My apologies for no updates on the blog recently. I’ve been working like crazy to get the writing process videos finished for the beginning of the college semester, and there just haven’t been enough hours in the day to get everything done. Hopefully next week I can get rolling with all the new segments on the blog and online classroom. Until then, you should totally subscribe to my YouTube channel.
Here are the first two videos in the lecture series. Happy learning:
When I first started this blog back in 2009, I did so for the primary purpose of having a medium to keep my writing skills sharp during the academic year when I didn’t have time to work on a book or stories. The secondary purpose was to reach my readers on a more direct level so that we could interact. From the outset, I approached this blog with the simple guideline that I wrote about whatever I wanted on any given day. Any subject was fair game. I feel like I wrote some pretty strong pieces through this medium, and for the most part I have no regrets about the blog itself.
However, times have changed, as have my circumstances. During my incarceration, I thought long and hard about what I would like to do here once I got out. At heart, in addition to being a writer (I will always consider myself a writer first and foremost), I am an educator, someone who thrives on helping others expand their own skills and improve their lives, but when I left the system in 2014, I left permanently because of the soul-crushing bureaucracy and the insane for-profit business model overtaking higher education. Now, with the stigma associated with my current situation, I couldn’t return to the profession if I wanted to. But that doesn’t mean I cannot still teach on my own terms.
To that end, I am going to turn my blog into an online classroom of sorts. I will have at least four new weekly segments dedicated to the craft of writing. First and foremost, there will be a video lecture series in which I share some of what I know. Each video will be roughly 10 minutes in length and will cover mostly the material I used to share in the classroom. Second, there will be a day dedicated to vocabulary. Each week I will share 20 or so new words with definitions, usages, and etymologies. Third, one day a week, I will open up the blog for questions on the subject of writing and will offer the best feedback I can. PLEASE NOTE: I will not read and critique manuscripts. I do not have the time or energy for that. Last, I will also share a weekly book review of a novel I feel is worthy of study by aspiring writers. These reviews will be done solely at my discretion and will be limited to books already published (and usually fairly successful and/or acclaimed). These four segments will be the meat of my new blog, and if popularity warrants, I will continue for as long as possible. I may still have a fifth segment where I have a weekly Rambling on some topic of my choosing, but I’m not certain of that yet.
There are two primary reasons why I want to make these changes at this time. For starters, as I said, I am still at heart an educator, and as such I still feel a burning passion to share my knowledge with others. I love language–the sound of words; the power of a well-constructed sentence; the ability to evoke emotions, challenge assumptions, and affect persuasion. I want other to partake in this great dance and find their own voices to add to the chorus. The second reason for these changes is more selfish. I feel like this new format will help me reach a broader audience, not just for this blog but also for my own writings. Only time will tell if that proves true.
I will continue to write and publish my own works. Book five of The Brotherhood of Dwarves series is already in progress. In addition to that, I intend to write more Sam Skeen novellas. I also have a futuristic urban fantasy series that I will begin as soon as I finish book five. Finally, I have decided to revisit some of my older writings and see if anything can be salvaged from that scrapheap. If people like it, I will continue to develop those ideas; if not, I’ll march forward with the other three series.
There is much work to be done–on the blog, with books, around my home, and in my personal life. It may take another week or do to get the new format launched, but it is coming soon. I want to have the first couple of videos finished and ready to upload to YouTube before giving this site its makeover. Please, stay tuned for all that’s coming, for the future feels promising to me for the first time in many years. Finally, thank you for all of the love and support you have shown me over the last week. My heart is full and I am blessed beyond measure by all of the messages and comments I’ve received. With you behind me, there is no limit to how far I can go.
Here are the early reviews of The Unquenchable Fire:
I seriously enjoyed this story. Great western story with paranormal elements and a few philosophical struggles to thoroughly stir the pot. I hope to see further adventures from these characters, as well as some back story for one Mr. Sam Skeen.
Here’s an update on my situation. The last few weeks of winter have been fairly difficult. The severe cold temps have made my symptoms flare up just as bad as before, so all of my gains from the paleo program have been wiped out. I’m not giving up on the dietary changes, and I’m hoping warmer weather will bring about some improvements to my health.
My appeal for disability has been filed, and my information has all been sent to the attorney’s office, so hopefully there will be some movement on that front soon. On a related note, anyone who has known me since before all of this started, if you would be willing to write a letter on my behalf describing the diminished capacity you have witnessed, please contact me. I need all of the evidence I can get.
In case you missed it, I have a new release that came out Saturday. The Unquenchable Fire is a novella for the Outlaws of Fiction and the first release of the Sam Skeen saga.
I still need to raise more funds to get through the next couple of months. The brutal cold made me turn on the electric heaters along with the wood stove, so my upcoming electric bill is going to be pretty steep. If you can please help out by donating or sharing the link around, I would be most grateful.
Once again, thank you to everyone for the love and support you have shown. It’s truly kept me from sinking into utter despair, but as long as you all believe in me, I will continue to fight and scrap to regain my health.
Just for fun, here’s a pic from a photo shoot we did before the symptoms got the better of me:
This will be my last post for awhile, maybe ever. I got turned down for disability. Somehow, I have to find a way to go back to work and find a job I can do in this condition. I will still try to finish book five one day, but I have no idea when or how. I’m grateful for everyone who has shown me kindness and love over the years. Even in this really dark moment, I know I’m blessed to have all of you.
I’ve started and stopped this post a dozen times at least over the last few months. On one side, I feel like I need to get these things off my chest to vent and feel better, but on the other, given the difficulties of my neurological illness, it seems like petty whining. However, the fact that I keep coming back to the topic tells me that I need to vent it. When I lay down at night, the thing that eats at me most is that my writing career is judged not by the quality of my storytelling or the clarity of my prose but rather by my inability to wrangle social media. I cannot express in words how much that bothers me.
I began pursuing writing as a career in the early 90’s. Like most, when I began, I was terrible, but what I lacked in ability I compensated for in desire and effort. I studied. I practiced. I wrote. The hours I spent honing my craft were countless – all nighters in coffee shops and diners hunched over a book or a stack of notes; weeks bent over a yellow legal pad with a black Bic pen; more weeks seated before a Brother word processor with a built in printer; reams of paper and ribbons. My poor roommates were forced beta readers and endured many a painful rough draft. There was no internet, not as we know it today, and the submission process was glacially slow. Yellow envelopes, a couple bucks postage, thuds at the bottom of the chute, and weeks of waiting for the SASE to return. I collected 36 form rejection slips before I landed my first story in 1995. Those slips were thumbtacked to my wall by my word processor as scars of honor.
I don’t enjoy bragging on myself; it always feels forced and awkward talking about the quality of what I do publicly. Those are statements best left for others to make, but I know the Brotherhood series has serious depth. The volume and quality of reviews speak for themselves. Still, I can’t break through, can’t reach my audience, which I know is out there, because I’m not savvy with social media and don’t know how to create click bait. It’s maddening to feel in your bones that your audience is out there and with this global inter-connectedness we now have to be able to reach them in more ways than ever before but always to feel drowned out by the inundation of cat memes or the outrage of the week. And don’t get me started on the bait and switch Facebook pulled.
I look at the authors who do tend to maximize social media, and I just don’t want to be like those people. There’s Chuck “Windbag” Wendig who manages to trumpet the white liberal guilt message on every public outrage. If parrotting to the left what they want to hear is the path to success, I’d rather stay broke and obscure. To the right, there’s Larry Correia, who’s just a smartass asshole. I tried following him for a week or two, but after watching how he talks to people in general, biting their head’s off for daring to waste his precious time, no thanks. He can keep his success and shove his attitude up his ass. I’ll put the quality of my storytelling and prose up against theirs any day of the week, but I will not behave as some caricature of a political mouthpiece.
Right now, I’m also frustrated because I can’t work. I can’t do the thing I love and close out the final installment of Brotherhood. My health is in the way of that, and those who know me well know how much it’s eating at me to be in this hellish limbo. While I believe I may have found the solution with these dietary changes, it’s going to take time for the neurological symptoms to improve. In the mean time, I need to sell books to be able to afford to eat the right stuff, but to sell books, I need to be more social media savvy. Last night, I tried to create an Instagram account, but I’m too much of a dinosaur to know how to do anything with it. I suck at Twitter. Google+ is a ghost town. Facebook wants money. It’s a vicious cycle.
I just want to find my audience and be able to write for them. I want to spend whatever time I have left on earth using my creative energy. That doesn’t seem like an outlandish goal to me, but right now, it still feels as far away as it did all those years ago when my fingers let go and that first yellow envelope slid down the mail chute. I know it’s not. I know I’ve traveled a long way and overcome a lot of obstacles and accomplished some good things, but I still haven’t reached my audience yet. I guess I’ll stop whining now and end this little pity party.