How Do You Promote a Book?

It’s Thursday night, and I’m taking a pause from tearing up my bedroom floor. I took tomorrow off so I can finish, and tonight is the prep work stage, where the carpet and wood tacking literally goes out the window. It’s hot, sweaty work, and I’m out of shape and need to take breaks.

Something else that takes a lot of work is taking a book from a finished draft to a complete, physical thing that people can buy.

I’ve performed the labor of finishing the draft. I’ve done it many times now, and it’s exhilarating. Aside from holding my children in my arms for the first time, I’m not sure there is a greater feeling than finishing the first draft of a novel. If they could take that feeling and put it in a pill, it would be the hottest drug on the street.

But… now what?

So far, I’ve had an edit pass. I’ve written a few different summaries, some author bio stuff, and I’ve given feedback on potential covers. Tasks were assigned to me by my publisher and I’ve ticked through them as best I could. There’s a couple I couldn’t do. I don’t have a presence on Goodreads, and I’m unable to create an author’s page in Amazon since this is my first published book. Everything else, though, I’ve been able to work through.

Steven Radecki of Water Dragon Publishing has been exceptionally helpful and patient with me, too. Summaries are painful for all of us, and he was able to act as a sounding board as I worked through different ways of condensing The Repossessed Ghost into a few sentences.

Now, we have a final cover, and a batch of images related to the promotion of the book. This is some good stuff! Not quite the same level of euphoria as finishing a draft, but this would earn a pretty high street value, too.

My main problem is I don’t know what to do now. This is completely unfamiliar ground to me. I have some images and some summary material. I need to start sharing all of this and drum up interest, right?

Obviously I do, but it feels early. The official release date is July 12 of this year. Preorders will start on July 1st. People attending Baycon will be able to get signed copies earlier than the release date, and I’ll have a batch of books in June at some point that I’ll be able to “sell” to friends and family. I’m throwing that in quotes because some of you know that I’m going to buy the book myself and give it to you in person. I’m not buying it for all of you, though.

We’re in the middle of March. If I start posting cover reveals and spamming the world with promotion now, will there still be interest in a few months?

Not to get off topic, but we live in a world people are trying to sell us something every second of every minute. They fill our inboxes. They call our phones. The interrupt our programming with these special announcements. If you’re like me, your bullshit detector is sensitive, and you reach for the skip button as soon as there is even a hint of an advertisement. I do not want to set off people’s bullshit detector.

I want people to have a good time. That’s what The Repossessed Ghost is. It’s not a book that’s trying to change the world, or clear your acne, or make you sit up straight. It’s pure escapism with some fun characters in a familiar setting. How do I get that message out there?

My break is almost over. Soon, I will finish rebuilding my bedroom, making it a more comfortable place for me and Melissa to rest. Some time after that, I’m going to start redecorating this blog and the various social media platforms, so that people can see the cool artwork associated with my book, coming out soon.

If you have any suggestions on how I can promote this book, please let me know.


AI Assisted Art and Sampling

I had a very pleasant birthday yesterday! Thank you everyone that wished me well, and thank you to everyone that helped me celebrate.

For some reason, I feel a hankering to talk about AI. The good, the bad, and the digitally ugly.

We have had computers assisting us for a long time. Just trying to enter the title for this post, my computer insisted this should be called “AI Assisted Artificial Intelligence.” I had to delete “ificial Intelligence” twice, because it kept autocompleting it for me.

The system that made that suggestion is a ubiquitous language and grammar add-on, a part of the browser I’m currently using. By now I’m sure we have all had interesting experiences with autocorrect and autocompletion. It can be funny! When it works right, it can be helpful. Sometimes it can keep us from making spelling or grammatical mistakes. Occasionally, it can give terrible advice.

It’s a tool. When used properly, it can be useful. It requires a human to check its work and make sure the words are strung together to create the message the author intended. The AI’s we’re seeing spawn right now are not that much different than the autocorrect in your browser or on your phone.

A human can use AI as a starting to place to help create art, but that’s not a particularly interesting or new idea. That’s not really what this post is about. This is about how AI generated content compares to music sampling, because it feels like we’ve been here before.

One of the problems with AI assisted art is that the AI is not a human, and its form of “creativity” is more like plagiarism. Human creativity is often derivative of other people’s work, too, but our way of copying is less perfect and it’s in our mistakes where we sometimes truly create something new.

Another way of putting it: humans have style. If I try to copy the Mona Lisa, it’s going to wind up looking different. My creation will be in my style. In spite it being a derivative work, it is unlikely to upset anyone.

An AI can copy the painting perfectly. More interestingly, it can copy the style, then generate new content using that style. If I fill a museum with paintings I’ve made, all of which are attempted copies of different famous works across the world, no one will bat an eye. And then the AI will then be able to imitate my style of painting, too.

A human can take a painting, destroy it completely, and use the material to make another canvas and different paint, then create a new painting using the harvested materials. The transformation separates the new painting from the original.

An AI can break apart a piece of art, then create something new in the same style as the thing it digested. It’s transformational, but the ghost of the original work is recognizable.

Let me try an example. I played around with ChatGPT recently, tinkering around with writers and their different styles.

Me: Can you give me a short example of a Cyberpunk story as if it was written by Mark Twain?

Certainly, here’s a short example of a Cyberpunk story as if it was written by Mark Twain:

There was once a man named Jack, a good-natured fella with a heart of gold and a head full of wires. He lived in a city that was all shiny chrome and neon lights, where the rich folks lived high and the poor folks slumped low.

One day, Jack got tangled up with a gang of cyber criminals, a mean bunch of cusses with chips on their shoulders and guns in their hands. They offered him a chance to make some easy money, but Jack knew there was no such thing as easy money in this town.

Still, the temptation was too great, and Jack found himself agreeing to a dangerous job that would take him deep into the belly of the city’s cybernetic underworld. He had his trusty computer by his side, but he knew that in this world, a man’s wits were his only weapon.

Jack crept through the dark alleys and deserted streets, keeping his eyes peeled for any sign of trouble. And trouble, as it always does, found him soon enough. He was ambushed by a rival gang, their laser guns blazing.

But Jack was quick with his fingers and even quicker with his brain. He hacked into their systems and turned their weapons against them, sending them running for cover. Jack emerged victorious, a hero in a world that had long ago forgotten what heroes looked like.

And so Jack continued on his way, always keeping one step ahead of danger and one step behind adventure. For in this world of wires and machines, there was no telling where the road might lead, or what kind of trouble might be waiting just around the next corner.

It’s unlikely anyone is going to get upset with this little exercise, but what if I’d chosen a living writer? The ethics start to make me uncomfortable.

And like I said earlier, we’ve been here before. In the 80’s, musicians started sampling bits of other people’s songs, primarily rhythms and bass lines, and incorporating these parts in new work. Was it transformational? Was it legal?

Mostly, it is not legal. Fair use can be argued, but only if the sample is being used for commentary, parody, criticism, or a couple of other factors which typically don’t apply when creating art. Weird Al always asked permission from the artists he parodied, but his use of other artists’ work is a clear example where Fair Use applies.

We went through the courts on this. In order to sample work, you must get permission, usually in the form of licensing, from the original artist. The original artist must be acknowledged. I remember this being a big deal in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Does this apply to the work of AI?

Going back to what I said earlier, the AI is able of copying an artist’s style. In the eyes of the law, style cannot be copyrighted. This isn’t to say that it is ethical to use an AI to copy someone’s style so precisely, but style itself is not something that is protected.

These are interesting times. With AI assisted generation of content, will the laws be changed to protect living artists? I don’t know. It seems like one of those things that will be difficult to enforce without hurting regular, human artists that are just trying to get by.


Talking Around the Harry Potter Game

This is not a review of the newest game that everyone is talking about right now. I have not played the game, and have only seen a little bit of it. Today, I want to talk about literary/film theory, online discourse, social responsibility in consumerism, and why in the future, you all have my permission to separate me from my work.

Again, this is not a review of the game. At this time, if you are looking for a favorable review of the game, or one that tears it down and gives it the lowest score, all you have to do is look around. A couple of days ago, Steam was 10 out of 10, Wired was 0 out of 10, and other game reviews were somewhere in between. Without playing the game, I could probably write a review right now and it doesn’t matter what I write because it would align with someone else’s take.

How did we get here? What is so polarizing about this game in particular?

It really comes down to these two seemingly contradictory truths: 1. The Harry Potter stories left an indelible mark on the world, inspiring kids (and others) to read again and 2. The author of the Harry Potter series has some truly vile world views and is kind of an asshole sometimes.

I have seen people argue against both of those truths, and I have seen people state either truth with greater embellishment. Perhaps you think I’m overstating the value of the Harry Potter franchise? Perhaps you think I’m being too harsh or too light on J.K. Rowling with how I just described her? Opinions abound, while I’m doing my best to state facts.

For the record, I have a somewhat low opinion of J.K. Rowling. I support trans lives. Trans rights are human rights. J.K. Rowling has spent an incredible amount of money on charity, which is laudable, but she seems completely blind to the damage she’s doing with her very public and influential transphobic views.

That brings us back to the Harry Potter world and what it brings to our world.

Literary and film theory is about looking at a piece through different lenses and interpreting through those specific lens. For example, you can analyze film and literature for the subtext, and what the piece says about gender roles, specifically with regards to sexual orientation and gender identity. That’s queer theory. Or, you could examine the piece in how women are presented, and how much agency female characters are given in a piece of work. That is feminist theory. It’s where the term “male gaze” originated.

There are lots of different types of film theory and literary theory. Some are more controversial than others, like auteur theory. They all have value, as they give us different ways to examine a piece of fiction and really get into what it means.

Here’s the thing about all of this: if you can build an argument based on the contents of the art, then any theory you apply is valid. If you want to say The Matrix is about the problems of rampant capitalism, where the corporate machines themselves begin to run our lives, relegating us to just numbers to be churned and consumed, that’s valid if it is supported by evidence from the film. If you want to say The Matrix is about gender identity, where who we truly are may not be what the world around us sees, and the righteous path is to shed our dead names and embrace who we really are, that is also valid.

Just because a criticism is supported by evidence in the film does not mean it is the only interpretation. Also, just because a criticism is valid, that does not mean that criticism has to affect you in any way. Many things can be true at the same time. Other people can find different truths within a piece of art, and that’s one of the things that makes art so magical.

Finally, and this is especially true with regards to Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling, the author does not get to dictate which criticisms are true or not true. The reader’s or the viewer’s experience is what it is, regardless of the author’s intentions. When we read a story, we are active participants, bringing with us all of our own experience and perspective, and what we see in our mind and feel in our heart is valid, too. That’s reader response theory, baby.

That was a long way to go to say that all criticisms of a piece of fiction are valid, when the evidence is drawn from the art itself.

How does this apply to the most recent Harry Potter game that has the internet abuzz?

I think that if you want to boycott the game because you think buying it supports a transphobic author, that’s your prerogative. I don’t know how much money she’s going to get from this game. I know she gets money from other sources, which people are conveniently forgetting to boycott. I know she is one of the most philanthropic people alive today, giving so much money to charity that she stopped being a billionaire. When it comes to her transphobic views, she’s absolutely a villain, but it’s always more complicated than that.

I have seen criticisms about the game with regards to having only 2 endings, and how none of your choices matter because the last choice you make determines which ending you get. When I heard that, I immediately thought about the original Knights of the Old Republic, which was exactly the same way. But do you know what? Knights of the Old Republic was extremely fun, and the experience of playing it was greater than the experience of finishing it.

A lot of the criticisms I see levied against the game are through a single lens, much like literary and film theory. I actually think that’s kind of neat.

I’m probably not going to play the game, myself. But I can understand people wanting to, because the magical world of Harry Potter has always been a fun place to visit, and it ensorcelled the world for a reason. I do not begrudge anyone wanting to play it and feel like they’re transported to that world.

It would be a dream come true to create a story world so vibrant and alive that it inspires others to make games and artwork inspired by that art. I would love to leave that kind of mark on the world.

So, to that end, let it be known that should I successfully capture the heart and imagination of the world, you have my permission to think of that work without thinking of me. If it turns out I have some problematic view, please disregard me in the pursuit of enjoyment of my stories and art. If the entire world turns vegan and discovers that I ate meat, please know that I support your veganism and I do not wish my enjoyment of tasty burgers to impair your enjoyment of The Repossessed Ghost, Spin City, Synthetic Dreams, or any of my other stories.


Diving Deeper Into the Edit

I recently talked about the first editing pass I received on The Repossessed Ghost, and I described the changes as very light. I described it accurately! There were only two comments, and a bunch of in-line edits, which mostly had to do with capitalization and homonyms.

Today, I’m transferring those in-line edits into my Scrivener file, which is forcing me to really examine them. I’m learning that you’re not suppose to capitalize “the” nearly so much. For example, my home houses the Buhls, not “The Buhls.” And it is the Bible, not “The Bible.”

There are several capitalization rules I get wrong all the time, and I’m glad to receive this lesson. It’s one more thing I can look for when doing personal edits in the future.

In addition to those changes, which are easy for me to accept and change, there are a couple that I’ve actually had to stop and think about. For example, is it “archaeology” or “archeology?” I used the latter, but I have an in-line correction to the former. Apparently, this one is a little bit complicated! Using the “ae” is more common across the world, and US legislation and departments use the “ae.” However, in the US, leaving out the “a” is more common, ever since a change in the printing process dropped the “ae” diphthong. I didn’t know any of this when I wrote the story, but now I know.

I’ll go with the editor’s version because I don’t want to be difficult and this particular change doesn’t really alter the voice or content of the story in a significant way. It was a fun learning opportunity, though. Scrivener doesn’t recognize the spelling with the “a” but Scrivener isn’t the boss of me, either.

I have mentioned previously that I struggle with homonyms. I don’t usually have a problem with the common ones. I know my “their,” “there,” and “they’re.” I’m not sure how many people get “taught” and “taut” mixed up, but it’s a mistake I managed to commit a few times. The one that really gets my goat is “dowsing” versus “dousing.” It’s like my brain is searching for new and interesting ways to use wrong words. The nicest thing I can say about my struggle with homonyms is that, though I’m wrong, I’m consistent in my wrongness, making it relatively easy to correct.

What else can I talk about with regards to this edit? During one of the drafts, I went through the entire manuscript, looking for places where I used weak verbs. I wrote the first draft while I still leaned heavily on passive voice, so I had a lot to correct. I mostly tried to eliminate the word “was” when it didn’t make the sentence clumsy. I also tried to delete the word “had” and all of the places where I hid it in a contraction. I clearly cut too deep, as the editor slipped some of these missing contractions and “had” words back into the text.

If I didn’t make it clear before I started talking about this edit: I hold no ill will towards my editor, and in fact, I think they did a fantastic job. I’m not complaining about the changes. I’m marveling at how I got these things wrong in the first place. I love that after all this time sitting on this novel, I can still learn from it and make it better.

One of my tasks with the publisher is to submit another draft. I’m about half way there, I think, and I should be able to complete the task before the end of the weekend.

I’m enjoying this process. I like having an editor, and I love all of these opportunities to learn and get better at the craft of writing. I’ve heard other writers complain, and I know some of them have had bad experiences. I consider myself lucky. This whole experience just makes me that much more excited to work on The Repossessed Ghost and get it in front of people.


Publishing Update: Received the First Edit

Things are moving quickly, now!

I posted this link to Twitter and Facebook, which is Water Dragon Publishing welcoming me and The Repossessed Ghost, releasing this summer. When they found out I was going to Baycon this year, they accelerated the plans for release, which is honestly just amazing.

The faster schedule means that a whole bunch of stuff has to happen quickly. One of those things is working with a professional editor.

I received the Word document with the changes and comments in it earlier today. Honestly, I thought I was going to have to do more work. There were only two comments which were both very easy to address, and some red marks in the text where I made mistakes (constantly and consistently) with capitalization.

There really wasn’t that much to go over. My original submission was probably the 4th draft of the novel. The number of changes we’ve made barely qualify as another draft.

I looked at all the changes, addressed the two comments, and sent it back this afternoon. After hearing other authors talk about going through months of edits and rewrites, I expected to have to do more, especially with my first novel.

Then again, I have had other people look at it over the years, including Jennifer Carson, a professional editor. After meeting with her and going over her critique, I rewrote the ending during to create the third draft. I had two critique groups look at it and provide feedback. One of the authors in one of the critique groups is now a best seller, absolutely crushing it with her recent fantasy series.

I worked very hard on this story before I submitted it, and these light edits are the payoff.

Soon, I’ll have cover art. I’ll post that all over the place and retheme this place.

Things are moving! This really is the fulfillment of a dream, and I can’t believe it’s happening.


Professional Social Media

Today, the publishing agreement arrived, and I’m once again bouncing with excitement. It still hasn’t sunk in that I’m going to get to publish The Repossessed Ghost.

There is useful documents in the package from the publisher. In addition to two copies of the publishing agreement, there are two copies of the Social Media agreement, as well as two different welcome letters and a W-9 to fill out. Somehow the tax form makes it more real than it had been before.

The Social Media agreement strongly suggests creating separation between professional and personal social media accounts. It’s well thought out, and I understand what they’re trying to do. If one of their authors starts blasting antisemitic or racist trash, they want to have a document that gives them an easy way out of that relationship. I get it, and I’m on board.

I think a younger version of myself might have furrowed his brow, wondering if he wanted to have any kind of stipulations on what he can or cannot say. Like I said, the agreement is about protecting them. It’s not about controlling their authors’ speech. It’s very reasonable.

The agreement makes me scrutinize my social media accounts. I don’t think anything will change much with this blog. I may change the format, or add some tabs for additional links. The purpose of this blog is for me to talk about my journey as a writer. I can continue using it for that purpose.

I have gone into some political rants when looking at current events in the past. I’ve curtailed those posts already. It won’t hurt anything for me to stop posting those to my main feed. If I reach a point where I feel like I absolutely have to write something that is of a political nature, I might open up a completely different part of the blog which is separate from the main section. It can be purely dedicated to receiving my posts that are purely personal.

I don’t think much will change here, to be honest.

Twitter and Facebook, though. I haven’t deleted my Twitter account, but I’ve stopped using it. I may start using it, but only to engage with other writers and to tweet about writing. Again, that’s not completely different from how I was using it before.

The only things I’ve been posting to Facebook for the last few years have been links to this blog. That won’t change too much, though like with Twitter, I may start posting more things related to promoting my book.

I’m not going to turn my social media accounts into advertising robots. It will still be me managing the accounts, and I’ll still talk with people normally. It’s just that my time on the social media platforms will be slightly more focused and contained. It’s better than what I was going to do, which was delete the accounts altogether.

I’ll probably start posting book covers and thinks to Instagram. I have an account there and follow several people. I’ve never posted anything. When I’ve decided on an author photo and have book cover images, that seems like a great place to post that kind of stuff.

What about TikTok? Other platforms?

I’ve never spent much time on TikTok. Melissa watches it all the time, and I sometimes watch over her shoulder. Sometimes she’ll bring me a video and share it with me. At this point, I don’t have any plans to get on TikTok, but that’s where a lot of other writers are building their platform. If it seems like a natural place for me to post things, I’ll figure it out.

I’ll post more VLOGs to YouTube. That’s all I’ve ever used my YouTube account for already, so no change there.

Finally, and absolutely the least, I have an account on Mastadon, but I don’t spend any time there. Maybe I’ll cross-post from Twitter to there, but it seems really complicated for what it is, and I’m not sure it’s very useful.

With the way I’m using social media these days, I’m not sure I need to create a separate personal and professional accounts. I still think social media is one of the big Internet mistakes. It’s the artificial sweetener of relationships, providing a strange kind of sweetness but with none of the nutritional benefit. And sometimes it causes cancer.

I like writing here, but this doesn’t feel like social media, to me. It’s my open journal, raw and barely edited. There is room for nuance, here.

I’m not going to write here every day (unless it’s October), but I will likely write here more often.


Not a Year in Review, Nor a Resolution

Lots of people take this time to talk about what happened in the previous year, or what their prospects are for the new year. That’s not this. I will not let 2022 haunt me further. Also, 2023 has tons of potential, but I will not weigh it down at the beginning with expectations or false promises.

Last night, Melissa and I went to bed just after midnight, and we struggled to sleep. We have been having a hard time sleeping for a while now, but last night, the neighborhood sounded like a warzone. I think it’s great that people want to celebrate, but I wish we had a choice in it. It was probably fireworks, but it could just as easily have been gunshots. The night thundered with explosions, going on for hours into the brand new year.

I got up later than I wanted. My hope was to maybe get up a little bit early and consider doing some pushups or something. I need to get more physically active this year. I need to get healthy. Sometimes, January 1st, I can take the idea of a new year to start some new activities. That didn’t happen this morning.

Instead, I tried to be kind to myself. I slept in a little bit, and that’s okay. Sleep was hard to attain. Maybe, that’s what I can do with this year: set some goals, but exercise kindness and understanding when those goals aren’t met.

This is the year The Repossessed Ghost comes out. I still haven’t signed the contract, but I’ve seen what the contract will look like, and I’m happy with it. I’m excited for all of the possibilities.

In spite of the good news, I haven’t been in a great place emotionally. I haven’t wanted to do anything or hang out with anyone. I have not been particularly kind to myself. But I want to be. I want to do better in that area this year.

I turn 50 in a couple of months. That doesn’t really have much to do with what I’ve just been talking about, but… it kind of does? After half a century, will I have learned some semblance of balance?

This year, I will make writing a higher priority. For the last couple of months, I’ve slacked off. I’m going to do writing exercises. I have a prompt from my critique group to work on. I won’t work on it right now — this blog post is my exercise today — but it seems like a good thing to work on early tomorrow, on my day off. When I finish it, if I like it, I’ll post it here.

Write more. Eat healthier. Exercise. Be kind to myself.

This isn’t a resolution. It’s just a set of ideas I can measure against. I know I can do three of those four things without too much trouble. I’ll let you figure out which of the four will be my struggle.

Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s make 2023 the best year it can be.


Yet Another Keyboard

I like the idea of writing a blog post every time I finish a keyboard. I’m not sure if that will encourage me to write more blog posts or make more keyboards. Maybe a bit of both?

The reality is that I really don’t need to make any more keyboards. It’s fun hobby, and I derive a lot of satisfaction from making something so immediately useful. I’m a writer and a programmer. Keyboards are my life, and it thrills me to get to use one that I put together.

This keyboard isn’t for me. It’s a Christmas present, and I’m not going to say who it is for. I don’t think they read my blog, but there are a lot of people that know the person receiving this keyboard, and I want to do everything I can to keep this a complete surprise.

This one is far from perfect. My printer has been giving me fits lately, and at least one section of this printer came out slightly warped. It’s not noticeable by anyone but me, really. It makes it so that the switches are much easier to pull out, so if the recipient decides to replace the keycaps, they’ll be in for an unfortunate surprise.

Listening to this as I type, it has a very unique sound. The clicks are slightly higher pitched. It amazes me that I can use the same material, the same design, yet each one of these creations has its own voice. This one is like a hyper puppy, eager to scamper as it clicks. I like it. I hope the recipient likes it, too.

I don’t think I’ll be making any more keyboards in this style. This is the 4th based on the Sick-68 form factor I found on Thingiverse. I still really love the original, though I’m not using it as much now that I have my Ergodox. These are good keyboards, and a good compromise between the 60% and the larger keyboards.

I still want to 3D print things and solder electronics and make things go. When I’m done making keyboards, I might start making RC planes. I’ve been watching videos on them for years, and I think that could be another fun hobby to pick up. In terms of expense, it’s probably on par with what I’ve been spending on keyboards. It might even be a little bit cheaper. Before I jump into that, I’ll probably want to buy a new printer, or upgrade the one that I have.

I think that’s it. No pictures of this keyboard, as that will give away who it is for. It has black keyboards, which is a great contrast to the bright colors of the base.

I’m still over the moon over the news from last night. It still hasn’t sunk in. I can’t wait to see that move forward.


I Opened a Bottle of Scotch

A fancy black box sits in front of me. Glenmorangie Signet, a single malt Scotch Melissa bought for me a few years ago as a Christmas present. It’s one of the most expensive bottles of Scotch I’ve ever had, and it’s been unopened for years. When I received it, I knew I wanted to hold onto it for something special. I said I would not open it until I received some really great news with regards to my writing career.

Last night, I got to open it.

It might be a little bit premature. It’s great news, and I’m euphoric, but it’s not like I actually have a signed contract or a publication date. Just an acceptance letter with a ballpark timeline of late 2023. The novel in question is The Repossessed Ghost, which I’ve talked about on this blog quite a bit. I wrote it about 10 years ago, and I don’t mind waiting most of a year to see it in print. Because it will be in print, and all of the possibilities that follow from that are opening up.

I’m feeling hopeful again. I haven’t felt that for a little while, now.

To be perfectly honest, I gave up. I thought about the submission last week, wondering if I should ping them, since it had been several months. I love The Repossessed Ghost and think it deserves to be in the world, but I was preparing myself emotionally to just let it go.

I don’t have to bury it. I will actually see it in print, and I’m going to be able to give a copy to my mother-in-law. She’s been asking about it, wondering when she’ll get to read it. Now I can tell her: at the end of 2023.

I am not expecting this to become a New York Times bestselling novel. I will not earn enough money on this book to be able to quit my job and change my lifestyle. It’s a fun book that some people will enjoy for a little while. It will be the answer I can give when I tell people I’m a writer, and they ask where they can read my work.

It’s a success. Where I find one success, I’m encouraged to look and find more successes.

When I’m querying my other novels, I’ll be able to mention my short story in an anthology, and my novel with this small, independent publisher.

Another possibility that delights me: if enough people actually enjoy The Repossessed Ghost, I will write another story in that world with those characters. I have a whole series of ideas. I was never going to write anything else in that world until the first book went somewhere.

A lot of us are writers, and we’re all people on this path. Some are further along than others, and the path is different for all of us. This feels like progress. When I’m not writing, feeling too exhausted and hopeless to approach the story, those are the times when I’m lost in the dark. This feels like I’ve found the path again.

I’m going to write more. And it isn’t in vain.

I’m a writer. I’m hopeful.

Time to get back to work.


Mid-November Check-In

I came into this month with all of the best intentions. What I lacked was a solid outline.

It’s okay. I’m not going to complete NaNoWriMo this month, and I’m not that worried about it. I wrote about 5,000 words in the first few days, then realized that if I kept going at that pace, pantsing most of it, I would hit the end of the story at around 40,000 words and not have a real novel.

I’m going to take my time with it. I’ll continue working on it throughout the month, but I don’t care if I hit 50K. It would be much better for me to hit maybe 10K and have a solid outline and a plan than a rushed manuscript that I hate.

What else have I been doing this month?

We’re going to renovate our master bedroom, so we moved the bed into the living room. We haven’t really done much more than that, but it’s a start. Moving the bed into the other room was always going to be the first step in that process, so we took the first step. I think we’ll wind up making actual progress at the beginning of December. We should set a goal to try and finish it before Christmas. Thanksgiving will be awkward enough with half our bedroom so close to the dining room.

Once I decided that I didn’t really want to work on my story that much, I turned my attention to my newest keyboard project. That’s what I’m using to write this post! I finished the keyboard Wednesday evening, and I love it!

The print process gave me fits during this one. It was originally going to be copper and silver, but I think the blue and silver looks great, and I love blue, so this is an even better fit for me. The keycaps and the cables really tie it together. It’s going to take me a while to get fully used to it, but I’m already seeing some improvement since Wednesday evening. I unhooked the Blackwidow I’ve used for the last 9 years. I’m fully committed. This is going to be great.

There are at least 2 more keyboards for me to work on before Christmas. I’ll need to get on that. One of them is like the ones I made before, which is more standard looking. The other one will be like this one I just finished.

What else is going on? Work continues to be extremely busy. It’s better to be busy than bored, but I’m feeling a need to take a break soon. Maybe I’ll take some time around Christmas. I don’t know. I don’t really go anywhere, so I’m not sure what a break would do for me. More time to work on keyboards I don’t need, I suppose?

The last thing to report is I printed 2 copies of Synthetic Dreams. One for Melissa, one for Michael. Melissa has hers. I haven’t had a chance to give the other to Michael yet. It looks nice. It’s a good book. I wish the rest of you could read it.

That’s all for now. I may check in again next week. I have lots to be thankful for.