Soda, or the lack thereof

Soda — the precious elixir of life?

Back at the end of May, I decided to give up soda. I don’t remember the exact day, but I flagged a calendar app as the last soda I consumed as being on 31 May 2017.

Today makes 133 days since that date.

The interesting thing is I still get twinges every now and again. For instance, I went into an A&W over the weekend and the last time I had been in there, I had several glasses of Rootbeer (because that stuff tastes good). That led me to crave some Cream Soda, which I only like every few years, but I wanted it at that moment. And knowing that I could not have the Cream Soda made me want some Squirt.

I resisted all of it and drank water.

How am I so strong?

Recently, someone asked me how I managed to give it up. How have I been able to hold strong on this goal? It’s been more than a third of a year now, so what is my secret?

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Biohazard Week

biohazardNormally I stay fairly healthy, but last week I presented a biohazard to those around me. It started as a normal Tuesday morning, but I soon had a slight tickle in the back of my throat and the sense that something was going wrong. My first thought was that once I got home, I would take a huge vitamin C dose and all would be right with the world.

Damn, things change fast. By the time I got home, I must have looked pretty bad because my wife offered to run to the store and get me something to help, leaving me at home on the sofa. I made it up to bed and then stayed there through most of the day Wednesday and even into Thursday evening. I had not wanted to be down two whole days, but I really lacked the energy to do anything about it.

I also normally don’t go without shaving, but this reminded me how fast facial hair grows. I did shower, mostly because the hot and humid air helped to clear the sinuses, but even still I was not a pretty sight.

I can’t remember the last time I had the flu, but I don’t think it came on so suddenly and with such ferocity. The speed of it surprised me and I guess it is something I will now try to remember in case I ever need to have a character in a novel suddenly down and out because of illness. And the length of time I had a fever (making me a biohazard) was longer than I normally suffer (lasted through Thursday night).

I am still not back to 100% and it is almost a week later. On the plus side, I didn’t get a sinus infection as a result and for that I am grateful.

By Saturday I had enough of being sick that I went ahead and did the Kansas City Zoo Run. Friday night I wasn’t sure, but I got up Saturday and pretty much said, “screw it, what’s the worst that can happen?” Not certain, but a nice hot 4-mile run seemed to help kill off the last the flu (or that will be my story). I didn’t post a great time, but I did manage a 13:16 pace. Next year I will do better (assuming I don’t become another biohazard days before).

In high school, my wife divorced her husband when…

Telling Lies

dishesLast week I told some people the story of when my wife was in high school and she divorced her husband because he refused to buy her a dishwasher. I enjoy watching people react to that leading line, and the best part is, my statement is completely true.

However, as in life, characters in stories don’t have to be truthful. They can be deceitful and manipulative and try and influence people to do what they want, or react in a certain way, as I had intended by my high school divorce statement. In fact, a story is often better when it includes that kind of behavior because telling lies mirrors real life. Unfortunately, this aspect of storytelling is too often overlooked.

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Books in the Bottoms

West Bottoms Entertainment DistrictBooks in the Bottoms

Kansas City, Missouri’s Historic West Bottoms includes a lot of different shops and activities. They have a First Festival Weekend event the first Friday of the month. In February, I will be taking part in the Second Annual Books in the Bottoms Event. with a lot of other Great Authors.

The event takes place at a number of the West Bottoms’ shops and restaurants on Friday and Saturday. Authors will be located at different shops during the event, so check the schedule in the press release below. Come out and visit some of the unique shops, get a bite to eat, and have fun!

If you will be looking for me, I’ll be at the following locations:

Hope to see you there!


Here is the press release:

Books in the Bottoms

Father’s Legacy is now available!

Father’s Legacy, book 5 in the Heirs of Cothel series is now available!

Father's Legacy

Driven to the ends of the world…

Princess Stephenie’s pursuit of the murders that threatened the city of Antar took her across numerous countries and has left her with more questions than answers. Her personal quest to protect her family and closest friends exposed deeper connections to her past as well as links to the Senzar mages that invaded her country.

To gain answers to the questions, avoid the Senzar witch chasing her, and stop the man who appears to have set things in motion, she must travel north along the World’s Backbone in search of a country that reportedly shut its borders twenty years earlier. For in that ice-covered country of Ista, she hopes to find the man who might be the reason her magic is so much stronger than anyone else’s. The question is, can she, or any of those with her, survive what she hopes to find? And even if they do, will she ever find a way to recreate a body for Kas?

 

I wanted to give a big thank you to everyone that helped me get this book finished: Sherri, my wonderful wife, my parents, my brothers and their wives, my editor Judy Reveal, and Mallory Rock for another great cover.

Copic Marker Class

We took a trip to St. Louis and attended a wonderful Copic Marker class on Friday and Saturday taught by Lori Craig. As a kid, I sketched a lot. However, that was before markers were a thing, so I never learned how to use them.  Since Sherri wanted to take the classes, I went ahead and joined her and I really had fun. I also learned a number of things, which will help make doing more with the markers a lot easier. (We can skip past the part of me spending money on a Copic Airbrush system.)

I’ve attached a few of the colorings we did as part of the practice. They are not masterpieces. Many of these were quick and several went unfinished so that we could keep up with the fast pace of the class. It was not overwhelming, but you could not spend an hour on an image to make it perfect. I think a number of the images turned out decent for my first go. Fortunately, we got two copies of each image to go back later and practice with some more.

Blending Colors

Copic-flowerFor the classes, we were given a number of line art images to color as we practiced certain techniques. One of the big advantages of alcohol markers is their ability to blend, so that was one of the things we were practicing.  I used five or six colors to blend the petals of the flower.

There are several ways to blend (flicking color with quick strokes, going over the paper with different colors, really saturating the paper, tip to tip color transfers, using paint trays like you might with watercolors, …) The markers really are versatile.

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Great bookstore! – Reader’s World

readers_worldLee’s Summit is a bit of a drive for myself, but yesterday I stopped in Reader’s World of Lee’s Summit for a book signing of a fellow author, James Young (check out his new book Collisions of the Damned, an alternate history story set in WWII).

I kind of geek-out for bookstores, but I really enjoyed this store. I bought several books and my wife found a couple of gifts that she’s going to give later this year. In addition to books, they have games, toys, and other small nick-nacks. They often have events and local authors in for book signings (hint, hint, I will be scheduling one there at some point).

If you are in the area, it is definitely a good place to check out. Plus, they are carrying my series and have a couple sets of autographed books on their shelves.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

I have just started watching some anime. I will admit that when I was younger, I never saw the appeal, preferring more westernized cartoons to the eastern style of animation. Recently, I have started to change my mind and have grown to appreciate the style.

To that end, I’ve been trying out new things on Netflix, which now has flooded by channel with lots of suggestions and recommendations. Not everything has appealed to my interest (some has just been too superficial when it comes to the characters and stories). However, other things have caught my interest, such as Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. I will say that so far (only 4 episodes in) I am finding this story and characters to have some real depth.moribito

The main character is Balsa, a spear-wielding warrior who is cunning and dedicated to her charges. (You might already understand why I find this series interesting.) She is hired to protect Chagum, a young boy who is the second prince of the Imperial Family and is inhabited by water spirit.

Based on Wikipedia, the anime was based on the first book in a series of Japanese fantasy novels by Nahoko Uehashi. The novel also appears to have been translated into English back in 2008.

It is still early in my watching to know for sure, but if the series continues on as it has, I think I will really like it. I’ll give a more detailed review once I am done watching the series. And if I do like it, I will have to see if I can hunt up a copy of the book.

Writers: Rise to the occasion

Photo © Depositphotos.com/ londondeposit

Photo © Depositphotos.com/ londondeposit

Last week’s recommendation was for people who are doing shows and events to buy mats because hard surfaces make standing for long periods of time more difficult.

This week I want to elaborate more on the value of standing.  As I mentioned last week, standing helps you to engage with your audience and puts you at eye level with those to whom you are speaking.  That helps to build an immediate rapport with them, or at least does not try to place you on different social levels by remaining seated while they are forced to stand.

But there are other reasons for standing as well.  There is a psychological impact for you in changing your position and posture and that in turn impacts how you are perceived.  As a writer, I want to share the world I have created with anyone I can encourage to delve into it.  No matter how good or bad my story, my interactions with them greatly impact the chances they will be willing to peak inside the cover.

Again, with the mat suggestion, this is not really limited to just writers, but to everyone.  Changing your body language is incredibly powerful.  It can make the difference between getting a job, a raise, a date, making a friend, … the list is endless.  I highly recommend the TED talk I’ve linked below.  It is Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are.
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A little bit of kindness

Waitress carrying three plates with meat dish

Photo © Depositphotos.com/maximkabb

Last week I went out for dinner.  Unfortunately, my appetizer didn’t come out until after I had finished eating the main course.  The waitress apologized a couple of times for the delay and I knew it wasn’t her fault, so I just sat and talked with my wife as we waited.  Even though I was hungry, I was not starving and it was not the end of the world, so I simply accepted the apologies and went on with my evening.

Lately I’ve found that these type of things don’t bother me as much as they might have at one point in time, and honestly, I wouldn’t have thought any more of it.  However, what the waitress said as she handed me the bill before we left really bothered me:

She thanked me with some emotion for not ripping her up one side and down the other because the kitchen forgot to cook my food.  She said many people would have been quite angry at her for it.  She took off the appetizer and gave me a discount.

She was not a new waitress and I’ve eaten there a few times before where she served me dinner, so perhaps she felt more comfortable in saying something like that to me as compared to a complete stranger.  However, I was still stunned at the statement; for her to vocalize that means a lot of people have really be mean.

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