We’ve arrived (and to prove it, we’re here)

Hi there! Remember me? That writer guy who used to blog all the time?

I’ve come back to the blogosphere after a hiatus of two and a half months, and from here on in I’ll be posting once a week on Thursdays. Why once a week? So I don’t repeat myself and so I can spend more time working on long-delayed projects! Yay!

So — what’s new? What’s been going on? What have we missed?

  1. I dropped In My Blue World a few weeks ago as a Smashwords e-book on March 2nd, and though sales have been slow, I’ll still get one or two unexpectedly every now and again. Still learning how to self-promote here, kids!
  2. I made an appearance at FogCon in Concord this year. I fear I dropped the ball multiple times here, as I screwed up filling out the panelist forms and also had a reading that was too late for me (I duffed the whole thing, being overtired, and I’m still mad at myself for it). On the plus side, I did notice a number of people picked up my freebie cards over the weekend, so there’s that!
  3. I’ve started revising Diwa and Kaffi — YES I FINALLY HAVE A TITLE FOR IT — and I plan on taking this slow and steady, as I’m planning on submitting this one to a pro publisher.
  4. I’ve started doing my daily words again, which means I should *hopefully* have a new fresh project to work on down the line.

Do I have anything planned for the immediate future? Yes! All sorts of fun things. I’m hoping to be a lot more multimedia this time, actually. More Drunken Owl music experiments. More story ideas. More visual arts. The road is clear and I can’t wait. (Wish I could be more clear about this, but right now it’s all in demo and planning stages. You’ll know when I know, heh!)

Glad to be back!

In My Blue World book release March 2nd!!

Zuzannah is not your typical magical girl.

Diana Meeks had planned to spend a few relaxing weeks camping in the hills above town with her sisters Katie and Allie, and Katie’s boyfriend Greg. But this will be no ordinary vacation.

On the trail to their cabin, the air is suddenly split in two by a blinding light and the blade of a katana, and a young woman spills through the tear, fainting from exhaustion.

Zuzannah is a girl from a future world where the powers of magic are an everyday occurrence…and where her pursuer has amassed most of it for his own nefarious ends. Zuze is committed to stopping him at any cost, and has crossed the weave of time in a desperate bid to regain her own strength and search for help…

…and she’s found it in Diana and her sisters. But are they up to the task?

In My Blue World will be released as an e-book via Smashwords on March 2nd!

Returning to the Blogosphere…sort of

[Posted originally at Dreamwidth, my personal blog. Reposting it here (with slight editing) as an update.]

Keeping busy….

Yes, folks! I’m still here among the living. I’ve been spending all this time focusing on finishing off In My Blue World (which I’m FINALLY going to drop in March! Wooohoo!) and preparing myself for the revision work for Diwa & Kaffi (yes, I’ve decided that’s going to be the title until further notice). I’ve also been enjoying the extended semi-hiatus from the internets, focusing more on offline projects and personal things. It’s been long delayed and much needed.

I’ve been tempted more than a few times to return to the blogging schedule that I’ve held over the last couple of years, but I’m holding off. As much as I truly enjoyed it, it would often drain me. I ended up repeating myself on more than a few occasions, often without realizing. Some days I’d have all kinds of things to talk about, but other days (especially near the end there) I was really straining to come up with semi-original content. 

But I also wanted to move on. I’ve been blogging about writing and music for years now, some years more consistently than others, and after a great personal banner year of music collecting and novel writing, I felt it was time for me to shift my focus. It’s like when I talk about the YC years: I absolutely loved the schedule that afforded me the time to relax and improve my writing, but that could only last for so long. I may be a creature of habit and want to stick with that sort of thing for years at a time, I’m also a creature of wanting to shake things up. I also love the idea of starting a completely new lifestyle, whatever it may be. I get to a point where I realize I’ve gone as far as I can with what I’m doing, and I need to move on. There’s varying reasons for that — I’ve exhausted my interest, I’ve moved on, my tastes have changed/shifted, and so on. Sometimes it’s a deeply personal thing, sometimes it’s just an ephemeral thing.

(Speaking of which, I could go on about how hard it is to shift to that new lifestyle while attempting to shed old habits, ideas and so on, but I’ll save that for another entry.)

I’m still a music-collecting geek and a writer, and I highly doubt those two things will be changing any time soon. But what I’ve realized over the past month and a half is that I still have a long way to go if I want to make the changes I do want to make. Sliding back into old habits and schedules will not help me, as again — I can be quite the creature of habit.  I’m going out of my way NOT to return to things like that, as it’s the only way I’ll be able to get to where I DO need to be.

That said, I’m making a brief re-entry into the blogosphere with Welcome to Bridgetown, as I have some books coming out this year as well as a few appearances at local conventions. These new entries will most likely be unscheduled but I’ll make them timely. Otherwise this blog will remain on semi-hiatus until I decide what I will do with it.
In the meantime, I’ll be making more steady (and more personal) appearances at my Dreamwidth account. Thanks again for hanging around for so long!

Fly-by Updatery

Keeping all sorts of busy on my hiatus here. The Day Job has its ups and downs (I won’t bore you with the details on that), I’m on the hopefully final revision go-round for In My Blue World, I’ve been doing some cursory reading of the Apartment Complex story in preparation for its revision, and on top of that, I’ve been doing a bit of self-reflection. Oh! And I finally bought a second electric guitar; a Gretsch Electromatic for those playing along. What that particular toy, I’ve been recording some lo-fi Drunken Owl demo ideas using my phone. So yeah, I’ve been busy, but not overly so.

As much as I miss blogging, I’m kind of glad I’ve taken this time off, especially now that I’ve got some important projects I’m working on.

So what’s coming up? Good question. I’ll be at FOGcon from March 8 – 10 over in Walnut Creek. I’m looking to be on a few panels and maybe even a reading (I’ll be reading either something from In My Blue World or the AC story). If you’re going, stop by and say hi!

I’ll also be at BayCon from May 24 – 27 down in San Mateo. No plans for readings/panels for that yet, but I’m hoping to make that a thing.

Other than that…? I’m floating around on Twitter every now and again, but I’ve been kind of quiet online otherwise. I’ve been sticking with the music streaming, sticking with personal conversations with friends, and essentially keeping a low profile. And that’s how I’d like it at the moment.

Again, not sure when this hiatus will end, but I’m hoping it’ll be sometime later this year!

1: On Saying Goodbye…?

When I was ten or so, I was just starting to develop my tastes in music by listening to all sorts of things: my sisters’ records, the local radio stations, albums taken from the library, and so on. During one particular family party at my uncle’s house, I asked if I could listen to his eight-track tape collection. He sensed that I was already a big fan of music, handed me a pair of super heavy aviator headphones, and let me have at it.

I remember hearing Alan Parsons Project’s “Time” (from their 1980 album The Turn of a Friendly Card) during that little listening session, because the song stuck with me. I remember hearing the words, and thinking to myself: what if that happens to me? I’d gone past the song’s intended maudlin idea of leaving and unknown future; instead I went even further and imagined what it would feel like to truly say goodbye for a final time, fully knowing I’d never see them again, whether it was someone moving on or passing away. How would I handle that? Pretty heavy shit for a ten year old…

Decades later and here I am, writing this in the last days of 2018, and thinking: I think it’s time for me to say goodbye to a few things. I’ve been vague-posting about this for a few months now, and though I’m really not going to go into much detail here (because, y’know, it’s personal), I can say that it will be a positive leave-taking. It’s me finally letting go of the Old Me. I’ve done a lot of life-cleaning over the years, and I’ve finally come to the point where there are just a few final barriers that I’ve left for last. Personal and emotional barriers I put up a long time ago that I no longer need. It’s time to pull them down once and for all and become the New Me in the process.

Some of this is related to my creative outlets; some of it is related to personal things. It’s not going to be a simple Magical Transformation come January 1, of course, and that’s not what I’m expecting anyway. This is more about getting rid of the defaults I’ve kept myself in for ages. It’s about saying goodbye to old habits and distractions. It’s about taking the next step into something much bigger and more important.

It’s kind of weird and I feel a bit vulnerable about it, but that’s what happens when you decide to take major steps in your life. Especially if they’re ones you’d been avoiding for most of it.

SO! That said, I’ll be making good on my idea of taking a blogging hiatus for a little while in 2019. I’d like to spend some time offline working through all of this. I’ll be working on the post-production of In My Blue World and the Apartment Complex story, but I have no major projects after that, giving me some long-delayed time to focus on other creative avenues for a while.

It’s been an interesting year, to say the least. But despite all its ups and downs, I’m ending it on a positive note, knowing that I’m going into the new year with the same positivity.

Thank you all for following over the past few years! I’ll still post here now and again, but I won’t be on any strict schedule for a while. I wish all of you a happy and creative 2019!!

2: On Flailing

Two more entries to go in 2018, so I thought I’d do a bit of an overview of things I’ve been doing or thinking about over the course of the year, building up to my new writing plans for 2019. 

Ed provides a sterling example. Source: Cowboy Bebop.

I did a hell of a lot of flailing this year. A TON of flailing. So much flailing that it was kind of embarrassing to watch. And I’d rather not go through that process any more than I have to, ever again. It’s a huge waste of time, productivity, and energy.

What the hell am I going on about, you say? A fine question. I am of course talking about the numerous attempts at writing the AC story…about the grand idea of writing longhand as a change of pace…about yet another attempt at writing Can’t Find My Way Home and failing once again…about trying to come up with blog post ideas here without repeating myself…and so on and so forth.

It’s also on a personal level as well. I’ve frequently stated how frustrated I get when I approach something in a reactive manner. I spend far too much time, energy and emotion reacting to statements and situations rather than processing them. Instead of finding a way to fix or contribute to them (or even ignore them if applicable), I focus on how I feel about the situation. It only serves to make me yet another responding echo and totally failing to do anything about it.

And let’s go one further: when I get to this particular level where I see my problem and want to do something about it, chances are I come up with Best Laid Plans to change myself in one way or another. I feel proud of myself for coming up with a kludge that I think (maybe…?) will make things work again. Sort of. Sometimes they work, but more often than not, that’s all they remain: plans. I get distracted. Or worse, I get disillusioned. I fall back into the same feedback loop and I’m back where I started.

And that has been so goddamned tiring and I’m sick of it.

Which is why I’m choosing to spend a considerable amount of time in 2019 on a hiatus. It’s not exactly an internet detox, though. I’ll still be around in one form or another. I’ll still blog here, though on a less hectic schedule. I’ll still be available and contactable.

I just want to stop reacting, stop flailing, stop planning, and start doing more. Figure out who I am at this point in my life, and do something about it. It’s far past time.

FREE E-BOOKS!

Hey there!
Did you get an e-reader as a present this morning?
Want some free e-books to add to your library? 
Come on over to Smashwords, my books are FREE until the end of the year!

This includes my latest, Meet the Lidwells! https://bit.ly/2H3s8wh

This also includes the entire Bridgetown Trilogy!

A Division of Souls — https://bit.ly/1U2UVpc 
The Persistence of Memories — https://bit.ly/1MqYxyb 
The Balance of Light — https://bit.ly/2KjJnzn

All FREE, no DRM, and in multiple formats!

Meet the Lidwells! A Rock n’ Roll Family Memoir
The Bridgetown Trilogy

3: On Commitment

Three more entries to go in 2018, so I thought I’d do a bit of an overview of things I’ve been doing or thinking about over the course of the year, building up to my new writing plans for 2019. 

Looking back over the posts I’ve made this year, I see that one of my most common themes, especially in the first half of the year, was determination versus knowing when to give up.

Near the start of the year, I found myself floundering multiple times while writing the Apartment Complex story. I ragequit writing it at least three times within the span of a few months. It frustrated the hell out of me, because I knew exactly what I was doing wrong, but I didn’t quite know how to fix it. I just kept going in the wrong direction over and over again. I tried starting over on MS Word. I tried writing out a full outline beforehand. I tried — twice — to write it longhand. Eventually I took a short hiatus from it. Instead I focused on releasing Meet the Lidwells and working on In My Blue World.

When I eventually came back to it, I did what I’d done for the last few projects: I wrote it a single scene at a time using 750Words. Instead of trying to push myself through, I let it grow organically. I knew where the story needed to go, but I let the story tell me how it wanted to get there. More importantly, I let its characters tell me — they all had specific goals they needed to reach by the end of the novel, so I built the main part of the story around the four main characters intertwining with each other.

I learned a few things over the course of writing the novel, things that utterly changed how I look at my writing now:

–Breaking down self-made barriers when the story demands it. The relationship between the two main characters is unconventional and I realized the best way to handle this was to just let it all happen naturally. If there was a hint of romance, so be it. If there wasn’t, no loss, because the love they have for each other is the most important part of it. I had to be true to the characters, no matter what.

–Trusting myself on a much deeper level. I had a vague framework of where I wanted this story to go, and certain beats I wanted to hit, but I wouldn’t know how exactly to get there until I got there. I knew my failed attempts were because I’d been forcing it to go in a direction it didn’t want or need to go in. And again with the main characters’ relationship: I had to learn to trust myself that I’d do a good job portraying their love for each other without resorting to tropes and manufactured drama and conflict. Trusting my characters was a leap of faith.

–Resonating with the story on multiple levels. This story wasn’t about dialing up the tension little by little like I did with the trilogy, or surfing the rise and fall of fame like I did with Lidwells. This story was about understanding different people, cultures and emotions, and figuring out how they were all interwoven in some way.

Anyway, my point here is that I’m glad that I decided to keep returning to the Apartment Complex story despite all the frustrations I faced when I started out. I remained committed to it. I truly believed in the story, that it had something important to say, and that if I remained dedicated to it despite all the frustration, it would be worth it in the end. The result is that I’m super proud of this project and I can’t wait to share it with all of you later in 2019.

4: On Keeping Busy

Four more entries to go in 2018, so I thought I’d do a bit of an overview of things I’ve been doing or thinking about over the course of the year, building up to my new writing plans for 2019. 

It’s been a hell of a busy year. I did that by design, to be honest, and I’m glad I went through with it. It proved a lot of different things:

–I can multitask. I wrote two novels in tandem this year, using two different sign-ons at 750Words. One during work breaks and one in the evening. Both are roughly 75k words, which is actually quite economic for me, and I think a better word count goal. Out of this I learned to be more concise with my writing.

–I self-published a completely new novel that had nothing to do with any years-long project, proving that I can reach a quick deadline and turnaround.

–Writing four blog entries a week, with only the occasional fly-by or short hiatus. Some days it was hard to come up with a subject to write about, but I think I pulled it off for the most part.

–Writing some new(ish) melodies on my guitar and recording demos for them for future Drunken Owl projects. Continuing to expand my guitar playing by learning new styles and reaching for different moods.

–Taking better care of myself healthwise. I’ve lost a bit of weight, especially over the last few months since I’ve started doing morning exercises, and being or proactive about heading to the gym a few days a week, or going for walks in the neighborhood. Eating healthier, cutting down on the snacking and the junk food.

…and all of this while still holding down a Day Job. There’s been a bit of temporary shake-up there as well as a ridiculously long stretch of time dealing with unnaturally heavy volume of work, which only recently has started to decrease.

I don’t feel exhausted, far from it. I’ll have my days where I just want to say hell with it, log off and take a nap, sure, but for the most part, I’m impressed that I got through it all with only one or two sick days the entire time. I actually like to keep busy with multiple things going on, as it keeps me occupied, preoccupied, and creative. (It’s only when it’s too busy that I start getting cranky and sloppy.)

Which is partly why I’ve decided to take 2019 a little bit easier, at least for the first six months. Cut back on the multiple projects, finish off the ones I’m working on, and give myself some time to enjoy nonwriting endeavors like art and music. I’ll go into a bit more on those future plans for the last post of the year, but for now I’m just glad to say I’m proud of all the work I did this year, and I’m definitely looking forward to giving myself a break from it!

5: On Older Ideas

Five more entries to go in 2018, so I thought I’d do a bit of an overview of things I’ve been doing or thinking about over the course of the year, building up to my new writing plans for 2019. 

I’ve trunked a lot of my ideas over the years.  It’s no big surprise…it’s par for the course for pretty much every writer.  I still think about them every now and again, maybe even wondering if they could ever be revived now that I’m a better writer (albeit jokingly — I don’t plan on doing this IRL at all).  Depending on when I started them, I pretty much have them collecting dust on a bookshelf or getting forgotten in some folder on my external drive.

When I think of trunked ideas, I think of one of the plot points in Jack London’s Martin Eden, one of the few books assigned to me in school that I truly enjoyed.  He’s a writer who can’t seem to get an even break, but once he does, it snowballs to the point where he’s digging out his older work, revising it, and his readers keep eating it up.  Thing is, he’s not doing all this for himself; he’s trying to impress a girl.  Interestingly, London pulls this idea off by not blaming her disinterest for his downfall, but by having Martin realize he alone is at fault, thinking ‘wow…I really wasted a lot of my life trying to impress everyone and making myself miserable.’

I don’t think I’ve wasted my years with all those failed writing projects.  I knew well enough to give up on them when the time came.  I realized the most common sign is when the writing feels more like a chore than a project.  [Not to be confused with that feeling of failure we writers often get during the revision process — you know, the oh god this sucks why am I still working on it phase.  Truth: I’m going through this with In My Blue World as we speak.  And yet I still have faith in it, and will see it through to its conclusion.]

Sometimes the ideas are little more than moods or images; they won’t or can’t be expanded into novels, or even short stories.  Sometimes the story is a little too uncomfortable to write.  Sometimes I get through the main planning stage, or even the first draft, and realize how much of an unsavable mess it is.  Regardless of what level I get to it, I’ll have to make a decision: keep moving along with it, or file it away and try something else.

I did a lot of this in 2018.  While I released Meet the Lidwells and started work on In My Blue World and the Apartment Complex stories, I had so many other project ideas kicking around that I realized I no longer had any interest in.  I decided it was probably time for me to trunk nearly everything else that was still up in the air; I just did not feel connected to them anymore.  I’d still feel a “hey this might be fun” wave of interest, but that’s all.  And I can’t base an entire project on that.

I think part of it was also completing the Apartment Complex story.  That novel is…different.  Very different from a lot of what I’ve written in the past.  Even the current past.  It resonated with me in a way that none of my previous novels ever did, even the trilogy.  It felt like a gigantic step forward, and a step away from the work I’ve done in the past.  It felt that this was the direction I needed to go in next, and almost none of my backburner projects fit that mold.

In short, I felt I was closing down one part of my life and writing career, and moving on to a newer, better one.  I had to leave the old stories behind.

I’m looking forward to 2019 being part of that newer, better life and career.  And I’m definitely looking forward to the newer stories, whatever they may be.