Monday, May 30

Memorial Day

Memorial Day has a special meaning for me. I'm a Navy vet, having served four years from '96 to '00 and conducting two tours in the Middle East. I did my service, left honorably, and still count it as one of the best decisions I've made in my life. In fact, I question at times how different my life would look if I had taken a deal offered by my CO to stick around for another four years. But ultimately, my heart wasn't in it anymore. I knew that when hearing the Star Spangled Banner failed to elicit any response out of me, good or bad. I think if you want to make a life out of serving your country, your heart has to be in it 100%, and mine wasn't.

Beyond that, I have two relatives who unfortunately are no longer around anymore, that I remember often, but especially on days like today. My grandfather, Doyle Johnson, served in the Army at the tail end of World War II, after the fall of Hitler but while Allie forces were still going through the process of putting things back to relative normalcy. Also, my father-in-law, Ron Tasch, who served in the Air Force during Vietnam. The work he did, I'm certain, will never be made public. All I know is that his unit worked closely with the CIA in a place in the Philippines that technically didn't exist until sometime last decade, when documents surrounding it were declassified.

I miss them both, and remember them on this day for the service they gave to this country. /salute

Sunday, May 29

I'm a Sports Guy

I think that's fairly evident, given that I namecheck the Dallas Cowboys as my favorite team in my bio, but it goes beyond that. I like sports. I like competitiveness. I think the best qualities of humanity come out in the midst of competition. The desire, the drive to compete, to do our best. It doesn't matter if the competition is on a field, or in an arena, or in a classroom. Participating in competition is something we all have done as part of our life process. But getting back to sports, I think our collective psyche as Americans live and breathe in our sports heroes, and in our desire for competition.

The Dallas Cowboys are my team. I was a fan during their 1-15 season, and even after I found myself in Buffalo living with my mom, I rooted for them. Their first two Super Bowls of the 90s didn't win me over any new friends. It was in Buffalo, however, that an appreciation for Basketball and Hockey came into being. Buffalo is a hockey town, first and foremost, which is why I think that if the Bills ever do move, it won't be a catastrophe. Take the Sabres away, however, and there will be blood. Now, Buffalo doesn't have a basketball team (fun fact: The L. A. Clippers were originally a franchise in Buffalo), but the 90s had a certain superstar by the name of Michael Jordan. It was impossible not to see him everywhere you turned. So it was during that time that I learned the rules of both games and found an interest in the competition therein.

It wasn't until recently that I gained an appreciation for Baseball. I have my good friend Bill to thank for that. He's a die-hard Rangers fan (and one could say long-suffering), and it was through him that I gained insight into the intricacies of how a game plays out. It helped that last year the Rangers made it to the World Series. One of the first things I did when they knocked the Yankees out of the ALCS was call up Bill and congratulate him on the accomplishment. He's not on the team, and is just a fan, but as a Sports Guy, when a friend's team succeeds, they are part of the experience.

I am lucky to live in a 4-sport town. Granted, I don't follow the hockey team (may they rot in hell), but in the age of the internet, I don't need to live in Buffalo to follow the Sabres. Though, being able to see them on TV would be nice. So I get sports all year long. It's nice, being a Sports Guy, to always have something to look forward to. And right, now it's a good time to be a Dallas Sports Guy. And here's why:

Saturday, May 21

Fail Over

Somewhere around the middle of the day, Verizon resolved their issue and I could access my email again. So people can once again (not) send me email.

On another, non-fail note, I love our new desk. Not only does it look good, it's big enough to keep everything associated with it on top and still have room to spread out my notes and whatnot. Went out yesterday and got a wireless adapter for the computer so I could move it from the old desk to the new one. Our router has long had wireless, and we use it mainly for the laptop and my mother-in-law's netbook, but I've always just plugged a cable into it for a connection when it came to our main computer. With the new desk being somewhere else, running a cable just wasn't a feasible solution. Plus, going wireless allows me to put the router back behind the couch, where the wall connection is, and get rid of this ugly blue network cable that's been hanging over the living room entrance since, well, I don't remember. It's been a few years. It's gone now, the old desk is out by the garbage for someone to pick up, and everything looks a whole heck of a lot better.

It was time for a change, and I'm thrilled that it turned out the way it did.

Friday, May 20

Verizon Fail and Random Stuff

In a very odd turn that makes absolutely no sense, I can no longer access my account. So if, for some reason I can't fathom, someone wishes to get a hold of me, your best bet is to leave me a line on my Facebook Wall. At least, until Verizon gets their act together.

Since I don't want to make a post that's just one paragraph (and a short one at that), here is what is currently on my plate in terms of things I need to do:

1. Small Business Management Final Project - This is a miniature business plan and is what most of my energy is being put towards these days. Like many of my final projects for school, I am not very confident in my ability to produce something that is going to "make the grade" as it were, but that's not going to stop me from trying. The bulk of the work is done, now it's just putting it all together. It is my hope that I will be able to make use of the business plan to potentially finance future works, at least until this becomes a self-perpetuating process.

2. Java Programming - I have a final project due in this class as well, but that's on hold until I get done with the SBM project. In fact, in order to make room for the SBM stuff, I did this week's assignment ahead of time and turned it in yesterday. I'm not really expecting too many problems here, but it's still something I have to do.

3. Catch up on what I've written for Bitter Nights so far so that I can continue writing. I'm expecting that I'll be able to get a lot done over the next month as I finish off my current courses and get to work on the next. Still shooting for an early fall release, but a lot of that depends on how the next month goes in terms of production.

4. Write down the ideas I have for the series. I have not done this yet, and it needs to be done. Currently I have the overarching plot of Book 3, the basic plot of Book 4, ideas about 5 and 6, as well as a sort of 6.5 that be written between 6 and 7. Plus there's the shorts, of which I have three or so in my head that need to be written down. And of course, since The Eternal War isn't the only idea I have, I need to write down my other ideas as well. If only I weren't so good at procrastination.

Thursday, May 19

Thirsty Thursday #8

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. New Desk! For years my wife and I have bounced around between department store desks that you put together yourself. Not this time. We went to an actual furniture store and picked up something that meets our needs and will last us a really long time. So exciting!

2. Savings! My wife continues to expand and refine our budget saving weekly grocery store shopping trips, and so far this month we're over 30% savings. We're already spending less than we normally were, and that's with stocking up on items as we come into good deals.

3. Reading! I read "Legacies" by F. Paul Wilson, the second in the Repairman Jack series and I was struck by the similarities in the pacing of the book compared to what I did with Spiral X. It starts off kind of slow, there's a few "moments" but nothing too heart racing, but it's all build up to the last half of the novel, which starts and does not stop until the end. A very good read. Also the first book I've read in a few months. There's always a correlation between me writing and me reading, and I have to keep up the latter in order to keep up with the former. Me reading is a good thing.

4. Giveaway contests! I am participating as part of a giveaway contest for Mommies Who Love Freebies. Instructions are in Album 1 on the 4th picture (consequently, Spiral X/Split/The Plan are in Album 1 as well). Overall there are something like 500 items up, so if you're a Mommy and you love Freebies, head on over and check it out.

And that's it for tonight. And, because I can, GO MAVS!

Saturday, May 14

Where I Stand

I'm sure the people who follow this blog have wondered about the lack of updates, or really anything substantial on my part for the better part of a month, and I thought it a good time to step in and say a few things.

I'll be upfront in saying that right now I'm really, really frustrated at how things have gone for me in a literary sense for the past few months. It's not because of something someone did, but more along the lines of something no one seems to be doing, and that's buying my books. I've sold less than ten copies across all three titles in the past two months. Half of those sales belong to The Plan, which is kind of odd to me because it's available for Free at Smashwords. But The Plan is, and pretty much always will be, something of an afterthought. I put my best effort into it, didn't make the cut at the Red Adept Reviews contest, and since I know it's pretty good, I put it out there. My focus remains on The Eternal War, and that's where the frustration comes from.

I think I could live with the fact that people weren't buying it if it sucked. However, I have well over thirty independent confirmations that it doesn't suck. I have people who can't wait for the follow up. And yet, despite this, The Eternal War seems to be having a problem gaining an audience. Konrath talks about needing a bit of luck to take off, or that it takes a while for something to find an audience. Intellectually I understand this, but emotionally I find myself unable to accept it. This book is good, damnit! But it seems hardly anyone cares.

I think that's part of the reason why my writing took a dive around the start of my vacation last month. Another part was burnout, that was my first staycation in a long time, and despite my best intentions, I just couldn't bring myself to keep writing all the way through it. Instead I dove into a couple of games, and I've been using my free time almost exclusively in that regard since then, whereas before I would moderate my gaming with writing. However, a part of me wondered what the point was. Why should I write if no one was going to read it? Call the last three weeks my rebellion against doing something without the promise of fulfillment from outside myself.

Now, for those begging me to back away from the edge on this, I'm not saying that I've decided to stop writing. I have too many story ideas in my head to do that, and despite the low number of people who do enjoy what I've written, the mere fact that I do have fans means I can't just walk away. Not anymore. I have people counting on me to finish Bitter Nights so that they can enjoy the next adventures of Cheryl and the people around her. And not only this book, but the ones coming after, the twists, the turns, the surprises, and the eventual moment that will result in people wanting to find me and scream, "Why!" in response to something I plan on doing down the road. This is something I want to do, and I am happy to do it.

Sometimes, the motivation won't be there. And it hasn't been. But it's coming back. I wrote today, something I haven't done in three weeks. I'm getting into the meat of BN, and I'm looking forward to bringing everything to a sound conclusion. Call this me getting back to work. Pity Party over, it's time to buckle down and give my fans a reason to shout my name from the rooftops.

Thursday, May 5

Thirsty Thursday #7

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. In an effort to reduce our costs, the wife and I have embarked on a mission to more effectively use the coupons that come with the Sunday papers and in our mail every week. And by effectively, I mean not just using them because they're available, but coupling them with in-store deals and the like in order to get the best possible deal. With that in mind, we saved about 30% off our purchases this week and loaded up in several items that we won't have to look at replacing for another three months or so... when the next deal for those items rolls around. The hope is that we will reduce how much we spend on groceries by over 50%. This is the perfect thing for my wife to be doing, because she is the list-lady and she loves toying with spreadsheets. Seriously, you should have seen her in our MMO days.

2. Signed up for next term's classes. Introduction to Mobile Computing, and Networking Essentials. Like I've said before, writing is something I want to do, but in the meantime I have to pay the bills, and that's what the degree is about. Now, I really wanted to continue my Java classes, because I've got a good handle on the subject matter and want to push into the more complex stuff, but apparently it's one of those that is only taught every other quarter, and the next quarter isn't one of them. However, the silver lining here is that the book used is the same as the one I'm using now and it's conveniently in e-book form with PDF files for each chapter. Intro to Java is 1 through 8 and Intermediate Java is 9 though 16. So I'll just download the latter and work on that with the other classes since each chapter only takes me about a day to run through. Aside from that, I'm really excited about the next term, but I have to stay focused on finishing out this term.

That's it for this week. Not much, I know, but some weeks there won't be. I'm also being conscious about repeating myself, so there's that as well. There are victories that come every week, but they're not always worth repeating.

Oh, and just to show my homerism here... GO MAVS!