Monday, 30 December 2013

Well. Maybe I Should Come Clean

I gaze upon Rites of Ascension III and I feel sad and guilty. I've been letting me down; I've been letting you down; I've been letting Jurel down.
I haven't given up, I haven't stopped. I've had to take an unplanned hiatus. 
I've been ill. Very ill. I'm surprised I'm still here to write this blog. 
I am recuperating, albeit slowly. I've had some setbacks but finally after more than a year, the victories are outnumbering the losses. With the help of my lovely Cori and my two shining children, I have been able to fight my way back to the point where I can sit and write this. It's not much but it's a start.
I have every intention of returning to Jurel's story. I want to see the end of his story.
I just hope some of you are patient enough to bear with me a little longer.
I want to thank all of you who have not lost faith. I want to thank all the doctors who have helped me see this side of the debilitating and deadly disease that I almost succumbed to. I want to most thank my wife, my guardian angel, Cori, for being there at my side every agonizing step of the way encouraging me ever onward.

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Now...about Jurel...

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

I'm Feelin' Pretty Terrible

A message was left for me here the other day. It was not a very flattering message. But it was true enough. If you want to see it, check out the responses to the It's Alive post I made back in September.

To this person, and to everyone else, I apologize. It hurts me that this third book is taking so long. It hurts me even more to know that I have disappointed, and continue to disappoint, all the wonderful folks out there who like my work. I am sorry. 

I am still working on it. It is slow going, and admittedly sporadic, at times. I can only say that this past year has been one major upheaval after the next for me. It's not much of an excuse I know. I just hope that you can bear with me a little longer. Things are starting to settle around here and that means I should have more time to devote to this.

I love reading and I love writing. I can't wait until I can devote more time and a lot more concentration on both.

Cheers to all of you.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

It's Alive!

Well, howdy folks! Long time no see!

Another quick update for you:

So, Book 3 of the Rites of Ascension trilogy is finally seeing some real progress. I'm happy with it, and I'm looking forward to starting the editing process fairly soon.

As unimportant as it is at this stage of the game, I've been considering titles. I really want to find a title that fit well with the previous books in the series. I think I've got it. So, at the moment, I do believe the title will be The Broken Sword. What do you think? Good? Bad? Just sort of "meh"?

Tell you what, if anyone thinks they've got a better title, then feel free to post it in the comments. If I decide to use one of your suggestions, I'll gift the third book to you when it's done.

It's on its way, folks! It's coming along! I want to thank all of you for your prodigious patience. I think, in the end, it'll be worth it.

See you soon!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Daily Book Talk

It's been crazy around these parts this last couple of months. Because of this, I have had very little time to devote to this blog. Well...okay, none. I hope to get back in the groove of things soon.

Tonight is going to be just a short note for a cool new site. A friend of mine, Ed Foster, has created a new web site called Daily Book Talk. It's a wonderful site that explores not just individual books but the ideas and the impact of books around the world.

Ed has a singularly penetrating mind and he delves deeply into his topics--which are updated, well, daily. It's a great site for anyone who loves books and reading.

It also has a great forum that, though the site is still quite young, has begun to grow into a diverse community.

Great job, Ed! You have a winner on your hands!

Check it out right here.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

So...How Hard Can It Be?

Book three (which is still untitled!) is coming along nicely; this new computer is holding up very well. And now I want to take a little break. So...back to my story.

The Path of the Sword was all snug in its file folder. It was rough and most certainly not ready to be seen by anyone but its daddy, but it was done and tucked safely away. I left it alone; I let it rest (piece of advice: never wake a sleeping baby!).

I'd learned something from Stephen King's book, On Writing. In it, he suggested that, when you're done the first draft, don't look at it--don't even think about it--for a few weeks. He maintained that, if you can put it out of your head then, when you return to it, it'll be with a little more distance and you might be able to view it with a little more objectivity.

So, the baby slept comfortably for a few weeks.

And I opened another blank document, and started jotting down notes for Blood of War.

Of course, I already knew the general direction Blood of War would take--just as I knew what direction book three had to take. I just had to make sure I chose the right route.

I didn't.

Based on my notes, I wrote about four hundred pages, each one harder than the previous. By the time I had gotten to about page three hundred, it was a slog to even manage a page a day--a little down from the ten or so a day I started at. I didn't know why it was so hard; I didn't know what was wrong.

Until I decided to go back and reread it.

Let me tell you something about the very first draft of Blood of War: It was atrocious! It was so bad that it will never see the light of day. It was so bad I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or burn my still shiny netbook. It was so bad...

You get the idea.

Let me clarify. The writing wasn't that bad. It needed polish, a good spit-shine in places, but it was readable. No, that wasn't the problem. The story. The story was the problem. If you've read Blood of War then you know that, at one point, Jurel does something pretty damned cowardly. Something that you might hate him a little bit for (It's okay; I did, too). He had reasons, but it was still a pretty terrible thing.

In the first version, he does the same terrible thing...but the reasons that drove him to it, well, it was not Jurel. He would not have made that decision for those particular reasons.

And that's when it hit me. I didn't go wrong with the story per se. I went wrong because I was not honest. I forced Jurel to do something he would not normally have done to make the story go forward. And the entire thing ended up sucking because of it. I had to rewrite nearly three hundred pages.

I will never make that mistake again.

But before I could rewrite, I went back to The Path of the Sword. It had been several weeks so it was time, and now I had the added reason that I needed to think hard about Blood of War before I could move forward with it.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

I Died A Little Inside

Hoo boy, was I excited! A computer! One that would sit on my lap while I typed! Yes, I know laptop ownership is nothing new but, to me, it was. And I was stoked!

Okay, to be honest, we're not talking about a powerhouse gaming rig that would bake me a cake on my birthday or anything. In fact, it was slow, couldn't play HD video, and games? Fuggeddaboutit! But, it ran Openoffice Writer, and that's what it was for anyway. It was very portable; I could take it wherever I wanted. And it fit on my lap!


I sat down at my desk, flipped open the lid, pressed the power button, and waited for it to stroll its way through the boot-up process. I grinned like a kid on Christmas when I heard the Windows XP start-up jingle--and I may or may not have clapped and done a little happy dance.

Then, I opened the case that held the first draft of The Path of the Sword.

And my smile fell off my face with such velocity that, when it hit the ground, the impact registered on the Richter scale.

I carefully hefted the stack of paper out. It was nearly six inches thick. I looked from it to the computer and back. There are still tear stains on that first draft.

I was never an expert typist. I'm no hunt-and-peck, single-finger key stabber but I'm not exactly renowned for my blazing speed. It took me a month.

It was gruelling. Not only because there was so much but because my hand-writing was utterly atrocious. My four-year-old daughter does better with a Crayola.

A month of nothing but deciphering the scribbles--one letter at a time, in places--and tap, tap, tap away.

And when I was done, finally done, I didn't do a happy dance. I took two extra-strength Tylenol and fell into my bed.

I wrote The Path of the Sword, Blood of War, and all of Rites of Ascension III that is so far done. That little netbook lasted through everything I could throw at it and it just kept right on going. I wrote several other little bits and pieces on it, too, including the short stories that are here on this blog, a short story that I wrote for a dear friend and that I posted on the Amazon forums. I spent countless hours stumbling around the internet (Stumbleupon is more addictive than nicotine laced crack!), I spent ridiculous amounts of time in front of that little netbook and it kept on going.

The only thing it couldn't survive was old age. That amazing little netbook expired last week. Done. Kaput.

I bought a new notebook PC that is superior to that little netbook in every conceivable way. It's far, far faster with a high end Core i7 processor and a good Geforce GPU; it has a huge memory capacity--8 GB; it has a monster hard drive--750 GB; it has a 15.6" screen. It even has an audio system by Bang & Olufsen!


I'm going to miss that netbook. It got me here. Almost five years, almost always on, almost always doing something. It's like your first car, or the home you grew up in. It's silly, but I'm going to miss that little guy.

Thank you, Acer, for the amazing little Aspire1 that made publishing two books and writing most of a third possible.

And, a special thank you to my mother-in-law and my father-in-law (rest in peace, Barry), for gifting it to me. It means more than you can know.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Return to the Journey

All righty, then! I've sidetracked long enough! It's time to return to my little story. It's getting close to done so why don't I just move along. Now let's see. Where was I? Ah, yes. The completion of the first draft. Right.

So, let's see. I'd finished the first draft; it was all written out in pen. Hundreds of dog-eared pages covered in enough ink to paint a horse. Or two.

It was approaching Christmas. It was a cold, soggy Christmas, as I recall. Snow up the wazoo. That's uncomfortable. My lovely Cori and I were travelling, that year, to visit family. In fact some very special people, Cori's mother and father, drove from Washington DC to meet us in Toronto.

As a side note, our little girl was one that year. Travelling with a one year old child is the height of hilarity (can you see the sarcasm oozing out of your screen?) but we managed.

The moment we left our house, I started getting jittery. My manuscript was sitting in there, all alone, with no one to take care of it. But my lovely Cori was adamant: no thinking about it! It was just a few days, but it really affected me. Probably too much; I probably should have made an appointment with a psychiatrist.

In Toronto, my in-laws (wonderful people!) met us at the hotel where we would all spend the night. Nice place: not too fancy-schmancy but certainly not a run-down cockroach farm either. In their room, they presented us with some early Christmas presents.

And there it was: my shiny new laptop. To be honest, it's a netbook, a little guy that's just perfect for toting around everywhere I go. I was, of course, elated. Ecstatic. Beside myself! (What a silly expression...) At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to start writing. I still have it. I've written both books, the majority of my third book, and this blog on this netbook.

And that's when it came home. Hundreds of hand written pages. Hundreds of them. I had no scanner. Even if I did, my handwriting had been so bad that any character recognition software would have either laughed at me, or had a psychotic meltdown. Chances are, it would have tried to murder me in my sleep. With a pen of course.

The rest of the trip was very nice, I suppose. But I admit I was quite preoccupied. I wanted to get back to the book. At the same time, the thought of painstakingly transferring it all to the digital world caused a certain trepidation...

Aw jeez, who am I kidding? It gave me nightmares!

But more on that later. I have a book to try to finish at some point in the near future.