Tag Archives: Windward

January Smorgasblog

Okay. Here’s a random list of catch up things for January. 11 in November, 12 in December… Should be either 1 or 13 in January, no? Well, somewhere in between. Here we go.

0. [inserted last] Today is Lizzie’s 14th birthday! Born 1/11/2002.

1. My friend and writing mentor Holly Lisle’ s Memory of Fire (World Gates Series) is on a special price for Amazon Kindle = $0.99.

My review: Great opening to a cool universe. Pretty classic parallel universe with lots of nice twists. Strong females! Yeah. Be happy that they are all out so you don’t have to wait read them all like I did! I can’t find my paperbacks, so now I can have it on ebook! Holly Lisle writes books you can’t put down. This is no exception. 

Currently #211 paid in the Kindle store! Check out her stuff at her websites: [Her Books & Blog] [Her Writing Classes]

2. First Convention booking WeAreAllSFfor 2016. WE ARE ALL SCIFI. NOV. 4–6, 2016 ♦ OCEAN SHORES.

Join Tor editor Beth Meacham, authors Jennifer Brozek, Nancy Kress, Jody Lynn Nye, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Raven Oak, Mike Resnick, David Gerrold, William F. Nolan, James E. Gunn, Angela Korra’ti and many, many more TBA for a fun con at the beach! Kid friendly!

Our other Guests of Honor include Celebrity Guest of Honor Drew Hobson (Grimm, voice actor, State of Decay & more), Games GoH Scott Hungerford, and musical guests Dara Korra’ti (Crime and the Forces of Evil) …and games, costumes, writing workshops, panels, dances…

See you there.

3. We now have the first two members of The Desert Club, a street team of Deserted Lands fans. Want to help? Want a FREE ALL IS SILENCE T-shirt? Click on the link.

4. Oh, and have I asked you to read Toils and Snares? Yes? A hundred times? Are you sure? Are you exaggerating. Only a little? Would you leave an honest review? You haven’t finished it? It’s on your Kindle? I’m needy? Did I tell you why? Did I mention that BookBub promos usually have over 20 reviews and I have 19? You’d tell me if I was that author, right? Oh, I wasn’t but I am now? Yes, in fact, we did play the game of questions in Drama at school. I lost? That was a statement? Oh. You’re right. Sorry.   

5. November’s Elevensies sale sold 111 ebooks, at least that was my count until one final sale came through from November on iBooks. So, 112. Probably biggest month ever for number of sales, but adding in promotional costs made it a less than average month in income. Still a lot more people have read one or more of the Deserted Lands series. I’m planning on doing another sale near my birthday in February and the date of ALL IS SILENCE’s print publication.

6. Some personal goings on you can check up on the non-writing blog. I’m working on lowering stress levels by finishing old projects, getting rid of shtuff, reading more, exercising more and rebooting my relationship with alcohol. Planning on blogging about these processes there, interspersed with non-alcoholic drink recipes and food to go along with them.

7. Working on building a library at Windward High School where I teach. So, moving books from my house thataway as well as donating a bunch of my books to worthy causes like Heinlein for Heroes, Books for troops, alternative high school and juvenile detention center libraries. If you would like to donate to my school library, let me know!

2015: Waiting to get off the roller coaster…

2015 had its highs and lows. Unfortunately the low spots were way lower than the highs were high.

For the lows, I lost two students in June and had two more suffer significant injuries. Then this month I lost my new grandson, Nolan Luther. You can read my posts about these here. Scroll through the few personal blog posts that I wrote this year. The two most significant start with the word Sad.

It is through this haze of sadness that I write today. Because that’s what I do. Working through my grief, building shelves, cooking food for family and writing. I don’t have it in me to write fiction and I’ve wrote most of what I can for now. I’ll finish with some of the things that went right in 2015.

A stand-alone parallelequel to ALL IS SILENCE.
A stand-alone parallelequel to ALL IS SILENCE.

My birthday, February 15th, marked twenty years as an professional educator. I released the first o f two books: The short Deserted Lands novel, TOILS AND SNARES, on my oldest brother’s birthday, February 28th.

Following the sad end of the school year, Elena and I took my youngest son, Ian to Italy for his high school trip, a tradition started by my parents with all his older siblings and cousins. We saw great art, opera, a street cellist, and many wonderful places: Rome, Florence, Venice, Verona and the foothills of the Dolomites. Other than intense heat, some allergies for Ian and my phone left behind in Vancouver, B.C., the trip was splendid.

After sending Ian to England for some time with his mom, aunt and grandmother (and a lot more chilly weather) Elena and I headed to Torino to visit her cousin. We loved Torino, the museums, the lower heat and the food. Then we headed south through Genoa to Cinque Terra for a night and then back to Rome and home.

At home, I headed to the finish line to STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS, the sequel to my debut novel ALL IS SILENCE. I was pushing hard, but it was going hard. My deadline was a release party at Village Books on August 28th. I went to Worldcon, the Science Fiction and Fantasy convention, in Spokane. We arrived to an apocalyptic red sun from all the forest fires. I spent most of my time in the room trying to finish book II. But, alas, my computer died. The fan stopped working and I could not even get it to start for long enough to back up. My backups to the cloud had inexplicably stopped a few days before we left for Spokane. I took the last day to see people. Greg Bear remembering me was the highlight. He accepted a personally inscribed copy of my debut novel, and signed a copy of his new novel, WAR DOGS.

I came back to Bellingham, we managed to print 25 Advanced Reader Copies for the release party, which was well attended, and sold quite a few books, a shirt and some download cards for Village Books and me. I spent that next week before school started turning out a better copy and printed 25 more copies. After I printed the next 25 I realized there was no identifying that STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS was Book II. So if you have a copy of it that doesn’t say Book II, you have one of the first 75 printed! Hopefully, that will mean something someday.

Our school year started really well, despite a bunch of changes in staffing and less students than we had hoped–a building year in both senses. Part of my building has been working with another wonderful student teacher who has become a friend and a writing critique partner, Tegan Shelton. You can check out her first book here.

Having such a capable student teacher enabled me to begin building a school library. With two student book drives and a bunch of help from the last years worth of TAs, and Ro, a Windward parent and librarian at Whatcom Community College, it is coming together.

Then third quarter started at the end of November 30th, (a date that marks six years together with Elena! Yeah!) and I am teaching English 11/12, Drama AND Spanish I (for the third time in 20 years.) I have found myself challenged and overwhelmed, but exciting to be teaching again.

The year has ended not well, but with another outpouring of love. Please keep my family in your thoughts in the days ahead. Pay it forward with some Random Acts of Kindness, please.

Wishing you a Happy New Year and much peace and joy.

rob-sign-Trans-blue

 

Figuring things out for August and everything after.

As I sit, still slightly befuddled by the week just passed, I ponder the long term. In the wake of the deaths of two of my students and two more greviously injured, I don’t know what my summer will look like.

I still have big goals: finishing STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS is the biggest.  The book release party is scheduled for August 28th at Village Books. It’s up for pre-sale on Amazon. PLEASE don’t buy it yet! I need to have the final electronic mobi ebook file uploaded by the 9 pm PST, August 8th deadline in order to meet my pre-sale release date of August 18th.

I may not make it. There is much to do.  This weekend I did have a  breakthrough on why the climax and conclusion were not working for me. The bad guys weren’t actually bad enough, nor active enough to carry the weight as protagonists. I think I have figured out how to fix that in this third draft. My deadline for that? Seven days from now.

So, I am planning on laying low on the social media. Probably popping up to talk about word, scene and chapter counts in the revision.  Send me positive thoughts and word karma!!

Thanks,

Rob

 

Publishing: How the short-view can lead to Longview

Beware this is a bit of a random post. It would be more coherent if I had time to edit it! 😉

Longview Asylum, Cincinnati.

The publishing industry is in a state of flux. My take on this situation is in the title of this post. If a writer focuses too much on what is happening to publishing, their latest book ranking, and promoting, they will likely go crazy. Not that authors aren’t already by their very nature a little crazy. But focusing on the day to day details in publishing is about as bad as watching your daily stocks rise and fall.

I admit, I spend too much time looking at my statistics and reading about the latest thing to lift a book out of obscurity. But, I do believe the only way out is time. As i mentioned in a comment today on google+, I’m on year 22 of a 25 year Overnight success plan. I’m glad I started submitting fiction back in 1993.

So, how do I fight the urge to check the data every day? Mostly, sadly, adverbly, I don’t As the data gets less interesting, I pay less attention. I also fall back on my habits when I submitted short fiction. The more irons you have in the fire, the less important each individual one is to success.

One of the irons I put in the fire today was SELF-e. I uploaded Toils and Snares to it. SELF-e is a ebook service for public libraries. It is marketed as a discovery service. If your book is offered free and people read it, the more likely they will buy it or request the next one at their library.  It will be months before I see any feedback and then it will not be in sales, but the more I offer myself out there, the more likely people will find me.

When offering myself out there, I do my very best to limit my cries of “buy my books,” to cries of “buy it now on sale.” And the rest of the time, I’ll talk about process or share a bit of advice. I want to be that ‘cool bald writer’ who is very eclectic rather than that annoying bald writer whose record player is stuck in the same track endlessly begging for people to buy his books!

I’m off to Sucia Island in the Salish Sea with a bunch of high schoolers and some college folks. I’ll be taking word processor 1.2–a Write in the rain notebook, a comp book and pens and pencils.

Don’t let it kill you baby. Don’t let it get to you. The waiting is the hardest part. ~Tom Petty

 

 

Too Much to be Happy for…

STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS-front
Click image for FULL COVER REVEAL

Well, not too much. But a whole heck of a lot.

#1. Check out my new cover art for Straight Into Darkness!

#2. My family and friends.

#3. My readers/fans.

#4. A new novella: Toils and Snares

Toils rob

 

 

#5. Wrote new words today, though I cut more than I wrote.

#6. Updated webpages: this one, www.robslater.com, and www.rockettears.com.

#7. Many recent blog posts.

#8. 1381 Wattpad followers.

#9. A great job at Windward High School

#10.  Coming up on my 30th high school reunion. HHS Class of 85!

#11. Music: amps and rooms and lists that go to 11.

One Tin Soldier pre-order and other updates…

I’ve released another short story, One Tin Soldier final microOne Tin Soldier on Amazon as a pre-release. I’m experimenting with the marketing tools available to KDP select so I can decide what to use for my next novel. Here’s the cover art for One Tin Soldier. I created the art work with Canva for $1 and many hours of work and feedback from friends, family and fans. I highly recommend trying it out if you are planning on releasing any e-books.

Just Desert Cover Art

It’s my second self-made cover. I also designed the cover for my first short story on Amazon, Just Desert. Both are available for free through Kindle Unlimited.

In addition to this work on cover art I have also finished the design brief for Straight Into Darkness and will be running a PubSlush crowdfunding campaign in order to compensate my editors and cover designer at the professional levels they deserve. You can become a fan of the PubSlush here.

The rewards for the campaign are closely related to the amount pledged. For example, you’ll receive a Signed Paperback copy of All Is Silence & All Is Silence T-Shirt pubslush-logofor your $20 pledge. In some ways, my idea for crowd-sourced fundraising is to pre-sell and resell items at near regular price so that people pledging funds get a good return on their money along with my greatest thanks and some good parking karma!

Now, I’m off to finish up some trainings for my day job teaching high school English. Then I need to grade papers. In anticipation of tomorrow nights Open House. Thank you for your support. Page 2.

Goals, Humility and Reality…

Well, what have I accomplished as I wind down toward going back to my day job as a high school English teacher?  I’ve written more than 25 words all but 3 of the last 70 days. I’ve averaged 546 words. I only hit 2000 words of fiction on one of those days, though I had two more days where the combo of fiction and blog posts exceeded 2K. I’ve mostly finished a rough draft of a novella currently titled Toils and Snares.

I’ve reformatted Outward Bound for some special promotions in conjunction with the novella’s release. I’ve created a cover for the magical realism short story Just Desert and intend to have it posted as an ebook early in September.

What I haven’t managed was to break my 6000 words in a day goal. Nor have I hit the 75,000 words I had hoped for. Well, I still got a lot done. I had a 54 day writing streak.

More later about humility and reality! I gotta go to bed, as I have a work day at school tomorrow!

Why write a book for an audience that doesn’t read?

From 1999 to 2012 I taught at small alternative schools. One of the challenges as an English teacher is finding books that can hook students who did not grow up reading. Most students have one book that they read and loved: The Giver, Of Mice and Men, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Witch of Blackbird Pond, My Side of the Mountain, Island of Blue Dolphins,Hunger Games. I wanted to write a book for the kids who have gotten to high school without finding that book that they couldn’t put down.

I worked with a lot of young women who had lives that continually interceded with every attempt to connect with school: boyfriends, fathers, mothers, siblings, girlfriends, jobs, pregnancy, illness, drugs, boredom… Many of these young women eventually graduated from high school. Many did not. Most are doing well. They come and bring their kids, or their partners, show me pictures of their kids, their cars, etc.

I had the idea for the Deserted Lands Universe about 20 years ago right after finishing Lord of the Flies. The book made me very angry. How depressing can you be? Take the best of the best and strand them on an island and within weeks they will have degenerated into savages? Not the kind of stories I wanted to write. So I wrote a short story originally called Jailbreak 2000 or something like that. By the time I finished the first draft I had a new title: Nor Iron Bars a Cage.

The setup was that in a prison for the most violent convicts in the near future, inmates would spend half their time hooked up to a M.I.L.D. [Mescaline Induced Lucid Dreaming] System. When a plague hit killing 90% of humanity, these men and women were not afflicted by the disease due to the medicinal qualities of the Mescaline. They would start over and I wanted to show that for the most part these worst of the worst would make good. The short story grew in size and never did reach a satisfactory end.

My time for writing was limited over the next few years. I got a full-time job, had two more kids, got married, became president of Shakespeare NorthWest, got my Masters Degree and my National Board certification and released a CD, Some of the Parts. For more specifics on the writing path, you can read, Path to Indie Publication: Parts 1-10. My life took a couple left turns in there and I found myself drawn back to writing fiction.

So, 15 years after the first spark,  I had an idea. What if this plague hit and we followed the story of an At-Risk teen girl, someone who had a rough life so far? That was in 2011. The idea lay in my subconscious other than a few notes. I wrote an intro scene, Lizzie eating the last frozen pizza with a shotgun in her lap with a dead guy out in the street she’d killed while protecting herself. Oh, and the dripping can of Lima beans pierced by the buck shot. 😉 A few paragraphs actually made it into All Is Silence.

When I began writing I shared the WIP [work in progress] with two 15 year old girls. They asked for more, demanding it at times. Eventually,  I got to the point where it slow ed way down. Then the first two attempts at an ending came up short. I would have to wait quite a while to see if my novel appealed to the target audience.  My first most passionate responses came from older folks, retired Senior citizens.

When the book came out,  students started reading and responding. My fellow teachers told me they were having to tell kids to stop reading my book. My first reviews from teens came in. And most demanded more. I got my first OMG tweet exchange between two teens I didn’t know. “I just got All Is Silence.” “OMG, it’s that book!” That sounded like success to me.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Class of 2014. Sunscreen. Really!

Notes from a Commencement Address to Windward High School’s Class of 2014.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Class of 2014. Sunscreen. Really

What is Rob known for? Not throwing things away? Recycling? So the best way to offer advice? Recycle it. Borrow from the best. So, I’ve got advice from Shakespeare to Suess, Anne Frank to Ani Difranco, Heinlein to Hemingway, Mother Teresa to Twisted Sister, Spider, My Aunt and the Beatles, Tolkein to Rowling, and Socrates to Slater [cough].

Dr. Seuss: Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

RELATIONSHIPS
Ernest Hemingway: The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them

Accept, embrace, seek out diverse ideas, people, experiences.

Ani DiFranco: There is strength in the differences between us. there is comfort where we overlap.

Mary Schmich from Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen. “Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.” or your family’s. If they are, tell them “We’re not gonna take it.”

Don’t try to save anyone who is not already trying to save themselves.

Find at least one friend to tell your secrets to. Be a good shoulder to cry on and find a good shoulder to cry on when you need it.

Follow your instincts! If someone makes you nervous there are reasons, even if you can’t put your finger on them. Don’t be paranoid, but do be careful. Travel with friends. Maya Angelou: Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

Accept chivalrous actions, but don’t be blinded by love, roses and repeated apologies. Be wary of promises. If you ever hear, “You would do this if you love me,” run. Run fast. Run far. If you’re interested in dating, watch how the person treats their parents. Watch how the parents treat each other. This is not infallible, but is a strong predictor.

Spider Robinson: “Shared pain is lessened. Shared joy is increased.”


MONEY

Beatles: “Can’t Buy Me Love.” You won’t have to worry about money problems if you follow these rules.

  1. Pay yourself first – Out of your very first paycheck, [out of your graduation gifts] take 10% for you to spend on yourself right now, put 10% away for long-term [retirement], 10% for emergencies.
  2. Pay bills on time – If you can’t make a due date call them before the date and tell them. Ask them if they can be flexible. Most of the time they can and will with reasonable people.
  3. Don’t run up loans, credit cards, for anything less than your house, your education, or your car. (And not for the car if you can help it.

Socrates: Wisdom begins in wonder. Read, Read, Read!

Don’t be a pirate. If you find a book, a movie, a song that touches you enough that you want to experience it again. Try to pay the person who gifted the world with their art. Share it with friends.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Dance! Sing! Laugh!

Be responsible to yourself. Take chances on new friends, and on new experiences, but not in a car! 6% of Drivers are under the age of 21, but are involved in 11% of accidents.

Learn to say “I’m sorry.” Even if you don’t mean it, it begins a healing process. Nothing else will soothe your soul and other’s souls as quickly.

Forgive quickly and try not to hold grudges. Get angry and let it go.
Be generous with your thanks. As Mother Teresa: “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” Notice all the beauty that is around you and swim in it.

Abraham Lincoln, who suffered from depression, said, “Most people area as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Make your mind up to be happy. Ask for help. Depression is real. Sometimes being unhappy can be cured by a little exercise, especially outside in the fresh air. Get some sun, but not too much. Sunscreen. Remember.

Relax. Learn exercises to help you focus your mind and body like Tae Kwondo, Tai Chi or Yoga. Learn to recognize when your body is tense. Then learn to relax it.

Robert A. Heinlein: “Always listen to the experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.” Make lists of things you want to do today, tomorrow, next year and the rest of your life. Mark each one off when you do it so you will feel accomplishment and progress. You can even add things that you have already done to the lists. Give yourself credit. Give others credit.

You are at the beginning of the most freedom you will have in your life. Choose to enjoy it. Soon enough you will have lots of responsibilities. Let them come in their own time.

Anne Frank: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Improve the world a little at a time by being a good friend, by smiling, by cleaning up after yourself wherever you go. And that recycling thing? No aluminum in the paper and no paper in the bottles and cans or garbage!

Ralph Waldo Emerson: appreciate beauty, find the best in others; leave the world a bit better, whether by a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

Stand out. Weird is not necessarily a bad word. Be outstanding in your field, even if it’s a real field full of muddy pigs! Work hard at something you enjoy. Expect to have to work for everything you want, then when things come easier you will really appreciate them.

Keep a journal to help you remember now, this time, today. You think you’ll never forget, but as you get older things fade. Write in it your lists of things to do. Write the things you want to say to people, but can’t. Someday you’ll be able to. Write a song, a poem. Write when you’re angry. Then burn it. In a safe place and then make sure the fire is out.

In a commencement speech Jim Carrey said that fear will be a player in life, but you get to decide how much. You can spend your life imagining ghosts, worrying about the future, but all you have is this moment. Many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really would love to do seems impossible, out of reach and ridiculous. So we never dare to ask the universe for it. Ask for it. You can fail at something you don’t like, why not try to succeed at something you Love? Love or Fear? Your choice.

And last, for now anyway, but certainly not least: Love! Keep falling in love. With life, the sun, the stars, the rain, a person, a song, a thought, an ideal, a book, a movie, a food, or a flower. Be good to each other. Dream a little. And This above all: to thine own self be true.

[Then I played Get Real. Here are the lyrics. Here’s the song.]