. At some point I’ll be going through something of a relaunching of Fried Windows as it comes up on its first anniversary and is released in the formats and through other distributors. I’m not sure when that will come about. It’s popularity has been increasing through the free promotions, but it has been a slow process. It’s a bit like acquiring friends for me, growing readers. It takes a while to get to know me but after someone has gotten to know me they tend to be friends for life.

 

Lately I’ve been scheduled to work more hours at my day job. That is largely a result of picking up shifts that other people cannot work and having been cross trained to serve other roles. Hey, I can use the money for buying books to sell at book signings, right? Also I’ve saving up to buy a better bike. One with gears that change and working brakes both front and rear would be a vast improvement over what I have been using. However, it’s hard to justify the expense at this point, as I am getting by with what I have. The tried were placed last summer and have a lot of wear left on them.

My idea is to keep the present bike as a backup in case I wake up one day and my tires are flat on the newer bike I’d be using. You know, kind of like having a second car. As my son leave early for work each day and I tend to work in the mostly in evenings I don’t have the option of asking him to drive me. My options would be to call a cab – which I can’t afford – or hoof it for the 4.5 miles. I’d probably opt for the latter though I’m not exactly sure how long i would take me to get there.

At some point I need a new laptop to replace the one I have that doesn’t serve as a laptop anymore – battery dead, screen doesn’t work. I know I’m going to need portability eventually, especially when I start moving around and traveling again, but at the moment it isn’t a huge priority. I’m using a jury-rigged configuration that serves my purposes well enough. Also, as I refuse to go back to a Windows platform for my working computer, I’m kind of at the mercy for how inflated the prices for Apple computers are. They tend to be very proud of their products, as my dad always said of something expensive for no apparent reason. Yes, I get that Apple computers tend to last longer and are supposed to be built better, etc. I’m not convinced any of that is particularly true anymore, if it ever was. Remember, I repaired computers for a while. I’ve been inside everything imaginable. And since Apple switched to using Intel processors their systems have become more and more like everything else out there in the PC world. Much of the difference is cosmetic except that I prefer the operating system to windows and find it to be generally more stable, with he exception of the Safari browser which has been crashing lately for whatever reason.

Coming up there are some promotions for Fried Windows. As soon as I have resupplied my local stash of books, meaning ordering some directly from the publisher, I’ll be working on some local book signings. So, for anyone in Central Florida, be on the look out for announcements. I plan to tie-in the appearances with pre-release activities for The Wolfcat Chronicles and Becoming Thuperman. I’ll also be participating in some promotional stuff for other authors whether as a publicist or a friend.

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Rose Montague has two books coming out next month, for example one at the beginning of the month titled Jane, the sequel to Jade. There is another coming out later next months as well. More about that in upcoming blogs. I also plan to interview her again. She is an interesting person and an excellent storyteller. Her first book, Jade, was released a little over a year ago. I read and reviewed it somewhere around that time. Her writing is as unique as her subject matter. I highly recommend her books to anyone who enjoys novels that bend reality a bit – stories about shape shifters, witches etc.

#TheWolfcatChronicles #FriedWindows #Becoming Thuperman #NewProjects #Rose Montague #Jade #Jane #Revisions #Writing #Publishing

 

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The Wolfcat Chronicles – The Inspiration

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There’s not a single moment that stands out to cite as the inspiration to write The Wolfcat Chronicles. More accurately it was a series of incidents and a process in the evolution of an idea. Since the series is related in many ways to other writing, I could say it began with the first piece of fiction I wrote as a kid. But the idea to write a novel came about when I was riding my my dad’s pickup truck returning from the Trade Day Flea Market in Washington Court House, Ohio in late 1969. He asked what I wanted to be when I grew up if, as i had just told him, I didn’t feel cut out to be a farmer.

My mother told me she’d always heard that the first thing a baby grasps hold of is related in some way to what he or she will do in life. I grabbed a pencil. Years later when I was in college my mother reminded me of that, to which I replied, “The pencil also had an eraser. So maybe it was telling me I’d make a lot of mistakes.”

I toyed around with some stories during high school, even published some in the school newspaper and monthly literary magazine. But it wasn’t until college that I set out to compose a novel. I knew nothing about how to accomplish that, but that did not deter me.

After enrolling in a creative writing course I wrote the first bonafide piece of The Wolfcat Chronicles, a character profile for a wolfcat, though at the time I didn’t call the hybrid creature anything in particular. It was an assignment for which I received a grade of C-. My obstructor didn’t like sci-fi and fantasy, which was fine because I didn’t like him much either. He picked it apart, saying it was absurd and impossible to have a creature that was a their human, a third wolf and a third cat. He’d never heard of the theory of gene splicing. Not many people had back in the late 70’s.

Later that year I wrote a draft novel titled Tarot. Some portions that story survive within chapters of One Over X and The Wolfcat Chronicles. Tarot allowed me the experience of writing a long story spanning several chapters. I let a couple of friends read it and received feedback, some positive. I thought of editing it, revising it and sending it off to a publisher but a few months after writing it I actually read the draft. The story was thin, banal, not well-thought-out or developed and probably not worth the effort to fix.

My first actual publication was the Unit History of the 6903rd Electronic Security Group at Osan AB, Republic of Korea. It wasn’t destined for any bestseller list. It contained highly classified information and therefore had a very small distribution list. It was over 400 pages and received several awards.

Also while in the military I wrote a draft regulation for cataloguing, storing and disposing of classified information. The regulation was adopted within the intelligence community. Also, while I was in training I wrote a training manual that was implemented at my training base. I received commendation for both achievements.

I mention all that because prior to my experience as a unit historian I lacked confidence in my ability to write. It also allowed me to work with a computer word processor, albeit it a primitive one. Receiving accolades bolstered my ego – something vital int he development of an author, even if those who were the most impressed were not especially talented at writing.

Upon returning to the States I began writing From The Inside, the first book of the One Over X series. I would spend the next eight years laboring over that while working in retail management, being a father of three small children and all the other necessary chores and duties. Writing was a hobby. I’m amazed how much progress was actually made, all things considered.

In 1993 I bought the my computer, ostensibly for the family. The kids played some DOS children’s games on it but I wound up using it most of the time. Other than playing solitaire for the first few months of owning it and figuring out how to get online and use email, I began the meticulous process of recreating my novel in progress in a digital format using the MS Works word processor that came with my computer.

In April 1995 I came down with a bacterial infection in my bloodstream which all but destroyed my aortic valve. I was admitted to the hospital with a fever of 104 degrees F and put on IV’s with antibiotics. During the period of high fever which lasted an entire weekend I had vivid dreams about battles between demonic creatures, humans and animals. I recalled them well enough to write about them in my journal. That material made it into The Wolfcat Chronicles Book 7.

After a summer of recuperating from having my valve replaced, I upgraded to a faster computer and bought a copy of MS Word. I converted the Works documents into MS Word format and then began the painstaking process of correcting all the issues that conversion created. That was also the first time I edited and revised any of One Over X.

Along with my adventure in writing I was becoming a computer technician on the side, just from figuring out how to repair my computer and troubleshoot the software. I read computer magazines, books on writing programs and computer repair. I continued writing and eventually produced a rough draft for From The Inside. I met a small publisher join Connecticut and began a two year ordeal of editing the book. A lot of that knowledge influenced my characters and their roles. It also served as an inspiration for the EthosSphere program in One Over X, which in 2015 terminology would be called The Internet of Things.

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In the late Spring of 2000, shortly after my father passed away and while corresponding with my publisher and sending edits and revisions back and forth, I began writing The Wolfcat Chronicles in earnest. Starting with what is now Chapter 2 of Book 3, it was intended to be a wolf story that I shared with friends I’d made in an IRC chatroom. We pretended to be a Wolf Pack and created a roll playing game. Many of the character names in the series came from the screen names of those people or variations upon them. One of those people called herself Ela’na the Wolfcat. She became my personal muse during the compilation of the ten books in draft. We became friends over the years, though we have never met in person and live on opposite sides of the country. And yes, the similarity of the character she was playing int he RPG online and the character profile I’d written in 1977 was not lost on me – especially when years later i discovered she was born on the same day I wrote the character profile for my creative writing class. (Cue Twilight Zone Music)

 

Book 3 through 7 were written first, originally a 413 page single volume titled One Pack, that grew in revisions and through the addition of other backstories and characters. Book 8 and half of Book 9 were written next and was originally titled The Last Wolfcat. While writing that story in 2005, my published asked me to edit a children’s story and upon my recommendation a couple of other scenes were added to the book. I helped write those. Based on that experience, my published suggested I write a children’s story about the wolfcats, sort of like The Hobbit serves as an introduction to Lord of the Rings. One chapter into writing the prequel to One Pack, which was titled The Spectre of Dammerwald, it was clearly not going to be a children’s story. That eventually became Books 1 and 2.

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Upon completing the prequel, I now had sufficient backstory to flesh out the remainder of Book 9 and write Book 10. However, a lot of the material in Spectre required making many changes, both minor and major, to Books 3 through 8. Upon completing that long task (during the Spring of 2007), I began writing The Attributes, which concludes many of the threads created in One Over X and The Wolfcat Chronicles, thought it is a stand-alone, two-book series.

In 2011, I posted each chapter of the draft for The Wolfcat Chronicles to a writer’s website and received feedback which I am presently incorporating into the current set of revisions. By then I had written several other manuscripts and stories that are as yet unpublished. I also wrote much of the Earth-side backstory for Ela’na the Wolfcat, which involved Brent Woods, the main character in Fried Windows. In 2012, I wrote Fried Windows, which technically takes place both before and after The Wolfcat Chronicles. I promise, that will make sense once you have read the books.

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The Wolfcat Chronicles Book Nine Submitted

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Yesterday evening I completed the revision of The Woflcat Chronicles Book 9 and submitted it to my publisher.  For those of you who were beta readers for the draft of the manuscript, I changed a few things – most of them in keeping with the new ending I envision for Book 10.

I am taking a bit of a break now. I promised to read a friend’s book and review it, so for the next few days, aside from working, I’ll be plowing through a spy thriller. It’s not a genre I follow all that often but I have read a few of Tom Clancy’s books. I started reading it last night and, so far, the book is intriguing – always a good start.

For Book Ten, I expect the first half to three quarters of the story to remain pretty much to same. There are places to be and battles to fight that are necessary to the overall story arc of the series and resolution of the tenth book’s plot. The last few chapters will be extensively rewritten, though, and one of them scrapped, for the most part. This will allow the story to better align with other related stories contained in other books, publishing and unpublished, including Fried Windows. I’m excited to get started on reworking Book Ten  but I’m a little apprehensive as well. Beta readers were about 50/50 on whether they liked the original ending. Personally, I wasn’t happy with it. It accomplished some things I wanted but not all. My hope is that I will make it an ending worth reading ten books in order to reach.

One of the difficulties of writing a book with feedback from readers is that everyone finds a favorite character – even relatively minor ones – and wants something different to happen with them. Sometimes that is just not possible within the constraints of a story. Yeah, I know I’m writing a fantasy where everything is possible, at least from a  creator’s perspective, but it isn’t quite a wide open to the imagination as one might think. When a fantasy world is created, if it is to be believed on any level, there must be rules established, laws of nature, as it were, and those become restrictions. I believe I’ve been pretty agile and adept at circumventing expectations and conventions as I write The Wolfcat Chronicles. Expect the unexpected has been my motto. But, still, there are some things that must happen in order to conclude the series properly.

Someone once asked me which of the many characters introduced throughout the series is my favorite. That’s tough to answer. As I write a scene there is a star and, for the duration, he or she must be my favorite to whom I pay the most attention. Overall, of course Ela’na and Rotor are favorites. Of the supporting characters, though, I really enjoyed writing the scenes with Swip’ter and Shealu in the One Pack section of the series, especially when they first meet. In the first two books, which comprise the Spectre of Dammerwald section, I enjoyed Grem and to a lesser extent Slammer. In the concluding section, The Last Wolfcat, I enjoyed writing about Mang.

I expect to be back to working on The Wolfcat Chronicles sometime next week, probably by Wednesday. It should take most of February and perhaps longer to finish. I’m not sure at this point. It’s been a long time since I was last here in the story.

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