Category Archives: Danny Tompkins Short Stories

Death In The Journey

Death does in fact change life, for those who are left to mourn.
Death does in fact change life, for those who are left to mourn.

In my last post, I started talking about the life journey I’ve been on. Several times death has punctuated that journey. At least once that death was life-changing. I allude to this in my most recent publication, When Death Changes Life. While those collected stories are officially fiction, they do come from a point of knowledge about how a death in the circumstances described will impact a family.

In my melancholy moments, I often think about another death: that of Chemala Johanan Babu. He worked for me in Kuwait. When I changed companies there and became a Director of Infrastructure Engineering Services at Kuwaiti Engineers Office, I inherited a crew that was working offsite. We were partnered with a British firm to improve one of the interstate-quality highways in Kuwait. The crew we supplied was mostly CAD technicians. They worked under the supervision of the Brits, in their office, although they were employees of our company. I had no need to do anything regarding this team. The Brits processed everything about them, even their timesheets. All I had to do was watch their billable hours get added to our department’s.

I met them all only once. When I learned that I had this crew working offsite, since I hadn’t met any of them, I made a trip across the city to meet them. They were all names to me, who became faces, but faces I wouldn’t ever have to deal with. Babu was one.

Nothing to do with, that is, until the job they were working on came to an end, and these men (about eight of them) would have to be let go. It was a sad day when I had to write them all a memo, telling them their assignment would come to an end in a month, and that we had no other work for them, and thus would have to let them go. Sad, yes, but they knew it was coming. They knew they took an assignment that would end at some point, and that their employment wasn’t needed after that. Kuwait allowed workers in their position to shop around on the open labor market, and hopefully they’d find a job with another engineering company.

The day after that memo was out, Babu was in my office. I recognized him, and realized I had seen him one other time, at the National Evangelical Church of Kuwait. There were two large Indian language congregations (Tamil and Malayalam, if I remember correctly), typically each over 1,000 in attendance, that met very early Friday morning, much earlier than the English Language Congregation, all of us sharing the same facilities. I had seen him there once, not sure why the two of us were there at the same time. Now here he was, the third time I’d seen him. I’d met him once, and then seen him. Now seeing him again, I realized who he was.

He came to plead his case to remain employed. He really needed the job, he said. There was something about his visa that wouldn’t allow him to stay in the country unemployed while looking for a job. He would have to go home. At least, now 27 years after the event, that’s how I remember it. I felt sorry for him, and said I’d see what I could do.

I checked with the other directors, scoured my own department’s workload, and had nothing. I did, however, have the promise of a couple of projects that would start soon. One was another roadway project with a different British firm; the other was improvements at a university campus. Neither project was guaranteed, but both looked good. We would know on both in a couple of months.

I decided I could take a chance, keep Babu on staff for a month while we waited on those projects, and help him out. If those projects both came through I would have to hire someone. I reasoned that keeping him on staff for a month without billable work would be no more expensive than having to go through a hiring process.

I called the off-site office to tell him the good news. He wasn’t there; had been that morning, but not since lunch. He didn’t call me that day. The next day I called again. He hadn’t yet reported to work. Later in the morning I learned the awful news. The previous day he had been to the Indian embassy on some personal business. Taking the bus to near the office, he crossed a six-lane road on foot. Except he didn’t make it. He was hit by an Iraqi driver who was in the country illegally and driving without a license. Babu was killed instantly.

A day or two later I went to pay my respects to the family. He had lived with his sister and brother-in-law in one of the poorer sections of Kuwait City. I went there to find the streets packed with people from southern India, all coming to mourn with the family. One of our senior mechanical engineers was from Babu’s province and language group. He met me and brought me up to the house, through the crowd.

Inside, I met only the brother-in-law, as the sister was wailing in another room and didn’t want to meet anyone. He and I talked about what would be done with the body, if the police were notified, if there were any mourning rituals I could participate in (such as fasting). It was a good ten-minute visit, and I was off again. The mechanical engineer thanked me over and over for coming. I hope it helped them.

So, this was part of my life journey. Not a happy part, obviously. But, as I said earlier, it’s something that always comes to mind in my melancholy moments. As I get older, and am nearer to death myself than to birth, death will become more and more a part of my life. I’ll have many more chances to grieve, and to mourn with others. Yet, the story of Babu will stay with me, forever a memorable part of my journey.

Thinking About The Journey

Yes, I live in the past. While the discoveries are exciting, they also tend to make me melancholy at times. Christmas is almost always one of those times.
Yes, I live in the past. While the discoveries are exciting, they also tend to make me melancholy at times. Christmas is almost always one of those times.

Something about this season of the year, Christmas, always makes me reflective of all things past. Each year I write a post about something from childhood Christmases. I’ll be doing that, probably next week, possibly the week after.

The last few days I’ve been thinking of the journey my life has been. In my better moments for the last decade I’ve said that I would title my autobiography The Journey Was A Joy. I must admit, however, it hasn’t always been a joy. Sometimes it’s been a struggle. Rarely has it been routine, though in fact I love and crave routine. My journey through life has been anything but routine.

Almost everything I write about is about the past. Very little is contemporary, and, so far, nothing about the future.
Almost everything I write about is about the past. Very little is contemporary, and, so far, nothing about the future.

What’s got me thinking about this recently is looking ahead to the unknowns in the journey. One is retirement, which is now only 1 year 23 days away. Sure, I long for the time of not having to go to an office every weekday and tax my brain. But I also fear doing without the income. I have savings, but far less than I intended to have.

Other unknowns are ahead. Lynda’s mom is now 92, and has been living with us for a little over two years. Her care is becoming more difficult. It falls mostly on Lynda, as I’m away all day, and it’s not easy for her. A woman marries and moves out of her mother’s home, and doesn’t expect to move back again. But with her mom moving in with us, that’s essentially what happened. Lots of water under that bridge, lots of history to deal with. It’s not easy.

There’s the unknown of how long I’ll have the physical ability to keep up our property. We’ve lived at our house almost 15 years, the longest we’ve ever been in one place since we were married almost 42 years ago. Someday I will struggle with the upkeep. When will that be? Five years? Ten? Or hopefully twenty or more? Someday we’ll have a decision to make about that.

Remember, these are short stories which, by definition, are fiction.
Remember, these are short stories which, by definition, are fiction.

So those unknowns about the future are very real. There are also thoughts about the journey I’ve been on. From Mom’s death, to being a latch-key teen, with no parent in the home most of the night, to college experiences, to traveling half-way across the country for work and a fresh start, to traveling to the Persian Gulf area for work and career advancement, to adventures in Europe and Asia. To the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait when we lived there and having no home to return to in the USA, to finding work in (of all places) Arkansas. To revelations about family, learning of many relatives in three major discoveries over a twenty year period.

Sometimes, when I dwell on this, it becomes almost overwhelming. I suppose that’s why people who deal with mental health tell us not to dwell on the past. But as a hobby genealogist and historian, I do live in the past an awful lot.

Ah, well, the melancholy will pass, as will desiring the past more than the present. Winter will fully come, with it’s full on, refreshing chill. Some snow would help, would remind me about joyful childhood romps in the snow. While waiting for that, I’ll leave you with one of my poems.

Conflicted

I long to live that day when I will rest
and cease to tax my brain. Then I will die,
and stand before my Maker. Yet, I’m blessed.
I long to live! That day when I will rest
is somewhere out there, far beyond the quest
that now demands I try, and fail, and try.
I long to live that day when I will rest,
and cease to tax my brain, then I will die.

Will This One Be The One?

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, was a good day. It was just the three of us this year, as our large, family gathering will be a Christmas, a change from our normal routine. I fixed a turkey dinner, but without all the side dishes. We ate our full and have plenty of leftovers. Yes it was a good day.

"Mom's Letter" was the first in the series. This is the cover my son did for it.
“Mom’s Letter” was the first in the series. This is the cover my son did for it.

But, we couldn’t find much on television that was of interest to us. So Lynda wanted to see the latest episode of The Curse of Oak Island. She couldn’t get it in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. So I fired up the Roku, had to re-set a password (since it had been a while since we’d used it), and found the show. I had seen it, but it was good to watch it again.

We decided “why not watch some back episodes?” I intended to go to last season, which was season 4, and watch some of the later ones. Somehow, though, I went back to Season 1, so I decided to just start with the very first episode. It was almost as if I hadn’t seen it before, it was so long ago.

One thing that struck me was the similarity of the rhetoric. The searchers for treasure were saying the same thing in Season 1 as they are in Season 5. The narrator’s shtick hasn’t changed at all. It’s always one more search will get us there; we’re inches from the treasure; today may be the day; this new find gives us the motivation to keep on going. That much hasn’t changed, so far into the fifth season.

Published in May, 2011, I've sold a whopping 54 copies of this.
Published in May, 2011, I’ve sold a whopping 54 copies of this.

It suddenly occurred to me that that’s exactly how I am with my books: hoping this next one will be the breakthrough book, the book that gets widespread attention and lots of sales. My first publication was the short story “Mom’s Letter”. I had no expectations for it to sell. It was a story I wrote for a contest (that I didn’t win), and I self-published it because I didn’t have anything else quite ready, so I published it to see what the mechanics of self-publishing were like.

 

This was my first book to write, fourth publication. It remains my highest selling book.
This was my first book to write, fourth publication. It remains my highest selling book.

I was intending to publishing my first novel, Doctor Luke’s Assistant, but I didn’t feel like it was ready. So I pulled together my newspaper columns, expanded them, added fifteen new ones, and had Documenting America: Lessons From The United States’ Historical Documents. I didn’t have high hopes for this one either. It sold 30 or so copies in it’s first year.

It wasn’t until the next year, 2012, that I finally published Doctor Luke’s Assistant. It became, and still is, my highest selling book at 128 copies, adding seven to the total so far this year. Now, you’re going to note that 128 is NOT a lot of copies, and if that’s my highest selling book, how low are the others? Good observation. I had high hopes for my next book, The Candy Store Generation, being a political book in a political season. But it sold poorly: 15 copies its first year and a few each year since.

I was very surprised when this one didn't sell.
I was very surprised when this one didn’t sell.

Then came my baseball book, In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People. I thought it was good enough to sell, and would be popular. Alas, not. I sold a few more in 2016, when the Cubs won the pennant, but it still hasn’t sell.

My point is, with each publication (now 26), I’ve thought “this will be the one, the one to breakout.” But each one disappoints. I don’t do a lot of marketing, just Facebook posts. I did one Facebook ad that resulted in no sales. I’ve interviewed authors on this blog, who have sometimes reciprocated. Each of those has resulted in no sales. I did an hour long radio interview, which resulted in no sales. I haven’t done any paid ads yet. Maybe that’s what I need to do. But I’ve thought my publishing should pay for itself, and so far haven’t seen my way clear to buy an ad. Perhaps I’ll change that in 2018.

Even dropping the e-book price to $0.99 has resulted in no sales.
Even dropping the e-book price to $0.99 has resulted in no sales.

So I’m much like the people searching for treasure on Oak Island. Just keep going, sinking costs—in my case the cost of time—into the endeavor a little at a time, hoping for change, for lightning to strike. My recent publication, When Death Changes Life: The Danny Tompkins Stories, is a boxed set of six related short stories, reaching all the way back to “Mom’s Letter”. I set the price of the e-book at $2.99, and the print book at $6.00. I sold zero. I do have three pre-orders of the print book, which will happen next week once my copies arrive.

I have two works-in-progress. One is a prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant, which is more laborious than expected. The other is the sequel to The Gutter Chronicles. I actually have people at work asking for this, so maybe I should turn my attention to it. I could sell 30 copies without difficulty, and might sell 10 to 20 of the first one to people who are new at work.

But will either of these be a breakthrough book? I can hope, I suppose, because without hope there’s no reason to go on. Hope is starting to grow thin, however.

The Crunch Continues

Today was an incredibly busy day. This came after two full days of hosting/facilitating an off-site training session, in town, something we do every year. It went well, with fewer glitches than normal.

Still waiting on the paperbacks to be printed and arrive. I have a grand total of 3 ordered.
Still waiting on the paperbacks to be printed and arrive. I have a grand total of 3 ordered.

But, while I was doing that, the troubled projects I took over haven’t advanced any. I should say I’m going to take over. I’m still just the old engineer who’s helping out the youngins with some difficult situations. Three particular projects have gone bad, all for one client. Last week I dealt with one of them, made decisions about remedial work that needs to be done, and gave that to the client. I understand that’s been given to the contractor, who is mulling it over.

The second project I also dealt with last week. Nothing has been decided, but we have to wait on some tests at the site, and a report by a geotechnical engineer. E-mails this week indicate there’s been a slight delay in that, but it’s getting closer. Meanwhile, they aren’t ready to do investigative soil borings on-site, so I won’t be heading to the St. Louis any time soon.

So this week, interspersed with the training, I have been working on the third project. Early in the week I studied a long e-mail chain, and came to a basic understanding of the problem. Today I started looking at our design and construction files to see what we did on the project. Then I had to look at City and Watershed District standards to see what the outstanding issues are. Today the client e-mailed the current project manager to get an update on what we’re doing. I was able to answer it and keep them informed.

By the end of the day, including working almost an hour past time, I think I figured out what needs to be done to correct some problems at the site. The main issue is the client has $290,000 in a financial assurance bond that can’t get closed out. By the end of today I think I figured out how to get half of it released why we keep the rest in place as we deal with the problems. I’ll try to confirm it in the morning, then contact the client—with good news for a change. Only moderately good, but still good. I will still have issues to investigate, and some modifications that will have to be made at the site, but I can see this third one coming together in the next week. Possibly easier than either of the other two.

So a few people want Volume 2. Maybe I should finish it.
So a few people want Volume 2. Maybe I should finish it.

Meanwhile, today, I attended a pre-construction conference in Centerton, functioning as city engineer for that project. I brought another engineer with me, the one who is preparing to take over for me with this client. She sat in on one pre-con already. Since this was her second, I said the next one she would be in charge. She doesn’t seem real anxious to take over that role. But she’ll do fine.

While in Centerton, the head of planning asked if I had brought my next book. She buys everything I have in paperback. I said no, it was ordered, but might not be here for almost two weeks. She also asked when I would have another edition of The Gutter Chronicles. I said I’ve started it, but was only on the fourth chapter.  Several people have asked about this, making me think maybe I’d better get back on it again.

I’m hoping to be able to put in a fair number of hours this weekend on Adam Of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, I’ll spend what time I can at work—breaks, noon hours, before hours—on the other one. Maybe I’ll get one of them done some day.

The Dream Is Still Holding On

I changed the final e-book cover some from this. I keep forgetting to upload it from my computer at work.
I changed the final e-book cover some from this. I keep forgetting to upload it from my computer at work.

Not too long ago I posted that I had published my latest book, When Death Changes Life, as an e-book. As always, I have a lag between publishing the e-book, which is relatively simple, and publishing the print book, which is much more involved primarily due to the cover. I uploaded the print book more than a week ago, but kept finding little errors in it: a poem that had a widow on one page; failing to start something on the right hand side; things like that. I ordered a proof copy, but while waiting on it I worked on fixing those errors.

Finally, the proof came yesterday. I had already fixed the errors, uploaded them, and had them approved by CreateSpace. So I pressed the button, and the print book published yesterday. It still hasn’t synced up with the e-book into one listing on Amazon. That typically takes two or three days to happen. Sometimes I have to turn in a manual request for Amazon to make it happen.

What are my hopes for this book? It doesn’t have anything new in it. It’s the six Danny Tompkins stories pulled together as a box set. How well did they sell as individual stories? Here’s my sales numbers, lifetime.

  • Mom’s Letter – 39
  • Too Old To Play – 9
  • Kicking Stones – 10
  • Saturday Haircuts, Tuesday Funeral – 4
  • What Kept Her Alive? – 4
  • Growing Up Too Fast – 0
Zero copies sold of this one. Perhaps the market is speaking to me.
Zero copies sold of this one. Perhaps the market is speaking to me.

Clearly, the series hasn’t caught on. Even the original 39 purchasers didn’t come back to see if there were more stories.

So, will they sell better as a volume? That is the hope. I feel badly for a couple of people who bought four or five of them early in the year. Someone coming in now could buy all six for $2.99, whereas the others paid $0.99. I suppose that’s life. They have sales. Sometimes you get in on it, sometimes you don’t. Still, what happens if I drop the e-book to 99 cents as a promotional and see if anyone bites? (Still no sales of the boxed set.) Same too bad.

But, in talking about it to people, at church and in the office, it seems like the title is catching, the subject is of interest, and a few people have said they would buy a copy from me. Some may even follow through on that. I can think of three or four sure sales.

With each book I publish, I think “This will be the one to catch on, to sell in the hundreds if not the thousands.” Alas, each time I’m lucky to sell in double digits. A few will go to 10 to 25 copies, a couple have sold in the 30s. Only two have hit 50 or more, and only one 100 or more. What makes me think this one will be different? I don’t know that it will be, but I hope.

The dream hasn’t quite died. It’s holding on for dear life, battered by busyness at the office and at home, by a tired brain and a tired body, trounced by hits from every quarter. I’m tired of late, really tired.

Still, I have to hang on to the dream. Otherwise, there would be no point of going on.

Stream of Consciousness Post

I haven't seen "Eustace" for more than a year. Wonder if he and his family still live under our lower deck.
I haven’t seen “Eustace” for more than a year. Wonder if he and his family still live under our lower deck.

As I start writing it, I have no idea what this post will contain. Just whatever comes into my head.

I write this Sunday afternoon. After a good Life Group (which I didn’t have to teach) and worship service, I came home exhausted. Ate my hamburger, then retired to the sun room to read and rest. I read about five pages, then set the book down, put my head back against the swivel easy chair back, and fell asleep. I’m not sure how long I slept. I became aware of voices near me. Through the closed door I could hear my wife and her mother speaking. At one point my wife said, “Looks like Dave’s sound asleep.” I kept hearing noises in the leaves outside, and kept getting up, making as little noise as I could, to see what was out there. I thought maybe the groundhog that has taken up residence under the lower deck would be there, but I saw nothing except a couple of playful chipmunks. Perhaps they were making all the noise.

I believe this is a book I will enjoy—if I can ever get through it.
I believe this is a book I will enjoy—if I can ever get through it.

The book I just started reading is Day of Battle by Rick Atkinson. It’s a thick book. I got it out over a week ago from my reading pile, but it looked daunting due to its size, so I just let it sit there. Friday I finally picked it up and started reading. It’s about WW2 in Sicily and Italy. Since Dad was in Italy with the 5th Army, I had bought this to read. I’ve now read in it three straight days, and find it quite interesting. I believe I’ll enjoy it. Just due to the length, however, and the many things I have to do, I may not finish it before Christmas.

Saturday we made one major decision. We ordered a new dishwasher at Lowe’s. This is where we replaced our fridge about five years ago, so I figured we’d have the easiest time matching it there. However, they really couldn’t convince me that the one that is supposed to be part of that appliance set had the same textured finish as the fridge. So, we decided to get a different one. It has a black finish like the fridge, but isn’t textured. It was on sale, at the same price as the supposedly matching one. And, it’s about 5% quieter. Installation should be sometime this week.

What else? I spent time on Saturday updating the checkbook and budget spreadsheet. That was after balancing the checkbook Friday evening, and finding no errors in it. Also on Saturday we went to a funeral here in Bella Vista. A family here had lived in Meade, Kansas, and Lynda and her mom knew them. In fact, her mom was the one who invited them to church, an invitation accepted that eventually resulted in them turning their lives around. From Meade they moved to Talequah OK and then retired in Bella Vista. We would see them from time to time, at church or in the community. Eugene died five weeks ago, and Marie died this week. Sad, but at the same time good to know one of them doesn’t linger here without the other.

This is the e-book cover. The print book cover will be very similar.
This is the e-book cover. The print book cover will be very similar.

I haven’t felt much like writing new material for a while. Ideas for new books continue to come into my head. I have two that I’ve documented within the last month. I don’t expect to work on them any time soon. This week I hope to get the print book done for When Death Changes Life. The interior design and formatting is done. All that remains is the cover. I have that mostly done. I wanted to tweak the front cover a little to improve the spacing. I’ll then have to load it into t he G.I.M.P. file and do some work with it there. Other than that, I think all I need it some words on the back cover, and I’m ready to submit it. I have no sales of it so far, and may just drop the price to 99 cents. I won’t make a lot of money, but anything is more than nothing. I also haven’t ordered any print copies if Headshots. I put out two calls on Facebook for local folks who wanted a copy, and got no response. So I’ve not been sure how many to order. Still, I’ll put that order in fairly soon, maybe this week. It won’t reflect boldness and confidence.

My stream of consciousness has pretty much run out. I’m not sure what I’ll do next. Possibly another nap. I’ll try to find something productive, however.

Time for a Pity Party

I was introduced to the concept of a Pamper Party some years ago, when our daughter was a teenager, and decided to throw herself one. It was interesting to watch her

I was introduced to the concept of a Pamper Party some years ago, when our daughter was a teenager, and decided to throw herself one. it was interesting to watch her going through the activities. She felt good about herself afterwards.

I don’t expect that a Pity Party will produce the same results, but I’m ready to throw one for myself. What’s so bad that I’m ready to hold a pity party? Perhaps nothing, at least nothing of monumental significance. But it seems that too many things are not going right right now. Major projects aren’t getting done. Minor projects aren’t even getting started. And I have no desire to write right now. Haven’t written anything except this blog for over a month.

My latest publication, When Death Changes Life, doesn’t count as writing. That was just boxing up short stories that were already written and re-publishing them as a short book. Since it didn’t include any new writing, it wasn’t writing.

So, what’s so terrible that I need a pity party? I’ll just use the dishwasher as an example. That’s clearly a first world problem, but it’s a problem nevertheless. It started going out some months ago. I didn’t catch it before it started doing damage to the ceiling in the basement. Finally I had our plumber come to verify where the damage was, and he confirmed it was the dishwasher. That was in late August or early September. Back in 2012 we put in a new refrigerator that we got at Lowe’s. I looked, and saw they had a matching dishwasher. But it’s noise level is higher than what’s currently available. I could live with that, but I need buy-in from my wife. So far I don’t have it. So we need to go to Lowe’s to see what’s available. Or, any other place that sells dishwashers.

I told Lynda I wanted to get this done this weekend, that I wanted us to go together to Lowe’s either Saturday or Sunday to decide on what to get: the matching one or a quieter one. She said fine. Saturday morning was full of work inside and outside the house. Then came the Wal-Mart run, which I made alone. That brought us to sometime after 4, maybe closer to 5 p.m. I still had to study my lesson for Life Group, and I was dead tired, so I didn’t ask to go to Lowe’s. Sunday was Life Group and church (I went alone), followed by lunch and a quick nap. At lunch we learned that Lynda’s mom was totally out of her insulin. She took the last pen from the box in the fridge and didn’t tell us. Since we don’t normally go looking for her insulin, we didn’t know until she had to take it for her meal and found the problem.

So, I called the pharmacy. It turned out the prescription wasn’t refillable without a doctor’s consent, which of course we wouldn’t get on a Sunday. So I spoke to someone at the pharmacy about an emergency fill, and they said they would. It would be ready by 2:00. I decided to wait until 3:00 to go, after my nap. When I got there it wasn’t ready, them saying they were waiting on the doctor’s authorization. So, I went through the whole emergency thing again, and finally got the prescription. I looked for a new jar-opener pad (ours being close to disintegrated, and me not remembering to get one on my normal Wal-Mart trips) but couldn’t find one. So I bought a package of Reese’s cups and went home.

By then it was 4:00 p.m. I still had supper to fix, and had planned a meal with a lot of fixing. I started that at 4:45 p.m. and was on my feet till 6:45. During that time I washed a boatload of dishes (because, of course, we don’t have a working dishwasher), cleaned some dead stuff out of the fridge, and threw the garbage into the woods. We ate dinner. My new main dish turned out very nice.

By that time, I was more tired than I had been on Saturday. I decided not to bring up a visit to Lowe’s, and my wife didn’t bring it up. So we didn’t go. One of my main goals for the weekend was unfulfilled, and was no closer to fulfillment. The wife has headaches all the time. I’m not sure she will ever want to go, nor will she want to leave the decision up to me.

Well, the pity party should be over, except much more has happened of late.

  • Despite having 26 items for sale, with a new item added, I have zero book sales in October. Zero. Obviously I’m not writing the kind of things people want to buy. I can’t see my way clear to spend the time needed to learn the tasks necessary to place advertisements, so my writing sales seem to be at a standstill.
  • I can’t write with all these things hanging over me.
  • We are no closer to replacing either of our ancient vehicles than we were two months ago when we decided to do so.
  • Once the dishwasher is repaired, I’ll have to see about getting the ceiling in The Dungeon fixed.
  • I found it very difficult to prepare for the Life Group lesson I taught yesterday; hence I don’t believe I taught a good one. I don’t think I teach next week (though who knows, since I never hear from my co-teacher before Friday evening, sometimes not till Saturday evening, when I receive a text “whose week is it to teach).
  • For the last two weekends/weeks I guess I’ve way over eaten. My weight have ballooned, and six months (or more) of weight loss is wiped out. I don’t know if I have the strength to do it again.

Okay, pity party over. I probably shouldn’t have written any of this. I do so knowing almost no one will see it. Or maybe it really will be no one.

“When Death Changes Life” now published

This is the e-book cover.
This is the e-book cover.

Last Saturday afternoon, finding myself with an hour to spare in the evening (or maybe it was early afternoon), I decided to do the work necessary to publish my short story boxed-set, When Death Changes Life: The Danny Tompkins Stories. I’ve blogged about this before. I wrote the six stories to explore the idea of teen-age grief at the loss of a parent.

“Mom’s Letter”, the first in the series, was also the first item I self-published. I wrote it first for a writing contest, which I failed to win a prize in. Later I expanded it to longer than the word limit of the conference. Much later, I thought of and wrote a short story to follow it up, then another, and another, and, after six years I had six stories.

I already had the book formatted for Kindle. All I had to do on Saturday was find the interior and cover files, upload them, and fill out all the details. I did this, and published it to the Amazon Kindle Store Saturday afternoon. Monday I got it up at the Smashwords store. Wednesday I finished layout of the interior for the print book. Thursday I tried to start on the cover, but didn’t have everything I needed. Today I plan on getting started on the cover. Hopefully by Monday I’ll be ready to upload everything to CreateSpace, and soon thereafter be able to publish it as a small paperback.

So, it’s now 26 items published. Not sure how many I’ll get to.

Writing This As I Go

I don’t know if I wrote in this blog before that I’ve been sick of late. Sometime around September 20 I began coming down with a cold. It never hit me hard, and was never a head cold. It was a chest cold. I suppose it could have been bronchitis, but I never seemed to run a fever. While the cold was never deep, it sure lingered. All the coughing I did wore me out. We had the trip to Oklahoma City the last weekend in September to October 1, and the cold seemed better.

The next week, however, it came back again. I lost another day of work, worked some short days, and seemed to be better. However, the weekend of Oct 6-8 I was still coughing hard, and a little too much. I rested that weekend. Didn’t work around the house, didn’t go to church. I read and slept, slept and read, watched television. I did go to Wal-Mart for a grocery and medicine run, but that was about it. I didn’t even write a blog post for last Monday (which I normally do on Sunday), and so missed a blogging day for the first time in a while.

Monday I went to work, coughing much, much less than I had been. I got even better day by day as the week progressed. This past weekend I was able to follow a normal weekend schedule. I’m working on all eight cylinders.

So what am I up to, and what’s on my mind, and what will I do next? Yesterday I finally published When Death Changes Life to Amazon Kindle. Today I’ll try to add it to Smashwords, and tomorrow or Wednesday get the print book up. I’m feeling more confident with both interior formatting (which is 98% done) and cover creation, so I don’t think there will be a big lag with the print book.

Then, I need to work on one of three writing projects: either the prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant, or the second Gutter Chronicles, or the next Sharon Williams stories. I wrote about that recently. Other plans have been running through my brain, and I may be changing up what I do after these three.

I’ve also been thinking about premonitions. I’ve had a fair number of them in my life, and almost all of them have come true. I don’t want to catalogue them here, but some of them have been amazing. One was recently, something concerning our church, which turned out to be almost 100% true. I’ve come to the point of wondering why I get these. Is God alerting me in advance of things that are yet to come? Or is something else going on.

I think I wrote some not to long ago about genealogy discoveries I’ve made recently, specifically finding/confirming who my maternal grandfather was, and making contact with other, previously-unknown family members. That took quite a bit of time in late-August and early-September. It’s still on-going. I’ve made contact with almost all my new half-first cousins. I’m not trying to figure out how we can all keep in contact with each other, and get to know each other better.

And, of course, that leads me to much work to do finding out more about ancestors I previously knew nothing about.

Meanwhile, it’s almost time to begin to prepare for the holidays. The kids will be coming for Christmas this year, not Thanksgiving. So we will have much work to do to get the house in shape and decorated. We’ve actually begun some of that, dealing with piles of clutter.

I have more random thoughts to write, but the workday is upon me. I’ll end this. On my to-do list this week is to develop a list of blog posts to facilitate being on-time and

4th Quarter Writing Plans

I may tweak this cover more, but I think it's close to what I'll use.
I may tweak this cover more, but I think it’s close to what I’ll use.

We are now in the ninth day of the fourth quarter. Time for me to lay out my writing plans for the next three months. Well, writing and publishing plans, that is. Without further introduction, here’s what’s definitely in my plans.

  • Publish When Death Changes Life, the boxed-set of the Danny Tompkins stories. I have the master file completed, the e-book cover completed, and just need to start the actual production. I hope that, one week from today, I can announce that it’s published.
  • Work on The Gutter Chronicles: Volume 2. As I’ve said before, I got through the fourth chapter of this (maybe two years ago), and just stopped to work on other things. This is something to do on my computer at work, in my morning me-time and on the noon hour. I believe I could complete the writing of this before 2017 comes to a close.
  • Work on Adam Of Jerusalem. The prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant, I wrote the first chapter of this a month ago (or maybe more than that), but stopped. This is work to do at home, in the evenings.

These are the three things I will definitely work on during the next three months. However, a few other items are on my radar, and may—I emphasize, may—capture the time of a few of my gray cells and find themselves coming to be in tangible form.

  • The next short story in the Sharon Williams Fonseca CIA agent series. It’s tentatively titled Papa Delta Foxtrot. I have the plot somewhat roughed out. At between 3,000 and 6,000 words, I should be able to fit this in. I need to be a bit more inspired to do so.
  • Continued work on my two interrupted Thomas Carlyle projects. These are affectations for me, as they will never make any money. But, hey, none of my other writing makes any money, so why not work on these? The Chronological Composition Bibliography is something I pull out every now and then and get a little more done on. I’m actually at a point in his career where it would be easy to finish this. I should just do it. The book about his Chartism is also fairly fare along. I think a month of concentrated work would see it to completion. If I get bored or stuck working on other things, I may just spend time on these two.
  • Expand my research notes on the Stephen Cross and Elizabeth Cheney family into a small genealogy book. I actually pulled this out about two weeks ago to make a judgment on how much work this would require. I decided it’s more than I want to tackle right now, so I set it aside. However, if other things don’t pan out, maybe, just maybe, this will capture some of my time.

So that’s my plans as of right now. I have other things in the planning process, but I don’t expect to be working on them any time soon. Perhaps I’ll do a post on them in a week or so.