Birthday sprint


What is this process, anyway, this download of words and random thoughts from my mind – any mind – what are we really sharing? Will I even think the same way in 5 minutes – 5 months – 5 years? Maybe, maybe not.

This is just a snapshot of where my mind was one warmish morning in March, nearly 63 years after my birth. Hello, future self! Hello, someone I never realized would read this! What is it I did by running this pen over this paper, then typing these words over onto a computer screen and shipping it out to the world?

Did I step on a butterfly 60 million years ago? Or am I just a tree that was going to rot, fall over and kill a T-rex about now anyway?

What is it about stories/novels/movies that touch us, and why do we go back to hear/read/see the stories again and be touched in a new and different way?

The difference between the first reading and the latest is a measure of where we have gone in the meantime. What we are now is not who we were. But it is, too.


Me, explained.

One of my habits is to listen to Joanna Penn’s “The Creative Penn” podcast every Monday on the way to and from work. It’s an engaging show about writing and self-publishing and the business of self-publishing your writing.

This week’s guest is Beth Buelow, author of a book called The Introvert Entrepreneur. During the course of the interview is mention of a TED Talk by Susan Cain, who wrote a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Here is Cain’s TED Talk. I listened to the podcast and the talk and discovered stuff about myself that I always knew but always wondered if I had some kind of disorder. Seems I’m just a serious introvert in a world built for serious extroverts.

At least watch the TED Talk. It explains a lot about my quirks, and it may tell you about yours, too.


On writing

on writing

There is a formula – but no, there isn’t. There is only the story. But what makes a story a story? That has been the question.

It seems to be like architecture: The story has a foundation and is made of building blocks.

Why am I telling this story? Know that answer and the rest is simple execution – except for the fact, of course, that nothing is simple.

And … begin

And ... begin

A friend of mine tells the story of a video project he conceived for his nonprofit organization. He recruited a fine actor to star in it, and he was faced with a formidable to-do list that he needed to complete before the video could ever see the light of day.

“I have so much that has to be done, I don’t know which to do first.”

“Just pick one,” the actor smiled gently. “It doesn’t matter which one it is, as long as you just get started.”

There are really just two rules in creative endeavors.

First, just get started.

Second, finish what you start.

Everything else is the details.

Song for a time


Way in the middle of the air, they cried, cries that sounded like loneliness, but they were surrounded by each other.

The gulls sang their squeaky song with voices that sounded like bed springs yielding to the weight, except the song was more ancient than that, from a time before bed springs were invented.

A song unchanged since before we knew, and yet brand-new here, this moment. Singers born not long ago, fated to die not long from now, singing a song first sung when time had not been invented.

Why DID we invent time, McGiff wondered. It only taunts us with unfinished business. The time is up – just in time – time to finish this – time to get started – time, time, time. There, the song again – time it. Why?

Why measure time? Better to count the grains of sand. The gulls sing their mournful song – are they sad because they have discovered time, too?

He held his hand to his chest and sighed. It was time to move on.

The Year of Kept Promises


At the end of 2013, I declared 2014 the Year of Myke Phoenix, and I announced that in addition to the two new Myke stories I had released in early ’13 I would complete 10 more stories, one month at a time, and release the whole collection in time for the Christmas season.

The project saw its share of fits and starts, but sure enough Myke Phoenix: Year of the Dinosaur made its debut to the world Nov. 18, 2014.

I decided to be less specific about my writing goals for 2015, because to fulfill my original pledge I had done a lot of writing near the final deadline and wasn’t sure I wanted to be rushed like that again. Never mind that the hurried chapters turned out to be the rollicking climax I had hoped to spin out; I wanted to try a different approach.

I did make my intentions for Myke Phoenix known to the small group who have signed up for my emailing list – I do have a general idea where that story goes next – but I did not set a deadline.

Well, now I’ve seen how that turned out: 2015 became the Year of Nothing. No new completed writing projects came from this pen, although my blog has seen a resurgence of material. At least that’s something. So maybe, to be fair to myself, 2015 was the Year of At Least That’s Something.

As 2016 arrives, I’m going to try a middle ground. It seems the successful completion of Myke Phoenix: Year of the Dinosaur was tied to the fact that I set a deadline and convinced myself it was important to meet that deadline.

Having spent 40 years meeting deadlines in my day jobs, the importance of taking deadlines seriously should have been obvious. But – complete one Myke story a month? Maybe a little too ambitious, and once I fell behind it affected morale. Still – finish the dodecology in time for Christmas? That worked. Pledge to produce a specific product rather than a general idea? That worked.

Thus I declare 2016 to be the Year of:

May 11 – The first novel in what I envision to be the Krayatura Trilogy shall be released. It is my goal to have at least the first draft of all three books completed by then. If possible I’d like to try the “Netflix” approach and release all three books at once, so that you may have the option of savoring the first novel or binge-reading the lot. Coming months will determine whether I can accomplish that larger goal, but I shall deliver the first novel on May 11. That is hereby etched in stone.

And after that? By July 1 I will have all three novels ready for you.

I’m still working on my goals for the second half of the year, but they are taking shape. Let’s see how these six months go as I aim to make 2016 the Year of Kept Promises. Stay tuned.

As I sit down to create a monster

tolstoy godzilla memeAs I launch full bore (or as full-bore as I can manage with a day job) into developing a trilogy of kaiju novels, here comes the Internet with a meme that provides a smile by adding a third option to Tolstoy’s fairly well-known quote, “All great literature is one of two stories: a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.”

On Tuesday morning, I dashed off the first 576 words of the first draft of a novel that currently has the working title Kaiju I – not very creative, but I don’t even have a detailed outline yet, so we’re in the early stages. I do know the general arc of the story over three novels, and I think I have a sturdy foundation in that arc. The next step is breaking it all down so that I understand the general arc of each separate novel and our main characters. I got a suggestion to use the coincidence of NaNoWriMo to try to write at least the first novel by the end of November; I’m not sure I could pull that off, but I do expect that once I’ve assembled the skeleton of the story, the flesh will grow fairly quickly.

Sadly for my friends who are lovers of kaiju, I do not wish to write Godzilla vs. Megashark. I am a huge fan and respecter of the original Japanese film Gojira, which was re-edited and Americanized as Godzilla, King of the Monsters. Like many former kids of my generation, I grew up loving the Americanized version and wondering about the original 1954 film, which was not available in the U.S. until well into my adulthood. It was a revelation when I finally saw it, and although I continue to be entertained by Godzilla’s numerous sequels, they are quite a departure from that first story.

The first sequel, Godzilla Raids Again, begins with the discovery of a second godzilla in mortal combat with another giant monster, setting the pattern for the myriad stories to follow. It has been a popular pattern, and recent American films Pacific Rim and the 2014 Godzilla have followed that pattern in fascinating and wonderful ways. That is not, however, the story I am now compelled to tell.

Oh, there will be multiple monsters, to be sure, of more than one species. But my goal is to pursue the spirit and themes of Gojira, and my monster will have more in common with that creature than the one we’ve cheered for in numerous grudge fights against other kaiju. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy where Godzilla has ventured as much as the next guy, and I think the 2014 film is the second-best movie featuring the big guy that I’ve ever seen. I just want to travel a different path.

If I can conquer my infuriating habit of starting creative projects with a bang and then letting the fruit ripen unplucked on the vine, I expect to start sharing the finished stories by mid-2016, which is closer than any of us think on Nov. 4, 2015. I plan to keep you informed.