Saturday, December 21, 2013

On a Sale

So Eagle and Broken Halo should be up soon. I'm thinking maybe Monday at the latest? We'll see.

In celebration of getting both books up this year despite my usual chaos-ridden life, I'm going to put Wolfhound, Badger and Iron Angels up for sale at $.99 until the end of the year. If anyone out there has been waiting for a discount to get into the series, now's the time! Also, the German edition of Wolfhound will be discounted until then as well. Happy holidays, and I hope you are all doing well.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

On Marcus, Cystic Fibrosis, and Trying to Plan for the Future

So my son was born on Tuesday! Marcus is officially in the world and our family is one person richer. He also likely has cystic fibrosis.

Our current motto
The reason we think that he does is because earlier on in the pregnancy, my wife and I received genetic testing that indicated that both of us carried a gene that leads to the condition. We hadn't had that testing done when Sera was born, so it was a complete surprise to us. Neither of us knows of any cystic fibrosis tendencies in either of our families, but the disease is fairly rare, so I guess that is not surprising.

Cystic fibrosis is basically the unfortunate result of evolution screwing things up in classic style. The genes associated with the disease control a particular protein that is associated with mucus and secretions. Most of the mutations involved make it so that protein just doesn't get made or doesn't get put in the right place. That leads to abnormal mucus development throughout the body, including the lungs, intestinal tract, and reproductive system.

That development results in increased amounts of respiratory infections due to pools of mucus gathering in the lungs, malnutrition since the mucus near the pancreas keep enzymes from helping in digestion, GI blockages due to extra-thick mucus in the intestines and infertility due to blocked channels in the reproductive system. It used to result in frequent deaths in childhood due to these combined problems, but these days they have managed to mitigate a lot of the damage due to early treatment and effective options in terms of transplants, enzyme injections, and respiratory therapy. As a genetic disease, though, it isn't curable. At least, not unless somebody manages to design an effective retrovirus-based gene therapy to counteract the nonfunctional genes.

Marcus ended up having a GI blockage right off the bat, which meant that within twenty four hours of being born, he went through surgery. He's doing very well and is a strong, healthy little guy with a huge chin and a scowl to brag about, but recovery time from the surgery is going to be about eight weeks. The surgery didn't entirely solve the situation, because the bowl had actually been perforated due to the extra sticky crud in his intestinal tract. That meant the doctors had to more or less install a couple of tubes in his stomach to allow them to rehabilitate his lower bowels so that when he's recovered, they can reattach his stomach and upper intestinal tract to his lower intestines again. After that, it's hopefully just another eight weeks in the NICU and then he can come home.

So obviously things have been a little difficult lately. My bosses at work have been extremely understanding, and coworkers, friends, and family have all been extremely supportive. We're still kind of trying to figure out how to balance our lives over the next sixteen weeks; the hospital where Marcus is staying is about an hour and a half away, so seeing him, taking care of Sera, and continuing to work/go to graduate school/write is going to be an interesting challenge. It's tempting to pretty much attempt to live at the hospital, but my wife needs to recuperate from giving birth (the little guy went from water breaking to delivery in two hours, which is absolutely crazy) and life kind of needs to go on despite the drama. In the long term, it's going to be a question of how to figure out a pattern of life that allows me to be a part of my son's life while trying to secure our future as a family at the same time. I doubt it will be easy, but we will just need to get through it.

To everyone who has already expressed their support, we appreciate everything you are doing for us. It might get a little frustrating, because at the moment we are mostly just playing a waiting game. We won't know a lot of details about how fast recovery will be until a little time has gone by--in fact, the tests coming back confirming CF as a diagnosis aren't official yet, we're just basing it off the genetics and the type of GI block he experienced, which is typical of CF--and a lot of what we are doing right now is just trying to be there for the little guy. Your prayers and well-wishing is very much appreciated, and even if we might be a little reclusive, we really are grateful for everything you've said and done. It is just taking us a little while to process things emotionally, and since emotions are not really my strong suit, I hope that you'll be patient with me.

In terms of writing, my schedule's been kind of up in the air since Tuesday. I'm not sure if my previous plans for writing in 2014 are going to work out, but we will see. Eagle and Broken Halo are both still going to be published this year, however. The only thing we are waiting on is cover art for Eagle to be completed, and the artist we are working with on that is already doing a great job. I think I can be confident in saying that both will be up soon.

In any case, I hope that everyone is doing well out there. See you around!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On 2014 Publication Plans

Well, as we're finishing up preparations to publish Eagle and Broken Halo this year, I guess it is time to try and predict what we will be able to get done next year. It isn't the easiest thing to try and predict how much work will get done in a year, especially when things like a new baby, job changes and other things are on the horizon. That's kind of what got me into trouble with my predictions last year. A bunch of things cropped up partway through the year that I hadn't counted on when I planned to do four books in a year again, and as a result I'm only managing to get half of those books published before the year's end.

So as a result I think I will be a bit more conservative with what I will plan on doing. Hopefully that will lead to better estimates and more consistent work rather than the less productive schedule I tried to force myself to keep in 2013.

Looking at what I have ready so far, and about what shape it's in, I think that the following is going to be my goal. Glasswitch is still on my production list, and has actually reached a pretty good state. A couple more revisions and I believe it will be ready for 2014. So we'll put that one on the schedule at least.

Another novel I want to publish is the sequel to Broken Halo, called Shattered Wings. I figure that I should get something sci fi out next year, and I think that after Eagle I might need to give the universe of Jacob Hull a short rest, if only to make sure that I have developed enough as a writer to do the series justice. Since Shattered Wings would be a bit shorter, I think it is a much more reasonable target to hit within a year, though it would probably be closer towards the end of the year.

Those are probably the two full-length stories I'll do, but I would also like to try a bit of an experiment next year. I would like to start up some novels in serial fashion, since that would allow me to more consistently get material out, and I think that some of the stuff I've been working on will fit that pattern. One is a fantasy novel that I am writing in segments, tentatively titled Gerrod of Northwood. I think I will be able to get two of them out next year. The other is a cyberpunk novel I am currently extensively rewriting, The Social Contract. I think I'll only get one or two sections of that one out next year. Both would be a bit cheaper and shorter than my usual stuff, but again I would be able to get them out more consistently than I have been. Hopefully that would catch people's interest a bit more? We'll have to see.

In any case, thanks to everyone for staying with me on this journey. It's been an incredible experience to develop my skills as a writer, and I hope that I will be able to continue to work on these projects in the coming year. See you around!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On Plans for the Rest of the Year

So hey! It has been a while.

I have been rather caught up in a number of different things. Returning to school to gain new, hopefully-employable skills has been one of those things. Getting ready for the birth of our second child is another. Then there's been the rampant lack of blogging skill and motivation that has always kind of hampered my posts here. Sorry about that by the way, I will try harder in the future to keep this place up to date rather than covered in cobwebs.

Fortunately that is not all I have been up to.

Broken Halo is ninety percent done or so, and we already have the cover ready! So that should be one book that is going to come out this year rather than the next. Check out the cover by James Curwen! We definitely lucked out getting his help with the artwork this time around again.

Eagle is a little less ready. I'm about halfway to two thirds done with the second to last revision. The copy edit should be off to the editor by the end of the week, so from there it shouldn't take too long to fix up. It may be something of a rush to get it done by the end of the year, but I think we can make it happen still.

Glasswitch and Social Contract are both going to be delayed until next year. There has just been too much going on between all of the various crises to get the editing done for those novels, especially since Contract needs a major rewrite thanks to current events. Grg. That is rather frustrating, but I suppose you have to roll with the punches, right?

So there's kind of the state of the Kindal Debenham writing world. I should be able to hammer out a tentative publishing schedule for next year, which my hope is will be a bit more realistic and achievable than last year's goals. At the very least I shouldn't plan on releasing four novels in one year; that was a bit out of my reach. Lessons learned, I suppose, and then we move on.

Anyway, hope you guys are all doing alright, and I will see you around!

Monday, July 8, 2013

On A Quick Snapshot of Life

I'm not dead yet! Yeah!

So, I'm terrible at blogging. I think that's probably an obvious thing to most people by now, but I might as well get that out there. It's probably the same kind of fault I have in terms of writing a journal, only here the failure is quite a bit more public. Ah, well...

In any case, here are some of the things that have been keeping this writer/husband/father/etc busy over the past few weeks. I might revisit some of these things later just to give them a bit of depth, but I might as well give some kind of an overview, right?

First up, with the collaboration of a wonderful translator by the name of Michael Drecker, we are going to have a German translation of Wolfhound up in a couple of weeks. There is a free sample up for the rest of this week, with the first eight chapters or so available. It's been an interesting experiment in foreign publishing for me, so I hope that it will turn out well. Here goes nothing!

Second, progress has continued on the third Jacob Hull book, Eagle. It has not gone as quickly as I might have liked, but I think that the book really will turn out better thanks to the changes I am making. It had a few pacing issues that needed to be worked out, which seems to be an intensely difficult revision to make. Unfortunately, that means that I likely won't make my August deadline for publishing it, but that's the way life goes sometimes. At the very least I will be publishing something I am confident in, which counts for more than punctuality in this case.

Third, I'm going to have to do a major rewrite of The Social Contract before it sees the light of day. Recent events have taken some of the villainous aspects of the bad guys in the book out of fiction and into reality, so that makes the whole premise a little less workable. It's scary when a piece of your cyberpunk dystopia novel becomes obsolete, not because of advances in technology or societal changes, but because it's already a part of our daily lives. Whatever else you might think of the PRISM thing, it has certainly made the lives of sci fi writers much harder, which I think we can all agree is the important thing here!

Fourth, I'm going to start taking graduate courses in computer science, beginning in the fall. No, it's not related to the previous topic, it's more just a gradual career shift required by our current situation. Any suggestions, heckling, stories, or advice would be appreciated. My main concern is that my cheapo, three year old laptop isn't going to be up to snuff, but I may just replace it before we start. I've been noticing some major problems with this one, and it may just be time to get something new.

Fifth, because I like to bury the lead, we're having another kid! My wife is yet again expecting, and we're both really happy about it. It is going to be a bit scary, since child number one is kind of active and challenging at times, but it will be kind of cool to see how our family grows. Unfortunately, this may be the time where I have to admit that I am an adult now. Sad, but probably true.

So there you have it, life as it is right now for me. The next few weeks...well, maybe the next few years are going to be interesting, so we shall see how I get through it. Thanks for all your support out there guys, and I hope your life goes as well or better than mine. See you around!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

On Burnout

Yep, you can probably tell this post will be a cheerful one.

So burnout is something that I think every writer hates to imagine happening to them. Part of it is the fact that any writer who is truly invested in the work they are doing hates to believe that the day will come that they will wake up, look at that wonderful fresh blank screen or that manuscript in slight need of refinement and say "Man I don't have the energy for this today." Another part is the fact that there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of advice on how to get over burnout. It's not quite the same thing as writer's block, where you are trying to get past a difficult part of a story or something. It's more a sudden exhaustion of your ability to create things, a fatigue that settles over you and prevents you from going through the whole process of writing, and that is a whole different animal to fight off. There's kind of an impression that makes it seem almost impossible to recover from.

In any case, burnout is probably what I managed to achieve for myself the past few months, and I've been paying the price for it lately. After publishing Murders, I launched into a rewrite of Broken Halo, quickly followed by writing over a hundred thousand words in Eagle's rough draft. At the same time, I was working quite a bit of overtime for my day job, trying to figure out a new career path for myself and my family, moving to a new apartment, and dealing with the everyday chaos that occasionally happens in life. Needless to say, I was a bit overconfident about my ability to handle that much of a workload, and my productivity after that point kind of broke down as I was trying to start a new project.

Since then I've been struggling to recover somewhat, a fact that's been reflected more or less here on my blog. My apologies to the handful of you who were looking for more updates here. I'll skip the stereotypical promise to update more frequently, but I hope that I won't vanish for months again this time. I also hope that no one takes this post as a sign that I am not planning on finishing the series that I've already started. Eagle will come out this year, though likely later than originally planned, as will Broken Halo. Glasswitch and Social Contract might be held off until the following year by necessity, but then again publishing eight or nine novels in two years was a bit ambitious for a part time writer.

In any case, I'm still working along, and hopefully avoiding the burnout this time. I hope all of you are doing well, and I will see you around.

Monday, April 1, 2013

On Galactic Civilizations 2

Well, now you know what has occupied my free time lately.
This game is one that I had heard a lot about, mostly through two playthroughs that are still roaming around on the internet. I highly recommend them both, so long as you have a high tolerance for language and an interest in strategic videogames. (Here and here)

Galactic Civilizations II has it's closest cousin in the Civilization series, which I was already a major fan of. They are both part of a class of games called 4x, which basically refers to the fact that they are turn based, require advancement along technological, economic and territorial branches, and are incredibly addicting. What some have called the "one more turn" factor is very, very strong with games like these, and Gal Civ 2 is absolutely no exception. In fact, I would say that this game completely outdoes Civilization, for a variety of reasons.

The background of the game is that there were a bunch of alien civilizations restricted to hyperspace travel via slow, hard-to-build stargates. Then one of them discovered the humans, who manage to invent a portable, faster version of the technology to make more effective FTL systems. They willingly share that information with everyone--thus creating absolute chaos in the process as all those civilizations start declaring wars, claiming territory, and generally making a mess of the previous, stable universe. Of course, that is all on the periphery, since I've pretty much ignored the story campaign in favor of the sandbox mode, but I guess it is important to set things in context.

The depth of the game is absolutely breathtaking. You have a number of options available to you throughout the experience that can actually kind of overwhelm you at times. From the outset, you can choose what kinds of inherent skills your race has, what type of galaxy you will play in, and what enemies you'll face. Once you get into the game, you can not only name your own colonized planets and such, you can also design and build your own spacecraft (!!!!), balance your own economy, engage in trade negotiations and diplomacy that actually matters (one area that always seemed to fall flat in the Civilization games) and pursue one of five different paths to an ultimate victory. Those range from outright conquering everyone, to creating a grand alliance of nations, to researching the meaning of life. If nothing else, the game has more or less infinite replay value, simply due to the sheer number of possibilities you will constantly face.

It isn't an easy game by any means either. The many different possibilities mean you have just as many chances to utterly fail at what you want to do. My first game went well--I managed to win an alliance victory after brutally sabotaging the game's major superpower, convincing half the galaxy to band together against them and then leveraging those connections for a victory. Then I played a second game where I spent myself into a bankruptcy my little star nation couldn't recover from before the others started to roll through my territory. My third and fourth games went well, and I marched through my normal difficulty opponents with ease. Feeling confident, I started a game where the AI was ticked up by one notch.

I promptly got my head handed to me, where I soon realized that not one but three or four brutal civilizations were ready to completely wreck my plans and destroy me within a short amount of time. I dropped back down to normal level, just to salve my poor self-esteem, and I now look on the higher level AIs with justifiable fear. I haven't even thought about the upper level difficulties yet; my overconfidence was my weakness last time.

All in all, the entire game has been a good experience. I hesitate to label it a worthwhile investment of time, but it definitely was worth the money I paid for it, and I believe has given me some time to relax after the overtime I've put myself through for the start of the year. Now that I've finally managed to get this review up, maybe I can get back to business on the other stuff.

Monday, February 18, 2013

On Background: Dark Energy

In honor of me finishing the rough draft of Eagle (cause I totally did!) I decided to take a stab at writing a bit about the background of the Jacob Hull universe. Mostly I'm a bit burnt out and unwilling to start on Airships before next week, so here goes.

One of the cool things about science is that the more we've discovered, the more we realize how little clue we have about how our universe works. Dark energy, along with dark matter, is one of those things that currently proves that maxim to its fullest.

There are a variety of explanations about dark energy, but what it boils down to (to my, non-expert understanding) is a collective "Huh?" on the part of modern astronomers. You see, the Big Bang theory (not that one) has managed to explain quite a lot about how the universe was formed. We've discovered background radiation from that first initial explosion, and all the galaxies in the universe are speeding away from each other, just as that theory would predict. There's just one problem.

They are all speeding up.

Why is that a problem, you ask? Well, according to a little thing we call gravity, we know that all matter is drawn toward other matter at a certain rate. That rate is lessened by distance and depends on the mass of the objects involved, but the gist of it is that the mass in the universe should be attracting the rest of the mass in the universe--especially those big globs of stars and planets we call galaxies. The initial assumption was that--due to gravitational pull--all those galaxies would eventually slow down and reverse course, finally merging together in a big condensed clump for another Big Bang of some sort. That is not what is happening at all.

They figured that out by looking at the light coming in from those galaxies, and measuring what kind of light it was. Light coming from an object headed toward you has blue shift, thanks to the Doppler effect. Light coming from an object headed away has redshift, thanks to that same effect. People have measured the light from the various galaxies and have found that they have redshifts--and that the shift is increasing. Basically, they did to galaxies what traffic cops do to your car and found that not only were they speeding, they were freaking flooring it.

Now, the concept they are using to explain the phenomena is called dark energy. Basically, from what I can understand of the subject (which I admit is limited) is that they think it is either the energy cost that is paid by the universe's expansion to have more empty space, or that there must be a kind of energy called a quintessence field that provides the gravitic acceleration. There is apparently a high-level debate on what those theories imply, and we aren't anywhere close to figuring out which one is correct, but they have concluded that dark energy makes up about seventy-three percent of the energy and mass in the universe. That's right, we have no idea about the nature of about three quarters of existence.

So how does this relate to Jacob Hull? When I was writing Wolfhound, I was reading about dark energy and came across a description of it as a sort of 'negative pressure' in the universe. With the weird way that my mind works, I connected negative pressure with the air pressure systems on Earth which create winds. From there I jumped to the idea of a similar sort of wind system occuring between concentrations of high and low 'negative pressure' in space, which people could sail along using sails meant to catch the energy provided by those dark energy currents. From there I went to the Capistans capturing that energy like specialized windmills, and missiles and torpedoes using those same currents to accelerate as well.

Now I'm sure there are at least a couple of physicists who are crying out in horror at what I've just done to the whole concept of dark energy. I'm sure there are already plenty of theorems and explanations to describe why the direction I went with here is absurd and illogical. I'm fine with that; Wolfhound was never meant to be a science textbook after all, and I readily admit that it was not meant to be hard sci fi either. Still, there was the thought process behind the background, for those who are interested. Hope to be a bit more regular in posting here in the future. See you around!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Progress Update

So just a quick note this week on how things are going. Not much else was going on this week, so it's a boring post. Sorry.

Broken Halo's out to alpha readers, who I hope will enjoy it. My writing time is currently being divided between the first draft of Eagle and the next draft of Glasswitch. Eagle is going rather well at the moment; we're about thirty six thousand words into the story, which by my estimate says we're at the one-third point. At the rate I am writing, I should be finished with the first draft in about four more weeks--again, if nothing horribly unexpected happens. Glasswitch is going rather well too--the edits I'm coming up with are definitely going to improve the story, and the pace is about what I'd hoped for. It's a smaller novel, so I'm hoping to finish this draft by the beginning of February, and then move on to the second draft of Social Contract. After Eagle, I'll do a first draft of Airships over London, the next book in the Kingsley series.

That's the schedule for the beginning of 2014! It should be interesting to see if I can keep this pace up. Missing quite a bit of sleep, but that should just improve my writing, right? At least, that's what the sleep-deprivation-hallucinations tell me. They wouldn't lie, would they?

In any case, we are on track to do quite a bit this year, and I would say that we are off to a good start. hope everyone is doing all right out there, and I'll see you around.

Monday, January 14, 2013

On Wiz War

So I'm branching out into board game reviews now. Because I am just that nerdy.

My brother-in-law recieved this game as a Christmas gift, and was kind enough to let us all play it during our vacation this year. I'd first heard of Wiz War on Penny Arcade, which has this running series called Shut Up and Sit Down as part of their maniacal, gaming culture empire. The review on that site made the game sound incredibly fun, but rather complicated to learn.

What I found was...yeah, that was pretty much right.

Wiz War has a steep learning curve. Like, running into a solid wall steep. We spent the first session with our noses in the instruction book half the time, and even during subsequent sessions we would pause and try to figure out if someone could do what they had just tried to do for a good few minutes.

At the same time, once we got into the game, it was incredibly fun. The basic mechanic of lining up combos during your turn was a lot of fun to play with. Watching a move that you had spent a bit of time planning out was a beautiful thing--there is nothing more satisfying than punching an enemy with your fire cloak, throwing up a wall of fire between you and your victim, and running away while laughing hysterically. Wiz War really helps you pull off those one-upping moments that makes good board games fun--once you figure out what you are doing, of course.

I guess I should tell you what the basic point of the game was. In Wiz War, two to four mages are competing against each other to score victory points. In the basic game, two points can give you overall victory. You get those points either by stealing one of the two treasure chests from an opposing wizard's section of the board, or by killing an enemy wizard. To aid you in your quest for blood and plunder, you can have a hand of up to seven items or spells, each of which will have a variety of effects for you to turn to your advantage. These things can also be sacrificed to give you more actions during your turn, to fuel better spells over several turns, or clear the way for more spells that are hopefully better than the ones you have.

The game was rather well balanced, with no particular spell or item giving a wizard a You Win button. I'll admit I was rather focused on combat during the game, but every game we played tended to be won by people that snuck around behind everyone else's backs to steal the treasures, though I wonder if that trend would continue if we had upped the number of victory points you needed to win. Either way, it was a really fun game that allowed you to be devious, pull off cunning traps and strategies, and enjoy yourself. All in all, a pretty good time.

So there's my two cents on everything. Hope all is going well for everyone, and I'll see you around!

Monday, January 7, 2013

On A Year of Publishing

So as of this month, I've been an independent author for over a year. Since December 2012, I've published five books, written a few others, and have some working their way through the revisions process for this year. I'd say that is a pretty good accomplishment for a year's worth of experience.

Unfortunately, it looks like my beginner's luck has come to an end. Wolfhound was an incredible success, but it looks like I am going to have to work through some hard times before I can replicate it again. To be honest, it is a little relieving to come to that conclusion. I've always been better at working hard and building up slow rather than depending on the occasional brilliantly lucky shot. If 2013 I grind through a lot of work again with far less reward, than so be it.

So, onto the lessons I've learned as an independent author for the year 2012. Based on my wealth of experience and wisdom, of course. Heh heh.

First of all, I've learned to not sweat reviews so much. There is nothing so exciting as getting a good review; similarly, there is nothing so frustrating and maddening as getting a poor review. It's twice as hard if the poor review critiques something you feel was misunderstood, something outside the initial purpose of the book, or just mean-spirited. Initially, I tried to manage those ups and downs as they came, and made a promise to myself that I would personally respond to every review, no matter the rating. The best decision I made was to stop doing that. The reviews gave me such a rollercoaster of happiness and outright rage that it became hard to actually focus on writing. I would worry about what to say to this comment or how to respond to that critique until I was tied up in knots and couldn't continue with my current project. Of course, that resulted in a bunch of crap I had to wade through just to get to producing something again, and generally wasn't worth the effort I stuck into it. I think it's telling that the moment I stopped responding and focused on writing instead, I managed to write a full novel in about nine weeks. So, first lesson learned: when a bad review comes in, don't sweat it and go write something.

Second, I've learned what should be realtistic for me in terms of setting goals and publication deadlines. When I went into 2013, I set the goal to have one book out every three months. It sounded like an achievable goal, and it was something I put a lot of pressure on myself to do. Unfortunately, I had failed to plan for the unexpected. Those unanticipated factors (moving a thousand miles with two weeks notice, changing jobs and work schedules, my sister's wedding, ecetera, ecetera...) added up to delays I couldn't have possibly expected, but I still put loads of stress and anxiety over those deadlines in spite of it. On top of that, I'd locked myself into those deadlines by publishing them in my books. While I think publishing the fact that the books were coming was a good idea, I don't think that trying to set them in stone was a bright move on my part. Life has a way of throwing the unexpected at you, and if a major publishing house can't manage to dodge delays or disasters, I shouldn't try to hold myself to an impossible standard until I have more experience in the field. So for now, rather than month or even season specific deadlines, I think I'm going to stick to announcing which year I expect the book to be out, at the very least until the book comes back from the copy editor. Otherwise, I'm just setting myself up for stress-related breakdowns and failure--and I have no doubt that life has enough of those planned for me without my own decisions adding to the mix.

Third, sequels are really, really different from first books. That may seem a little like common-sense, but I can't stress enough how different it is to work on the second book compared to the first. The challenges are different from what you expect out of a first book. You have to worry about character consistency, development on a much larger scale, all while trying to preserve what made the first book work. The worldbuilding has to go much deeper, while remaining consistent with the first book, and that occasionally presents an obstacle all on its own if you played a little free and loose with things before. All in all, it's felt a little like I've been learning to write an entirely different kind of book, and to be honest, I'm still trying to work out the best way of doing it. Hopefully I'll get better at that formula as time goes on.

Fourth, keep your business finances separate from your personal finances. Ugly, terrible, nasty things will happen to you otherwise. Sandra Tayler gave that advice at the LDS Storymaker's conference this past year, and certain events have proven it very wise counsel. Without going into the unpleasant details, just trust me on this one. It will save you a load of grief and pain later on.

Fifth, and final, I think I have refined my ability to revise. Going into this, I had thought that my revision techniques had already gotten as good as they were going to get, but I was wrong. I've managed to identify a bit better what steps I need to go through to end up with a good story, and I am looking forward to employing them in the new year.

So there you have it, my incredibly deep and probably boring post on lessons learned in 2013. The next year looks like it may be a hard one, but I am looking forward to it. Every challenge brings an opportunity to grow, and as difficult as the past year might have been, I think I have a lot more to learn. At the very least, the journey should be interesting. I hope everyone is having a good start to their new year, and I'll see you around.