[For our unfortunate metric friends, 100°F = 38C; 120° = 48!]
Okay, two-and-a-half what, you might ask? Alas, I'm referring to hundred pounds. Hopped on the scale this morning and waited with bated breath until the spinning numbers (it's a digital, and spins like a slot machine until it settles on a reading) came to rest on 250 lb, the same as it read last Wednesday. That was up from 247 on June 1st, and was, believe it or not, a pleasant surprise. I've been over on Facebook posting and sharing loads of pictures of the graduation and award ceremonies that took up last Wednesday through Friday. As you might imagine, these festivities involved feasts of convenience food as we tried to coordinate the logistics of having the right people at the various shindigs, two of which were simultaneous. I was expecting 253.
So what's the point? I just want to get this out in the open: I'm fat. At 5'8" and 67 years old, I've been stable at around 250 for a decade, and while it has fluctuated a bit, it always slips back to 250 as soon as I take my hand off the throttle. My doctor hates this, as doctors are wont to do, and my son, who thinks repeatedly picking up and putting down heavy weights for no apparent purpose is a form of recreation, posted a video on FB titled, "How to Lose Weight in 4 Easy Steps." This consisted mostly of pictures of plates of rabbit food, and people killing themselves in the gym. Don't know how my own child could be so hurtful the night before Fathers Day.
I say that with tongue firmly in cheek, and I know the scientists say that being overweight brings a whole list of health problems. I don't doubt their research; I'm not a flat-earther. But here's the thing. At 250 lb, I play with the grandkids, romp with the dog, carry heavy trash cans, move furniture, and climb ladders to paint houses (well, my house, anyway). I came back from a back injury that had me on a cane for a year, and in 2014, I spent two months in a hospital bed with the doctors giving me a 3% chance of survival, and telling my family to prepare themselves for the end. I got up and walked out of there, and went back to work for two more years. I watch my diet religiously, not for weight control, but to control the pre-diabetes most likely aggravated by my weight. It's controlled, with readings consistently in the mid-100s. So if I enjoy an occasional bacon-burger with a side of fries, folks need to deal with it. I've never been a smoker or a drinker, and if my doctor was to tell me he could add five years to my life by putting me on a strict diet of tofu and kale, I don't want those years.
This is me and grandma at the graduation Friday. Am I really that bad? Oh well, if I am, you'll just have to look away. I've been sitting on a book title for years, Track of the Fatman. I'm going to use that title someday, and we'll see if the protagonist bears any resemblance to anyone we know...
Short answer, not much, what with all the excitement last week. And with today being Fathers Day, and Tuesday we're taking the kids to Corvette Diner to celebrate, I'll probably lose some more writing time and gain some more weight. Such is life. I'm sure things will slip back to normal as this weather puts a damper on going outside for almost anything!
I posted the first draft of Chapter 3 of Beyond the Rails III on a private reading site on the 11th, and have gotten some wonderful feedback from a half-dozen writers whose opinions I deeply respect, especially in view of how much they like my work! But that has come to a halt this last week as I have been polishing the outline to a high luster. I am known among my writing friends as an almost comically detailed planner, and while they enjoy laughing at me for it, they also enjoy my work, so I think I'll stay with it.
Right around the 1st, I had another of what I call "precursor events," a term used by geologists to describe the small earthquakes leading up to the Big One. Precursor events for me are when, for reasons I don't yet understand, I sell as many books in a week as I normally do in a month. I get myself all excited, thinking that it's finally turned the corner, word-of-mouth is taking effect, critical mass has been reached... and then everything goes back to normal. This is the fifth one of these, and it never gets old. Every time it gets my pulse racing, and one of these times it will be the real deal. Until then, I get to enjoy this excitement time and time again.
I am also considering joining writing.com for the third time. This is a paid site which offers a lot while asking a lot. The main focus is posting material for review, and paying for those reviews primarily by reviewing the work of others. There is a big commitment to make, but I'm retired now, so I should have time, one would think. I got tremendous help the last time I was there, being advised on British slang and accents by Britishers, Prussian accents by a German, and weather conditions in Kenya by a world traveler. There's a lot to think about before I make that move, so I'll let you know if and when I have a portfolio to visit.
This possibility is made more attractive by the fact that The Punk Fiction Writers' Guild, my attempt to establish a stand-alone writers' group for our genre, is dying on the vine. Absolutely nothing has happened there since my last post here, but if you'd care to humor me, drop by and see what it has to offer. Maybe it will come to life yet!
Another site I'd like to draw your attention to is Steampunk'd, a site of general information about the genre, with guides to people, environments, culture, glossaries, and even a shop selling mostly jewelry. Very much worth a look for the serious punkist.
Finally, let me make another appeal to readers of this blog to become readers of independent authors, if you aren't already. Look, I won't try to kid you. We all know that it is a very easy matter to self-publish these days. You type up your manuscript, load it into a publishing site's template, click the mouse, and hey, presto, you're a published author! An obvious result of this is that an awful lot of people who can't write a grocery list have books for sale on Amazon, and when you lay out good money for an indie, you're taking on the very real risk of getting an incoherent, rambling narrative that goes nowhere, says nothing, and isn't worth the paper it's printed on. But consider what you stand to gain!
Authors published by publishing houses have generally passed the test of quality. You personally may not like the genre or the author's style, but a publishing house is not going to publish anything that they don't believe will make money, and that means a lot of sales. On the other hand, what do they think is going to make money? Short answer: The Last Big Thing. I don't know which of the teenage-vampire-romance books came first, but that now comprises the entire Young Adult section of your local bookstore. Zombie apocalypses? We're waist-deep in them. Epic fantasy? Don't get me started! The other factor is that if an author does have a breakout hit, her publishing company now wants her to produce a trilogy, a series, a saga of Lord of the Dragon Throne Sword Ring Games, and will simply refuse to publish anything that doesn't continue the formula. What if that writer has something else to say? Too bad; you won't see it published by this house!
These problems are completely foreign to the independent author, who writes and publishes whatever his muse provides him. Granted, you have to toss a lot of chaff to get to the kernels of brilliance, but they are so worth finding! Indies explore realms that will never see the light of day with a traditional publisher, at least not until it succeeds somewhere else, then they'll be on it like a vulture on a carcass! Indies live life off the map. We go where we want, and bring back the tales you'll never find hanging around in comfortable, well-established neighborhoods. I don't want to use the word "challenge." That's too confrontational for my liking, but I will suggest that you give some indies a try. Two of my own complete Beyond the Rails stories are available free at the top of this page. Just click the Samples tab, and dig in. Or, if Jules Verne meets Firefly isn't your cup of tea, might I suggest a visit to Empire Booksellers, a consortium of independent authors of superior quality who offer tales in any of the various punk genres. America had there never been a Revolution? Oppressed mutants in a steamunk world? Cyber vs. steam in a post apocalyptic Australia? It's all there, and much, much more! You can't have a real adventure in the middle of a comfortable neighborhood. Step off the edge of the map, and join us for the ride of your life. Discover what you've been missing!
And while I have a lot more notes that I haven't even mentioned yet, I'm going to call it a day right here. That's plenty to digest for one week, and besides, you have some book selecting to do! Until next week then, read well, and write better!