The Mighty 100 Celebration

What a weekend this turned out to be. First, I was blessed with two awesome awards from fellow bloggers, then my blog achieved the milestone (for me) of reaching 100 followers. When 2010 began, my goal was to have 100 followers by the end of the year. I achieved that goal by the end of the first month. Talk about setting your sights too low.

It’s not all about the numbers though, is it? No. It’s about reaching out, to other aspiring writers, to accomplished authors who are compelled to share their experience, and to those who simply enjoy the turn of a phrase and an occasional witticism. But it’s also about what we get in return. The feedback, the encouragement, the inspiration, and the support…all invaluable.

As I started approaching the magic number, I found myself wondering what I should discern from reaching my goal? That I read a whole lot of blogs? That is the easiest way to garner readers, just follow their blogs. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Although gratifying, it’s not entirely satisfying. My true goal, one that is only remotely associated with numbers, is the tingle factor. When thinking about your own list of followed blogs, I bet there are a select few that stir excitement in you when that update notification pops up in your reader. So much so that you can hardly wait until there’s a quiet moment to read it. The anticipation is because you know you’ll be treated to something that will either further your personal growth, brighten your day, or touch your emotions. That’s the tingle factor, and that’s what I want to strive for. I believe you can’t really gauge that by just the number of followers, but it’s hinted at in the amount and quality of comments you receive from your postings. Can you write something that would awaken even the lurkers? A perfect grade would be one comment, per follower, per post. A standard that is too high? I don’t think so, not if I am to become the writer I hope to be!

So, you all know what reaching a 100 followers means, right? Yep, a party! One with prizes. I’m not calling it a contest, because it really isn’t. It’s more of a celebration. I’d like to give each and every one of you something as a reward, but Oprah I’m not. What I can do is give to a gift to a lucky two. That’s right, two. The first, a $25 gift certificate to Amazon, will be awarded to one of my original 100. The second, a $15 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble, is open to new and old alike.

Here are the rules and guidelines. You must be a follower to Cruising Altitude and leave a comment to this post to have your name thrown into the pot. If you’re one of the mighty 100, you will automatically receive two points, new follower’s one point. If you post about Cruising Altitude on your own blog (so make sure to tell me about it) you’ll receive another point. If a reader of your blog becomes a follower here as a result of your posting (they have to mention you directly, in their first posting), yet another point to you. Oh yeah…family members are excluded (let the grumbling begin). I’ll announce the lucky winners on Monday, February 8th.

Thank you all…for letting me stand upon your shoulders.

DL

Booyah!

If I had a webcam hooked up to my PC right now you could watch me doing a Snoopy Dance. I received two more blog awards! And I don’t treat being the recipient of these awards lightly (although I do break their rules sometimes). It’s such a rush when you receive just one, so learning of two on the same day was phenomenal. I consider it affirmation, an act by one of my fellow bloggers that lets me know I’m doing something right. I guess now I should figure out how to display them in my sidebar.

The first one is the Honest Scrap award, bestowed to me by Tiana at Spilled Ink. For this award the recipient (that’s me) is urged to reveal ten truths about themselves. I secretly believe this is payback for my seeding so much BS around the blogosphere. Anyway, read’em…and I’ll weep.

1. Both of my brothers have broken one of their bones on my head.
2. I have no sense of smell. Never have.
3. I was raised a military brat. The day after my high school graduation, we moved away and I have never been back (regrettably).
4. My wife asked me out on our first date. If she hadn’t, we might not have ended up married for the last 27 years (I was that shy).
5. My first car was a 1966 Green Chevy Van. My dad let me put a mattress in the back so I could take naps between football two-a-days.
6. My English teacher in high school accused me of plagiarism for a play I wrote. She didn’t believe I could have written something so imaginative.
7. I ABSOLUTELY cannot stand to watch someone play with his or her belly button.
8. My iPod has 10,399 songs on it.
9. My children are the greatest compliment I could ever give to my parents. The three of them are true gifts, and all I did was follow the example my parents provided.
10. Although I realize she knew, I failed to tell my mother “I Love You” enough while she was still with us.

Phew…I’m glad that’s over with. I’m going to pass the award onto three awesome bloggers whom I’d be curious to hear they’re 10 truths. They are: Sharon at Random Thoughts, Michele at Southern City Mysteries, and Eva at Screaming Whispers.

Onto the next award. This one is from Chasing Empty Pavements and it’s the Silver Lining Award. It reminds us all to constantly search for the positive, in any situation, something that a writer couldn’t survive without. I’m going to pass this one along to Jamie-Kate at Jamie-Kate Writes. She is a relatively new blogger, but her optimism is catchy.

Although the Silver Lining award doesn’t come with a to do clause, I’m being bold and attaching one to it. Below I’ve listed 20 rules to live by that I’ve accumulated over the years. Future award winners will be obliged to list any number of their own rules. Let the fun begin.

DL’s Rules to Live By

1. Even though I’m not very religious, this still applies. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
2. Work before play, but a good break every now and then never hurts.
3. When you receive criticism, always consider the source. The same is true for praise.
4. Sometimes it’s easier to just agree to disagree.
5. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
6. Respect your elders, until they give you a reason to do otherwise.
7. If you’re paid a day’s wages, then work an honest day’s work. Sick time is for when you’re SICK.
8. Guys don’t hit girls. Period.
9. Too good to be true, usually is.
10. People who believe in Santa Clause receive more presents than people who don’t.
11. In for a penny, in for a pound. There are no part-time friends.
12. SELFISH is not a four letter word. It’s ok to think of yourself first sometimes.
13. If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.
14. Never say never.
15. Relationships are HARD work! For better or worse isn’t just a catch phrase.
16. Pick your battles, then fight to the death.
17. If you can’t look at yourself in the mirror, then how do you think other people see you?
18. Making love and having sex is not the same thing.
19. Shit happens. Why spend so much time looking for someone to blame?
20. Your beliefs are your beliefs. Don’t try to make them somebody else’s.

The Answer Room – Addendum

The responses I received to the Answer Room were very interesting indeed, and honestly a bit surprising. Many of you stated that you might not want answers at all, and after reading that it started me thinking. So much so I fell asleep that night contemplating unanswered questions and scenarios where I might turn my head away from the answer. The following morning I climbed in the shower and ended up staying there until the water ran cold. My thoughts from the night before had seeded an idea for a story and I couldn’t let it go until I had built a suitable framework around it. This is what I came up with and I think it’s the beginning to a really interesting story. It’s still real rough.

White. All around me. Nothing but snowy-white. But I wasn’t in the snow. I wasn’t sure where I was, if anywhere. The whiteness seemed endless, going on forever. There were no walls, no furniture, nothing had definition and there no way to orient myself. Just emptiness…and white. I think I was standing upright, but there was no way to tell.

Normally this was just the sort of situation where I’d get really nervous and begin hyperventilating, but instead I felt unusually calm. I had to be dreaming. That would explain everything. But this was unlike any dream I had ever experienced before. Then I remembered a sensation of floating, looking down on a roomful of people all wearing blue or green scrubs with matching skullcaps. They were huddled over somebody lying on a table and a nervous energy filled the room. When one of the women shifted her position, I caught a glimpse of the face that belonged to the body on the table. IT WAS ME.

Then I was here, wherever that is.

I began to feel a presence near me. I spun around, but there was only more white. I pivoted back and a searing bright light forced my eye lids shut. I tried to open them again, but the light was too intense. Instinctively I lowered my head, cupped my hand over my brow, and tried again. This time I could almost make out an image. There was somebody, or something, there in the light. I couldn’t tell who or what it was, but I wasn’t afraid. I felt…comforted.

“You may ask one question,” a voice said. But I didn’t really hear the voice. It was more like…I thought it.

“I’m guessing I’m dead, right?” I didn’t feel my lips move as I asked the question. It was like the voice…I just thought it.

“Is that your question?”

“No…no, it’s not. An explanation would be helpful.”

“Under normal circumstances the answers to all of your questions would be revealed to you now. But you will be returning to your mortal life soon, yet you may have one question answered before you go as a token of your time here,” the internal voice responded.

“Any question?”

There was no reply, but I perceived a positive vibe. The possibilities flooded my mind, but suddenly the question was in my head almost before I could finish formulating it.

“Who killed my brother?”

Although I couldn’t make out the person I was communicating with, I had the distinct impression a frown had appeared on his face.

“Are you sure that’s the question you want answered?”

“Positive.”

“Very well. It was you.”

Shock paralyzed me for a moment. “That can’t be. He was killed by a hit and run driver and I wasn’t even in the same state when it happened. I didn’t kill my brother.”

“Use the information wisely,” was the voices only response.

“Wait a minute!” I tried to open my eyes to look directly at my host, but my eyelids wouldn’t stay open. “You promised me an answer and I –“

Agonizing pain. Grogginess. Nausea.

“Sinus rhythm. He’s back,” I heard to my left. I sensed that I was back on the gurney in the emergency ward I had witnessed from up high. A fire was ablaze in my chest and I was seconds away from puking, but only one thought filled my head.

I didn’t kill my brother.


I’m thinking this is could be an interesting premise for a short story or novel, probably in the YA genre. Any opinions? No fair blowing flowers up my shorts…just the honest scoop please.

The Answer Room

Last week’s episode of BONES sparked a discussion between me and my wife, which ultimately led us back to one of her favorite subjects. The show revolved around the assignation of John F. Kennedy and speculation about what really happened on that fateful day. It’s one of those questions that fascinate so many, and despite the mountain of information that support the conclusions of the official report, doubt still lingers. We both understand that our desire to know the truth will probably never be realized during our lifetimes, but what about afterwards?

For as long as I’ve known my wife she’s held a conviction that when she departs this mortal plane and moves on to her next destination, that one of the stops along the way will be a place (appropriately tagged the answer room) where all of the answers to questions she longed to fathom are revealed. Any question that burdens your mind would be instantly known to you.

Did Lee Harvey Oswald really act alone when he shot President John F. Kennedy? What happened to Amelia Earhart? I have to admit, it’s an interesting concept. Looking at it a different way, the doorstep to this room is a place where you’ll find many a writers imagination. A truth unknown that resonates for so long is bound to be fruitful ground for seeding a premise. How many story ideas do you think gestate from iconic questions like what happened to DB Cooper… where is Jimmy Hoffa buried…is there something to the Bermuda Triangle or Easter Island mysteries…who built the pyramids? The simple association of ‘what if’ statements have fostered many a book or short story.

So tell me, what questions would you like to have divulged in your answer room?

Little Pillows – R.I.P.

The siege has ended and order had been restored, but that doesn’t mean I can rest easy. Apparently, my work is just beginning.

I say that because of the comments some of you left on my previous post. I could hardly believe my eyes when I read things like…cute…wonderful things…homes should be filled with soft colorful pillows…and they were the lifeblood of good decorating. It became obvious to me that what I experienced in my home wasn’t an isolated incident, and that homes all across America were slowly being taken over by this fluffy menace. I can’t sit back and do nothing. I have to tell the rest of my story in hopes that others will come to their senses and take action.

I ended my first warning expressing my concern that the pillows had become aware of my suspicions. As always, it was in the subtle things. When the wife and I would sit down on the couch to watch television, a wall of pillows would form between us, attempting to cut me off from her and drive us apart. Anytime I picked up the phone to place a call, I could hear a mysterious click on the line, a sure sign that someone…or something…was listening in to my conversation. I even had to start making journal entries about what was going on from my computer at work because I found one of the little devils sitting in my desk chair and this blog was on the monitor.

I didn’t know what to do and I was at my wits end. The rest of the family wouldn’t listen to my concerns, oblivious to what was going on. Whenever I brought up the subject of pillows they looked at me as if I had just confessed my dislike of ‘American Idol’. I began staying later at work and finding other reasons for being away. The dread I felt in my own home was palatable. But my worry for what the conniving cushions were planning continued to fuel my search for a solution.

The answer came by way of accident, in more ways than one.

With the temperatures outside beginning to dip below freezing, we decided to let our two dogs spend the night in the garage. I opened the back door to let them in, started walking towards the door leading into the garage, then noticed that both of the dogs, which were always full of energy and rambunctious, had become very still. They were staring very intently at something inside the room. I opened my mouth to call to them when I detected a low growl coming from one or both of them. Instead of calling their names, urging them into the garage, I walked back to see what they were focused on. When I reached them I followed their gaze… to a black pillow perched on top of the chair back. Glancing back to the dogs I could now see the hair standing stiffly on both of their backs.

That became the seed for my plan.

I had to wait two weeks before I could set things in motion. The wife needed to go to Little Rock for a day of shopping, so I volunteered to accompany her. The house would be empty for hours. Just as we were pulling away, I remembered that I had forgotten my cell phone. I ran inside, grabbed the phone I purposely left behind, opened the door to the backyard, and left.

When we returned that evening, we discovered a remnant of the first pillow just inside the front door, like a welcome home gift. Carnage was everywhere. Pillow guts covered everything. The smell of urine hung in the air. My wife was near tears and I did my best to feign shock and anger at the obvious culprits. I found them curled up near the back fence, pieces of pillow still dangling from their jaws, no doubt worn out from their pillaging. After walking through the entire house and seeing the full scope of the damage, it became clear.

Every single pillow had been torn to shreds.

But as I said, the battle is not over. I know I’ll have to find some way to prevent my wife from bringing the infestation back into our home. I also need to convince all of you about the peril that might be lying beneath your feet or behind your heads. I can’t be the first to have discovered this threat. Maybe there are others with dismembered bedding, unaware?

Please hear my plea! Colors are not the only thing they are coordinating. Be warned.

Happy Day




Lookee here, I won an award. Thank you to Tiana over at Spilled Ink for the much appreciated honor. I like the HAPPY. I’m all about the HAPPY. You’d never guess that I write mysteries from the way that I carry-on around here sometimes. But I’m glad that some of my enthusiasm spills out onto my blog and others take some measure of satisfaction from it.

This could be my last award though. For the uninitiated, most of these blog awards come with rules. These rules vary from award to award, but one of the most prevalent ones is the award winner should pass on the recognition to ten other bloggers he/she find deserving. I don’t know about you, but this feels too much like chain-mail to me. I’m not sure what happens if you break these rules, maybe the blogging gods become offended and block my site from others to see, but I don’t really care. I’m going to select just one HAPPY AWARD recipient I feel is deserving. I’ll let you know who that is … right after I fulfill my other award rule.

I’m supposed to list for you ten things that make me happy. Tiana and others inserted pictures into their lists, but I’m just a word guy and hopefully that’ll be enough for you to understand where I’m coming from. With no further adieu and in completely random order:

1. My family. My wife and I have been married for twenty-six years and we have three wonderful children. I truly love my in-laws, get along famously with everyone from my wife’s family, and my own family is terrific. What makes me the most happy…every bit of it is drama-free!
2. Coffee. There’s nothing like that first cup in the morning. I can drink it 24 hours a day (caffeine doesn’t affect me) and there’s some always close at hand when I’m writing
3. Speaking of Writing, that’s my number 3. There’s nothing like that feeling you get when you finish a passage, scene, or chapter and you can’t wait until somebody reads it.
4. LSU Sports. My wife and I both are LSU graduates, so this is almost a given. Football, Baseball, Soccer, Basketball, it doesn’t matter. If it’s on TV, we’re watching it. We return back to Baton Rouge every other year to see a game in Death Valley. GEAUX TIGERS!
5. Toys. What can I say…I’m a guy. Plasma TV, PS3, Xbox360, iPhone, iPod, expensive headsets, wireless routers, you name it, I probably got it.
6. Alaska. I’ve been cruising in Alaska twice and I would go back every week if I could. Laying on a deck chair at midnight, almost naked except for the thick blanket wrapped round you, absorbing the wilderness beauty as it slowly passes by as the ship sails up the inside passage. *Sigh*
7. Blog Comments. Every single one puts a smile on my face. It’s like a friend waving to you from across a crowded room.
8. Bruce Springsteen. I was going to say music in general here, because I truly do enjoy my music, but I decided to single out my number one.
9. Solitude. Most people don’t get this one, but there are times I quite like being alone. No pressure to be anything… to anyone.
10. Pizza. When I’m not dieting (like now), an awesome Chicago-style pizza is to die for!

Drum roll please…………………and the blogger I’ve selected to pass the torch to (are you cringing?)……is Karen Hooper. Karen is an old-hat at these awards, and the blog she writes is very entertaining. Have a look-see for yourself.

Hoofin’

How are those 2010 diets coming? Anybody slip up yet? Eat something you weren’t suppose to? A piece of chocolate, a slice of pie, a buffalo?

Part of my regiment to lose weight includes jogging 3 to 4 days a week. Not all that much, just a couple of miles at a pop, every stride taken in the carefully controlled environment offered by the local health club. I didn’t always run on a treadmill, preferring the winding roads of my neighborhood and the open sky above. That was until… the incident.

The last time I ran outdoors was maybe 18 months ago. On that day I prepared to run right after work like I always do. If I sit down to watch television, or check e-mail, I can never get myself re-motivated to get back up and exercise. So I immediately slipped out of my work clothes and into a pair of shorts, socks, running shoes, sleeveless T-shirt and a rolled up bandanna tied around my forehead to keep the sweat out of my eyes. I strapped on my iPod shuffle loaded with a 67 song play list I appropriately entitled NITRO, and I was ready to go. On the way out the door, like I did every time I ran, I yelled to my wife “I’m going hoofin.” Her dead-pan reply would always be, “Don’t die!”

On that particular day I was feeling inspired. I’d been recently admiring the way another blogger observed the world around them, noticing the littlest things, however insignificant. So I made a mental note to open my eyes during my run and really take in what goes on in our neighborhood. Typically I’d just run with my head down, listen to the music and focus on the next few feet in front of me. Not that day. That day I was going to be alert!

So I’m starting my pre-run stretching and the first thing I notice is that my MP3 player is repeating the same song over and over. And it wasn’t one that was supposed to be on my play list. I tried to fidget with the controls to get a different song to play, to no avail. I had just recharged it that afternoon and must have screwed something up when I connected it to iTunes. I was faced with running for 30 minutes listening to the Eagles “Desperado”, or no tunes at all. Not exactly music to get your heart pumping, but I started the timer on my wristwatch and hit the road.

I had run for approximately 10 minutes and seen………absolutely nothing! I mean nothing that I would consider interesting. There was sprinklers watering lawns, dogs running along fences, some kids bouncing on a trampoline, but that’s it. I’m not sure what I expected to see, but I was starting to doubt my powers of perception. I was just about to give up and revert to concentrating on my running when I saw something just ahead of me. On the opposite side of the road in the driveway of a corner house was a couple having what appeared to be a heated argument. There were two cars parked in the driveway, a dark colored SUV and a little RX6, and the couple was situated between the two cars. They appeared young (high school junior/senior) and the girl was very animated. She was dressed in a cream color summer dress and her arms flailed around wildly, except when she was jabbing her finger in the boys face. The boy wore only a pair of bright orange swim trunks, and a sour look. As I approached I tried to hear their conversation, but with the Eagles blaring in my headphones I couldn’t make out what they were saying. The boy noticed me running by and gave me a sheepish look that said “Want to trade places?” The girl was too focused on vocally battering the young man to pay me any attention. I was reaching to pause my iPod, when I went down.

I had failed to notice the bags of grass that had been placed by the curb. My foot caught the first black bag, causing me to stumble and I did my best to keep myself upright, but the second and third bags did me in. I sprawled out in the street like a four year old girl learning to cartwheel for the first time. Luckily my fall was cushioned by the other half dozen bags piled there. I sat unmoving for a moment…taking in what had just happened…feeling the heat from the sun warmed pavement on my bottom…sweat running in my eyes because my bandana had come loose and was now cock-eyed on my head…listening to music in my headphones telling me “Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?” I looked up and the couple had stopped their arguing and was now staring at me. Not only were they staring at me, but it seemed like every resident on that block had suddenly appeared on their front lawn to see what the commotion was about. I gave the boy a sheepish look that said “Want to trade places?” Before you could say Glad Bag, I was up and running again.

When I returned home I went straight inside and into the shower, ignoring my wife’s questions about why I had apparently started raking leaves. Screw the post-stretch cool down!

Nowadays I do my running at an electronically determined pace while staring at ESPN sports highlights on the overhead television. It may not be “real” jogging, but at least it’s safe!

When should you holster your guns?

I’m going to speak here now like I know what I’m talking about, and I suppose I know just enough to be dangerous, but the point of this post is to put forth a question. When it comes to suggested revisions, how long do you stick to your guns . . . and when is it time to give in?

I’m discovering that revisions are a necessary evil for a writer. For me, it seems like I’m always nibbling away at my novel. Continually changing a word here, description there, or moving a paragraph to achieve a stronger impact. But those aren’t the type of revisions I want to discuss today. I want to focus on those significant alterations that substantially re-define the premise of your book. These types of recommended changes can come from numerous sources. They can be self-induced, brought on by your own re-imagining of a plot line, character motivation, or one of a hundred other reasons. Input from a critique group is another basis for making radical changes. Yet another, and one that is on my mind right now, are those suggested by a prospective agent.

I have read that it is not uncommon for agents to send back a manuscript, declining representation, but offering to reconsider their position if certain revisions are made. What do you do if this happens to you? Let’s make it even more difficult by saying you don’t really agree with the recommended changes, even though you can see where it might make the book more marketable. Do you move on to querying the next agent on your list, hopeful that he/she will like your book as it is? Or are you just thrilled that you received a response back at all, and dive head first into making the changes. If the agent still passes on your manuscript, even after making the requested changes, which version of the book do you query then?

How willing are you to compromise the integrity of your book in order to make it commercial?

Does that sound too cynical? After all, the goal is to be published, isn’t it? And publishers (and therefore agents) won’t touch a book unless they believe they can make money with it. I wonder though, how often does the aspiring author give-in and revise their books too soon.

So I’m curious. Would you consider making revisions to your manuscript you’re not 100% comfortable with?

Tickle Me

I really wanted to think of a way that I could give back to this community I’ve become a part of these past six months. But I’m just an ordinary writer with tall aspirations. I can’t offer marketing advice like Shelli does at Market My Words. I’m unable to supply query guidance like Bethany & Suzette do over at Shooting Stars, or even absorbing author interviews like Sia McKye’s Thoughts…OVER COFFEE. What can I put forward? How can I help?

The answer I came up with is both perfect in its heartfelt offering, and its uncomplicated delivery.

We’ve all experienced one of those days. A day where anything that can go wrong…does. All of the negative energy in the cosmos has seemingly coalesced around you, spinning and swirling, causing you to get up from the wrong side of the bed. The vortex continues on to create a black hole that pulls in criticism, insults, sarcasm, rebukes, rejection, and even worse, anonymity. If we’re lucky it soon passes, moving on to the next unsuspecting soul. But there are rare cases where it last for days, weeks, even months. Its affect on our psyche, although temporary, is profound.

God knows I’ve experienced my share of those days. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot more since I made a commitment to becoming a published writer. But when I find myself in the throes of depression brought on by a ‘bad day’, I remember a conversation my wife had with our son Boo. She was working in her office, I was in the kitchen making a sandwich, when our son (age 7 at the time) came into the room and stood beside her. He remained there silently for a minute, watching her type at her keyboard, and then --

"Mom"

"Yes"

"Can you tickle me?"

She stopped what she was doing and turned to face him. "What for?"

"I want to laugh"

The simplicity of his request brought a smile to my face. It was so straight-forward and innocent.

So I'm taking a hint from my son and offering the following to anyone reading this. Take a post-it-note and write this e-mail address on it (tbone.don@gmail.com), along with two other words. Take the note and stick it on your monitor or somewhere else close to where you write. If you ever find yourself in the midst of one of those days and you’re desperately searching for way to lighten things up… find that note and send an email to that address. In the subject line you’ll type the other two words from the note . . . TICKLE ME.

I’ll respond as quickly as I can with a joke, story, or maybe even an amusing limric (all PG-13). No probing questions. No meddlesome inquiries (although I’m a good listener/reader if you do want to spew). No strings attached.

Someday I hope to be able to provide more. Maybe it will be advice, counsel, guidance, or even inspiration.

For now all I can offer is … a giggle and a smile.

Chicken or the …Blog?

I was thinking about this blog the other day, mapping out possible strategies for luring enticing more followers, and I started ruminating about its origins. It’s kind of an interesting story. Wanna hear it? Of course you do (like you have a choice).

I’ve been technically “blogging” since long before I had an official blog. I played around with the concept on Myspace five or six years ago and became enamored with exploring my creative side. The only thing I had written for fun before then, dating all the way back to my high school days, was our families annual Christmas letter. I do write a lot where I work, but those are technical journals and procedure manuals, so the opportunity to create something with some personality appealed to me. Mostly what I wrote was tiny slice of life episodes mixed in with the occasional fiction, posting maybe once a month. You can say I cut my blogging teeth on Myspace.

After a couple of years I migrated to Facebook because most of my friends and family were coming on-board there. I was still posting very infrequently, but I found the mechanics of blogging inside the Facebook conglomerate too cumbersome. I began to search for a way to make the process easier.

One of my earlier posts, way back during the Myspace phase, was my reminiscing of a road-trip with a group of my buddies to Panama City, Florida, during a college break. When I wrote that story I had already begun expanding my creative endeavors to include composing a few short stories. I took the seed from that road-trip post and decided to turn it into something fictional. What I created ended up being closer to a novella at 40 pages in length. My wife loved the story (she’s the only person that’s read the original novella) and more importantly, I was on-fire more than ever with an unquenchable desire to continue writing. I was like a man who had just dined on Chinese food, hungry again just a short time later.

I had to find something else to write about, and fast! I stared at the pages of the story I had just finished and asked myself, “What if I took my 40 page novella . . . and turned it into a book?” The more I considered the idea, the more the fear of attempting such a huge feat lost its grip on me. Besides, if I set a goal to produce a 300 page novel, I already had 13% of it written.

So off I went writing my first novel. The main character was a middle-aged widower with two grown children whose only claim to fame was a semi-popular blog he authored. When I set about assigning a name to his blog, I thought long and hard until I finally came up with Cruising Altitude. I don’t really remember where the idea came from, I just fancied the feeling it conveyed.

I finished the book (Slow Dancer), stuck it on a shelf for reasons discussed here, and moved onto my second novel.

Now during this point in time I’m still pseudo-blogging on Facebook and I decide it’s time for me to step out and create a real blog. Although it would serve a lot of purposes, its primary focus would be to document my path to published author...or dejected wannabe. A lot of the blogs I followed on a daily basis used Blogger as their tool of choice, so I figure why not me too. There I was, poised to create my official blog, and I get stuck on the very first question.

What do I want to name it?

I contemplate this for a time, then I’m struck with a thought – why not use the same name as the blog in my first book? It could be kind of cool. If I ever do get published and my passionate readers decide to Google the blogs name to see if it’s real . . . ‘lo and behold . . . they’d be delivered to the author’s (me) personal blog. Cruising Altitude would be the name!

I created the blog in January 2009 , but I didn’t really get serious about using it to promote my writing until August. I currently have 34 followers (38 when you include the links to Facebook) and 1153+ site hits (probably 1100 of those are me checking to see how many visitors I've registered). Fledgling, I know. But it’s young and has yet to stretch its legs. Give it time.

That’s my story of a blog that was fiction, before it became reality. Or is it the other way around?

What's the story behind your blog?

We interrupt this blogcast...

So Bethany and Suzette are having a contest. Who are they and why should I care, you ask. First, they are awesome sisters who happen to be authors and share a blog. You don't have to be an aspiring writer to enjoy what they blog about, but if you are there is lots to interest you.

The winner(s) of the contest I mentioned can recieve a query critique, first five page critique, or a signed book from a new author. I'm shooting for a query critique. All you have to do to enter is write a blog post about the contest. That's easy . . . done. You can also increase your changes of winning by tweeting about it as well as linking your facebook page to their blog. I can do that! There may have been something else about relinquishing a first born child somewhere in the fine print, but I'm too psyched to care.

Both Bethany and Suzette are also contributing writers to the QueryTracker blog. Listen to what they have to say, they know what they're talking about.

Crap . . . I almost updated without copying a link to their blog. What a boob!

Here you go:

http://suzettesaxton.blogspot.com/2010/01/suzette-and-bethanys-wicked-awesome.html

Resolute

Second verse . . . same as the first.

Let’s face it, for most of us it’s not like we sit down and dream up these wild pledges to ourselves at the first of the year. They get re-cycled from year to year or from points within the year. At least that’s the way it is for me. The changes I contemplate are either on-going struggles or transformations I’ve abandoned or neglected already. Shrink our bodies (Lose weight . . . eat healthier . . . exercise more). Expand our brains (read more . . . write more . . . take a class). Invigorate our being (be a better person . . . listen to others . . . strive to become more involved). What this time of year offers is simply a new starting line.

What’s different . . . and the key to realizing these desired changes . . . has to be our resolve. The obstacles, lying in wait to trip us up, are numerous. Expect them. Plan for them. Fortify yourself by remembering that stumbling across one does not end the journey. That’s what life is all about, overcoming barriers. I see far too many people every year who give up on themselves because of one simple slip. Sometimes I think that they secretly welcome it, using their perceived failure to escape the burden of trying. But if they just saw for what it is, a setback, one that they could have even anticipated, then they wouldn’t have to settle for “maybe next year”.

Enough of the soapbox. What am I personally going to stop spinning my wheels over? Thirty pounds – gone. I’ve done it before and I’m at that age where letting it creep back on isn’t an option. I’m also going to come out of my shell more. This one will be much more difficult. I’ll have years of introversion working against me, but I’m up for a challenge. Just expect plenty of awkwardness . . . and goofy smiles.

From a writing perspective, I’m going to stop dicking around and see if I have what it takes to be published this year. My novel is almost at the point where I’m confident enough to send out query letters, and I’m going to stop looking for excuses to put it off. As a preamble I’m going to grow this blog. How do I do that? Not by pulling in followers by offering contests or give-a-ways (although I’m not saying I’ll totally against that), but rather by being entertaining and having interesting things to say. There is hundreds of aspiring author blogs out here, all documenting their own quest for publication, and if I can’t stand out amongst them then what hope can I have of achieving my own dream?

So 2010 officially starts Monday (no self-respecting college football fan can start a diet during bowl season) and so does my new attitude. A resolute one.

Let’s go!
 

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