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.


Halloween 2022

We did it! We made it all the way through October. Time to do a victory lap and hand out some candy! Maybe even eat a little of it, too.

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride all the way through this month. Work has been crazy. We had an impromptu trip up to Southern Oregon. I entered this month with a goal and a hint of a plan, and yet muddled through, one post at a time.

Thirty-one posts in thirty-one days. Happy Halloween, and goodbye Blogtober.

I’m dressed as a king tonight, with a velvet tunic, brilliant red cape, and a golden crown. We have quite a bounty for the kids. It’s well past dark, and there haven’t been that many. Some, but not as many as last year. Certainly nowhere near as many as we had before Covid.

Full size candy bars plus a soda or a Capri-sun, depending on how old they appear to be. When I drop the loot into their bag, I want to see their arms flex with the weight of it. I want them to remember our house as that mythical house that gives out the good stuff. Some of the kids that have visited tonight do remember us, from previous years. It’s nice.

It’s the end of October. Tomorrow starts National Novel Writing Month. I still don’t feel prepared.

I think it feels this way every time. I go into it with a bit of bluster and hope, but there’s this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I’m not going to make it. I’m going to reach for the words and they won’t be there. I’m not going to really feel like I’m in it to win it until after the first week.

I have a goal, with a hint of a plan. I’ve done this before. Maybe I’ll do it again.

Happy Halloween, everyone. I hope you’ve enjoyed this month. I hope whatever you have planned for the next works out perfectly.

I’ll keep you posted.


Brian’s Predictions for the Future

Though I like to write about ghosts and the supernatural, I’m not a particularly superstitious person. I think there’s more to life than what our various senses are capable of perceiving, and maybe we get an impression of things beyond what we can see, the way eyeless fish might know about light by feeling the difference between shadow and illumination.

I’m trying to say that sometimes, I feel like I have a sense for things to come. It’s like I can feel the winds of change blowing long before there’s any sign. It’s like the emotional weight of certain events press so hard on my life that the effects travel back in time.

That’s all poppycock, I know, but there’s a lot of silly nonsense that I want to believe.

With that in mind, I thought I might try to figuratively put my ear to the ground and sense what’s coming.

Hopefully this won’t be too pessimistic.


We’re not freed of that snake yet. Too many people are still fighting reality. There is too much distrust and division, and we all have to be on the same side to fight this monster. People are tired of wearing masks and social distancing and doing the things that slow the progress of the disease. As millions of people continue to get it and hundreds of people die from it every day, we continue to get interesting mutations.

I’m still feeling the effects of my bout with it. I’m still coughing, and I don’t think I have as much air capacity in my lungs.

By March, we’re going to be at a point where there aren’t enough people vaccinated, because the message is that “the pandemic is over” so people think they don’t need to get vaccinated. But it’s still spreading, and people are too tired of it to remain vigilant. So, we’re going to get back to the point where 2% of the population will die from it, and it will just keep going and going.


War and disease have crippled supply chains. At the same time, corporations see an opportunity to rake in profits. The oil barons have had a banner year this year, and there’s too much political strife for anyone to do anything about it. Again, we’re too divided to look at the actual culprits, the robbers stealing from us at the pump and raising the price of production on everything. Too many people blaming people in power that had nothing to do with the rising prices.

The stresses on this great machine will continue to build up. How long can it hold? People are struggling. There are jobs, but not all of them are that great. A couple of young adults are no longer able to make it on their own. Not on one job, and not with the wages that are available. When the collapse happens, it’ll come from the bottom. It’s not very far away, now.


People are divided, and it’s getting worse. I don’t want to talk too much about politics right now. I don’t like what I see, and no one wants to hear my prediction for the near future.

My Future

I’m going to keep plugging along. I’m not going to slip unscathed past all the things I was just talking about. Covid will visit my house again, probably even worse than last time. Money will get interesting. I’ll continue to get frustrated by what I see on the political stage, where it seems our collective wisdom has run dry.

I’ll keep writing.

There’s a number of things I’m trying to start now, and I’m not sure how much of those attempts will succeed. We’ll finish renovating the bedroom, but I’m not sure I’ll succeed at NaNoWriMo this year. The vision isn’t clear enough. I tried to work on the outline today, but there wasn’t much gas in the tank. I’ll finish the next three keyboards and continue to derive pleasure from making things with my hands.

I’m trying to exercise more, but it’s hard to say if I’ll have much success there. It’s just really hard to breathe these days.

I’ll keep plugging along.

When Will Things Get Better?

It’s hard to say.

We’re just so fractured. If we can’t hold ourselves together, then there is no unity and support for growing together in wisdom. We have to be able to trust each other in order to communicate and protect each other.

There are still too many people that love money more than they love people. There are still too many people that would rather lie and try to nab an easy dollar than do something hard and help lift someone up. It’s hard to see the good in people when the people refuse to be good.

Money is still a problem. Money motivates the people that are working to keep us apart. Money motivates the monsters and the people I’d rather not talk about. If we were wise and good, we would spend our days seeking knowledge and love, rather than all the different forms money takes.

Can things get better?

Yes, but I think things have to get a lot worse first. I’m not looking forward to that, because it means a lot of people are going to have to hurt before we learn the lesson.

We have to find another way to run things than the way we’ve been doing it.

I guess that’s it. I don’t want it to be pessimistic. I want to be hopeful for the future, but it’s hard to see a way forward that doesn’t involve everything falling apart so that it can be put back together.

All of this is going to go into my next book.


All of the Writing Advice

I have written down a lot of writing advice over the years. Some of what I had to say is really great and helpful. Some may not be very applicable. Tonight, I’m going to link to most of it, putting it all in one place so you don’t have to go searching. This might be really useful.

Since I’m linking to a bunch of advice, let’s start with advice on How to Evaluate Writing Advice.

There are a handful of VLOGs I’ve put together which dispense writing advice. The first one is more of an introduction, but the second one talks about the usefulness of branding for a writer, the third one talks about how to be a positive and support member of the writing community, and the last one is about perseverance as a writer. If nothing else, you get to see some of my facial hair journey.

In terms of basic craft, my Pithy Writing Advice is pretty good. Along the same lines, there is this older one about passive voice and the word “was.

Though this post is titled Literary Theory, it really has nothing to do with literary theory, but it does talk about what makes a story good. While writing your good story, trust the reader as you write it. Part of trusting the reader is not repeating yourself, which I have done many times here when talking about passive voice. As you write, be certain to Write Responsibly.

I wrote several “How Tos.” We started this summary with How to Evaluate Writing Advice. In no particular order, there is How to Discovery Write, How to Outline, How to Write a Fight Scene, How to Write Dialog, How to Write Humor, and How to Revise a Draft. How to Get Rejected can be found here, but it isn’t really one of my posts. It’s notes from a convention I took in 2012. There are tons of similar notes from various conventions I attended.

There’s a series of posts that are “of the Writer” which I’m still happy with. They are Fears of the Writer, Pride of the Writer (which is a guest post on Jennifer Carson’s blog), and I wrote a draft for Lies of the Writer as a VLOG, but never finished it.

Some advice is less about writing and more about what to do as a writer. There is Pitching and Querying. There is The Importance of Continuous Reading as a Writer. You should Maintain Self-Care. You should manager your Online Distractions. If you’re struggling as a writer, just Fake It. I will cheer you on because You Can Do It.

I wrote a few tips that aren’t particularly organized. Try Dressing Up to Write sometime. Write What You Care About instead of writing what you know. But also? Write What You Know (this is one of the funnier posts and it will entertain you). When you write, figure out Where the Writing will Happen. Once your story is in someone else’s hand, learn how to Handle Early Feedback.

Once you’ve finished a draft or a revision, remember that It’s Your Story.

Write Science Fiction. Or Write Fantasy. Whatever you do, Write What Matters. Get into the specifics of Internality and Show Versus Tell. While you’re at it, consider Killing Some Characters.

There’s more. My goodness, there is more.

I’ve been working on my craft for a very long time, and I’ve been trying to share what I’ve learned for a pretty long time, too. My plan is to continue doing both as long as I can.

If you’ve checked out all of this writing advice and you have a favorite, let me know. If you want to discuss any of this, let me know. Let’s talk some time.


You Can Do It!

I was having an important conversation with someone today. I won’t say who, because I’m not sure if they want me to talk about them here. But at one point, I think I gave some of the best advice I’ve ever given. I said, “You are asking if you’re there yet. You have everything you need. Once you realize this, you’ll be there.”

I think this is true for a lot of us. It’s that spark of confidence we need to start the fire. Sometimes when we’re talking about taking a leap of faith, we’re just talking about having faith in ourselves.

This is especially true with writing. The best way to learn to write is to sit down and do it, and it takes a certain amount of confidence and boldness to conquer the blank page. But there is a bitter twist here, which is that we often learn how to write by writing it wrong. We try, we fall, we see what we did wrong, then get up and try again.

It’s why you should give yourself permission to write terrible first drafts. You’re going to get things wrong. But it’s important to have some faith in yourself in spite of stumbling, because you’re going to learn from the mistakes and then do better in the revision.

There is an awkward balance between just the right amount of confidence to push through the hard parts and get the story on the page, versus overconfidence, where you spray a bunch of word salad into the story and think it’s the best thing ever written. Whatever your first draft looks like, it can be improved with revision.

As a writer, you have everything inside that you need to write your story. It doesn’t matter if you are using a pen and paper or a fancy, handcrafted printer you soldered yourself. It’s not the tools you’re using, it’s the heart and soul you’re drawing from. It’s the force of your willpower to see the story through, and the sharpness of your intellect to carve out the right words. You have everything you need, even if some stories take more time than others.

You can do it. If you have the courage to take the leap, you will do it.

I’ll be starting a new one soon. I don’t feel like I’m ready, but I will be. Another novel by Brian C. E. Buhl will be start in a few days. It’s just a matter of time.


The Twitter Post

I just read that Musk has taken over Twitter, and the previous executives have left the building with no plans of returning. So, it’s Musk’s platform now. What will he do with it, and do I want to remain a part of it?

To be honest, Twitter has been a bumpy ride. It’s one of those places you can go to get constant emotional whiplash.

When it first became a thing, I didn’t see the point of it. What can someone say in 140 characters? They eventually doubled the length, but that’s still only enough room to write a few sentences. It’s no place to talk about topics with any sort of depth, unless you’re willing to create threads, chaining these tiny word bites one into the next.

With or without threads, Twitter is the place where nuance goes to die. People get passionate and shout short bursts of expletives at each other. While crafting insults, everyone reaches for the top shelf. The brevity welcomes creativity, but the impatience often gets people to wield the largest weapon in their arsenal, because really, only trolls and the truly masochistic wish to get into any sort of protracted Twitter war.

For a period of time, you can set your watch by the activity of the Russian bots that would show up and support whatever propaganda seemed most destructive to the US. There are still tons of bots. Some of them are kind of funny. Use the wrong word in your message and you might have a bot toiling in your replies, trying to get your attention and click on dubious links. Some days it felt like the entire place was populated with bots. Like Mars.

In spite of that, I made some wonderful friendships on Twitter. Through that platform, I found people I truly care about. I even got to meet a few them offline.

I started to really enjoy myself on Twitter when I realized how much it was like an afterparty at a convention. You float from conversation to conversation, sometimes participating, sometimes just listening, never staying for very long in one place, never really getting into anything too deep. You can talk about deep and personal things there, but that’s usually left to private messages, or the newly created Circles option. If you treat Twitter like an afterparty, the whole thing makes more sense. It’s loud, crowded, sometimes lonely, and always changing.

Not all change is good, and all parties must come to an end. I’m not leaving Twitter yet, but the writing is on the wall. Elon Musk is one of those guys that doesn’t understand the need for moderation. By that I mean, he’s an absolutist when it comes to free speech, even though absolute free speech is violence and anarchy. Again, nuance is required on that subject. I talked about it earlier in the month.

Not all speech should be protected. Weaponization of words should not be protected. This isn’t to say a person should be disallowed from being an asshole and saying hurtful things. It means that when someone uses speech to invade and destroy the privacy of others, or they use their speech to spread extremely damaging and harmful lies… that’s where speech should have some limits. It’s not easy. The line isn’t always clear. It’s important to make an effort to find the line and protect people. I do not believe Elon Musk is someone that is interested in looking for that line. I don’t think he believes there should ever be any limits put on speech.

So, when he reopens the door for a certain individual I do not want to talk about, that’s when I’ll depart the platform. I’ll delete my account. I didn’t go that for with Facebook, though I probably should have. I’ve enjoyed my time on social media, even though I think it’s a bit of a mistake. We need something better, and I’m not sure what that looks like.

Only 4 days left in October. I’m still not ready for November.