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December 30, 2018 - The Subconscious

The new novel now has 12,360 words in it and more will be added as soon as this has been posted. I plan on working on it every chance I get. I hope to have the first draft done by the time I return from Launch Pad next year. Speaking of next year -- I hope everyone has a happy new year and has plans to make 2019 better than 2018. These are stressful times and spreading a little joy to others is one way to help ease that stress. Respect others and extend a helping hand when you can.

It's strange how the subconscious mind works. Yesterday, while in the shower, a thought popped into my head informing me of something I've overlooked in the novel I'm working on. I wasn't thinking about the book nor did I have any idea I'd forgotten something. But, there it was--poof! This has happened to me more times than I can count. It's as if the subconscious mind is continually reviewing things and if it finds something that needs to be addressed it alerts the higher mind to what it has found. That's why I've learned to blank my mind as best I can when I'm trying to solve a complex problem. I just look at it and let the super parallel processor called my brain work on it for a moment. The solution usually appears and if it does not I know it will pop up sometime in the near future when I least expect it.

Even though my birthday is not until next week, my wife and her sisters decided to celebrate it yesterday. We went out to a local restaurant where they presented me with a couple of cards. The presentation of gifts was forbidden--has been for some time. My wife managed to find the best birthday card I've ever received. As you know, I like dragons. I write about them and love watching them in movies--especially dragons that have a relationship with people. My primary reason for watching Game of Thrones is because of the dragons. Look at the card she got me:

This is a card I will keep for many years. I plan on taking it to work so I can put it on display.

Even though I'm still on vacation, I did have to drive into work yesterday. Our Information Technology department pushed some updates to our computers. This triggers a forced restart a day or two later. I can tell when the production computers are not running because there is a report that goes out at 0420 every morning. I have it sent to my personal email so I can monitor the system. If that report does not show up, there's a problem. I also get emails of errors when they occur and another when the error clears. the system is robust enough to handle most catastrophic network failures and minor issues with the database. Yesterday, the report did not show up and no error message was received. This told me that the system had been restarted. I drove in, logged back in to the two production servers, and was back home in about an hour. These are not true servers--just laptops running multiple Microsoft Access programs. Keeping them running is part of my job.

This concludes my last post for 2018. See you all in 2019!


December 23, 2018 -- Writing again

I am on vacation and won't be returning to work until January 2nd of next year. Since I've finished my website programming books, I decided to get back to work on writing Peacekeeper 4. Since the manuscript has languished for so long, I had to go back and re-read what I'd written several months ago. Now that I'm in the right state of mind, I found several issues with the original prose and made some changes. As of early yesterday morning, I'm now adding new material. If all goes well, I should have a first draft finished by the end of next year's Launch Pad.

APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) has posted a short video I believe every human on Earth should be forced to watch and to think about. It is a sight that only a handful of humans has ever witnessed with their own eyes and one that no human will ever see again until we return to the moon. The incredible real-time video of Earth rising over the moon's horizon puts a new perspective on our world.

Earth is a beautiful world--especially from space. It gave us life. It is our mother and our father. Yet, we treat it as if it is a slave or worse. It provides us with everything we need to thrive but the vast majority of people take it for granted. We are ruining our planet--the only planet we are capable of living on and our only home--at an alarming and increasing rate. And for what?

There is a huge difference between needing something and wanting something. We need to eat but we want a thick juicy prime steak. We need a place to live but we want the best house we can't afford and a second one to 'get away' to. We need a job so we can live a secure life but we want to accumulate wealth even if it is at the expense of others. We need transportation but we want to be seen driving an expensive luxury car. When the needs of every person on this planet are met, then we can think about obtaining the things we want. What kind of person are you? Do you even try to help those less fortunate than you? If you have the means and you don't try, what kind of person does that make you? "A survivor!" some will say. Not in my book and not in any of the books that spell out how a person of any of Earth's religions are to live their lives. It's time we started working for everyone instead of for ourselves.

I certainly hope that the world's population will wake up, put an end to greed, and set ourselves on a path of a sustainable relationship with Nature. I'm done ranting about this topic. I promise to do my best as a human in 2019 and beyond to make this world a better place not only for myself but for everyone and I will refuse to support or socialize with those who won't.

Have a happy new year and let's all try our best to make 2019 the beginning of a new respect for our planet and for each and every respectable human inhabiting it.


December 16, 2018

Yesterday, while at B&N, I finished reading PHP and MySQL Web Development. This was the last book in a large series of books I've been reading to increase my knowledge of how to build a web page. I've only scratched the surface and I doubt I will ever need even the small amount of stuff I've learned so far. But, it was something I wanted to do. I plan on putting some of this knowledge to work on upgrading my author website. But, now that I've finished my reading assignments, it's time to get back to writing.

Peacekeeper 4 has been simmering on the back burner for a long time now. The itch to write is returning. I start my Christmas vacation next Friday and that's when I will be getting back into writing. I hope to write every morning until I return to work in 2019. If all goes well, I should have a very good start on the book by the end of my vacation.

The price drop has caused a small increase in sales. Based on this, I will keep my books at $2.99. This is where I had my books priced for a long time. Several years ago, I read that books priced this low were not viewed as being worth buying because readers assumed that the author priced them so low because they weren't that good. Even though I found this to be a bit odd, I decided to follow the article's advice and priced my books to reflect the fact that I have had good reviews and I am an active member of SFWA. Sales did seem to go up and I was happy.

Several months ago, sales began to fall and then hit a low I hadn't seen since I uploaded my first novel back in 2009. The reason, I believe is people have come to expect rock-bottom prices on Amazon for fiction. I'm not greedy, so I dropped the price to $2.99. This is the lowest price I can place my books and still collect 70% royalties. I've been toying with the idea of putting the first Peacekeeper book at $0.99 to see what happens. I'm still undecided at this point.

I think one of the things that has interfered with my desire to write is the current political situation in the United States. We have a President and a government that seems intent on dismantling every rule and law that has been put in place to protect the environment. This government acts as if they were elected to serve large corporations instead of the people they are supposed to be representing. In my opinion, they are nothing more than a bunch of rich, greedy, narrow-minded people who have no ability to care for the hard-working people who elected them. Big corporations are not interested in anything other than profit. They are driven by greed and they are sending this world into a climate disaster that will affect everyone on the planet.

We need a government that believes in science. That understands the long-term consequences of their actions. That cares for the people they were elected to serve. We need laws and a law enforcement organization that holds people accountable for their actions including the rich. We need to tax the rich so they are upholding their fair share of the burden of running this country. The rich are not privileged. They think they are because they can buy their way out of trouble and bury the truth of what kind of people they really are. I wish there was a way to outlaw greed.

It's time for me to go back to my own universe. To immerse myself in a society where most of the people actually work toward the betterment of everyone instead of looking out only for themselves. Time to start writing again.


December 2, 2018

Climate Change Report
The day after I saw the news that the latest report on climate change was out, I downloaded a copy and started reading. It's a massive work with every scientific fact backed up by references to the original data. There were a lot of other things I could have done, but the report was important and I wanted to know what was in it. Even though I just read the highlights and some of the selected details, it still took me several hours to digest. It is an eye-opening report. You can get your own copy from the official government website. Our planet, the only home humanity currently knows, is in danger. I'm almost 61 and many of the changes that will take place will become starkly visible in my lifetime. Those changes will become worse and my kids will have to live in a world that is becoming hostile to life. It's depressing.

New Cell Phone
About six months ago, my 3-year-old HTC 10 smartphone (which was the flagship phone for HTC when I purchased it) began to reboot itself when it hit 25% battery level. It would enter into a continuous reboot loop and required a hard restart to fix. Battery life began to rapidly decline. About a month ago, I started to get fed up with it and began researching for a new cell phone. For a long time, I had my eye set on a Google Pixel 3 but the cost was prohibitive. Last week, my HTC battery was discharging at a rate of 1% every 1.5 minutes and even starting from a full charge would not last the night in standby mode. By this time, my dad had purchased a new phone after doing a bunch of research and he settled on the Moto G6. The specs looked good.

The Moto G6 processor is actually less powerful than my older HTC 10. But, the phone runs near stock Android. Now, I'm a tech nerd and I've always enjoyed owning high-tech stuff. The practical side of my brain was telling me I did not need the power of a flagship phone. I had to remind myself that today's phones are built to become obsolete in 3 years because of the nonreplaceable battery. That pretty much ensures that someone will need to buy a new phone every 3 to 4 years. Did I really need a $1,000 flagship phone every 4 years? The answer is no. I bought the G6.

Phones in the Android One program run near stock Android. My phone was clear of bloatware and even though it has the same memory capacity as my HTC I have more room remaining after reloading all of my apps. It is snappy and runs everything I've thrown at it (I don't play games). My only complaint (which was easily corrected) was the fact that the phone was so slippery I couldn't set it down on any cloth surface without it slowly sliding to the floor. A nice rubber case solved that problem. I will be sticking with Motorola Android One phones from now on and I will never buy a flagship phone. I can't justify the cost and I don't need the insane specs of a high-end phone.

Book Sales and the Itch to Write
A couple weeks ago, I said that the itch to write was gone. I also said I was going to drop the already low prices on my books to $2.99 (the lowest price I can set and still make 70% royalties). The drop in price has caused a small uptick in sales. I've been spending my time learning PHP and enjoying my time off. The itch is beginning to return but my desire to complete my website developer education is overriding my desire to get back to writing. I will finish reading this book on PHP and MySQL and then I will consider getting back to writing. Unlike a romance writer, I don't have a fan base that is anxiously awaiting the release of my next book. There's no hurry. Nobody has been sending me emails asking me to please hurry up and write another book. I like to write, I like to see my books in print, and I love to see a sale because I know someone is reading my story. But I also love computer programming and learning new technologies and languages. For now, the writing will be taking a back seat while I satisfy another itch.