Monday, January 31, 2011

Passing Plagues and Getting That Short Story Out

So, a new week begins.

The kids seem healthy, if a little rough, and I think it's safe to send them back to school. Amazingly, after a week of nursing two sick kids back to health, I haven't seemed to caught what they had. I know, I know, this coming from the guy who can catch a cold from somebody in the next state, but there it is...I'm still symptom free.


 Normally, a child free Monday would mean I would finally have the house to myself, but my father has to come back and work on patching the hole in our shower. The plumbers replaced the shower faucet, but we have to fix the hole they made fixing it. But that's okay... adult company isn't near as distracting as kids...and we'll both be busy anyways. I'm going to keep practicing with .prc files and see if I can find a way to embed an image in kindle files.

I haven't heard back from either of my two proofreaders for The Mushroom Man yet, but hopefully I'll get some feedback tonight or tomorrow. Since sending them the drafts, I have continued to tweak what I can find...mainly reducing a little of the verbiage at the beginning of the story and smoothing out a few awkward passages. Hopefully, I will be hitting that "Publish"  button before the week is over. But I still need to get that feedback... if nothing else on the general feel and plot of the story.

Because that's always the part the author is blindest too. We are often too close to our work to tell if we are conveying what we intend, or if we are just seeing it because we know it's supposed to be there. That's why I need those other pairs of eyes. Oh well, it shouldn't be long now.

Have a good week, folks.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Weekend Haiku

It is the weekend
The children are home with me
My writing has ceased.

The food bowl is empty
The cat food sits in the bag
The cats protest loudly

Sunday is coming
A Sunday without football
The autumn takes flight

The third draft is done
The Mushroom Man is printed
The proofreaders read

The boy has fever
He said he’s too old to nap
He snores in his bed

The race will be soon
The Pinewood Derby looms near
The car must be done

My parents are here
More repairs are getting done
It works out that way

The wife is at work
It is her weekend to toil
I hope she’s home soon.

Morning will be me
With Rowan and Sheridan
My hands will be full

Friday, January 28, 2011

It's Been a Week

It's been a week, folks.

First of all, I have had one or both kids home sick every day this week. They have been fighting a fever and cough that doesn't seem to want to let go. We thought we had Rowan healed and sent her to school on Weds, but that turned out not to work well. We will probably try again with her tomorrow since she did so well Thursday afternoon. Sheridan isn't as far along yet, and will most likely stay home Friday as well. He spent all afternoon on the couch Thursday with an on again/off again fever.

Then, on top of that, I had plumbers over for two days tearing all our faucets and fixtures out and replacing them. Hooray! At least we have hot water again! On the other hand our water pressure is still not what it should be but the only way to fix that is to replace all our pipes. A quick estimate from the plumbers of what that would cost, and I realized I will have to sell some organs to afford it now. So it's going to have to wait...for a good while.

Obviously, this means that not a lot of editing has gotten done. What I might do is go ahead and print out what I have tomorrow and pass it on to my proofreaders for comment. I like to give them as polished a product as possible, but it's not in bad shape and I can still tweak it more after getting feedback from them. I have actually already gone over it one and a half times now, so it's hardly a rough draft anymore. And with only four days left till February, I would like to turn more of my attention to kindle formatting.

Then it will be time to try another project. What I might do is send a copy of what I got of Argiope off to yet another proofreader and get feedback from him as I'm thinking of putting a few weeks into that. But I need to get busy on something to keep that production going.

Busy, busy, busy!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday Stuff

Well, we had Sheridan stay home sick yesterday again, but sent Rowan to school. She hadn't had a fever in over 24 hours, but we might have sent her back a day soon. She woke up a complete grouch, and her teachers both at Public School and Learning Lane said she had pretty much decided to be impossible for much of the day. We'll hope for better results today.

I had my friend, Robert Dobbs come in for a visit. He and I used to be meter readers in the city of College Station back in the late nineties, and shared many an adventure and dog attack together. Ah, the good old days. He's still looking good, but my fat butt would make a slow and easy target for those canines nowadays. It's safe to say my dog dodging days are over.

Needless to say, with sick kiddos and out of town visitors, I didn't get any editing done. That's okay, I'm still on target. The Mushroom Man should be up in early February then it's on to Argiope.

Which brings up another point. One thing I've learned while writing as an independent is that books do need four critical factors...just like Joe Konrath said. A great story, a great cover, a great blurb, and a great title. "Argiope" simple doesn't work as a great title. Most people have no idea what an argiope and the title would put them off. Titles have to be catchy, easy, and give a quick and visceral idea of what the story is about. So while Argiope is the placeholder title, I'll have to come up with something else once I'm ready to publish.

But that's all issues for another day.

For now, Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Weds Infirmary Update

Well, we finally have the girl up and functioning and heading off to school today, but the boy is still down with the crud. The girl was definitely grouchy about it though. She takes after her dad and thinks getting up in the morning is for the birds. She had really enjoyed that sleeping in part to being sick. Truthfully, I know when I was a kid that I truly believed from the bottom of my heart that there was nothing worth learning before noon anyways.

So, one kid gone and one still to go.

I've been working on editing The Mushroom Man. I managed to lose all progress from yesterday when I somehow saved an older version over the edited manuscript. Fortunately, I remembered what I had been working on, so I managed to go back and put all the edits back in. But that was still a dumb thing to do and very annoying.

I'm also trying to figure out how to put pictures into kindle documents. I think it would make my stories look a lot more professional if I could have the covers I designed show up on the first page of the story. So that's another thing I'm working on. Since I have no formal training at any of this, I'm just trying to piece things together while I play with things. Another thing I'm going to have to learn to do is figure out how to make a table of contents that link straight to chapters in the kindle. If I want to collect the Shades stories into an anthology, I think the reader would appreciate being able to jump straight to the story they want to read.

Sigh. Study, study, study.

But, I'll be sure and do that studying after noon so it will be worth learning.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Coming Soon & Coming Along

The first draft of The Mushroom Man is done, and the editing as begun. I will do a little more cleaning up with it and then send a printout to one or two of my trusted proofreaders. Meanwhile, I have also been working on cover design as well. With any luck this might get published at the end of January or early February.

But that is not all that's coming along. Check this out...

Yep, that's right. She's reading. This is actually the second time she read it, and she did an even better job the first time when it was her idea. This time I had her do it for the camera and I think she was wondering what was up with that.

We also had some plumbers come in yesterday and replace the faucet and valves on the bathtub. This turned out to be quite a tall order as all the parts were thirty years old, corroded, and fell apart in their hands as they tried to remove them. Then things got really complicated when they discovered that our raccoon in the attic can make it's way down inside the wall and hide between the wall and the bathtub. So they kind of blocked that area with some blankets so they could replace things without getting eaten by a raccoon. This worked well until the cat snuck in and rubbed on them. There was a bit of frenzy there for a moment,  but it all worked out.

They'll be coming back today to replace a bunch more stuff. Sigh. It needs to be done but our wallets are already crying "Uncle!"

I'm going to encourage my son to grow up to be a plumber. That way he can take care of me in style in my old age.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Writer's Night Out: Triple Threat

Cherri Galbiati and I had our weekly writers night out last night, and this time we had a guest. Our friend and fellow author, Diana Driver, joined the festivities. And what I discovered was three writers equals three times the fun. We laughed, chatted, and talked writing until after midnight. A good time was had by all.

I will probably be dumb as a brick later since I had a cheeseburger. I was celebrating finishing the first draft of The Mushroom Man, so I took a night off from the diet. As fat as I am, nobody would believe the word "diet" should be associated with me anyways. Now all I have to do is go back and start cleaning the story up and my January short story will be done. Yay me!

On another front, Sheridan got straight A's on his report card again AND a straight excellent marks on his weekly conduct report, so I felt it was only right that we celebrate with a  father/son outing to Old Town Spring. We had frito pies, fries, and talked about school and stuff. It was good.

So, last week ended well and this one has a good start...mostly.

Rowan has come down with a cold and fever, so she will be staying home with me tomorrow. We'll probably sit around the house sniffling and I'll try and get the place cleaned up so the piles of mess and dirty dishes don't collapse on poor Cherri when she comes to watch Rowan while we take Sheridan to Cub Scouts. I'll do my best.

Have a happy Monday, folks!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

At Last

It's four fourteen in the morning, and I have just finished the rough draft of The Mushroom Man.

It still needs a lot of editing and revising, but the story is written. It ended up weighing in at 10,381 words.

Now I'm going to bed.

Good night, folks.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Weekend Stuff

Today has gone well. 

I have gotten the Mushroom Man up to 8,644 words, and it looks like it will end up weighing in at about 9,500 words in all. It's turning out to be quite a different story than it's original idea, but I think it's a much better story. It's going to need some serious revision, but there is a good story in there. The character came alive on me and started dictating the plot and mood. I like it when that happens.

So the odds of having a finished rough draft by the end of the weekend have gone way up. Yay!

Tomorrow, I'll be taking care of Rowan while Karla will help Sheridan carve his Pinewood Derby car for Cub Scouts. I think I'll take her out somewhere...that way I can't be used as a witness for whatever happens at home. The combination of little Mr. Eager Beaver, Mrs. Patience, and a sharp instrument are just too much for me to risk. I hope they have fun.

Afterwards, assuming there are survivors, they will take their new creation to the Cub Scout meeting and put it to the test. This week is just for testing and weighing their creations, so they can tweak whatever they have left. 

After THAT, I still have to do something for the boy. He got his report card in with straight A's, and his conduct report with straight smiley faces. I suppose you gotta reward a kid when he does something like that, so I'll take him to see Yogi Bear or something like that. I'll have to find out what's playing.

I'm also still enjoying having mobility again :)

So a week that had all the potential to be a complete disaster ended up rather well. Here's hoping the weekend continues that trend.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting Out

One of the resolutions I made this year, was to get out, be a little more social, and spend a little more time with my friends. The combination of being a writer, being disabled, and having a special needs child has combined over the years into making me something of a recluse. I wasn't really aware how bad it was getting at the time, but it got to the point where I was only seeing my two best friends (Cherri and Charlie) maybe once every other week to once a month...or less. And they both live within blocks of me, in the same neighborhood.

So I try to see Cherri now once a week at our Writer's Nights Out. Yesterday, Charlie called and i realized it had been over  a month since I visited her as well. So I dropped by and we spent the morning talking about kids, jobs, and....Argiope. Charlie is one of my trusted proofreaders, and therefore has advance access to my projects. Argiope seems to be her favorite project of mine, so we discussed where that was going and how I intended to get it there.

It turned out to be a good thing to do because she had some great ideas regarding titles and covers, not to mention some good suggestions regarding issues I was trying to decide on in regards to the novel itself. So while I didn't actually end up writing anything yesterday morning, it turned out to be very productive anyways since I've now settled how I'm going to go forward with the novel. I even spent my hour at Starbucks yesterday playing on the photo editor with the idea for a book cover that we came up with.

So it might be important for Nate to get out a little more and see his friends. That's a good way to work out  ideas....but more importantly it's a good way to keep those friends. I really enjoyed myself and hadn't realized how much I missed hanging out. I'm going to have to work on that.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Well, after yesterdays disastrous breakdown of my backup brace, I thought I was pretty much up a creek without a paddle. I could only hobble at best and, since it was my right brace, I couldn't drive either.

Fortunately, Karla found a local orthotics place that was actually willing to work on a pair of braces they hadn't made. Even better, the brace they fixed was my original AFO so I'm now mobile again in a bigger way. Even better, I may be able to use them to get a brand new pair of AFO's soon. Woohooo!

Having said that, I didn't get much writing done yesterday as I spent most of the day in a very foul mood. As my main character in Argiope puts it (he wears AFO's too), it is incredibly depressing how easily one can be crippled by the simple removal of an object. So I was not in a writing mood. Oddly enough though, while I lay there brooding, feeling sorry for myself, and not writing, I may have thought up a way to go forward with Argiope all is was not lost after all.

But first I need to finish The Mushroom Man. I know where I want to go with the story it's just a matter of threading my way there and making it good. Sometimes that's the trick. But I still think there is an even chance I could have the rough draft finished some time this weekend. I'm feeling the character now, and that helps a lot. I just need to sit down a few hours with the story uninterrupted. Hopefully Friday will work out. Then I would have finished my first short story in 2011 and it would still be January.

In 2009 I wrote 12 stories in twelve months, and did a first edit of The Ways of Khrem. In 2010, my production fell off as I wrote only seven, edited The Ways of Khrem with Pill Hill Press,  and did about fifty thousand words of Argiope. I would kind of like to try and return to twelve short stories this year. Getting those out always make me feel like I'm doing something.

Oh well, we will see. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Oh fer Pete's sake! I knew things were going too well to last.

 The backup leg brace that I had replaced my broken right brace with...just broke as well.

I'm now a one legged man.

Even worse, since it's the brace on my accelerator and braking foot, I can't drive.

I gotta figure something

All Good Things

Progress on The Mushroom Man continues...and the progress is good. Sometimes taking that delay, and backing up and looking at something really works out. What started out as a story that seemed okay, has gone in an completely different direction than originally intended and is turning out to be a much better story because of it. I'm now 6,500 words into it, and I expect it to reach somewhere between 7,500 to 8,500 words when it's done. And with a little luck, I'll have the first draft done by this weekend.

Yay, me!

I also want to give credit to my lovely wife, Karla, for her technical advice that is so helpful in making this story possible.

Yay, Karla!

Sheridan had to take a reading evaluation test in school, and received top marks in all categories!

Yay, Sheridan!

Rowan has pretty much been Rowan this week. But that's okay, too.

Yay, Rowan!

So there is lots of positive energy floating around. Here's hoping it continues, and results in good things.

Now if I can just get used to this blasted brace on my right leg. It's still a huge pain in my butt. It's only redeeming feature is that it's so big and visible that everybody just naturally gives me plenty of room to maneuver as I go by. Even the people at Starbucks tell me to just go to my table and they'll bring me my drink. Of course, that's probably because they're tired of watching me wobble in this thing and don't want to see one of their displays get knocked over.


Oh well, it will all work out...and right now, it's all good.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

So I Slept In

On the first and last day of the week (formerly Monday and Friday before the public school started taking all these three day weekends) it's Karla's duty to get the kids on the bus. This creates a more equitable share of kid handling between us, and allows me to get a little extra sleep twice a week. I still make the kids their lunches, but then go straight back to bed. In other words I'm only up about fifteen to twenty minutes, as opposed to the hour it takes from the time I usually get up till the bus comes. So it's easy to go back to sleep.

So that's what happened, and that's why the late post.

And since this kind of counts as a Monday, it also means there really isn't anything to report yet. I've got a direction that I want my short story to go now, I just need to make it go that way. So that's where I am writing wise. Pretty quick, I'll go pick up Rowan and take her to her therapy at Learning Lane, so that's where I am activity wise. The house is a huge  mess, so that's where I am house husband wise. Sigh.

Have a good day folks, and don't be surprised by late Monday and Friday updates.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Random Day

I attended our weekly writer's night out with Cherri Galbiati last night. Poor Cherri has her hands full with plumbers tearing her house apart at the moment, so after initially cancelling she changed her mind and decided she needed to get out after all. Ominously, her problems sound very similar to the ones we are having here, and Karla will be calling a plumber tomorrow as well. We just bought a  new hot water heater because we weren't getting any hot water anywhere...and now were still not getting any hot water anywhere. Not to mention, the water pressure at the kitchen sink is about at a drizzle.

Bad pooky...

Anyways, on another front I have updated my New Years resolution to a more sane and achievable goal. Instead of losing forty pounds this year, I've decided to gain it instead. I'm sure that if I throw myself into it, I can achieve this with little effort. And since I'm stating it as a goal right now, I will have the bonus of not feeling guilty about it later. And there isn't that whole sense of failure that goes along with standing on a scale and learning that you've gained back everything you lost.

I'll just change my nickname to Porky and write cookbooks.

Actually, I have sharpened the vague resolution of one goal. I'm going to try and combine stories I've already written with stories I've yet to write, and have a "Ten Tales of Terror" (or something like that) anthology available in June. That's a firm goal, and I think achievable. So there's that.

Unfortunately, I won't be getting a lot of writing done this week because I just lost one of my two main writing days. I have the kids home from school tomorrow all day, so writing is kind of out of the question. Sigh. But aty least I know where I'm going with the current short story I'm working on, so I expect progress with that soon.

Yeah, this post is kind of random.

Sorry folks, but it's been kind of a random day.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Our Ballerina

It's been a kid day for me. Karla had to work, then go to a bridal shower. But she brought home a little ballerina outfit for Rowan, so we put it on her and put a clip of Swan Lake on TV. She caught on very fast.

Another interesting tidbit. I noticed her reading a short sentence on the computer, and she spoke much more clearly than she normally does. So I printed out a paper with a few key sentences, just to see if she would read them. It turns out the ones she could read, she could say a little better than if she were trying without the paper. She also carried the paper around with her, and used it to request a bottle of juice, then for Karla to put her jammies on her. Interesting.

Well, this was just a bonus update, so it was never intended to be long. Continue to enjoy yall's weekends out there!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Three Day Weekend Alert

      I’m faced with a three day weekend, home alone with the kids.

     As usual, that means the writing comes to a halt while my attention moves to the needs of the little ones. I suppose in this case that’s just as well, since I have reached a point in The Mushroom Man where I have to decide the nature of the threat the main character faces.

      Initially, she was going to be tracked down by the revenant of a killer whose body she found in a city park but didn’t report. That’s the supernatural option if I choose to take it. The other option is that, since the corpse she found had mushrooms growing out of it, she has stumbled upon the birth place of a new and deadly species of fungi with a ghastly propagation method, and is unwittingly spreading its spores. This is the scifi option. If I go with the scifi option, I may change the name to Punctuated Equilibrium, since that would be both the scientific term of what happened and is also a term handed to me by my friend Steve recently.

     I’ll have all weekend to think about it. I might even write both versions later just so I’m getting something done. I’m considering that because I’m famous for letting decisions like that paralyze me.

     I’m still reading my Hemingway and, oddly enough, it’s given me a couple of ideas for a Tales of Nur story or two. I’ll file those for later, since I want to start working on Argiope again after The Mushroom Man is finished. I need to get that one done. I’ve done a little tweaking on it, in hopes that it will help me move forward when I start that project again.

     But little of that will happen this weekend. This weekend is for the kiddos.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Upswing

Things went better this week.

First of all, the new cover for Shades: Wind and Dark Waters is now up at It's a big improvement over the old one. I'm starting to realize the importance of cover art, even on kindle stories. It seems my best sellers are also the ones with the most dramatic or high impact covers. My inclination in art tends towards the subdued, but I realize that is exactly what I don't want in cover art. Cover art needs to be bold, dramatic, and eye catching.

My writers block seems to be starting to unjam a little as well. I actually added over a thousand words to The Mushroom Man and now have it at 4000 words. I'm starting to "see" it again in my head as well. That's a good thing. That's a very good thing. So here's hoping that trend continues.

Friday is my "day off," in the sense that the kids are at school all day and it's Karla's job to get them on the bus. I often go back to bed after making them breakfast and getting their lunches packed. Sometimes though I'll stay up to maximize the potential of all that child free time...although sleeping in could also be considered maximizing it's potential if you think about it. Hmmmm....

Lately, I've been reading more of Hemingway's short stories. That guy had an exciting life for a writer...although I have no desire to emulate him on that score. It's his prose and style that I find so fascinating. I do not copy it, but I'll admit it has a bit of an influence on the way I approach many scenes. The man was an absolute master at having dialogue carry a scene. That, I do try to emulate in my own way.

So the end of this week features better covers, more writing, good reading, and better writing...all at the same time. I can live with that.

On a last note, the last raccoon in our attic is still to clever for the trap. I rebaited it after a few months, hoping that he had forgotten about it. He hasn't. On the other hand, he has figured out how to operate the pull cord on the light fixture, and despite being a nocturnal animal it seems he prefers a little light in his attic. Every time I  open the door to the attic now, the light is on. I turn it off, and it grumbles it's way over and turns it back on after I close the door. Sigh. Why can't I have a normal house like everybody else?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Morning Stuff

Right now I'm trying to get the kids dressed and out the door to their respective school buses. Logic insists these are the same kids who bounce out of bed on the weekend with energy to spare, but the evidence suggests otherwise. These two creatures have more in common with tree sloths than those weekend bundles of energies. Yet sadly, they still exhibit more energy and enthusiasm than I.

Six thirty is simply not the hour we evolved to wake up at. My personal theory is that, since we have forward facing eyes and canines, our ancestors were predators and most likely nocturnal. Vampires are just a distant fragment of racial memory of our more primitive and happier selves when we woke up in the evening, slaughtered cute fluffy creatures, and held raves around campfires.

Then women insisted on civilization and it all went downhill from there.

Oh well, it is what it is, and the kids have to get off to school. So with apologies to my ancestors, who probably sneer at me with great contempt from the foggy distance of the ages, I must sally forth to put the little boogers on their buses. Yay me!

Oh, and the blue moon version of the alternate cover to Shades: Wind and Dark Waters in yesterday's post has been declared the Peoples Favorite and will soon replace the current less than stellar image.

Happy Humpday, Folks!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday, Covers and Things

And here is a blue variation, per Cherri's request.

After coming to the conclusion that I should explore the idea of an alternate cover for Shades: Wind and Dark Waters, I came up with the cover above. What do people out there think? You can see the current cover in the sidebar to the right. So which is better? Which has more "oomph?" Please leave opinions or suggestions in the comment area below.

At least something got done...other than folding socks.

What I'm going to do is give all my current projects a read through from either the beginning, or in the case of Argiope, the middle of the manuscript and see if I can get back into the groove of one of them and start "seeing" it again. As I've said before, it's when I'm seeing it that I write the best scenes. If I can't, I might try starting something new. That won't mean I'll shelve my current projects... it's too early to give up and do that. It just means I might write something stupid to clear out the mental blockage. Probably something I never intend to see print.

Or maybe I'll slap a pen name on it and see if the sense of freedom that comes with that leads to anything. Who knows? At this point I'm just brainstorming and trying different things. That's the beauty of this business...the freedom to try new things...and the dress code, of course.

Being Tuesday, it's the first of my "Starbuck Days" of the week, and maybe I'll try one of their soy lattes' for a change. You can't get any more "with it" than that, can you? Seriously, just the name "soy latte" sounds like the beverage of a modern day Hemingway. Just sipping it while typing on my laptop at the coffee shop will bring me a whole new muse. It will make me all cutting edge and cool and make me write stuff that will appeal to modern young urbanites.

Or maybe it will just taste funny. We'll see. Tune in for more tomorrow...same Bat-time, same Bat-channel

Monday, January 10, 2011

Writers Night Out: Late

So I slept in this morning (as if nobody guessed) due to staying up late at our weekly writer's night out. Pictured above is my fellow writer, Cherri, on the left...and Lauren, one of the ever so patient and wonderful servers there  who both put up with us and became our friends as well. Here, Lauren joins us after getting off her shift and decides to have a dinner of her own.

Writing wise, I'm still jammed up on every single project I'm working on. Cherri offered some advice about plotting forward so I might try that. She also suggested I rework the cover for Shades: Wind and Dark Waters, as she felt it was a little weaker than the covers on the other two stories of the series. I can see what she is talking about, so I might toy around with that too. There is always room for improvement.

I got a lot of the laundry done over the weekend, but there are still some baskets sitting on the couch and glaring at me. I suppose I ought to do something about that too. Sigh.

Tonight is Cub Scouts night for Sheridan. It's been a while since his last meeting due to the holidays, now I need to get caught up with whatever is going on in that quarter. The holidays are over and life is beginning to sputter back to normal. Just got to pick it back up one piece at a time.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sofa Weekend

The exertion of adapting to these new braces have made what muscles are left in my legs stiff and very sore. So today I'm going to be doing things I can do on the couch...sorting laundry and stuff like that. That means there aren't a whole lot of things to report, unless I get more mobile later.

I seem to have written myself into a corner on every project I'm working on at the minute anyways, so maybe focusing on housework (the sitting kind) will let me refocus.

So that's my weekend.

Heres hoping all of you out there have more adventurous ones...unless you don't want them that way, of course :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Good Grief

As many of you know, I wear leg braces due to having CMT. I generally wear the type of brace you see on the left in the above picture. It's lightweight, simple, and correctly positions and supports my feet and ankles. It's design is elegant and efficient, and on my good days I can use them without even needing a cane.

But there was a time when it looked like the CMT was going to cause my knees to not be able to work without support as well. At that point they designed the brace you see on the right for me. It is made of a titanium alloy and is extremely strong and light. But it is also very awkward, and has a tendency to lock up at the most inopportune times. It takes practice and skill to use it. It's like the difference between an automatic transmission and a stick. Since I'm lousy with things that take practice and skill, I didn't look forward to transitioning to those metal monsters.

But my legs actually improved slightly, and it turned out I didn't need the larger braces. So they were relegated to the closet, and I went on with the braces to the left. Then yesterday I had the small brace for my right foot come apart on me. (Naturally, it happens when I'm putting my daughter on the bus) So it was with some relief that I realized that at least I had a backup and fished the old brace out of the closet.

The problem is that now I'm sort of like a rowboat with one oar in the water. The braces operate very differently from each other and it's going to be hard to adapt to that. Apparently I'll just have to be patient and occasionally settle for suddenly tottering in circles when the right one locks up. So if you see some crazy man pivoting in place in a parking lot somewhere, waving his arms wildly for balance, and cussing at his leg...just ignore me and walk on by.

On the bright side, my campaign of early to bed and early to rise is beginning to bear fruit. It's still going to take work to make it a natural schedule, but I'm starting not to feel so drug out all morning.

So Happy Friday, Folks! Get those weekend plans formulated!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Okay, it isn't exactly what you think.

Actually, what happened is that I had one of my braces come apart on me while getting the kids onto the bus this morning. Due to my CMT I wear leg braces which stabalize my ankles and feet. These are white plastic affairs that surround my feet inside my shoes and extend up to my knees. They allow me to walk, so when one of those go out I've got a bit of a problem.  I still had one functioning brace which allowed me to get the kiddos on the bus and slowly gimp my way back to the house, so everything worked out okay.

Fortunately, I do have a pair of backup braces but they are these big titanium affairs that go all the way up to my hip. So now I'm hobbling around the house looking like one of Jerry's Kids.


Naturally, this happens on the day I need to get shopping done. Not that it matters because it will probably take a while to get a prescription so I can get a new brace anyways. So it looks like this is my new brace for the near future. At least I write sitting down, but housework just became a real problem. I'll have to plan accordingly. I'll have to put the haircut off till this weekend.

On the bright side, I am now three thousand words into The Mushroom Man and it seems to be beginning to take on a life of it's own. That's always a good sign that the story is going to be finished. I have several aborted beginnings lying around because they just never came alive. I can definitely tell that the gfcf diet is beginning to work as my head clears and focus increases. Hooray!

Oh well, have a happy Thursday out there, folks! And wear a jacket, it's cold!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Good Morning, Humpday!

So I got 1,300 words written on a short story yesterday.

I've done more words in a day, but this was the first actual writing I had done since before the Christmas break. And it was on Tuesday which is one of my half days that I have to leave at noon to pick  up Rowan and take her to her therapist. So it was really a whole lot of writing done considering the circumstances. Anyways, I'm pleased with it and take comfort knowing I can still do it.

I'll try to get a ltitle more written today, but I do have some other things I need to get done while the kids aren't home. I was thinking of getting a haircut. I may have once measured my hair in feet, but those days are long behind me. Now I find that my hair is getting kind of "frowzy" and wear a hat in self defense, when I usually just wear it because it makes me look awesome. So a haircut is in my near future, if not today.

Karla had to leave to go to the dentist early this morning, so it's up to me to get the kiddos off to school. I'm working on it right now, and have about twenty minutes until Rowan's bus gets here. Karla has already got the kids dressed and ready to go. All I have to do is get them fed, and Rowans lunches packed. Pretty easy stuff, really.

So here's to getting things done. A little here, a little there. Not to mention the lady who cleans my house is coming today so that's a bonus! Hooray! And it's not really that bad in the first place! Double bonus, because that means I don't have to clean it up some so I won't be embarrassed for her to see how bad it can really get.

Oh, and I bought a new hat.

Yep, this day is starting swell :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

And School Returns


The kids are once more safe and secure in the loving embrace of our public school system. It wasn't easy, since there seemed to be some problem with the bus and it didn't arrive today,  but we neighborhood parents weren't about to be foiled and carpooled the kids to school with a couple of moms. And now sanity returns.

I still have the wife home for another fifteen minutes or so, but then she's off to work and glorious solitude will fall upon me.

I have a little housework to do, but nothing serious. Then I shall try to write. I need to flex those mental muscles and get them back into shape. The only writing I've been doing since the kids have been home is on my blog. The hope was that would at least keep me a little in form but I know I'm going to have to get back into writing shape again. I can do's just like falling off a bike.

So I'm looking forward to a peaceful morning. I hope everybody else has a good one too!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Early Steps and Stumbles

So, my quest to put as much distance between me and the first subject above has started with mixed results. Having that much fat around your internal organs can't be good for you. I've been eating low carb and gluten free the past few days, although I stumbled a little at Denny's last night. I know that you aren't going to see any results this early, at least not weight wise, but at least my head was starting to clear up from the gluten. I think I'm going to have to be more careful at Denny's though because a little bit after the french fries, I felt that gluten fog increasing again. Cross contamination is a real issue with serious gfcf diets, and it makes eating out very problematic. But I need to do it so I can get back to writing effectively again. I just hate giving up all the good food everybody else takes for granted.

I'm playing around with mindfulness meditation as well. I don't really expect anything from it, but anything that gets me more in the here and now can't be a bad thing...right? Cutting out the gluten helps with that too. I noticed I was starting to sharpen up again today after avoiding gluten since Tuesday. I made a stumble in that regard, but I'll just stay on that wagon and hopefully I haven't lost too much ground. I've been extra good and been avoiding the casein as well.

So if I don't get skinny, at least I'll be fat and clear headed soon.

The other thing I need to work on is sleeping. My schedule is currently all messed up. Sunday, I went to bed at noon and slept till seven thirty in the evening. Yeah. That can't last. But hopefully with the kids starting school on TUESDAY, BECAUSE THE SCHOOL WON'T OPEN ON MONDAY LIKE ANY ORDINARY SANE PERSON WOULD EXPECT THEM TO AFTER ALL THIS TIME (twitch...twitch), that maybe that will force me to fix my schedule which will help me be more clear headed as well.

So things are going forward....right now in a "two steps forward one step back" sort of way...but it's all good. As long as things are going forward.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bringing Order out of Chaos

The house is in decent shape for once.

It's not great...far from it...but at least it's not embarrassingly bad. There is a lot that needs to be done, and I'm starting to work on that. The first and biggest step is making a real effort to spend more time where I am at the moment. To actually stop and pay attention to my environment. It's amazing how you can get used to your surroundings and then the mess creeps up...and you get used to it...and it creeps further...and you get used it...and so on until you literally don't see what's right in front of you. So I'm trying to take a fresh look at things right now, and get an idea of what would make things better.

Alas, the same thing goes with getting fat. I knew in an abstract way I was gaining weight, and even joked about it, but I really wasn't aware of how much. I bought a brand new digital scale at Walmart and decided to get myself a starting point for tackling my new diet. I stepped on and when it stopped whimpering it gave me the bad news. I'm not going to give a precise weight, but I will just say that I'm right around a hundred pounds heavier than when I got married seventeen years ago. And when you stop and consider that back then my legs were muscled from meter reading and nowadays are nowadays shunken from CMT...well, the picture is even worse. Yeah, I need to lose weight...bad. But now at least I've taken the first steps in that too.

Next on my list of things to improve, is my whole approach to writing. I will not check novelrank or Amazon DTP today. As a matter of fact I will not check it all week. I am going to get marketing, sales, and promotion out of my head for a while. It's interfering with my writing. Instead, I'm going to only focus on writing itself. Look forward instead of backwards.

Which is part of the whole new approach to this in the present. I spend too much time in the past or future. Time to change gears. We'll see where that gets me. I know it ain't going to be easy because that is simply not the way my brain is wired. But it's worth a try.

Oh well, Happy January Second!

UPDATE: I'm hungry. This sucks.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

And So It Begins

Happy 2011!

Or 1-1-11!

It's a new year, and it comes bearing all the hopes and promise that all new years bring...all shiny and fresh and brimming with resolutions that haven't failed yet.

Well, I'm giving mine a serious go.

I will be trying to manage my time better. Mondays and Fridays are days that should have at least four hours set aside for nothing but writing. That still gives me time to do some housework, and even relax a little. But I need to set four hours on each of those two days and devote them exclusively to writing. On Tues, Weds, and Thurs...I need to set my Starbucks time to writing. At least get one solid hour of writing in at the coffee shop each day, and one hour at home. That would give me six hours. Fourteen hours doesn't sound like a lot, but if it's devoted just to research, no internet, no editing...then I can accomplish quite a bit with that.

So theres that.

My other big thing is losing weight and getting strict with the GFCF diet again. All wheat products will be ejected from the house this weekend. And my writer's nights out will consist of drinks and omelette's and eggs and bacon. No more gluten for me...I'm getting serious. I need a sharp, clear head again. And going low carb is also a way to reduce exposure to gluten as well...not to mention get I'll be working on that. All the bags of potato and corn chips will be leaving the house as well. One of the best ways to lose weight is only eat freshly cooked food. No more fast food for me!

I can do this!

So those are my two main resolutions this year. Manage my time better to increase my writing, and eat better to lose weight and feel better. Anything beyond those two things is a bonus.

So I hope everybody out there has their own plans of self improvement ready, and I wish you all the best luck in the world carrying them out. I think this is a really good year for it.

Happy New Year!