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Friday, October 23, 2015

Anxiety and the Lucky Bounce

My brother is a sleep tech, just like I am in my normal life.

In the sleep lab we get all sorts of people from all walks of life.  My brother, fifteen states away, stumbled onto an editor.  Not just any editor, though, one who has worked on NYT bestsellers.  And he convinced this person to take a look at my writing.

Happiness ensued, followed immediately by nervousness.  All I have to show is the first few chapters of the rough draft of my novel.  It's a first draft and therefore is supposed to suck, but what if it sucks sucks?  I've been working on this for the last four years, and as any writer knows, that first moment showing it to someone outside your circle, well, it makes your sphincter pucker.

This person is busy, and the feedback won't be coming for quite some time, but she has already been invaluable.  First she gave me some advice -- don't publish your first three novels.  Write them, shelve them, return to them after you've written some more and polished your craft.  It was great advice, I just wish I'd heard it ten years ago.  My first two attempts at novel writing are already published.  Might as well steer into the skid.

The Fab 5, available on Amazon
Second, she asked me to critically think about what went wrong on my first two efforts.  That was hard, admitting my own mistakes.  The Fab 5 was a good concept undone by a touch of arrogance.  I didn't listen to anybody who said anything negative about it.  I didn't hire an editor and thought I could do it myself.  I used the f-word A LOT. I didn't understand what it took to self-publish and was shocked about how much I had to do myself.  It was a rude awakening.

The Favorite, also available on Amazon












The Favorite took some of the lessons I learned and applied the knowledge.  I started with writing a stronger story, hired an editor, and tried my best to shamelessly self-promote.  The problem is I wasn't very good at the last part.  Also, sports novels are a tough sell to people who aren't sports fans.  But hey, there were less f's given.  (bad pun, sorry.)

 I'm nervous as to what this person will say about my current work.  It's like sending your four year-old to preschool for the first time.  But hey, the kid may prove to be a genius.

Or at least, worth selling.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Age of Fitness

I'm finding that the unfortunate reality that I was warned about has come to pass.  It's hard to stay fit in your 30's.

Time was, maybe 10 years ago, I'd gain 10 or 20 pounds in the winter, then lose it in the summer plus five.  Summers in New York were hot and there was stuff to do, like copious amounts of basketball.  Beer made me sweat, not fat. And I could party all night on Sunday and do Monday with three or four hours sleep.  Those were the days. Now, I have to watch what I eat and how much, I have to do crazy intense workouts, I have to force myself to sleep (well, force is a strong word).  If I drink, I'm useless for two or three days after.  And I find myself fixated on my weight more than I ever have been at any point of my life (264, if you're asking).  I'm concerned of a family history of diabetes and high blood pressure, and I just want to get older and not feel like shit.

As my birthday came and went, I took a look at some of my habits and am actively trying to change them.

Diet:  I love sugar.  It's awesome and tasty and makes everything better.  I'm good about most of my diet, eating greenery and fruits and quinoa and stuff.  If you had known me five years ago, you know that this is a big deal.  I'm doing my best to cut baked goods out (goodbye, donuts and cinnamon rolls and anything delicious from Starbucks) and anything with added sugar.  I'm trying to limit bread to one slice per day with breakfast.  I want to not be lazy and juice more (I have a head not kale in my fridge that I should probably get to before it walks out).

Exercise: It's difficult to split time between writing, working a full time and per diem job, and having any kind of life.  Working out is one more thing to do that eats up time.  I hate to say it like that, but a fact is a fact.  As we get older, it gets harder to divvy up the time.  I don't even have kids yet and it's this difficult.  Or maybe I'm just lazy sometimes.  If it's important, you'll find a way, if it's not you'll find an excuse.  Sporadically, my excuse is I don't have the time, or I need to sleep, or I'll do it tomorrow.  That's got to stop.  This is important.

Sleep: Considering I work in sleep medicine when I'm not writing, I should know the importance of good solid sleep.  I don't get nearly enough of it and for no good reason.  Like I said, I don't even have kids.  I have got to force myself into bed when I get home, and I've got to stay there for at least seven hours.

I have a beard going right now because I promised myself I'd keep it until I got myself below 250 labs.  Now that I'm putting this out into the ether, I'd better get to it.

*** Quick Hits ***

NBA season starts in a couple of weeks.  To all my friends who are basketball fans, allow me to put in this piece of information:

The Knicks will be AT LEAST the #6 seed in the East this season.

I could cite their much improved defense, or the personnel moves that have players tailored to the offensive system they run.  I could talk about how underrated Robin Lopez is.  But I won't.

I'll just say 6 or better.

***

Went to Barnes and Noble today and decided to teach myself more about my craft.  I've been writing fiction for about 20 years now, published for 10, but I stilt want to learn more, hone my skills more, and be a better writer.  I'm starting with industry magazines (for probably the least glamorous industry on the planet.  I mean seriously...), but I'll work myself up to online seminars, going over stuff in the library.  I love what I do, so it couldn't hurt...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Adulting

Some days I think Peter Pan got it right.

Screw adulthood.  I want to play and not worry about time.  I want to have all my needs taken care of for me and not have to think about employment or taxes or any of that stuff.  Who needs to think about politics and religion and love and feelings?



It seems the difficult stuff was never in the manual.  Parents would offer vague warnings about savoring our youth and enjoying simplicity without directly stating what about adulthood sucked so much.  All we saw was a life free from stupid rules and chores and stuff.  So many of us were not schooled on the responsibility adulthood carries.  We were told bits and pieces, educated in math and science and history, but we weren't prepared for this life of bill payment and maintenance.  We were told that we were special, that we had something to offer the world.  Who would have thought they were merely referring to our time?

It was a conversation I had briefly with my sister-in-law on her birthday earlier this week.  Adulthood carries the responsibility of time management, of child rearing, of management of emotions, of deferring happiness for the sake of the bigger picture.  If I had that information at 8 or 9 years old, it would have been a one-way ticket to Neverland.  I'd have taken my chances with the Pirates.  We do grow up though.  It's not a process we can opt out of.  We do what we have to to accomplish what we want to.  Dreams are tailored to fit the reality of the the world around us, the world we wish to change.

If we're lucky, we are either born with or developing the skills we need to affect that change.

***

I never thought I'd live in a world where the Mets, Cubs, and Blue Jays are in the running for a World Series at the same time.  Meanwhile, my beloved Yankees are watching from home.  I'm not okay with this.

***
My grandmother's 96th birthday just passes.  Am I wrong to hope she can double it?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Progress Report

Hello all...

I write you a few days after my birthday, largely because I'm happy to have survived it.  Tequila is no one's friend.

Anyway, just a heads-up to anyone interested in what I'm doing these days and what I've been up to:

I'm finishing up the first draft of my 2011 NaNoWriMo project that I was supposed to have finished last winter.  Life happens.  But it is close to done, I promise, and I want to start looking for beta readers soon.  I've learned a lot about my writing style through this project, chief above all is that NaNoWriMo is cool, but not for me.  Super-compressed writing time  works directly against my schedule.  Also, Writer's block can strike at any time.

I'm back to plotting the next project after this, a crime thriller called Urban Legend.  It follows a masked man in reinforced motorcycle leathers who is murdering seemingly small-time criminals.  But when his latest victim is a (crooked) cop, he earns the ire of the police force and the front-running mayoral candidate.  A homicide detective has a connection to the killer she's not even aware of, and it drags her deep into a rabbit hole of corruption.  It's a project I'm really excited about, and I hope to start the beginnings of work on it early next year.

I went off the continent for the first time this summer!  Had a great time in Jolly Olde England, and met my girlfriend's lovely family.  Looking forward to the next visit!

The holidays are coming, and I've decided two things: one, I want there to be 25-30 pounds less of me at the end of the year, and two, I've decided you should give your loved one a copy of The Favorite for Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa/Festivus.  You'll thank me.

Okay, shameless self-promotion aside, changes will be coming to this blog, most notable among them is that there will be more frequent postings.  Once a week, Tuesday morning, there will be a new post available.  I'll also be posting more pictures as well, so I guess I'd better get familiar with my digital camera and phone camera.  Join me, it'll be fun!

That's all I got for now.  See you next week!