Monday, December 30, 2013

Goals for 2014

The New Year is upon us and everyone is busy with plans for a renewed chance.  Strange how we only consider changing ourselves or getting our act together at the end of a year.  I figure it could be at any time when we realize we need it but then again, I guess it wouldn't be as big of a celebration.

So what did I want to accomplish in 2014 that I didn't do in 2013?  Of course there are all those silly, simple ones we repeatedly chant each year: Eat healthier. Lose weight. Stop smoking. Ease up on drinking. Enjoy the family. Be more forgiving.

Okay, for the record, I actually was able to stop smoking way back in 1985... at least that is the last time I inhaled a cigarette that I held.  Sometimes when I attend a bingo hall with my wife, I inhale a lot of smoke that is not of my making.  Sure, they have non-smoking area but that's a farce.  Just like the restaurant I was in where the left side was non-smoking and the right side was smoking. The only partition was a 15" glass divider between the middle row of booths.  Really?  Like the guy sitting on the other side of the glass who was smoking, that smoke wasn't going to come to my side - less than a foot away?

Oh, and over the years, drinking has diminished, too.  Last year I can safely claim that I had about 4 beers, 2 coolers and a swig of something somebody claimed was white lightning.  I still think that it was gasoline.

So, this year I will repeat the annual mantra - eat healthier, lose weight, enjoy the family, be more forgiving.

BUT I really need to up the ante.  Goofing around on the computer, checking to see what has taken all the 300 Gigabytes of space -- well, I discovered a lot of stories.  Oh, I knew they were out there -- I wrote them! But I wasn't doing anything with them. They were sitting, lingering - no, loitering there in cyberspace. Exactly what am I talking about.  Almost twenty (20) novels resting in cyber parking spaces, awaiting me to do something.  Some were complete and needed editing.  Others were in different stages of completion. As I looked at each directory I was able to see that I had outlines which showed the completed tale.  Many of them had been written during National Novel Writing Month - a November writing exercise.  Others were started stories yet to be completed.

I happened onto a Linked-In writing group and the topic was about goals.  It was then I realized what I needed to get accomplished during 2014.  Some of these novels needed to be addressed - final edits and get them published.  One of the members suggested I research each novel, ascertain its potential, create chart and then plan an attack - starting with the ones with the least amount of work to accomplish publication.

Some of these stories were written in Word Perfect going back to version 5 which was from the olden days of DOS. Some had been written on a Unix machine and were now in a converted text version.  A few were written in Word 2.0.  Fortunately, I was able to open them all and over a couple of days, move them all to a new format of Word 10.  Of course, I couldn't delete the old, I'd held onto them too long. So, I gently moved them to a storage space on my 1 Terabyte backup drive.

Finally I began the process of analyzing each story and where it stood in completion and evaluated what it would involve to finish the process.  Then it was simply a matter of looking at the numbers and deciding which story was going to be first, second, third, etc.

It wasn't an easy process but I finished and now have a schedule and goal for 2014.  IF I can stay on plan, I will be able to release four books this year.

But, we all know the realities of those New Year's Resolutions.  Usually within the first 2 to 4 weeks, they are broken.  I figure I'm good for at least 2, maybe 3 books being released.  I took an aggressive stance in my goals.  Yes, I have 4 books I'd like to see published but I also know that my co-author is currently reviewing and editing book 2 in our series.  That was something I didn't put into the schedule.  Also, I have a book out with an agent and he is actively seeking a home for it.  Again, once the agent comes back with a sale, I'm sure there will be some edits.

Therefore, I could cheat and if those 2 books were to get published in 2014, I could count them as part of my goal.  Or, if I stick to my guns and hold true to my resolutions, I could have 6 books out this year.

Decisions.  Decisions.

So what are your goals?  2014 is waiting.  It could be a great year.  What are you waiting for? Make a plan.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, December 23, 2013

What Happens When...

You post something many will consider offensive in the wrong place?

I have two separate accounts on Facebook - one for my author stuff, the other for my personal things.  I attempt to keep the two completely apart.  In other words, my author account I try to keep professional and not clutter it with personal essays, rants, or other snarky items.

I failed.  Failed?  Oh, miserably.

Here's the link.

My wife read a post on her Facebook page about Duck Dynasty star, Phil Robertson.  Well, I got a little soapboxish about it.  Seems if somebody says something somebody else doesn't like, that show gets cancelled or the person removed. So I ranted.


I failed to accurately check to see what account I was on when I started my rant.  I thought I was on my personal account.  WRONG.  I was on my author account.

Now, several comments later, I discover the error of my ways.  It is too late to take corrective action.  I must now live with this mess on my author page, my professional page, where it flaunts my personal emotions to the world.

As I've stated, one should always keep personal and professional lives as far apart as possible.

Well, that theory and objective is now screwed.  Sure, I could delete it, but that's the coward's approach.

So, to make things short and sweet -- Why can't we all just get along. If you don't like purple, I guess I'll just have to learn to accept that. But, if I wear purple, you, the purple hater, must learn to deal with it, too.  It's all about give and take and personal likes and dislikes.  Unless your glass house is made of unbreakable panes, you'd best not be throwing stones at the others around you.

Plus, I'll be the first person to admit that I am far from perfect. I have flaws.  I make mistakes.  (If you even mention this to my wife, I will deny I said it!!)  Hell, some people think at times I'm a bigot, snob, a goody-goody-two-shoes, a pain and a jerk.  They also think I'm the nicest person they know, a friend, a confidant, buddy, and an all-around great guy goof-ball.

Sometimes you may not like what I post or have to say.  In my defense, I will tell you this --

You have your right to your opinion.  I may or may not like it.  Either way, I will defend your right to voice your opinion.  OPINIONS!  Not actions.  Slurring a black person is one thing -- burning a cross in their front yard or worse is action.  Voicing what you think of a gay lifestyle is an opinion, but denying them a proper burial or a chance of commitment of their lifestyle (marriage, insurance, etc) is not acceptable.

As I was taught many years ago: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me.

It sounds quaint and simple but I also know that names can hurt and cut very deep.  But, over the years, I found I can walk away from name-callers.  To those who tend to get more assertive and aggressive, it isn't as easy to ignore.

As my parents taught me - Learn to pick your fights and just ignore name-calling - it will go away. Calling a person a name, yes it hurts, but it's only the first step in the escalation if you rise to the bait.

I was called a name, a name I despised. At first I reacted and from one kid calling me that, it was now three kids.  Finally I found the gumption to ignore their petty name calling.  It took about three months, but it tired for them since it no longer got a rise out of me. If I'd continued to fight, argue and bring attention to their actions, more would have joined them.

Opinions are nothing more than a fancy name for name calling.  If you don't make a fuss, it will quietly go away.

Yes, Phil made a comment.  People reacted, including me.  We should have ignored his remark and nobody would have been the wiser.  Do we blame Phil for making the comment or GQ for bringing it to the world's attention?  Remember, he was answering a question.  It was a planned strategy for action.

BUT, I will definitely be more cautious in the future to look to see which account I have open before I engage my fingers and attempt to keep my professional and personal lives apart.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Getting In Touch With Your Inner Self

We've all heard that phrase.  So, is getting in touch with your inner self really all that great?  Does it make you a better man?

In the past month I have had the privilege to visit our local hospital for different surgeries and procedures a total of FOUR times.  You would think by visit #4 that the staff would have all the answers and not really need to repeat the time-worn chants.  Especially when visit #3 ends and when visit #4 starts are less than 36 hours apart!  But, I digress.

Take for instance, the one nurse who came in and started the procedure.  Her first question was my name and birth date.  I rattled the answers back without thinking.  She handed me my gown and had me sit on the bed, etc. She never left the room but turned her back on me to get a document.  She turns back to me and... Yes, she asked my name and date of birth.  I told her but in the back of my mind I was wondering if she could see or was senile?  I mean, neither of us had left the room, nobody else had come into the room. Exactly who did she think was there?  I'm not Houdini.  But, to her defense, it was that way every time somebody came into the room to do something - I had to repeat my name and date of birth.  I truly considered getting a recorder to play and rewind as needed.

Of course, they played the same game over and over.  We've do an extended version of Twenty Questions which was closer to One Hundred Questions.  Each time I would reply the same since my marital status hadn't changed, as well as my medications, my smoking and drug abuse, etc etc.

By the last visit, I was bold. They kept repeating the same question - Do you have any allergies? Is there anything you're allergic to?  I repeatedly answered: Needles.

Did that stop them?  NO!  It was like a huge invitation and they'd immediately begin an IV in the back of my hand.  It felt like they were breaking a steel rod in half inside my hand. Okay, IT HURT!!!  What part of "Needles - Allergic!" didn't they understand?  Obviously I don't like needles but they ignored the fact. LOL.

With a total of four trips to the hospital for different procedures - first was a double scope AKA upper and lower GI.  Second was the right eye cataract removal which went really well since I was for all practical purposes, totally blind in that eye.  The cataract was so bad, all I saw when I used that eye was a milky-white blur and an occasional shadow.  Third trip was my gall bladder removal which had been bothering me since mid-July and I'd had several different checkups to validate and verify.  It took a sonogram which told us nothing, followed by another really fancy check with radiation. At least the result there showed that the gall bladder was working.  Since there was really no results, it was the need for the double scoping which started the visits.  Anyway, with the third trip, the gall bladder was removed and the culprit was discovered. It was the gall bladder eventho it was working properly, it was badly infected and causing all my stomach pains.  I was asked if the gall bladder pain was gone.  Hmm?  Let me explain it this way.  You have a stomach cramp.  Now I hit you with a baseball bat about six solid times.  Do you feel the cramps?  I will have to await the healing process to finish to know if the stomach cramps are gone.  I feel they are but with five incisions, who really knows?  Of course, visit four was quick on the heels of the bladder removal.  I went in on Monday for bladder surgery and was back on Wednesday for the left cataract eye surgery.

So, with all these different procedures, I have been the lucky one.  I have seen more of the inside of me in the last few weeks than I have in the last sixty years.  Did I really want to get to know my inner self?  Not really.  Am I a better man for it?  Well, I can see like a Hubble telescope.  My vision is crystal clear and just amazing.  When the swelling finally recedes, I'm sure I will feel much better and be a lot healthier.  Why?  To start, the doctor put me on a diet.  Some of the pictures he took had some nasty patches of fat and he said it was not good fat.  Hmm?  Is there such a thing as good fat?  So I am cutting back my intake of fat.  My FFF (Fish Fry Fridays) are now a thing of the past.  I'm still allowed my popcorn but only 3-4 cups - not the two gallon bowl I used to eat.  My days of being the garbage disposal are over.  I eat what I am allowed and no more.  If there are leftovers, so be it.  If not enough, then it gets tossed out.  I get more salad, less oil.  There are a few things I am going to miss, some very much, some not so much.  I'm suppose to drink 1/2% milk. That is NOT going to happen.  I have gotten to where I can drink 2% and I'm not going any lower.  Creams and gravies are a no-no on my diet.  As is ... OMG!  Chocolate. My food will be either broiled, baked or boiled - not fried.  Having had a boiled hamburger ONCE, I will grill my burgers since bland, gray meat is not on my eating agenda.  My culinary skills will be tested to make sure that my foods taste good but healthy.  I know I can do it.

I was restricted from the bicycle and treadmill.  Starting today, I am allowed to try them again but with caution and care.

We'll see where this goes.  Will I be a better man?  I certainly hope so.  I've seen my inner self and it was not a pleasant view.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, December 9, 2013

This Could Hurt the Brain

I was killing time, surfing Facebook, reading what all my friends were posting... when I stumbled onto this one post which caught my eye.  Well, actually, it was 'his' eyes that caught my attention.  I read the blurb to the left and as I sat there thinking about the concept, my brain started to hurt.

Just trying to wrap my mind around the whole idea starts to open so many ideas that, well, it hurts me and I have to go lay down.

Men In Black SPOILER ALERT.  Sorry, but I'm going to reference one of my favorite mind-blowing movies. Men In Black. Yes, the original.  The movie revolves around the MiB finding "the galaxy" on Orion's belt.  Finally it is discovered that the galaxy is inside a small bauble dangling from a cat's collar. Yes, the cat's name is Orion.  We, the audience are informed that not everything has to be huge to be important as Kay explains it to Jay.  A peek inside the bauble reveals a whole universe with galaxies.  At the end of the movie, the camera pans back out of NYC, back from the Earth, the moon, the solar system, our galaxy and finally our universe and discover it is also inside a marble and an alien is playing with it to shoot another marble with a universe inside it.


Now, about that card above.  Think about it.  Is it possible?  How many times have you found yourself doing something and wondering why you're doing it?  Why not the idea of an author backspacing being the reason for a person to forget what they were saying? Maybe our lives are already choreographed.

Imagine the possibilities of writing a story where you create a world that ... wait a minute, that is what we, the authors, do every day as we write.  We create the story.

But what if we are nothing more than characters to a bigger author who is writing about what I'm writing? In other words, you're the character the author is writing about and you happen to be an author. So is your story really yours? Or his/hers?

And, if you take the example one step larger -- what if the author writing about me writing this is actually just another character by a larger author.

I once read a short story about miniaturizing a man and it going bad.  They had a radio attached so the miniaturized man could communicate back to his partners.  I think he was placed on a brick.  Due to something going wrong, he continued to miniaturize.  The man saw holes develop in the brick and suddenly he was falling into one those holes. He continued to become smaller and smaller. As he did, he moved toward new universes, seeing distant solar systems which he attempted to move toward. Of course, he kept getting smaller and smaller as he fell toward the solar system and a planet where he continued to miniaturize and continue to fall through strange items there.

At one time, an atom was considered the smallest possible item. Then it was discovered that an atom had 3 parts: electrons, protons, and neutrons.  Of course, we've since discovered the neutrino to be smaller and I'm going to go out on a branch and say, there is something smaller than that.

There are opposites to everything.  Does it scare you to think of something larger than you? And I don't mean an elephant.  I mean something so large that to see you they would need a very powerful microscope.

Okay, my head hurts again. I didn't realize backspacing could be so painful.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Confessions of a NaNoWriMo Junkie

Hi. My name is Bob Nailor and I'm a NaNoWriMo junkie.

I have done this thirteen of the last fourteen years. I have finished successfully the last twelve years.  Would that be considered bragging?  Each and every December I claim I won't be doing it next year and then, well, when the NaNoWriMo season hits, I straddle the fence (which by the way is very uncomfortable) until I finally cave and join in writing frenzy.

BUT, this year was different.  This year I started and I wrote with no planned intention of finishing.

WHY?  Simple. I had many things on my plate, both writing and health so I just knew it wasn't going to be one of those years I would complete.  My mindset was established and I wrote when I could. There was no pressure, no panic, no concern.  If I did my word count, good, and if not, no worry.

I worked on and off with my WIP - The Treasure Within - putting text to the cyber paper.  I really wasn't keep track.  Oh, sure the first couple of days I went onto NaNoWriMo's website and put in some word count and then well, I just didn't bother.  Again, my mindset was simple -- Don't waste your time on NaNo, you're not going to complete so why compete.

So when I thought I had a few minutes, I would open the project and I'd write.  I found the story exciting and fun and I happily typed along.  I didn't pay any attention to word count.  Why should I?  I totally ignored NaNoWriMo.  I didn't attend any of the meetings. I didn't get involved in the drama of any of the online topics and discussions. Yes, I basically ignored that even existed.

I continued to write.  And write.  And write.  I was scheduled for cataract surgery on 11/27 and for all practical purposes, was basically blind in the right eye and a small cataract on the left eye.  For me to read my screen, I had to use a 6" magnifying glass or set the font to some ridiculously large size which only allowed about 30 words on the screen at any given moment.  So I kept the font regular sized (small) and just typed away with horrendous typing errors slipping in constantly.

The book would have to be edited, I could correct spelling at that time since I wouldn't be doing that until after New Years anyway and my eye surgery would be over and I would be able to see again.  Surprising how having just the right eye back to great vision has allowed me to see again without too much trouble.  Oh, and those typing errors are worse than horrendous.

Back to the issue at hand. On November 29, in the wee hours, I noticed the word count of the story...almost 44k.  I had all of 11/29 and 11/30 -- less than 48 hrs to complete the 50k required.


NaNoWriMo fever kicked in.  I was so close I could taste the finish line and I knew 6k in two days wouldn't be that difficult.  Obviously not since I'd been writing all month and not really keeping track of date and-or word count.  I was going for it.

Before the midnight hour of 11/29, I had the word count to say I'd finished NaNoWriMo.  The story isn't finished but the word count was over 50k.  I verified my words at NaNoWriMo and for the twelfth consecutive time, completed and succeeded in finishing the task.  Surprisingly, this year, I won't be deleting the last 15k words as trash writing.  Okay, the last 6k might be gamey, at best, still, it is a lot better than many of my previous years writing.  I remember one year deleting almost 30k when I finished only because the story took a turn I didn't like, the writing was atrocious and well, it was crappy.

To view the 1st chapter of my entry this year.

So, now, here I sit, once more an addict, wondering why I did it.

Hi, my name is Bob Nailor and I'm a NaNoWriMo junkie.

Until next I ramble on...