Monday Evening Ramblings

I went to Chattanooga to spend Thanksgiving with my friends Leslie and James, who were gracious enough to invite me down. We had a great time and ate way too much food. It was probably my most enjoyable Thanksgiving in 8-9 years. Planning to go back and spend some more time with them soon, probably before Christmas.

Friday was my 44th birthday. Got to go out to eat with my parents and then spent the evening with a friend. Probably my most relaxing and enjoyable birthday in 8-9 years, too. No stress, no drama, no nonsense. Just good food, good conversation, and good pumpkin pie.

I’m currently up to Chapter 11 on book five. For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook, Chapter 10 might be the most intense writing of my career. Hopefully, my editor and beta readers will agree with me that book five is the best book in the series. That’s the reason why I’m so infrequent on the blog. When I’m in the middle of a book like this, I get serious tunnel vision and don’t write on much else.

Right now, my thoughts and prayers are with all of my friends and loved ones in Sevier County. The fires are unbelievable and many people I care about are under a mandatory evacuation from their homes. We desperately need rain in East Tennessee. Not sure I’ve ever seen it this dry here, not even during that terrible drought in the 80s. November is usually one of our wettest months, and so far, we’ve had .2 of an inch of rain this month.

That’s all for now. Hope everyone is safe and well.

Friday Evening Ramblings – 11/18/16

I’m making every effort to fill my life with people who inspire and nurture my creativity. Because of circumstances, my circle has gotten much smaller over the last couple of years, and after all I’ve endured and experienced, I simply have no more tolerance for lies, deceit, negativity, or anything else that distracts from my creative process. I am who I am–the good and bad, the pretty and ugly, the kindness and the scars. I’m all or nothing, full-tilt, pedal-to-the-floor-when-I-believe-in-something, and if you can’t accept me as I am and be fully open and honest with me, there’s no more room in my life for you.

I’m D.A. emeffing Adams, and I stomp upon this terra with all of the life spark that burns inside me.

I acknowledge that I have many flaws: I’m emotional and moody at times. I’m obsessive (um, writer). I can be overly dramatic and even melodramatic, too. I have serious trust issues because my ex-wife hid a relationship from me for years. I can brood with the best of them, and for the love of god please don’t piss me off. Oh yeah, and there’s that felony thing, as well. I acknowledge my baggage and don’t try to sweep it under the rug.

But I’m also kind and gentle; generous to a fault; tender and compassionate; supportive; funny; and one of the most loyal people you will ever meet. When I love, I love with all of my heart and soul, and I don’t know any other way. When I set my mind to something, I accomplish that task or work at it until all of my resources are exhausted. I’m a good listener, a good shoulder, and a rock for those who need it. All in all, I still think my good outweighs my bad, and I hope the people who still call me a friend will agree.

I hold out hope that one day I’ll meet the right woman who will love and appreciate me for not only my writing and creativity but also for my passion for the outdoors and rough-around-the-edges ways. But I also accept that it may never happen. I’m damaged and scarred, so maybe I’m no longer fit for a relationship. Despite it all, I still believe in love. I still believe that there’s a lot of love for me to share, and even if I can’t find the right woman to share my life with, I can share that love with my friends and family and even the world.

At the end of my road, I want to look back and see a life that mattered. One filled with creativity (right now I can’t say I’ve accomplished all that I’m capable of). One filled with love, compassion, peace, serenity, and laughter. One filled with the pursuit of knowledge and the sharing of that knowledge with others. One filled with an appreciation of both the sun and rain, for it takes both to make things grow. I want my life to be more than the accumulation of stuff or the acquisition of money. I want to leave this world a little better than I found it.

That’s all for now.

Sunday Evening Ramblings – 11/13/16

I’ve got a new book coming soon. It’s a humorous look at life in jail because it’s much better to laugh at misfortune than cry. So far, the feedback I’ve received is that it’s laugh-out-loud funny. A word of warning, though: this book is NSFW. It’s so profane it’s probably not safe for home either, so read at your own discretion.

Here’s a brief snippet:

So to spice up your Tuesday afternoon, you chug a fifth of whiskey and let happen what may. At some point, it becomes imperative to check on your elderly neighbor who you haven’t seen in a couple of weeks. He might be in danger, you realize, so you charge across the neighborhood in denim shorts and tennis shoes. What could possibly go wrong? you reason as you proceed to bang on every door and window, calling his name and growing more fearful with each passing minute. When the cops arrive after several calls from other concerned neighbors, you realize your wallet is still at home, so you attempt to run back there to retrieve it. Three Taser jolts, a dose of pepper spray, and a two minute beating later, you find yourself in the back of a patrol car charged with two counts of Aggravated Assault on an Officer and one count of Aggravated Burglary, and you are heading to jail. You’ve never been in trouble before and have no idea what to expect inside.

Never fear! This educational guide will give you an overview of 101 things you need to know about being an inmate in a county jail, so while you wait to be fingerprinted, photographed, and booked in, you can relax a little and enjoy yourself instead of fretting over when you’ll get to see an attorney.

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Wednesday Afternoon Ramblings – 11/9/16

So the election happened, and now we have half the country believing we’ve been delivered from evil and half believing we’ve been tossed into Nazi Germany. Only time will tell who is correct, but one thing is for certain: right now, a lot of people are scared of what the future holds. If this election can be summed up in one word, that one would be my choice. Fear. The right fears further expansion of Federal powers, further eroding of individualism, further entrenching of overbearing political correctness. The left fears rampant racism and sexism, a rolling back of human rights progress, and the rise of fascism. These fears have led to levels of mistrust, hate, and vitriol that we haven’t seen in many decades.

In short, we are a nation divided in a way that could rapidly devolve into bloodshed.

The sad thing is, few of us actually want that. Most of us just want the promise of America: the opportunity to live our lives to the best of our ability and provide a prosperous future for our children. Most of us want peace. Most of us want justice. We may disagree about the definitions of those things, but few of us actually want conflict. However, if this election cycle showed us anything it’s that we have completely stopped listening to each other. Nearly all of us lost friends because of political arguments. Nearly all of us witnessed people on both sides who we cared about go after each other like rabid dogs. Those arguments only heightened the fears most of us feel.

Despite everything I’ve experienced in my life, I still believe in humanity. I still believe that most people at their core are decent, honest individuals who are capable of kindness, compassion, and generosity. I still believe that we as a species are capable of better than where we are today. And we as Americans especially are capable of so much more than all of this suspicion, hate, fear-mongering, and dehumanization. Right now, however, we have to set aside our differences and begin the process of healing. If we don’t, the next election cycle might become violent.

So my challenge for all of us is this: first, turn off the 24 hour news cycle (which is THE single biggest source of all this fear). Stop listening to media outlets which generate revenue by keeping you fearful of whichever bogeyman they are peddling. Second, start engaging your neighbors, especially those with different opinions from your own, in meaningful conversations. Find common ground with each other. I’m not saying seek out the most radical opposition you can find and try to convert them to your way of seeing things. That would be folly. No, what we need to do is start rebuilding bridges amongst each other again and realize that we are all more alike than different. Third, we all need to come back from the fringes of our political spectra and move more towards the center. Right or left, the fringes are approaching madness, and we desperately need sanity and compromise.

These are three small steps that all of us can begin right now. We are Americans, all of us. We are human beings, all of us. We need to heal and stop hating each other now. Otherwise, the next step down this downward slope involves violence, and that’s not a future I want for my kids.

Saturday Afternoon Ramblings – 11/5/16

If you’re a fan of my series The Brotherhood of Dwarves, here’s an update for you. Currently, I’m in the middle of chapter 9 of 14 total, so the rough draft is over halfway complete. There is a lot going on in this book as the war erupts and the Great Empire’s hold on the Ghaldeon lands crumbles. All of the plot points that came to a head in book four are now boiling over in this installment. So far, I’m pleased with how the story is coming together.

This series has been in my head for about 14 or 15 years, and I don’t have words for how it feels to finally get this last book down on the page. There have been so many setbacks and obstacles along the way that often I wondered if I would ever be able to get the whole story told, but somehow, I’ve been able to keep it alive in my addlepated mind. Not sure how I’ll feel once this book is actually finished, but I’m sure there will be lots of mixed emotions.

I’m not sure if Philip will be editing this book, too. We haven’t discussed it recently, so I’m just not sure if he has the time or the inclination to do it. For my part, I hope he does because I trust his judgment and we seem to work well together. If he chooses not to, I do have a couple of backup editors in mind, so the book will get a thorough polishing before it hits the market. Even if it means delaying the release a little bit longer, this book will be honed to a fine edge before it’s published.

It feels good to be productive. It’s bringing me a sense of normalcy (well, normalcy for me; probably not what most people would consider normal) and helping me to get a foundation back under my feet. Once I finish this series, I can’t wait to start on my next projects, but that’s another post for another day.

That’s all for now.

A New (Old) Approach

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I’ll be honest. I never could get my heart into the last blog format. While I love making the Professor Write videos and plan to develop more, the effort at the blog just didn’t work for me, and as a result, this site has been neglected for the last couple of months. That’s unacceptable, so I’m trying a new direction.

Well, if you’re paying attention, actually an old direction.

I’m going back to the original Ramblings of D.A. Adams style, where I chronicle my day to day adventures and write about whatever strikes my fancy that day. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of book five. Currently the rough draft is over halfway complete. Not sure about a timetable for a launch yet because there’s still too much editing and polishing to go, but soon. I promise. Soon.

I’ll also try to inspire you with my efforts to rebuild my life, and I’ll post regular updates on my physical fitness journey as I continue to recover from the neurological condition that knocked me down a couple of years ago. Right now, I physically feel healthier than I have in years and am approaching 100 pounds lost.

I also have a new book about to launch. It’s a humorous look at life in jail. So far, the feedback on the manuscript is that it’s laugh-out-loud funny, so I’m excited for it to hit the market. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll share the cover and a brief preview.

The last few months have been quite a journey. I got rather close with a friend and thought we were possibly building a real relationship, but it fell apart. The experience taught me that I’m simply not ready to be involved with anyone yet. From everything I’ve experienced, I have too many scars and too many wounds that haven’t fully healed. Unfortunately, I lost a friend in the process, but maybe time will mend that fence.

Despite that setback, life is still pretty good. I’m glad to be healthy and productive again, and each day I’m moving another inch forward. I hope you’ll check back often as The New Ramblings of D.A. Adams kicks into gear. There’s still a long, steep climb ahead, but I believe I’m up to the challenge.

That’s all for now.

 

 

Feedback Friday – 9/9/16

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Welcome to the first installment of Feedback Friday, where I’ll answer your writing-related questions. If you want your question featured here, just leave a comment anywhere on this blog with the words “Feedback Friday” somewhere in your question or you can shoot me an email at thirdaxe at gmail dot com. Please, make sure you put “Feedback Friday” as the subject line.

Our first question comes from Heather in South Carolina, who wants to know the primary differences between a comma, a full colon, and a semicolon so that she knows when to use each one correctly.

In the written language, commas are intended to create a brief pause, mostly in order to separate ideas in the reader’s mind. For instance, if you have a series of three or more items such as a pen, a piece of paper, and an idea, use commas to separate out each of the items so they don’t run together and create confusion. You do not need a comma to separate two items joined by a conjunction, like Jack and Jill, because there is no need for a pause. The conjunction takes care of that.

You should also use commas to set off any kind of an introductory clause. For example, this is one type of introductory clause that needs to be set off with a comma. Because commas are the most misused piece of punctuation, I will eventually have a video in the lecture series dedicated just to their usage. Notice how at the end of the “because” statement, we need a slight pause to show that the introductory element is ending and the main sentence is beginning. Using commas after introductory statements increases clarity and decreases the chance of misunderstanding.

You also need commas to separate two full sentences joined by a conjunction. For instance, I want to make sure that you understand the basic fundamentals of when to use a comma, but I also don’t want to insult your intelligence by making it too simple. To that end, I’ll provide examples embedded throughout this post to illustrate when you should use them, so you can absorb for yourself the rhythm of when you need that pause.

There are many more rules for when you should or should not use a comma, but for now, let’s just focus on those three as the most important fundamentals.

To understand the semicolon, you must understand not only the comma but also the period. If the comma creates a pause, the period represents a full stop. You use periods to indicate to the audience that that thought has concluded and are now transitioning to a new thought. The semicolon is somewhere between a full stop and a pause. Typically, there are two primary instances when you should use a semicolon:

1) If you have two complete sentences that you want to link together, BUT you do not want to use a conjunction because you want to show a connection between those two thoughts, the semicolon links them together. Friendship is the most valuable gift in life; it can heal almost any wound and makes each day a little brighter. Notice how the semicolon joins those two complete thoughts. A period or a conjunction would slow down the reader too much and lose the connection between the sentiments. A comma is too weak of a pause, so the semicolon is the perfect happy median between the two.

2) If you have a complex series, you need to set off the main elements with semicolons to make it clear where each one begins and ends. For instance, in this blog entry we are covering commas, which create a pause in written language; periods, which create a full stop; and semicolons, which fall somewhere in between a full stop and a pause. If we only used commas to separate those three main elements, that phrase would be nearly unreadable because it would be too cluttered. The semicolon shows perfectly where the major breaks should occur.

Finally, we have the full colon. Typically, the colon is used to introduce a series/list or further clarify some thought. If you noticed earlier, before my series of two points about semicolons, I used a colon to introduce that a list was to follow. We can do that in a sentence, too. For instance, a good sentence contains several key elements: a clear subject, a strong verb, and proper punctuation for starters.

You can also use the  colon to further clarify. This falls under two primary subcategories: 1) introducing a concluding explanation and 2) introducing an appositive (if you’re unsure of what an appositive is, that could be the next Feedback Friday segment). For the concluding explanation, consider the following example. A homemade meal nourishes the soul: it involves time, preparation, and attention to detail. While you could argue that a semicolon would serve here just as well, in this particular example, the colon more definitively shows that the second sentence more clearly explains the first. For introducing an appositive, think about this example. Homemade meals taste better for one simple reason: love. In both of these examples, the colon is used to set off an element that provides more explanation or clarification for what preceded it.

So there’s your explanation of the primary differences between a comma, a semicolon, and a colon. Hope to see you back here next week for our next Friday Feedback.

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