Saturday, December 31, 2016

Morning's Still Working . . .

I'm still waking up early to write every morning, but "early" has taken on quite a fluid meaning during the holidays.

Also, I've noticed an uptick in readership over the last couple of days. Who out there is reading this (as if I didn't already know). So, as a sop to my fan(s), I'm rededicating myself to journaling. You can thank of curse me later.

To that end, I'm writing about what could have been my favorite book of 2016. During my hiatus from writing here, I've finished quite a few books. Throughout 2016 I've read the following:

The Stand by Stephen King - What a great walk down memory lane (see here).
The Manchurian Candidate - Great book, but you could watch the movie and get the same thing (see here).
Four to Score by Evanovich - My fave for rainy day quick reads. It's eerie how much she's modeled her love interest(s) off of me (see here).
Icon by Frederick Forsyth - Even better than Red Storm Rising (see here).
Jack Reacher Running Blind - No comment. Just a time waster as so many of his are (see here).
The Third Deadly Sin - I've spent too much time telling this audience about my favorite author, but I'm sad that this will be the last new book of his I'll ever read (see here).



But among all the books I've read this year, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (see here) is hands down the best of the bunch. 

The first line is actually one of the last lines, so by posting the first line here, you get a two-fer:

I am writing this for you. My enemy. My friend. You know, already, you must know. You have lost.

North, Claire - The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August 

After that introduction the story starts and starts quickly:
The second cataclysm began in my eleventh life, in 1996. I was dying my usual death, slipping away in a warm morphine haze, which she interrupted like an ice cube down my spine.

Like my favorite sci-fi author, Vernor Vinge (see here), Claire North does and outstanding job of creating a believable alternate universe. In this case it is alternate universes. The crux of the story is that Harry gets to relive his same life over and over. Easily the most intriguing thing I've ever read if only because it makes one think of all the things that person would do differently. The story wanders a bit, jumping back and forth from one life to another but always showing that journey toward the cataclysm. One of the most fun and entertaining books I've read lately. 

I love what must have been the impetus behind the story, finding a religious teaching or obscure idea, interpreting it into modern times and providing a structure and rules to it that make sense and completely engross the reader. Then taking even that a step further and adding a plot, characters and story line that is just as compelling as the world that has been created. 

But still, I loved it most for the thoughts and fantasies it inspired in me. Sure there are those who will disparage the idea that lives can be re-lived just the way you want them, to them I say "pshaw!" And one thing I loved most about this novel is that it showed that those people who you loved and liked in one life continued to be the same people no matter the life you find yourself in. 

So jealous of Harry and his ability to relive his life. I now hope that when I die I wake up and find myself reborn just like he does. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I Wish the US was like Arizona

I'm still doing it. Ten days in and it's still a part of my morning routine.

Did you know that when you're travelling and you're in the eastern time zone and you wake up an hour and half early you're really waking up two and a half hours early? Now I do too.



By the clock I actually woke up forty-five minutes late, but it feels so early since I'm in Baltimore. I wish that the entire US was more like Arizona. Why? I like their time change and time zone policies. I hate the daylight savings time change. I hate time zones more but at least I understand their usefulness in today's modern world, that can't be said of the "spring forward, fall back."

Still, just like I said yesterday, it works (here). I'm up and I'm writing. It may not be great writing but it's writing. We'll sort out whether it's good or bad during the edit phase. For now, I'm just glad I'm writing.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Working

This title has a dual meaning.

First, regarding the Miracle Morning I've been working on for the past couple of weeks (see here and here), . . . yes, it is definitely working. I am waking up early, the tools that the book lays out are effective and yep, after two weeks it is getting much much easier to wake myself up. Even after three days away from the tools since I was camping, waking up early to take on my day is working quite well.

"Working" also means that I am working on my writing. Slowly but surely, mostly due to my waking up early, I am working on my novel. It's not huge swaths of churning out thousands and thousands of words like it used to be when I traveled alot, but it's a couple hundred words at a time. This morning for instance I probably only wrote 700 words, but it's 700 words more than I otherwise would have written.

Another benefit, now that I've churned out those 700 words I'm more ready now to write a few thousand on my trip to Baltimore today. I'm about to spend the next several days in Baltimore. Traditionally I write a ton on trips (see here). I suspect when I add up my word count at the end of the day, 700 will not be my daily limit.

Miracle Morning routine . . . highly recommended.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Day 4 and All is Well

I'm on day 4 of my Miracle Morning routine and it's going quite well. I'm also including some more of the book's techniques called SAVERS . . . Silence, Affirmations, Visualizations, Exercise, Reading, Scribing.



Now, I'm not far enough into the book to talk to four of these, but I hit two of them this morning. I did Silence and Exercise. It wasn't a lot of exercise like the other day, just an early morning dog walk, and instead of having the ear buds in to listen to music, I went with Silence.

Is it working?

First, yes, it's becoming easier and easier to wake up. I find myself to be less rushed and less harried each morning.

Second, with coffee, writing in the morning becomes much much more enjoyable. Right now I'm in the midst of writing a summary. I have a great start on my fourth book and a terrific short story that it's based on, but I don't have an outline or a direction for the book after the first few chapters. Writing out this summary is really helping with that.

I've always been more of a "pantser" than a "planner." I'm a write by the seat of my pants type of guy. But I'm beginning to believe that I need more a plan to write this fourth book, so I'm writing out the summary to figure these things out.

I wrote a hand-written summary the other day that was five or so journal pages, and now I'm typing it up, in the process it's being refined and added to.

So, does the Miracle Morning work? So far so good!

Monday, November 21, 2016

It's Working . . . but I Forgot the Coffee

Woke up again this morning. So far yesterday's key to increasing my WUML have worked. I did all five and now, here I am writing on day two. If anyone else wants to give it a try, I am liking the simplicity but effectiveness of The Miracle Morning (here). What's nice, and a handy marketing trick, is that there are Miracle Morning books for just about every career as you can imagine.


I may have run a bit too long to get much writing done today, but I felt bad for the dog having been in a kennel for the last week so I think I erred on the right side in that case.

I have found that two key tasks are left off the the list of how best to wake up. I did the re-affirmation, I did the alarm clock away from me trick, I got my running clothes out, I brushed my teeth and drank my water. The two tasks that I think I would add are "set your coffee maker" and an addendum to that, or a critical path, "have coffee in the house."

I'm a coffee addict, not because I love the taste, but I think I love it because I have so many wonderful associations with coffee. Without a second thought I can easily say that my favorite memories of my life include coffee. When you're on day two of the Miracle Morning and it's about forty degrees outside and you come inside to write, it would be real nice to have a nice cup of coffee with ya.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Morning Miracle

I am in the midst of reading a book called the Morning Miracle for Writers. It's a self-help book cum writers craft book much like the ones I used to read and review. I've hardly started but so far I'm taking this sucker to heart. It's primary theme of course is to wake up early not only to write but to get a jump on the day. I've started following it's teachings and trying out the five key steps to increasing my Wake Up Motivation Levels (WUML).


First - Affirm to yourself before going to bed that you really will wake up early. This goes along with the philosophy that the last thing you think upon going to bed will be the first thing on your mind when you wake up. Not a hard one to master, but very effective.


Second - The old standby; set the alarm clock far away from the bed. I've heard this many times before, I will now live  by this maxim.


Third - Have ready a full glass of water and drink it when you get out of bed. Not bad for the biology and not hard to do.


Fourth - Brush your teeth first thing. Nothing better to get you awake then brushing teeth.

Fifth - Get dressed. Again, not hard. In my case it will be in workout clothes as I will be adding a sixth.


Sixth - Go for a jog, walk or run with the dog. Get that blood flowing and the brain juices percolating. 


So far I'm one day in, and except for having the dog with me I followed the steps above quite closely. So far so good. The fact that I have also re-started my blog on the same day that I started this exercise of waking up early makes me think it will be a successful enterprise for my writing life as well as my everyday life. 

My first novel, Toe the Line was written in the pre-dawn hours. I woke up almost every morning at 5 AM to crank it out. I've noticed lately my time to write has become less and less easy to find. Sometimes I'll carve out evenings to write but when evening comes I find an excuse not to write. Hopefully going back to morning writing will be just what my writing life needs.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Stand, Above Average Novel

Finished Reflex and I am now trying to finish my vacation book.

I remember going to Hawaii as a child and enjoying it immensely. My mother enjoyed it immensely too, but what I remember her enjoying the most was a book I was reading at the time called, Norman Schnurman, Average Person (see here). I still remember the title, not just because it has an interesting one, but also becuase on that trip my mother ran out of books to read and had to turn to mine. She loved Norman Schnurman and I remember her telling her friends about the book even after we came home.

I was determined not to run out of books so I took Stephen King's The Stand (see here).

Yet another old favorite (see here) I read the Stand back in high school and loved it. I'm enjoying it again. I took it to Costa Rica in a paperback form. That didn't last and now I'm on the Kindle. It's a long one, and it's been unabridged since I read it the first time, still just as good as I remember. It grabs the reader from the very beginning and off it goes on a wild ride.

“Sally.” 

A mutter. 

“Wake up now, Sally.” 

A louder mutter: leeme lone. 

He shook her harder. 

“Wake up. You got to wake up!” 

Charlie. 

Charlie’s voice. Calling her. For how long? 

Sally swam up out of sleep. 

First she glanced at the clock on the night table and saw it was quarter past two in the morning. Charlie shouldn’t even be here; he should be on shift. Then she got her first good look at him and something leaped up inside her, some deadly intuition. 

Her husband was deathly pale. His eyes started and bulged from their sockets. The car keys were in one hand. He was still using the other to shake her, although her eyes were open. It was as if he hadn’t been able to register the fact that she was awake. 

“Charlie, what is it? What’s wrong?”

King, Stephen - The Stand