I did pretty well, this last week, at establishing a routine of nighttime writing work, especially in the construction of plot and characters for my next short story. I hope that I can work on the draft this week and have it ready for submission in a couple of weeks. When I do, I'll talk about it in a journal entry.

Actually, I have quite a bit of writing work to do over the last quarter of the year. And this this is the best time of the year to me. The slowly gathering cool of September and Early October reach cold nights by the time we reach Halloween, and we enjoy pumpkin-spiced coffee and cake, incense and bonfires while children play at fears of intrusions from the numinous world passed down from a time when adults believed in spirits, and the celebration was called, Sawhaim.

Or maybe it's just that any cool night in the South is a cause for celebration.

Yesterday was not so cool. In fact, it was quite warm as Donna and I sat beneath the hot sun in Oxford, watching Ole Miss lose to Georgia. While I hate the continuing of the Rebels losing streak, it was an interesting experience. Our sons had warned us that traffic on game days was intense and it was. All the Oxford police were out directing game traffic and the University campus was filled with tailgating tents, grills, tables of food, flat-screen TV's, and congregating fans and alumni relieving glory years and socializing to forget current football ills (the Mannings are long gone!).

Anyway, I could see why "the Grove" experience is a big part of going to school there and why my sons never want to come home on the weekends of home games.

Back at home, I have continued reading The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi that I mentioned in my Aug 28 journal entry, and I'm still finding it a read that I highly recommend. The story centers around the concept of the fallout from the current trend of companies (like Monsanto) trying to obtain a monopoly on the world's food supply by supplanting natural crops with gentically modified replacements. Mr. Bacigalupi postulates the hell unleashed by mutations of these Frankencrops and extrapolates that the genetic modifications performed on plants is carried on to humans.

I think he's not far from the truth, at least in terms of what these corporations would like to do. For the risk of profit, they would risk destroying all human life. That's about as good a definition of sheer evil as I can think of.

Along those lines, I'm thinking of broaching the subject of attempted coporate dominion over nature in a short story with a working title of "Futility." The story impetus, however, will be from chemtrails.

Donna's been struggling with her book, Empress. She probably won't finish it. I've tried to read books like that too, and it's the kind I'm trying hard not to write. Boring, that is. I'm trying to heed the writer's golden rule: write for others what you would like to read yourself.

Donna did read The Help, however, and enjoyed it immensely. We saw the movie soon after she finished the book. We both liked the move, although Donna says the book is better. Well, that's often the case, and maybe a good theme for next week's journal.

 

Change

09/18/2011

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Change can be good. Even the change of replacing one routine with another. Routines, if carefully administered, can work for us. I have a routine of a day job that keeps a paycheck coming in, even though the work is not fulfilling. I want now to establish a routine of nighttime writing that is fulfilling and will allow me to produce as I need to produce.

Such change should result in improvement. Like the revision change I just put out for my novella: The Spark. I was going to wait until the first of October to upload it to Smashwords, but Donna convinced me to go ahead and put it out there. I agreed that would be best since the new version reads so much better, corrects some typos and awkward phrasings, and contains a link to my website at the end. It will also give ample time for the revision to reach the Premium channels (Barnes and Nobles, Sony, Borders, etc) well before the Christmas season. It's out there now at www.smashwords.com/books/view/32180 so check it out.

I've also included My Christmas Carol in the volume, which is a short story about a man who, confronted by the "ghost" of Ebeneezer Scrooge, must face his own materialism and the challenge to change his ways. Yes, it's modern retelling of A Christmas Carol that I hope you'll find some fun in. It's not as dark as my usual storytelling.

I guess that's a lot of talk about Christmas for September. Maybe it's prompted by the cooler air that's dropped over the south the last couple of weeks. Temperatures here have changed to an average ten degrees cooler since tropical storm Lee(?) passed through. That came from out of the blue. Usually such storms bring up a lot of warm gulf air and leave it hot and muggy, and September is usually pretty hot around here, anyway. And I've noticed that the five-day forecast has only been good for a couple of days. Climate change, I think.

Which brings me back to The Spark. The story has a strong ecological theme and it speaks of a thin polar ice cap:

    It was all gone–his workshop, house, the reindeer stables, the elves. Only the thin polar cap remained, collecting snow beneath a winter storm.

It seems the polar ice cap is actually at a record, or near-record, low for area-coverage according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and the University of Bremen. See www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/09/14-0.

I've been following news of climate change for a number of years now, and I suspect it will eventually trump all the other problems that beset humankind.

But for now, I'll just enjoy the temperate weather and carry on.

I mentioned "next projects" in my last journal entry. I've decided since then that I'd like to do another short story or two and try to get them published in some ezines or magazines with enough circulation to gain some exposure for me. I'm working on one with the working title of My Stolen Child, playing off Yeat's poem, The Stolen Child (www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19415), and the changling folk tale. It's really more about the deception of appearances, though, and I may change the title. If it is published I'll, of course, provide the link here.

I do love Yeats (William Butler Yeats: www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/117). Especially his poem, The Second Coming (www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15527), that so eloquently captures the feeling of imminent and apocalyptic change. It's quoted a lot these days and I referred to it myself in A Single Step (www.smashwords.com/books/view/81356).

So I'll continue writing my new story this week, along with the articles that will make up the ALS newsletter for The Spark. Watch my website for news of both--and other changes.

 
 
One of the friends that Donna and I visited last week in Rhode Island did a proof-reading job on A Single Step. She did this out of the goodness of her heart and probably out of reflex since she had been employed in such work years ago. She emailed her results to me this week and I have to say I was greatly impressed and greatly chagrined.

I thought Donna and I had edited the manuscript thoroughly, but our friend found a lot of errors. They were mostly typo mistakes and word omissions. I'm really bad about the latter because I'll read a manuscript so many times that my mind fills in the missing words. So I'm greatful to Stephanie for her work (and to her husband, Rocko, for his moral support) and I've incorporated her corrections into a revised manuscript that I've uploaded to Smashwords. In a couple of weeks, that "clean" revision should make it to Barnes and Nobles, Amazon, Apple, and Sony. This shows me that a good editor is worth his (or her) pay.

So with A Single Step out there, I've turned my thoughts to promotion and my next projects.

Regarding promotion, I've been using Google Adwords for the last month to promote my website as well as A Single Step. While it seems to have brought some traffic to the site, it hasn't help much with the book. I've let Adwords drop and probably won't try it again for a while. My friend, Rocko, has passed the book along to a friend of his that I hope will like it and write a review. I'm also approaching another venue trying to get readers and reviews. I'll talk about that in a future journal entry if it works out.

Regarding next projects, I'm working on something for the Christmas season. This will be a revision of The Spark, which is currently on Smashwords. The story's been downloaded a lot since I put it out last December. The downloads have been pretty steady, even through the summer (though at a much slower rate than during Christmas, of course). But there are a number of wording errors in the current version that pain me, and sections of prose need to be smoothed out. I've worked on that over the last week and the result is a much better-reading manuscript.

I wanted this revision to be more than just prose corrections, however, so I decided to upgrade another Christmas short story that I wrote several years ago. It's called, My Christmas Carol, and I wrote it for a short story "competition" at my workplace. It was never published anywhere, just read at the office Christmas party. It won a free lunch for Donna and I at a local restuarant. Then I forgot about it until now.

I'll combine The Spark and My Christmas Carol into one volume that I'll put out on Smashwords as a revision to the current, The Spark. I'll time it to come out around Thanksgiving and feature it in a ALS newsletter.

Beyond The Spark project, I'm thinking of expanding Madam President into a novel, which would be a very large expansion indeed. I'll talk more about that in later journal entries.

Quick notes:

Yes, Ole Miss has lost their season-opening game to BYU by one point. They really needed a win to garner some positive momentum to carry them into a tough schedule, especially after last year's dismal performance. Still, Coach Nutt has revamped his staff and his teamed showed some promise. The young quaterback, Stoudt, seems to have some potential.

And I finally saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I went in with no expectations but it turned out to be the best of the Ape pictures, in my opinion.