30 December 2008

Weekly Goals - December 30, 2008

Hope every had a Merry Christmas, and that you have a Happy New Year this coming week!

Results for this week:

1. Had a Merry Christmas
In addition, I also accomplished the following:
2. Completed rewrites on Entrapment, and re-submitted
3. 1000 words on Death Brings the Victory
4. 1700 words on my current short story in work

And now the goals for this coming week:

1. 1000 words on Death Brings the Victory
2. 1000 words on my current short story in work

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (re-submitted December 24)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (back in edits)
"A Time for Trust" (back in edits)
"Lifeline" (submitted December 18)
"A Thankful Heart" (back in edits)

FRIENDS IN DEED:
(Out of 18 submissions)
5 queries remaining
1 full remaining
11 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




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23 December 2008

Weekly Goals - December 23, 2008

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!
Hope all is well with you and yours...looking forward to a brand new year soon?

Results for this week:

1. around 1300 words (though I may be back later to update this)
2. Still not completed - the book is really dragging

And now the goals for this coming week:

1. Have a Merry Christmas!

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (back in edits)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (rejected, back in edits)
"A Time for Trust" (on hold)
"Lifeline" (submitted December 18)
"A Thankful Heart" (back in edits)

FRIENDS IN DEED:
(Out of 18 submissions)
5 queries remaining
1 full remaining
11 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




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16 December 2008

Weekly Goals - December 16, 2008

Whew...burnout (and shoulder pain) easing up...

Results for this week:

1. Finally finished this evening
2. Not even started
3. Still not completed

And now the goals for this coming week:

1. 2000 words on Death Brings the Victory
2. Finish reading a book

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (back in edits)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (since September 21)
"A Time for Trust" (on hold)
"Lifeline" (rejected December 12)
"A Thankful Heart" (back in edits)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 17 submissions)
5 queries remaining
11 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




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09 December 2008

Weekly Goals - December 9, 2008

Long week (especially in terms of the number of rejections), still suffering from shoulder pain...but time to increase the goals for the week

Results for this week:

1. Still trying to finish
2. Submitted (and promptly kicked back for no apparent reason)

And now the goals for this coming week:

1. 2000 words on "Some Assembly Required"
2. 2000 words on Death Brings the Victory
3. Finish reading a book

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (rejected December 1)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (since September 21)
"A Time for Trust" (on hold)
"Lifeline" (submitted December 3)
"A Thankful Heart" (rejected December 1)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 17 submissions)
5 queries remaining
11 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




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02 December 2008

Weekly Goals - December 2, 2008

Hope all of you (all 2-3 of you) had a Happy Thanksgiving!
Now that I'm thoroughly doped up on muscle relaxers to help with my shoulder pain (likely due to pushing myself to meet my NaNo goal), it's time to put in my weekly goals for this next week.

Results for this week:

1. Completed (finished the first draft at 50,047 words)

And now the (greatly-relaxed) goals for this coming week:

1. Read a book.
2. Submit Friends in Deed to one publisher

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since September 26)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (since September 21)
"A Time for Trust" (on hold)
"Lifeline" (submitted November 4)
"A Thankful Heart" (since October 14)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 17 submissions)
6 queries remaining
10 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




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25 November 2008

Weekly Goals - November 25, 2008

With Thanksgiving nearly upon us, it's time to get things moving for the end of the month. With a pinched nerve or something, it's going to be all I can do to keep driving for the goal line, but here goes...

Results for this week:

1. Completed (currently at 40,398 words)

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Reach the 50K mark on The Cure (for NaNo)

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since September 26)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (since September 21)
"A Time for Trust" (on hold)
"Lifeline" (submitted November 4)
"A Thankful Heart" (since October 14)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 17 submissions)
6 queries remaining
10 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




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19 November 2008

Weekly Goals - November 18, 2008

Still on track for NaNo...but running out of steam quickly.

Results for this week:

1. Completed (currently at 30,007 words)

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. 10000 words on The Cure (for NaNo)

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since September 26)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (since September 21)
"A Time for Trust" (on hold)
"Lifeline" (submitted November 4)
"A Thankful Heart" (since October 14)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 17 submissions)
6 queries remaining
10 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




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16 November 2008

Early Morning Thoughts

So, for reasons unknown to me, I'm sitting here at the computer, having awoken from a fitful night of sleep. Heading back to try again shortly, but figured I'd empty out my mind here first.

So, of course, the big thing this month is NaNoWriMo...sitting at just shy of 26K words. Right on track for where I should be at halfway through the month. My only worry now is running out of story before I hit the final 50K mark. Granted, that's always been my big issue, so I'm not really surprised. I imagine if I get to that point in the next few weeks, I'll need to go back to the beginning and start adding things which got left out in the initial drafting.

First round of layoffs are coming at work, probably this coming week (just after the deadline ends for those who want to leave voluntarily via a buyout). Have been through this before (back in 2002 or 2003-ish timeframe) and figure this first round won't affect me, but have this nagging feeling inside...

My wife goes in this week to visit with a surgeon regarding a biopsy procedure. Sure it's probably nothing, but those nagging feelings tend to throw parties and invite all their friends over to join them...

Still have a bunch of stories out on submission...not sure why RGR seems to be the only outlet that's open to my writing. Even RGR seems to be taking their sweet time on my most recent submissions...

But then, maybe there's really a good reason out of 3 reviews on Fictionwise, I've ended up with 2 "Poor" rankings...nagging feelings, anyone? I'd like to think that the reason is it's promotion via romance organizations (such as Coffee Time Romance), when it has no romance in it. That, or the old standard of having to be labeled science fiction when it's truly space opera (and trust me, not every SF fan enjoys space opera). Still, there's that nagging suspicion that people really think it's a stinker.

But even so, Heroes Die Young seems to be doing well, compared to its other stablemates from Champagne. It hits spurts compared to everyone else, but has slumped for the past few weeks.

Desperately want to get it in to local stores for stocking and signing...keep trying, but rules have changed since my really-want-to-forget-that-mistake past with a certain publisher, and finding it impossible to break in so far.

Not certain what to do with Friends in Deed...another friend of the nagging feelings is hanging around, convincing me that it's not going to find an agent or major publisher. Don't want to shelve it, but still not sure what my plans should be for it otherwise...all things considered.

My wife is still at odds with her sister from incidents that happened at the end of July. Neither one will apologize to the other, so neither one wants to speak or see each other. Win-win for me, though...

Reminds me, I should call my brother sometime Sunday.

Well, I think my brain is sufficiently empty now...so off to do the same to other parts of my body, and then it's time to try sleeping.

Night, all...

13 November 2008

Weekly Goals - November 11, 2008

Busy this week with all things NaNo...which is probably why I missed my regular Tuesday night updates...

Results for this week:

1. Completed (currently, as of 11/11, at 19140)

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. 10000 words on The Cure (for NaNo)

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since September 26)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (since September 21)
"A Time for Trust" (back in edits)
"Lifeline" (submitted November 4)
"A Thankful Heart" (since October 14)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 17 submissions)
6 queries remaining
10 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




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04 November 2008

Weekly Goals - November 4, 2008

Had a vacation this week, which isn't much of an excuse (in fact, I should have met all of my goals with ease)...and now, we're into NaNo mode full time...so the lists should get much shorter, but more brutal, for the coming weeks.

Results for this week:

1. Not started
2. Not started

3. Completed this evening (currently at 6697)

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. 10000 words on The Cure (for NaNo)

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since September 26)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (since September 21)
"A Time for Trust" (back in edits)
"Lifeline" (rejected, looking for a spot to submit)
"A Thankful Heart" (submitted October 14)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 17 submissions)
6 queries remaining
10 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




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New Story Published

Be sure to check out The Writer's Vineyard, where my brand new, never-before-seen story "Dirty Old Man" is now up.

31 October 2008

Holiday Stories

During the months of November and December, a new (free) daily holiday story will be posted up at The Writer's Vineyard for your enjoyment. Be sure to check them out starting November 1 (a few hours from now)...

In addition, I'll be running a weekly contest...more details to come.

Mine comes out this coming week, and I'll remind everyone when it does. Should be a fun one!

28 October 2008

Roasting a Few Heroes

Be sure to stop by Book Roast where I'll be answering questions about my book HEROES DIE YOUNG and giving away free copies!

I'll be there all day on October 29! Come by and say hi!

(Note: The post is already up, and the contest is open...so be sure to get over there!)

Weekly Goals - October 28, 2008

A little better this week, but still not quite there...

Results for this week:

1. Not started
2. Completed

3. Completed (just in time)

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. 2000 words on Death Brings the Victory
2. 1000 words on "Some Assembly Required"
3. 6000 words on The Cure (for NaNo)

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since September 26)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (since September 21)
"A Time for Trust" (back in edits)
"Lifeline" (submitted October 8)
"A Thankful Heart" (submitted October 14)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 17 submissions (was 16))
6 queries remaining
10 queries REJECTED (was 9)
1 partial REJECTED




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21 October 2008

Weekly Goals - October 21, 2008

Terrible results this week, not sure what the issue is. Need to get myself back in the swing of things...

Results for this week:

1. Not even started
2. In work, about 2/3 completed

3. Submitted "A Thankful Heart" to Ray Gun Revival
4. Still in work

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. 2000 words on Death Brings the Victory
2. Complete plot line for The Cure
3. 1000 words on "Some Assembly Required"

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since September 26)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (since September 21)
"A Time for Trust" (rejected, back in edits)
"Lifeline" (submitted October 8)
"A Thankful Heart" (submitted October 14)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 16 submissions)
6 queries remaining
9 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




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14 October 2008

Weekly Goals - October 14, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Revised three chapters of Death Brings the Victory (and finished all revisions on existing chapters)
2.
Completed preliminary plot points, but not finished
3. Submitted "Lifeline" to Asimov's.

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Finish first draft for two chapters of Death Brings the Victory
2. Complete plot line for The Cure
3. Submit a short story to an outlet
4. Finish first draft of "Some Assembly Required"

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since September 26)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (since September 21)
"A Time for Trust" (since August 16)
"Lifeline" (submitted October 8)
"A Thankful Heart" (ready to submit)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 16 submissions)
6 queries remaining
9 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




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07 October 2008

Weekly Goals - October 7, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Revised three chapters of Death Brings the Victory
2.
Completed
3. Waiting on one final beta...

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise two chapters of Death Brings the Victory
2. Complete plot line for The Cure
3. Submit a short story to an outlet

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since September 26)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (since September 21)
"A Time for Trust" (since August 16)
"Lifeline" (back in edits)
"Dirty Old Man" (ACCEPTED)
"A Thankful Heart" (back in edits)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 16 submissions)
6 queries remaining
9 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




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01 October 2008

Weekly Goals - September 30, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Revised two chapters of Death Brings the Victory
2.
Story in work, not finished

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise two chapters of Death Brings the Victory
2. Complete character profiles for The Cure
3. Submit a short story to an outlet

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (rejected, re-submitted September 26)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (since September 21)
"A Time for Trust" (since August 16)
"Lifeline" (back in edits)
"Dirty Old Man" (ACCEPTED)
"A Thankful Heart" (back in edits)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 16 submissions)
6 queries remaining
9 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




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29 September 2008

Playing Tag!

Joyce Scarbrough tagged me in the Meme Game, so here are the rules, my answers, and the next six people who get to take on the challenge.

The rules:

If you’ve been tagged with the Meme Game from Twitter, you must post 6 things no one knows about you on your BLOG. Then you have to tag 6 more people. (Don’t forget to let them know they’ve been tagged.) Leave me a comment letting me know you’ve accepted the tag.

My answers:

1. I have webbed skin between the second and third largest toe on either foot.

2. My first kiss didn't happen until I was in college.

3. I have a severe weakness for blackjack.

4. I am anal-retentive about saving money (which coincidentally doesn't go well with #3).

Tag, You're It:

Laurel Johnson -- LAUREL JOHNSON BLOGS -- http://laureljohnsonblogs.blogspot.com/
Dawno -- NVNC ID VIDES, NVNC NE VIDES -- http://dawnonowyouseeit.blogspot.com/
Nancy Mehl -- NANCY'S NOTES -- http://nancymehl.blogspot.com/
Alphabeter -- GAFFS OF TRUTH -- http://alphabeter.blogspot.com/

Sorry, those are all the ones I can think of who actually still maintain their blogs...so to make up for it, I only posted 4 items about myself.

But in my defense, I didn't get this tag from Twitter. :-)

27 September 2008

Guest Blogging

Be sure to check out my guest blogs over at The Writer's Vineyard and Wild on Books. Two blog commenters over at Wild on Books will be winning free copies of HEROES DIE YOUNG, so be sure to stop by!

23 September 2008

Weekly Goals - September 23, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Revised one chapter of Death Brings the Victory
2.
Completed the final draft of "Dirty Old Man" and submitted
3. First draft of "Some Assembly Required" in work

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise one chapter of Death Brings the Victory
2. Complete a final draft for a contest short story

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Profit and Loss" (market closed, re-submitted September 21)
(was "Greed")
"A Time for Trust" (since August 16)
"Lifeline" (rejected, back in edits)
"Dirty Old Man" (submitted September 22)
"A Thankful Heart" (back in edits)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 16 submissions)
6 queries remaining (was 7)
9 queries REJECTED (was 8)
1 partial REJECTED




18 September 2008

Le Sigh

As if it wasn't bad enough having to wait around for rejections to queries and stories, you also have to watch out for the outlets which close down without notice. I'd submitted a story back in May to a particular outlet, then decided to check on my submission this evening...only to find out that they'd closed down just a week ago. Oops!

Guess I'd better run through the story one more time (probably re-title it as well) and find a new home for it.

16 September 2008

Weekly Goals - September 16, 2008

Doesn't seem like I got much done this past week, but apparently I met most of my goals. Time to increase the number of goals yet? No......

Results for this week:

1. Revised three chapters of Death Brings the Victory
2.
Completed the final draft of "A Thankful Heart"
3. Not started

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise two chapters of Death Brings the Victory
2. Complete a first draft for another holiday blog story
3. Complete a first draft for a contest

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Greed" (since May 15)
"A Time for Trust" (since August 16)
"Lifeline" (since August 28)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 16 submissions)
7 queries remaining (was 8)
8 queries REJECTED (was 7)
1 partial REJECTED




09 September 2008

Weekly Goals - September 9, 2008

It seems like only yesterday I was in here posting up my goals. But, it's been a full week and here the new ones...

Results for this week:

1. Completed final draft of "Borne Leadership"
2.
Revised two chapters of Death Brings the Victory
3. Completed plotting of "A Thankful Heart" and a story to be named
4. Added an additional scene to Death Brings the Victory [added]
5. Completed the first draft of "A Thankful Heart" [added]
6. Submitted a query for Friends in Deed to two literary agents [added]

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise three chapters of Death Brings the Victory
2. Complete final draft of "A Thankful Heart"
3. Begin character profiles for The Cure

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Greed" (since May 15)
"A Time for Trust" (since August 16)
"Lifeline" (since August 28)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 16 submissions)
8 queries remaining (was 7)
7 queries REJECTED (was 6)
1 partial REJECTED




06 September 2008

A New Trend in Bookstores?

[cross-posted from my MySpace blog]

Just visited a local independent bookstore this morning, and couldn't find the science fiction section. When I asked, they said it was all part of the "fiction" area.

(I'll forego a discussion of why they had mystery segregated out)

How is a person supposed to find new books in a genre they like, when (almost) all types of fiction are lumped into one area of the store? How is someone supposed to know whether a book is romance, science fiction, horror, thriller, or suspense (among others) based on the spine title?

Is this a new trend for the future of bookstores, or simply one store's lackluster attempt to conserve floor space?

03 September 2008

Weekly Goals - September 2, 2008

With all of the excitement yesterday, what with my story "Obedience" being up on RGR, then not really being up, and now up again (whew!), I'd completely forgotten to update my weekly goals. So, here they are

Results for this week:

1. Completed initial revisions on "Borne Leadership" and completed final draft of "Lifeline"
2. Revised one of two chapters of Death Brings the Victory
3. Not started
4. Finished reading In the Dead of Winter
5. Began plotting a new story for an October 1 holiday blog deadline [added]
6. Began plotting a new story for a September 30 contest deadline [added]
7. Submitted "Lifeline" for an anthology contest [added]

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Complete final draft of "Borne Leadership"
2.
Revise two chapters of Death Brings the Victory
3. Complete plotting of two new stories (see above).

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Greed" (since May 15)
"A Time for Trust" (since August 16)
"Lifeline" (since August 28)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 14 submissions)
7 queries remaining
6 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




01 September 2008

30 August 2008

Guest Blog

Hey, everyone! Be sure to check out my guest blog over at The Writer's Vineyard. Those who frequent my Myspace blog may find it a bit familiar, but tips on goal-setting never run out of style.

29 August 2008

Contest Winners - Final Week

Congratulations to Laurel, Gloria, Michelle and Lisa - the final batch of contest winners! I thank everyone for entering and hope those who didn't win will check out AstonWest.com and purchase a copy of Heroes Die Young when it comes out in a few days.

Thanks everyone!

26 August 2008

Weekly Goals - August 26, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Completed first draft query, but only started the synopsis for Resurrection
2. Completed first draft query and synopsis for The Cure
3. Completed revisions on two chapters of Death Brings the Victory
4. Sent out two queries for Friends in Deed to agents

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Begin revisions on "Borne Leadership" and "Lifeline" for September submission
2.
Revise two chapters of Death Brings the Victory
3. Send out two queries for Friends in Deed to agents
(yes, I've changed the name back)
4. Finish reading In the Dead of Winter by Nancy Mehl

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Greed" (since May 15)
"A Time for Trust" (since August 16)

FRIENDS IN DEED/HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 14 submissions)
7 queries remaining
6 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




22 August 2008

Contest Winners - Week 3

Congratulations to Laurel, Janet and Cassie, the big winners of a FREE print copy of Heroes Die Young in week 3 of my contest. Be looking tomorrow for the fourth (and final) set of questions at a website near you.

19 August 2008

Weekly Goals - August 19, 2008

A much better week...helps to take a week of vacation from work.

Results for this week:

1. Completed
2. Decided to go ahead and submit instead - waiting on another story to sell first
3. Completed
4. Completed
5. Submitted "A Time for Trust" to an outlet [added]
6. Developed hooks for Resurrection and The Cure [added]

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Develop first draft query and synopsis for Resurrection (new novel)
2. Develop first draft query and synopsis for The Cure (new novel)
3. Revise two chapters of Death Brings the Victory
4. Send out two queries for Heroes Laugh Last to agents

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Greed" (since May 15)
"A Time for Trust" (since August 16)

HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 12 submissions)
6 queries remaining
5 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




18 August 2008

An Obnoxious B**** of a Muse

[cross-posted from my MySpace blog]

This was going to just be a single-topic post, but I'm feeling generous today.

Okay, I just had a small tidbit for the extra post: Those who've read my blog on goal-setting, I just wanted to get a little vindication. If setting goals, working toward them, and making yourself accountable for them will win you 8 gold medals in the Olympics, I have to say it can have the same effect on your writing.

From the link:
"Eight medals, one more than Mark Spitz won in Munich in 1972. This was, of course, the plan that he and his coach, Bob Bowman, had in mind all along. Every year, Phelps lays out his goals on a piece of paper and gives it to Bowman. Traditionally, Phelps has never said a word about what's on that paper. But now the 2008 version can be revealed:"
Of course, I'm assuming that Phelps works hard toward those goals... *eye roll*

Okay, now back to your regularly scheduled (writing) blog post...

Sometimes my muse can be an obnoxious b****. I'm just getting into the groove on my third novel, after an extended hiatus to both go through rewrites on HEROES DIE YOUNG and to go through edits and the query/synopsis/puke-my-guts-out/query/snyopsis/submit train for my second novel. In between all that, I've also been trying hard to get into a short-story-a-month mindset, and seem to be doing well toward my goals.

So, as I was saying, just getting into the groove on book three. Things are clicking, I'm doing a lot of "oh hell, that should have gone up in Chapter 1" and "where did this guy come from all of the sudden?" Then, the muse decides to play with my brain a bit, and introduces a brand new plot for a brand new novel...or short story...or novel in an entirely different vein from the Aston West story...or novel that's dependent on the second novel getting out there (I told you, that muse of mine can be obnoxious). I won't go into full details here, but I already have the title, which can probably give a small bit of insight...RESURRECTION.

Of course, my muse doesn't care that I need to get the third Aston West novel written, the second one published, or that I need to keep track of 4 short story submissions currently out (and 2 sold stories which should be coming out any day, not to mention the various pieces in work). She's got her own little warped agenda....which is basically to send me off the deep end, so she can laugh maniacally while they cart me off to the psych ward.

Good thing I'm off work all this week on a writing vacation (in my basement)...shhhh, don't tell her a thing. She'll probably stick a few more story ideas in, and ask me why I haven't done a thing with those screenplay plots she sent over several years ago.

16 August 2008

Contest Winners - Week 2

Congratulations to Laurel (for the second week in a row) and Anissa, who were the big winners this week!!! Be looking for additional questions soon.

12 August 2008

The Agent Form

[Cross-posted with my blog over at MySpace]

There's nothing more frustrating to me than agents who can't take a sentence to give the author an indication of why their work was rejected. I understand why they don't want to, considering the looney tunes out there who rip an e-mail off blasting them for their obvious lack of literary skills (which would include finding their book the best thing since sliced bread).

But there has to be something more than "Not right for me" or "Sorry, not interested."

Heck, one of them told me "Not enthusiastic about the premise." That at least is something to work with...

Maybe I should include a small checkbox postcard with the following options, to make it easier on the agents in question to reject my work:

[ ] I know my requirements include science fiction, but space opera? Puh-leeeze! Everyone knows that's not REAL science fiction.
[ ] Space pirates? Puh-shaw!
[ ] Isn't this like Battlestar Galactica, when Luke Skywalker saves Captain Picard from falling into a Reaver ambush?
[ ] 57,000 words? Look us up when you break the 80,000 mark.
[ ] Oh, darn it...maybe we should update our submission guidelines. Science fiction just isn't where it's at anymore.
[ ] Mostly dialogue and action, very little description? Don't you know that's against the rules?
[ ] You start off with a dream sequence? Don't you know that's against the rules?
[ ] A male protagonist trying to save the female lead? Don't you know that's against the rules?
[ ] Did we mention how droll space pirates are?

So, hopefully, this will help...now to figure out a way to pop it into the e-queries I send out...

Weekly Goals - August 12, 2008

This week, for whatever reason, was rather disheartening...so not much done toward the goals.

Results for this week:

1. Completed - story currently with some readers
2. Not started
3. Completed
4. No farther than last week
5. Rained out this weekend - no contacts

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Complete first draft of "Borne Leadership"
2. Re-start edits of "Double Trouble"
3. Revise two chapters of Death Brings the Victory
4. Send out two queries for Heroes Laugh Last to agents

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Greed" (since May 15)

HEROES LAUGH LAST:
(Out of 10 submissions)
4 queries remaining
5 queries REJECTED
1 partial REJECTED




08 August 2008

August Contest Winners - Week One

Congratulations to Laurel, Gloria, and Wendy...first week winners of a FREE PRINT COPY of my book Heroes Die Young! You'll be receiving an e-mail shortly to coordinate delivery.

It was a bit interesting to see the lack of response last week. I would have thought more people would want to have a FREE PRINT COPY of a book, no strings attached. Hopefully there will be more response in the second week. Posted notices with new questions will be out tomorrow, so stay tuned...

05 August 2008

Weekly Goals - August 5, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Not Completed - need to return a story back to editing
2. Not Completed - working edits
3. Completed - actually finished all of them
4. Completed - have reached the end of available e-mail queries
5. Revised one chapter of Death Brings the Victory [added]
6. Contacted three bookstores for Heroes Die Young signings [added]

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Complete final draft of "A Time for Truth"
2. Re-start edits of "Double Trouble"
3. Revise two chapters of Death Brings the Victory
4. Complete first draft of "Borne Leadership"
5. Contact three bookstores for Heroes Die Young signings

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Greed" (since May 15)

HEROES LAUGH LAST:
4 queries remaining




02 August 2008

Weekly Contest

Be sure to check out AstonWest.com for your chance to win a free print copy of HEROES DIE YOUNG!!! Winners will be posted here each Friday during the remainder of August...stay tuned.

30 July 2008

9 days

When an agent requests a partial, says it may take 2 months to review, and then rejects it in 9 days, is it safe to assume they thought it sucked?

29 July 2008

Weekly Goals - July 29, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Completed
2. Not started
3. Completed
4. Completed
5. Completed

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Submit short story to an outlet
2. Complete final draft of a short story
3. Review five chapters of Death Brings the Victory
4. Submit queries to three more agents for Heroes Laugh Last

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Greed" (since May 15)

HEROES LAUGH LAST:
1 partial (since July 21)
4 queries remaining




22 July 2008

Weekly Goals - July 22, 2008

Been a rather successful week...and as you can see, I'm in full swing on promotional items for Heroes Die Young. The book comes out in September, so the next 6 weeks are going to be a busy time.

Results for this week:

1. Completed (just tonight)
2. Completed
3. Completed
4. Submitted queries to three agents for Heroes Laugh Last [added]
[Already received one request for partial and one rejection, waiting on the third response]
5. Completed sell sheet and press release for Heroes Die Young [added]
6. Submitted partial to agent for Heroes Laugh Last [added]
7. Developed bookmarks for Heroes Die Young [added]

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Develop business cards for Heroes Die Young
2. Develop giveaway button designs for Heroes Die Young
3. Develop t-shirt designs for Heroes Die Young
4. Review first three chapters of Death Brings the Victory
5. Submit queries to three more agents for Heroes Laugh Last

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Obedience" (Rejected, re-submitted July 17, ACCEPTED July 21)
"Greed" (since May 15)




21 July 2008

Getting Honest With Yourself

Have been pondering this post lately...and figured now is as good a time as any to put it together.

As a fiction writer, honesty is something that has to be used carefully. Honesty is good, but when it gets in the way, the story has to take precedence. The good guy doesn't win, the leading lady doesn't pick the guy she needs to in the end, and all the best laid plans in the world end up failing miserably. That's honest reality (most of the time).

But to be honest, that has nothing at all to do with this post...

As a writer, I have to be honest with myself on my shortcomings as said writer. If I don't, I'll never succeed as a writer because without improving my skills, those offers for representation and/or publication will never come.

So, what is my biggest issue in my writing?

I'd have to say that's using an appropriate level of description. I suffer this while writing and reading both. When I read a book, I tend to skip over the parts I don't feel add anything. That in itself would be okay (one doesn't need to be overly descriptive or it's going to be just as bad), but in my case, I tend to omit A LOT of detail in my writing. I see things in my head, but translating them onto the written page often baffles me. Why should it matter (so I ask myself) what types of furniture are in the room? You can relay character traits through this information (as an example), but in my head, I see it as useless excess and skip over it.

So, they say the first step in solving a problem is to admit you have it...so hopefully this will lead to my full and total recovery.

And I recommend writers everywhere take up this challenge: What is your biggest issue in your writing? Be honest with yourself, and see if it helps you improve.

15 July 2008

Take Cover!!!

Lo and behold, what did I find in my e-mail inbox this morning, but the final cover for Heroes Die Young. Fun times!

And here it is, for all (two) of you to enjoy.


Weekly Goals - July 15, 2008

Been a busy boy this week, but unfortunately not toward my posted goals. Instead, I've been hashing out final proofs and cover art (post coming) with my publisher.

Results for this week:

1. No farther than last week
2. Completed, now with some betas
3. Not started
4. Completed proof corrections and forwarded to publisher [added]
5. Completed cover suggestions and forwarded to publisher [added]
6. Finished reading Bloody Mary by J.A. Konrath [added]

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Complete the first draft for a new short story
2. Complete short synopsis for Friends in Deed
3. Review plot notes for Death Brings the Victory

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Obedience" (since May 15)
"Greed" (since May 15)




08 July 2008

Weekly Goals - July 8, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Completed.
2. No farther than last week
3. First draft completed, working revisions

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Complete the first draft for a new short story
2. Complete final draft of the synopsis for Friends in Deed
3. Review plot notes for Death Brings the Victory

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Obedience" (since May 15)
"Greed" (since May 15)




02 July 2008

Maybe Someone Should Invent a Time Machine

Why is it that spacecraft built decades ago perform better than those built today? We could send a spacecraft to the edge of this solar system, but we can't get half of the ones we send (today) to Mars to function properly?

01 July 2008

The Waiting Game

It seems as though things have been changing with my submissions. It used to be I'd receive a fairly quick response from outlets (usually rejections). Now, it seems like the time-to-respond is more in the realm of months (according to the listing I put down every week). I imagine it's because these outlets are getting swamped with submissions and have no time to read...but a writer wannabe as myself can always dream, and think my material has improved to the point where people are giving it more thought before rejecting it.

Who knows?

Weekly Goals - July 1, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Completed, and started on final revisions.
2. Not much farther, still about halfway through
3. Worked some revisions to the synopsis, but still not completed

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Complete the final draft of Friends in Deed
2. Complete the first draft for a new short story
3. Complete final draft of the synopsis for Friends in Deed

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Obedience" (since May 15)
"Greed" (since May 15)




25 June 2008

...and a Dollar Short

(Or Weekly Goals - June 24, 2008)
Results for this week:

1. Started revisions on one chapter of Friends in Deed, not completed
2. Halfway through the first draft of a new short story
3. Query completed, first draft of synopsis completed

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise three chapters of Friends in Deed (and complete the current set of revisions)
2. Complete the first draft for a new short story
3. Complete final draft of the synopsis for Friends in Deed

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since June 14)
"Obedience" (since May 15)
"Greed" (since May 15)




17 June 2008

Weekly Goals - June 17, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Revised two chapters of Friends in Deed
2. Completed the final draft of "Double Trouble"
3. In work, not completed

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise three chapters of Friends in Deed (and complete the current set of revisions)
2. Complete first draft for new short story
3. Complete the query and synopsis for Friends in Deed

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (rejected, re-submitted June 14)
"Obedience" (since May 15)
"Greed" (since May 15)




15 June 2008

Rejection

I finally received a rejection for my short story "Redemption" after a three-month wait. I'm attempting to decipher the rejection.
Good story but not great. Read all the way through. There's a Fine line between classic, Golden Age SF and predictable writing. This one straddled the fence, so have to pass.
I'm assuming that the writing was "predictable" but without more feedback, I have no idea how.

But I try to take this all in stride. Ray Gun Revival rejected my first story with feedback. I worked their concerns into my next piece and the publication of "Little White Truths" was the result. So, hopefully this particular magazine will be a future home for Aston and his stories. At least they read the whole thing...

10 June 2008

Writing Goals - June 10, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Revised two chapters of Friends in Deed
2. Completed a revision of "Double Trouble"
3. Started, not completed

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise two chapters of Friends in Deed
2. Complete final draft for "Double Trouble"
3. Complete first draft for new short story

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since February 29)
"Obedience" (since May 15)
"Greed" (since May 15)




08 June 2008

A Prescription for Trouble

It's been a while since I've ranted about anything...so here goes.

I was out and about yesterday afternoon, taking a small road trip (don't worry, not going to be a ran about gas prices). Unfortunately, I also suffer from allergies and with the recent storms and incessant winds around here, they were going nuts. Alas, I hadn't thought to bring along my last remaining pill from my prescription bottle.

Now, a few months ago, I received a notice in the mail (from my insurance company) that the particular brand I use was no longer going to be offered as a prescription, but over-the-counter (which makes them happy, because they no longer cover it on our plan). A while back, I noticed a large stand at Wal-Mart with this particular medicine, so didn't think too much about it.

Well, as I mentioned, I was on a road trip, so wasn't around my home-base Wal-Mart. I went in to pick up the new OTC version. Lo and behold, there wasn't any on the shelves, but instead I find a piece of plastic telling me to take it to the pharmacy counter. I thought that was odd, since I'd seen a big pile of them at the other store.

I take the placard up to the counter, and they immediately ask for my driver's license.

Alas, what I'd failed to realize was that my prescription was for the "D" version of this medicine (for "decongestant"), which contained pseudoephedrine. Thus, my name must go on a federal watchlist, because with all the free time I have between writing and my day job (and foster care, from time to time), I obviously have this wild urge to cook chemicals into drugs.

But not so fast, this is also not my standard Wal-Mart, so they don't have me in their system. It takes somewhere close to ten minutes for the cashier to punch all of my data into the computer, complete with a variety of corrections she had to make while the line built up behind me.

When we finally finished, I asked the cashier if it was going to be such a hassle, why didn't the company just keep it as a prescription? I don't think she understood, based on her vague response to the question.

But I now figure it's only a matter of time before I have the DEA busting down my door. And now, since you've read this post, they have you in their sights as well.

You're welcome.

(Check back soon...I intend to rant about their new packaging scheme, and figure out what the cost difference is)

03 June 2008

Weekly Goals - June 3, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Revised two chapters.
2. Not started
3. Finished

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise two chapter of Friends in Deed
2. Revise "Double Trouble"
3. Complete first draft for new short story

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since February 29)
"Obedience" (since May 15)
"Greed" (since May 15)




27 May 2008

Weekly Goals - May 27, 2008

Unfortunately, the Memorial Day weekend wasn't as productive as I had hoped.

Results for this week:

1. Not started
2. Completed
3. In work
4. (Not on my original goals) Began reading a new book

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise one chapter of Friends in Deed
2. Revise "Double Trouble"
3. Finish reading The Atlantis Prophecy

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since February 29 - still under review, according to the mag)
"Obedience" (since May 15)
"Greed" (since May 15)




20 May 2008

Weekly Goals - May 20, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Completed
2. Submitted (under the title "Greed")
3. Started, not completed

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise one chapter of Friends in Deed
2. Plot out a new short story
3. Revise "Double Trouble"

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since February 29)
"Obedience" (rejected, re-submitted May 15)
"Greed" (since May 15)




13 May 2008

Weekly Goals - May 13, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Completed
2. Not yet submitted
3. Started, not completed

And now the goals (again) for the coming week:

1. Revise one chapter of Friends in Deed
2. Submit "Tough Luck" to an outlet
3. Plot out a new short story

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since February 29)
"Obedience" (since May 3)




10 May 2008

Maybe I'm a Sociopath

Mother's Day is in a few hours...my mother has been deceased for over 15 years now, and Mother's Day doesn't much faze me anymore. I guess a normal person is supposed to be sad, upset, and depressed.

I'd like to think it's because I have faith in an afterlife, and believe I'll see my mother again one day. But then, maybe I really am just a sociopath.

07 May 2008

For My Spanish-Speaking Visitors

Discovered an interesting website which apparently reviews short stories...but in Spanish.

Their take on Little White Truths
Their take on Ever Dark

And for those who can't read Spanish (like me), the translated version from Google:
Little White Truths
Ever Dark

06 May 2008

Weekly Goals - May 6, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Revised two chapters of Friends in Deed (Just finished #2 tonight)
2. Submitted "Obedience" to a pro magazine
3. Not submitted
4. Finished Twelve Sharp

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise one chapter of Friends in Deed
2. Submit "Tough Luck" to an outlet
3. Plot out a new short story

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since April 25)
"Redemption" (since February 29...waiting to hear back on my follow-up)
"Obedience" (since May 3)




03 May 2008

Subjectivity

I believe this is the biggest beef I have with the publishing business. Being an engineer, subjectivity doesn't always figure into things (though you'd be surprised how heated it gets when it does...engineers can be a brutal bunch).

In publishing, everything is subjective. Certainly, there are some guidelines (appropriate usage of the English language, submittal of the appropriate genre to the correct outlet, etc.), but all in all, everything comes down to whether a specific person likes your material at a particular point in time.

How ludicrous.

Take for example, a recent short story of mine. I worked it up, polished it, polished it some more, revised it and polished it even more. Then, I sent it to some readers for their feedback.

90% of the readers loved it...and not just friends of mine. There were only a few that didn't, and I even worked a few of their issues into the final product.

So, I've submitted it to a pro outlet (just mailed it out this morning). I have no delusions of grandeur, it's likely going to get rejected. And (if so) it will be because one person didn't care for the story at the very moment they received and read it.

Publishing is weird.

29 April 2008

Weekly Goals - April 29, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Revised one of two chapters of Friends in Deed (started on the second)
2. Collected potential outlets for "Obedience" but no submittals yet
3. Not submitted...working through some additional edits on "Tough Luck"
4. Started

And now the goals for the coming week (same as last week):

1. Revise two chapters of Friends in Deed
2. Submit "Obedience" to an outlet
3. Submit "Tough Luck" to an outlet
4. Read Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (Rejected and re-submitted April 25)
"Redemption" (since February 29...time to check back)




25 April 2008

Why Do We Do It?

Miserable pay, constant rejection, insufficient feedback on your work, nit-picky "bosses" giving out vague and unwieldy requirements...in any other profession, a company would go out of business because their "employees" would riot and/or find somewhere else to work.

With writing, though, it's the common accepted practice...

I'm not sure why writers put up with it, either...perhaps we're all a bunch of masochists?

22 April 2008

AstonWest.com

Make sure to check out my new digs over at AstonWest.com

Weekly Goals - April 22, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Revised one of two chapters of Friends in Deed
2. Completed the final draft of "Tough Luck" (just last night)
3. Not even started.

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise two chapters of Friends in Deed
2. Submit "Obedience" to an outlet
3. Submit "Tough Luck" to an outlet
3. Read Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since March 27)
"Redemption" (since February 29)




15 April 2008

Weekly Goals - April 15, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Not started
2. Completed
3. Completed "Obedience" (was "Twisted Fate")

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise two chapters of Friends in Deed
2. Complete the final draft of "Tough Luck" (was "Fate's Revenge")
3. Read Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since March 27)
"Redemption" (since February 29)




08 April 2008

Weekly Goals - April 8, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Revised two chapters of Friends in Deed
2. Completed three pages for my website
3. Begun work on final drafts of two short stories

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise two chapters of Friends in Deed
2. Complete the remaining pages for my website
3. Complete the final draft of one short story

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since March 27)
"Redemption" (since February 29)




01 April 2008

Weekly Goals - April 1, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Revised three chapters of Friends in Deed
2. Completed and sent
3. Started edits on "Twisted Fate", incomplete

And now the goals for the coming week:

1. Revise two chapters of Friends in Deed
2. Complete the first page of my new website (check back soon)
3. Complete the final draft of one short story

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (Rejected, re-submitted March 27)
"Redemption" (since February 29)




25 March 2008

Weekly Goals - March 25, 2008

Had a hard drive crash which wiped out everything listed as results last week (oops). So, the results this week are a bit off from my goals as I attempted to recover.

Results for this week:

1. Revised one (of the three I'd completed last time) chapters of Friends in Deed
2. A little over 75% complete.
3. Unstarted.

And now the goals for this week:

1. Revise three chapters of Friends in Deed
2. Finalize edits for Heroes Die Young and send to my publisher
3. Complete the final draft of one short story

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since February 10)
"Redemption" (since February 29)




18 March 2008

Interview Excerpt - Writing Tips

Note: the below is not a transcript from the actual interview over at Ray Gun Radio, but rather notes I used during the interview. Enjoy!

During my interview with Ray Gun Radio, I supplied a number of writing tips I'd learned over the years. I hope these help all the aspiring writers who stumble across my blog as much as they've helped me.

1.) Research all you can about writing. I spent over a decade wallowing through writing and publishing before I finally found resources which have turned my writing career (such as it is) around. I only wish I would have found all this stuff out beforehand.

2.) Never be afraid to edit. Some of my best work has come out of the worst.

3.) Take advantage of all the networking opportunities possible (this is something I’m personally working on myself). Attend conferences, join writer’s groups.

4.) Write every day. Even if you only get 100 words out (which if you have a day job, may be possible), that’s 100 words you didn’t have when you woke up that morning. 100 words closer to the finish.

5.) Set goals for yourself and write them down. Put them up where you can see them. Everyone has a goal (get published), and every goal has steps to reach it (write a manuscript, write stories, submit stories, etc.) I have a set of monthly goals which I put on my computer desktop, and I post up weekly goals at my blog. Whenever I go online, my blog pops up (homepage) and I’m reminded of what I’m supposed to get done this week. Make them reachable, but not so easy that you can hit them without even trying.

6.) Last, but not least, never give up. I read Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum novels), and found out the other day that it took her 10 years to find an agent. And that’s a success story.

Weekly Goals - March 18, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Revised three (original goal was two) chapters of Friends in Deed
2. Reviewed complete list of edits for Heroes Die Young from my publisher

And now the goals for this week:

1. Revise one chapter of Friends in Deed
2. Finalize edits for Heroes Die Young and send to my publisher
3. Complete one edit through "Double Trouble"

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Entrapment" (since February 10)
"Redemption" (since February 29)




17 March 2008

"Little White Truths" in Podcast

Hi everyone!
Just wanted to share the excitement...my first published story "Little White Truths" has now been made into a podcast over at Ray Gun Radio (the story was published by its sister publication Ray Gun Revival), complete with an interview segment before and after the story.
Check it out when you get a chance...the podcast is located down the page a bit, under the "Listen Now" link.
Just to forewarn you, though, the intro takes a little over 4 minutes...yikes. :-)
Another warning, the interview segment is a bit weak on my end...not sure our phone was working that well. Might have to turn it up a bit... :-)

*****

Because the interview segment was a bit hard to hear, check back later and I'll post up some pseudo-excerpts...

15 March 2008

The ER Visit

As mentioned in a previous post, I did have an ER visit a few weeks ago. Since Nancy basically begged me to talk about it (in the comments), here's a recap:

It was Friday morning, and of course, had a lot of pressing issues going on at work. This is always a key indicator that something will go wrong. I took care of the regular morning business, and then left for work which is about a ten minute drive. Five minutes in, nausea set in, accompanied shortly after by heavy sweating and the like.

The flu has been going around, in case you've been stuck in a cave for months, so I immediately thought I'd finally caught it. I suffered through the next five minutes on my way to work, all the while suppressing the urge to puke in the car. I probably should have gone home when it started, but as I mentioned, there were pressing issues at work. I at least needed to go in and give direction for the day (major items needed to be completed that day).

So, I arrived at work and proceeded to the restroom to hug a toilet for a while. Quelled the nausea for a while, so went over to my desk and shot out instructions via e-mail, then told the necessary folks I was going home. Still had to drive ten more minutes back to the house fighting the urge to puke, and even more heavy sweating. Arrive home, and the floodgates opened (and opened and opened some more). Everything pointed toward the flu.

About halfway through the day, the pains in my back started, so I knew I was up against kidney stones. Pain pills helped with my liquid lunch, so I laid down and tried to rest. Finally took a short nap, and woke up at dinner time. Felt a little better, even though it was the tail end of the noontime pill battery, so thought maybe everything had gone back to normal. Even tried a little bit more substance for dinner, but then the pain decided to strike back with a vengeance. I tried more pain pills, but their effect had decided to take off for the weekend, and left me back in the bathroom, keeping the porcelain company.

Let me tell you, clam chowder seems to have some sort of replication effect in your stomach. I'm sure there were severe violations of the conservation of mass that night.

Well, the pain increased, and as my wife is fond of saying, when I start cussing up a storm, it's time to hit the emergency room. She drove me down, and wheeled me inside with one of their wheelchairs. They took me back immediately (during another visit last September they did the same thing, but it was because I was pale and near unconsciousness. Not sure what prompted that this time).

The pain was a 12 on a scale of 10 at this point, so they gave me something for that. It had to be morphine because I barely remember my visit. I do remember my wife mocking me for snoring (*eye roll*), having to move myself from the gurney to the CT scan machine, and then having to move from the gurney to my overnight bed. I also remember them asking for a urine sample, which I was in no condition to give.

Sure enough, they planned to keep me overnight, presumably for surgery in the morning. Because the morphine made me worse off than Rip Van Winkle, I had to rely on my wife's ability to relay details and necessary information and keep track of the situation. Not a good plan. I had to assume it would have entailed like my others where they go in and blast the stones into smaller fragments.

Needless to say, I didn't sleep well overnight. Tossed and turned, stood up to visit the restroom with nothing to show for my efforts. Finally, sometime in the middle of the night, I was able to go into one of those lovely plastic urinals. Since I hadn't been able to in the ER, I knew they were looking for a sample. So, I caught one of the nurses (assistants?) and mentioned it. He told me they didn't need it, so I mentioned the unfilled request from the ER. He was surprised, and went off to get a sample cup.

This, as we say in writing, is called foreshadowing.

I tossed and turned some more, kept walking around the room. The pain started in again, but this time it was in the front. My stone was making a run for the border. I tried to catch another nurse to see if they could give me something for the pain, but they ignored me (and I didn't push the call button, I suppose). In the end, it was probably good they did, because otherwise I would have been completely out of sorts for the morning. And that could have made things far worse.

I finally went to sleep around 3, still in pain, albeit manageable. The nurses woke me up around 7, telling me that the folks from surgery were here to take me to pre-op. All of them were disorganized, apparently because surgery was called, but the floor was not. Needless to say, it was a bit frightening to know that these were the people who were going to be performing surgery on me, surgery which I was not completely clear about. They wanted me to sign papers, and since I'm anal about that sort of thing, I read through them and noticed that it indicated I'd talked to the doctor about the surgery (which I hadn't).

Did I mention I was a bit frightened by this point?

The pre-op nurse came in at that point to take me out. I stood up and noticed I didn't have any pain at all. Knowing I wasn't under the influence of morphine, I asked to make a pit stop. Now, I've had kidney stones for years. Most of them have grown too large to pass on their own, but there have been times when I've had one come out by itself. It's a strange feeling hard to put into words.

Needless to say, I shot a big-mother-of-a-stone out at the last minute. There's no mistaking the "rock out of a straw" feeling, nor the "ker-thunk" as it hits the bottom of the plastic urinal. I poked my head out of the bathroom and told them they may want to hold off on surgery, since I just passed it. They were still running around like chickens with their heads cut off, so they told me to leave it in there, and they'd strain it. So, I did so, and went to go sit on the bed.

You can almost hear the music crescendoing in the background.

(Editor's note: the pre-op nurse told me later she was surprised I didn't pass out. I guess when you've been through it as many times as I have, it doesn't faze you as much)

The floor nurse walked in to the bathroom, then came out and said she didn't see anything when she strained it. Now, I've been through this whole ordeal of passing stones for a while, so know what it feels like and what these things look like, so I knew I'd passed a stone. So, I walked back into the bathroom, and sure enough, the stone was still sitting in the plastic urinal. I showed it to the pre-op nurse, and she agreed it was a stone.

Did I mention I was a bit frightened?

Thankfully, the doctor came in, the stone in a test tube, and verified I'd passed a stone and wouldn't need surgery. I'm certain I'll see a nice charge on the bill for that visit. It took them two more hours to get my discharge papers, but at least I got a free breakfast out of the deal...

Pancakes and sausage...yummy.

Oh, and lest I forget, it included coffee and milk. Which, for a guy with calcium kidney stones, are two big no-nos...
Hmmmm

kidney stones