“Preserve The Revelation” is Published

The final tweak to the cover changed the beasts' eyes to glowing red.
The final tweak to the cover changed the beasts’ eyes to glowing red.

Some time ago I posted about my church history series of novels. And in several places I’ve posted about the book in that series that I’ve been working on, Preserve The Revelation. As I wrote elsewhere, I finished the book January 14 this year, and set a goal to have it published by March 8.

It took longer to achieve than I expected. I made three rounds of edits, plus one extra edit of the first chapter. Each of these rounds took a week or two. I missed the deadline. Fortunately, when you self-publish there’s no real significance to a deadline. Can’t get your work done by one? Shrug it off and set a new one. So that’s what I did, sort of. I just decided I’ll get it done ASAP. That date turned out to be Thursday just passed, March 23, 2017. That’s when I got it up on Kindle.

This is my sixth novel (one of which is really a novella), and my 24th item published. That kind of perseverance feels good, though it hasn’t translated yet into sales, consistent sales. March will be a good month for sales, totaling maybe 14 to 16, depending on if I get any for PTR. So far I’ve sold one copy. Hopefully I’ll sell a couple more this month, and more the next month.

The print book cover.
The print book cover.

Since Wednesday, I completed the formatting for the print book, and finished uploading it today. Now waiting on CreateSpace to approve it. Print covers are significantly more complicated than e-book covers. I’ve done a couple of my print covers, but didn’t want to tackle this one. My internet friend Veronica Jones-Brown did both covers, the e-book first, then the print. I should hear in a day or two whether everything is okay with it. I’ll then order a proof copy. If all goes well, about a week from now I should have the print book for sale. Between now and then I’ll get the Smashwords formatting done. I think it is formatted correctly already, but need to run through it once or twice more.

So my work on PTR is almost done, probably less than two hours time total to go. What’s next? I’m already working on my next book, which will be a non-fiction title. You’ll be hearing about it in these pages before long.


Reading Sherlock Holmes

Last weekend I finished the Sherlock Holmes stories. This has been a four-year journey, I think. I’ve blogged about it before, but, to be honest, I don’t feel like searching my archives and linking to the earlier story. Perhaps I’ll add it later.

An original Sherlock Homes illustration, by Sidney Paget.
An original Sherlock Homes illustration, by Sidney Paget.

My wife and I started reading S.H. about four years ago. I picked up the two-volume set produced by Barnes & Noble from their bargains table. I would have preferred to get the three-volume set published by Norton, for they have the chronological order of the stories identified—the order that Holmes’ adventures took place, that is, not the order they were written in. But I bought the B&N ones, so that’s what we read in. I also have a paperback of some of the stories, and I downloaded a couple of files for my Nook. As we started, we passed the B&N book back and forth and read aloud. As we got further into them, and a story was in an alternative volume, I read from that and my wife kept the other.

At some point our joint reading petered out. The language isn’t archaic, but you can tell it’s not quite modern. References in the stories aren’t always clear, so you have to decide to plow (or ‘plough’ at Watson would write) on with limited understanding or consult the endnotes. Whatever the reason, we got through the first volume and a little way into the second before we quit.

I don’t like to leave a book unfinished, so at some point I picked it up again. I read 1/3 of it, set it aside, and about a month or two  picked it up again, and, as I said, finished it last weekend.

My judgment of it…doesn’t matter. Holmes has been around for 125 years; his position in the legion of detective heroes is solid; A. Conan Doyle’s standing among authors couldn’t be higher. So whether or not I liked the Holmes stories doesn’t matter. But, this is a blog that includes my opinions, so I’ll give it. I liked the Sherlock Holmes stories, but not as much as I expected to.

The way detective stories are written has changed over the years. Now writers give clues in the story so that the reader can figure the story out along with the detective-hero. Doyle didn’t do that. Holmes has knowledge the reader doesn’t. He sends telegrams we don’t know about till after the fact. He goes places and sees people the reader knows nothing about. Partly this is because Watson is the point-of-view character. The story is always solved, but the reader is unable to assist.

If I were rating the Sherlock Holmes opus on Amazon, I’d give it 3.5 stars. But the big question I always answer about the books I review here: Will I keep it in the library, and will I read it again? I will definitely keep it. If life gives me enough years, and enough time in those years, I’ll read it again. For sure I’m going to re-read the second Holmes novel, The Sign of the Four. I must have been reading or listening without comprehension on much of that, for at the end of the book I couldn’t have told you much about it. As for the rest, re-reading will be when leisure and interests converge, sometime in the future, probably the distant future.

“Growing Up Too Fast” Is Published

The cover tries to keep the theme for the series that my son started for me on the first story.
The cover tries to keep the theme for the series that my son started for me on the first story.

As I’ve mentioned on these posts, my main work-in-progress these last several months has been my novel Preserve The Revelation. However, while writing it (since last September), other things have come to mind. One of them was a new short story, an unplanned one in the Danny Tompkins series. That had been bubbling up in my mind since around last October. I wrote a few notes about it, to preserve them. I even started the story in manuscript, lost it, and started it again on another sheet of paper.

I found the first paper, merged the two beginnings, and wrote maybe 500 words. All of this, mind you, in odd moments after finishing my work daily on PTR. It was February 14th that I sat and typed what I had, then kept going. In early March I finished the story, took a week or so to read and tweak it. All of this was on days I was letting PTR simmer, to give me time to get a fresh perspective on it. At some point that included starting work on the cover. It all came together this past week. I uploaded it to Amazon on Thursday, March 16. By Friday everything had synced up on all of Amazon’s systems, so I announced it on Facebook. So far, no sales. I haven’t yet put it up on Smashwords and other sites.

"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.

The story is this: Daniel Tompkins, now in his sixties, comes to a better understanding that, due to life circumstances, he missed much of his teen years. This affected his adult ability to relax and have fun. He ponders how to break free from this baggage of youth.

This series started in 2010 when I wrote “Mom’s Letter“. It was the story of the day Danny learned his mother had entered the hospital to die, something that happened while he was at scout camp, something he hadn’t seen progressing as the summer wore on. Later in life he found a letter his mom wrote to him at camp that week. That started a flood of memories, and inspired Daniel to write a poem about it.

The second in the series.
The second in the series.

I first wrote that story for a contest, one that a lady in church told me about. I submitted it (didn’t win), and later expanded it beyond the word count allowed by the contest. The best part of the story was in those extra words added. I ran the story through an on-line critique group, and two real life critique groups. When I made the decision to self-publish, I didn’t want to start with a book, so I decided to use this to learn how to do it. It first went live for sale on Amazon Feb 15, 2011.

The third in the series, and the first I did the cover for.
The third in the series, and the first I did the cover for.

I never thought of making that into a series. It was a story I wanted to tell. But then I thought, perhaps Daniel had other memories of when he was young Danny who had just lost his mother.  Could these memories help some other teenager who faced similar circumstances? The story of the wake and actual funeral seemed the logical thing to do next, so I wrote “Too Old To Play“, the title taken from the poem that’s included in the story, a poem that pre-dates the story. Then came “Kicking Stones“, featuring Danny’s memories of returning to school after his mom’s death, told with the metaphor of kicking stones on the walk to and from junior high. This had a lot of Daniel’s inner thoughts and reflections.

#4, a cover I also did.
#4, a cover I also did.

Then came “Saturday Haircuts, Tuesday Funeral“, which featured Danny’s father, how he coped with his wife’s death, and raising three teens on his own. Then, since I’d focused on the dad in a couple of stories, I decided I’d better do one on the mom. So I wrote “What Kept Her Alive?”, which showed the struggles Danny’s mom went through and how her life was perhaps prolonged because of the activities she took part it, activities she could do from her invalid’s couch.

What Kept Her Alive Cover
This cover, of a stamp collection box and a few stamps in front of it, isn’t doing what I’d hoped it would do. I may re-do this one.

So now, the series is complete. No, really. I know I said that after the last one, but I feel a sense of completion with publication of “Growing Up Too Fast”. I do plan on republishing each of the earlier ones, to tweak the covers to be more alike, and to add links to all stories in the series in each book, now that they are all published. I’m also thinking of combining them into a “boxed set.” We’ll see; maybe later this year when I have a lull in writing and publishing activities. I will, of course, keep you all informed should that happen.

The Forest and the Trees

It’s St. Patrick’s Day. That’s not a day I normally celebrate, but since much of the world is, I figured I should mention it.

The real subject of this post, however, is one I touch on with some regularity: busyness. This is one of my frequent themes and complaints. Of course, I do it to myself. If I didn’t want to write and publish books and stories, I wouldn’t be near as busy as I am. If I didn’t insist on balancing my checkbook (as I believe most people aren’t doing these days), or keep up with a budget spreadsheet, or neatly file financial receipts and records, I’d have a lot less to do. So, yes, I realize that the way I want to live and conduct life contribute to that busyness, or maybe even create that busyness.

One metaphor frequently used to describe someone who is busy is to say “He can’t see the forest for the trees.” I suppose that doesn’t apply only to a busy person. It could apply to someone who focuses on individual tasks without being able to see the big picture.

My problem right now is just the opposite. I can’t see the trees for the forest. I have such a massive amount of items on my to-do list I can’t see my way clear which one to tackle first. I could do any one task, any two tasks, maybe even any five tasks, and see no less forest of tasks waiting for me.

When that happens, which has been frequently of late, I tend to back off and do nothing. Which isn’t good, since the tasks are still there and more are being added. That’s where I’ve been of late, backing off and doing nothing. That can’t happen for long, however, and I finally got back to my list and started looking for trees.

On the non-writing list, I tried to figure which were the time sensitive ones, and work on them. Income taxes, of course, are a big one. But before that came car registration. But before that came personal property assessment. All this can be done on-line these days. The last couple of years I waited too late to do it on-line and had to go to the DMV. This year, though, around March 1st I went on-line and did the assessment. Then around March 8th I went on-line and did the renewal. Yesterday the stickers for the license plates came in the mail. Today they got on the vehicles. One item down—or maybe I can count that as three items.

On the writing list, I have my novel, Preserve The Revelation, almost finished. It needs one final read and tweaking of chapter 1, then it’s publish. Then I have the next Danny Tompkins short story, then the civil war book, then another short story, then…the list gets really long. I took a stab at felling a couple of “maintenance” type trees: I re-did my biography on my Amazon author page and on my website. Neither ones were major tasks, but they were part of this huge, impenetrable forest in which I can’t see trees. Well, I saw those two, and they are gone, for now at least.

This Danny Tompkins short story is an odd thing on my list. I thought the series was over with the last story, but two circumstances in real life gave me the idea for one more. A couple of months ago I outlined it and wrote an opening paragraph, mainly to get it out of my mind. But the day I finished the first round of edits on PTR, I had an extra hour to find a tree to cut down, so I began typing on “Growing Up Too Fast”. By the end of that day I had the story complete save for a good ending. I finished that last weekend. Sent the story to three beta readers, getting comments back from two. Incorporated those comments into the story, fixed ALL the typos (I think), and, last night, I went through the steps to publish it on Amazon. It’s done, my 23rd publication there.

I’m going to wait a few days to announce the story, because it takes that long to get it added to your Amazon page and for it to sync up with your Amazon statistics. Most likely my Monday blog will be about that.

So some trees are gone from the forest. It’s still a forest, however. Still plenty of trees tightly packs, so much so it’s still hard to see them. But, I feel better. If I can get PTR published, at least in e-book, I can pull off writing all together to do my taxes. Once I get those done, I’ll feel like working in the forest again, finding one tree at a time and getting rid of it.

Doctor Luke’s Assistant is Re-published

This was my first novel; but, if plans work out, it will actually be the second in the series, and "Preserve The Revelation" will be the fourth.
This was my first novel; but, if plans work out, it will actually be the second in the series, and “Preserve The Revelation” will be the fourth.

For the last month I’ve been working on re-publishing my first novel, Doctor Luke’s Assistant. Actually, I’ve been working on it much longer than that. Last summer I re-read it on my Nook, marking places where I found an error or where I thought the writing could be improved. I did that in anticipation of writing and publishing a sequel to it. Just yesterday I put the finishing touches (I think) on Preserve The Revelation, and will publish it in about two weeks.

I started writing Preserve The Revelation in October, 2012, as part of a four-book trial writing period. PTR didn’t get “selected”, so I worked on other things. Until September 2016, when I picked it up again and began writing. In the summer before that, knowing PTR was coming, I re-read DLA, knowing I would want to re-publish it before publishing PTR. I finished PTR on January 14, 2017, and immediately shifted to DLA.

One of the things I wanted to do with DLA was change places to contractions. Early when I was writing it, I got advice that people back then didn’t talk in contractions, that they were much more formal than that. As a result, I wrote things such as “Let us eat” and “I will go with you tomorrow”, instead of Let’s eat, and I’ll go with you tomorrow. Did people speak and write in contractions in the 1st Century? I don’t know, but I suspect that every era has colloquial ways of shortening their speech. So, in the 1st Century, speaking in Greek or Aramaic, people would have shortened their speech and writing, as we’d say “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” As a result, the most common criticism of DLA was that it was stiff. How much did lack of contractions contribute to that? I figured quite a bit.

When I reread DLA, I found about two dozen typos, but there were hundreds if not thousands of places where contractions would lessen the stiffness of the dialog and narrative. I did search and replace for common word combinations reduced to contractions in English. As a result it shortened the book by over 1,000 words, I think closer to 2,000 words. That was a lot of searching and replacing.

I had that work done in mid-February, and shifted back to PTR for the first round of edits. Once those were done, I went back and forth between the two books. I made the print version file of DLA final, uploaded it to CreateSpace, and waited for the proof to arrive. I started a third round of edits on PTR. The two progressed simultaneously at that point. Last Friday I uploaded the print file of DLA to CreateSpace, after a couple of failed attempts that I didn’t understand, and waited for their automated system to tell me it was okay. That okay came at midnight, so this afternoon I made that my main task. Got it done around 2 p.m.

Well, that wasn’t my only main task. I had to make two last minute changes in the Kindle version. I did that, uploaded it, checked it on the on-line viewer, and saw it had a mistake. So I went through it again, this time getting it right. That was done somewhere around 3 p.m., I think. Then I typed the third round of edits in PTR, which I finished in manuscript Sunday morning (not going to church because of a lingering cold). Those were done around 5:30 p.m., at which time I exited The Dungeon to go upstairs and fix supper.

So, this weekend, while prevented from doing outside work due to my cold and to the rain-snow combination on Saturday, I made major progress on writing. I didn’t work on stocks, or filing. I did complete entries in the checkbook, which had been lost for a week. But except for that, it was all writing, and it felt good. Now, it’s on to making the Smashwords edition, and working on an almost complete short story—as well as finishing touches on PTR, of course.

Writer Interview: Carol Ashby

Carol Ashby writes books set in the Roman Empire
Carol Ashby writes books set in the Roman Empire

You meet people over the Internet in many different places. Sometimes you meet them in real life; sometimes you don’t. I’ve never met Carol Ashby. We know each other a little from following the other’s comments at the “Between The Lines” blog of the Books & Such Literary Agency. I saw Carol post a comment about writing Roman Empire era books. I’m not writing about the empire, but my church history novels are set in the Roman Empire. So, I thought I’d like my readers know about Carol and her books. Hence, this interview.

DT: You say you’ve written professionally all your life, in things such as lasers and semiconductors. Now you’re also writing creatively. Tell me about what brought that on.

CA: Writing creatively; that’s a good distinction, Dave. While research is creative work because you’re pushing the frontier of what’s known, you don’t write it up “creatively.” When I was publishing in sci-tech, I was always careful to make sure it read as good science, not science fiction.

So why the switch? For several years, I’ve been watching the persecution so many Christians face in too many parts of the world, but especially now with ISIS. I was thinking about the parallels to the situation when Imperial Rome tried to destroy the followers of Jesus. Then the story that will be the second novel in the Light in the Empire series, Blind Ambition, came to me the last Friday in September in 2013. I started writing the first high-tension scene of the novel that night.

DT: Looking at your Amazon page, I see your published novel, Forgiven. The cover suggests ancient Rome. Tell us about your novel.

Available at Amazon.com
Available at Amazon.com

Forgiven is actually the fourth novel I wrote, but I decided to bring it to market first. It’s set in Roman Judea, and I had hoped to ride the wave of a blockbuster movie. Ben Hur didn’t do well in American theaters, although it did much better overseas. The wave here was more like the waves on a lake than something a surfer could ride.

Forgiven is a much better choice for my first published novel since it deals with a problem we all suffer from: how can we forgive what seems unforgivable? How do we keep our anger over something that can never be changed from poisoning the way we treat similar people who may have had nothing to do with what happened? How can we forgive them if it turns out they were responsible but didn’t mean to do it?

Forgiven takes place in Galilee only 10 years before the Bar Kochba Revolt that finally ended the Jewish hope for freedom from their Roman overlord. In AD 122, Rome had already destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, and only 5 years earlier it ruthlessly crushed the Kitos Rebellion. Jewish anger was simmering close to the surface, and the Roman troops charged with keeping the province peaceful never knew when violence would erupt.

In that caldron of unrest, a Messianic Jewish family is trying to live peacefully as they follow Jesus as their Messiah. Then the oldest son leaves to join the zealots in their guerilla attacks on the Romans. The second son goes to persuade his brother to come home, and a Roman officer kills him by mistake.

That accidental killing is the starting point of the story. Then the reader meets the brother of the Roman officer who killed the second son. He’s planning to kill his older brother for a larger inheritance and blame a zealot. His hired assassins bungle the job. When the dead son’s twin sister and younger brother are faced with the choice of rescuing the badly injured Roman or letting him die, they obey Jesus’s command to love their enemy and take him home. Rachel persuades her father to put his love for Jesus above his anger with Rome, pretend Lucius is Greek to protect him, and let him stay with them until he heals.

His brother wants him dead, her older brother wants to kill him if he’s Roman, and her father obeys Jesus’s command but struggles with having him around because he’s part of the group that killed his son. Forgiven is a story of love, hatred, friendship, and forgiveness. It portrays the emotional and spiritual struggles of more than one character leading to a deadly climax and, I hope, a satisfying conclusion.

DT: It’s part of a series titled “Light In The Empire”. What are your plans for this series?

Capture Light in the EmpireI’m planning six to eight novels in the series. Each focuses on a deep cultural conflict based on ethnicity or class, the power of Christian love to overcome those, and the transformation of people that can result in response to that love. Each picks up one or more characters from another novel in the series and places them in challenging circumstances where decisions about living their faith must be made.

Each one is a story of hope about human love and spiritual transformation, a story about how our faithfulness can inspire another to open his or her heart to God. It’s interesting how the plot for the next novel that’s a new twist on the theme takes shape in my mind even before I finish the one I’m working on. As long as that keeps happening, I’ll know God wants me to keep writing the Roman series.

DT: You said the second novel in the series will be out by May. Tell us about that one.

Will be available in May 2017
Will be available in May 2017

Blind Ambition is actually the first novel I wrote. It’s set in AD 114 mostly in Germany near Mainz. The tagline describes it well: “Sometimes you have to almost die to discover how you want to live.”

The provincial governor has given the Christians in his province the option of sacrificing to Caesar or dying. His son, Decimus, is a tribune in the legion who’s headed for a stellar political career like his father. When he’s robbed, blinded, and left for dead, a young German woman who follows the Way finds him. Valeria knows it’s his duty to have her and her family killed, but she chooses to love her enemy and takes him home to care for him. Decimus has been raised to think of Christians as vermin to be exterminated for the good of Rome, so what’s he going to do when Valeria and her brother and sister love him like family while never hiding their love for Jesus from him?

DT: So, are you working on the next book in the series, and perhaps the next after that?

CA: I have two more novels that are finished and ready for the final editing. They should be out within the next year or so. I have another two that are fully plotted and about half written. There’s a fifth that I’ve partly written that will probably end up novella length. Plus I have some rough plans for two more. They all follow the series theme of difficult friendships growing into love coupled with the spiritual transformation of characters whose journey to faith is inspired by the faith of those who love them.

DT: Do you see yourself branching out from ancient Rome as the underlying period for your work in the future?

CA: I’m compulsive about getting the history right. I’ve got so much invested in both time and academic books (more than 60 at the moment) about the Roman period that I decided to create a Roman history site at carolashby.com with what I’ve learned. I write articles on different topics (taxation and medicine are next), review Roman-era books, make Latin wordsearch and crosswords, and post real Roman recipes with fun facts about ancient culinary practices. Each morning, I look to see where the site visitors came from during the night, and so far, they’re from 39 different countries, counting the US.

That was my first “author” website. It’s lots of fun for me, but not very personal and not a springboard to different settings. Most of my international visitors probably aren’t interested in Christian historical fiction, either.

I’ll be publishing Roman for a while, but I’ve already branched out a bit. The second novel I started writing was actually a romantic thriller set in Colorado in 1925. It’s another story about the power of Christian love to overcome differences in class, ethnicity, and the expectations of family and society, but I don’t have plans to bring it to market for a while. I set it aside while I wrote 3 more Roman novels. I went back to it and “finished” it over a year ago to enter a contest, but working on the Roman novels keeps me pretty busy.

DT: You said you are self-publishing the series What led to that decision?

CA: My husband and I decided from the beginning that we would donate the profits and offer the novels for more creative ways to support missions in Africa and the Middle East. When I learned that I would be selling all my rights to the books and not be able to use them like we wanted if I went the traditional publishing route, I took several deep breaths and made the leap into independent publishing. There’s a lot involved in doing that successfully, but if that’s what it takes to keep the flexibility that comes from owning the rights myself, then I’m willing to do it.

Unwinding From The Weekend

I’m at work, at my desk, trying to figure out how to be productive today. We spent the weekend in Oklahoma City, on a dual family event. Ezra’s birthday was March 1, and we celebrated this weekend. Elijah’s dedication was Sunday. So all four grandchildren have been dedicated to God’s care and service.

Since these were two family events, and since some people would be driving in for them but wouldn’t want to spend the night, both took place on Sunday: the dedication during the normal worship service; and the party right after at Incredible Pizza. This is 50,000 sq. ft. of mayhem. Noisy, crowded, chaos. The kids liked it, and that’s what matters. We were there a couple of years ago for Ephraim’s and Elise’s birthdays.

So today it’s back to the grind, at work and at home. I had my manuscript with me over the weekend, but only managed to look at 30 or so pages. That will be my main writing focus this week, that and re-publishing Doctor Luke’s Assistant. My proof copy should arrive this week. If it’s good, I’ll get the print and KDP and Smashwords editions republished this week.

Trying to Plan, Not Really Succeeding

Yesterday morning, at the start of my business day, I saw on my desk a sheet of paper titled “2017 Priorities, as of 10 Jan 2017”. When I wrote that I mean writing priorities. That’s what was on the sheet, the things I planned to write and publish in 2017. It’s now close to two months later. I knew that wasn’t still accurate, as the things to be done early in the year are behind schedule, and thus the things I intended to do later in the year may not get done. So, I decided to re-write it.

Now, these are written on the back of the small sheets I tear off my Dilbert desk calendar each day. I’m not talking about something real formal here. On the 10 January sheet, I had seven numbered items originally, written in approximately the order I wanted to complete them, but without dates or deadlines. The I realized I forgot the thing that was to be number 1, so I squeezed it in between 1 and 2 and numbered it 0. The I realized two other items I’d left off, one for early in the year, one for later. So I wrote them at the end and used appropriate arrows to show where they would come in.

I re-wrote it and put everything in order. #1 is my first priority, #2 is my second priority, all the way down to #10. I don’t really expect to get to all 10 items in 2017, but I’ll work my way down the list and see how far I can get.

Then, I realized I’m working on something right now that wasn’t on the other list. It’s a discussion of a scholarly paper someone wrote and is soon to present at a conference, a religious paper at a religious conference. So I wrote that at the end, without a number. I don’t really know what I’m going to do with that; perhaps nothing. But it’s taking my writing time, so I should have included it.

Then, while I was looking at that paper at academia.edu, I decided to do a search on Thomas Carlyle. I immediately found a scholarly paper that is germane to my item #8, Thomas Carlyle’s “Chartism” Through The Ages. I took time to download and read the paper, and write an e-mail to the author. #8 is kind of far down the road to be doing anything on it right now, but since I was at that site, and since it came up, I did the brief bit of research.

Now, I’ve learned over the year that, whenever I ratchet up my writing time, or even just plan to ratchet up my writing time, something in life blows up and the plan can be trashed. Without going into details, that what happened by noon today.

So, what is my writing plan? Right now I have no idea. Maybe things will clarify in a week or two.

Still Weary, But Will Write On

My last post, on Feb. 23, was written in Atlanta, Georgia. I was there for a conference, the Environmental Connection 17 conference put on by the International Erosion Control Association. For the first time in years, I didn’t submit a technical paper for presentation. So I was just an attendee, renewing old connections, making new ones, and encouraging one of our younger engineers who did present a paper, his third.

The flights out, via Dallas-Fort Worth, went well. We had a long enough layover in Dallas that it was enjoyable. We got easy transportation to the hotel. The walk from the hotel to the conference center, over two elevated walkways, was just about right. The Wednesday activities were good. Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel gave the keynote address. I went to some technical sessions on things I wasn’t familiar with, and broadened my perspectives. All was well.

But something happened on Wednesday, not at the conference, that wasn’t good. I won’t go into details here. Let’s just say it threw me for a loop. It so affected me I wasn’t able to sleep that night in the hotel. I tossed and turned, and finally got up and read. It was well after 2:00 a.m. when I finally went back to bed, though I’m not sure when I fell asleep.

The next day I made that post. I made it from my company smart phone, the first text-intensive post I’ve made from it. That was something new for me. During the day, the situations that caused me to lose sleep somewhat resolved themselves. By the end of the day, Thursday, I was doing much better emotionally. I blew off the social gatherings at the conference, went back to the hotel, and spent the rest of the day editing my novel in manuscript. I made significant progress on it.

I wish I knew why I let things affect me so. Part of the problem is that I engage in two activities that can put you on the emotional roller coaster. One is writing; the other is stock trading. Stock trading is going well this year. I’ve had a lot more winners that losers, and I’m earning at a rate that I like. Writing is also going okay, though I still get no sales. At this time I’m not ready to put money into advertising, so I’ll likely have low sales.

Once my book is ready and I publish it, I’m sure I’ll get some sales of it, and perhaps of others at the same time. Before I publish it, however, I really need to correct and re-publish Doctor Luke’s Assistant, because it comes before Preserve The Revelation in the series. I made all the corrections to the DLA master file, formatted it for print, uploaded it, and had CreateSpace check it. Alas, it had many formatting errors, all due to lack of recognition (or user error) of inserted section breaks and having the wrong page on the wrong leaf. I was working on that last weekend, but hadn’t finished it. That will be a tomorrow task.

A day-after-tomorrow task will be re-reading PTR in manuscript. I had enough edits on this round, my second round of edits, that I believe I need a third round. This will delay publishing, but I’m having that delay anyway due to the DLA problems. Alas.

One good thing did come of this trip. When I was packing Monday evening and Tuesday morning, I had to decide on what reading matter to bring with me. I have several books on Google Play and on my Nook, so I didn’t need to bring any print book. But at the last minute I stuck in the Civil War volume of the Annals of America. , just in case I wanted to read that. It’s research for my next book, whereas everything on my electronic devices is for family history, research for later books, or recreation. On the first flight I pulled out AoA and read the entire flight. I did the same on the next flight, and in the hotel room the first night. I often have trouble focusing on the entries in this book, but on this trip I didn’t. I was able to focus on each article I read, making marginalia, finding great quotes, and possibly adding to my civil war book. It was a good choice. Not sure why I could focus this time when I’ve had trouble doing so most times, but I’m glad for the result and won’t question it.

Life is an emotional rollercoaster. Sometimes I don’t handle it very well. Wednesday was one of those days. I’ve recovered (mostly), and am ready to plow ahead. Hopefully my Friday post will be an author interview. Next Monday, maybe I’ll be able to report good things about DLA and PTR.


Every time I start thinking about being able to devote more time to writing, something in my life blows up. Some days I grow so weary in well-doing I don’t see much reason to care. That’s where I am right now.

Maybe all will seem better in a few days. I hope so.

Right now I have six works in progress, and don’t give a you know what whether I finish them or not.

 I won’t be posting on Friday this week. Maybe not for a while.

Author | Engineer