Here’s the first rough cut of the cover for Debts of My Fathers:
The ship still needs lots of texture work and better lighting, but I wanted to show at least some progress.
Here’s the first rough cut of the cover for Debts of My Fathers:
The ship still needs lots of texture work and better lighting, but I wanted to show at least some progress.
I got an email from a reader recently basically asking if I was still alive, which reminds me that I haven’t posted to the blog in about four months. (Bad blogger. No donut!) He wasn’t asking for much and even said:
Even if you blog FUBAR us Veterans will get it.
Well, I’m not a Veteran, but I do know what FUBAR means. Unfortunately, I also know what PTSD means and from first-hand experience. Yeah, it sucks. My symptoms for it started about two and a half years ago, even though my first full-on “episode” was only last May.
I don’t want to get into the details of the T in the acronym here, but I will say that it’s almost embarrassing, since it doesn’t rise to the clear intensity of combat, assault, or even car crashes. It’s more akin to the frog in the pot of boiling water, and after long enough, the heat got to me. I am getting professional help (meds and therapy) and doing all the things you’re supposed to do when your brain goes wonky, so I’m on the best path reasonably available. I just have to watch out for certain noises in the meantime, and it makes a lot of simple tasks much more difficult.
So, yes, I’m alive, but the last few months have been particularly rough with this PTSD thing. I have made big changes to remove myself from the T part, but my therapist tells me that I’m now dealing with the P part, the maddening hypervigilance for a threat that is no longer there. As a result, I have made zero progress on Getting Books Out The Expletive Door (GBOTED). And no, I am not in a contest with George R.R. Martin to see who can drag it out the longest. That said, I’m actually pretty damn close. The sequel to Ships of My Fathers, titled Debts of My Fathers, is in final text form, i.e. final draft, post-copyedit. I just need to format it, slap a cover on it, and GBOTED. For my earlier books, that was a 3-week process when I didn’t even know what I was doing. So, I’m really only about 3 weeks out from GBOTED.
Which is exactly where I’ve been since April. Hence the Expletive in GBOTED.
I’d like to say I’m turning the corner. I mean, really, I see all the stuff that needs to be done, and I have a plan to do it. Which, again, is exactly where I’ve been since April. Hence the Expletive in GBOTGDMFD!
So yeah, not quite FUBAR, but only because I am too stubborn to accept the Beyond All Repair part. I’ll try to post more often here, and you can also follow me over on Google+ where I post pictures, revel in my geekiness, and occasionally rant a little about politics. I’ve also been doing a walking podcast in a similar vein to Nathan Lowell’s Talking on My Morning Walk. The walking is for my mental health (doctor’s orders), but I fit in 15-20 minutes of chatter at the end of it. Right now there are over a hundred episodes in the bank, and once I GBOTED, I’ll actually start getting them posted and provide links.
Books are moving along, and my health is a generally upward trend. I have the final text for Debts of My Fathers finished. I still have to write the front and back matter as well as format it for e-book and print. I’ve contracted an artist for the cover, and it should be ready sometime in April. So, that will be coming soon, at long last.
I’m still integrating the copy edits into Hell Bent, but I have started work with a cover design company for its cover, which should be available in June. The fire under that one isn’t burning quite as hot. I’m closing in on the end of the draft of its sequel Stone Killer, with hopes that I’ll be able to release that one by the end of the 2016.
I’m also in the process of rereleasing both Beneath the Sky and Ships of My Fathers. Don’t expect any major changes to them. I’m fixing one error in one and adding a clarifying sentence in the other. However, Beneath the Sky is getting a new cover. In fact, once I have Debts of My Fathers settled, I plan to contract that artist to redo the cover for Ships as well as the rest of the series.
And speaking of the rest of the series, I hope to be editing book 3, Oaths of My Fathers, by the time Debts is released with an eye towards releasing it later in 2016.
That’s it for now.
Well, I just spent the last week in and out of the hospital with an on-and-off bowel obstruction. I’d say it’s grist for the mill, but I’m not sure I can be that cruel to any of my characters. That shit (or lack thereof, technically) hurts like nothing else I’ve experienced, and this is coming from the guy with two herniated discs in his back. Anyway, I am theoretically on the mend now, but I still have two more days to go on an all-liquid diet. I swear, by Monday, I’ll be looking at pizza and asking, “Can I make a smoothie out of that?”
In the meantime, my copy editor Karen Conlin has started into Debts of My Fathers. If you want to follow along with her, you can follow her twitter as @GramrgednAngel. And if she comes across anything grammatically juicy, it will show up on Google+ in her Broad Daylight Editing collection.
I’m also finishing up the new cover for Beneath the Sky and working towards the cover for Debts of My Fathers.
My overriding goal for 2015 was to get books out the door. I actually made a lot of progress, but I don’t have much to show for it. I did put a story out in a Christmas anthology (Demon’s Delight), but that is my only publication this year. That story is something of a prequel to my urban fantasy novel Hell Bent, but that hasn’t been published yet. Mostly, it was a year of editing, but I’m mostly done with two books. Hell Bent is back from the copy-editor, and I’m working on the cover and production now. Debts of My Fathers (the very-long-awaited sequel to Ships of My Fathers) was just handed off to the copy editor today. So while I say I made some progress, I ended the year with the same number of books in the queue as I had at the beginning of the year: six.
2015 was also the second full calendar year that I’ve been suffering from this chronic back pain. Specifically, I have two herniated discs on either side of the T7 vertebrae. I had a total of four cortisone injections, but they were not very effective. I did a lot of physical therapy. It improved things, but I kind of plateaued with merely moderate chronic pain instead of severe chronic pain. As a result hitting that wall, the physical therapy folks kind of fired me. Looking back on it, I think I hit the wall because they weren’t pushing me hard enough, i.e. the necessary strength training wasn’t using enough resistance to get the results they wanted. So, I’m looking at physical therapy again with an eye towards pushing to more strength training.
2015 was also the year that I caught a lucky break and found almost-but-not-quite-yet colon cancer while it was still in the PREcancerous stage. Had I not been suffering from all the chronic pain and doing lots of extra tests because of it, we would not have seen this for another 3-4 years, by which time it would have been stage-3 or stage-4 cancer. The doctors were able to excise it with clean margins in a fairly simple operation that only kept me off my feet for a week or so.
And 2015 was another tough year for me and my special-needs kids, especially with my oldest son. We’re now getting additional help from the state and county organizations, and I have hopes for greater levels of intervention in 2016.
So, my goals for 2016 are about the same as my goals for 2015: Get Books Out The Door! I think I have a much better chance of achieving that this year though. Two books are approaching the finish line, and then I have the rest of the year to do more. I’ve been heads-down on getting Debts handed off to the copy editor, so I have not yet done proper planning for 2016, but it’s quite conceivable that in addition to Debts of My Fathers and Hell Bent, I might also get their sequels out before the end of the year. So after a couple of years with virtually no publications, I might manage four books this year. But like I said, I haven’t done proper planning for the year yet.
Still, I can confidently state that I will get Debts of My Fathers and Hell Bent out this year, probably in Q1. I’ll make another post later on once I’ve sat down and planned out the rest of the year.
It’s been another month, and things are moving along. I handed off all my stuff for the Christmas UF Anthology today, and I’ve reviewed and approved some of the Hell Bent copyedits as part of that since the anthology will include an excerpt. Of course, none of that matters to you folks who have been waiting for Debts of My Fathers.
So at this point, the deck is clear for Debts of My Fathers. I’m not going to do another round of beta readers at this point. I think I’ve fixed the main issues raised by the first round of beta readers, and I’m just going to have to believe that my fixes are good. I still have a few details to hammer out, and then I’ll do the language pass where I look out for my problematic words and phrases. As each book goes forward, I’m catching more and more of these, and the most recent, “towards”, was caught by my copyeditor for Hell Bent. So anyway, I’m pushing towards that and then handing it off to the copyeditor sometime next week. At least, that’s the plan. It might need through next weekend as well, but as I’m already on Plan G, I’m trying to avoid Plan H. I still think I’ll get it out this calendar year, but it’s going to be tight, particularly on the cover.
I also have the final art for the new Beneath the Sky cover, so I’ll be pushing that out soon, but to be honest, it’s taking a back seat to my edits to Debts of My Fathers.
When it does finally go out the door, I will be sure to send email out to the list, so sign up if you want to be notified.
As for my health, October was a really painful month with extra stress to my back from stuff around the house plus two business trips. It’s gotten some better in November. The pain is still there a fair amount, but the back spasms have mostly stopped, and they were the source of the worst pain. That is, the steady state pain is in the 5-7 range while the spasms took me up to 9 and a little beyond. I haven’t passed out yet (the definition of 10), but I have seen stars. We’re running a few more tests, and I’m meeting with surgeons, but that’s mostly to confirm the non-surgeon opinion that the herniated disc is not operable.
Another hectic month has gone by, and yes, I’m still alive and making progress. Drafts are done and edits are coming along. I even have full copy edits for one thing. If all goes well, I’ll have two novels out by the end of the year along with being included in a Christmas themed anthology.
Right now the part that’s most behind schedule is the art for the covers, but it’s progressing. Right now, Beneath the Sky is getting a brand new cover, and I’m searching for the artist to do the Father Chessman series and another to do the Herald of Pittsburgh series. In a pinch, I could to the next Father Chessman cover myself, but I’d like to put a pro on it. As much as I want to start painting again, I haven’t rendered or painted in a year or two, so I’m too rusty to do a good job, especially on a deadline.
Ironically, as tight as time is, I’m actually contemplating starting a podcast. It would not be a high production value show with interviews, etc. It would be much more in the vein of Nathan Lowell’s “Talking on my Morning Walk” podcast. Specifically, I’m trying to get on the treadmill more often and for longer, but an “hour-long” episode on Netflix is only about 42 minutes, and that doesn’t even get me to two miles. I’m aiming for three miles, three to six times a week. I figure I might just empty out my brain in audio form for that last mile or so.
Like I said, it won’t be high-quality intellectual exploration, but it’ll be something, hopefully centered around stuff that I’m working on. Of course, I’m sure I’ll also be talking about the show I just watched as well as everything else going on in my life, but I’ll try to keep it from being a narcissistic tour de force. I actually have about all the equipment I’d need for it (Zoom H4n and a headset). I just need to make the time to get back on the darned thing and keep walking. That’s probably my main reason for doing it is that it’s another reason for me to get back on the track towards better health, and it sort of lets me blog more regularly without taking time away from Getting Stuff Out The Door. (Yes, that’s capitalized around here these days.)
I don’t know what I’m going to call it, but my working title – as in I just came up with it a minute ago – is “The Third Mile”. With some luck, I’ll have an episode ready to go later this week, but I’ll probably spin off a separate blog for it so as to not clutter this one up with them. And yes, for the one or two people who might actually want to listen to it, I’ll be sure to post a link back over here somewhere.
This is the fourth anniversary of the blog. I started it four years ago, though back then, it was actually on MakingItUpAsIGo.com. The first couple of years ripped along pretty well, but the last two, not so much.
Still, stuff is happening. Books are moving in an out of the editor’s hands, with publication coming later this year, provided I get all the other ducks in a row. I would say more, but honestly, right now I’m face down in the work and can’t spare much time to talk about it. I’m too busy doing it. Hopefully I’ll get a little breathing space in October, but not much. (And then November will come along and probably suck me into another NaNoWriMo.)
But as I said before, I’m alive and stuff is happening.
Nothing complicated this year. I’m just trying to get books finished and out the door. Right now I have six books in the queue, and I want to get as many of them out the door as possible. Maybe that will be one. Maybe it will be all of them. But that’s going to be my main writing focus for the year: getting books out the door.
The bright point of the year was that I got a job, which relieved a lot of financial stress. On the other hand, though, it took away a lot of my writing time.
My goal of writing a million words fell flat on its face, mostly because of the job. I think before I started work, I was on pace for about 650,000 and accelerating, so it’s conceivable I could have made it, but the second half of the year pretty well tanked in my writing. I did manage a NaNoWriMo, but mostly due to a Herculean effort over the Thanksgiving holiday. Anyway, I stopped keeping good records in the later months, but I’m pretty sure I ended up in the neighborhood of 450,000 for the year.
But I did not get a single book out the door this year, and for that I consider the year a failure. I now have six – yes, SIX – novels in the queue. Two are technically still in the draft phase, but they’re close to done. Mostly everything is held up in edits, which I suck at. And alas, most of these aren’t the kind of edits I can hand off to an editor. These are essentially writing additional scenes and rewriting others to fix story problems. The actual grammar and language stuff goes pretty fast, and I DO get professional help with those.
But I get stuck on these story-level edits, and I’m still trying to fix that as a process problem. It’s not that I don’t know what needs to be fixed. I’m just having a hard time making progress on them. I once quipped, “I spent about forty hours this month not editing that book.” That is, I dedicated forty hours to the work but got virtually nothing done in that time. This is probably one of those things that I’ll eventually figure out, and once I do, I’ll look back on my lame excuses with the same scorn that I currently do for things like, “I don’t have the time to write” or “I don’t have any ideas”, etc. But in the meantime, I’m pounding my head against this wall of edits.
It’s also been a very rough year for me personally. I have special needs kids. I don’t talk about them much – at least not in specifics – but it’s been a hard year, especially with my oldest son, but even my youngest son has caused his share of gray hairs. My daughter, on the other hand, has been a delight. Still, I worry for her, growing up around her brothers who are causing me plenty of grief, even with thirty-six more years of emotional experience and perspective.
I’ve also been having a tremendous amount of physical pain this year. What started as an intermittent stabbing pain in my ribs in September 2013 has blossomed into near-constant agony throughout my torso. There are people out there hurting worse than me, so I feel lame complaining, but I also realize that I’ve probably only had three of four days since summer that the pain has not required a dose or two of Vicodin, just for me to function.
In the last couple of months, it’s gotten even worse while the source remains a mystery. A back specialist thinks the pain is being caused by pinched nerves. Apparently, I have herniated discs on either side of my T7 vertebrae, though how I did that is yet another mystery, since that part of the back is generally immune that this kind of problem. But after a couple of cortisone injections in my back, we’re starting to think there may be multiple sources to this pain. So I’m now being sent off physical therapy as well as a GI specialist. Apparently, there’s some chance the culprit is that bilious bag known as the gall bladder.
But whatever it is, I’ve spent much of the year exploring the upper ranges of the pain scale, determining the finer shades between an 8 and a 9. For those of you in similar situations, I highly recommend the alternate pain scale by Hyperbole and a Half.
So I go into 2015 with a few vague plans and a lot of an