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.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I'm Drowning In A Flood Of Story Ideas

   Normally, I would think of a multitude of ideas as a good thing, but right now, they're preventing me from focusing on the story I need to finish. There are too many stories floating around in my head right now, and every one of them wants to be written now. It's like a bunch of kids all shouting, "Me... Me... Me!"
   I tried starting a couple of them hoping to appease the voices, but that just made the others yell louder. I want to concentrate on the next story in the series I've already started, and they are driving me nuts! Every time I try to visualize the next scene in my WIP, scenes from other stories muscle in and take me down roads I don't want to travel right now.
   This is what I get for ignoring my muse for over six months. All that time she was trying to be helpful and coming up with new ideas I could work on in the little time I had. I know you don't have time for the main story, but how about this short story, or a children's book, or maybe a western. All great ideas, but if I don't put out book two pretty soon, folks will have forgotten there was ever a book one.
   I've probably been driving my critique group crazy as they never knew what kind of a story I'd be submitting month to month. Now I'm hearing the questions, "What happened to the last story? When are you going to finish the story from two months ago? I really want to know what happens next." It helps that most of them enjoy my writing and give me the encouragement I need to continue.
   Well, gotta go, my muse is calling. "What? You've got an idea for a Christmas Romance. Nooo!"
   Thanks for reading.

P.S. Apparently my attempt at satire didn't go over very well last week, so I won't be doing that again.

Picture is first book. It's been so long, even I need to re-read it.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Is Writing A Mental Illness?

   This is the question that plagues me every time I sit down to write. Who in their right mind would follow a path that leads to constant rejection, unending criticism, and mountains of self-doubt? Why do I continue to gallop through the vastness of my imagination attempting to save the world from evil windmills? I don't know.
   It certainly isn't about the money. I would earn more flipping burgers. Is it about gaining fame? I'd have a better chance at that by auditioning for the lead in a block-buster movie. Is it a desire to be unique and accomplish what others can't? Considering the thousands of people who self publish a book every day. It's no longer unique to be a writer in this day and age.
   Maybe it's about making friends and influencing enemies. I must admit I've made a number of friends online and in real life that I never would have otherwise as we have nothing else in common. I don't talk to my enemies and they don't talk to me, so nothing has changed there.
   Only a mentally deranged people pleaser like myself would write in the hopes of engaging readers who are the hardest group of people to connect with I've ever met. That's not healthy you say. No it isn't, anymore than being bi-polar, but that's the way I've always been and I'm too old to change now.
   Writing is all I have left, so I must continue. Someone has to venture forth and defeat the windmills of our illusions. I raise my pen in salute to all the other crazies out there!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I've Lost My Way

   I really don't know where this blog post is going anymore than I know where my stories are going. I've always enjoyed character driven stories so much that the story itself wasn't all that important. I can remember characters I fell in love with, but I couldn't tell you what the story was about. So when I started writing, naturally I followed the same pattern and concentrated on my characters. Apparently that's not good enough.
   I've attempted to make sure all my characters are distinct individuals with solid personalities. Some are moody and introspective, some are innocent and naive, and some are just plain fun. My secondary characters usually stay the same to provide a stable environment for the MCs who are forced to change and grow as they navigate life.
   When I first started writing, it was fun and exciting as characters continually appeared and clamored to be part of the story. It was a challenge sometimes to make sure they all had an important part to play in the overall story line. Now that the first book in the series is complete, the characters are well established and I'm not sure there is room to add others. I've already been told there are too many characters as it is. The thrill of meeting new characters is no longer there.
   I write every scene with a specific purpose in mind and not just to fill space. The characters are there and say what they say for a reason. I try to describe the scene with just enough detail to make it easy for most readers to accurately form a vision in their mind. Based on the abundant and wonderful praise I've received over the years for individual scenes shared to various groups, I assumed I had succeeded. Unfortunately, I've had a number of folks who loved my scenes and characters, but were sorely disappointed after reading the completed story.
   I'm at a total loss on how to proceed. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I've received several wonderful 4 &5 star reviews on Amazon, but a two year old could count the number of books I've sold there. Only one person, who I respect as a successful writer, has offered suggestions. They made it about a quarter of the way through and then sent me a nice e-mail attempting to explain why they didn't like it. The problem is I didn't understand most of what they said. I am not a student of literature. I didn't start writing until my sixties, and write from the heart not the head. My heart is no longer in it.
   As I struggle to write the next book, the only thing that keeps me going is that my critique group seems to think I still write rich and compelling scenes with solid characters. I can't help the constant nagging doubt whether the second book will be any better than the first.
   My only hope is that someday I'll find my way again.
   Thanks for reading.

Picture is my little buddy who looks as lost as I am.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Writing Partners For The Win

   I feel participation in a writers critique group, especially if you're just starting your journey, is a plus for any writer. It's a great place to learn some basics and to find out where your weaknesses lie. I learn just as much from listening to the critiques of another person's work as I do my own. The group dynamics of such a diverse bunch of folks is fun to watch.
   It's no secret a number of writers are very introverted, and participating in a group can be beneficial in regards to public speaking. I've seen it time and again where a new member can barely poke their head far enough out of their shell just to introduce themselves. After months, that same person is now confidently voicing their opinion and actively participating in the group. If you're going to be a writer, you not only need to learn how to write, but also how to talk to others about your work.
   Eventually you will need something more in order to continue your growth as a writer, and that's where writing partners come in. My partners and I have very different styles, and write in different genres. We've known each other for a long time, and are familiar with each others stories. This aids in being able to see the story as a whole and not just parts. The important thing is we respect each other, not only as writers, but as individuals.
   Of course our meetings are not always a bed of roses. Sometimes the thorns get in the way, but that's okay. We have disagreements and misunderstandings, but because of our respect for each other, we can usually work those out. It's also nice to be able to brainstorm with the others when you get stuck and they can help you get your story back on track. That's something just not possible to do in a large group.
   If you've been in a critique group for awhile, my suggestion would be to pick two or three people you respect and feel comfortable around, and invite them to join a smaller, more intimate group. That's what I did, and it has been beneficial and rewarding. Remember, life is about relationships. The more positive relationships you develop, the better your life will be.
   Thanks for reading.

Picture is me and my partners many years from now. Lol

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


   Last night was the first Writers Critique Group since our previous administrator decided to step down and asked me to take over the group. The meeting went really well despite my initial reluctance in taking on that role. It was the confidence builder I needed right now though.
   The group consists of a fairly solid core of writers who have been attending for several years, but every now and then we have new folks show up interested in joining. Last night was one of those times as three new aspiring writers joined us. It was nice to hear some of the group veterans reassure the new folks that my critiques are always well thought out and constructive.
   Thinking about the submissions and critiques we discussed last night, a thought came to me that others are probably already aware of. It seems people who start out to write a book are one of two things. They are either a storyteller or a writer. What I mean by that is some start out writing beautiful prose with vivid descriptions and smooth dialogue, but there isn't any story behind it. Others have a wild imagination and an awesome story once you manage to struggle through their poor writing.
   We have both types in our group and it's a challenge sometimes trying to find the best way to help storytellers become better writers, and the writers become better storytellers. I always feel a small sense of accomplishment when one of our members submit writing that is a vast improvement over where they started. I will do my best to help continue those improvements.
   It certainly doesn't hurt when I receive several e-mails from members thanking me for stepping up to take over, and they have confidence in my leadership ability.
   Thanks for reading.

Picture; what my cat thinks about the whole writing thing.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Trying To Find My Way Back

   It feels like forever since I've felt like writing a blog, or anything else for that matter. Now that my dear friend is finally back to the point where she can do things for herself, I find myself strangely adrift with no purpose. The problem is after spending months focused on keeping someone alive, the importance of writing falls far short.
   Everyone tells me I should take time for myself, especially now that she is doing better. Honestly, I have no idea how to do that. I've never enjoyed doing things by or for myself. I enjoy life through the reactions of those around me. My children are all in their forties with families of their own, and don't have the time to spend doing the things we used to do. None of my grandchildren like the same things I do, so when we're together, they spend time on their cell phones or play games I can't get into.
   Somewhere along the path I lost confidence in my writing ability. I used to think I had some small amount of talent as a writer, but the lack of response to my stories tells me something else. My writing partners and critique group tell me I'm a pretty good writer, but they're my friends, what else would they say? Folks who I've never met tell me my stories aren't very good. Who do I believe?
   Will I continue to write? Probably. At my age and current health, I can't do much else. Plus I'm from a generation that believed you should always finish what you've started. I'll find the desire somewhere to finish the two story lines I've started and try my best to make them interesting and enjoyable to read.
   At least it looks like I'll have the critique group behind me for the foreseeable future. Our current leader wants to step down for personnel reasons, and it appears the group would like me to take over. I suppose I could fool myself into thinking they want me because they appreciate my knowledge of writing and ignore the truth that no one else wants the job.
   Sorry for the dark tone of this blog, but spending yesterday in the ER with all the signs of a heart attack must have set me off. Fortunately, everything is fine except my potassium level had dropped dangerously low for some reason and my heart was letting me know it didn't like that.
   Thanks for putting up with an old man's gripes, and hopefully the next blog will have a more positive outlook.

Pictured is my little one-eyed buddy who'd rather have me hold him than write.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Writing As A Caregiver

   Some of you may remember I live with, and take care of, two disabled women. The three of us have been best friends for over fifty years. I love them both more than words can express, and I know they love me equally. Unfortunately, we are no longer spring chickens (all in our mid-sixties) and the possibility of death is always present.
   If you have ever been a caregiver, you understand the stress that comes with it. As long as I can still draw a breath, I will care for them, but what will happen after that? Who will care for them, or if I push myself too hard, who will care for me?
   Fortunately, several years ago I found I could use writing as a stress reliever. If you've read any of my stories, especially the shorts, you've seen an emphasis on love and loss. When I can put those emotions down on paper, it helps me deal with them on a personal level.
   Normally the two of them can get around pretty well on their own and take care of the basics, but the last several weeks have been tough. The most frail one picked up a nasty virus that left her bed-ridden. My days have been consumed with her care, and today is the first time I've had a chance to write as she slowly improves. It's only a blog post, but hopefully I'll be able to think about my stories once again.
  For those who may be interested, I'm working on the second novella in my first series. When I'll get it finished is anyone's guess, but I'll keep plugging along. It'll be done when it's done.
   Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Is Google Plus Still Worth It?

   When Google made their new plus available, I tried it several times, but it never worked the way I expected. I would always end up switching back to the original hoping they would give up on the changes.
   Now, granted, I'm an old fart set in my ways and always a little resistant to change, but when I was forced to the new plus I decided to give it a chance and reserved judgment. It's been months now and I've decided the new system just isn't working for me. I tried to find a way, and hoped they would fix some of the problems everyone was experiencing, but it never happened.
   If anything, the whole platform is worse and almost useless. Even though I still have over four thousand friends in my circles, I can't seem to find most of their posts nor do I imagine they can find mine. With the old system, I could walk away for a few hours and come back to hundreds of new posts to look at. I loved the variety and all the interesting things people would share. Now I might have maybe ten new posts, and those from a limited number of people.
   I don't receive near the response to my own posts as I did with the old system. I also noticed a marked drop in the traffic to my blog. With the old system I averaged over two hundred visits a month that went on for years. Now I'm lucky to get fifty visits a month. I can't even be sure of what picture Google is going to put up when I post a blog.
   I've spent years building up a list of friends on Google, and I'm not sure I want to spend the time building up another list on something like twitter, but what choice do I have? Needless to say, I'm not a happy camper right now.
   Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I Did That

   As some of you may know, I released my first, full length, novel several weeks ago. I'm still trying to wrap my head around what I've accomplished. It's been a little over a year since I had to step back from this story, and publish a novella just to get a feel for how the system worked. The difference between writing a 35 thousand word book and a 90 thousand are like night and day, at least for me.
   The complexity of this story, with its multiple plot lines and a wide variety of characters with very distinct personalities, was daunting. Several times I had to sit back and re-think the project, especially the time lines, to ensure everyone arrived at the climax at the right time. For the last several months, the book consumed my life. I thought about it night and day. I was concerned over my ability to pull the story out of my imagination and present it on paper in a way that made sense.
   To be honest, I was disappointed in the numbers from the free promotion, but you know what, it's okay. I've done something I never thought possible. Admittedly, the writing could be better, but hiring a professional editor on my limited, fixed income, was out of the question. I did spend the money for a quality cover and formatting in the hopes resulting sales would cover it. At this rate, it'll be a long time coming.
   At least several people enjoyed the story enough to leave a nice review, and bringing folks to my author page resulted in a few sales of my short stories and novella. There are some friends who I hoped would enjoy the story, but I haven't heard from them yet. If I've disappointed you, I'm sorry. I did my best.
   Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

It's Been A Long Road

   Four years ago, unable to work because of health reasons, and running out of books to read, I decided to write my own stories. It was just something to pass the time. I had a couple stories in my head I thought would be fun to put down on paper, and just started writing. My daughter came over one day, and of course she wanted to know what I was doing. (nosy kids! lol) Anyway, she really liked what I had written and pressured me into entering a contest.
   I picked up a writing magazine from the library and found an ad for a short story contest. The story had to be less than three thousand words. I sat down, wrote the first thing that came to mind, ran it through Word to check for errors, and sent it off. Several months later, I received an e-mail congratulating me on finishing in the top ten.
   The story had been brewing in the back of my head the whole time. It needed to be longer. I looked through another magazine and found a contest with a word limit of six thousand . Again, I sat down, wrote what was in my head, put it in the computer and off it went. Months later, a nice Certificate of Honorable Mention arrived in the mail. I later learned I'd finished in the top eight out of over eight thousand entries. I was hooked.
   That short story blossomed into the idea of a trilogy, and I began to write in earnest. It hasn't been a steady or smooth road to this point. Sometimes, I'm just not able to write because of pain, or my depression rears its ugly head and mocks my efforts to complete a story of that length. In desperation, I set aside the large project and wrote a much shorter novella. A number of short stories also appeared along the way
   By that time, I had joined a local critique group, and eventually found three writing partners who encouraged me to finish the first novel in the series. They were over last night and helped me put the finishing touches on the final scene. I completed one more final edit and sent it off to be formatted. In a couple of days, I will submit it to createspace and Amazon for publication.
   It's a really good feeling to have completed the book, but my mind is now drifting. For years, scenes from this story have always been in the back of my mind. Will I be able to focus on the second book like I did the first? I don't know, but for now, it's nice to let my mind think about other things.
   Did I mention I have a honey-do list pages long? Hopefully, my brain will be refreshed after completing most of the other projects I've been neglecting around the house. I hope to continue with the intensity I had while finishing the first novel.
   Of course, I will let everyone know when the book is available, and maybe I can even convince a few to read it.
   Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Involve the Reader

   I try to write stories in the way I enjoy reading. I'm also a very visual reader and have a vivid imagination. Books that go into extreme detail and long explanations of what is happening, bore me. When something unexpected happens to a character and they are puzzled, wondering why, I want to be puzzled and wonder also. It gives me the incentive to keep reading and hopefully find out why along with the character.
   It irritates me when an author introduces a character, and then several paragraphs, or even chapters later, provides a detailed description of that character. Based on the situation, setting, etc, my imagination has already formed a complete picture of that character. If the author describes them differently, it makes it hard for me to connect with the character. Unless it's critical to the story that the character has long blond hair, always in a ponytail, let the reader use their imagination. If it is important, then mention it as soon as the character appears.
   My writing partners and critique group enjoy it when I leave things to their imagination and present happenings without explanation. They look for that 'ah ha' moment later in the story when the reasons become clear. They feel involved in the story, not just reading about it. Of course, I have to remember those moments and make sure I answer the questions before the end.
   I know my writing style will not appeal to everyone because some readers aren't able to visualize that well and need the extra detail and explanations. Sorry, but I can't write that way. If I don't enjoy writing it, I doubt others will enjoy reading it.
   That's my story, and I'm sticking to it! Ha ha!
   Thanks for reading.

Attached is a picture of my new book that should be published by the end of the month.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


   Actually, I'm a lot older than that, but I feel like an old 8088 computer sometimes, trying to keep up with the new technology. I understood DOS, and I could write programs in Basic, Fortran, and Cobol. Those all fell by the wayside long ago along with my ability to understand modern computer programming.
   The speed at which I write is on a par with that old computer. It doesn't take much to cause a 'blue screen', and everything come to a grinding halt. After Christmas, I started averaging several thousand words a day and felt I could finish my story by the end of January. Then I got sick. Zero words were written as I struggled to breathe for several weeks, and of course I missed my goal.
   Tried my reset button, but the auto-depression.exe virus initiated, dumping my memory. CTRL-ALT-DELETE isn't helping, and the old cpu is randomly running short misc. scenes trying to find the right program. I still have the ending in mind, but the path to get there is no longer clear.
   Unfortunately, I can't upgrade the cpu and add memory like I used to for the old system. Between a corrupted program, fragmented files, low memory, and an ancient printer, story production is minimal. I wish I was referring to my computer, but I'm not. I'm no longer the sharpest tool in the shed. As a matter of fact, the shed isn't in very good shape anymore either.
   As long as they continue to put notebooks on sale for 20c each, and charitable organizations keep sending me free pens, I'll keep writing something. Maybe I'll even finish this story someday.
   Sorry you've been subjected to my rotten mood, but this is the least whinny of the blog posts I've tried to write today.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

It's Not Always About Money

   While it's certainly nice to sell an occasional copy of something I wrote and have a few extra dollars to spend, it's not why I write. I write to release the emotions bottled up inside, and the fantasies that go along with them. I also write with the hope my stories will affect others in some small, positive way. This happened again the other day.
   The woman I take care of has several friends who take turns going to church with her. One of those women has only been in the area a short while and I had only met her once. The other day, after church, she was invited to stay and visit since she lives alone and hasn't found many new friends yet.
   During their conversation, it came up that she likes to read at home, but was having a hard time finding enjoyable stories. My friend mentioned to her that I was a writer, and they called me to join the conversation. I told her I write mostly fantasy, but have written other things as well. Of course, being polite, she said she would love to read something I'd written, so I printed out two of my short stories for her. I didn't give it a second thought.
   Yesterday she surprised me by calling just to tell me how much those stories affected her. She said she sat down with a cup of coffee and decided to read the shorter one first (Arizona) and got in one sip before she finished the story, crying. She had to get up and putter around her apartment for a while to settle down. She got another cup of coffee and prepared for the other story (Broken Souls) wondering what kind of journey it would take her on.
   Again, she only got in one sip, and when she finished, the first thing she did after drying her tears was to find her address book and call friends she hadn't talked to in ages. I wrote that story as a way for me to express my regrets over lost dreams and opportunities. It drove her to call and reconnect with friends and family to avoid the regret of missing out on sharing their lives.
   The idea that my story moved her to do that and then call and tell me about it, makes it all worthwhile. If I can get people to smile, cry occasionally, or stop to reflect on their own lives, then I've done my job as a writer.
   Hope your day is as rewarding as mine has been.
   Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

I'm Writing and Can't Stop

   If you've been following me for a while, you know I write mostly in my head. I run scenes through my mind, over and over, tweeking each time until it's exactly the way I want. Only then do I commit it to paper, and into the computer. It works for me, but is an extremely slow way to write. I'll go for a week or longer before I feel a scene is ready. This is a complex story I'm working on with numerous characters and plot lines. I've been struggling with tying them all together when over the holiday, the whole thing fell into place.
   I believe it also helped when after diddling with this story for two years, I put my foot down and told my brain enough is enough. This story will be finished by the end of the month, no excuses. What's that old saying? "Be careful what you wish for." I'm now obsessed with writing. It irritates me when the phone rings or I have to prepare dinner or any number of other distractions.
   I'm still only averaging around a thousand words a day, but that is pretty amazing for me considering the way I write. I won't be spending as much time on the Plus either which is probably a good thing. It's too easy to fall down a rabbit hole scrolling through my feed. Hopefully I can keep this up and finish before burn out. I guess we'll find out.
   Thanks to all my virtual friends, writing partners, and critique group for the encouragement and confidence to continue.
   Happy New Year to everyone, and thanks for reading.