The State

It’s no great mystery that Renewal is my response to the state of the the world I see around me. I don’t claim to have any special insight in that regard, but it’s not too hard to pick up on our general sense of frustration and unease with our current situation.

I took a long bike ride several years ago, You can read about it over at my blog about the trip. (Wow! I really need to update that site for security. The Russian posts and Viagra comments gave it away. Another side project…) The ride took place in the middle of the 2008 election season. The nature of a bicycle trip is that you meet tons of great people. You can literally make a good friend in five minutes in the midst of the experience. Needless to say, a lot of those rapid conversations revolved around the politics of the time. Our economy was shaking out the first rumbles of the real problems that we are all struggling with today.

The consensus, if you recall, was “anything but more of the same.” It may be that people who are willing to pedal a bike across country tend to lean left in their politics, but that theory would ignore the consensus from the tent camping families, the RV folks, and the business owners I talked with along the way. By the time I midway through Oregon, I definitely had a feel for the politics of the left coast. On the Sunday before election day, I rode through a small agricultural town in California. The scene was straight out of an old movie with a heavy dose of Americana. The local politicians were out in force. The city park was filled with a rally of some kind, and the sounds of worship came from old storefronts converted to churches. People lined the street for the chance to hand out their own version of truth in the form of political and religious pamphlets. Those people were active, involved, and dedicated to the cause of America. I’m not making a racial point at all, but I think it was interesting to note that literally everyone in the town was Hispanic. In any case, it was an impressive show of government by the people, and the message boiled down to, “anything but more of the same.”

I’ll leave you to debate whether anything of actual substance has changed in the past three years, but I can say that I’m currently involved in a number of email conversations with intelligent and thoughtful people. In each of these cases, there is another consensus.

The system is not working.

Thoughts?

Renewal 10 is Live on Amazon

I’m a little late with this update. Most of you already know. I’ve been up to my eyeballs in Decay. A weak excuse, but it’s more fun to write than it is to promote the writing. I have not put Renewal 10 up on B&N yet. It’s hard to get motivated when nothing is happening over yonder. Anyway, I just got the official email notice from Amazon that everything is hooked into the system. It’s fully live! Thank you for all the support.

Dog Moments

I spend a great deal of time with our five dogs. I step over and around them all day long. I can identify them by every noise they make, by the smell of every room destroying fart, by the sound of their paws on the floor. I can predict their movements without even paying attention. I know all of their moods and they know mine.

Recently, our oldest dog, Hunter, started losing control of his back legs. He’s a cancer survivor, which led us to imagine the worst. I didn’t really expect the worst, but just the same, we ran him in for a checkup. I’ve seen a number of older dogs with the same coordination problem. It’s not fun to think in terms of a general degeneration, but it’s certainly better than a tumor on the spine. After some x-rays, he did show a little arthritis on his spine, but nothing worse. So basically, he tweaked his back.

Another contributing factor was that his primary human and goddess, Sharon, was on a trip last week. The problem started to manifest the day after she left, and when she came home, he came bounding down the hall like a puppy. We can still tell that he is not operating at 100 percent, but the Sharon factor got me thinking about the power of attitude and motivation in dogs.

Dogs live in moments. Happy dogs are totally happy, until they aren’t. Dogs in trouble are pathetic. They really feel it. Embarrassed dogs are about the funniest thing on the planet. No matter what happens, dogs are right in that moment. There is no separation between a dog’s immediate state of mind and expression. Nothing between emotion and experience. If it’s a content moment, great. If not, they have the ability to shake the problem off, quite literally, and go back to being happy in a heartbeat.

What they don’t do is string all the moments together in their minds to create a general state. We do that. We think about all our problems and pile them up on one side of the scale. We occasionally collect all the happy pieces and throw them on the other side of the scale to come up with a balance that sometimes works in our favor and sometimes not.

We can catch ourselves missing happy moments entirely while our minds roam ahead to the rest of our day. We can look over the shoulder of a loved one in full embrace and see a stack of bills sitting on the table. We can miss the value of a smile while we consider our next move. We can end the day with a lopsided accounting of all the moments, just because we weigh pain like lead and happiness like styrofoam.

Let’s not do that. Let’s take a lesson from our canine pals, one of many great dog lessons, and appreciate all the moments. Let’s be happy when it’s the moment to be happy. Let’s deal with problems quickly and shake our heads to move on to the next moment of contentment.

Maybe if we’re really lucky, someone will pat us on the head.

Update for the 13th

Howdy, folks. I just want to give you a little information about the state of the work.

Sharon (awesome wife/editor) is on a business trip this week. She may have time to work on Part 10 while she’s away, or not. I can tell you that 6 hours after she gives it back to me, it will be uploaded. I’ll keep you posted, of course.

The sequel to Renewal has a title. I’m calling it Decay. As I’ve mentioned, it will be a full-length novel following the continuing story of the modern characters, along with the flashback story of two new characters who survive the Breakdown in the Pacific Northwest. They go on to wander America in search of a new safe home that may not exist. Bill’s back story will continue as well.

I’m about a quarter of the way through the sequel now. Because of the nature of the new characters, the retelling of the Breakdown is much more varied and detailed. It’s fun to write. Here’s hoping it will be fun to read when I’m done.

I’m also planning to do some work to pull the Renewal series together into a single volume, but I’m not sure of the timing yet. Ideally, I would release both Renewal and Decay at the same time, but being a raw recruit to novels, I can’t say for sure.

As always, thank you all for reading and sharing your thoughts.