I had this idea, back in 2000?  2001?  Somewhere around there.  Back then, I had self-published a couple of poetry and short fiction chapbooks, modeled after my friend and mentor Mike Swope, and I loved the process and the finished product.  In a world where you can submit a story to a magazine, by physical mail, and MAYBE get a response within the next 6 months, if you’re lucky, in the days before widespread internet access, this was a viable route to get your work seen.  You print off a hundred or so chapbooks and sell em to co-workers or something, and while it’s frowned upon by the writing community at large, a hundred cheap little chapbooks aren’t going to be the end of the world.
 
And, like I said, I loved the process.  I had ideas for chapbooks I never got around to producing, but if time and money hadn’t been an issue back then (covers weren’t cheap), I would have.
 
And then one day I had this idea and it was very underground and punk rock and antiestablishment of me.  I thought why go through editors and agents and publishers and booksellers?  If people want to read my stories, why shouldn’t they be able to do so without the hassle?  I’m a smart man, for the most part, I should just be able to sell directly to fans.  As if I had any in 2000 (I didn’t.  I think that year saw my FIRST publication in a small press magazine that probably wasn’t around much longer).  The internet is becoming a thing now.  I have the ability to design, print, and assemble chapbooks.  Let’s say I get a webpage where I can have the covers to my short stories and I can print these short stories and publish them as standalone little chapbooks.  At the time, I had maybe 20-25 short stories written, not a lot considering I’d been writing since 1991.  But I thought, I could make covers for each short story with my very limited knowledge, ability, and access to clipart via the internet of 2000.  I could put these covers online and charge a very minimal amount.  My thought was 10 cents a printed page.  So if a short story came to 10 pages in chapbook form, that’s $1.  A 5-page story, $0.50.
 
And technically I still think this is a viable idea, but thank God for Amazon and Kindle Publishing because this is MUCH easier.  Putting chapbooks together, with all the folding and stapling, it SUCKS.
 
The only downside is that Amazon, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Nook, Kobo, and whoever else is out there, won’t let you charge less than $0.99.  So if I wanted to release a short story that was only 4 pages on a Kindle, I wouldn’t be able to charge only $0.40, which sort of, for me, defeats the purpose of $0.10 per published page.
 
Now I give all of this backstory to say I took all of my short stories off Amazon years ago, in an attempt to clean up my pages and my dashboard and make the books that remained online look more legit.
 
I had visions of swastikas in my head, plans for everyone. Also, I had visions of potential readers coming across my work on Amazon and not being to sort the novels from the short stories, many of which were already published in the full-length collections, of which I also have several.  I thought of growing up reading King and he published novels and short story collections.  Sometimes he’d release a small collection of novellas, but for the most part it was novels and short story collections.  But he never released single short stories on their own.
 
Sure, he published those in magazines that paid a lot of money, so in a sense, most of those short stories WERE available in a standalone format.  If you knew where to look.  But he wasn’t writing a short story and then selling it to his fans.  It just wasn’t the way things were done.
 
So I took down most of the shorts, anything that had already been collected.  Things like the Angel Hill shorts or the Holiday Horrors stayed up, but eventually those too would be collected and the standalone versions, most likely, removed from Amazon.
 
A while later, I put a few of the shorts back up, just the ones that had reviews already.  “Coming Down the Mountain”, “Son of Man”, and “Renovation”.  Mostly that one, I made a lot of money on “Renovation” back in the 2013, probably because it had a house on the cover and, when everyone was buying THE THIRD FLOOR, they probably assumed it was another ghost story.
 
I put these stories back on Amazon under the banner “Horror Singles”, like songs.  Each story was short, so each story had a bonus story after, and I called these the A-Side (main story), and B-Side (bonus story).  I thought it was a clever idea and I stand by it.
 
But I don’t think anyone else caught on to what I was doing and anyway, short stories don’t sell.  Typically.  Every writer knows it, but we keep on writing short stories.  They’re easier, faster, and oftentimes a lot more fun to do.  But we do it on our own dime because no one buys them.
 
And if Amazon charged us for the space, or like $1 each time we wanted to hit publish on a new title, you’d see a LOT fewer single short stories and a lot more short story collections.  But they don’t, so whatever.
 
Back to my point.  I still, after 10 years self-publishing (I do NOT miss submitting AT ALL AT ALL), remain unable to fully reconcile the idea of publishing short stories as standalone titles.  I think they are legitimate works with just as much write to exist as any other form or art.  However, unlike novels, short stories have other avenues of release, like the short story collection.  You don’t see many novel collections, novels typically stand on their own as an individual entity.  Whereas the short story gets so little love.
 
And I don’t think EVERY short story I’ve ever written needs or deserves to be out there on its own, but I have a few here and there that I really like and want to draw specific attention to.  Stories like “Revenge of the Roach King” or “Working for the Fat Man” or “The Caterpillar”.  These are really good stories, and they would get lost in a collection.  Or worse, never even seen, because collections don’t exactly fly off the “shelves”, either.
 
Christ, I’m rambling.  All of this is a VERY long way of saying I’m putting those short stories back on Amazon.  New, BETTER covers, given another once-over for typos, with my updated bio mentioning Kara, and the calls to action are cleaned up, too.  Will any of this make a difference?  I would like to think so.
 
I am probably going to take those collections off the other platforms, Smashwords and Draft2Digital, because I’d like to have the shorts on KDP Unlimited, just to see what happens, but since those stories also appear in those collections, that violates Amazon’s exclusivity rule for Unlimited.  I mean, they call it Unlimited, but it is in fact VERY limited.  Like all the way limited.
 
And all of this led me to another thought yesterday at work.
 
When ebook and Kindle publishing was first becoming a topic of conversation on the message boards, one of my main problems was the idea of collectability.  I’m a BIG collector of all things I love, but it you’re talking print-on-demand physical copies and worldwide web e-copies, where does the collectors market stand?  You can’t print a limited run and make them more valuable because of their scarcity.
 
And I had this idea yesterday, what if you released an ebook and you paid close attention to the sales and, once a book hit 50 or 100 sales, you took it back down.  I know it’s not the same thing, but it IS an idea I kept coming back to a few times over the course of the day.
 
Yeah, I know, nothing is really LIMITED or UNAVAILABLE in a digital world, but I still thought it was a neat idea, so shut up.
 
Oh, and back to those 10 cent/page chapbooks.  So I mentioned the idea to another friend of mine, Dave Barnett, the founder and publisher of Necro Publications, and he shot it down without hesitation, citing the disdain for “vanity” publishing to the writing community at large—at that time.  He suggested instead I get on some horror message boards and just talk to people.
 
So I did.  And I made friends I had for a while and then they faded, and I made friends I’ll have forever.  What’s up, Dave?  Bain, that is.  We met back in the message board days and have been friends ever since.  It was Bain who told me about Smashwords and introduced me to the then-brand new world of acceptable self-publishing and the world has been a very different place for me ever since.
 
So while Barnett hated my idea, he did lead me to a place where, ten years down the line, that same idea was going to be just the way things were done.  Self-publishing is the norm now.  I don’t know a lot of writers, personally, who even care anymore about a traditional deal, considering how terrible those deals actually are for the authors, especially for “first-time authors”.  Self-publishing is the route most authors take and it’s the route I’ve been wanting to take since 2001 and it’s 20 years later and I’m 10 years in and dammit I’m putting my short stories back into the world as standalone titles.  All of which says, to me, that I was right all along.  So eat it, nerd!
 
At the end of the day, this is what writers have been doing since stories were first memorialized in print.  We write a story, then hand it out to a bunch of people, friends and family, and hope they like it.  Same principle, but now we can charge a few cents for it.

It wasn’t my immediate plan–I mean, I was gonna get to it eventually, just not NOW–but the universe is right on schedule and it had other plans for my week.  So instead of whatever I was probably going to work on, instead I spent the week updating the covers to my Angel Hill short stories.  You can see the covers below, but it would be REALLY awesome if you went to the LIBRARY page of this here website and actually bought some or all of them.

It’s Saturday and I wish I had the day off.  I have a TON of things I could be getting done today.  Or at least a ton of things I could be working on. Things I WANT to be working on.

Lately I’ve been going back to the old shorts and updating them.  I have a new cover on ICONS TO ASHES, and a new cover and product description on PLAYGROUND OF THE GODS (the story formerly known as Cuneiforms).  I’ve also been working on new covers for the Angel Hill shorts CARLOTTA VALDEZ and FLAGPOLE SITTA.

That wasn’t actually part of the plan for this week, but inspiration struck and I had to follow it through.  And I’m glad I did because I’m REALLY pleased with what I have coming for those two stories.

But the part I’m having the most trouble with, and the part I wish I had today off to work on for 8 hours straight, is the product description for PLAYGROUND.  I’ve got it.  I know I’ve got it, I’m very happy with 75% of the description.  But there’s just this one sentence I can’t nail down.

I’ve been through half a dozen versions and none of them are right.  I’m so close, but that perfect last few words keeps eluding me.

Hell, maybe working today is what I need, something to get my mind on something else and let my subconscious work it out.  It’s worked many times in the past.

Then again, I’d really just rather go get back into bed with Kara.  I’m still tired and she’s cuddly.

It’s finally done and done for real this time, I have … revitalized(?) my collection of vampire short stories, ICONS TO ASHES, with a new cover and a quick edit and it is available in ebook, print, and audiobook formats from everywhere, including AMAZON.  For the full list of links to buy it, check out the book’s Library page on this site.  If you dig vampires that don’t sparkle or drink fake store-bought blood while chasing fairies through Louisiana, this is the collection for you.

Well, I THOUGHT I had the updated ICONS TO ASHES done, ready, and published.  Then I got to work today and thought, “You know, that text really needs a shadow under it…”

So I came home today and did that and now I have to wait AGAIN for the processing to be done.  And the print cover … the text might be placed just a TAD too far to the right.  If so, that’s gonna take even more work to fix.  But I want it right and perfect, so it’s work I will do in service of the book.

 

Meanwhile I’m also revamping, retitling and re-covering an old story previously called “Cuneiforms”.  Now it’s called “Playground of the Gods” and this will be it’s cover:

I am currently in the process of updating my old short story collection, ICONS TO ASHES and have been working on the cover.  I’ve got it narrowed down to a few I really like, but am going to send them out in my newsletter this week and see what everyone thinks.

 

However, I do have a few covers I really liked but will not be using.  Here are the ones I’m NOT using:

   

Okay, the big thing is done.  The new Holiday Horror short “President’s Day” has been published.  Next up is the 13th issue of Invasion Agents.  But that’s still being edited and I still have the cover out to the cover artist.

 

So, I’m waiting.  And waiting.  And I get the wait.  The editor was in the hospital (pneumonia), and the artist is preoccupied looking for a new apartment.

 

But I’m having a really hard time deciding what to work on in the interim.  I have stuff.  I have LOTS of stuff I COULD be doing, some of it is stuff I SHOULD be doing.  But it’s the same as the last time I was waiting on edits, I just don’t want to get into something and then have to put it down in a couple of days once the edits get here.

 

Also, work sprang a last-minute extra hour to our shift for tomorrow, so today is, literally, the only day I would have to work on whatever it is I work on today before I’m coming directly home to a new dryer delivery and will be busy with that tomorrow night.

 

So.  Well, fuck.  I’m writing this instead just to say I did SOME kind of writing,

 

Hopefully next week will be back to normal.

I’ll be honest.  Today I’m stalling.  I’m ready to hit Publish on my new Holiday Horror story “President’s Day”.  But I like this story so much, I don’t want it to go up until it’s as good as it can be.  The thing is, I think it IS as good as it can be.  I’ve spent months working on this story, and that’s just the editing.  It’s on its 6th draft.  I haven’t done a 6th draft of anything in years.

But I really truly believe in this story and there’s a part of my that is afraid to put it out just yet.

I know I HAVE to.  I set a deadline, after all, in my newsletter.  I told the world when I was publishing this story, no later than Monday, Memorial Day.  And I did that on purpose, so I couldn’t back out.

And while that does give me another 2 days to fret over every little detail, I 1) already know it’s good and ready to go and 2) would really like to have a link I can put in this week’s newsletter which comes out TOMORROW.  So I really really really need to hit Publish on this thing TODAY.

Alright, fine.  I’m doing it.  Next time you see me here, I’ll have a brand new story for the world, an homage to my beloved 80s slasher flicks, set in a hardware store, where there are LOTS of things to kill people with.  Forget Halloween or Friday the 13th, there’s a new killer holiday in town and it’s President’s Day!

Okay, I had to set a deadline for myself, otherwise I would never have got President’s Day DONE and published.

 

I seriously feel I could tinker with and edit and revise this story for the next year and not feel bad about it.  But that way lies the death of the work.

 

Believe it or not, you can OVER-edit a story.

 

So, my deadline is set.  BY Memorial Day—no later—maybe even sooner, I will hit publish on the next Holiday Horror story.

 

I added a few lines today to help disguise a certain character’s motivation, and I’m gonna show it to Kara and get her opinion, and I’m SO very close to finalizing the text on the cover.  God, I can’t believe how purposeful I’m being with every detail on this one.  But I really believe in this story, I think it’s that good.

 

Hopefully I’m right.

I’m sitting here thinking about “President’s Day”, the next in my Holiday Horrors series.  It’s almost ready, but not quite.  I feel it needs one more death scene.  And I thought, until today, that I knew what that scene would be.  I saw it in my head.  But as I started to write it, I had another thought: the reveal of that death comes midway through the story and I think the reveal is well-placed and gives the story another layer of uh-oh when we hear about it.  Do I really want to spoil that?

 

My initial thought was to show the death and use it to throw suspicion away from the real killer and onto a red herring, but I can do that with a different death scene, easily.  So, do I want to leave the other death alone (it was going to serve as a prologue for the story), and let that reveal come when it does?  I think maybe.

 

That isn’t a decision to just MAKE though, it’s one that’s going to have to be pondered and weighed as I skim the manuscript for where I could possibly put the other death scene I had in mind.

 

Sometimes caring about how the story turns out can be a real pain in the ass.

Holy crap, FINALLY!!!  The theater opened up here in St. Joe and after over A YEAR, Kara and I were able to get into the theater.  Yes, we got in for a second in August or November last year when Sweetpea (our oldest daughter) and I took Link (our second to youngest son) to see THE NEW MUTANTS, but the theater closed again so quickly after that it barely counts.

 

So time will tell if this open is permanent or not, but either way, Kara and I got to see a movie together, and that’s something we haven’t done in FOR! EVER!  Hell, we can count the number of movies we’ve seen together in a theater on one hand, but this last Saturday was one of my favorites.

 

We saw SPIRAL: From the Book of Saw, a movie I’ve been wanting to see since I saw the first trailer last year, and I’m glad it’s finally been released, but mostly … damn, I was just glad to finally get back to the movies.  Sweetpea and I used to go all the time over the last few years, so being cut off from those delicious nachos for so long was torture.  And to look over and have Kara sitting beside me in the theater … fuck yes.  More of that, please.

 

Next up: Worlds of Fun.

 

See?  I tell myself I’m going to make this a regular part of my writing day and I manage, AT BEST, every other day.   And I’m cool with every other day; I don’t feel I have important enough things to say every day.  But now I’ve missed the last THREE days.  But I do have things to announce today.

 

One, I’ve got what I think is the final cover for “President’s Day” as well as a 5th draft at 24,028 words.  I’ve got the first few edits for “Invasion Agents #13”, and hope to have a rough version of that cover soon.

 

I FINALLY updated my Amazon author bio.  I haven’t touched that thing since I put my first book on Amazon in, what, 2012?  It was WAY outdated, mentioning my most recent anthology appearances which were recent in 2012, but since I haven’t submitted to an anthology since then, aren’t so recent anymore.  I was also able, finally, to add Kara to my bio.  I really love that part.

 

And on Sunday I published a new short story to Amazon.  Not a NEW story, it’s actually about 10 years old, and this isn’t the first time it’s been published.  “In the Presence of Loneliness” used to be included at the back of THE THIRD FLOOR but I took it out years ago and made it an exclusive available only on Instafreebie, which then became Prolific Works.  But now it’s back on Amazon as an exclusive, enrolled in their KDP Select program, which means anyone with an Amazon Prime account can borrow it for FREE.  So you should totally do that.  Go borrow it and then read it.  It’s like 16 pages.  Go do it now:

 

After a bitter breakup, Tom is trying to start over, this time on his own. Except the house he’s moved into isn’t exactly empty. This Amazon exclusive is set after the events of my best-selling novel THE THIRD FLOOR, and sets up the events of the upcoming sequel.

Now that’s what I’m talking about: productivity.  This week I edited 53 pages of notes on “President’s Day”, getting REAL close to a 5th draft, and today I sent out the latest C. Dennis Moore Short Story Webring story, “Broken Man”.

 

I should deserve a day off, but I won’t get it because I love writing and being away from it too long makes me VERY cranky.

 

And anyway, it’s almost the weekend and that means NEWSLETTER day is coming.  If you haven’t subscribed yet, do so at THIS LINK!

Good Lord, I’ve been doing some mad edits.  An insane amount of edits.  You might even say a PLETHORA of edits.  And thank God for them, because they are working to make “President’s Day” into the story I always knew it could be.

 

I want to thank all of my beta readers, even the ones who haven’t got back to me yet, for taking the time to read this new story for me, in most cases before it’s even in its final form, when it’s still a little rough around the edges and some of the sentences are clunky as all hell.

 

I owe you guys huge.

 

One in particular, Brenda … I’ve spent the last 3 days working my way through the incredible amount of work she’s done for this story to make my words shine.  Only one more day to go on her edits, and then I take another look at the overall flow.  I’m very psyched to see this story in its final draft version and to share it with the world.

You ever find yourself with so many things you COULD be doing that you don’t know where to start, so you end up getting nothing done?  You stare at the screen, trying to will something into existence, a sign or something that says “Work on this first.”

 

I’m an organized person.  Sometimes I think I’m too organized.  I have systems and lists in place for all kinds of different situations.  But sometimes you reach a point on more than one project where you freeze.

 

I’ve currently got TWO stories out for beta reads and edits, and there are any number of other things I COULD be working on in the meantime.  That’s the problem, so many things I could be doing.  But I know that, when the edits come back on those other two stories, I’m going to want to put down what I’m doing and get back to those.  So what do I have currently on the “could be working on it” list that I’m comfortable putting down at the drop of a hat, or the arrival of an email?  I don’t really want to “abandon” any of them, and that’s the problem.  I don’t want to start anything I’m going to have to stop with no notice.

 

So I find myself looking at the two stories that are out, wondering if just by staring at them, I can make them perfect and ready to go.  Or I stare at my list of other projects I could be working on in the meantime, wondering if just by staring at them, I can make them perfect and ready to go so I don’t have to put them down again a few days later.

 

Also, it’s Saturday and I’m headed to work in an hour, which means after that, I’m done writing for the day (I REALLY need to mow when I get off tonight, then, since it’s Saturday, Kara and I always go out to dinner on Saturday), and tomorrow’s Sunday, which is newsletter day, so I know nothing I work on today is going to get touched again until Monday at the soonest.  And that’s two days’ time my beta readers and editors have to finish the work their doing and send it back to me, thereby postponing, even longer, whatever I was going to start today.

 

Writer problems.

The current dilemma is in coming up with a cover idea for my upcoming publication, “President’s Day”, the next story in my Holiday Horrors series.

 

The inspiration for this series was the slasher movies of the 80s that I grew up on, FRIDAY THE 13th, HALLOWEEN, APRIL FOOL’S DAY, etc.  I wanted to go down the calendar and write a slasher story for every holiday there was.  So far I’ve written stories for New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Groundhog Day, Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Day, and now the next in line according to the 2013 calendar I’ve been using (when I started publishing these stories): President’s Day.

 

The story is one of my favorites I’ve written and sums up, I think, perfectly the spirit of the Holiday Horror stories.  But now I need to come up with a cover idea for it, and that sucks.   My first thought for the cover was perfect.  It summed up the story in a singe image and was one of those cases of a picture being worth a thousand words.  I was very excited to see how the cover turned out with that image.  And then I realized that, while it is the perfect image for this story, it also spoils the entire plot, including the identity of the killer.

 

Well, that’s not gonna work…

 

I had another idea that centered around images of President’s Day sales everyone has, but the more I looked into those, the more sure I was they were stupid and didn’t even pretend to lend themselves to horror imagery.

 

And there I was at an impasse.

 

Because, really, that first image was so perfect, anything else I could possibly come up with afterward is going to be weak and, in my heart, I’ll know it’s not as good.

 

And then a new inspiration struck.  The idea for this series came from those old slasher movies I loved as a kid.  And because the very idea of a slasher story taking place on President’s Day of all days is such a ridiculous notion that, in my opinion, works so very well in this story, I didn’t think I was going to find the cover that properly summed up the mood of this story without reaching back to those old 80s covers.

 

And while I don’t actually HAVE the cover just yet, I know which direction I’m leaning now and this is going to make putting my ideas into words that I can then hand over to my cover designer who is, more and more often my 21-year-old daughter (see the “Valentine’s Day” cover), all the easier.  Finally I can give her something to work with.  I’ll pass them over to her today at lunch.

 

That’s a weight off my shoulders and one more thing off my incredibly long and convoluted to-do list.

So long before I was writing, I used to draw.  I was never great at it, but I was the best one in my high school art class and I always got A’s.  Then I started writing and just stopped drawing.  Then my daughter started drawing and by the time she was in middle school, she had FAR surpassed what little talent I had.

 

Then a few weeks ago I came across this book I used to own decades ago, How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way.  I used to love that book, I read it cover to cover, probably more than once, even after I realized the method for drawing laid out in that book is no good for me.  It’s still a beautiful book to look at.

 

And it really made me want to draw again.  So last week I bought myself a sketchbook and some pencils and erasers and I came home.  And I haven’t touched them since.

 

Because I’ve been busy all week with writing stuff.

 

Sigh.  Maybe one day.  Definitely one day.  Has to be.  I really did used to love it.  If only there was time in the day for EVERYTHING we wanted to get done, huh?

Today is Sunday and that means newsletter day.  I have an author newsletter that I’ve maintained on a weekly basis for several years now, and is, if I’m being honest, one of the big reasons this blog has seen so little activity in the past while.  As I said in this week’s newsletter, talking here about my writing is speaking into the void, but when I do it there, I’m know I’m talking to the people who purposely subscribed and WANT to see what I have to say.

 

But that doesn’t mean this blog should suffer.  Hell, I could use this space to bring more people to the newsletter, which you can subscribe to right HERE.

 

I should warn you, though, I say “fuck” a lot in my newsletter.  Because it’s my newsletter.  I got an unsubscribe once and under “reason given” they put “inappropriate content” and I remember thinking, “Um, it’s MY newsletter, it’s got my name on it and it’s written by me.  Shouldn’t I be the one to decide it the content is inappropriate?  And if I’m talking about ME, what could be more appropriate…?”  And then I stopped caring because that person wasn’t going to buy any books anyway, and I guarantee they only got there in the first place through the Prolific Works site, which gives away free ebooks in exchange for newsletter sign-ups.  So, whatever.  They got their free book.

 

And that really is the best place to learn what I’m working on, what I’m going to be working on, what goals I’ve set, how I’m progressing on said goals, and to see my junk.  Every week I show and tell another item of interest from my collection.  This week it was my RUN-DMC Funko Pop! collection.

 

I do intend to keep up on this page, but the newsletter really is the best place to keep actually UP TO DATE.  It’s free, it’s weekly, it’s HERE.

 

I hope to see you there.  And also keep coming back here so I have a reason to keep posting.

Hey.  Long time no see.  Man, I haven’t posted here in forever.  And I don’t think I’ve really said anything of import on this version of the website at all.  I used to blog almost daily, when I was writing first thing in the morning before work, I would wrap up the morning with a quick recap of the work I’d done that day.  I didn’t give specifics or story details or anything, but I would tease out a few things sometimes with pictures.  For example, if I mentioned a roller coaster in the story, I would post a picture of a roller coaster and say, “Today I wrote about:”

 

I don’t know why I stopped doing that.

 

Then for a while I was wrapping up each day with a motivational post, and eventually I collected those in my book Doing it Write.

 

For a very long time, though, I haven’t bothered to come on here and write about what I’ve been writing.  Most days, by the time I stopped writing, I only did so because time was up and I had to start getting ready for work.  Now that I’m writing after work, I still haven’t bothered because by the time I’m done writing for the day, it’s almost time for my wife, Kara, to come home from work and I like to be downstairs to meet her when she gets here, so I would have to cut short the story-related work that day, new words or editing, to write a blog post about what I’ve been working on.  Or I could just keep adding new words and/or editing.  Which is what I’ve been choosing to do with that time.

 

But today, even though I spent the day editing the first draft of the upcoming 13th issue of my super hero comic book in prose, Invasion Agents, I did find a stopping point that made sense and I decided to get on here and say a few words.

 

I read recently that the best way for a writer to build an audience is to blog regularly.  I honestly don’t know how true that is, with Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, I think there are a ton of easier ways to connect with your audience.  But I do have a website and that website does have a blog page and I know when I see a blog that hasn’t been posted to in a year, I just assume the writer is dead or no longer writing and since I’m neither of those things, I really should make more of an effort to be visible here, especially since I’m not on Facebook, my Twitter is occasional at best and my Instagram is devoted mostly to what comics I’m reading, what records I’m listening to, and pictures of Kara on our weekly dinner dates.

 

So.  What I’m currently working on is editing.  I’m editing, like I said, the first draft of the 13th issue of this supposedly-monthly series (year one was monthly, but I didn’t get anything else written that year and that is unacceptable, so this time, as I work on year two, I’m going to keep to as regular a schedule as I can, but not at the cost of getting anything else written) while waiting for the beta readers to finish with my latest Holiday Horror short story, “President’s Day”, which, at 24,000 words, isn’t so short.

 

Man, if you grew up on 80s slasher movies like I did, you’re going to LOVE this story.  More on that later.

 

Kara will be home soon, and I missed her today, so I’m going down to see her.  We’ll catch up more later.

 

–CDM.

Back in 2017, I wrote a blog post called “Get Off Your Dead Ass Before Your Ass is Dead” about the benefits of an aerobic workout vs. an anaerobic workout as far as it pertained to writers.  As I said in my original post, “aerobic exercise not only burns fat, but also prevents clogged arteries which can prevent heart disease.”

At the time I was taking a daily walk in the morning sun and feeling good about myself and my work.

What I failed to mention in that long ago post, however, was that eventually winter would come, cold weather would come, maybe even at some point I would get on that mythical first shift and my available time for things like walks would be greatly reduced.

When free time is at an all-time low and the sun hasn’t shone in weeks, you still need to stay in shape, especially when you’re a writer who spends as much of your time sitting at a desk as you possibly can.

So how do we go about that?

There are several alternatives to walking that you can do at home, in your office.  The first step, of course, is to STAND UP.  Like I said in that previous post, get off your dead ass.  And, let’s face it, that’s often the hardest part.

The chair is comfortable.  Even when it’s not necessarily—like mine—it’s still more comfortable than standing.  The chair is a safe place.

So’s the grave, but we’re trying to avoid going there as long as we can, so GET UP.

Remember, we want to burn fat, not sugar, so we’re going to leave the weights where they are—currently mine are on the floor in front of my CD shelf, across the room.  These exercises are going to be cardio-based.  We’re not building muscle, we’re just staying in shape.

We’re going to start with twenty High Knees.  This exercise is good for leg strength, heart rate, and engaging your core.  This is a simple 2-step exercise starting with your feet hip-width apart.   Now take a step in place, lifting your leg so your knee is even with your hip.  Alternate this step twenty five times.

Then go to twenty walking lunges.  Yes, I know lunges are terrible and should be banned, but there are a few benefits to them.  This simple exercise targets SIX different muscles, including abs, back, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves.  It improves your posture, which is incredibly important when you’re a writer at your desk all day, and they also improve your range of motion, which, at 48, isn’t something I worried about at 24, but now wish I had.  With walking out of the question thanks to the snow and ice outside, lunges are an annoying alternative as it’s pretty much the same motion, just bigger, more exaggerated.

Next: ten push ups.  You know how to do these.  It’s only ten.  Just do them and stop whining.

Twenty-five jumping jacks.  Short of running from a zombie apocalypse, jumping jacks are the “ultimate cardio exercise”, according to the Femina website.  Did you know jumping jacks are also a great way to improve bone density?  Or that your heart and lung capacity are increased when jumping jacks are a part of your daily routine?  And they’re easy as shit!  Just do them.  Twenty-five.

Because now you’re going to hate me: twenty squats.  These not only “crush” calories, they strengthen your core as well as the glutes and thigh muscles.  How to do them?

From the Healthline website:

To do a basic squat:

  1. Start with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Keep your chest up, engage your abdominals, and shift your weight onto your heels as you push your hips back into a sitting position.
  3. Lower your hips until your thighs are parallel or almost parallel to the floor.
  4. You should feel the squat in your thighs and glutes.
  5. Pause with your knees over, but not beyond, your toes.
  6. Exhale and push back up to the starting position.

Next: The devil.  I mean ten burpees.

These may suck, but they are incredibly simple.  From the Healthline website, a burpee is “ a pushup followed by a leap in the air.”  Burpees boost cardio and burn fat, and that’s what we’ve been talking about this whole time.

Do ten of those, then take a break with a 1-minute wall sit.

A wall what now, you ask?

Wall sits build strength in your glute, calves, quads and abs and they require no movement at all.  To do a wall sit, according the Anytime Fitness website:

  1. Make sure your back is flat against the wall.
  2. Place your feet firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart, and then about 2 feet out from the wall.
  3. Slide your back down the wall while keeping your core engaged and bending your legs until they’re in a 90-degree angle—or right angle, so that if someone wanted to sit on your lap, they could. (Although now probably isn’t the best time.) Your knees should be directly above your ankles, not jutting out in front of them.
  4. HOLD your position, while contracting your ab muscles.
  5. When you’re ready to wrap it up, take a few seconds to slowly come back to a standing position while leaning against the wall.

Done.  But now we’re going to circle back around and do a few of these again.  10 pushups, 25 jumping jacks, 10 walking lunges, 20 sit ups—no, these were not part of the original lineup, they’re an added bonus—followed by 10 more squats and a 1-minute plank.

I will tell you upfront a 1-minute plank on your first try is going to seem like you’re dying inside and it will be the longest minute of your entire life.  But you CAN do it.  I have faith in you.  And if you can’t, do 30 seconds and work up to the minute, but I promise you almost definitely CAN do it for the full 60 seconds the first time out.  Then promptly collapse into a puddle of jelly and tears immediately afterward.

Normally when working out, you’re told to take a break between reps, but for this workout we’re going to go immediately from one to the next until the circuit is complete.  THEN we rest for 1 minute, and then we do it again.  When you have completed THREE rounds, you’re done for the day.

Hey, no one ever said staying in shape was easy or fun, aside from taking a nice morning walk on a spring morning, but we’re writers.  We’re lazy and we get fat and if you’re anything like me, you not only have people relying on you to stick around as long as you can, but you’ve also got more story ideas than you know what to do with and living as long as possible is the only way to be sure you get as many of them written as you can.  So take care of yourself!

I will NEVER stop advocating for just going outside and taking a walk, but on days like today when it’s 34 degrees out, there’s not a chance I’m going outside unless it’s to go to the car.  So a healthy alternative, something designed, again, to burn fat, not sugar, and to help prevent heart disease, a good cardio workout is just the thing.  Now, here’s the rundown of everything you’re going to do, and you’re going to do it at least 5 times a week because you’re not a lazy piece of shit, you lazy piece of shit!  Prove me wrong.

 

25 High Knees

20 Walking Lunges

10 Push Ups

25 Jumping Jacks

20 Squats

10 Burpees

1 Minute Wall Sit

10 Push Ups

25 Jumping Jacks

10 Walking Lunges

20 Sit Ups

10 Squats

1 Minute Plank.

 

Repeat 3 times, no rest between exercises, one minute rest between circuits.

Special thanks to Kara Baum for giving me this workout she used in her Brazilian Jui Jitsu class.