Friday, September 30, 2011

CMT Awareness Month Post

Well, it's nearing the end of CMT Awareness Month and I realize I have never made a post about it. I almost chose not to, but in the end a strange sense of obligation compelled here goes.

CMT (Charcot Marie Tooth) is not a very big part of my self image. Even though I've been wrestling with the symptoms of it for nine years now (wow, it's been that long?) I have never really identified with it. The truth is, even after all this time I still don't have CMT in most of my dreams. So I very seldom write about it, even though it's something I'm always compensating for.

Now that doesn't mean I don't think about it, or that it doesn't intrude into my life on a daily (or often hourly) basis. It does, and it's often the source of frustration, anger, resignation, or just plain old tiredness. But it's always been a thing apart from me...not who I am. Sure, I have to make concessions to it, and I hate it, (except for that nifty handicapped parking license plate. That thing rules) but the fact remains that to me it's usually been something I've viewed as an external event. It's just not who I it never really occurs to me to join organizations for people with CMT, or take part in events having to do with raising CMT awareness. I have never really identified myself as part of a group.

And that probably means I'm dealing with a super-sized case of denial.

I wonder why? I'm not embarrassed by it. Actually, I tend to wear shorts that leave my braces openly visible simply because it helps keep my legs from sweating inside the plastic molds, and it also acts as an easy visual cue for other people to understand, without asking, why I may need a little extra room or time to maneuver through an aisle in the supermarket or mall. Hell, I'm paralyzed from the knees down so the fact that I can walk with little more than a pair of plastic braces the same size as my socks is hardly something I'm embarrassed about. So I don't think ego is involved.

If there is anywhere it drives me crazy, it's in two areas. One is not being able to do things with my kids that other Dad's do with theirs. I remember being at the zoo with my son when he was four and he saw another kid riding on his Dad's shoulders. He wanted to do the same, and I couldn't...and realized I never would. Ouch. I don't know how to describe how that felt, other than to say you never ever want to feel it.

The other area is attempting simple tasks that I have had a lifetime to get used to the idea of doing. Now that I'm fighting it in my hands, I have had to concede the husbandly role of Household Jar Opener to Karla. Okay, there may be a teensy bit of ego involved in that one. But other than that, it's mainly just infuriating little things like discovering that things you used to do without thinking (like opening your gas cap on your car) now needs to be planned ahead for. (such as realizing that a tool might need to be procured against that day the fingers will no longer unscrew that cap).

So thats my Charcot Marie Tooth post for the year.

I've got it, but so far it's not who I am. That's not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. Identifying with it more might actually let me be a little more forgiving of myself when I fail at things, but that's just not where I am yet. I know it could be a lot worse. Some people have to put up with everything I am, and have to deal with pain on top of it. Fortunately, pain was never a very big part of this for me. (except when I have one of my spectacular crashes to the floor...dragging dishes, furniture, and kids down along with me. Trust me, even the Hindenburg didn't do it better.).

Anyways, that's the way it is. I'm a husband...I'm a father...I'm an author...and on the side I struggle with CMT.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Little Ideas Grow to Bigger Stories

Progress is happening on my novels. It's slow, but it's happening.

It's funny, somebody read a short story of mine called Picking Dewberries and commented on my use of spiders. The truth is I've written about eighteen to twenty short stories, and spiders figured in exactly one of them...BUT...that's the story that I took as an idea to base a novel off of. When I wrote Picking Dewberries...which can be found in the Dreamspell Nightmares Anthology (the paperback is on sale right now for $2.83)...I realized that the story created a problem and wondered how to resolve it. If these creatures existed, HOW did they continue to exist? From that musing arose the story of Argiope, which in many ways is the continuation of Picking Dewberries. As a matter of fact, I'm using Picking Dewberries as the placeholder prologue until I finish the story and can go back and create a distinctive prologue for the novel itself.

The other novel I'm working on is Dead Stop...and again it finds some of it's origin on one of my short stories. Sometime later this year, Dreamspell Nightmares 2 will be released and it features three more short stories of mine...three of my better ones actually. One of those is called Under A Racer's Moon and is the story of two young men in a race against something otherworldy. It's one of my favorite stories. And the two main characters in this story are where I drew the inspiration for the two leading men of Dead Stop. Harley and Deke of Dead Stop owe much of their character to Hocker and Eddie from the Short Story.

So my short stories kind of becomes resources I can look at for bigger projects. I wonder if other writer's do that? In my case, the short story exists because it encapsulates a fairly basic scene or idea that I had. If you have ever read Storm Chase, the first story in Wind and Dark Waters, you will notice a distinct pattern of behavior in the movement of Charlotte March that occurs again with Moonstone Maddy in The Ways of Khrem. Short stories seem to be my testing grounds.

Sadly, it's been a while since I wrote a short story because I'm now gritting my teeth and trying to get a novel or two out the door. But I look forward to being able to play with ideas again.

Friday, September 23, 2011


I had a post for this Friday, but I stopped myself from posting it at the last minute for fear I might jinx myself. Being a writer sure seems to bring out what appears to be superstition in a person...but I don't think it is really superstition. I think it's just a process I don't understand very well yet. But until I do, I guess I better settle for respecting it instead.

So no jinxing myself.

Anyway, I'll just settle for saying that work on the novel proceeds at an acceptable rate. It's still got a lot of work ahead, but there is hope.

One of these days, I'm going to have to figure this stuff out so it isn't "superstition" anymore.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Progress on Many Fronts

First of all, the Cowboys won.

It was quite a game, and they pulled it out in the end due to the efforts of mainly one guy. Their usually goofy quarterback who left the game with cracked ribs and a punctured lung, only to return later and take charge of the game. And the thing is, I barely recognized him on the sideline shots. The normally goofy (when winning) or mopey (when losing) guy was replaced by a focused, determined man who seemed to have nothing in common with the quarterback that I knew. His entire affect was different, and you could see him talking with the receivers on the sidelines and explaining to them what he wanted to do. He was just an entirely different guy. I hope we can keep him and lose the cracked ribs.

On another front, the writing continues to proceed. I actually cracked the two thousand word mark yesterday, which is something I don't think I've done since before last summer some time. The scene is almost finished, and it ain't half bad for a first draft. I managed to include a nice grisly decapitation since I figured that fans of zombie stories would be disappointed if there weren't at least one of those in the story. Now I'm looking for a slightly more metaphorical way to bump off the other person in the scene and then I can start the final part of the book where the rugged survivors begin their escape. Yay!

Anyways, it's humpday and the week has been going well. I'm starting to get real optimistic about this book I'm writing, and I had to fight to keep from breaking my rule about posting snippets. I sort of feel the need to show what I've been doing... but I've learned better. No matter sabotaging myself. I won't post any more snippets until I have a finished first draft in hand.

But it's looking good :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reading and Writing

I'm currently reading Raymond Chandler's, The Big Sleep. As a fan of Hemingways spare style, especially regarding dialogue, it's interesting to see how somebody who is so absolutely opposite of that is also a great writer. I do like Chandlers emphasis on setting, something I believe in putting effort into. There are just some places it doesn't pay to be too "spare."

My new kindle is a godsend, especially while I'm waiting that hour in line to pick up the kids from school. That may very well become my favorite time of the day. An hour of nothing but sitting, reading, and listening to music on my cd player. Seriously, that's not too bad.

I did some good writing on Dead Stop, but I have to go back and fix the scene I just wrote. It was silly of me, but I forgot that there had been a victim earlier in story in the place the scene takes place, so there should have been a body right in the middle of the whole thing. I'll have to go back now and figure out how to fit it in, and how it changes things. Oh well, things are going slowly but they are going.

Alas, the housework is also going "slowly" so I'm going to have to start trying to catch up on it as well.

Work, work, work.

Happy Monday!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Plowing Through

Writing has been slow this week, but it has been happening.

Apparently my muse has decided to take on the role of a mule. One that has to be bribed, cajoled, threatened, and flogged just to keep a slow plodding pace as it plows the back forty. It's being ornery, but I'm managing to get it started again after each frequent balk. Writing is getting done. Just not a great deal of it at any one time.

At the same time I'm getting some useful reading in. I'm currently reading Stephen King's "On Writing." I reasoned that a guy as successful as he was might have a clue what he was talking about. As it turns out, the book is a delight, and it's encouraging to realize how much I have in common with him. Now if I can just extend those commonalities to include wild success in the field of writing, I'll be happy. As it is though, the book is very helpful and I recommend it to anybody who writes.

Anyways, hopefully today I will finish the scene in Dead Stop that I've been plodding through all week. Two of my protagonists have entered the dangerous side of a truckstop, where a zombie lurks somewhere in the dark, in an effort to close the doors and keep the others out. It's kind of interesting how the scene is turning out different than I originally plotted it. Maybe Stephen King has point in his disdain for plotting. Hmmm....

On another note, I went to my son's open house at his school last and met his two charming, lovely young teachers. And as I talked with these wonderful ladies, it occurred to me how much the world has changed. My third grade teacher was a blue-haired old battleaxe with a glare that could stop a T-rex in mid charge. When she snapped for everybody to be quiet, nature went into a hush for a half mile around her. The rumor amongst (is that still a word?) my classmates was that she kept extra kids in her basement that she beat every morning, just to warm up for the day.

Ah the good old days....

Oh well, the weekend is here. Have fun everybody.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nate Joins the 21st Century

So, after years of shaking my cane at the world and yelling at it to "get off my lawn!", I have finally surrendered and drug my creaky old frame into the new enlightenment. Well, actually I just bought a Kindle but we'll stretch that metaphor for all it's worth.

Now my car doesn't have to turn into a library while I wait an hour every day in line to pick up the kids. Now books will be cheaper. Now I can preview my own manuscripts on the reader they are designed to be published on and tell if they need better formatting or not. Now...

Oh hell, now I can just read books more conveniently.

Anyways, my writing is proceeding at a slow but workmanlike pace. It IS getting done at the moment which feels pretty good. I have to give part of the credit to Stephen Kings little book "On Writing." It's sort of inspirational to read the life story of a true master of writing in his own words and realize that he isn't really that different from the rest of us...other than making millions of dollars at what he does, of course. But he did start with humble beginnings and wrote his way out of them. And his advice is actually pretty useful and easy to understand.

Anyways. I'm running late on my writing and it's time to start. (I run late on a lot of things)

Happy Humpday!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Work Week

Well, the NFL is finally back! The Cowboys played the Jets and lost a heartbreaker in the last thirty seconds of the game. Sigh. I probably should be happy since I thought Dallas might get blown out before the game started.


I'm struggling with a scene in Dead Stop and it has been giving me real trouble. So my goal this week is to put everything on the back burner and try to get through this scene. It's an important scene because it not only results in the bumping off of two characters, it also sets up a situation that allows another character to figure out the nature of the creatures trying to kill them. So it's a critical scene that I can't just delete. It just isn't writing itself very well.

So that's my thing this week. That's my goal. Once I'm past this scene the writing should pick up.

Friday, September 9, 2011


I think I realize what has been giving me problems writing the past two days. I think I have written myself into a corner, and have been confusing my inability to go forward with a minor case of writers block. The truth is, the problem may be with the scene itself and I'm going to go back to it's beginning and try rewriting another way and see if that helps.

I actually "feel" like writing, which is why I think the above might be the case.

One of the things that has helped has been reading a couple of Stephen King books that I bought a long time ago and had never gotten in to......"Bag of Bones" and "Hearts in Atlantis." Both are different than his earlier works that I used to love, so I had put them aside. Now I decided to read them, and it was literally inspiring to read writing that good. Even if the stories themselves aren't as focused as his earlier works like "The Shining" or "Christine", now that I read him with the eye of another writer I can begin to appreciate how good his writing really is. I'm gonna have to get copies of all his older stuff and go through them again.

Which brings me to the best part...

I bought myself a new Kindle DX.

Yeppers! I've now got one of my own so my wife and I can both curl up and read our fancy new ereaders after throwing the kids in bed. Even better, I get an hour a day waiting to pick up the kids from school that will now be devoted to reading as well. Woohoo! Stephen King, Earnest Hemingway, and I come!

Oh, and I bought Stephen King's book "On Writing" which should hopefully arrive today. lol! It's like Christmas in September! Minus the snow and with forest fires added in...

On another front, the fires are out in our neighborhood so now I simply wait and hope for the best for my family and others who are dealing with the big fires up in Montgomery county. We really need some rain.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

So My Neighborhood Hasn't Burned Down... Yet

We had a fire start yesterday morning in the wooded area that runs along the back of our subdivsion. Needless to say, this sort of dominated the days itinerary as the time I had intended to budget towards writing got used for evacuation preparations instead. Clothes were packed, plans were laid, cat carriers were readied, and events were monitored.

And then a whole lot of nothing.

Well, nothing if you consider listening all day to news reports of the state burning down around your ears to be nothing. But it appeared that the fire in our neighborhood was brought under control in good order. It flared up again in the evening, but the firetrucks returned and once again put things right.

Now we wait and see.

I don't see any smoke in the air, but my eyes, nose, and throat are badly irritated. It's like having a bad case of allergies. I can also still detect the smell of smoke in the atmosphere as well. So things are better, but I don't think we are out of trouble yet. Oh well, at least I have the kids packed up and ready to move out on a moments notice if things go south for any reason.

And maybe I'll get some writing done.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back Story

I'm in a pretty good mood.

I sent the first fifty thousand words of Dead Stop off to a proofreader, just to get some feedback to help me get a little boost towards my effort to finish this draft. It got a positive reaction. She seems to think it's worth finishing, which is always a good thing.

Now if I can just get the next thirty or forty thousand words to live up to the first.

So now the season has come to get that second wind and get cracking. I'll go ahead and enjoy labor day with the family, but starting Tuesday I focus on cranking out the verbage. It's about to get serious. Summer is over and the kids are back in school. No more excuses.

It's time to write.

I also have to accept that for one hour a day, I shall be waiting in a car line of parents in order to pick up the kids from school. I handled this last week by reading Stephen King's Bag of Bones. I guess I'm going to get my reading in as well this year, so I think it's about time to get myself a Kindle like my wife has. It makes more sense than starting a library in my car.

So lots of reading and writing.

It's about time.

Friday, September 2, 2011

D. Nathan Hilliard ... Super Genius.

So I was sitting out in front of the kids school at 6:45 this morning. I clung to my cup of coffee like a shipwreck survivor hangs on to a life preserver, praying to the gods of java to make my brain start functioning. And this time, much to my surprise...they listened. As I sat there nursing my coffee and staring out the windshield at the dim pre-dawn world, a true stroke of genius hit me. 

Night classes for elementary kids!

Think about it!

Kids hate going to bed, so they would love this. And we wouldn't have to get up at obscene times in the morning just to torture the little darlings by dragging them out of bed. Who doesn't feel guilty yanking an innocent child out of his slumber? Heck, growing kids need their sleep! And while the kids were at school, we could do important things like go out and have dinner and catch movies that the kids don't want to see. It would improve the economy of restaurants and Hollywood overnight!

So I offer this stroke of genius humbly,  with no thought of Nobel prizes or any of the other awards it so richly deserves. I'm simply content if I can just go to bed knowing I've made the world a better place.

I guess I just roll that way :)