Friday, June 30, 2006

Don't Worry, Be Happy

I think that writing turns people into worry warts. Because I'm not one to worry a whole lot. The Lord is in control, and as His Word says, all things work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

Thing is, I don't exactly know how writing fiction falls into His grand plan. God might look at my writing, and shrug, thinking to Himself (if "thinking" is what you would call it), "Well, if he must, I'll allow it. But he's on his own."

Clearly, I don't know the will of God. Instead, I know the will of Ryan. And Ryan wants to become a published author. Well, okay, so I accomplished that with a short story credit. (Actually, soon to be two short story credits, as I just found out yesterday!) But I mean, Ryan wants to become a published novelist. And without any heavenly signs, I can't be certain how that will ultimately turn out.

I'm a confident person, actually. I'm pretty sure I'll eventually have a book published. Hopefully that book will be Mindburst. But this is where the worry kicks in.

You see, what if Mindburst is good enough to be published, and it sells fairly well, enough to convince the publisher to publish book two? Yet, the readers read book one and say to themselves, "Hmm. That was a decent story." Then, they forget about me. They instead, move on to another author. While my writing might have been interesting, it wasn't enough to make them want to read another novel by Ryan Bruner.

Which then means book two tanks, and my writing career is over.

Or, worse yet, what if book one makes it to the market, but sells poorly. Yet, due to how much I've learned as an author, book two is infinitely better. Thing is, book one leaves a sour taste on the lips of readers, and so they give up on this Ryan Bruner author altogether.

It is early to worry about such things, I suppose. But in the meantime, I can't seem to get my head out of book one. I keep analyzing it, trying to figure out ways it might not be good enough, and perhaps I should rewrite this chapter or that chapter or change a character's motivation or any other 1001 things I could do to the story. When does it end? Well, from what other authors have said to me, that desire doesn't stop until it is finally published and on the book shelves. And even then, the worry continues.

So, here I am. A worry wart. I've never been a worry wart. I don't even think I've called a worry wart. So, I keep humming the tune in my head, and sing the lyrics to "Don't Worry, Be Happy." It doesn't seem to be helping.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

My Feminine Side

Due to the infinite wisdom of high-level management in my place of work, a decision was made to distribute our teams around the world. We are a global company, after all, and must compete in a global environment. Really, this means we can save mega-bucks by giving my job to some folks in India or China. But, whatever...truth is, companies have to do what they have to do.

Anyhow, the point is, sometimes this arrangement is good for the company, and sometimes it's not. Today, it was not, and quickly ran into a situation where having the team in three countries basically means no one can get to the solution of a problem. So, the discontented side of me came out, wanting nothing more than to just commiserate with a fellow coworker about the state of things, and how things could be better if they would have only listened to my private rantings about this very thing years ago. Of course, had those rantings not been private, they wouldn't have listened to me anyhow, so either way, I needed to vent.

But then my coworker had the audacity to do something that is altogether male. Do you think he nodded his head everytime he was supposed to agree with me and shook his head everytime I said something that was unbelievable?

No. Instead, he tried to offer me a solution.

Can you believe that? I mean, would I have bothered to walk all the way around from my aisle over to his aisle in order to complain, and then expect a solution? He was supposed to just play along, complain about the state of the union, so to speak, and wallow along with me.

But he didn't. How utterly typical of a guy. I should have sought out a female colleague instead. You know, the feminine touch. The type of person who knows that when I'm complaining, I don't want someone to fix the problem, I want someone to listen!

And so it hit me. The problem wasn't that my coworker was "being such a guy." (You can just ask my wife, and she'll tell you that I suffer the same affliction.) The problem was that I was stepping perilously close to being in touch with my "feminine side".


No offense to all my women readers. There is nothing wrong with the feminine side. I love it, in fact. After all, I married a woman! She is the greatest thing since sliced bread, which is saying a lot since everyone knows sliced bread is the greatest thing ever!

But the truth is, I'm a guy, not a girl. And for a guy, being feminine isn't a compliment. (At least, not usually...although, my wife does find it incredibly cute when I admit to tearing up at the latest Hallmark commercial. Or so she says.)

So I guess I'm gonna have to just buck up. Take it like a man. Stop being such a girly-girl. (Insert any other feminine related insult to men you can think of.) Because the world ain't perfect, and there's no point in crying over spilled milk. Hmm. Any other cliches? No, I think that'll do it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

How Do You Say "Family" in Russia?

I mentioned in my last blog that over this past weekend, my family got together to celebrate my parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary. They are two love-birds, probably moreso today than they were even ten years ago.

Anyhow, with the exception of one of my five brothers, everyone made it. For the record, that was a total of four brothers and their wives, one sister and her husband, each of the children from those respective children, for a grand total of thirteen grandchildren, plus a newcomer to the family: Dan.

Dan is a newcomer because just a few months ago, my sister and brother-in-law adopted him from Russia. He's ten years old. And so new to America, in fact, that it was a bit difficult to communicate with him. While he is absorbing English at an amazing rate, as children seem to be able to do, he still couldn't find the right words for much of the time, nor could he fully understand what we were saying. When my sister was trying to explain who, in this family, was an aunt, an uncle, and a cousin, he seemed thoroughly perplexed. It took some doing, but we finally got him to understand the aunt and uncle part...but forget about "cousin".

What was fascinating to me was how Dan, in some ways, parallels the main character in my book. In Mindburst, Alex longs to know her family. She wants nothing more than to hold her parents in her arms. She spent her whole life locked away in an asylum for kids like herself.

Dan also spent most of his life longing for parents. Of course, Dan doesn't have any mental powers (at least, none that we're aware of!), but that longing for someone to call "Papa" and "Mama" was there. So much so, in fact, that almost from day one, Dan took to calling my sister and brother-in-law these affectionate names.

It takes a lot of courage, on his part. He came from a small village where technology as we know it was virtually non-existent. Even the idea of a freeway overpass was new to him. Yet, he travelled literally around the world to discover a whole new life, to become part of, for the first time, a family.

I'm relatively untraveled. Oh, I've visited around thirty-five of the fifty states, and I've even been into Canada, but I can't say I've ever truly been somewhere foreign. About the closest was the time I stood in line for Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror behind a group of young adults from, I believe, Peru. Or Venezuela. I can't rememer for sure. But they hardly spoke a lick of English, and I spoke just a tad over a lick of Spanish. So, in the half-hour we were in line together, we managed to communicate that I was from Michigan, which was north of Florida. That's about it.

Thing is, even that little bit was mentally exhausting. So to come to a new country with a new language where no one speaks your native tongue deserves a round of applause, I think. Anyhow, I'm proud to say Dan is a part of our family now. It's a shame that he lives on the other side of the country, though. We won't get to see him much.

Making Men Squirm

There is a topic that men love, but hate to discuss. Although, they seem more open to it recently given the popularity of Viagra, as well as the growing fear of prostate and testicular cancers. Women, it seem, can talk openly about their breasts. (I even saw a recent breast cancer event where all participants receive an "I love boobs" T-shirt.) Men and their genitals, however...forget it.

Thing is, it is an important topic on various levels. And so, I'm daring to delve into a below the belt discussion here that will likely affect Type 1 and, possibly, insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetic men at some point in their sexual lives. Impotence.

When I was a teenager, my parents didn't speak to me about topics involving sex. At least, not very much. I mean, my parents were passionate people, and I never doubted their own sexual relationship. (In fact, we just celebrated their 50th Anniversary this weekend!) Yet, the times the subject has come up, it seemed rather spontaneous and shocking.

I could share each of these, but really I'll focus on one. When my mother was lecturing me on the importance of being able to detect my own blood glucose levels, to sense them, and to check my BGL frequently. Among the list of reasons?

"Listen, you don't want to be trying to have sex with your wife some day and can't have an erection!"

Uh, excuse me Mom, but I'm not even dating anyone, let alone having sex! Besides, the state of my penis was my own business, thank you very much! So, I tried to get past my momentary embarrassment and change the subject (by insisting I am very good at sensing lows).

But, alas, I grew up, got married, and ultimately have to live with the reality that sexual disfunction can and does accompany lows. I'll admit, I've kind of lucked out in this area, and had very few instances where my diabetes has interfered with my sex life. Yet, there have been times. Usually, if I can tell my BGL is hovering at that border of being low, I'll grab a snack, and prolong things until I'm feeling ready. But there have been times where I wasn't quite to the point of being "symptomatic" with my lows, yet when the time came for the little guy to, uh, grow up...well, it just wouldn't happen! None of these times were really a big deal. My wife is understanding.

Yet, I recently learned something interesting. Failure to have an erection isn't the only consequence of a low. In fact, there can be "after effects" of a low.

A few weeks ago, I had experienced an on-going low. You know the kind? Where you start out low, eat something, but it isn't enough, and pretty soon you've been borderline low for an hour or two. This doesn't happen often with me, since I usually overtreat a low. But it happens. And so, in this case, I had been low for a couple hours.

During this time, I tend to experience a tingling numbness in my extremeties. (No, not that extremity!) Usually my lips, my ears, and my fingertips. This can be misleading because even after my BGL has come up, the tingling persists, leaving me thinking I'm still low.

So, anyhow, there I was with all this numbness and tingling. I tested, and found out I was safely at the 120 mark. My wife and I decided to have some fun. I had no problem achieving an erection, so I didn't think anything of it. But here is where the prolonged low still had its effects...because I found that it took an abnormally long time to reach the point of orgasm. A really long time! Not that I was complaining. Ah, yes, the things we diabetic men must suffer...

Anyhow, the point is, I learned that being in a low state isn't the only problem. Having been low can also affect your performance. Which only goes to prove my mother right.

Which leads me to one more taboo subject related to lows and men. Size matters. And I'm not saying this because of the umpteenth advertisement I've received in my e-mail insisting I'm not big enough to satisfy my wife. No, I'm talking about how incredibly tiny the penis can become when you go low. I mean, really tiny. Puny, even. It is a humbling experience. Yet, it is, in fact, another sign.

I've preached about the importance of detecting lows here before, and even brought up some of the more peculiar things I look for. Well, this is one of them. Because when I'm small...really really is a sign. It means I need to test my BGL. Men should use this sign as yet another means for detecting the state of their BGL.

So there you have it! That wasn't too painful, was it? It could have been could have been a discussion on the importance of the Digital Rectal Exam!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

What Are You Reading?

What are you reading right now? (Well, not right now now. Because obviously the answer to that would be Ryan Bruner's blog.)

Typically, I'm reading two things at once. One in the form of an audiobook that I listen to during my drive to and from work. The other, a book by my bedside.

Admittedly, I get through more audiobooks than those in paper form. Mostly, it is a time issue. I'm a slow reader, and so by the time I have a moment to read before bed, I'm tired. Sometimes too tired to read. Othertimes, tired enough that I can make it through a chapter before my eyelids no longer obey. I pry them open to just finish one more page, but they insist on sinking to the closed position.

Currently, I'm in the middle of two books. (To be clear, I use the term "middle" loosely, meaning some point after page one, but before the last page.)

In audiobook, I'm reading Ender's Shadow, by Orson Scott Card. Shadow is a kind of sequel, in a way, to Ender's Game. Yet, it isn't really a sequel, since it takes place simultaneously as Ender's Game. I won't give anything away here, don't worry. But if you enjoyed Ender's Game, which might just be one of the greatest science fiction books I've ever read, you should enjoy Ender's Shadow.

I'll admit, I don't find Ender's Shadow quite as compelling as Ender's Game. But Ender's Game is a hard act to follow. Yet, despite this, I think that Ender's Shadow might just be altogether more brilliant. Card managed to write a story that parallel's Ender's Game, and even takes place within the same setting and time as Ender's Game where you ultimately know the outcome, presuming you've read Ender's Game...yet, the book is written in a way that still draws you in, wants to know what is going on. It adds new depth not found in Ender's Game. For those who read the first book about Ender Wiggen, it is an amazing ride. Yet, if you never read Ender's Game, you could come into Ender's Shadow and read it and completely enjoy it. There might be nuances you don't pick up on, but all in all, a wonderful read.

I haven't finished Shadow, yet...but I can already say it is a highly recommended book. This comes from someone who found the true sequel to Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, not compelling enough for me to finish.

The other book I'm reading (in hardcover) is Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper. I'm not yet far enough along to give an in depth analysis or anything, but I will say that the premise and writing are most definitely compelling thus far. If the books holds up as well as the first 100 pages have, it will definitely be a recommended book.

And don't miss Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants! I finally got a chance to meet Sara in person after having known her on-line for a few years. She did a book signing at a bookstore near me. This is Sara's third book, and it has been greeted with rave reviews. I haven't had the chance to read it yet, however. My wife stole it from me, and then quickly informed me that I won't get it back until a few of her friends read it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I Didn't Finish. Sigh.

This week is all about church. Not for you, perhaps...but for me. It started on Sunday, which is usually about church anyhow. Except that instead of going from our worship service to our bible school class, my wife and I had to sub in the three year old room. (Although technically, everyone in the class has already turned four.)

Unlike the twos, which my wife and I used to "teach" (which is frankly a gross misrepresentation of what you do with two-year-olds..."babysit" would be a more appropriate term), the threes actually know how to play together. They also know how to turn moody quicker than scat (my new favorite phrase after hearing it on an episode of Little House on the Prairie).

But I discovered something the threes also like to do. They like to play games that they honestly believe is a game, but really is a manipulative technique to get them to be quiet. Simply, I called the game, "The Quiet Game." The goal? To see who can be absolutely silent the longest. Surprisingly, they absolutely loved the game. So much so that when we were all done, they insisted we continue playing it. All the better for my sensitive ears!

So that was Sunday. So, you may be wondering, what's up with the rest of the week, then? (And if you weren't wondering, then this is a gentle nudge for you to wake up and pay attention!)

Three letters. V. B. S. (That's Vacation Bible School for those of you who should know, but don't because you don't go to church. Tsk tsk tsk.) Anyway, yes, it's that time of least at our church. And this year, our church is being transformed in a Jerusalem Marketplace. Kind of cool, actually. There has been a team of guys working for several weeks chopping down some brush and building shops along the side of the church. Looks wonderful. Except now they are predicting rain all week, which means it was likely a waste of effort because everything will have to be moved inside.

My role in this? Well, I do have a part to play. Even had to make myself a costume. I spent hours and hours cutting out patterns and sewing them together. Then, eventually my wife took over because I'm just too slow.

But I have my costume, so I'm set.

I doubt anyone cares about this. But I thought I should mention it when I came to the part where you feel sorry for me. You see, several weeks ago, I had an agent express some interest in my manuscript. However, she had some "concerns". After chatting on the phone for a while, I came away with a list of things that could make the manuscript better. She wants to see the manuscript again after I make said changes.

So, I've been working diligently, and I'm almost done. My goal was to be done by yesterday. Why? Well, because I'll be busy every day this week with VBS. And then nearly all of my family is coming in from out of state to celebrate my parent's 50th Anniversary. That's twenty-nine people, counting five of my siblings, their spouses, and their kids, plus my parents.

As you can imagine, I won't have time to do anymore editing for a while. But, unfortunately, I didn't finish. I still have about fifty pages to go. (That's editing, not writing.) So, now do you feel sorry for me?

No? Okay...well what if I told you that I also had a broken leg, back pain, and recovering from malaria? Would you feel sorry for me then? Of course, I don't have a broken leg, back pain, nor did I have malaria...I was just wondering at what point do you actually start to care is all.

Friday, June 16, 2006

An Od(i)e to Fathers

What, exactly, is an "ode" anyway? I hear the term often enough, but other than presuming it is something poetic in nature, I'm not too sure. Funny. Here I am, thirty-three years old, and only just now wondering what in the world an "ode" is.

Odie, on the other hand, is quite clear. I always felt sorry for Odie. Garfield is so mean to him, yet he takes it day after day, stupidly thinking that Garfield cares about him. Will he never learn? Probably not. He is, after all, stupid.

And just why is that? Sure, there are some pretty stupid dogs in the world. But most are actually quite smart. They are pack animals, and quickly adopt any family that takes them in as their own. They'll bark and bark and bark at the next door neighbor each and everytime he steps within a few dozen feet of the yard, despite the fact the neighbor has lived there longer than the dog. Okay, they may not actually be able to protect you in a time of need, but they sure well act like they'll protect you. They'll comfort you when you're down, too. They'll play with you when you need someone to play with.

I suppose, in many ways, fathers are like dogs. Or, at least, they should be. Loyal to his children, protective, both able to wrestle with his kids when they want some playtime, as well as offering hugs and encouragement when they are down.

Of course, fathers shouldn't slobber, I suppose. That would be rude. And disgusting. And definitely no biting, even playfully. You don't even want to see what happens if you bite your child. Child Protective Services doesn't take kindly to biting, as you can imagine.

And, well, fathers probably should use the indoor toilet facilities. It might look kind of funny to go out in the backyard everytime you need to relieve yourself. At least cats know to use a litter box.

On second thought, I suppose fathers shouldn't be like dogs. Maybe they should be like cats. Sleep all day, demanding to be stroked and pet anytime he demands it. His family should be like little planets rotating around Papa Sun. Yeah, that's sound great. At least for one day a year. Father's Day.

That's it. Go ahead and treat him like a cat one day of the year.

The other 364 days, treat him like a dog.

And along those lines, here it hem...

Ode to Fathers

The time has come to celebrate Dad
To buy him gifts that make him glad.
But what he really wants more than golf tees or ties
Is to learn that the gift you bought was a really great buy.
Because while the sentiment is great, and the tie a great look,
There is nothing more precious than money saved in his pocketbook.

Admittedly, while I'm a writer, I ain't no poet. Still, the intent is the same. My wife asked me what I wanted for Father's Day. I didn't really have an answer. I don't even really care. All that matters to me is that they don't spend much. Because that would make me really happy!

(Although, a new iPod would be nice...)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What Song Is Playing on MY iPod

I've noticed there is this trend on a great many blogs. You might even call it a feature. The blogger posts what song is playing on their iPod at that moment. Kristin Nelson, literary agent, is among them.

And I mean no disrespect to anyone who does this, but frankly it is annoying. Why? Well, sure, it is interesting to see what kind of music the people you find important (or, at least, intriguing) listen to. But, I don't know...isn't it just a way of saying, "Nah, nah, I've got an iPod and you don't!"

Okay, so truth be told...I'm jealous. Because I want an iPod, too. I wish I could include a "feature" on my blog that announced to the world that I'm listening to Avalon or whatever. Not that I even care whether or not you care what music I listen to. But then I could say I'm part of the iPod craze. I'm hip, I'm happening.

Instead, I have this old PDA which can hold more no more than 10 songs. And I couldn't even tell you where the charger is for it. Haven't touched it in a while. I bought the PDA, originally, to develop my Logbook DM software. The fact that I could play a few songs on it was a bonus, but certainly not cool.

Then, not long ago, something cool happened to me. I got my hands on an iPod to do some testing with. I was kind of excited about it. I was all ready to load up the thing with my favorite songs...and since it could hold on the order of 1000 songs, perhaps even load up a few songs I don't even really like! I'd head to the streets dancing cool moves, everyone watching me in awe, knowing that I had joined the iPod revolution.

But, alas, the iPod wasn't mine alone. (Well, technically, it wasn't mine at all, since it was owned by my place of work.) No, we had to share the device among the entire team. And, sadly, my team members don't seem to appreciate the same kind of music I do. One went so far as to say, "Well, all Ryan has is some religious crap."

It isn't exactly what I would label the music I listen to. But to someone who defines music as "blues", I suppose I couldn't complain.

And so, today, I'm still waiting for the day that I can say, "What song is playing on my iPod?"

Probably some "religious crap".

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Adventures of My Youth

We found it on an unassuming hill next to an abandoned vineyard. There were shrubs growing all around, and from the street, you would never have known it was there.

We had to trespass to get there. But in those days, cutting across neighbors yards was an accepted method of getting anywhere. No one complained. I'm not even sure anyone got upset. This was in the days before everyone lived in isolated islands called "my property". Property simply defined the plot of land you were responsible for mowing, and nothing more. Beyond that, property was deemed rather public, except to those few who put up fences.

So, when we trekked through the shrubs to the door in the ground, it was like discovering a portal to a whole other world. It almost looked like those cellar doors we saw on TV shows that were flat and led to a basement from the outside.

"Should we open it?" I asked.

But it was a pointless question. Scott or Jason (I honestly can't remember which), was already lifting it.

There wasn't a lot of light, since the entire area was shadowed by trees. But with what light we had, we could see a set of old, crumbling concrete steps leading down into darkness. There were spiders and other creepy crawlies, as we liked to call them.

I was petrified. My eyes darted around, sure that someone was going to come running, yelling at us. And in those days, being yelled at by a neighbor was reason enough to be petrified. But Scott and Jason wouldn't leave it alone.

"Come on," they said, already halfway down the stairs.

"I'm not going in there," I said. "We might get caught."

"Nobody even knows this place is here, Ryan. Come on!"

I said I would stand guard. That was the brave thing to do, after all. They disappeared into the darkness, and I could hear the scuffling noises, and the sound of wood banging on the floor.

And so began our journey into "The Vault." I'm not sure I was even nine when we found it. We probably weren't even the first ones to find it. But to us, we had stumbled onto a great mystery. Why was it there? What was hidden in the darkness? And why, ultimately, was there literally a metal vault door down there, locked? What was hidden in the locked room?

These were the questions we would ask ourselves for years, after many visits to The Vault.

Today, as an adult, I still have many theories about that place. But even better than the treasures that may have once been held in the Vault is the treasure of the memory of that place. It is fodder for stories. I think I might write about the Vault some day. And, like that one small part of my childhood, there are many other sources of adventures to draw from.

I never realized just how rich my childhood was until I started seriously writing. Things we did in innocence which, today, would probably get us arrested. Like the time my friends and I, uh, borrowed a row boat and crossed the lake. We found this canal I didn't even know existed where the water was black and cold as ice. So cold, in fact, that the metal row boat started to chill my backside.

It is almost a shame that we have to be so incredibly protective of our kids these days. I only hope I can portray a small bit of the sense of adventure I experienced as a child in my own writing.

So, I'm curious what memories you have as children. What is it that made your life an adventure?

Friday, June 09, 2006

When You're Only Eight

Yesterday, my eldest was in tears. But there were no scrapes, cuts, or bruises. No mean words from any friends or siblings. He wasn't even watching the redemption scene in Message in a Bottle. (Not that, you know, that scene made me cry or anything. Eh-hem.)

No, he was in tears because the play room was messier than usual. Oh, that doesn't sound like a huge deal, I know. But you must is his turn to clean the play room this week, and he just didn't think it was fair it was so messy.

In our household, we have certain chores that are expected of our children. There is no allowance nor reward attach. It is just a part of the priviledge of living in our family. A way of earning your keep. But, we also have chores that earn money. One of those is the daily cleaning up of the play room and bed room.

The two rooms are split between our two kids. They clean the room, and ask us for an inspection. If it passes inspection, they earn a checkmark for the day. At the end of the week, depending on how many checkmarks they have, we pay them. It's a sliding scale. And every week, they swap rooms, to keep things fair.

This has worked pretty well, although they were quite upset the first time they didn't get paid the full amount because they didn't clean the room a few of the days.

But yesterday, my eldest son felt the room was particularly messy. Worse than usual. And so he started to cry. He said he didn't want to do it anymore. It wasn't fair!

Now, the platitude "life ain't fair, kid" wasn't enough to comfort him. (Too bad, too...because I really enjoy saying that.) My wife sat down with him and they had a little heart-to-heart. She reminded him that the job of cleaning up the playroom is not required work. He can choose not to do it. It is a paid job. If he would rather not clean, that's fine. It just means he won't get paid. Now son number two leaped for joy at this, because it meant that he could take over and get paid twice as much that week! We squelched that plan swiftly, however. We knew our eldest would change his mind. He had a life lesson to learn first.

My wife went on to explain that there are days Daddy (that would be me) goes to work and has a bad day. A lot more work than usual, or things going wrong, that kind of thing. But Daddy doesn't come home and say, "That's it, I'm not working there any more." I have to suck it in and show up the next day, regardless.

It took a while. About an hour, and the next thing we know, he was back in the playroom, cleaning. He earned his checkmark, and he was ultimately proud of himself. He stuck it out. It was hard for him. As the oldest, he feels more is expected of him than from the others. He's right. He will always have a year more experience and a year more wisdom under his belt than any of his siblings. He sees his closest brother as his peer. But the fact is, there are fourteen months between them. We have to remind him of that. We have to remind him that fourteen months ago, he, too, wasn't doing as much. If anything, we expect more from son number two at the same age.

Hard to see that when you're only eight, and still doing work that your siblings are not.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

June Story of the Month

A few years ago, my wife and I had this dream of moving out of our little manufactured home and into a "real" house. We shopped around, and even took a trip to a builder not far from us. The homes were beautiful, and in our insane hope that we could actually sell our current home (which, we later found out is virtually impossible in today's market), we spent time deciding exactly which upgrades to order for the home. We even got to the point of meeting with the financing guy.

In the end, we couldn't swing it. But, hey...sometimes dreams die. Or at least hibernate.

In the meantime, it became good fodder for a story. But wait, there's more!

Ever buy something that you think is perfect? When I was a kid, I wanted Laser Tag. So when my birthday was approaching, my mom asked me what I wanted, and I told her. How cool would it be to be able to play Laser Tag in your own back yard? I was thrilled! And, to my surprise, my parents bought it! Or, rather, some cheap knock-off.

But guess what? After spending fifteen minutes pointing my new laser gun at my friend's vest at point blank range without it ever registering a hit, the fun was done. I'd call it buyer's remorse, except that I didn't do the buying. My parents did. They were kind of mad that I never played with it again.

Anyhow, June's Story of the Month is titled Buyer's Remorse. It is a speculative fiction piece that combines three separate ideas that I had (hinted at above) and put together into a single piece. Please have a read, and give me your honest feedback. I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, June 05, 2006

B&N Induced Depression

I think I might just stay away from Barnes and Noble or Borders from now on, because frankly, my recent visit there over the weekend was rather depressing.

Imagine, if you will, that you have a book you are trying to get published. This book, in order to succeed, must be bought. Which means readers must find the book, pick it up, flip through it perhaps, and decide it looks good. That last part would be the responsibility of the author and publisher. But that first part...that's the tricky part.

As I walked the aisles of the YA section, I was a bit overwhelmed at just how many books there are competing for the same age group. How is my book supposed to be noticed in all of that? The thought is disheartening. I followed around this one little boy (until his father noticed me and threatened to knock me upside the head, calling me a pervert or something) trying to observe his thought process in picking out a book. It wasn't all that encouraging, because he wasn't much different from my own son. Of all the books to read, he headed straight for the Star Wars section. Typical. Good old George needs another buck or two, after all.

Depression set in around that point. Because even if I find an agent and a publisher picks up my can I expect anyone to find my book in all of that? I'll be lucky to sell a single copy in such a store! My career as an author is over before it even begins!

Of course, authors do make it, so apparently it can happen. I have to believe that at this point. On Backspace, we've discussed this. Marketing is such a huge part of publishing. And marketing to the YA market is altogether different from the adult market. I've got some marketing ideas of my own which, hopefully, will help. We'll see.

So, I want everyone here to make me a promise, okay? When the time comes that my book is sold and about to hit the shelves, you'll tell any young adult you know about it, okay? Easy enough, right? And if you're really committed to me, you'll actually buy a copy. Or two. Or ten.

I'm not there yet, however...but I figured I should get promises early to help me over my B&N induced depression. Thanks.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Future, According to Me

I've been planning my future. Now, I realize that such endeavors are often futile and perhaps even foolish...but that doesn't mean I can't have a little fun, does it?

First of all, I will not only acquire an agent for my book, but the agent will make a quick sale, resulting in a complete four-book deal. Now, as this will be my first book, the advance will be minimal. But in a year's time, that book will become a raging success, and my book will require second, third, and fourth printings. The sequels will do better, and so in a few years, I'll have earned enough to buy a new house, paid for entirely out of pocket. Woohoo!

I'll still work, however. After all, I'm diabetic, and no one in their right might would offer health insurance to someone like me, not to mention my family, without being part of an employer's group coverage. But by then, my work will be a hobby, more or less. I won't care about pay raises. I'll be able to software engineer for the fun of it. Novel concept, since software engineering used to be fun at one time in my life. Until it became a job.

I'll have another child, maybe two, and the money that I won't have to pay out for a mortgage payment can be used to pay someone who keep our house clean. My wife will like that.

I don't expect to become rich. I'm realistic, after all. Most authors aren't rich. But, I'll move up into the upper middle class, similar to those with dual incomes. Ryan Bruner will become a household name, and I'll write something really controversial about how the concept of outerspace is really just a government cover-up or something.

The truth is, I don't know what my future will be like. Frankly, I don't even know what my afternoon will be like (although I have a pretty good idea). But what is interesting about my vision of the life ahead of me is that diabetes will remain a part of it until I die.

There is so much hope among diabetics and their parents that there will be a cure. But I just don't believe it. I'm not being negative, either. I'm being realistic. I expect I'll live out the remainder of my life this way, and, truthfully, it doesn't bother me one little bit. (Blue Cross, Blue Shield, however, probably feels differently.)

I can't even imagine my life without diabetes. I'm slightly afraid what that kind of freedom would mean. So, I'd rather hold on to my disease as I plan my future, because even with diabetes, the future, according to me, looks pretty rosey.