“Freedom always costs more than you’re willing to pay. In my case, half — plus most of the good furniture..”
Dan M. Kalin
“..Sometimes you’re the Louisville Slugger, sometimes you’re the ball..”
Mark Knopfler, “The Bug“
It’s been that kind of year, hasn’t it? In my case, I’m seeing only a subset of the challenges of COVID19. Being mostly retired, my income hasn’t been significantly impacted but other challenges have risen instead.
I recently was diagnosed with a medical issue needing an immediate start of treatment, but COVID19 made it impossible to see or be examined by a doctor in person. One could have gone to an emergency room, but it would have only led back to the same queue awaiting treatment, as emergency room doctors aren’t the right type to deal with the problem.
After a month of negative COVID19 tests I actually got in to see a doctor. Cutting to the chase, I started treatment last week – four months after the initial diagnosis. Better late than never, right?
In the meantime, a friend of mine gave me an idea to do a Dear Leader Tales anthology of short stories, in time to be released prior to the election. We just closed the submissions period and are reading/scoring the 300+ stories now. So in between treatments, the daily work of publishing continues!
When you’re a ball, sometimes it pays to spin things around to where you’re back on the Slugger side of the equation. Especially if you can produce something which will bring joy; if not to readers, then to the authors being paid for the use of their work. All in all, that’s a win-win situation.
Inspired by a close acquaintance and her hobbit birthday celebrations, I’m celebrating my birthday by offering the Kindle version of Martyrs al-Sabra free to all on Amazon for the next five days. Pick it up!
If only the print version will do, and you want an author-signed version, they can be found here.
Chasing Eleven was released this week. It’s a collection of my short stories, early versions of some have been shared on the site, but others are definitely new.
The foreword is exerpted below.
“The title and concept for Chasing Eleven is inspired by an iconic scene from the movie Spinal Tap; specifically, a conversation between characters Nigel Tufnel and biographer Marty DiBergi:
“..If we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?”
“You put it up to eleven.”
“Exactly! It’s one louder.”
“Why don’t you just make ten louder, make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?”
(long pause as Nigel considers the possibility)
“These go to eleven…”
What does that have to do with a collection of short stories? More than is initially apparent! I’ve found certain behaviors in myself and others invariably becoming a source of rueful amusement. Generally, this occurs when a person is so focused on a singular obsession they ignore all external indications they may be incorrect and persist in likely folly.
Think of a poker player, betting all-in while drawing to an inside straight. The odds of pulling that one card is very low, but the gambler ignores them, betting everything left, sure this is the one time it will happen. Indie authors are kind of like that: persisting regardless of ample evidence to heaven’s vast indifference. Why each writer persists varies by the individual, but is closely tied to the reasons they write in the first place.
As for me, I’m just chasing eleven.”
It was fun pulling it together, Sarah Kalin – Editor helped me trim some of the more self-indulgent elements into something more or less cohesive. I hope you enjoy it!
Recently I was standing in line to board a flight, making small talk with those around me, and an earnest extrovert (who was doubtless in sales or marketing) asked me “What do you do?”. Oddly enough the question triggered a system failure in my brain, as it looped unsuccessfully in search of a correct or acceptable response. After a longish pause I muttered something about management consulting and continued on my way.
Later I considered why the question stumped me so. Part of the issue is I’ve never identified with things done merely to earn a living or for recreation. Being limited to something like that is faintly repulsive to me. I don’t mind the need of people to categorize/stereotype others, it’s merely a way for them to make sense of the world. In short, they’re building a model of who you are to guide them in further discussion. The problem I have is a simple answer will not always provide an accurate model. It generally doesn’t in my case.
So how should I answer the question?
Should I say;
- I’m an international energy systems engineer?
- I’m the founder of a gaming software company?
- I’m an inventor?
- I’m a technology product manager?
- I’m a program manager for space systems?
- I’m a book reviewer
- I’m a publisher?
- I’m an author?
- I’m a management consultant?
- I’m financially independent?
- I’m a masters swimmer?
- I’m retired?
An accurate answer requires much more than these simple statements, all of which are true but don’t get to the heart of the literal question. I wouldn’t be happy with any of these answers as my summation. Standing in line with strangers however requires a simple throwaway statement, one which conveys the balance of who you are without providing excessive detail. Better yet, the answer should provide the questioner nothing to engage (just in case they ARE in sales).
After a great deal of thought, I’ve come up with the response I’ll use going forward.
“Anything I choose.”
Swam for the Alligator Light in Islamorada, FL on September 14, 2019. Due to weather conditions the organisers shortened the race to 4 miles rather than the usual 8. Placed 94th out of 224. On one hand, disappointing, on the other I have enough energy left afterwards to smile with a duck on my shoulder. All good!
No, that is not a Dasani product, it is a home-made electrolyte drink with diluted orange juice.
“Martyrs al-Sabra” is a 2019 Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal Winner in the Fiction – Thriller – Political genre!
Before being tasked with the obvious, I did forego doing much writing last month for reasons other than my readers’ welfare. (untangle that one!) As referenced earlier, Feral Cat LLC needed an infusion of cash, and rather than pulling it out of the personal vaults I did some project work. Happily it is now over, and Feral Cat has a couple more years of funding in place without being beholden to anyone else. All good!
What was I doing last weekend rather than writing? Swimming in an open water race around Lido Key, Florida. Still recovering but was back in the pool this morning.