Fun, Amazing, Etc.

This is the official blog of indie author / adventure writer Andy R. Bunch, author of the fantasy book, "Suffering Rancor." As always, I'll post funny or amazing things I find in my travels or from poking around online. This is a great place to kick back and relax a bit. You may note that I’m not too clean or too dirty. For more information on my book, go to http://andyrbunch.weebly.com/. Here are links to first two books http://goo.gl/iHP1i and http://goo.gl/kK13W

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Season of Seasons

Many interesting developments going on lately. I'm not divulging them all here, which has the side effect of making it seem like things are stalled out in my life. For example, I'm in a new relationship (very new) and things are going well. I'm willing to live a lot of my life out loud (in the public eye) because I have a lot of friends who really want to know how things are going in my life and by the time I get to sit down with them all individually, they are too far behind. I say that because I'm enjoying the clarity and accountability I get from thinking out loud here, but things like my relationship aren't topics for on this venue.
Health and Fitness Update:
What is a topic for here, is the latest diet I'm trying. If you're a new reader I started researching and essentially auditioning a series of healthy diet/exercise/supplements back in March with the health goal of losing 5 lbs. a month between then and when I plan to leave on my book signing tour. I'm proud to say that I'm roughly on track with that, but I wanted to try an anti-inflammation diet. The best I've found is the Virgin diet which is not targeted at me or well...men, but seems to be what I'm looking for. So for the next 21 days I'll be giving it my best effort--though I already anticipate SHEER HELL! I didn't blog about it earlier because I wasn't sure I was really going to do this until I started. The shortest way to describe this diet is to say, "read the label and then don't eat it--you can't have that." I'm actually giving up Peanuts, soy, eggs, dairy, gluten, sugar and artificial sweeteners, and corn. On the bright side, Kristin is brave/crazy enough to try it with me. So if I wimp out and she succeeds, I may as well turn in my man card.
 The next thing that I've not been keeping people updated on is my Spiritual season. It's not entirely my fault because I'm still processing it. Here's the rambling 1st draft of my thinking though. (PS I don't know where I found this picture or what it has to do with today's topic but it kicks ass so I'm putting it in.)

This season is all about seasons:
  A few years ago some kind but eccentric prophetic Christians I ran into, proclaimed that I was a child of Issachar (one who can read the seasons). I have often been able to see what certain actions would lead a group or organization to, or tell what God’s heart was for a situation. God and I were talking in the car a last week and he reminded me of that event. He first pointed out to me that He didn’t give me this gift so that stressing/anticipating the future would rob me of the present. He specifically wants to release me of the past, redeem it to me, and let me be present/future focused. BUT the future as a direction not a certain plan. It was a mind blowing revelation that I understand at a deep heart level. It doesn’t really translate into words.

 A day or two later God reminded me of when I got excited by the idea of agile project management. The point is to make forward progress like a ship sailing into wind, by tacking across and back. Every 30 days you make a product that is marketable, and moves you toward your ultimate goal even if it’s not directly at it. God pointed out that my efforts to find balance through doing a little of each thing each day has not worked.

 Then my buddy Jeff Samuelson pointed me to a book called “The Power of Full Engagement,” which was amazing. I read only the 20% that’s free through amazon and then I placed a hold on it in the library. I will be following up on that as I read it, but the gist gets me toward the point I think God is leading me to. I’m really built to work on massive projects, one at a time. If I have more than one project going at a time, then when things get tough I switch projects. Then I’m very frustrated when I move 50 projects forward one inch. I never get to that place where something is marketable. I spend energy diffusely spinning plates and putting out fires. Tyranny of the urgent allows me to feel busy and masks a bad procrastination habit. I was able to rid myself of busyness and procrastination at one point and now it’s back.
The Potential Drawbacks:
 There's a couple problems. 1st is that I figured out a while back that it takes a minimum of 8 months to write a novel and bring it to market,
1. Draft for 4 to 6 weeks,
2. Take a month off to gain perspective,
3. Revise for a month,
4. 1st readers review it for a month,
5. Revise again,
6. Send to editor for a month,
7. Edits for a month,
8. Publishing it takes about 2 weeks.
 But in theory you could draft a second novel while taking a brake from the first, and then continue to leapfrog the second project with the first so that you could get 2 novels done in a little over a year. I think that plan can still work because each phase of the project can be treated individually. However that leads to the second problem.
The Second Problem:
 I have more than one value. I NEED to make progress on several fronts. I need to improve how I eat and exercise while also seeking income. I'm passionate about living a simple, organized life (parents were horders) but I have to focus on writing to finishes a phase in a decent time frame. If you don't keep a certain pace on a book you spend all your time figuring out what you were trying to do/getting back in the mood. And ultimately God is my top value so I NEED to be intentional about keeping Him a top priority.
 I realize that I’ve invested a lot of energy researching diet and exercise plans, but I firmly believe that different people need different solutions and rather than try and fail repeatedly, I chose to do a ton of research. Likewise, I realize that if I take a “normal” job I won’t have to constantly be searching out my next client, which would reduce the amount of energy I put into earning an income. The problem is that I quickly grow to hate most jobs, and the ultimate solution to my income needs lies in multiple entrepreneurial ventures that each earns a modest income with a minimal energy/time investment but that don’t tie me to a location. (See, all the resources I invested in researching my calling has paid off already.)
 So the obvious answer, which I’m not 100% sure is right, is to pick something and focus on it for a period of time, then switch to another thing for another period of time. I’m thinking of calling it qualitative vs quantitative activity. The question becomes how long is the right length of time? I like the concept because I like working on one thing until I find a certain flow and then staying in that for a while. But I'm just not sure how this is going to work yet.
 In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon says there is a time (season) for everything.
There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.
 What strikes me is this part, “a season for every activity under the heavens…” Solomon is pretty consistent about using the words “under the sun” in his writing. So I feel like he is using the plural “heavens” here on purpose. This implies to me that he means every activity in every realm, physical, sole, and spirit. God was pretty clear with me, that my efforts to live in the past and future were rooted in a desire to escape the unpleasantness of the present. He pointed out that if I’m unhappy when it rains all the time, I’m a jerk if I’m also unhappy when it’s too hot in the summer. If I want something different I have to be prepared for it to happen in excess or bring with it different kinds of suffering. I need to embrace what I have in each moment, because it will not last. The good often passes along with the bad. Plus, since I have God in my life he is able to redeem any bad thing, whether it’s my own idiocy or something that happens to me. So I need to embrace the here and now even if it’s not what I think of as good. Hence, I must end all procrastination.
 These are my rambling thoughts so far. This season has yet to fully emerge.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Better Fire Starting

I can't tell you how many times I watch a show on survival on one of the adventure challenges and their survival "expert" tries to start a fire by basically spinning a stick with his/her hands. They may actually be a much more experienced survivalist than I, but I have one advantage that they don't. I know that if you take your shoe lace off and make a bow out of one stick, then use a block to protect your hand, you can get a fire faster with less energy. Here's a link to a great instructable if that fast description wasn't enough. On another note, the my add was flagged and taken down from craigslist. I posted it below. I can't imagine what their problem is with it. Adam Copeland suggested that competitors might be flagging other people's adds. That's possible i suppose. Do you have a brilliant idea of a book inside you but you aren’t sure you want to spend the 10,000 hours to become an expert writer? Maybe you are an expert at something and a book would make a great passive revenue stream. Or maybe you just want to capture Grandma’s life story before it’s lost forever. I’m an experienced writer/editor/ ghost writer with a fiction novel under my own name, a co-authored non-fiction, and three entirely ghost written books that I sadly cannot refer you to as I’m not credited. That’s the point of ghosting, right? I’m also a founding member of the largest Indie Publishing association in the Northwest with countless hours helping folks bring their ideas to market. Due to a rare summer lull, I’m running a special discount on projects larger than 10,000 words. I will drop my normal hourly rate to $25. An hour of writing from me is an honest hour; I stop the clock for breaks.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Reading Better with SQ3R

I'm a fan of Mindtools.com. I try to hit them up once a month or so for some great ideas about living life more effectively. I will be posting a couple great excerpts from that site below. First, I want to brag about "On Becoming a Man." We've finally finished the editing of the audio book and sent the files to be reviewed. The final time is roughly 1 hour and 48 minutes, with just shy of 200 chapters. Lots of work but the results will blow you away. So without further delay... From http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newISS_02.htm#np SQ3R is an acronym that stands for five steps... Survey. Question. Read. Recall. Review. Step 1: Survey Start by skimming through the material you've identified, to decide if it will be useful and to get an overview of the topic. For example, if you've selected a book, scan the contents, introduction, chapter introductions, and chapter summaries to pick up an overview of the text. For a website, look at the "breadcrumbs," which indicate the relative location of pages within the site. (If breadcrumbs are used, they're usually at the top of the page.) Also use the menus or the site map to see where the article sits within the overall structure of the site. Then, look at typographical elements of the text, such as italics, bold words, subheadings, and boxed text. These often point to words or ideas that are important. Last, explore any images, maps, charts, or diagrams that are embedded in the text. Use these clues to decide whether this text will give you the information you're looking for. If it doesn't meet your needs, look for a different information source. Step 2: Question Now note down any questions that you may have about the subject. These could be the questions that led you to read it in the first place, or ones that you thought of during your survey. Also, think about what else you want to achieve from this reading. What do you need to find out from this material? What are you most interested in learning? And how will this information help you? When you question the material, you engage your mind and prepare it for learning. You're far more likely to retain information when you're actively looking for it. Step 3: Read Now read the document, one section at a time. Make a note of anything that you don't understand – you can use these notes later on, when you explore related materials. You may find that this read-through takes more time than you expect, especially if the information is dense or complex. Keep yourself focused by turning every subheading or chapter title into a question that you must answer before you move on. For example, you could turn the subtitle, "The Advantages of SQ3R" into the question, "What are the advantages of SQ3R?" and run through the answer in your mind before you move onto the next part of the text. Step 4: Recall Once you've read the appropriate sections of the document, run through it in your mind several times. Identify the important points, and then work out how other information fits around them. Then, go back to your questions from Step 2, and try to answer them from memory. Only turn back to the text if you're unable to answer a question this way. Step 5: Review Once you can recall the information, you can start to review it. First, reread the document or your notes. This is especially important if you don't feel confident that you've understood all of the information. Then discuss the material with someone else – this is a highly effective method of reviewing information. Explain what you have just learned as comprehensively as you can, and do your best to put the information into a context that's meaningful for your team, organization, or industry. Finally, schedule regular reviews of the material to keep it fresh in your mind. Do this after a week, after a month, and after several months – this helps to embed the material into your long-term memory. There's a lot more at the source so follow the link above. The next article I want to highlight is http://www.mindtools.com/mnemlsty.html#np Felder and Silverman's Index of Learning Styles One of the most widely used models of learning styles is the Index of Learning Styles developed by Richard Felder and Linda Silverman in the late 1980s. According to this model (which Felder revised in 2002) there are four dimensions of learning styles. Think of these dimensions as a continuum with one learning preference on the far left and the other on the far right. Figure 1 – Learning Styles Index Figure 2: Bringing Your Learning Styles into Balance Sensory Learners – if you rely too much on sensing, you can tend to prefer what is familiar, and concentrate on facts you know instead of being innovative and adapting to new situations. Seek out opportunities to learn theoretical information and then bring in facts to support or negate these theories. Intuitive Learners – if you rely too much on intuition you risk missing important details, which can lead to poor decision-making and problem solving. Force yourself to learn facts or memorize data that will help you defend or criticize a theory or procedure you are working with. You may need to slow down and look at detail you would otherwise typically skim. Visual Learners – if you concentrate more on pictorial or graphical information than on words, you put yourself at a distinct disadvantage because verbal and written information is still the main preferred choice for delivery of information. Practice your note taking and seek out opportunities to explain information to others using words. Verbal Learners – when information is presented in diagrams, sketches, flow charts, and so on, it is designed to be understood quickly. If you can develop your skills in this area you can significantly reduce time spent learning and absorbing information. Look for opportunities to learn through audio-visual presentations (such as video and Webcasts.) When making notes, group information according to concepts and then create visual links with arrows going to and from them. Take every opportunity you can to create charts and tables and diagrams. Active Learners – if you act before you think you are apt to make hasty and potentially ill-informed judgments. You need to concentrate on summarizing situations, and taking time to sit by yourself to digest information you have been given before jumping in and discussing it with others. Reflective Learners – if you think too much you risk doing nothing. There comes a time when a decision has to be made or an action taken. Involve yourself in group decision-making whenever possible and try to apply the information you have in as practical a manner as possible. Sequential Learners – when you break things down into small components you are often able to dive right into problem solving. This seems to be advantageous but can often be unproductive. Force yourself to slow down and understand why you are doing something and how it is connected to the overall purpose or objective. Ask yourself how your actions are going to help you in the long run. If you can't think of a practical application for what you are doing then stop and do some more "big picture" thinking. Global Learners – if grasping the big picture is easy for you, then you can be at risk of wanting to run before you can walk. You see what is needed but may not take the time to learn how best to accomplish it. Take the time to ask for explanations, and force yourself to complete all problem-solving steps before coming to a conclusion or making a decision. If you can't explain what you have done and why, then you may have missed critical details.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Coming Events--end of July

I want to apologize if I've seemed a bit frustrated with being behind schedule in recent updates. I knew when I set this schedule it would take a miracle not to fall way behind and I did it anyway. For one thing I like the way impossible goals force you to think outside the way you normally accomplish things. ie if I were to cut my time to complete a novel down to four months how could that happen. Well, I can pick up a lot of time in the drafting phase via some speed writing techniques and participating in NaNoWriMo. I really have to put a draft aside for awhile before I edit it, which creates downtime...or does it. I can draft one book then draft another, then edit the first and then edit the second. So even if I can't actually finish a novel in 4 consecutive months I might be able to to finish 2 in 8 months. Things like that. So I set to work, and life happened. I wanted to blog about the adventure because even if I fail this time I want to glean some info out and try again next year. I think it can be done and I'll be faster for having tried. I also took on some big health and organizing projects this year so I'm fully committed. Some of the things I took on I had a good idea what I was in for and others were completely new territory. The writing was actually the part I felt most sure of. I'd already completed 3 ghost biographies, one fantasy novel and coauthored a non-fiction. I also had a half finished draft of one of the books and a completely finished draft of the other book. So I should have been jump-started. But alas I'm behind my projections. However, when I go back to look at my reasoning for setting this crazy set of goals in the first place it's paid off, big time. The out of the box/creative innovation that has resulted from setting simultaneous stretch goals in three, massive areas of my life has resulted in life expansion on a scale I hadn't predicted. When I read a self improvement book on one topic and an organization book and a book on writing/marketing sometimes they clash and stress me with dissonance, but occasionally they line up and speak to something that the authors of these books didn't mean to speak to. The irony here is that I've most recently learned some giant lessons about focus. According to the book "The power of full engagement," which I wish I could get more into, there are 4 kinds of energy. 1. Physical 2. Emotional 3. Mental 4. Spiritual. I've only read about 20% of the book and it's mind blowing. Anyway, Spiritual energy is measured in alignment. When contemplating this, among other things, I got some clarity from God about the topic of seasons. I have a well-honed ability to see the direction events will take an organization. God pointed out to me that I will increase my satisfaction in life when I reduce the influence of both the past and the future. I've heard all the hackneyed advice on this topic, but this time it really sank in. For me, it has more meaning when stated the way God put it--enjoy the season you are in, even while accounting for the future and releasing the past. So there you have it. I don't know how you need to hear it but it all starts fitting together. Forgiveness is giving up the possibility of a better past. Faith is believing that God will do something good with the outcomes of your decisions even when you screw it up. And the secret to enjoying this day is single-mindedness, accepting that good or bad, hot or cold, fast or slow, there's something good in it for me. Be fully in this time and place regardless of what else you could be doing. Be grateful for the opportunity to be here even if it's not what you'd expected it should be like. This is a big key for me and I'm not describing it well, but if you can hopefully decipher what I'm meaning you'll be blessed by it. In short, you don't have to give up planning or anticipating future good things in order to be completely present to here and now, BUT you do have to willfully reject the distraction of everything that the present might have been if you'd somehow been wiser/smarter/luckier. I always try to do better than before but the degree to which I rob from my present to accomplish that is the degree to which I burn energy without producing anything right now. I think I'll dub this new philosophy, "redeeming the present" (someone probably already has that, I should google it). Well it's a good working title. Quick update: I'm going to somehow finish about half my edits on my WIP between now and the end of this month and I'm going to start "the virgin diet" with my friend Kristin next Monday. Very Scary! We are both nuts but it's going to work out, somehow. Now to the Coming events: Loyal Local will be August 4th from 10AM to 4PM, at the Hilton Downtown Vancouver. I'll be joining awesome local authors like Gregory Zschomler, and Phil Silver. So please come out and support us. Have an awesome day!

Amazing Artist Series Part ??

I dig this chick!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tips for hacking your digital life

Once in awhile it's a good idea to spend half an hour poking around for better ways to do things you already do. When you think about it, we often look around "how tos" when we need to do something new, but the things we really need to get better at are things we do most often. Sure there are diminishing returns, but if you do a routine task 18 times a day and you learn a shortcut the drops 10 seconds from that task you've given yourself a 3 minute gift of time. (Tim Ferris of the fourhourblog.com would point out that time is not money, you can get money back, time is much more valuable.) So if you invest 30 minutes a week in tweaking how you do what you most often do, you'll be surprised how quickly these hacks can add up to increase your yield and reduce what's cluttering up your focus. Here's a couple of approaches: 1. hit a site that specializes in these sorts of tips, like lifehacker.com, or 40tech.com this is a cool way to stumble into things you wouldn't have thought to look for, but can easily become a time waster if you don't set a time limit. 2. Search for targeted advice on a topic. There are tons of video tutorials on youtube, and I've found a new little gem in about 50% of the ones I check out. My first secret to searching for hacks is to use google to search for a topic even if I think I know what database I'm going to look at. This is especially true of youtube and biblegateway.com search for what you want and then scroll down to the result you're looking for. If you go to the database and then search you'll get less accurate results. Here's a video I happened upon while looking for a way to turn tasks back on in google calendar. http://youtu.be/MVM5deFMJD8

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Crazy Crow Encounter!

Here's a link to a story about a raven that had porcupine quills stuck in its head and managed to trust a human to help it. Really strange? http://gawker.com/raven-asks-human-for-help-with-painful-quills-after-por-787258723

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A little late but...healthy living post is here!

So my blogging goal is to post about physical and spiritual fitness on Mondays, which is going okay so far. I have a special treat for today since I'm a day late. Here's an important message from Dr. Mercola. But first here's a quick update on upcoming events: I'll be at the Robin Hood Festival this Friday 5pm to ??, and Saturday 9am to 8pm? Sunday August 4th I'll be at loyal local with some awesome new Vancouver Author friends. More details to follow soon. Okay, so this is probably controversial and will get me yelled at, but I have had knee jerk resistance to the idea of a cancer vaccine since I first heard of it. Now some research is being done to clarify things. Link to article. "There are currently two HPV vaccines on the market, but if there was any regard for sound scientific evidence, neither would be promoted as heavily as they are. The first, Gardasil, was licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006. It is now recommended as a routine vaccination for girls and women between the ages of 9-26 in the US. On October 25, 2011, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also voted to recommend giving the HPV vaccine to males between the ages of 11 and 21. The second HPV vaccine, Cervarix, was licensed in 2009. Most recently, an oncology dietitian pointed out significant discrepancies2 in a new HPV vaccine effectiveness study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases3, which evaluated data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), 2003-2006 and 2007-2010. The study pointed out that HPV vaccine uptake among young girls in the US has been low but concluded that: “Within four years of vaccine introduction, the vaccine-type HPV prevalence decreased among females aged 14–19 years despite low vaccine uptake. The estimated vaccine effectiveness was high.” Story at-a-glance An oncology dietitian has pointed out significant discrepancies in a new HPV vaccine effectiveness study that claims the vaccine’s effectiveness is “high” Recent reductions in HPV infection prevalence among young women in the US cannot be said to be due to introduction of Gardasil vaccine in 2006 and use of HPV vaccines by pre-teen and teenage girls since then; the data clearly shows that unvaccinated girls had the best outcome In 2007-2010, HPV prevalence dropped 27.3 percent in the unvaccinated girls, but only declined by 5.8 percent in the vaccinated group. In four out of five different measures, the unvaccinated girls had a lower incidence of HPV According to Merck’s own research before Gardasil was licensed, if you've been exposed to HPV strains 16 or 18 prior to receiving Gardasil vaccine, you could increase your risk of precancerous lesions by 44.6 percent. Judicial Watch has received previously withheld documents from the DDHS, which reveal that the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has awarded $5,877,710 to 49 victims for harm resulting from the HPV vaccine

Friday, July 12, 2013

Amazing Friday BadPiper Video

This is sweeeeet!

A Little Fun A Little Update

Update! The Author Speed Date went well. Thank you to Tigard Library, in particular Eric! I got to finally meet some NIWA authors I mainly know from the forum posts. I made some great new connections and got to see my long time writing friend Gail. If anyone is looking for an editor she's got some room on her plate. Send my a comment with some contact info and I'll connect you. July 19th and 20th will be the Robin Hood Festival. I'm supper excited for that event. It begins after 6pm Friday and runs all day Saturday. Details here. I'm adding a couple events. August 4th the Local Loyal event will be at the Hilton in Downtown Vancouver. Details here. I'm doing another August event in Vancouver, Sunday Streets Alive. I'm not sure which of their vendor locations we'll be at but I'll update you all soon. I'll include some links to my fellow authors info for these two events as well. Until then here's enough to wet your appetite. On a more personal note, I'm supper stoked to announce that I've got my little Suzuki SX4 back. Long story, but the net positive is that I'm mobile again and I need to give a big thanks to my mom for her help in getting it all done and for sharing her car with me during the weeks I was carless. For those who are tracking my writing progress...I'm a mere 11k words behind my editing goals. So despite having some crazy cleaning and organizing goals to catch up on and being way behind on emails etc. I will probably take a chunk out of this weekend and go radio silent until I can catch up on editing.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Interview with Amber Michelle Cook

Tonight is the awesome Author Speed Date, as mentioned before. I believe NIWA author Amber Cook will be there as well. I’m honored to have Amber as a Guest Blog today. Here’s the interview we did. Don’t forget to go to kickstarter and support Amber’s latest project. She’s really kept her budget down to the minimum.
Here’s her other vital info followed by the interview: ______________________________ My novella, What the Faeries Left Behind, is now available on Amazon, BN.com, Kobo, the Sony.com store and Smashwords. Check out my Wubbulous Writing website, Caution: Adults Playing blog, and Chromatic Daffodil Shadows: www.ambermichellecook.com ______________________________ What inspired you to become an author? No one thing—but when a friend asked me if I’d like to write a treatment of a screenplay for a script company she was starting, it started me down the path toward being an author that only made more and more sense the longer I pursued it. I grew up a big reader. I love language and languages, I studied linguistics and literature. And I’ve been guiding others through my fiction creations via role-playing for years. I’ve always had a strong imagination, and I believe in storytelling as a means to entertain and refresh, to promote emotional release, and inspire each other on to bigger and better things. No one person has a bunch of answers to solve people’s problems, but it is possible to glean bits of wisdom and insight by exposing yourself to other people’s life experiences—and whether fiction or non-fiction, stories are always about people sharing their experiences with life. What made you decide to go Independent instead of traditional? A couple of key things. I don’t write the kind of stories you’re supposed to write to please the mass market. With increasingly cautious legacy publishing houses, I decided not to sit around and wait an unknown quantity of time—that could run into a decade or more—for an agent, and then a publishing house, to decide to publish me. Indie publishing is me going for it now. As a graphic artist as well as an author, I also have strong feelings about the images and designs that represent me and my books, so why put myself in a place where someone else will make those choices and I will have absolutely no say in the matter? There will never be an underclothed, underweight female of unrealistic proportions and positions on the cover of one of my books or anywhere in my marketing. And now no one can make me! Who, if anyone, has supported you in your writing efforts? I’ve been part of a couple of really good writers/crit groups (the Plot Ninjas and the Feedback Circle), and have a couple good friends/writing buddies. Author Mary Rosenblum has been a mentor, and my parents have shown me a lot of support this year. What advice would you give an up and coming writer? Be careful of whose advise you follow. There are hundreds if not thousands of people out there trying to make money off of new writers. And the best way to get someone to pay out money is to promise them the system to success. Like all artists, writers don’t follow one formula and then succeed, they get there a million different ways. Make sure you know what you want to get from your writing, and what you want to give with your writing. Then you can take bits and pieces you hear from different people and assemble them into your own plan for success—because that’s your best chance for having a good experience along the way, as well as reaching your goals. What do you do when you aren't writing? Sleep. Grin. Okay, also read. Surprise, surprise, huh? I’m also an artists (photography and graphic arts, see my Chromatic Daffodil Shadows). I love 19th century lit and period pieces, esp. really good mini-series adaptations. Anything aquatic. I love going to aquariums, and I love watching Tanked and The Fish Tank Kings as they build custom, luxury aquariums of all kinds. Improv writing. And hitting SF cons.
What has been the most challenging thing about becoming (or living as) a writer? I was coming put of depression when I found my calling, and so not working at the time. That gave me the ability to dive right in and study the craft of writing and write books, short fiction and screenplays full-time before heading into the publishing part of my career. The other side of that is that it can take awhile to establish yourself as an author, and while some seem to manage it—working full-time and writing are very hard to do at the same time because being an author is already a full-time job with lots of overtime. What was the inspiration for you latest book? The City Museum in St. Louis, MO. Part family play-land during the day, part youth hang-out in the evening, the City Museum has eye-opening art everywhere, local history, crafts, rides and slides, indoor fountains, an adult ball pit, all kinds of things to climb, caves for exploring, on and on. Made from found-objects. Not corporate-owned. And it contains a whole aquarium inside it as well. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. The story concept for Defense Mechanisms is something I’ve wanted to write as a novel for years. Alternate dimensions fascinate me as a writer, and I’m drawn to urban fairy, so this is how I put the two together. The catchphrase is: what if your déjà vu was really flashes of a life running parallel to your own? Right now I have too much queued up for fine-tuning and release to write anything new except short fiction, so I thought I’d give the idea a try by writing a short story in the meantime. Halfway into it I realized it needed to be novella-length, and that made it the perfect follow up for my first book, What the Faeries Left Behind (also a novella). Ultimately, Defense Mechanisms is part of the trio of urban fairy tales for adults I’m releasing as my first three books this year (with Sleepwaking, a modern adaptation of Through the Looking Glass, a full-length novel, coming in fall). My Kickstarter for the release of Defense Mechanisms runs through July 15th. So only one week left! Sign up for an advance copy of the book, and be part of the process as it goes from manuscript to published. How would you characterize your writing style? Prose-wise I tend toward the playful—not always in tone, but in some way. It could be word play, it could be writing richer, period prose that delights in the use of language, or it might be lacing sly humor into more serious text. I say I write stories of deep, meaningful fun. That means I like to dig into meaty topics but do so with at least some amount of humor and playfulness. A favorite theme: as I say in my blog, Caution: Adults Playing, we work so hard to make ourselves into responsible adults, that we give up fun, wonder and play at just about the time we begin to need it most—to counteract the drudgery, over-responsibility and accumulated disappointments than can lead to being stuck in a rut and on to bitterness. The two aren’t mutually exclusive—you can take your responsibilities seriously and enjoy the innocent delights of life! Just for fun, what's something about you that you don't normally share with people? My toothbrush. Oh, something about me. Let’s see. I love dancing to 80s music. The term ‘dancing fool’ comes to mind… Thanks, Andy. Write on!

Cats and Cactus: Journal Update and Progress Report

I'm so far behind right now. Life happened all over the place this month and I'm just now beginning to get my attitude back. More on that in a moment. Mom's Recovering and We Have Not Killed Each Other Yet: I may have mentioned that my mother had her Gal Bladder removed back on 7/2. She's doing well, but the helpers I thought we had lined up were themselves laid up, so I've been challenged with a roll I'm not well suited to. Fortunately and unfortunately, Mom's a worse patient than I am a nurse, so she's bouncing back quickly and fending for herself more each day. Many of my friends know how deeply I empathize with people in physical or emotional pain, so they are often surprised when I confess to a bedside manor just short of hostile. I feel for people in pain, but I don't want to be around them longer than an hour or two at a shot. When it comes to nurturing, I'm a cats and cactus kind of guy. 4th of July and Nick Names: Anyway, it's hogged up some time which is part of my delay this month. We also had the holiday, which I LOVE, but I took the day off to regain sanity and that's a day I fell behind. I'm not going to regret that though, I had a blast over at my friend's parents house. I should mention at this point that I've had many of my friends since high school and some even from grade school. I should also mention that the majority of them are named John or Jon. To further complicate things, my best friend from 3rd grade on, is named John after his father, so even though we call most of the Johns by their last name, it doesn't entirely eliminate confusion. So most everyone at these events has nicknames. To avoid being John Jr. his parents called him Tiger growing up. In a twist of irony, if someone in a group setting like the 4th, referred to someone strictly as John, that's the one we'd all assume they meant. John's brother, Aaron, has a name to himself. However, when his mother was so angry she could barely speak because we'd done something or forgotten to do something, she'd mangle their names together, like Ti-Aar. John somehow emerged from this as John (Tiger) and Aaron was christened Aar-Ti. (Probably didn't help that Aaron was tall and had basketball skills). Another high school friend, John, got stuck with John Thomas throughout high school, courtesy of Monte Python, but in college he managed to make the shift to JT. My friend Rick didn't need a nick name, but we were already in the habit so he ended up with The Ricker (think BOC and don't fear him, also probably because his last name begins with R--Rick R.). Our college buddies all ended up with just their last names, particularly Shorter, because he's well over six feet. All that to say, I spent Independence Day with John Sr., Tiger, Aar-Ti, JT, Shorter, The Ricker and their families, along with another dozen guests who dropped in and out. Aunti Cheryl stayed with Mom so I got a much needed break. Saturday was Wild Branch: That is my Oasis in a land of confusion. It kicked my ass as always. The message was about relationship. Basically, a band of obligation surrounds two people in a relationship. When we pull operate in love we don't feel it, because we are drawn close to each other. When we start to draw apart we lean back against the restraints that are in place regardless of the attitude we have toward each other, or the emotions we feel for each other. We can respond to this discomfort by trying to sever the ties that are holding us, or we can realize that our feelings come from that lack of love that could be helping out. Obviously this hit me hard on several fronts. I've been really weighed down by the time and effort that goes into helping Mom recover. I really wanted to throw myself into the editing that will advance me toward my goals/dreams. So many things have gotten in my way that I'm becoming quite ruthless in my pursuit. My attitude about my mom stank and it was causing me pain in a situation that is just what it is. So we'll see if I can fix that. This morning, as I contemplated this idea, it occurred to me what the burden of Christ is. We've all heard the verse Matt. 11:29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." I could always see why casting my problems on someone else, particularly someone who is all powerful, would make me feel better, but the part of it that troubled me was the part about taking on His burden did not sound restful. To be yoked to something certainly speaks of that relationship binding Mike G. spoke of Saturday. However, the burden of Christ is his love for mankind. It keeps coming full circle. Love God, love each other, and love yourself. When you do that, your obligations to each other become light. I like the way the message puts it 28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Lunch in the Sun with Friends: After Wild Branch I got to eat lunch with Ricker and his wife Lynette, and Miss Stacy. Miss Stacy is a gifted school teacher, and more importantly my movie buddy. It's a good thing we'd just had this grace filled message about relationships because Miss Stacy wanted to go to McMins...which is a great place to go if you like snooty servers and over-priced, greasy food. This time was much better. The server was good, the company was great, and we sat on the porch in awesome weather and I do like their beer (don't ask about the food or the price.) I spent Saturday night at the $3 movie theater. I saw Hangover 3. I needed something about that speed. It was funny, but I'm glad I paid $3.50 Sunday Coffee: This brings us to Sunday Coffee. I met up with Friend Kristin to chat about old times and catch up on what's happening in life. It was a truly pleasant way to spend an afternoon. On the way home, I stopped in at Sherri's and drank ice tea while trying to catch up on some work. I did the trial edit on a friends novel and sent it off to her. That made for a great day. Then at home I tried to open it to send it to her and it wouldn't show my edits...not a good thing right before bed! So I'm off now to try to resolve that and really hoping I don't have to spend the 3 hours to do it over again. Progress Report: I officially surrendered and went through my project plan/action hopper and moved everything back a month. I had only planned three things for August to build in slack for this sort of eventuality, but not that slack is used up. Also I've discovered some steps that are more time consuming than anticipated so I broke some items down into more steps which means it really is going to push everything back a month. I knew this would probably happen and I purposely set this goal as a stretch, but it still sort of sucks to actually admit the set back. On other fronts, I've uncovered really good resources on how to run a kickstarter campaign. So I feel confident that it will pay off on several campaigns I intend to run this year. My greeting card muse with The Ricker is progressing nicely toward the testing phase, and I have a meeting scheduled for next Saturday on the muse that my friend Jeff and I are going developing. I have a meeting today to plan a book booth at Sunday Streets Alive Vancouver. More details on that soon. Up Coming Events: Today is Author Speed Date in Tigard! Details on yawn flier. July 19-20 I will be at the Robin Hood Festival in Sherwood, OR. Friday 5 PM through 11 PM and Saturday 9 AM through 11 PM I don't have a flier on this yet, and probably won't until the end of this week, but here's a link to their website--http://www.robinhoodfestival.org/

Monday, July 8, 2013

If we all threw our problems in a pile

Here's some advice from a 90 year old I found on http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1uDuXi 45 Life Lessons, written by a 90 year old 1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good. 2. When in doubt, just take the next small step. 3. Life is too short not to enjoy it. 4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will. 5. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need. 6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself. 7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone. 8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it. 9. Save for things that matter. 10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile. 11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present. 12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry. 13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about. 14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it. 15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye… But don’t worry; God never blinks. 16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind. 17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways. 18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger. 19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else. 20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer. 21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special. 22. Overprepare, then go with the flow. 23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple. 24. The most important sex organ is the brain. 25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you. 26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words, ‘In five years, will this matter?’ 27. Always choose Life. 28. Forgive but don’t forget. 29. What other people think of you is none of your business. 30. Time heals almost everything. Give Time time. 31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change. 32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does. 33. Believe in miracles. 34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do. 35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now. 36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young. 37. Your children get only one childhood. 38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved. 39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere. 40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back. 41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you think you need. 42. The best is yet to come… 43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up. 44. Yield. 45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Living Out of Your Vehicle

This is incredibly similar to an idea I had only they went a slightly different direction with it. The more I look into mobile living the more tempting it becomes. I had the idea a long time ago, but I figured it was just my craziness. Now I keep bumping into it and I've found quite the community of people with a huge variety of lifestyles and reasons that live either mobile or off the grid. Here's a couple of resources I've been most impressed with. http://nurvers.com/ who got together in 2010 and have a great video on making a living while being mobile. http://livinginmycar.com/ this beautiful gal gave up on long hours to travel everywhere and is now raising a baby on the road. Here she is talking about how she makes her money: Here's a book on how to do it by Bob Wells: http://www.amazon.com/Live-RV--And-Travel-Freedom-ebook/dp/B008S129XY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372882180&sr=8-1&keywords=bob+wells

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Perspective on Problems

According to my schedule I needed to post this yesterday, but I’d only half birthed the idea, and I needed to spend the day with my mother before she went into the hospital for some fairly common procedures. She’ll be fine, I’m certain, but it doesn’t stop her from feeling nervous. I don’t blame her. Anyway, my thoughts revolve around the difficulties that face us in life. It feels as though we are beset by challenges, attacked by pain, and grieved by loss on a frequent basis and our inclination is to mitigate these factors. We must, however, be careful that our strive to do better doesn’t become a flight from hurt. Such a life is ruled by the fear of things which may not come to pass, or which may in fact be inevitable. Nor can we forget the sweet taste of hard fought victory. To a brave few, the very presence of a mountain is challenge enough to climb it. We don’t need to join them. Whether your run or away from fear, it is still controlling you. We don’t need to respond to every opportunity for risk, but neither can we turn away from every bad thing. In fact, failure, pain and loss are not bad; they are naturel to this world. The road ahead will lead uphill and down again, but if you would honor the Devine Spark of your existence, then you must be willing to see suffering as natural. By facing challenge and hardship we mature as people. The answer to which challenges to take on lies in who you are. What must be refined in you? In what way must you grow? I believe we blame God for the blessings of hardship when we should be thanking Him for it. The key is to know that we are loved by God. That makes all the difference.