This blog tracks a ten year epic of kick-starting a whole writing career, with spies and thrillers and now, vampires. I cover the creative process, stuff that blows up, history, philosophy, and theology. If you like any or all of the above, you'll like this one. We talk about comic books, movies, music, and writing. Usually, all at the same time.
As mentioned previously, my book, Honor At Stake is going through a serious price drop. The usual $22 paperback is now under $8 as of this writing, so buy now while supplies last. Yes, really, there are 7 left at Amazon.
Because it's Christmas. It is time to party. And this is awesome music. And yes, it's the Cruxshadows, just try it anyway. Trust me on this, would you?
And, just for the record, if you're one of those Black Saturday shoppers, seriously, just buy Honor At Stake. The price has dropped to $10. It's a good deal, and it's readable for all ages. It really is. It'll make life easier on you.
As was mentioned yesterday, I've been having such fun fixing my printer. After TWO HOURS, there is a solution.
That solution? Get another printer.
Thankfully, it's still under warranty, so I'm getting yet ANOTHER new one. It looks like two novels will come out next year. At least. Yay.
Now, a bit of business.
1) Sad Puppies 4 is still taking nominees. If you think that Sad Puppies Bite Back is good enough for Best Related, or if Honor At Stake is good for best novel, or if this blog works for best Fan Writing or Fanzine or something, by all means, go ahead. PLease do it soon, because I have no idea when the nominations end.
2) Amazon has slashed the price of Honor at Stake to $10 in paperback. If you're a hard copy person, now's your chance. Strike! I'd actually suggest them as Christmas presents to boys and girls of all ages. It might actually be perfect, strangely enough. Guys like the action. The women like the romance. And no one hates this book. I'm shocked, really.
The following blog post is not one designed to evoke pity, a bit for sympathy, or note of any particular plight. In fact, the short version is that I'm okay, I will live, nothing is the matter. Technically.
The first rule of taking care of other people is simple: if you don't take care of yourself, you are completely useless to anyone and everyone else. It you turn into a wreck, you have failed. You have failed your friends, you have failed those who rely upon you, and you have failed yourself.
I haven't failed just yet, but I'm close.
I have, over the course of this month-plus, posted haphazardly, neglected my radio show, and I've barely managed to keep in touch with friends, colleagues, and my marketing is at the bare minimum. I can't even keep up with twitter or email. Think about that a moment. I have problems finding time to delete junk mail.
Among fighter pilots, there is a thing called target focus -- you focus so hard on what you're aiming for, you crash into it. When I'm on a major massive project, I can, occasionally, fall into that.
In short, I'm a little burned out.
Right now, I am home again (home again, jiggity jig), and yet there are moments when I try to relax, I cannot focus, my nerve endings feel like they're firing and my heart rate it spiking. I have had no time to myself for over a month now. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Even though I'm home, I'm having my time eaten up by people who want my attention. Who need my attention.
Of course, I ALSO need to finish everything I've fallen behind on while I was away. Up to and including SIGNING THE CONTRACT FOR BOOK 3 OF MY VAMPIRE SERIES. Yes, that's right, I had the contract before I left, and I never got a chance to print, sign, scan, and send it into the publisher. And now the brand new printer doesn't want to work. Yay.
I'm going to need alone time now. This may require me to lock myself in a dark room for a while. If I do not reply to your correspondence, DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. There is a reason I have scheduled no new radio programs since my return. Even the idea of ranting and raving is actually something that hurts right now.
I need downtime. And quiet. Mostly quiet. Quiet I cannot get because I've had repeated phone calls in the two hours it has taken me to write these paltry few hundred words.
In short, I really do need to be left alone.
I'll be posting a lot of Christmas music from here on out. Because it's Christmas. And because I think Christmas music might be the most my nervous system can handle at this minute.
I've been going to church since I was ... born, probably. Though I must admit, of the many, many bible quotes I've heard, one that always struck with me was the one about the proper way to pray. You're not supposed to throw ashes on yourself, wear ratty clothes and pray on street corners. The proper way is to pray in a closet, out of sight of everyone. You're not showing off, and you're not showing how good pure and noble you are, etc.
It's one reason why I'm not going into a lot of detail about what I've been doing lately. The other reason is that it's really none of your business, it's someone else's private affairs,
Though I have to tell you, it's been an interesting month.
I've gone into some details here or there, but for the newcomers, let me catch you up.
For those people who have gathered / guessed, I was in Indiana helping a friend of mine not only bury her husband, but also do other things. Like move. Sort of. Suffice it to say that it's a long story, and it's none of your business. So there, nyah.
However, one of the things I've noticed is how many people are thanking me for doing this, or how many people are talking about how good a thing I'm doing.
At which point my reaction is, invariably, "What else would I do?"
No, seriously, a show of hands: you have a friend. Your friend suddenly has to bury someone near and dear to them. What do you do?
(A) Go help
(B) Stay away
(C) Send platitudes and do nothing else
(D) Help as much as you are able.
If you're a halfway decent human being, A or D is your answer. And I could do A.
And some of the people who expressed how good my actions were? Many of them were doing D -- researching legal questions and technical computer questions, and referring real estate people, or sending money, or passing the hat around.
Because guess what, people are good. Who knew? You know, aside from the book of Genesis.
At the end of the day, my Christmas spirit does not actually need an exorcist. Strange as that may be. I have practically been drowning in Christmas spirit -- there are literally dozens if not hundreds of people who have thrown support into this effort. At the end of the day, both my friend and I came out the other end of this relatively sane ... well, as sane as ever, so you do the math.
In short, the Christmas spirit is alive and well and acts in really odd ways.
And yet, somehow, through all of this, even the people who are piling in with the goodness, people think I'm doing the good deed.
But what else would I do? It's Christmas. And there are a lot of good people who have made all of this turn out far better than it otherwise could have.
Yes, I'm still in Indiana. Otherwise, I would have posted something yesterday.
So, I recently got fan mail that asked me when I was getting back to the world of Sean A.P. Ryan (professional nutjob) & Co. And it was more of a when, not if question. There was a mention of Voodoo curses, so I'm not taking any chances.
Recently, I posted about pornstars, and mentioned how I researched "adult entertainment" because I wanted to put Sean in the most uncomfortable position I could find.
That was actually going to be book 3. Because book 2 was going to be about Sean Ryan running security for a Natalia Boatman, a young scifi actress who was going to Harvard. Because there was no relation, at all, to Natalie Portman. Really. There would be terrorists who want to kill her ... mostly because she's Israeli, and a high-profile target. Oh, and yeah, her uncle has heard about it, and he wants to sort the situation ... oh yeah, and he happens to be a semi-retired Mossad hitman.
And did I mention that there would be a mercenary involved who appeared in It Was Only on Stun!?
And that's part of the problem. There are few people who like Stun! Surprisingly enough, it's one of my least reviewed books, and the one with the most mixed reviews. So there's little incentive to finish that trilogy.
However, I do have another idea for the continued career of not only Sean AP Ryan, but also the entire cast of The Pius Trilogy. And one that might be more up-to-date given his post-Pius career.
Simple premise: After Pius, there's a new President in charge, and he is nowhere like President Barry. If you're read A Pius Stand, you probably know who the new guy is. But the short version is that he is not a fan of standard business as usual practices. After a terrorist attack, said President wants to assemble an armed NGO that will hunt down and kill terrorists, steal their money, and use that money to bankroll doing the same thing over and over again. And it would be led by "the most relentless, determined, psychotic son of a bitch" that he can find.
No points for guessing who said psycho is.
And you can probably guess who the team he assembles is going to be.
If you're a Baen reader, this might sound a little familiar. Very slightly familiar. There is a passing similarity in that terrorist-hunting duties are handed off to a private contractor. But since Tom Kratman is a former Lt. Colonel and is essentially a one-man think tank on waging warfare, and I'm a schlub from New York who's only fired two guns in his entire life .... one apiece ... these are going to be two very different outcomes. Less military / war novel, and more Monster Hunter International for hunting terrorists.
It's one way to take it. And given ISIS lately? Sounds pretty darned timely to me.
Actually, doing the Impossible Missions Fund effects a space opera I was working on. Why? Because Sean AP Ryan was not the first Sean Ryan I created. The first Sean Ryan was of the 2300s (or was it the 3300s?) in said space opera. Either way, setting up the IMFund creates a family business for later on.
Anyway, welcome to the dark recesses of my brain, and what's coming down the pipe later on.
So, a friend of mine died. And his widow is also a friend.
As you might have gathered from the infrequency of posts lately, and the timing of my Death in the family post, he died the week before Thanksgiving.
Because, you know, that's just awesome timing. Amazing timing. Perfect freaking timing.
If you've ever had someone die in your life, you're not surprised by how much stuff is left behind. If you haven't, you'd be amazed.
Though some of this has been interesting. Why? Because my friend is amazed and surprised at the outpouring of affection and generosity.
And, yes, I've made it a point to laugh at her about that. She's used to that from me. Though it didn't really sink in, she was still in shock over everyone she knows online being sweet and kind to her. Teasing her about it is the only way to make it get through.
Yes, it's also tough. It's always tough dealing with a death of a loved one. It's even tougher digging through the crap left behind. Take my grandmother for one, a hoarder.
Just imagine the material parts of death. A short obituary is about $400. A cheap, prepaid funeral for my grandmother was $6,000. And this was barest of bare bones in New York City. Now imagine it in Chicago. Yes, Chicago. The pit that has earned the name the Second City.
Me? New York chauvinist? Naw. Ignore that the only hat I brought was an NYPD baseball cap.
But, yes, death leaves a ton of crap behind. Furniture that you might not need, but you want because it's sentimental. Bills that need to be paid as part of a regular routine, but you don't really have a regular routine anymore, because a great big part of your life has just been ripped out, and you're looking around wondering where that person is. Because it's pretty much like phantom limb syndrome -- that part of your body is gone, but it still hurts and itches, and you can't actually do anything about it, because it isn't actually there for you to work on or effect.
This of course doesn't count bills that you don't know about. Because if the deceased happened to bury important pieces of paper all over the place in random places, good luck finding them, hunting them down and paying these bills.
This of course also expects that there's enough money kicking around to pay all of these rotten bills and kill off the parasites that are busy trying to get their money while you're busy. And maybe there is, but you can't remember or retain anything because there are some parts and some things that put you into a bit of a haze.
And thankfully, there are friends. Friends who will send money, or offer help, or have you over for Thanksgiving dinner.
And it's hard on everyone, even the friends. Because there's really nothing to be done to help but to be there. And hug someone when they cry -- three to four times a day. Sometimes, a friend tries to make suggestions about arrangements in order to make it quick and cheap and don't break the bank ... which doesn't work when there are dozens of people who need to be contacted that might not know unless the obit is somewhere they can see, and even then it's a shot in the dark.
And of course, there's even the politics of death. Of death! Can you imagine? And not even family politics, but personal politics -- after all, if you can't afford all the newspapers for the obit, you shoot for the one that matches the politics of the deceased, and hopefully all of the people who know him that you're trying to reach.
Then there's the funeral itself.
Something to consider. Something from my family history.
When my maternal grandfather died, his obituary was in the paper. Including day and date and time of the funeral. My father was staying at the house. When the dog started barking, my father went to the front door. A truck had been pulling up to the house and the driver was getting out. The driver saw my father and got back in the truck, then pulled away.
So, yup, always something new to go wrong.
Not to mention that if I were to run the soundtrack of this outing, one of the songs would be "Always Something There to Remind Me."
Yes, I'm still dealing with funeral arrangements and such. Because apparently, some people don't want to bury the deceased the weekend of the death. Because some people want to make sure friends and family show up. Who knew?
Anyway, I already did my proper blog post for the week, and it's Sad Puppies related. Yup. It's not over yet.