Thursday, March 31

Thirsty Thursday #4

Thirsty Thursday is my own recurring meme whereupon I lift a glass (metaphorically speaking) to celebrate the triumphs I have experienced in the last seven days. They can be big, they can be small, but there has to be something because I believe life is all about looking at the positive. It's simply too short and too unpredictable to focus on the negative. So with that in mind, here is why I'm raising a glass today:

1. The proof copy of Spiral X came Monday, and it looks awesome! I have since approved the book and it is on sale at Amazon as of today! You can go HERE to order it.

2. The first week of the term is over and I am really looking forward to the weeks ahead. Small Business Management, especially, is one that I know will give me great insight into what I'm going to do going forward to build my business of being a writer.

3. The Plan, a short story I wrote for a contest, didn't win the contest I entered it into. However, since I was told by a few people that it was pretty good, I released it into the wild. You can look back to my Sample Sunday #10 post to read the entire thing, or to grab the link to where you can download it for free.

And that's it for this week. Not much, but it's been pretty slow overall. Work on Book Two has slowed down a little but I'm looking for it to pick back up this week.

So, what your reasons to celebrate the last seven days of your life?

Sunday, March 27

Sample Sunday #10

Today's Sample Sunday is brought to you by the word FREE, because that's what you're getting. On Friday I received word that my short story The Plan didn't make the cut at Red Adept Reviews recent contest. This doesn't make me happy or sad really. Like I said the other day, I know I have a ways to go when it comes to my writing, regardless of what other people say. Plus, the genre I was working in wasn't my norm, so it was a gamble. However, it was a win/win proposition. The people I showed it to during the Beta phase said it was good, so even if I didn't place in the contest (top 7 got into an anthology), I could still publish it for free to Smashwords and get my name out there. So that's what I did. I put together a cover image, did some quickie formatting, and uploaded it last night.

So for today's Sample Sunday, you get two choices. Hit the break to read The Plan in its entirety, or hit THIS LINK to go to download it for free from Smashwords. Hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, March 26

Thinking. Knowing. Comparing.

So how good do you think you are at something? Pretty good? Awesome? Not so good?

Okay, now how good do you know you are at something? Is it the same answer?

Now, how good do you think someone is at that same thing? Do you view them higher? Lower? On the same level?

I ask these questions because it's important for me to be able to put things into perspective. I think I'm an okay writer. Based upon the reviews I've received for Spiral X, I know I'm better than what I think. However, when I hold myself up to the writers I admire the most. Eddings, Butcher, Salvatore, Williams, I don't see myself as being in the same league. I want to be as good as them, or better. I have a lot of work to do.

I had an odd conversation with my academic advisor when I was set to sign up for this term's courses. Once I had finished confirming my choices, I was asked, "So how are you doing with your current classes?"

My response? "I think I'm doing okay, but we'll see." Keep in mind that I always have access to my grades, since it's an online university.

A few seconds later, after the advisor had called up my grades, she said, "But you're on pace to finish with an A!" She was confused by my hesitance. I imagine almost anyone would be. Why would a person, who is doing well enough to keep pushing through to get an A in a course, doubt what the end result would be?

It's because of who I am. I never doubt that I will get the grade I'm shooting for. When it comes to college, why wouldn't you give 100% and do whatever you could to graduate with an A? After all, it's money out of your pocket, not to mention the foundation for future success. Of course, it helps to have perspective over the whole thing. I'm quite sure if this were fifteen years ago and I was fresh out of high school that I wouldn't feel this way, but I guess that's what wisdom is all about.

I feel the same way about my writing. I know I'm a good writer, but I question that because it keeps me on edge. It forces me to look at what I'm doing, at how I'm doing it, and work to make it better. Egotism has no real place in the world of being a writer. When you feel you've got nothing left to improve, that you have nothing left to do in order to up your game, then it's time to get out. If you're surrounded by people who constantly tell you everything you want to hear and don't ride your ass on all the little things that make you better, then it's time to surround yourself with new people.

I want to be a writer. In fact, I want to be a successful writer. I would love nothing more than to make a living at doing this. But for as long as I live, for as long as I choose to write, I will always think of myself at a level lower than where others see me. Because while I know I'm a good writer, I also know I can get better. I know I can be a great writer.

I hope you all will join me as I work toward that goal.

Thursday, March 24

Thirsty Thursday #3

Thirsty Thursday is my own recurring meme whereupon I lift a glass (metaphorically speaking) to celebrate the triumphs I have experienced in the last seven days. They can be big, they can be small, but there has to be something because I believe life is all about looking at the positive. It's simply too short and too unpredictable to focus on the negative. So with that in mind, here is why I'm raising a glass today:

1. I got my final grades back from the two courses I was taking during the first term of the year, and the results are two As and a continuing 4.0 average. I'm very proud of this, not only because of how hard it is to maintain that average, but because with one of my courses, Composition II, I never felt as if I had a firm grasp on what I was doing or where I was going. Even after I handed in the final. I need not have worried though, and my professor was impressed enough that he told me I should forward the project to my congressional representative.

2. One set of classes ends, one set begins. I started my new term last night and got to interact with my Small Business Management professor for a bit. Not only does he have the second greatest last name in the world, Fail (he's also a doctor, so he's Dr. Fail), but he's very approachable and he understands completely why it's necessary for an artist such as myself to have something of a grasp on what it takes to run a successful business. Writing is only half the work, and not understand what is necessary to carry out the other half is why so many artists fail. I'm seriously looking forward to working with him over the next 10 weeks.

3. I finished off Chapter Eight and Nine. I'm still behind, and I'm beginning to think I will be until I hit my vacation next month, but that's okay. I'm still on track to complete the first draft of Book Two by the end of April, and that's the important thing.

4. And, to tie into #3, I've now written at least 500 words a day for the past two weeks. That's huge. I've never had a stretch where I've written consistently as long as that, not even during the one NaNo I completed back in 2003.

And that's about it. I'm sure I'm leaving one or two items off the list (and likely always will since my mind is like swiss cheese at times), but they are all reasons to look at this past week and say, "Good job!"

So what are your reasons to raise a glass?

Monday, March 21

Monday Musings

So I didn't do Thirsty Thursday and I didn't do Sample Sunday, and you must be wondering what did I do? Well, truthfully, not all that much. Then again, it doesn't feel like I did much, but that's actually pretty far from the truth. What actually happened is that I worked six 12-hour shifts over the course of seven days. I don't care who you are, I don't care what you do, that takes a lot out of a person. So ancillary stuff, like this blog and a few other things, sort of took a hit on the participation aspect of their collective existence. Things should get back on track this week.

So as a belated sort of TT, here you go:

- I crossed the 25% mark of Book Two (still searching for a title), which is to say 7 out of the 28 planned chapters have been written. I'm still about two chapters behind where I want to be, but I'm within the time limit of being 100% done with the First Draft by May 1st. Assuming I hit that date, things are looking up for the release date I have in my mind, which you will learn if I can hit the second milestone date of being done with the comprehensive edit by July 1st.

Told you I didn't do much. Well, there's some other stuff we did but most of it was under the headline of "big chores we had been putting off for a while and finally had the time available to get to it". Of which there are more, of course, you never truly get rid of those, but they ate up a lot of time. Oh, and I played some games, well a game. I also wrote, but that one of those things I do every day now.

Now, for SS... I'll hold off. I think I mentioned before that I was running out of material, and at the very least I wanted to limit how much I show of Book Two before I've had a chance to do some editing.

So I guess that's it for now. See you guys on Thursday.

Tuesday, March 15

The Value of an Opinion

I got called to the carpet the other day by a member of a gaming forum that I frequent about my admission that I would have a hard time reading a certain book because the author wrote it in Present Tense. For those unfamiliar with what I'm speaking about, it's as simple as the difference between saying, "Abe nods his head" and "Abe nodded his head". One gives a sense of happening right then as opposed to having already happened. For those with children, if you watch the Nick Jr. show Peppa Pig, it's told by the narrator in Present Tense. At any rate, the gist of what this forum member was trying to get at was that I was picking on the book because it didn't appeal to me, and that maybe I was experiencing a bit of writer envy. However, I think the member was missing the entire point of my original post, in that it was my opinion that I would have a hard time getting into the book because of the author's use of Present Tense. I still intend to read the book at some point, but with Book Two in the midst of being written, and with it being 3rd on my "to-be-read" list, I'm not sure when I'll get to it.

This kind of goes back to an earlier post where I talk about the importance of letting things go, where I talked about an author who went off the deep end based upon a negative review of her book. The value of an opinion is placed solely in the eyes of the one who holds that opinion. The fact that someone might not agree with said opinion does not make it any less valid or wrong, because you ask a hundred people what they thought about a subject, and why, you'll get a hundred different answers. Which one is right? The answer is "all of them", because when it comes to opinions, there are no wrong answers. The proof is in the pudding on this one, and for that I call attention to The Godfather, arguably one of the greatest movies of all time. Why arguably? Because despite the love, there are still a lot of people who simply don't like it, or place a higher value on another movie. That's okay though, because they're all right.

I finished up Chapter Five last night, which puts me a hair shy of 17,000 words. I was expecting Five to be shorter than it was, but as I was writing it I found myself adding a scene that gave depth to a minor character while also furthering the overall plot. I'll probably detail said minor character over the next couple of Sample Sundays, and in fact will probably detail the additional characters I introduce in Book Two over the course of the next few weeks. There's not a lot, but they all serve a purpose, and I want you to meet them.

Warning: Football Opinion Ahead. Read at your own risk.

Sunday, March 13

Sample Sunday #9

Read an E-book Week is over and I think it went fairly well. 37 copies of Split were sold at 100% off, and 3 copies of Spiral X were sold at 50% off. As well, during this promotion, Split remained prominent on the Short Story Best Sellers list for Smashwords' Fantasy (paranormal) and Thrillers and Suspense categories. Because I consider this a resounding success, I have decided to create a new coupon code so that anyone interested in picking up Split, but who might be on the fence about the decision, may do so at no cost to them. The code is on the button to your right, so click through and pick it up!

For today's Sample Sunday, I continue to bring you small excerpts from Book Two, and again, this one is from Chapter One. The setting is that of the famous Reunion Tower, and it has something of a unique view. Read on to see Cheryl's thoughts on it.

Disclaimer: Rough Draft, not everything is finalized, and the overall description is broken up a bit so the information is fragmented across the chapter, so I've only picked out a small portion to show you.

Thursday, March 10

Thirsty Thursday #2

Today's Thirsty Thursday is brought to you by Read an E-book Week, where Spiral X is 50% off HERE and Split is 100% off HERE.

Thirsty Thursday is my own recurring meme whereupon I lift a glass (metaphorically speaking) to celebrate the triumphs I have experienced in the last seven days. They can be big, they can be small, but there has to be something because I believe life is all about looking at the positive. It's simply too short and too unpredictable to focus on the negative. So with that in mind, here is why I'm raising a glass today:

1. Finished Chapter One of Book Two and have made progress into Chapter Two.

2. Set a date in the future to have Book Two done 100%. I will let that date slip here when it's almost a given that I'll meet it.

3. Finished my Composition final project and turned it in. I was unsure of how everything would turn out in regards to this, but I am happy to say that I'm confident in what I'm presenting.

4. Signed up for my next term's classes. Looking forward to tackling some new subjects.

5. Since this is Texas, our grass is growing already, so we got out there and got the lawn mowed and almost all the leaves raked up. Next week I get to do some lawn fertilization. Going to try sugar to help the nutrients and lower the nitrogen in the soil so the weeds will die out.

6. A couple of weeks ago we picked up a bunch of seeds (pea, pumpkin, watermelon, marigolds, and sunflowers) and planted them inside transferable pots. This is a family project. We weren't expecting much overall, at least not initially, but holy cow did those seeds sprout really fast! It's not totally "safe" to plant them outside yet, but we may not have a choice. Some of the shoots are topping over 6" right now and the roots of the pumpkins are already snaking around in the containers. So it looks like we'll have a garden this year (the first).

And that's about it. A lot of little stuff this week, and I'm sure I'm leaving one or two items off the list, but they are all reason to look at this past week and say, "Good job!"

So what are your reasons to raise a glass?

Sunday, March 6

Read an Ebook Week & Sample Sunday #8

Thought I would double up this Sunday's posting with the kickoff to Read an Ebook Week on top of Sample Sunday. So if you're here for the codes to get Spiral X for 50% off and Split for free, that's coming shortly. If you're here for the sample, that's after the jump. Navigate accordingly.

So I didn't know this, and I like to consider myself a repository for useless information, but apparently Ebooks have been around for forty years. Yes, you heard me right, forty years! You can dig into the history of the Ebook by hitting this link, which also happens to double as the official Read an Ebook Week website. I'm all about doubling up today, apparently. Despite how long it's been around though, it is only within the last few years that the Ebook has hit the big time, so it's been an interesting journey. I only hope my journey doesn't take forty years to take off. Just sayin'.

At any rate, as part of this occasion, Smashwords is holding a site-wide celebration, and any author who wanted to could take part in this endeavor by offering between 25-100% off of their books. Since I'm all about promoting myself these days, I have signed up.

So go to here to grab Spiral X for 50% off with the code RAE50.

Go here to grab Split for 100% off (that's FREE!) with the code RAE25.

And hey, while you're at it, go grab a few others. Indies authors need all the support they can get. Happy Read an Ebook Week!

Thursday, March 3

Thirsty Thursday!

Life is all about challenges. Whether you succeed or fail, we set these challenges in front of us all the time. It's the little things, like, "I'm going to get my laundry done today," to bigger things, like, "I'm going to go back to school and get my degree." We set these challenges so that we know where we stand in life, and each success or failure improves us as a person. So I thought I would take today to celebrate the challenges my family and I met this week. Raise a glass, and celebrate Thirsty Thursday!

1. My wife and I had our second parent-teacher conference this year for our son. We came out of it very proud at the progress he's made since starting Pre-K. Not only is he more vocal, he's starting to voice his disagreements more, which is going to be important as he grows up. Overall, he's a very smart, very capable little boy who is growing up way too fast for our tastes. However, I'm looking forward to helping him grow.

2. Two and a half years ago, after the passing of my father-in-law, my wife and I took in her mother and gave over the master bedroom of our house for her to live in. We moved our daughter into my son's room, and my wife and I moved into her room. At the time, it was pink with purple polka dots on the lower half of the wall, plus purple trim. And that is how it stayed for almost two-and-a-half years. Why didn't we change it? Time. Money. Take your pick. Well, this week we finally got fed up enough to do something about it, and over the course of a couple of days, we repainted the room. Three walls are an off-white, while the fourth is a sponged-on dark blue color. It looks awesome, and the room is finally ours.

3. I finished the outline for Book Two and have started the actual process of writing. This is a huge moment for me because this will be the first time I sit down with a book and know exactly how I want it to look from beginning to end. And it should line up so that I won't have to go back and do any major revisions. I'm expecting a few snags along the way, no book project makes it through without them, but overall I'm thrilled to be able to get going on this. I also think people are going to enjoy it immensely, but then I'm biased.

That's it for this week. For me, at least. So tell me, what were your successes this week? What are you raising a glass to?