RSS

Category Archives: Angst

My car was dirty, I had a microphone, and Oxford comma later, *BAM*, ASMR video!

I don't know where this is, but I'm quite sure it won't smell too pretty when I get out.

This is how I imagine it might look if I was eaten by Cthulhu and then, inexplicably, regurgitated. Yes, that is the imagination life dealt me. You should be so lucky.

Tip to the aspiring ASMR artist – always do a test run. I did, using an old cell phone as a camera, and the cell phone overheated, causing the software to “shut down some apps” to help it cool.

Included in the shut down apps?

The camera software.

Sigh.

Sorry. Life has been crazy. No real updates, just this video. If you actually bother to watch, wear headphones. I made it for listening, not really watching. You know, 3D sound and all that.

And as an added bonus, it’s short.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 29 August 2016 in 3D sound, Angst, Life

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m not old, I’m just mature and think about the future while dwelling inconsolably on the past

You know you’re getting old when:

While watching a walk-through of the latest Batman game, you can’t help but shudder at all the property damage you witness

It’s true. I was watching the Batmobile not just crashing into buildings, statues, railings, and people, but shooting them up too. And all I could think about was the amount of money it would take to repair all that devastated real estate, how much time the rioters would have to spend in the hospital, and how penniless Bruce Wayne would end up after the lawsuits if his identity ever came to light.

It shattered my suspension of disbelief and completely robbed me of my ability to enjoy the game play.

I highly recommend the next Batman game be a lot less violent. Maybe send the Dark Knight on quests to collect hugs as comfort for the loss of his parents, allowing him to finally heal and become a peaceable, contributing member of society. You could have an outline of a heart in the top right corner of the screen that slowly fills up with love as he gathers those hugs. My eyes are tearing up just thinking about it.

Or ooh! Posies! It would be really soothing, and potentially very colorful, to have Batman seeking out different varieties of beautiful, soothing flowers.

There. That idea is yours, Rocksteady Studies. Free of charge.

You are watching a walk-through of the latest Batman game rather than buying the game and playing it yourself

I’m not a poor man, but I have a mortgage to pay and kids and a spouse to support. So while I could afford to buy Arkham Knight and a game console that can play it, I have better uses for my money. Plus working full-time means I don’t have the cycles to spare to sniff out and explore all the secrets of Gotham’s underworld via trial and error. Heck, I had enough trouble getting through the seven hours or so of the walk-through, having to pause constantly to tell one of the just-out-of-kindergarten kiddos, no, this isn’t a Batman video you want to watch.

You have that problem with your kids? You send them out to play in the front yard so you can watch a video game walk-through, and all they do is keep coming back in to bug you about being hungry, or thirsty, or the cars driving by are too close, or there’s a strange man who needs to find his pet bunny and will they help? Can’t they just entertain themselves for a few hours while I watch online videos?!

Yes, help the poor man find his bunny, just GET OUT OF MY HAIR FOR AWHILE!!!!

Sheesh! You’d think kindergarteners are dependent on their parents for everything!

Camping isn’t fun any more

Instead of the joy of the outdoors, the wonder of birds singing and strange animals scrabbling around the campsite in the night, camping has become a guarantee for a back ache when I wake in the morning, no matter how many mattresses, inflatable or otherwise, that I schlep along with me. And those lovely scenic hikes? Death marches as far as my knees are concerned. And how often, due to lack of refrigerated storage and/or poor preparation, do we risk serious food-borne illness? While out in the middle of nowhere, miles from medical help?

Yes, camping is little more than an unwise flirtation with death once you get old, and having brushed up against death a few times, I can’t say she’s all that. Skip the flirtation and stick with your spouse, that’s my advice.

Preferably in the comfort of your own bed.

You have a history, good or bad, with other people

The longer you’re alive, the more likely you are to have friends (and enemies). Or friends who are now enemies, leaving you to dwell inconsolably on your past failings that led to this point. Fortunately, my enemies, if I have any, are of the type to hide their animosity so they can stay close and more easily slip a blade between my ribs.

Which is not a bad thing: I have come to terms with the fact that I am mortal only because I know I will die suddenly and blissfully ignorant.

And the good history? With friends?

That’s what you develop to make yourself feel better about getting old. Because you can’t have a good history with someone without the passage of time.

And getting that history in exchange? Makes it all worth it.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 6 July 2015 in Angst, Life, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Listen back in anger

Finding a working time machine is hard.

Correction. Finding a working, inexpensive time machine is hard.

There are lots of cheap ones out there. So far, I’ve bought two.

Neither worked.

First one failed out of the box*. Not encouraging.

Second one, worked for a few hours of use. Then started coming part.

OK, I’ve been speaking metaphorically.

Let me try this again, more literal:

Finding a working audio cassette player is hard.

Correction. Finding a working, inexpensive cassette player is hard.

Who cares about audio tape players, you ask?

Clearly, I do. If you haven’t figured that out, you should just stop reading now. The rest of this post will be utter gibberish for you.

I care, because a working audio cassette player is, for me, a snapshot into the past.

A time machine, if you will.

What the heck am I going on about?

I found a bunch of old audio tapes recently.

Music mix tapes from friends and past flames, some weird recordings of old public service announcements, and an audio ‘letter’ or two.

I got it into my head that I wanted to hear these.

That it would be fun. A real kick.

I had a tape player, a nice one, expensive at the time I bought it (some two decades ago), but quickly discovered it doesn’t work anymore.

Shame.

I tried playing my tapes on a turntable, but the sound quality was awful and the tape just got tangled up.

Yes, I’m that old. I have a bunch of cameras that use something called ‘film’ too.

There was one tape in particular I really wanted to listen to.

It became an obsession.

But not one I wanted to spend more than twenty, thirty bucks on.

I’m a cheap skate. Even with my obsessions.

Cassette players fall into two camps: less than thirty bucks and over a hundred.

Less than thirty bucks buys you, apparently, a few hours of play time.

At best.

The tape that got under my skin, that drove this whole ordeal?

An audio diary entry of sorts. The label on the cassette couldn’t have been more clear as to the contents, or more alluring:

“Reflections on — & other things 04/28/91”

The scored out part? The name of an ex-girlfriend, blotted out to protect the innocent. Our breakup devastated me, and in the throes of that agony, I committed my thoughts on that event (and other things, evidently) to magnetic medium.

Stupid.

But also irresistible.

The good news, if you’re still interested enough to have reached this point in this post, is that the second tape player worked long enough for me to transfer the tape to digital.

The bad news, for everyone, myself included, is that the second player worked long enough for me to hear parts of it.

I haven’t listened to the whole recording. I’m not sure I can, or ever will.

I checked in periodically during the transfer, to make sure it was working, and heard snippets.

Turns out I broke up with her, which isn’t how I remember it at all. That was weird.

There was a lot of sniffling, and no, I didn’t have a cold at the time.

There was a lot of naiveté, which considering how young I was, and given that this was my second girlfriend, ever, isn’t shocking.

Those parts made me thankful for the growth I’ve achieved since then, the maturity, poise, wisdom, and confidence that 24 subsequent years of life bestows to us all.

Well, most of us.

Probably.

But there was one section, and my sampling was random, so I don’t know how prevalent this tone was, that showed just how…ill-equipped I was at dealing with relationships back then.

Working or not working.

I was angry.

Not screaming, howling at the moon angry.

Dark, fuming vitriol angry.

The type of anger so sublimated that it isn’t readily apparent to those around you.

Or even self-evident, unless you wait twenty-four years to look back and analyze the situation.

It was disturbing.

(OK, quick note for anyone who might have gone there: this was not a “shoot up the mall” type of anger. Ultimately, I would characterize it as internalized. Self-destructive.)

In a way, I’m thankful for the snippets I heard.

It paints a stark contrast between my emotional and mental maturity then versus where I am now.

To paraphrase Virginia Slims, I’ve come a long way, baby.

But the more enlightened Ian of today is…uncomfortable with the Ian of twenty-four years ago.

I wasn’t a bad person then. Stupid, lonely, misguided, why-do-nice-guys-finish-last entitled, yes. But not bad.

However, I look back on this example of how I thought and how I saw the world, and I’m a bit horrified.

And sad.

I am not a wise man, not by a long shot, but if I only had then the small amount of wisdom I possess now, my life would have been so much…

I want to say better, but I don’t know.

I’d have been a lot less nervous, a lot less afraid, a lot less likely to internalize things rather than get them out in the open and deal with them.

But the hard truth of it is, I wouldn’t be who I am now if I hadn’t endured the idiocy of youth.

If I did have a working time machine, an actual time machine, I wouldn’t go back. I wouldn’t try to give myself a leg up.

I had to learn these things the slow, hard way, because I had to learn them for myself.

And let’s face it: I’m a slow learner.

But once I get something down, it sticks.

And looking back, I can happily say life stuck to me.

Just as Target did, selling me a tape player that didn’t last a week.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 27 January 2015 in Angst, Life, Technopocalypse

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Why being a best-selling author is overrated and you should be relieved – RELIEVED – not to be one

Over the course of my life, I’ve learned to come to terms with a lot of things.

Not being an astronaut.

Not being an airline pilot.

I think in this dream, I forgot to use conditioner. The hair is long and glorious, but smacks of a hint of stringy.

This image from my dreams shows me wearing my astronaut jumpsuit just before boarding my rocket ship, crewed by the Swedish Bikini Team, who are all PhDs in Astrophysics, making me look like an idiot. As usual.

Not having the sort of comely locks of hair that make women go all atwitter when they see me, especially when I flip that glorious, glorious mane.

Not even having the sort of hair that you can grow long without it looking all oily and stringy.

These were hard truths to accept.

But perhaps the hardest truth to swallow was not becoming a best-selling author.

Yes, I had dreams. The dreams every author has:

Dreams of fabulous wealth.

Of being recognized wherever I went.

Of hobnobbing with celebrities.

Adored by fans the world over.

A subject of special interest to the beady-eyed lizard people who secretly run the world.

Alas, none of this was to come to pass.

(Except those bastard lizard people. They’re watching me. They’re watching me now. They’re always watching me.)

But, as with all childish things, I came to terms with it.

OK, I didn’t.

I am still deeply bitter that I am not the first best-selling author who flew his own plane to the launchpad before blasting off to his home on the moon, a crowd of beautiful women in the wake of his wind-swept, waist-long hair.

Instead, I had to find a way to cope.

Let me tell ya, compared to having your dreams come true, coping sucks.

But what other choice do you have?

In order to get past my crushing disappointment, I looked for the silver lining.

How does one go about this silver lining finding?

Simple. Imagine you had what you wanted.

So, for the sake of argument, let’s say I am a world-renowned, best-selling author.

Hey, you in the back! No snickering!

What would happen if I had attained this lofty goal?

First off, I’d be fawned over by devoted fans.

Many of them male, no doubt, but a certain sizable percentage would indubitably be young, attractive women.

Women half my age plus seven years, give or take.

This leads to problems. Because I know myself, and I know that all that love and adoration would go to my head.

Very quickly.

Especially when bestowed by beautiful young women half my age plus seven years, give or take.

Not so much with the men half my age plus seven years.

They, paradoxically, would be no threat to my marriage whatsoever.

Who knew?

Inevitably, I leave my wonderful wife, who I don’t deserve, and kids, who I will blame for the divorce, because that’s the kind of jerk dad I become once famous and vain.

And start dating a woman half my age plus seven years, who I meet at a convention celebrating the iconic movie series based on my best-selling novels.

Now I’m not attracted to dummies, so eventually this shrewd woman will get me to marry her, sans a prenup.

The wedding announcement has consequences. Primarily, it shatters the uneasy cease-fire between the ex-Missus and I.

The ex-Missus will engage in a bitter alimony and custody suit, making me a tabloid target and generally causing me a great deal of grief.

My kids will come to spit derisively when they speak my name, on those rare occasions they deign to acknowledge my existence.

My new marriage will be seemingly fun at first, but quickly descend into a living hell.

And why wouldn’t it?

The neo-Missus will suddenly realize that the middle-aged man who leaves his first middle-aged wife is likely to do the same to the second wife when she attains middle-agedom.

She will spend the next few years feverishly hoping I’ll age out of my sex drive before she hits her forties.

That fear will fester within her, eventually driving her towards a torrid affair with a man half my age plus zero.

Also, full-on, murderous hatred towards me.

In the end, I’m a cuckolded fifty-something year old who ends up murdered by his neo-Missus with a padded toilet seat.

It is not a pretty crime scene.

But before that, the stress and strain of my failing marriage and constant media attention, not to mention all the internet trolls leaving comments on my blog, takes its toll on my creativity.

My post neo-Missus books open to more and more bad reviews and fewer and fewer sales.

The movie franchise is destroyed by a sequel directed by Joel Schumacher (a pox upon his house), and now my books serve as the punchline in darkly unfunny jokes.

By the time of my undignified death, I am a penniless, unloved, forgotten literary footnote, a ‘Who was that guy who wrote that one good book and then sucked for the rest of his life?’ question asked during trivia contests at bars.

The answer to that question is, invariably, ‘There was a good book?’

By being a miserable failure as a writer, I avoid all that.

And there’s the silver lining.

So in all honesty, I’m probably better off not being a bestseller.

Sigh.

But a man can dream, can’t he?

 
1 Comment

Posted by on 3 December 2014 in Angst, Conspiracies Out To Get Me, Life, Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Quiet Earth

Sometimes at work I take a lunch break.

This in itself isn’t terribly interesting. But what I do during that lunch break is.

To me, anyway.

There’s a trail not too far from my building that I like to walk.

OK, maybe like isn’t the right word.

‘Medically necessary death march’ is probably a better description.

You see, my doctor wants me to lose weight, and since NASA has thus far declined to help in this endeavor, I walk.

The nice thing about the walking is-

Actually, there’s nothing nice about the walking. It’s a medically necessary death march, remember?

The thing I dislike the least during my grueling battle of wills against gravity and geography is when I take a late lunch.

At 3 o’clock, the trail is deserted.

No joggers.

No office mates taking their constitutional.

No creepy types hanging out to ogle the female joggers.

I have the trail, the marshlands, the birds, and the (probably plague-carrying) squirrels all to myself.

Also, the sound of the water treatment plant.

I have that to myself too, but that particular sound element I could do without.

Where's Eeyore to clear out those thistles when you need him?

I think all the dead plants along the trail may be contributing to my apocalypse fantasies.

Anyway, when I’m alone on the trail and work real hard at ignoring the fully operational water treatment plant, I can pretend it’s the apocalypse.

Goodness knows I feel like it’s the end of the world, after all that walking.

I pretend I’m alone after the fall of civilization, and I’m carefully striking out, looking for other survivors.

And avoiding the zombies.

There are zombies on these death marches.

Naturally.

I enjoy the solitude, the sense of foreboding adventure.

Mostly because I’m safe in the knowledge that it’s all pretend and there’s free coffee waiting for me at the office.

Free, decent coffee.

Sure, zombies can fly a plane. But can they land one?

I tell myself the military is flying anti-zombie recons when these fly overhead.

None of which makes the sound of airplanes overhead or the water treatment plant nearby any less annoying.

The hallmarks of civilization draw me out of my fun little fantasy almost before I manage to enter it.

This makes me sad.

Turns out I can’t escape civilization, even in my imagination.

That’s the problem with modern society – there are bits of it everywhere, so you just can’t dodge it.

You think camping, but there are always airplanes in the sky.

And rangers in their trucks, stopping to tell you not to leave your food out because, you know, bears.

And other campers, blaring their speed polka on their car radios until 3 in the morning, when you stalk over to their site, groggy, possibly in just your underwear, annoyed at everyone else in the park who is apparently too afraid to complain, and kindly and politely ask them to turn their music off, please, if they wouldn’t mind.

After you clear your throat several times, trying to get their attention.

Sometimes I really hate civilization.

It’s actually more frustrating at home, when I have no reason to expect a respite from the cacophony of Humanity.

I’ve mentioned my interest in capturing sound previously, and it is a never-ending source of bitter disappointment for me.

Why?

Because I can’t get the sounds I want without less …interesting… noises encroaching.

The other night we had some wind and a light rain, so I went out into my front yard to capture the sound of the leaves rustling and the water dripping from the tree branches.

Instead, I got a lot of cars driving by, and somewhere, in the near distance, the blare of a car horn consisting of the first few notes of ‘La Cucaracha’.

That song loses its charm very quickly, especially when you’re listening to the car horn version.

Which is going off every thirty seconds or so.

It’s moments like this that I wish I lived out in the boonies, away from the constant traffic, the inevitable bumping of elbows, and the background murmur of television programming.

Which invariably reminds me I need to run into the house and turn off the TV.

It’s just reruns of The Big Bang Theory, after all.

When I come back out, much to my disappointment, I find that the other noises are still there, not banished by the muting of my TV.

My desire to move returns.

But sans the empty blathering of society’s latest banal situation comedy, the desire isn’t painfully intense.

I stand in the cold wet wind, reflecting on the world around me and how much improved it is without The Big Bang Theory, when my thoughts drift to tomorrow.

And work.

And medically necessary death marches.

I recall just how grueling the commute is from my home, and moments later, the idea of moving has been discarded.

The next morning, I start-up my car, roll down the windows, and blare Classical music on my way to work.

Because I hate civilization.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 19 November 2014 in Angst, Camping, Life

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

An Open Love Letter (and Dire Warning) to my 15-Year Old Self

Dear 15-year old me,

I am writing this to you from an age…considerably beyond 15.

If, by some miracle of Science, you actually receive this letter, stop reading now.

Seriously. Read no further.

I’m not kidding.

Life turned out just fine. Great, in fact. So keep doing everything you’re doing / I did, exactly as you’re doing it / I did it, and we’ll all end up happy.

Continuing to read this letter might cause you to alter course and screw everything up.

Sure, avoiding that impending wardrobe malfunction during the Christmas play sounds like a good idea to you, but it isn’t.

So. Stop. Reading. Now.

Who am I kidding? I know me. There’s no way 15-year old me will stop reading this letter, just like I didn’t stop reading the letter from 85-year old me.

(I hate to say it, but 85-year old me comes off as a lech. “Screw the ‘half your age plus seven’ rule!” indeed.)

I thought centerfolds in the paperback version would boost sales, but I'm not sure these are the sales I want.

Centerfolds in the paperback version of your books sounds like a great idea, but look at the type of fan you invariably attract!

OK, so 15-year old me, being young, reckless, and having no respect for your elders, clearly you’re still reading this letter.

Fine. I guess I can aim for small improvements.

Inconsequential ones.

Things that won’t alter the course of history, mine or Humanity’s in general.

I have four words for you:

Vinyl padded toilet seat.

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Ew! Grampa toilet seat!”

Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

These things are awesome.

First off, they’re soft. You can sit on the toilet, reading a book or surfing on your phone for hours, without that pesky leg-numbing consequence.

And yes, I said ‘surfing on your phone’. You’ll just have to wait to find out about that one. Suffice it to say, you are not surfing around inside the toilet on a phone.

Although that is a highly rated spectator sport in this time.

Not that I watch those contests. The people who watch them are vapid nihilists, not to mention imbued with incredibly poor taste.

Second, the vinyl stays cool during the summer. No more of that unpleasantness associated with sitting down on a hot, hard toilet seat. No sir!

Yes, the seat does stay cold during the winter, but that’s a mere trifle to fix! Just slip on the wool toilet seat cozy and you’re good to go.

Literally.

Just make sure you get the machine wash safe wool cozy. Dry clean only is no fun.

Third, the vinyl cleans up so easily. All you need is a solvent-soaked rag, a respirator, and some bleach.

Never stains.

Ever.

Unlike the leather padded toilet seats, which, by the way, turn out to be a short-lived fad.

Very. Short. Lived.

(Yes, I am taking a simple sentence and breaking it down into several one word sentences for dramatic effect. That’s how we write in the future. It’s. Legally. Mandated.)

But most importantly, the old toilet seat you replace with the padded vinyl one?

Superb blunt instrument.

Sure, the Missus will give you a lot of grief about throwing it out, or moving it into the garage, or anything but leaving it next to the bed.

(Yes, I said ‘Missus’. Turns out Becky Wallace was wrong in third grade when she said you’d die alone and unloved. If 85-year old me is to be believed, you don’t just not die alone, but you aren’t alone several times with a bunch of progressively younger Missuses! Although I got the sense money was a little tight when he finally got around to penning that missive.)

But you get the last laugh when, last night (mine, not yours), I (and, technically, you) am the victim of a home invasion robbery and I (there is only one hero in this story, and eventually it will be you) knock out the burglar with the discarded, supposedly useless, and surprisingly unyielding toilet seat.

Oh no, what have I done?

This is why you should have stopped reading this letter when I first told you!

Don’t you see? Now we’ve both been exposed to the deadly Toilet Seat Paradox.

What do I mean, your simple, uncomprehending 15-year old mind is asking?

I mean this:

What? You thought I didn't really have a vinyl padded toilet seat, that it was just a plot device for this entry? You don't know me, do you?

Makes a marvelous swishy sound when you get up.

Late in life, I am introduced to the joy of vinyl toilet seats by my much younger seventh wife, who is also apparently fixated on getting me to up my life insurance policy.

One day, after that toilet seat is mysteriously coated with an excess layer of olive oil, I slip off and find myself mortally wounded. In the brief moments I have remaining, I scratch out a letter to my younger self on a sheet of toilet paper using, well, we won’t go into what I used for ink.

And against all odds, that cry for help reaches me (my me, not your you).

Middle-aged me (that’s me again, not you, because if 15 is middle age for you, that would be really sad and I would be dead right now, which is even sadder), being distracted by the young kiddos running around, focuses on the opening of that letter, the joys of vinyl padded toilet seats, rather than the dangers associated with them and younger seventh wives with an affinity for olive oil.

Naturally, I (that’s middle-aged me, not 85-year old me) rush out to try one of these fabled toilet seats, fall in love with it, and as a result, end up owning one before my murderous future wife can introduce them to me.

I can only presume that in so doing, I learn of the importance of checking for oily residue on the toilet seat early enough that I survive the attempt on my 85-year old life.

I certainly hope that’s the case. I don’t want to die so young!

In addition, I also inadvertently provide myself with a weapon to fend off that home invasion robber. If I hadn’t had that toilet seat, the thief would have made off with my priceless collection of Troll Dolls.

(By the way, get in on that Troll Doll action right now. The sooner the better. Those things don’t just hold their value, if you keep them in the original packaging, they end up being worth two, sometimes even three times their original value!)

However, the paradox doesn’t end there.

In my enthusiasm for vinyl padded toilet seats, and with my judgement clouded by the sense of relief that my Troll Doll collection is safe, I feel compelled to write you a letter, extolling the virtues of this comfy bathroom accessory.

As a result, and foolishly ignoring my warnings, you buy a vinyl padded toilet seat decades before I first buy one.

Which means, by the time you buy a house and marry the Missus, hard wood toilet seats are a part of your distant past.

A fading, unpleasant memory.

And that means you don’t buy a vinyl padded toilet seat last week (my last week, not yours), and so you (by which I mean I) don’t have that old wood toilet seat by the bed last night (my last night, possibly quite literally).

Which means that I don’t have a blunt instrument to fend off that robber, and I am either dead or too despondent over the loss of my Troll Doll collection to write you this letter.

And. That. Is. A. Bad. Thing.

Very. Bad.

So please, whatever you do, don’t buy a vinyl padded toilet seat until you get that letter from 85-year old you.

It’s the only way we’ll survive the Toilet Seat Paradox.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on 30 September 2014 in Angst, Life, Science!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Balloons of the Apocalypse Cover Reveal

Everything looks to be on track for the release of Balloons of the Apocalypse, the third book in the Marlowe and the Spacewoman series.

(That’s e-book, mind you, I have more work to do before the paperback is available. Say another month?)

And now, with minimal further ado, the cover!

Just one minor ado. Release date.

30 August 2014.

That’s this Saturday.

I’ll post links, but you’ll find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And, if all goes well, Smashwords.

Shudder.

I hate the Smashwords meatgrinder, but I like their distribution reach.

And I sell more books there than on Barnes and Noble.

Sad, that.

OK, done with the ado. Here’s the cover.

You know how it goes. Girl meets boy. Boy joins a classical music worshipping cult. Girl never sees boy again, until years later when she stumbles across a street orchestra playing for food, and there he is. But she's happily married now, and he smells really, really bad.

As always, only Marlowe, spacewoman Nina, and a sham wedding can stop a dangerous Beethoven cult bent on world domination.

Artwork done by the same artist who did the previous two covers, smokewithoutmirrors. She does fantastic work. I highly recommend her to anyone looking for a book cover.

Or a vanity portrait. I printed mine out to wall size.

Scares the crap out of the dog.

Along with the cover, I thought I’d ramble a bit about the editing process, since I learned something new this time.

Well, maybe not new. Just something I wasn’t conscious of before.

When I write a book, it takes forever to get it done. Quite literally years.

OK, that I was conscious of. Everyone who knows me is conscious of that!

Part of this is my fear that people will hate my work, and so I revise and revise and revise, trying to present the first copy to beta readers as a fait accompli.

It never is.

I’m getting better. Marlowe and the Spacewoman went through ten revisions (I think, maybe eleven) before I published it. It also took me close to ten years from first draft to published.

The second book (short story, really) actually took longer, but I started it before the first book.

Don’t ask. It’s complicated. And I abandoned it for a large part of that period.

I started this book five years ago? Four or five.

Either way, an improvement.

And considering I had kids in the middle of all that, kinda impressive.

What I discovered this time around is that taking my time really does work wonders.

Because I finish a draft and let it lie fallow.

I don’t read it for ages and ages.

And by the time I get around to it again, it’s fresh and new and not in my head. So I can read it with a clear eye.

This helps me see problems. Typos, grammar goofs, misused words.

But not well enough to forgo other readers.

Beta readers are essential, because some biases are so ingrained that you are blinded to the problems they cause.

No matter how long you wait between reads.

I went about a year between penultimate read-through and ultimate read-through. And found lots of the above-mentioned, typical goofs.

And the blind bias stuff? My betas found a heartbreaking number of problems, which they dutifully reported back to me.

I think, with their help, I addressed the worst of that.

But I did have a couple of big surprises.

After I started the last read-through, I found myself thinking about the book a lot.

Usually when I was trying to fall asleep.

Annoying, that. Especially on a work night.

But that’s not the surprising part. I always obsess over current projects.

It was the couple of major plot holes I discovered. Things that happened (or didn’t happen) which simply made no sense.

The sorts of things, that, when I see them in other books, make me go, “Man, this author is lazy. He didn’t bother to think things through. Shame on him. I will find out where he lives and burn his house to the ground.”

I was stunned to discover them in my book. I’m not lazy, but I certainly hadn’t caught them in previous read-throughs.

More alarming, neither had any of my beta readers.

Actually, the fact that they missed them too makes me feel a little better.

Fortunately, I was able to patch the holes pretty easily, once I applied myself.

I also struggled with how to open the book. I tried three different openings.

The final one? Came to me while I worried about it.

In bed.

Trying to fall asleep.

So that’s my process:

Crank out a first draft, wait approximately one earth orbital period, and edit it.

Worry about it in bed.

Repeat until I have enough confidence to share with beta readers.

Worry about it in bed.

Stare at their feedback emails for several days before working up the nerve to open them.

Worry about it in bed.

Marvel in the description of issues I wouldn’t have detected if they’d come up to me, kicked me in the family jewels, and said, “Oh, pardon me, I didn’t mean to do that.”

(My issues are very polite.)

Worry about it in bed.

Edit again.

Worry about it in bed.

And again (the editing, that is. Oh, and the worrying too.)

Then, just maybe, I’m ready to publish.

There is only one drawback to my approach.

OK, two if you count sleep deprivation.

After several read-throughs of one of my books, it starts to feel old.

Not fresh.

Done before.

(Because, well, it has. In the previous drafts.)

So by the time I’m ready to publish, I don’t feel a lot of excitement.

This is bad, because publication time is when you’re supposed to promote it.

So now I have to promote and rah-rah-rah a book that, for me, feels tired and worked over.

And worry that everyone else will feel the same way.

I don’t think I’m going to be sleeping well for the next few nights.

 

Tags: , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: