Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Rough Start

   What is that old saying? "The best laid plans of mice and men". I've written absolutely nothing in the last week because of pain.
   I suppose I can't put it off any longer. I just need to bite the bullet and get my knees replaced. I see my doctor today to get the ball rolling. I've been hesitant to get them done because of the two gals I take care of. Fortunately, I have two daughters who will come over to help out.
  It was also very frustrating missing the first meeting of the new year for my critique group. I was looking forward to starting out the new year on the right foot by sharing my vision for the future with my friends. I did feel better after several of them e-mailed me today and said they missed me at the meeting. There are so many excellent writers in the group, and I hope to see them published by the end of the year.
   I know some of you are not happy that I'll be spending less time on google, but I feel I need to go where the action is. Participation on posts and interactions between people have dried up. Personally, I feel the abundance of negative, political BS has driven people away. I can post a question in one of the communities I belong to on google and I'll be lucky to get one or two people to respond, and these are communities with thousands of members. If i Post the same question in a writers group on FB, I may get twenty or more comments in the first hour.
   As far as I can tell, very few new people are coming to google. The communities are stagnating. Even though I have over four thousand folks in my circles. I only see posts from the same ten people each day. Since I joined the group on FB, at least a dozen new people join everyday, and discussions are going on continuously. 
   It's also been a huge confidence booster as I've received nothing but positive feedback from folks in the FB group about snippets of writing I've shared or they've actually read my stories. As a test, I made my books free for two days last week and only mentioned it in the group and on my blog. I had over two hundred downloads in those two days, and a couple sales the day after. That's more than any other promotion I've run using paid advertising and sharing on google.
   Whether all those downloads will result in a few reviews on Amazon remains to be seen, but it was fun being ranked in the top twenty for a day.
   OK, I've got to quit and put my leg up. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Attitude Adjustment

   I'm going to make a concerted effort this year to maintain a positive attitude no matter what. I'm also planning to return to my weekly blog posts starting today. Regardless of how I feel, words will be written, whether for this blog or one of my stories.
   It has been far too easy lately to let my depression overcome my ability to function the way I want to. If that doesn't change, I'll die of old age before the next story ever gets finished. Although there probably aren't many, I have to believe at least a few folks are looking forward to the next installments in the series I started.
   To accomplish this I have decided to make some changes in how I spend my time. First of all, I am going to limit my time on Google Plus. The writing communities there have become ghost towns, whereas the groups on FB are flourishing. My google stream has become nothing but political BS, and I'm tired of it. It's been a year people, grow up and get over it.
   That time will now be spent on writing, whether I feel like it or not. This will be a major change for me as I've only picked up a pen when the mood struck. Obviously that isn't working. I must find a way to get more words down on paper. If I could wrap my head around the idea of being a plotter, I might even try that, but for now I'll remain a pantster.
   I don't want to lose the many wonderful friends I've gotten to know on Google so I will continue to check in from time to time and comment when I can.
   I also plan to make more of an effort to get my stories in the hands of readers this year. More paperbacks will be ordered, and more deals run on Amazon. So in that vein, for the next two days, my e-books will be free for download on Amazon. If you haven't already, please check them out and leave me a review, good or bad. It's always nice to hear when your story works, but I can never improve if I don't know what I'm doing wrong.
   Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Shift in Priorities

   I'm so sick right now, I can barely think straight, but I want to write one last blog before the year ends.
   It has been an interesting year to say the least. I started out in January on a high note. The final scenes to my first full length novel were written, and my writing partners loved it. I found someone to design an awesome cover and format the print version for a price I could afford. Everything was falling into place for my first book signing in a couple months time.
   The book released to mixed reviews to my great disappointment. I sold a few copies at the book signing, mostly to friends and family. The city decided to start a six month project completely redoing the street in front of our house, and then my beloved friend got sick, deathly sick. Suddenly my writing wasn't important anymore.
   The next six or seven months are a blur. She wanted to die, and I wouldn't let her. I monitored and adjusted her meds and what she ate 24/7. She was totally bed ridden. Plus it was a constant battle with the construction crews to make surer I could always get out of the driveway to take her to dialysis or the hospital. I tried writing during that time, but couldn't keep my mind focused on it. I felt bad because I wasn't doing my share in our critique group or with my writing partners.
   My friend has been back on her feet now for a couple months, though she will never be totally healthy. My writing partners and critique group stuck with me and even asked that I take over the group after our previous administrator decided to step down. I don't know if I'll ever regain the enthusiasm for writing I had before. It just doesn't seem as important to me as it used to.
   The year did end on a positive note however. I finally got to meet Debbie Macomber. When our local chapter of the RWA disbanded several years ago, which Debbie had originally founded, we maintained our mailing list, and I'd done my best to keep everyone together. I would occasionally set up lunch dates or morning coffee get-togethers. I didn't realize Debbie was on that list and had seen all my e-mails. She invited me to a Christmas function at her newly remodeled offices and personally thanked me for doing what I could to keep the group together. That was a really nice surprise.
   Being that I'm from the generation that believes in finishing what you started, I'll continue to write and someday finish the series. It might take a while as writing no longer carries the same importance as it did before.
   Hope you all had a blessed Christmas, and I wish you all the best in the coming year.
   Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Never Good Enough

   My earliest childhood memories are plagued with thoughts of, "You're a failure, and will never be good enough. You will always be second rate." I was the skinny kid with glasses no one wanted to pick to be on their team. I wasn't good at relationships because I didn't think anyone would want to be my friend. So of course, I didn't have many.
   I studied hard in school, thinking I might find a subject I could be really good at. I passed, but it never felt good enough. I tried working on TVs and radios when I was ten because my dad was an electrical engineer. After nearly killing myself with the high voltage in those old tube type circuits, I became interested in cars. I rebuilt my first engine at thirteen, a flat-head six. It ran, but not good enough.
   I eventually found a girl who would have me, got married, and joined the Navy. Maybe a career in the armed forces was where I could succeed. That didn't last either. We never had much money, so instead of trying to pay someone else, I learned everything I could about construction and built our own home. There are very few pieces of heavy equipment I can't operate. I can work concrete, frame a building, plumb it, run the electrical, hang sheet-rock; you name it, I've probably done it. Just not good enough.
   I am the poster boy for the phrase, "Jack of all trades, master of none." I've spent my whole life looking for that one thing I might be able to master. It soon turned into a cycle of changing jobs or focus every five years. It felt like after that period of time, I would lose interest because I could no longer improve.
   When I entered the last season of my life, about four years ago, I started writing. I really couldn't do much else since my health had deteriorated, and construction was no longer an option. I laughed at first when my kids convinced me to enter a writing contest, (I received an Honorable Mention), and a local small publisher I met at the library told me I had great potential and wanted to put me under contract. I never took her up on her offer. I didn't feel I was good enough.
   I started sharing scenes I'd written on social media, and kept a folder full of all the positive comments I received from others. Comments such as, "You are a master story-teller", and "Your writing lifts me up and transports me to another world," gave me hope I might have finally found something I could master.
   If there was a market for books filled with awesome scenes and nothing else, I'd be a best seller. As usual, I just can't seem to find that final piece of the puzzle to put it all together. As I work on my third book, I continue to get praise for my scenes which is hard for me to accept. I can't help but think that when it's all done, it'll receive three star reviews just like the other two.
   I'm afraid there will always be this voice in the back of my head saying, "You'll never be good enough."

   Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

My Life's Story

   Yesterday we hosted a birthday party for one of my granddaughters who just turned thirteen. That leaves only on grandchild who isn't a teenager or older. I love watching them grow up, but I hate the fact it means I 'm getting older at the same time. I was going to try and get a blog post written, but her birthday took precedence.
   Even though they all have the latest I-Pads and Kindle Fires, the kids love coming over to grandpa's house because I have all the cool old board and card games. Giggles and laughter ring out when they gather around the dining room table with the game of Life set up. Or the sound of dice rattling across the table fills the air when Yahtzee is in play. It only gets quiet when the cake and ice cream is handed out.
   It seems lately that whenever the family gets together, the same question always comes up. "Grandpa, when are you going to write your life's story?" OK, I give! Although I never really considered my life to be very interesting, being a Baby-Boomer had me growing up during some interesting times.
   The question is, where do I start? Should I go back to the little boy living in an abandoned chicken coup in the deep south where returning GI's with a Nazi war bride were treated worse than blacks? Or maybe I should jump forward as a young teenage boy trying to find his identity while watching his mother die of cancer, and believing for some reason that it's his fault. Then there is always Vietnam.
   I wonder sometimes how many folks would actually believe any of these stories who hadn't actually experienced it for themselves? I doubt I'll ever share these publicly, but at the rate my memory is fading, maybe the kids are right and I need to put my life down on paper.
   Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

What is Fantasy?

   The answer to that seems simple, right? Depends on who you ask.
   According to the dictionary: Fantasy = hallucination, a creation of the imaginative faculty whether expressed or merely conceived, or the power or process of creating expressly unrealistic or improbable mental images in response to psychological need.
   Wow, makes me sound like a hallucinating psycho. If that isn't bad enough, wait till you get in the middle of a discussion as part of a fantasy writers group. There are just as many opinions on what constitutes true fantasy as there are people participating.
   I'm amazed at how adamant some folks are over whether or not dragons, elves, orcs, etc. belong in fantasy. Of course, fantasy has to have magic, doesn't it? Not according to certain members. Others felt that a fantasy had to be set on another world besides our own. What if your story has none of these things? Is it still considered a fantasy?
   As far as I'm concerned, the sky's the limit when it comes to fantasy. Like the dictionary says, whatever you can create in your imagination is fantasy. It could include all of the things listed above, or none. I once had a judge for a short story contest mark me down because he couldn't place which country or time period my story occurred in. I was tempted to write him back and tell him I didn't know either. It only existed somewhere in the depths of my mind.
   If you can imagine it, write it. Who knows what fantasy worlds are lurking in the infinite universe of our imagination.
   Gotta go! I feel a hallucination coming on.

   Thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

My Memories

   First of all, I'd like to apologize for not posting yesterday as I normally try to do. Life and family got in the way, and I didn't have the time or energy to write.
   Foremost among all the ideas floating around in my head that I mentioned last week is the idea telling me I need to write down what memories are still there before I forget them all. While I'm not that old in the overall scheme of things, I will hit seventy in a couple years. Childhood memories seem to be the most pressing since I'm the only one left alive who remembers them.
   I've lost a large number of memories already because of medical reasons, and it feels like I lose more every day. Chronicling the ones I still have left will be a daunting task. I've been all over the U.S., and visited many parts of Europe and Asia. Some of those places were experienced through the eyes of a tourist, and some as a young military man.
   Will these memories make it into print? I don't know yet. If it would do any good to dispel some of the misconceptions of life back in the fifties and sixties, I would consider it. Unfortunately, most of the young folks I try to talk to don't believe me. Many are convinced baby-boomers are the cause of all their problems. I've even had a few tell me everyone over 65 should be denied medical care so we'll die and no longer be a burden on society. This scares me.
   I also know that some of my memories would not be well received by some. Oh well, they are what they are, good or bad. Every one of them have a special meaning for me, and I don't need the approval of others to write them down or share if I want.
   I will continue to work on my fantasy stories, but memories will take precedence when they show up.
   As always, thanks for reading.

Picture is me, either first or second grade. I don't remember for sure.