Friday, September 28, 2007

Life gets in the way

Originally posted HERE

The morning after I got home from my grandma's funeral, my wife took my baby to the hospital. They then sent him to a bigger hospital and kept him there for three days. My wife stayed, which meant I was alone with 4 boys. I've also been distracted by lots of advertisements that I'm doing and the deadlines for them. I had to quickly make 250 bookmarks and 2 different color ads for magazines. So my days have been shot. So, needless to say, it's been very hard to get the final proof back to Windstorm. There's a tiny convention tomorrow that I want to go to at a library, but we'll see. I'm half way through with my book. I think I need to get it back to Windstorm by Tuesday or Wednesday. I don't know how I could possibly promote my book and have a full-time job. It's crazy. I really need to get going on the second book!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Final Proof and Updated Cover in my hands!

Originally posted HERE

Well, I just got my final proof back from my publisher, Blue Works (an imprint of Windstorm Creative), so now I have 2 weeks to go over it an send it back to get published. I've already found a few little errors in the typesetting, but nothing too big. My grandma's funeral has delayed things a bit, but I should be able to get it back to them in time. I've been waiting for this to happen for almost 2 years now, but it came at the worst week. Now that I'm back, it should be okay.

Oh, and they really changed the book cover. The blue in the background is all gone now. In its place is a nice swirly orange thing. The book logo is gone and the Parallel Worlds logo has been changed to just text (the worlds around the P and the W are gone). The main picture is still there, so that's really the main thing I cared about. It looks very professional. The art director said that they did this because blue scuffs a lot.

Click Here to see the new front cover of Paraworld Zero.

Just got back from Utah

Originally posted HERE

My grandma died a few days ago and I just got back from the funeral. It was nice seeing all of the relatives gather together. Funerals are a funny thing to watch. Everyone reacts differently to death. My family and most of my mom's immediate family were happy that my grandma was no longer in pain. They all mentioned that they knew where she was and that she is in a happier place. Others, on the other hand, don't have the same opinion and were very heart broken because they don't believe in an afterlife.

My grandma certainly led an exciting life, but she's been dying for 10 years now... longer really. Heart failure, breast cancer, kidney failure, skin cancer, paralysis from a doctor's neglect over 20 years ago (which really caused most of this, since she couldn’t walk, go to the bathroom, and even feed herself for some time). She ha pneumonia several times as well as a ton of other things I can’t think of right now. But she just wouldn't die until she finally decided to die. I’ll miss her a lot. We have lots of videos to remind us of her. One thing that I am very grateful for is that two months ago my baby, Jared, was able to hold her hand for the first time... and the last time... before she left.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My grandmother will be dead next week... probably

Originally posted HERE

My grandmother will be dead next week... probably. She decided to stop her dialysis, which means her body will produce toxins that will kill her in about a week from now.

My family called her today to say goodbye... before it's too late. She will probably not be lucid in the next couple of days.

This is very sad for the whole family. My grandma has kicked death so many times. My mom has called me at least 6 times in the past 10 years to tell me that "this is finally the time. She's going to die," and then she doesn't die. But this, I think, is the real one. Every year for 6 years, we've visited Utah and taken video of her. Every year I tell my boys to remember her because this might be the last time you ever see her. I'm glad that this year we were all able to talk to her, even Jared, while we were in Utah.

For the funeral, I will be the only one to fly down, since my family doesn't need to be there. We've said our goodbyes every year for 6 years.

One of my boys, David, really took it hard and cried a lot tonight when I told them that we were going to call her to say goodbye. We've talked about death a lot in our family, since both of their grandma's have had heart failure. We spent the night watching family videos. I showed them a video of me with their great great grandmother. I remember when she died. I was their age at the time, so I know what they’re feeling.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

CopperCon 27 in Phoenix, Arizona

Originally posted HERE

I just got back from the CopperCon 27 in Phoenix, Arizona.

What's funny about it, is that I almost missed the convention, because I thought it was next week. By pure chance, I got an email inviting me to another convention. They wanted me to give them a short bio, so I thought I'd take the easy route and just use the same one I gave to CopperCon. When I went to CopperCon's site, I saw that the convention started on the 6th. I looked down at my watch and saw that it was the 7th. My heart sank because I thought I had missed my first panel and reading. Then I realized it was just after midnight and that I hadn't missed it. Whew! So the only thing I can say is that someone up there is looking after me. Thanks!

So I did my first panel and my first reading ever.... and they were great. I knew both of the panel members from previous conventions. There were only 2 people in the audience when we started, but there ended up being 8 people when it was finished. It was the first panel of the day, so a lot of people weren't at the convention yet. I shocked myself by all the insightful comments I had to say about the Harry Potter phenomenon, our topic. My mind was working well.

For my reading, 5 people showed up. That seems like a small number, doesn't it? Well, I was expecting nobody. I've been to readings before where I was the only person in the audience. I was able to video tape the whole reading. I’ll put that on my DVD and website eventually.

I read the prologue and chapter 14 (Magic Lessons). I did all of the character voices and did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself. I even had to wipe away a tear when I finished the prologue. After the prologue, everyone commented highly about “what a great prologue” it was. I can't help but wonder if they were impressed because of my performance or because of the actual prologue. I wasn't nervous at all, and, like I said, I did surprisingly well. After chapter 14, the audience commented that their favorite part was the "dog poop" comment that Tonya said to Thorn about being able to use anything (including dog poop) to funnel the magic. I got a couple other chuckles out of the audience from that chapter.

After the reading, one of the panel members was kind enough to inform me (for about 20 minutes) that I messed up on some of the facts of the ER and medical profession. He suggested I fix those parts before the book gets published. I appreciate his advice but I think it’s too late. Also, I really don’t want to bog down the text with technical jargon. Windstorm already told me that it’s too late to make editorial changes. They’re too far into the process for that. Personally, my book is for young readers, so I don’t think they’re going to even care that the doctors didn’t spout off medical terms and procedures. At least, that’s what I’m hoping!

The next day was fun. I had a panel in the morning about the business etiquette. Again, lots of good comments from me. I don't know where I come up with this stuff. My mind was working well. Sometimes I just forget everything and I can't get a sensible thing out of my mouth, but this wasn't one of those times.

I ended the day with a panel about creating realistic aliens in fiction. It was fun and there were quite a lot of people in the audience.

I got some great pictures of me fighting with a light saber. I also rubbed shoulders with a couple New York Times bestsellers. It was interesting, since both of them mentioned issues with paying the bills. I guess even successful authors are still faced with money issues... either that or they have expensive lifestyles. This wasn't comforting to me. My greatest desire would be to be able to write full time for the rest of my life.

As a total side note... I sat behind a woman who I had seen at a previous convention. She is the spitting image of a girl I had thoughts of marrying when I was younger (I don't even remember the girl's name now -- That's how bad I am with names). She looked about 10 years older than me, though, but it was so uncanny I couldn't believe my eyes. She turned around and looked back at me about 10 times during the concert, but I just smiled and didn't say anything. Her name tag said "Cat." I'm sure I'll do a double take at the next convention I see her at.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The still small voice

Originally posted HERE

Prayer - yep it's a good thing.

I wonder sometimes if people realize that prayer is a two-way communication with God and not just a one-way thing.

I spent a full day creating my first magazine advertisement. I even spent $1000 on software just so I could send it to the magazine with the proper CYMK color set (Corel Painter doesn't do CYMK but Photoshop CS3 and Acrobat 8 does). The ad would be seen by 85,000 teachers. I read over it a dozen times. I gave it to my wife to read 4 times. I had my mouse over the send button in my email to the magazine, but I just couldn't click Send. I prayed and felt like I needed to read over the text again. I read it but didn't find anything wrong. I put my mouse over the send button but didn't feel good about sending it. I prayed again and felt that I should read over the text again. I spent a whole hour stalling. Then finally, I caught the error. Right there plain as day, I had misspelled a word in the title of the ad. Both my wife and I had missed it, but I'm sure thousands of the teachers who would read the ad wouldn't have missed it. All credibility of the ad would have been instantly lost as they read the title.

Yeah, prayer is a two way communication. Sometimes the answer is just a quiet feeling: "read over the text again." It's not normally a thunderbolt.

From 1 Kings 19:11-12 we read
"11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

It's been 1 year since I lost my job

Originally posted HERE

It's been a year now since I got laid off my job. I can hardly believe it! A whole year! How time flies. I just looked at how much money my new company made so far (it's been 1 year today), and it's over 5 times as much profit as I made working at my previous job. Wow! So now the other question I have to ask is.... where did all the money go?! I guess I'd have to ask my wife that. She's the one who spends it. We did get a suburban, playground set, swimming pool/spa, vita-mix, extended patio, table set and furniture. I basically upgraded some parts in my computer and bought some software – that's the extent of my personal spending, and that's hardly a luxury, since it was considered a business expense. Oh, I guess I did buy an HD video camera, but, again, I needed it for my book trailer.

Fortunately, we don’t really have anything else to buy. All of our long-term desires have been met. And now there is just one tiny little thing I will do with our money... promote my book. But I suppose we have invested quite a lot of money as well and given quite a lot to charity (12 to 13% of our gross). We maxed out our education IRAs, increased my life insurance, invested in mission funds for 5 boys, added money to our retirement fund and mutual funds. We maxed out our insurance deductibles last year and this year because of Jared. We did pay several thousand dollars out of pocket that our insurance company didn’t cover. We put an extra $500 a month towards the principal of our house and an extra $20,000 to boot. I have two goals now: pay off our house and promote my book.

So, momentarily, this year has been wonderful. Emotionally, it has been the hardest year of my life. I got a couple white hairs in my beard! Arrg! I sometimes wish I hadn’t been laid off my job. Life was simpler back then (I only worked 60 hours a week). But then again, we wouldn’t have any of the things I mentioned that we bought and there’s almost no way I would have any significant money to promote my book. In the end, all is good. My business is coming to a close soon. I can feel it. I suspect we’ll have enough money to live off of for a couple years, but after that.... well, I just hope my book takes off. I have some other more long-term solutions. They won’t bring in near as much money but they should be consistent and less stressful. I lost $100,000 earlier this year from a fluke incident. After thinking about it some more, I probably lost half a million dollars of potential earnings because of the incident. Oh, well. That’s life. I just read online last night of someone who lost $200,000 doing the same business I was doing. It could have been worse for me. I was able to bounce back fairly quickly.

P.S. My wife and I are ultra conservative when it comes to spending. If we can't pay with cash, we don't buy it. We've never spent a single cent on credit card interest our whole lives. That's probably why we were able to bounce back from the "incident" so easily.