Managing the Mortal Coil

“…what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil…”
– William Shakespeare

Duo1

 

Sometimes writing good books isn’t about word count. Sometimes it’s just about living through a difficult week so that maybe, someday, you’ll be healthy enough to put words on a page.

2016 was that year for me: newly divorced, single dad, struggling at work, and feeling like a failure in nearly every aspect of my life. It wasn’t true, of course, but I felt it was.

Some nights I went to bed exhausted yet didn’t sleep.

One of the best decisions I made that year was to start attending writing conferences. I went to the World Fantasy conference in Columbus, Ohio. I crashed at my friend Josh’s place. In exchange, I cooked his family dinner. Calzones, I think. It was a soft landing.  There was laughter and kindness. Nobody expected too much of me. He let me guest star in his monthly D&D campaign. At the conference, Marco Palmieri gave me some writing advice and asked me for a partial manuscript. I made friends with some really cool writers. It woke me up a bit, reminded me that I had a lot going for me.

I also attended Life, the Universe, and Everything, or LTUE. I stayed with my sister. I ate delicious meals with her family. Enterprise gave me a free upgrade. I did an interview with Howard Tayler, although my interviewing skills were a bit . . . rusty. Still, the interview turned into a low-intensity, multi-day conversation.

I didn’t do much writing, but I connected with a community that I love, and that gave me something special to look forward to amid the day-to-day. It gave me hope. I made friends.

Fast forward.

Last February I got to do a panel with Howard. I’d been writing more, thriving, and finally felt like I had something to add to the conversation. This particular panel was “self-care.”

I arrived five minutes late and deeply embarrassed.

Howard smiled at me. He’d saved me the panelist seat next to him. “Where have you been?” he asked.

“You know. Taking care of myself,” I said.  “This is the self-care panel, right?”

Howard grinned. Everyone else laughed. Good friends are like that. They set you up for the home run.

Be a friend. Set someone up for the home run. Bring out the best in the people around you.

Activity Report: February 2019

 

 

Activity Report: February 2019 

  • Published Shadowcloaks.
  • Built book stands in my garage.
  • Presented at Life, the Universe, & Everything 37 (LTUE 37).
  • Planned and  drafted my first middle grade novel.

 Highlights from Life, The Universe, & Everything 37:

  • Driving my niece to school in the traditional rental car. (We’ll spare her the selfie for anonymity reasons, but let’s just say February 14th and me get along when it comes to car rentals.)
  • Hanging with Laura Palmer and juggling with Howard Tayler at LTUE’s mass book signing. Unfortunately, we forgot our cameras. All photographs are event-posthumous. (There’s probably a better way to describe that . . . )
  • Learning from Allison Hymas that “acquisitioners” might be called “retrieval specialists” in the modern middle school.
  • Being assigned panels with some very talented writers.
  • Receiving an epic 1-on-1 historic weapon tutorial with Gordon Frye and his wife.
  • Talking with Kelly Barnhill about space camp, Launch Pad, and fortuitous meetings.
  • Scoring a heely goal in a late-night, post-conference futsal game at SportCityUtah.
  • Seeing the opening scene from Shadowcloaks repeated on the Wasatch front.
  • Spreading grins and good cheer with Coco, the Emotional Support Queen Palm among the passengers of Delta Flights 3922. I have more seedlings in my back yard if you need one. . .

It’s been a busy month. Thanks for your support.

208 WORDS

Maybe it’s the relaxed day. Maybe it’s the teenage son voluntarily listening to jazz and doing dishes in the kitchen. Maybe it’s the knowledge that “Mr. Spazz,”—the squirrel haunting our attic—has finally gone to a better place. (Easy there, PETA.  “Better place” in this vernacular means “wildlife preserve on the opposite side of a major waterway.”)

Whatever the reason, here I am, reading an actual book.  Or I was, until I decided to post about reading an actual book. And it may not count as an actual book, since it’s actually the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of a book that’s already been released and was probably modified from the version I have. But let’s not quibble. The first page impressed me. It was good enough that I had to put the book down and talk about it.

In one-half page and 208 words, the author (1)  bricks out a solid, sympathetic protagonist, (2) throws down a red herring or two, and (3) establishes three different  sources of conflict.

Hoping the rest of the book delivers. . .

 

 

Activity Report: September 2018 

Activity Report: September 2018 

  • Finished Draft 3 of Shadowcloaks. Sent manuscript to alpha readers. Continued art direction.
  • Attended the Writing Excuses Retreat as both vacation and professional development: seven days of writing, networking, and not doing dishes.
  • Worked on PlagueRunners, subconsciously. 😉
  •  Did important parenting and day-job stuff.

 

Highlights from the Writing Excuses Retreat:

  • Reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.
  • Eating dinner with Dongwon Song of Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. Learning about what it means to “publish well.”
  • Talking system design with Clark Rowenson.
  • Making a joke at Howard Tayler’s humor lecture and watching him laugh and then effortlessly demonstrate what it means to “double-down.”
  • Discussing the benefits of foreign travel with Michael Underwood and the twists and turns of life and writing with Krista Jensen.
  • Watching Cooper Barham and Dan Wells argue about whose habitat gets Bobo the gorilla. (Fiasco is my new favorite game.)
  • Seeing my son write 3,168 words in a single day.

It’s been a busy month. Thanks for your support. Bonus points for anyone who can guess which class circled below I didn’t attend:

WXR18-2

 SUBSCRIBEBUY BOOKSREAD MORE