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...

kidney stones

11 March 2008

Weekly Goals - March 11, 2008

Results for this week:

1. Completed the first draft of "Fate's Revenge"
2. Revised one chapter of Friends in Deed

And now the goal for this week:

1. Revise two chapters of Friends in Deed

Submission status for the week:

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

04 March 2008

Weekly Goals - March 4, 2008

This past week was a little better, even though there were some personal issues (including an excursion to our local emergency room, which could be a post in itself). When I woke up this morning, I was feeling a bit down because I'd barely done anything toward my weekly goals (even taking into account my ER trip). But tonight, I sat down and cranked out nearly 2500 words and finished a first draft. So, hopefully things can get back on track soon, or at least I hope I can springboard off tonight's success and maybe get a third first draft completed.

They say a person should always try to get the monkey off their back...but I'd rather say a person needs to get a big-mother-of-a-stone out of their kidney. That's the trick.

The results for this week:

1. Completed the first draft of "Twisted Fate"
2. Completed about 100 words on "Fate's Revenge"

And now the goals for this week:

1. Complete the first draft of "Fate's Revenge" (in one night? We'll see)
2. Revise two chapters of Friends in Deed

Submission status for the week:

Short stories:
"Genesis" (still looking for another outlet...anyone know of any Christian-based sci-fi mags?)
"Entrapment" (since February 10)
"Redemption" (rejected, re-submitted February 29)
"No Good Deed" (waiting to hear when the story comes out in Ray Gun Revival)
"Ever Dark" (rejected, looking for another reprint outlet)