Okay, it’s 2013, which blows my mind. As a kid, I distinctly remember thinking about how incredibly old I would be in the year 2000.  Note: I’m not that old. Kids…

Anyway, I’d like to point out a couple of news blog links to your right. One is a link to Trinity Mountain Homestead, a blog I should have linked long ago. I’ve been in touch with the author long enough to know it’s good stuff. The other is for Preserving Abundance, which is from a new internet acquaintance. I checked it out today, and it’s also chock full of good thought, good information.

Now for the elephant in the room: Decay. Where the heck is it? First let me point out that it actually pains me that it hasn’t been released yet. As I’ve hinted, but haven’t really explained, some significant obstacles dropped into my path last year. I still can’t explain, but if they happened to you, you would understand. Second, I’m painfully aware of the strengths and weaknesses in the Renewal series, and I’ve not only tried to address them in my writing, I’ve worked hard on creating a system that allows me to keep improving over the long haul. I’ve got a long list of check boxes that need to be filled in the Breakdown universe, and an even longer list of other stories to write. I’ve got stuff to say. It seems reasonable to learn how to make the system work in the near term, so that I can work more efficiently in the long term. The good news there is that I think I’ve found an editor who can call me to task on the larger structural issues in my books. That’s something I need. Let’s not forget that I’m still new to all this. I’d rather be realistic about the fact that I’ll be learning to write for the rest of my life than to blunder headlong into a huge pile of idiocy.

In any case, I feel like I’m on track again and rapid progress is being made. I’ll not make any promises about dates until I know more, but I’m quite sure that we won’t be having these kinds of chats for much longer. In the meantime, I appreciate all of your feedback, all the reviews, all of your patience, and all of your support. Thanks for reading!

It’s March Already?

Hi folks! I’ve been driving some of you crazy (along with myself and my wife) waiting for Decay. There are a number of reasons I’m still working on it, but the goal is to make it as good as I possibly can. As you can probably tell from the mistakes, Renewal was a test for me. I literally spent my adult life trying to convince myself to write. I mean, I wrote, but I never let anyone read the vast majority of it. I always ran up against the voice in my head who said, “Why would anyone care what you have to say?” There it is. That’s the argument that kept me locked down for 44 years.

I made a loophole for myself by calling Renewal an experiment in ebook publishing. “Hey,” the other voice said, “If it’s just an experiment, then you can totally screw it up and still learn something.” Under this loophole, I created the mental space to travel down the roads of Coffee County. I don’t need the loophole anymore. Thanks to all of you, I can sit down to write, knowing that I have a right to be there.

The catch (there’s always a catch) is that I now regard it as a professional activity, and I go after it with professional diligence. Without boring you with the details, Decay has six times the hours and effort involved, compared to the Renewal series. It doesn’t help that all three novels are being balanced against each other, and I’m here to tell you, 800,000 words do not balance themselves.

I’d love to tell you that Decay is coming right now, but all I can honestly say is that it won’t be long now. I’m two list items away from having my final revisions complete, and there will be a couple of rounds of proofing after that. There’s no guarantee that all this work will produce a better story, but it’s my hope that you will think it’s worth the effort.

One-Stars for the New Year

Hi folks! I received my first two single star reviews in rapid succession. You might think I would be upset about it, but I’m not. As with most Renewal downsides, I’m surprised that it took this long.  Along with all the other feedback, this just goes into the massive learning experience that comprises the process of discovering how to write.

The first reviewer, on Renewal 1, seems most annoyed by the gentleness of my apocalypse and the lack of character struggle. Of course, most of the internal (and external) struggle happens later in the story, and this particular reviewer has only read the first two parts. As for the cooperation of my characters and relative ease of the apocalypse, well, that’s one of the essential things that I’m saying. If we work together, we can get by. If not, we’ve got a mess. I’m sure we can all look around and see very concrete examples of how that idea plays out in our world. It was a deliberate choice I made, and I’m grateful that so many of you want to believe in the power of good people working together.

The second reviewer says that the writing is good, but the serial nature of the story is choppy, which seems to warrant a single star. Okay. I reserve single star reviews for stories that make me downright angry that I wasted my time reading them, but then for me, that’s incredibly rare. Maybe I’m too nice. In any case, this particular gripe is a moot point since I’ve long since decided that the serial release method is more trouble than it’s worth.

As always, I appreciate all the feedback. Everything you tell me goes into my consideration of how I should proceed, and whether it comes with one star or five, it helps me become the writer I want to be. Thank you One-Star Reviewers, and Happy New Year.

2011 – Happy New Year

Let’s get the elephant out of the way and spout the obvious cliche’. If you had told me, one year ago, that I would be reading five-star reviews of my own writing on Amazon, I would have rolled my eyes and coughed out a sardonic laugh. I’m still amazed by the developments of the year on a daily basis.

I’m beginning to believe that every year, for everyone, is crazy in some way. That’s good. That’s life. That’s how we look back over our time on this Earth and see the patterns of our existence. The difference is: was life crazy in a good way, a bad way, or a blend of both? For most of us, it’s definitely the blend. Then the question becomes: when everything is measured on balance, did we make progress, fall back, or run around in the same crazy circles?

For me, this year was definitely positive in objective, measurable ways. It moved. Most years, I have to chock it up to a learning experience, but this year went well beyond simply gathering life experience. I wrote a story and learned more about writing than the previous 43 years combined. In the process, I found a calling that feels more satisfying than all the other creative acts before. I made some friends and shockingly, some fans. I signed my first autograph. I received a metric ton of support and feedback from a great many people and discovered a new focus for gratitude. If I slice off writing from everything else that happened in 2011, the year is an automatic win.

Beyond the writing, there is a whole gaggle of positives from 2011. I won’t embarrass my wife beyond thanking her for supporting me and proofreading my work in a genre that does nothing for her. She’s a non-fiction Jersey girl. She is also a remarkably smart, beautiful, and generous woman. Thanks to my bad influence, she has become a skillful practitioner of the fine art of sarcasm, which is a good defense against a “funny or tragic” world. Perhaps most importantly, she actually enjoys my cartoon voice performances of our dogs’ most inner thoughts. OK, I lied about not embarrassing her.

All is not rosy for the year. We lost a great friend to Alzheimers and then death. We lost another to a move back east. We watched out house fail to sell so that we can follow in the eastward direction, where our family lives. We had some conflict with a few folks, notably the family of our lost friend and the man who shall be ever known as “chainsaw neighbor” although using the word “neighbor” gives him too much credit. Hope the big brown Lab managed to puncture the head of Elke the Border/Jack Jussel mix on numerous occasions, but in every case, Elke had it coming. She can be terribly annoying to the other dogs (while utterly charming to people). In one bizarre reversal Elke managed to win a fight and left Hope with some leg wounds that healed quickly and well.

On the canine positive side, there’s Luna, our born-deaf Aussie. You wouldn’t know she’s deaf unless you watched carefully. She’s not only highly functional, she’s practically in charge. More to the point, she is the full-on happiest dog I’ve ever known. She manages to pour joy all over the house, even when she’s in the middle of a commando raid on the kitchen counter. Hunter, our oldest boy, showed up late last year with a malignant tumor on his front leg. I can happily report that this battle with doggie cancer has been won. He is in good shape and seems to operate with a high level of contentment for a dog who is basically afraid of his own shadow. Jay, the second youngest of the pack, follows in the tradition of male dogs in our house and seems to sort the world based on how scary every experience is. This year, he has learned some confidence and how to play without worry. In fact, he now insists on play every day. I confess to occasionally throwing him off guard by wearing a large set of headphones, which to Jay means that aliens are attacking. So, we’ve managed to raise the bar on the spoiled dog scale until they all spend the vast majority of their time feeling entirely too satisfied with life.

“I eat. I get treats. I sleep on the mama’s lap while she watches TV. I play frisbee and fetch and wrestle with the daddy. Life is good. Now, if I could just get rid of those two fuzzy bitches, sh*t would be perfect.” — Hope

Sorry, Hope has a foul mouth.

Although I’m already running close to the “too much information” mark, I did want to say one thing. In the grand scheme of things, 2011 has brought me closer to a feeling of rightness with the world (and in this world, that’s saying something) than I’ve felt for a long time, and in large part, I have you to thank for it. My closely held hope is that this year has been just as positive for you as it has for me.

For 2012, now just eight hours away on the West Coast, I’ve made no resolutions. Resolutions are those things that last until roughly January 17th. Just ask any gym manager. I have made some commitments to myself… Promises. First up is to get Decay out. Then Promise ( the novel, not the commitment). Then I’ll probably take a break from the Breakdown for a while for a couple of non-apocalypse stories that are shouting loudly in my head. Beyond that, I have another apocalypse cooking in the old brain, something entirely different, based on another direction our society is taking. And depending on what happens with the Breakdown trilogy, there’s always the possibility of  a return to the world of Renewal. My mental dance card is pretty full, and I hope to spend 2012 shuffling my typing fingers in time to the rhythm.

For all of you, I offer my profound thanks and my best wishes for two things. One is that you all find happiness and fulfillment in the new year, and two is that my Renewal version of 2012 remains entirely, one hundred percent fictional.

Happy New Year!



Decay – Free Preview

Decay is nearing completion. To celebrate that long awaited goal, and hopefully to stir your excitement, I’m releasing a free preview of the novel. Please feel free to distribute it as you see fit.

You can read it right here on the site. Or, you can grab it as a pdf. (right-click and save to grab a copy) If you are comfortable with sideloading content onto your Kindle, it’s also available in Kindle format.

Feedback is always welcome. Enjoy!