Where Has The Time Gone?

I can’t believe it’s been four months since I made a blog post! I knew it had been a while, but holy crap!

What’s Up Doc?

I can’t really explain where all of the time went…much of September and October were spent revising The Reluctant Agent. It should be arriving in the Fall of 2018. When I have more news, I’ll let you know.

November was spent traveling and December was all about two things: Music and Christmas. I played five concerts for three different bands and played a Christmas Eve service.

And Here We Are…

And here were looking at the beginning of a brand new year. I’ve given up on making resolutions; instead, I focus on the goals for the coming year. For me, that includes publishing The Reluctant Agent and starting the next book. In the short term, it means finishing a short story I started around Halloween and working on some smaller things while working towards The Reluctant Agent.

Another goal is to do a much better job of posting here and in social media in general. This is one of the hardest things for me to do because I don’t like posting unless I feel strongly about the subject.

That’s all for now. I hope that 2018 is a great year for all of us!

Happy journeys,

Mike

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Changes

Labor Day, the unofficial transition between summer and fall, is a time of change. Kids go from the carefree days of summer back to the reality of school and the changes that happen every year. For adults, it means the end of vacations and back to the grindstone. If you live here in the north, leaves start changing and slide into winter begins.

This Labor Day has marked a number of changes for me. Right before I left for Labor Day weekend, a reorganization at work has me managing people for the first time in my career. Second, and more importantly, my wife and I took my son to college this past weekend so we are now officially “empty nesters”. This Labor Day has been a clear demarkation between the way things used to be and a different reality.

So What The Hell Does This Have To Do With Your Writing?

It has everything to do with my writing. In The Reluctant Captain, Malcolm has to deal with the change of becoming captain. And in a perverse sense of life imitating art,  I’m beginning that same journey. In the next book, The Reluctant Agent, I think you can deduce from the title that yet another change is in store for Malcolm. This change is not necessarily to his liking and echoes frustrations that I’ve had in my career. My story is going in one direction while Malcolm’s is propelled in the opposite direction. People like to say that when visualize something, you bring it into being. Maybe my work on The Reluctant Captain and now The Reluctant Agent has brought that change into my life. Or maybe it’s just serenedity.

So What’s Up with The New Book?

I’m still revising. I got detoured in August getting ready for my son’s departure. I think I have one or two more passes through before I’ll take it out for others to see. I’m shooting for a Spring 2018 release and I should be able to do it now that I’m an empty nester. Or the new job responsibilites will suck up my time. Time will tell!

Anything Else?

I’m planning on participating in Indie Author Day again this year on Saturday, October 14. I don’t have any definitive plans, but watch for more news here.

And again, please sign up for my email list! There’s a handy dandy sign up just to right over here. I want to keep in touch with anyone who reads my books and blog. So please sign up!

Happy Journeys and Embrace the Change!

Mike

 

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Seeing My Characters

Seeing My Characters

And just like that, three weeks blow by and I didn’t make one single post to the blog! It’s been a whirlwind summer. What with summer band concerts (my last one is this coming Friday) and my son’s imminent departure for college, I’ve haven’t had much time. I’ll try to do better once September starts!

Tonight, my local library held a “Learn How To Make Your Own Cosplay Costumes” seminar tonight. I went with my family and had a great time. It was a short seminar geared toward illustrating and designing characters. We started with pre-drawn character forms to create our own designs. I took this opportunity to sketch out Saxon and Joan from the novel (DISCLAIMER: In truth, it was really supposed to be Malcolm and not Saxon, but the face definitely came out much more like Saxon than Malcolm). Here they are:

Saxon

Joan

Although the drawing of Joan is stylized, I am happy that I was able to capture some of the images floating around in my cranium. I feel like I’ve finally got to see them in more detail.

When I write, I tend to imagine it as a movie playing in my head, albeit a very fuzzy movie. I usually can’t completely imagine my characters’ faces in any detail whatsoever. If I was better at faces, I’d try to draw Malcolm, but given my design of Saxon, it would likely look exactly the same only with a different name.

In other news, work on The Reluctant Agent continues. I’m in the middle of the second round of revisions. I’m hoping that September sees it ready to show to someone else. And after that, more revisions!

Before I sign off, let me once again encourage you to sign up on my mailing list. I still only have four subscribers – and one of them is my wife. I don’t want to make one of those annoying popups asking you to subscribe, so please consider subscribing. I promise I won’t spam you with tons of email. I’d just like to keep people up to date. And please feel free to interact with my by leaving comments – I try to administrate them as quickly as I can.

Until next time, happy journeys!

Mike

 

 

 

 

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The Relationship Between the Author and the Reader

As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, I listen to Sarah Werner’s podcasts Write Now!  and its companion,  Coffee Break regularly and am a big fan. On the most current episode of Coffee Break (available here), she interviewed author Ryan Dalton. In their discussion, Mr. Dalton mentioned that he was disappointed when a writer he followed tweeted about a crappy day at his non-writing day job. He felt that it broke the “brand” of the author and was inconsistent with the image that writer typically portrayed.

What Should the Relation Be Between an Author and Reader?

While I get Mr. Dalton’s point, I don’t share that opinion. I follow a couple of authors on Twitter and on their blogs. I love it when I get to peek behind the curtain and see the big time authors have the same struggles as me: finding time to write, struggling to get words out…the whole topsy-turvy world of writing. As a reader, I think we often put our favorite authors on mental pedestals. I like getting to see the glimpses that they wish to share with their readers.

Building a Community

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I read Amanda Palmer’s book The Art of Asking or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help.  The other night, I noticed my copy of Felicia Day’s You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir and the parallels between the two books really struck me. Both books describe how Ms. Palmer and Ms. Day built communities where they shared their projects. They both interact with their fans and encourage interaction with their fans. I think the only way you can have that kind of community is to share yourself with your community. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I think if I can build a community, that would be my definition of success as a writer.

In The Spirit of Sharing

I just got back from a weeklong vacation in the Adirondacks with my wife’s family. It was the perfect balance between relaxation and activity – something I don’t always achieve. The Great America Road Trip of 2016 was certainly all activity as the goal was to visit the colleges and other attractions in the three weeks we had….Alright, who am I kidding, it was a three-week excuse to do Star Trek activities. We did some of the typical tourist attractions, rode a boat up the lakes. And most importantly to you (I hope), I finished the first revision of The Reluctant Agent, my next book. It still has more work to go, but I have it in a form that has mostly complete sentences and real words (while I’m a writer, I’m a terrible typist). I’ve been back to work and I’m not going to complain about that simply because complaining about work is universal. While work certainly helps define who I am, I don’t let it define me completely. I’m an engineer, but I’m also a musician, a writer, a father, a son, and many other things. There’s a great line in the musical Working (adapted from the novel by Studs Turkel) where one of the characters says:

“Jobs aren’t big enough for people. When you ask most people who they are, they define themselves by their job. I’m a doctor. I’m a radio announcer. I’m a carpenter. If someone asks me, I say, I’m Amanda McKenny. At certain points in time, I do things for a living.”

In the spirit of community, please join my email list. You can do it at the handy dandy signup are on the right. I certainly won’t inundate you with email because right now, I have approximately four people in the list. To the four people who did sign up, thank you! And please feel free to leave comments – I try to approve them as soon as I can, but if you leave a comment during the East Coast workday hours, there’s a good chance I won’t get to it until the evening. But I’d love discussion and feedback, so feel free to leave comments.

Until next time,

Happy Journeys!

Mike

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The Writer’s Equivalent of Winning the Lottery, Part II

With San Diego Comic Con right around the corner, I remembered this post from two years ago: The Writer’s Equivalent of Winning the Lottery. In it, I wish for my book to be a best seller, getting to do signings, seeing it made into a good movie, and getting to speak at some sort of conference. I wrote this only four months after my book came out.

So I decided to re-examine that dream. While I still would love to have all of that come true, the past two years have shifted those dreams.

What Do I Want Now?

Here are things that I think are my equivalent of winning the lottery:

  1. Having a Community of Passionate Fans – I follow a bunch of writers on Twitter and I watch their fans interact with them (I’ve been known to interact with a couple myself). And reading Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help, I’m struck by how she built her success by building a community. Interacting with people and sharing our passions. This sort of covers the desire to do signings and speak at a conference. It’s really the chance to interact with people. I think that I would enjoy that more than being a best-selling author – but please note, I’m not turning that option down. That would be good too!
  2. Having Time to Write Consistently – This past Spring, I was able to make time to write on a more consistent basis, but since June, that hasn’t happened. Some of it is the season – I play in two community bands and then attend the Music At The Park concerts in the park across from my house. There are three nights of the week gone. Work has also been demanding and we’re preparing to send our son off to college for the first time.
  3. Taking Writing Retreats – I did this for the first time in the Fall of 2016 and I really liked it. I was truly by myself and got a fair amount of work done. I think I would love to go on one of those workshop/retreats where you spend the day writing and then gather with everyone else to talk about the day’s work. But with college tuition on the horizon, I think these may be few and far between.

What Am I Going To Do About This?

Since these are relatively modest goals, I think I can take steps to make these happen:

  1. Blog More and Reach Out On Social Media More – If you try to follow this blog, I’m horrendously inconsistent in blogging. I don’t tend to write if I don’t feel I have a topic. But I’m going to commit to writing more on the blog, even if it’s to discuss books I read, movies I’ve seen, etc. I want to encourage a discussion. I’ve also joined an online writing group and I’m trying to be active without feeling like I have to comment on every single thing. And I think I’m getting the hang of the Twitter thing, so look for me to be more active there.
  2. Writing More Consistently – This will be the hardest of the three tasks. I just need to make some iron clad time in my schedule to write. Maybe start writing first thing in the morning. I’ll keep you posted as to how well this works.
  3. Writing Retreats – This may have to wait, but in the mean time, I’ll keep saving my pennies. Since I often get paid to play music, I tend to funnel that money back into my writing, so I might be able to swing one through that. If not, I’ll look for mini-retreats on the cheap – like a day at Barnes & Nobles. I live in the middle of nowhere, so there aren’t many options for coffee shops.

I still haven’t given up hope that Felicia Day got my book, might yet read it and give it Joss Whedon. I think it has to have a better chance than winning the actual lottery.

Felicia, I hope you can make it happen! Until then, I’ll aspire to more modest goals.

Happy Journeys!
Mike

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