Tuesday, October 26, 2010

World Fantasy Con, Columbus, Ohio

In another day, I will be departing for World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio to meet up with 950 or so other authors, editors, publishers, artists and fans in the professional speculative fiction business.  This is only my second con and my first major con, so, naturally, I am very excited, but most exciting of all is the chance to meet people who have become dear friends via Twitter and Faccebook.  Some are well known like @ResnickMike and @PauloBacigalupi or @blakecharlton and @SamSykesSwears.  But others are up and coming like me:  @inkhaven @sandrawickham @johnremy @erikaholt @saladinahmed @inkgorilla @mosessiregar @johnklima and more.  I'll see my friend Eric Reynolds of Hadley Rille Books, and meet some new people, too, including, hopefully some editors who have worked on favorite books of mine and perhaps a few agents.

This convention is much more industry focused, so the panels and attendees tend to have stronger ties to the publishing side itself and be less general fans.  So it's a real opportunity for me to network.  I have postcards about my books to hand out, including URLs for this blog and my website.  I also have a few copies of "The North Star Serial, Part 1" to give away, and I hope to replace them with tons of books we are to be given free when we register at the convention.  Hopefully it's stuff I don't already have.

Dave Truesdale has asked me to extend his greetings to many people and Mike Resnick swore he'd introduce me to the rest.  It should be a great time.  And I hope to come away refocused and inspired to start a new project in November for National Novel Writing Month.  I really need to get back on the horse of my daily writing routine.  It's been pretty much since May that I did that, which is a lot of wasted time.  I did write in the interim, continuing to work on the first draft of "Sandman," and writing short stories as well as outlining some other projects and revising "The Worker Prince" in bits and pieces.  But what I need is to get back to the dedication I had before and churn out the pages.  I need to shake off this depression and anxiety and focus on my dream.  Being in the process of applying for MFA programs is helpful, and I think feeling a part of a larger community and making stronger connections with people who already support and encourage me will also be good.

Whatever the case, you know I'll report on it here with pictures and notes.  Maybe I'll even find time to blog a bit while I'm there.  Meantime, if you're going to be there, be sure and look me up.  I look forward to meeting you.

For what it's worth...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Well written and powerful, it's easy to see why Paolo Bacigalupi's "The Windup Girl" has been so acclaimed and awarded.  The story of people in the Thai Kingdom, somewhere in the future, the story is told through multiple points of view - the American factory owner/agent who is using the factory as a cover; the abandoned Japanese windup girl, an android or clone, who is forced to survive by dancing and prostituting herself; the expat Chinese factory manager who works with the agent and betrays him; and two White Shirt members of the Environment Ministry who go around enforcing code, fighting disease, and taking bribes or stealing them (depending on your point of view.)  Each has a reason for why they've come to the point where all paths intersect, and each has the desire to survive the hard life that exists in the kingdom.

Bacigalupi's characters are three dimensional and well drawn, but I found it hard to sympathize with all but the windup girl and the female White Shirt.  Both of them are victims who seem caught up in circumstances.  And while each commits acts which are violent and even criminal against other humans, both have a genuine desire to do the right thing.  They are just protecting themselves the only way they know how. The lack of a central "hero" left me a bit empty at the end.

The book is paced very well and the world building is top notch.  Bacigalupi has done his research on Thailand and created a wholly real and believable future world.  In truth, it doesn't seem so vastly different from what one might expect to see in a Developing World country today, except for the gene replicating and windups.  There are dirigibles here and a few other steampunk tropes, but the time period is not Victorian and neither are the people, so it's not really steampunk genre.  It's more slipstream, often compared to William Gibson.  In many ways, the world here is if anything less developed than our own, relying on megodonts (giant mammoth/elephant type creatures) to power the city through their leg power, travel around mostly on bikes, ricshaws and a few cars.  It just doesn't seem as far future as one might anticipate, which only serves to make it all the more powerful.

Bacigalupi wisely sticks to English dialogue, subtly hinting what language his characters are speaking when necessary.  He mixes in ethnic Japanese, Chinese and Thai phrases from time to time to add to the authenticity, and even uses some key native words throughout to lend to the feeling of being inside the mind of peoples who think in such terms.

Bacigalupi is a talented writer from whom I look forward to reading much more in the future.  His future is a bleak one, which may have contributed to my disappointment with the lack of a pure hero.  But his writing craft is solid and the book thoroughly engaging.  Recommended.

The Wronging of Elizabeth Moon

These comments very much address how I feel about the Elizabeth Moon controversy and unfair treatment and villianizing of her by other parties.  And in general, they also address how the Left browbeats anyone who doesn't agree with them in the name of intolerance, showing their own intolerance as they do so.  Both sides are guilty of this, but the Left in particular has gotten way out of hand.  If Moon had said the same things she said about Muslims about Christians, no one would have objected.  Which is just as wrong as saying it about anyone else.  The difference?  Christians are acceptable villians to the Left.

I did not make these comments, and I am lifting them without permission from a Listnet, so I will neither take credit nor offer it but I agree 100%.  I do not 100% agree with Elizabeth Moon, however, she does demonstrate how many Americans stereotype Muslims.  The way to address that is not with vitriol but reasonable discussion to reveal the falseness of the stereotypes and assumptions being made.  Her one point I do agree with is that groups often want special treatment they won't extend to others.

Here are the comments I endorse:

1. Moon's comments make explicitly clear that she is not talking about an
entire group of people.

2. It is true that the Convention has the right to do what they did, but
likewise those of us who do not agree with their actions have the right to
criticize them for political correctness (which is exactly what this is).

3. The comments weren't made on the convention's "dime," and there is not
reason to expect that she would make political comments at the convention,
so the "not on my dime" rationale doesn't hold up.

It is unfortunate that in today's America, the left/progressive side of U.S.
politics is the bastion of a new McCarthyism, where you can't say something
that is not-PC, or hold a view that is not an approved viewpoint. It is
particularly unfortunate to me, because I'm very progressive/liberal on
social issues, and when I was younger and first became politically active, I
bought into the idea that the left/progressive side was the side of
tolerance, free-flow of ideas, etc. It is anything but that. Both sides have
their villains in this regard, but the left is far worse than the right,
which strikes me as ironic.  

Lastly, when I read stories they stand on their own merit (or fall on it),
and I really couldn't care less about the person views of the author. So
an author is against homosexuality - that's may be somewhat expected given his
religious views. The fact that I am in favor of gay rights and gay
marriage, etc. doesn't prevent me enjoying one of his stories, if it is a
good story. Same for Elizabeth Moon. But this goes back to the sort of
McCarthyism I was talking about above, where it isn't just enough to
criticize or disagree politically with one's opponents, but where instead
they have to be vilified personally to the point that you can't even
separate the person's political views from a piece of science fiction.



[Disclaimer: I am not progressive/liberal but I do tend to be progressive/conservative and moderate on social issues. ]

It is indeed unfortunate and un-American when people handle controversies like this today, and I think it's ruining our country.  I pray daily that it will stop.  For what it's worth...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

15 Authors Who've Influenced Me

Apparently, this is one of those list things going around so here's mine (and the list is far from complete)

15 Authors Who Have Influenced Me: (no particular order)

Robert Silverberg
Mike Resnick
Ken Scholes
Nicholas Sparks
WEB Griffin
John Grisham
Timothy Zahn
Orson Scott Card
Alan Dean Foster
JRR Tolkein
CS Lewis
Arthur Conan Doyle
HG Wells
Charles Dickens
Leon Metz

Special Request For Help

Dear Friends:

Some of you have been praying for me or at least are aware that as of next week I will have been unemployed 6 months.  As of Sunday, my part time job also is going away.  They wanted someone permanent not someone who might well need to take off.  So I am going to be in real financial straits until something comes through.

I have written a little book which is getting really good reviews (see below for examples), but hasn’t taken off yet in sales.  I need money to keep going and people of all sexes and ages from 9 to 65 have enjoyed this book.  It’s not Christian in focus but has some Christian characters.  Even non-SF fans have enjoyed it.  It’s short with small 4 to 5 page chapters (each episodes of a larger story).  It makes great Christmas gifts.  Please consider buying a copy today. 

I don’t like being pushy so this is my one and only request.  But you’ll be helping our food and rent budgets a ton, and you’ll enjoy it, I promise.   It’s light escapism.

If you’d rather have one of my music CDs, I have tons of those available to.  The book is $7.49 plus shipping.  CDs are $13 each.  You can get a discount and get the book for $5.50 plus shipping.  If we can sell 125 copies (the current on hand stock), you will be helping with $687.50, 75% of our rent.

To buy the book, please go to www.bryanthomasschmidt.net and click the BUYNOW button on that page or here.  It will be up and functional with the new price by tomorrow.  If you want CDs instead, email me and I’ll work that out.

Thanks for your friendship and support.  Here’s some reviews to wet your appetite.

Description: Ellen Maze
May 12, 2010
Ellen Maze rated it Description: 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: star trek fans, space opera fans, all ages
Shelves: books-to-review
Captain Janaai Resnick has her hands full in this first installment of the North Star Serial. Not only does she have to prove herself to her crew, but also as soon as they head out, she must prove herself a capable leader when the ship is attacked by the Korelean threat.

Author Bryan Thomas Schmidt creates for us a likable and believable female lead that is supported by a cast as three-dimensional as those at the helm of the Star Trek series. With snappy dialogue and genre-correct technology, I think anyone who enjoys the space opera will put this one at the top of their list. I don’t usually read this genre, and I was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was.

As a bonus, at the end of this tale, Schmidt includes novel excerpts from a couple of his upcoming works, THE WORKER PRINCE and SANDMAN.

Ellen C Maze
Author of Curiously Spiritual Vampire Tales
Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider (less)

Description: Chad
May 27, 2010
Chad rated it Description: 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: first-reads
I really liked Part I of the North Star Serial. I am looking forward to further adventures of CAPT Janaai Resnick and her crew against the Korelean forces. This is a good sci-fi book that keeps the unnecessary subjects of sex and vulgar language out of the space battle storyline. The book is clean, wholesome fun that I know my 10-year old son will really enjoy and he is one of those that does not like to read.

The Koreleans have a deep hatred for Christians who have colonized the galaxy after escaping persecution on Earth. CAPT Resnick has just been given command of NORTH STAR, a destroyer in the Coalition Command fleet. While on her first assignment she comes into contact with Koreleans forces and thus the war begins. Many themes are at play here and the storyline is solid. I want to follow the story a find out what happens to the entire crew in future parts of The North Star Serial.

I also really enjoyed the excerpts from both The Worker Prince and Sandman. I will keep my eyes open for these novels as I am certin that they reach bookstands

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. Thanks to Bryan for making this book available in the giveaway program. These first 13 NORTH STAR Serial stories are the start of a great adventure! (less)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Movie Reviews: Social Network & Eat, Pray, Love

Saw two movies this week which impacted me in unique and unexpected ways and I just had to review them.  An odd combination, both "Social Network" and "Eat,Pray,Love" were not high atop my must see movies lists, and yet for various reasons, I saw them and I enjoyed both far more than I could have ever dreamed I would.

The story of the founding of "The Facebook" by Mark Zuckerberg, an anti-social computer geek at Harvard, "Social Network" had one thing going for it when I went in:  Aaron Sorkin.  I hate Sorkin's politics, but his dialogue is the best in the business.  The guy knows how to bring characters to life, and he did it very well here, even writing college kids, an age group from which he, like me, has been long removed.  As Zuckerberg works with his friends and fights with classmates in creating his network and changing the cyberworld forever, I found myself relating to him in unexpected ways.  I don't want to relate to him because 1) I don't recall ever being so isolated and wouldn't want to be; and 2) as his attorney tells him at one point, "You're not an asshole.   You're just trying really hard to be."  Okay, so I can have my moments of assholedom, but I hope I am not trying when they occur.

Yet, as a tortured creative type who wants to use his creative energy and passion to do something substantial, I do relate to him.  Even his desire to be well known for it, a notion I pretty much moved to the bottom of my priority list over a decade ago.  Here's a guy who ends up backstabbing his friends and classmates, the latter because they don't know what they're doing and it's easier to just do it alone, and the former because he's ultimately selfish and self-consumed and doesn't give much thought to how anything he does effects other people.  He's not really a nice guy.  Not a guy I want to be like, and yet, I totally get the isolation he lives with and overcomes only through his creative gifts, and I relate to the idea that sometimes ideas seem to have no value when the person having them doesn't have the knowledge to make them reality.  Sometimes it's easier to just do it yourself than work with such people, no matter how great the idea, and once upon a time, I also lost a friend for running with an idea which wasn't wholly mine.

Here's a movie about geeks founding a computer network.  Doesn't sound like a very dynamic exciting movie.  But the movie is powerful and moves at a fast pace.  Sorkin and director David Fincher did a great job of adding tension by intercutting between the college days as "The Facebook" became an idea and was created to more recent times when Zuckerberg defends himself in lawsuits by those he screwed over.  It adds a sense of urgency as the reasons for the current falling out get gradually revealed through scenes of the history behind it and development of the characters.  And characters are fascinating here.  They drive the story, as is usual with Sorkin.  I found the film an inspiring and challenging look at chasing dreams with a relentless passion to let nothing stand in the way.  I love Zuckerberg's passion, echo it, and hope to emulate it.  I just hope to leave less debris in my wake.

"Eat, Pray, Love" finally made it to the local $2 theatre and my wife just had to go so we went.  Based on a memoir by writer Elizabeth Gilbert, who, after a divorce and a sense of losing her way, embarks on a year long journey which takes her to Italy (eat), Indian (pray), and Bali (love).  Along the way, she develops friendships with unique and interesting people, finds herself, and teaches us some lessons about life, love, and even food.

I expected this to be a very girly chick flick.  I like Julia Roberts.  "Notting Hill," "Pretty Woman," and "My Best Friend's Wedding" are three of my favorite romantic comedies, but this just sounded like a "Under The Tuscan Sun" clone.  I saw that and enjoyed it, but just was not at all in a place where I found the idea of seeing another appealing.  What I found instead was a story I related to, again, more than I ever could have imagined.  Elizabeth Gilbert finds herself making a fresh start much as I am being forced to do by the circumstances of my life.  After finally deciding her marriage just didn't work and falling out of another unsatisfactory, hastily launched affair, she feels like she doesn't know who she is any more.  (Boy, am I feeling that).  What does she want from life?  What will make her happy?  Who is she?    Winding up living as a third wheel in her book editor's home, she finally decides she needs to just get out there and find herself, and the three countries she chooses have various appeals to her which lead her to believe answers can be found there.

Filled with memorable characters, good humor, and profound emotions, the movie reminds as all what a roller coaster ride life can be, especially when you have no idea where it is taking you, and as Gilbert discovers her need to let go and live, let go and let life go on, I was reminded that I too hold on too tightly to the reins.  It's a big part of why I feel so miserable in the current chaos of my life.  Everything is so out of control and so I feel like I am spinning uncontrollably with no foundation.  In the end, it is when her Balian guru tells her that "sometimes part of finding balance is losing your balance in love" that Gilbert finally figures out what she wants and where to find it, and I am hoping I can soon find balance somehow myself.

I thought the movie had plenty to offer both men and women and certainly couples as it has a lot to say about the ups and downs of love.  One warning:  don't skip dinner to attend as we do. "Eat" is in the title for a reason and watching the first 40 minutes of lucious Italian food will have you salivating by the time you leave.  If you love other cultures and travel, you'll find fascinating stuff here.  If you like people learning to live more adventurously (even if you can't manage to do it yourself) and like people learning how to value people more than other things, then this movie will bring you joy.

For what it's worth...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Importance of Critical Thinking

I saw a hilarious demonstration of how some people are so biased, they refuse to think things through critically when Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg got so mad at something Bill O'Reilly said that they walked off the set.  O'Reilly quoted a poll which showed that the majority of 9/11 families and Americans don't want the Muslim Community Center built near Ground Zero because it's inappropriate.  They asked why it was inappropriate and he said "Because Muslims attacked on 9/11."  This infuriated them.  Why?  They hold themselves up as informed thinkers, well educated people who should be listened to.  Aren't they then aware of the fact that most Americans do not distinguish between the terms Muslims and Muslim extremists?  In fact, extremists of any kind are regularly lumped in with non-extremists of all worldviews.  Because I am a Christian who is anti-abortion, I am automatically judged in favor of bombing abortion clinics.  Because I am a Christian who is against redefining the term "marriage" for gays, I am a gaybasher.  So the good, decent every day Muslims who find the 9/11 attacks and all Muslim terrorism abhorrent are lumped in with the extremists.  No, it's not right, but it's a fact.  Another fact:  if it were Christians in the poll, they wouldn't have walked off.

All this goes to show how little critical thinking people do these days, even supposedly smart people.  I went to school with both gays and Muslims.  Several close friends in those groups.  Growing up in a small Kansas city, I had not been aware of knowing anyone from those groups, so my friendships with them opened my eyes.  I have also traveled all over the world studying cultures and peoples and worldviews and how they differ.  I have tried to live among them and dig in to see the world through their eyes so I might begin to understand who they are.  This has taught me to think through everything.  My common sense and powers of observation both tell me all Muslims are no more extremists than all Christians.  After all, some 60 Muslim families lost loved ones at the World Trade Center.  But the mass public doesn't have experiences like mine to pull from.  When they hear charismatic or confident known people make statements, they believe them.  When someone tells them Muslims are evil, they buy it.  All Muslims are evil terrorists.  Others buy that all Christians are abortion clinic bombers and gaybashers.  But a small amount of critical thought, study, and observation can prove those assumptions false.

The poll reflected mass opinion, not informed opinion.  So to get upset by O'Reilly explaining the reasoning is a display of ignorance on Goldberg and Behar's part.  I am just as offended by the idea the majority of the public assume all Muslims are terrorists as they are, but unfortunately, that's the way it is, and getting mad and walking off does nothing to change it.  Instead, they should have dialogued about why that's a misconception and why people need to reeducated themselves.  They missed an opportunity to counter the statements off the poll and O'Reilly with common sense, either because they don't care about common sense or have none.  And that's a sad statement on the state of our country.  No wonder things are so antogonistic these days.  No wonder people are feeling pulled apart.  Until we all start thinking critically, questioning everything we hear, say, do, read, etc., we will continue to feel pulled apart.  Part of being informed is taking the time to educate yourself on the issues and the facts.  If you can't be bothered, you can't really claim to be informed.

For what it's worth...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ruminations on a Fresh Start

Okay, took a little hiatus after the last post, for obvious reasons.  I am feeling better, although life isn't.  In two weeks, I will be totally unemployed, and although neither of my recent employers will go down on my list as pleasurable memories in most ways, co-workers and others will be missed.  We do feel ready for a fresh start, however, and I am hoping that begins with a book contract.

Yet a third small press is now reading "The Worker Prince," and their first comment was "You write really well."  Makes me feel good, of course.  They loved the opening and said it sucked them right in, which is exactly what I wanted, so I am hoping they love the rest of it as much.  It would be good to have some options on this thing, especially since it's my first and smell presses and will require a big commitment on all of our parts to make it a success.

Another part of the fresh start will be attending two trips.  I leave tomorrow for Phoenix to attend Christian Musician's Summit Southwest, a conference I tried to attend twice last year and had to cancel due to my wife's illness.  I have dreamed of attending for several years, so it seems I will finally get to do that.  A lot of big name worship leaders and musicians will be there offering the chance for me to attend 8 classes, some keynote speeches, and a couple of concerts.  It will be a nice break from the mundane routine.

On the 28th, I am off to Columbus, Ohio for World Fantasy Convention, my second speculative fiction convention ever, and my first Worldcon.  I am quite excited to meet so many friends from Twitter, Facebook, etc. as well as attend lots of learning sessions, get books singed by known authors, and hopefully meet lots of other authors, agents, publishers, etc.  My old friend Eric Reynolds of Hadley Rille will be there, as will Mike Resnick and Blake Charlton, Christie Yant, Sandra Wickham, John Remy, Erika Holt, and Moises Siregar.  It will be a great chance to solidify online friendships and to be with people who are pursuing and living the same dreams I am as a writer.  I also look forward to seeing Columbus again, as I had visited there years ago on my music touring.

With the church Music Director job ending, we will also be seeking a new church home, which, along with the new job I hope materializes soon, should also make for a fresh start.

Lots of opportunities for new experiences here, and I hope to get back on and finish the First Draft of "Sandman," my epic fantasy, in the next week also, so that I can start a new book as part of National Novel Writing Month in November.  It will be good to have a push like that to get back on track with the writing.

Meanwhile, it has been good to have a break from Tangent stuff to work on reading for fun.  I am about to finish the last Majipoor book at long last (fighting tears -- these books are so fantastic) and will soon read "Windup Girl," "Boneshaker," and several others I have lined up and waiting.  Since starting at Tangent, reading for fun has been something I had little time for and I have been bummed to fall so far behind on this huge backlog.  Glad to get a little chance to catch up.

Well, that's the latest.  I'll try and write another writing cue photo post and writer's tip soon as well.  Thanks for stopping by.

For what it's worth...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Living Inside Depression

It's been a hard decision whether or not to blog about this.

First, I wonder if anyone cares?  Does anyone even read this blog?  I rarely ever get comments.  I am running a sale on my book for the first 15 who comment on my last entry, and after two days, I have 1 comment.  Most of the other posts have no comments. So it's obviously not high traffic.

Second of all, writing about depression is depressing. Who wants to read that?

Third, this is my author blog.  Most people who come here probably would rather hear about books, writing, etc, not this stuff.  Although my whole life is wrapped up in this current state, still, it's personal.  Do people want to know that much?

I finally decided I'll blog about it because writing is therapeutic for me.  And because I have spent a good portion of my life doing everything I can to serve and help others, maybe a glimpse inside the mind of a depressed person will help someone else somehow.

We recently were forced to give up a home we had hoped to purchase and moved back to a town home.  For 15 months, we lived in a house.  I had not lived in a house since leaving my parents' home.  Bianca had not lived in an apartment until she married me.  The difference in housing types is night and day and we much prefer the house.  Privacy, space, personalization -- the advantages are numerous, but ultimately, it just fits us better.  Now, my part time music ministry job is going away as well, and the options out there are retail at 41 years old, a place I never wanted to return to and which, frankly, pays 1 third of what I have been making and what, up to may, we were used to living on.  Because of the debt load we carry, in part due to medical expenses, in part due to living stupidly beyond our means, taking a retail job at such low pay will require me to work tons of hours to make up for the loss of the part time job income of $1200 a month.  If I work more than 29 hours, I lose my welfare of $880.  So instead of having $2080, I will be providing $1250 or so for us to live on.  We cannot live on that.  I am told I do not qualify for the Federal Unemployment extension because I have "marketable skills," although how you can label something as marketable which no one seems to want is beyond me.

Since being laid off from my lousy last employer in May I have applied for 500 some jobs (rough guess).  I have done 1 in person interview and 3 phone interviews.  I have worked hard on my resume, now in its 9th draft since May, consulting professional sites, advisors, etc.  In fact, I imagine I have spent close to $800 trying to get employed which increased out debt, but the economy is awful, don't let the Obama lies fool you, and it's not getting any better.  My Texas Workforce advisor says most people are taking over a year to find jobs.  Every time I hear or think about that, I wonder how we will survive?  We already are facing potential bankruptcy.  I am ashamed of being such a failure.  I am angry that I have spent 41 years and have no career path, making my job search harder.  The fact that I dedicated much of those years to missions and nonprofit work doesn't seem to matter.  I look like an unstable employee who floated around freelance and never held a job.  That says nothing about my real dedication, effort and capabilities.  It also sucks to not be able to do what you love.

My part time job was supposed to be that.  Church music ministry.  I have been writing and performing songs all my life.  Finally to get paid to do it.  And to lead people into relationship with God, which I love and is a real humbling honor and privilege.  WOW!   But instead, I found myself working for a man who micromanages to the finest detail, doesn't seem to trust anyone but himself, and, despite my 15 year track record, treated me like I just fell off a turnip truck.  People with no experience and less qualified education are allowed to do things I've been doing for 15 years but am not allowed to do at that church.  And despite the fact my worship team are amazing people, whom I adore, it has been a humiliating, hurtful experience with no opportunity for personal and professional growth.  Attempts to discuss this with the boss were met with cold ears and a "my way or the highway attitude."  Here's a man who preaches mercy, acknowledging sin, and apologies but has not practiced that toward my wife and I.  Anything we do to offend him, an apology is demanded, yet in 16 months, I don't recall ever hearing one back.  The wounds we carry for it are deep.

My full time job at the software vendor whose product I had worked so hard to promote and implement while consulting at a Fortune 500 company for four years, was one of the harder places to work.  One moment they praised you as valuable and like family, the next your job was on the line.  No warning.  I never got regular feedback.  I only heard from them when they had some major issue.  I got very little training and yet was criticized for not doing things the way they wanted them.  They put me into positions with which I had little or no experience and didn't do anything to help my succeed.  I was on my own.  Then, they laid me off at a time when they knew our struggles financially from a medical crisis my wife had last fall.  They got mad when I told them all of this, demanding I be respectful.  I was hired for technical writing.  Everyone praised my work at that.  It's where my gifts lie.  Did they really expect they could throw me in unfamiliar territory with no support and I'd be a star?  Wish I could, but it was hard.  They have too few employees for the number of high demanding clients and it's stressful and you're expected to know everything.  Since I don't like to lie and I won't damage my integrity by pretending to know what I don't, it's hard.

So here I am, feeling like a failure.  Wondering why my life sucks so much.  Why was I born?  Why in the world am I supposed to have hope when everything gets worse and worse?  I have not even mentioned some other issues, but, trust me, they are one disaster after another.  Why is it that I am called overqualified and underqualified but can't seem to find myself qualified?  How am I supposed to feel when I can't provide for my wife?  When I can't seem to hold a job?  Or when I get one I have passion for, why does it have to suck?  When I can't get anyone interested in my "marketable skills?"  Why am I doomed to jobs that are not my passion where I struggle with focus because of ADHD and lack of true passion and end up regarded as unsatisfactory or expendable because of it?  Why was I cursed with ADHD?  Why can't I do what I love?

I don't know the answer, and I don't expect you will either, but I can tell you that when I mentioned to my friend that I was lying here feeling like a worthless lump and he told me to get up and go outside, my response was:  "If I go outside, I'm afraid I won't stop walking until I reach Interstate 10 two blocks away and throw myself in front of a car."  Right now, I can't even find the motivation to do that much.

So, if you want to know how it feels inside depression?  Here's your glimpse.  Hope you don't think it's pretty.  It's not.  It's a deep, dark pit where the sun's rays can't penetrate and event he Almighty God himself doesn't have arms long enough to reach.  Welcome to my world.  For what it's worth...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

FIrst Book Signing

Attended my first book sale/signing this weekend at the La Viña Winery Harvest Festival.  We were situated right next to the very loud music stage in the El Paso Writers' League booth.  The booth was nice and it was loaded with books by our members.  I sold 3 Saturday and 2 Sunday, but that was just my own.  I sold several books by other authors as well.  I am not and never will be real pushy.  My theory is: I want people to get the right book for them.  No sense having them mad at me for talking them into the wrong book plus badmouthing the book to their friends.  Better for everyone if they say: "I got it from El Paso Writer's League.  The guy was really nice and the book was good."  Good for me, good for EPWL, and good for the author.

Being the only SF book was a bit tough, but those to whom it sold seemed really enthusiastic about it.  I had hoped that my bargain price would make the book sell a little better, but it didn't sell much when I wasn't there.  So I am assuming it's either my charisma or the lack of others' knowledge of the book which made the difference.

It was a fun experience.  Fun to chat with the customers, other authors, browsers, and just to hang out in the clean air.  We had the world's longest corndog, samples some wines, and even had a funnel cake.  Two weekends in a row.  You can't beat that!

In any case, I hope to do more of these and start selling my book.  I really need to get the income and make back my investment, plus, I'm proud of the stories.  I think they're enjoyable and a good tease of my writing, even if they're shorter and simpler than most of what I do.

One weird thing about book signings is that sometimes people ask you to write things like "to my best friend" or "with all my love."  I wasn't asked to do that this time, thankfully, because I won't do it.  To write anything untruthful just isn't me.  But I did have a guy who wanted me to include "outlandish" in whatever I wrote.  So to him I wrote:  "May this book inspire you to dream outlandish dreams and reach for the stars."  Pretty good improv, if you ask me, but then, I am a writer, so I'm supposed to have a way with words.

I'm going to offer a special deal.  The first 15 people to comment on this blog this week will get the discounted price from LaViña of $5 per book.  That's $7.49 retail, so you ave $2.49.  You'll either have to pay shipping or arrange to pick up your copy, but hey, everyone who's read it has liked it, and you will too.

Okay, let's start those comments...