Christmas House Fire | Other -

December 10. I can't describe it, other than the climax of some terrifying novel. Here are the facts:

At 11:00am, I received an email from a literary agent saying that she loves my novel and would like to represent it. This is something I'd been pursuing since 2005, a major goal achieved.

At 5:00pm, my house burned down. My wife and child (and even my 2 cats) got out safe and uninjured, but the house is likely a total loss. 6 firetrucks battled the inferno for a a full hour before putting it out. Almost every cop in the city seemed to be on the street. We walked away with the clothes on our back, but at least we were alive.

It's been a month now, and I forgot to post this on LJ, but we are doing well. About to move into an apartment during the rebuild process. Working out tangles with insurance, contractors, and lawyers.

It looks like the house will cost more to rebuild than we have, but we don't really want help right now.

If you're one of those people that insists on helping (there are many, we've found out!) this is the best way:

- See more at:


I've been writing. And exercising. And eating well. And even spending time with my family.

Not sure what more I could want in life, other than maybe artistic/monetary success to the point where I can write more and spend more time with my kiddo and wife.

Oh, and of course I can want to be young again. So many things would be easier if I could roll back the years to say, 23 or 25.

So, anyway: Yesterday TRIFECTA
Writing -
- 1100 words on a short story, really interesting SF, feels very Bradbury. Don't normally write SF.
- Watched some Brandon Sanderson Write About Dragon stuff
- Got my head back on straight, writing-wise

Exercise/MA/Fitness -
- Pushups
- V-ups
- Ate relatively well until late at night; had some sugar then that triggered a hungerburst (much like a cloudburst, except if the rain ate everything in sight).

Family -
- Played with Sami in her room twice, and played playdough with her
- Quality time with wifey at lunch, hanging out talking about writing
- Sami could still use a little more time, I think.

Wello Horld

Hey, I'm back, kind of . It remains to be seen if this is a repeatable thing or not, but here's what's up with me. As of today:

1) Martial Arts: I did the Yang Taijiquan 88 Long Form for the first time in forever. Felt good!

2) Writing: I wrote a 1,200 word flash piece, beginning to end. It's a Sci Fi piece, and I normally don't do techie stuff. But we shall see if it works or not.

3) Hot Hobby of the Month: Ancient Greek - Did 5 exercises in my Ancient Greek book.

Rock on! :)

Book Recommendation: Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander.

A friend of mine, Cassie Alexander, has a great new book out. If you are into Urban Fantasy, you have to check it out — “Nightshifted”.

Here’s the cover copy:

Nursing school prepared Edie Spence for a lot of things. Burn victims? No problem. Severed limbs? Piece of cake. Vampires? No way in hell. But as the newest nurse on Y4, the secret ward hidden in the bowels of County Hospital, Edie has her hands full with every paranormal patient you can imagine—from vamps and were-things to zombies and beyond…


Edie’s just trying to learn the ropes so she can get through her latest shift unscathed. But when a vampire servant turns to dust under her watch, all hell breaks loose. Now she’s haunted by the man’s dying words—Save Anna—and before she knows it, she’s on a mission to rescue some poor girl from the undead. Which involves crashing a vampire den, falling for a zombie, and fighting for her soul.

Grey’s Anatomy was never like this…


Nightshifted is the story of Edie Spence, a nurse who works on a ward for supernatural creatures. The author, Cassie Alexander is also a nurse in real life.


Check her website out on:


I miss Kung Fu

I've had knee surgery recently, if you're not in the loop, and I really can't do anything for a few months -- I miss my martial arts BADLY, especially Xingyiquan (Form of the Mind Fist), probably my favorite martial art.

Here is my kung fu big-brother David doing one of my favorite Xingyiquan forms, Ba Zi Gong Lian Huan (8 Word Skills Linking Form -- a combination of all of the "Word Skills", each skill being based on one word/theory/character in Chinese)

He's a little too relaxed here in my opinion, just cruising. He is missing the INTENTION that must be present in Xingyiquan -- literally "the eye of the tiger": when you look at your target, you think you must kill this person, that your fist must go through him.

I want to learn how to PLOT

I've always been a seat-of-the-pants writer -- sure, I have a general idea of where I'm going, but things usually change dramatically. I don't understand how some writers can write out an outline and have it come out being anywhere close to useful -- it seems impossible to me, and it makes me jealous.

So I am trying to learn how to do it. There has to be a way, right?

I've seen a few outliners suggest watching a TV show and then plotting it out on paper, as an exercise. I may try that.

But the closest I've come to success with this was when I was forced to write a synopsis for the East Texas Range War novel back when I only had 3 chapters. The synopsis actually came out *relatively* close to reality. But it was also one of the most painful things I've ever done, and it still didn't help me fill the plot holes or fix major structural problems (I could have done it, I guess, but I just didn't know they were problems yet).

So I'm going to try to write up a synopsis for this Urban Fantasy book and see if everything comes out okay. I don't have high literary aspirations for it, and it will do well with a linear plot, so I think this is a good novel to try it on.

The Dao/Good Lord/Great Spirit/Whatever knows that I have to do something to speed up my novel writing process if I ever want to even DREAM of making a living at this.

Any advice out there?

What I have on my plate (and do not have time to do)

I have quite a few things, writing-wise, that I need to do, and I really am STRUGGLING to find the time to do them:

1) Suggested rewrites by Anonymous Major Agent to Novel #1. AMA has not promised to pick up the novel if I do the edits -- in fact, she has technically already "passed" on it -- but she has said she would love to see it again if I make the changes she suggested. It's very encouraging, but it's also DIScouraging at the same time -- sure, I still have a chance, but I've also, technically, already been "rejected" too.

2) Rewrites to a modern fairy tale short story. It's my best short story in ages, and I have high-high hopes for it. Sadly, I have seen so many hopes come crashing down, I am having problems getting the drive together to finish it up and send it out.

3) Edits to new 2,000 word piece that is just WAY too clunky. It makes me depressed to read all the slow, turbid prose. But I will clean it up and get it to first readers eventually.

4) Edits to a Heroic Fantasy Novella. It requires relatively drastic changes, and something just isn't working in there. Thus it's way on the back burner.

5) New UF story -- perhaps a novel, not sure -- just started on this yesterday, an am deep into the research for it. It's fun to be writing again, but I've always been kind of literary/snobby about my stories, and this is definitely has no literary merit what so ever. But -- and perhaps because of that -- it's fun.

6) Novel #2 (sequel to the one sitting at the agent) -- I have been choking on this novel for so long I'm about to give upon it and try something completely different. It's sad, tho -- there's a lot of good stuff in there. So I want to save it. Somehow.

I will note here that I DO NOT LIKE EDITING. Thus being stuck in editing mode on so many different pieces is really tearing me up. I feel like I'm stuck on the 5-yard line and I just don't have the strength for the last few feet.

But, anyway, I'll figure it out. I'll have to, won't I?

Not-a-Trifecta: 2 out of 3 ain't bad

Did my physical therapy yesterday, which is as close as I can get to martial arts, and I also wrote ~350-ish words on a new fic (for the first time in months!!)

Unfortunately for me, the new story seems to be a novel -- and it seems to have nothing to do with any of my other fiction, except having genre elements. Heck, it's not even particularly literary -- just straight Urban Fantasy, High Octane Action -- where the heck did THAT come from?

Anyway, I haven't picked up my guitar in almost a year, definitely haven't studied it. I need to figure out something.

The nice thing about my old Trifecta system was it had a balance to it: Martial Arts expressed my physical side, writing expressed my mental, and guitar fed my soul/source of art. I need to find a balance like that again, somehow.
  • Current Music
    "Stormy Monday" (the 12 minute version), on Eric Clapton's "Blues" album

Knee Surgery

So, in case anyone is out of the loop -- I am recovering from knee surgery. The particular culprit that caused all the problems is called "Patellar Tendinosis". Go ahead. Google it. You'll find hardly anything because it's pretty rare.

Here's the best summary of the injury that I've found (in case you want to use it in a book or something):

No one really knows what causes it, is what you'll get. The current guess is that there is a maximum "healing threshold" in which the body can repair damage normally. If you are bloody minded, stubborn, and a fool (like me), you can push your body past the healing threshold, and instead of healing things normally it just throws whatever tissue it can at the injury -- bits of bone instead of patellar tendon, whatever -- and you end up with Tendinosis. The problem is once the tendon heals incorrectly it never remembers how to heal correctly again. It's almost like the Prion problem (prions are a lower state of energy than like substances in the brain, so once you have a prion in your brain, your brain chemistry starts sliding down that low-energy slope). Actually, tendinosis is completely different than that, but I keep getting that simile stuck in my head.

Anyway, they fixed it by cutting out the "dead" or "mishealed" part of my tendon, and letting it regrow.

Things are doing well so far -- off crutches, in PT, healing ahead of schedule -- but I have a long way to go to full recovery.

A noticeable lack of writing that must be corrected

I have not been writing. Instead, I have been "researching" wuxia fiction and TV shows for the past several weeks -- that's my official excuse.

I've always wanted to write a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon style story -- possibly a whole epic fantasy trilogy -- and, for some reason, I decided to start researching it now.

That said, I still have not finished the Dark Sequel. Instead, I've been watching a Wuxia TV series. Bad me! I know! But now that series is done, and I have my life back -- I believe it is time to start back on the Dark Sequel and knock the rough draft out of the way so I can start writing other stuff.