Gained A Level, or a few.

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I sat down the other day and wrote out all the projects I’ve written in the seven years since my family moved from Las Vegas to Ogden, Utah.

I have 10 projects either done, outlines, or ready to be written.

Four thrillers in the military/political/espionage realm and six in the horror genre.

I’ve been hard as hell on myself for the last few months. Writing these down feels like I’ve gained a level in my writing.

I’m a big gamer, and I have been since the ’80s. Looking at all this feels like I gained a level in one of my games. The fear of rejection and the fraud police will always be on my mind, but I have a date for my military/political thriller novel, November 1st. Here is the link.

But I want to thank everyone who commented on my posts over the last few months. I’m working through some things personally, and all of your support has been amazing.

I have a whiteboard above my desk, and I have all of the books I’ll be publishing until 2024 listed. There are seven with dates. I have one of the 10 I listed above out on submission. As soon as I get a reply on that, I’ll add it to the queue.

I write horror and military/political/espionage thrillers. I grew up watching horror and reading thrillers. Tom Clancy will always be my favorite in the genre, but Mark Greaney, Jack Carr, David Baldacci, Brad Thor, and Brad Taylor are my favorites right now.

Here‘s my list of what I’m currently reading.

I hope you have a good rest of your week.

Getting through it

There have been many days where I wanted to quit. When it all felt worthless. When I wanted to throw my laptop and all the stories I’ve written in the trash.

This last week I spent time with my family at Disneyland. It was fun but we have our issues sometimes. I’m sure it’s that way with every family.

It made me realize that my head was getting in the way of my progress. I was letting my thoughts run my life. That’s not a way to live. The thoughts were terrible and I wish I could forget all of them, but they’re still there in some empty space in my brain.

I didn’t write on that trip. I barely took any pictures. I stayed as much in the moment as I could. And it was hard. I can’t remember the last time I put everything away and stayed in the moment so solidly. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve done.

I’m usually on my phone looking at social media, but I only did that on a couple of instances last week.

Being in the moment was as difficult sober as I knew it would be. There were too many times I wanted a drink to steady my brain. It made me want a drink and it also made me lash out at my family. That was my fault. I wasn’t prepared for all of what was going on around me and I wanted to dull it.

No dulling happened and I stayed a bit angry. I’m angry at myself today for not handling it better and for not understanding how difficult it would be to manage all of the stimulation around me. Which I should have.

Now I’m back at the desk working this week. I’m making my way through Tim Waggoner’s Writing In The Dark Workbook and will have a review with some of the exercises up when I’m done.

I can’t say enough about how this book has helped me. I’ll save that for the review.

I hope you’re going to have a good week and as I struggle to deal with my behavior I hope you’re managing your own.

The change is here

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When I said the change was coming last week, I meant this.

My world was turned upside down in the last three months. I wrote about that on Monday.

I found myself hating writing, hating myself, and not wanting to do anything to improve any of it.

The change is about acknowledging those things. It’s about understanding why I fell into a depression and how I must get out of it and work through it all to be a better person for myself.

There are many steps on a path, but the first step to improving oneself is the most important. On this journey, I’ve learned to understand that change sucks. Coming out of a dark place into the light, or at least as much light as I allow into my life, is worth everything.

My writing never took precedence over anything, and surely not editing.

Today I’m writing this post on Sunday before it posts. I need this separation from the blog articles. I’ll write blog articles on the weekends and fiction during the week.

I’ve discussed a new schedule for my writing day. How I’ll manage my writing and the editing I need to do. These are intrinsic to the goals I’ve set. The execution will be the more difficult aspect of all of this.

I am now sober for 76 days. I say this not as a brag but as something I’m proud of. I’ve consumed alcohol regularly, barring the few times I’ve gone sober over the last two years since I turned 18. Some of those times are good, but all of them are cloudy.

I’ve reached a point at 46 where alcohol no longer works for me. It dissolves me into a bottle, and the contents are not who I wish to be. It’s a long fight. I need to do it for myself.

Today is another day on this patch of dirt, and I’m glad I’m here.

The break that almost killed me

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I’d wondered how this post would go most of the weekend, and while I’m sitting here on Sunday awaiting the blood moon and eclipse. I learned a lot about myself over the last few months.

My break wasn’t one I’d intended. It was magical journey into one of the worst depressions I’ve had since my break in 2014.

It started with my son having some issues at school. I’m not blaming him. I’m blaming myself for not dealing with my mental health in a satisfactory way. There were inklings of the coming storm with how I handled a few things after the first of the year. The echoes of the coming storm reverberated and then took over as if the echoes weren’t echoes but the storm’s arrival at my doorstep.

I fought hard to contain the storm. I stopped drinking because I needed to. I put myself on a limit on how much social media I could participate in. This last part led me to take a break from Twitter and screw up my algorithm. I no longer saw the people I cared about seeing. It was all bullshit all the time. I dove into TikTok and into my Norse practice. The latter has been my saving grace over the last eight months.

I may go into the Norse practice if there is any interest, but let’s just say I had a few conversations in dreams last summer that led me to discover it.

As I fell more into a depressive state and swore, I wouldn’t say anything to anyone for fear of what they might say.

Those moments of clarity in the depths of my depression caused me to wonder what I was doing. Whether I should continue to write and if it was a waste of time. I’ve written steadily for the last eight years. I’ve written eight novels, 4 novellas, and more short stories than I can count.

Recently I wondered if it was worth it. I’ve often wondered whether I should continue. It’s something that still plagues me as I write this. After that much writing and having nothing except the collection out in the world, it’s hard to understand what I’ve done wrong.

The biggest problem is allowing others to dictate what I should write when I know better than anyone else what my mind is capable of. In that vein, I also understood I needed to find a real editor for my work. Finding one made a huge difference. I’ve barely touched the draft they’ve worked on. That changes this week.

I am on firmer footing with myself and my work, but there will always be that questioning mind about whether I should continue or move on. This hits hardest as my oldest graduates in a couple of weeks. We’re taking them and their sibling to Disneyland to celebrate this occasion.

As they step into another phase of their life, I know my wife and I are doing the same.

I will always struggle with depression. It’s a fact that I’ve come to accept. I won’t merely exist with it. I will live with it.

I began a new story this week, writing it for myself. I’m avoiding the traps of my former writing ways and throwing myself into it.

I hope you’ll stay and follow along.

The hard writing creates the most improvement.

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I’ve thought about this blog idea and finally stepped up.

I consider myself and horror and thriller writer, which is stated on my Twitter profile.

With thrillers, they come easily. They write themselves from the start of the outline to the finished story.

With horror, it’s different. I have to think a bit more. It challenges me more. I can’t write an outline for my horror stories, no matter their length. I’m not sure why this is, but I’ve learned to accept this is my process for each genre.

Identifying this little bit took me to the point of quitting altogether. It wasn’t until recently I identified that each story needs something else. And that’s okay.

I started a horror novel this week, and just as with others, I attempted to write an outline, but nope. These stories are all discovery written.

I believe it’s the intricacies of the thriller genre that require this. The layers of military/political/espionage thriller and the research those categories require force me(who has never served in the military, worked in politics, or participated in any espionage activities) into discovering how certain firearms work. How certain groups would operate and what they’re like is the most difficult. I don’t know anyone who works in these environments, so I read about tactics and weapons. The library I have on certain groups has probably put me on some government list. I’m fine with that. I get pulled out by the TSA every time anyway. I always have.

I enjoy the lack of need regarding all of the research with horror. Of course, there is some research, but nothing like when I’m writing thrillers. There is also the fear factor involved. I worry more if I’m getting details wrong with thrillers. One can only read so many books and still not understand what it’s like to be in a firefight, and I would never ask a vet.

I love writing horror for the simple reason of its freedom. I love writing thrillers because that’s what I grew up reading more than any other genre. Both are my wheelhouse and I learn different things from writing both. I find writing horror more difficult because it’s straight world-building throughout the process.

Thrillers will always have more work on the front end with outlines, and research, while horror will have more on the backend, either with more drafts or with research during or after the first draft is complete.

I’m adjusting to the fact that I write differently depending on the genre. I’ve taken some damage to my ego, which I’m sure needed to happen. I’ll be working this way from now on.

Horror will be my favorite of the two because it’s my safe space, as I mentioned earlier this week. But that’s all I have for today. Have a good weekend.