August newsletter

(Originally posted here for Patreon subscribers.)

Hello out there in TV land!  August marked lot of important new beginnings for me, and for the family. And one of those beginnings is the beginning of this newsletter, which you are reading right now.

Boom.

Nailed that segue so hard I should probably just drop the mic and walk off stage, but instead here’s a quick summary / TL;DR / ToC : 1. Mundane decision. 2. KS K.O. 3. Harvey defeated. 4. Dragon riding. 5. Undeserved desserts. 6. Dopplegangers translated.

Ahhh…. Comforting and familiar, like your grandmother’s meatloaf.  And so, without further ado or apology for this being posted five days late, let us commence the heck out of this thing.

1. DECIDERS vote

Picking good questions to get Decided has proved surprisingly difficult.  But this month’s poll was a huge success as far as I’m concerned. For the last year or so, there have been two super awesome books screaming at me to write them, but I’ve had very little time to write.  Now that I’m finally getting more time, I needed to decide which to prioritize.

Thanks to a unanimous vote from the Deciders, now I know which muse to heed. The next novel I will write is: The Mundanes.  Hooray!  Thanks to everyone who voted (or who shared their input in other forums).  Can’t wait to get this manuscript done and out to readers.

2.  Story of the Month teaser

On September 4th, all patrons at the READER level and up will get access to a new story.  A storm loomed large in my life in recent weeks so for this month’s story, I chose “Desert Shield, Prairie Storm.”  This is the first story I ever got in print, and I’m excited to share it with you.

Global crises can hit pretty hard back home, too.  As the months-long standoff between America and Saddam drags on, tempers flare in a Kansas high school and gigantic goof-off Paul Bates finds himself in the middle of a vicious brawl.  Is s savage beatdown his only way out? 

We’ll also have Bonus Content the following week, including photos and a discussion of the Gulf War, the Peloponnesian War, and The Once and Future King.  Stay tuned!

3. Life updates

So many milestones in the last month!  I’ll just share a few with you. Our oldest son, (Codename: Special K) began Kindergarten.  That’s him in the picture above, coming home after his first day. He’s been in day care since he was a baby, so I was surprised that this really felt like a big step.  For him, and for all of us.

We sold our house, again.  The first sale fell through when the buyers had problems with their financing.  Happily, though, we found a second buyer and everything looks good so far.  We should close in the next week or so, keine-hora.

We moved.  This happened in stages.  First, the world’s greatest in-laws came out and helped us pack up the moving truck and drive to New Mexico. Then the girls went back to Texas.  My wife had to finish up her job, and her mom stayed with her to take care of the baby.  This meant that the three of them were all in Houston when Hurricane Harvey hit.

We got lucky.  Real lucky.  The three of them evacuated the house before the storm hit, and were able to stay in my parents’ home about an hour north.  (My parents were already gone, to come visit me out here.  They still can’t get a flight home, FYI.)

In act of pure heroism, my wife went in to work the next morning.  Her last shift at that hospital before finishing her residency.  Surprisingly, she made it.  Unsurprisingly, she was not able to leave for a couple of days. When she did get out, she couldn’t make it all the way north to rejoin her mom and the baby.  But she got to our house, which through a miracle was not flooded.  (Here in the bone-dry desert, I was watching videos of people in our neighborhood being rescued by boat.)

That’s not a lake.  That’s our street, three blocks from our house.

After a couple of days waiting for the waters to subside, the three of them reunited, packed up the car, and headed west.  Man, were the boys and I glad to see them.

For us, the hurricane was terrifying, but in the end just an inconvenience.  Hundreds of thousands of people were not so fortunate. So if you’re in a position to help out, whether in person or with your pocketbook, do what you can.  And don’t forget to pray.  A little prayer never hurt.

4. No-life update

I should not forget to mention that on Habitica I  now have a level 47 Rogue.  Who rides a dragon.

Yeah, that’s right. I also have a pet gryphon.  Which is gold.

In case you missed last month’s update, Habitica is a gamified personal organizer, where a pixelated little version of you levels up and gets treasure as you build good habits and check stuff off your to-do list.

It also lets you get together and do stuff with friends.  In August, I was part of a book club that read and discussed Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.  It gave me a lot to think about and helped me stay centered during a very stressful month. More importantly, because I kept reading, thinking, and commenting because it was framed as a challenge.  WHICH I WON. Which makes me pretty much a philosopher king.

Anyway, if you (like me) get distracted easily and wish you were better at managing your time, why not try Habitica?  It’s fun.  Drop me a line and we can kill monsters together, with the magical power of chores.

5. Accountability

Life demanded a lot from us this month, and so it was not my best month ever in terms of our usual measures.  (See below.)  On the other hand, if we consider instead the number of days I’ve been alive, then this month I achieved personal best after personal best.  I feel good about that.

  • Words:  This month I got about 6,500 words written, compared to last month’s 8k.  That’s not great.  Just typing that made me cry a little.  And throw up in my mouth.  But I’m trying not to be too hard on myself, because this next month I’m going to get a ton more writing time.  So I’m drying my tears and having an ice cream bar to celebrate future successes. You have my permission to do the same.
  • Works completed: One brand spanking new chapter of The Mundanes completed. Yay!  Other writing time this month was spent revising.
  • Submissions: Continued last month’s slide down.  Only 1 new submission out this month.  But the good news is it’s on the short list for acceptance in a really good market.  In fact, this would actually be my first story to officially qualify as a professional sale. So, very happy about that.  I also got two rejections back, but who cares about those? I’m tuning out all the negative frequencies and keeping myself open to positive energies.

6. Tuckerization winners

Since almost the very moment I launched this Patreon page, I’ve had patrons at the Tuck Everlasting level.  This gives them a chance to be Tuckerized, which is when I use your name (or description or whatever) in a story.

So basically you’re immortalized until such time as the (apes/zombies/robots/Kardashians) rise and scour the earth of the every trace of our once-mighty human civilization. Of course, your Tuckerized character may (and probably will) meet with a bad end– e.g. death by explosive diarrhea, becoming one with the space amoeba, doomed to wander forever in an infinite mall, or trampled into fertilizer under the sparkly hooves of self-righteous unicorns.  Even worse, they might end up as (gasp!) comic relief.

But for whatever reason, there are people who think this sounds like fun.  And this month I finally found places for all three of them.  One is now a federal judge in a city full of superheroes.  Another is a soldier’s wife, who left him (and took their kids) to join the resistance.  And the last is an alchemist who stores his magical powers in toy cars. Yay!

Now that I’ve got the kinks worked out, I’ll be doing this more regularly. So look for a Tuckerization announcement in next month’s newsletter.  And if you like, sign up to be Tuckerized yourself.  I’ve got a nice character picked out for a really grisly death.  Who knows– it could be you!

Merci beaucoup!

As I said before, I’m trying to accentuate the positive these days.  I often tell my boy that having a happy day or a sad one is up to him.  Bad things and good happen to us all.  Crying about the disappointments means we spend the day sad.  On the other hand, we can spend the day happy if we remember to be thankful for all the little things that go our way.

In my case, saying that everything’s going my way is not just irrational exuberance (to coin a phrase).  My life is great.  This morning I sat on my back porch with my wife and kids and watched the sun rise over the mountains.  That is objectively awesome.

And you, my dear patrons, are a blessing in my life.  Your choice to sponsor my writing is a great encouragement to me.  On days when I am struggling to come up with a reason to put Butt In Chair and Hands On Keyboard, you give me a really good one.  Thank you for that.

This was kind of a crowded month.  But with your help, I made room for 26 new pages to come into the world.  That’s pretty boss.

And it’s just going to get better.

–JDP

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