New Year’s Resolution

In 2015, I set a goal to post a poem a week on my blog and was able to satisfy that goal without much difficulty. In 2016, I decided not to do it, since it I had switched my attention to fiction and didn’t want to be encumbered by poetry. However, by not having to strive for that goal, I didn’t write as much poetry as I had in the prior two years. I still ended up with about 150 poems, but I didn’t write any poems at all in January, June, or July, and only 8 total for August, September, and October. In fact, if it weren’t for a few poetry binges in March, April, and December I wouldn’t even have enough for a respectable collection. So, I’m making the following New Years’ resolutions for poetry in 2017:

  • Write an average of 5 poems a week.
  • Post one new poem each Saturday, beginning on Jan. 7.

As for fiction, last year did not go as I had hoped it would even though I wrapped up a short story collection and wrote three novels (two of which were rather challenging ones to get through). I had intended to write at least one more book in the Aftermath series but came nowhere close to doing it. So, here’s my resolution for fiction this year:

  • Finish Books 2-4 of Aftermath.

My self-imposed schedule for accomplishing this goal is:

  • Finish the first draft of Book 2: I Will Be King by the end of March.
  • Finish the first draft of Book 3: The Dwarf Wars by the end of June.
  • Finish the first draft of Book 4: Symptata’s Curse by the end of the year.

Note that I did not say I would publish any of these books on this schedule; rather, I want to have first drafts of them done by these dates. I may need to have all three first drafts done before tackling the final drafts of any of them. There are connections between them that may need to be taken into account during the revision process.

At the moment, these resolutions seem reasonable, given my present circumstances, so check for updates on my progress on Saturdays when I post the poems.

Poem #46: “I Am — Are You?”

Here is my last poem for the year. It seems fitting to post it on New Year’s Eve, a time of reflection. I wrote it earlier this Fall when I was discussing Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy with my philosophy students. If you’re not familiar with that work, you may still have heard his famous saying: “I think, therefore, I am.” (Cogito ergo sum.)

I Am — Are You?

As long as
I am
I am
must it not be

But what
of you?

Do you
apart from me
I am
not thinking
of you?

are you
a part of me
that exists
when I am
of you
and me?

© 2016, all rights reserved.

As for my New Year’s resolution, I intend to write and publish at least 2 more books for my Aftermath series and to play less Slotomania.

Brief Update

Since I posted final grades, here’s what I’ve been doing with writing:

  • I wrote some poems and reorganized this year’s poetry collection a few times. I’ll have it ready to publish during the first week in January.
  • I’m going to wait to publish Installments on the other sites until I have the poetry collection ready and have updated the front matter for all of my books to include a list of all of my publications. It will be simpler to upload them all to each site at the same time.
  • I’ve jotted down some more notes for I Will Be King and need to integrate them into the novel’s outline. I’ll start writing it after I get my Spring courses ready (probably after the first of the year), but it doesn’t quite feel right yet. I’ve learned to trust my subconscious when I feel this way, and I need to think about the story without distractions to figure out what’s holding me back.
  • I’m still thinking about the good vs. evil fantasy epic. I may be able to integrate it into the world of Skein as a sequel to the Angus the Mage and Aftermath series, but I don’t know if it will work. I have to write the rest of the books in Aftermath before I’ll know that, and you’ve seen how sluggish I’ve been on that.

Anyway, it looks like I have a lot of grunt work to do between Christmas and New Years, so my next update will be in 2017. In the meantime:

Happy Holidays!



2 Reviews for “Please Don’t Eat the Penguins” and getting ready to write again.

When I checked to make sure “Please Don’t Eat the Penguins” was no longer enrolled in KDP Select so I could republish it on the other sites (it should be available on them this weekend or early next week), I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of reviews. They were both good reviews (one 5-Star and one 4-Star), and I took the time to reply to both of them instead of commenting on them in my blog.

Installments is also no longer enrolled in KDP Select, and I plan to publish it soon on the other sites. I might do it this weekend, but I’m not sure. I didn’t go visit my family over Thanksgiving, and I’m thinking now would be a good time for a little road trip. If I don’t publish it this weekend, it will be one of the first things I do after I finish grading.

I have my poetry book more-or-less ready to publish for next year, but it won’t be finalized until Dec. 31. (I have to get the cover, but it shouldn’t take too long.) I might write a few poems before the end of the year, since it’s a bit shorter than the last two collections. We’ll see. (Even without writing much poetry this year, I have over 100 poems. Many of them are short ones, though.)

One of these days, I’m going to update the front matter of my books (the list of books I’ve published, etc.), reformat the early print versions of my books to correct a few technical issues, and create a Facebook page for my writing. I still might revise my Angus series a little bit, but I haven’t decided on that yet, either. It might be a good way for me to get back into the feel of writing and the right mindset for writing the Aftermath books. We’ll see. Same with incorporating the poems I’ve written in the past few years into my earlier collections and republishing them as second editions: We’ll see.

As for writing, I’ve jotted down more notes for my Aftermath series, and I think I’ll be ready to write I Will Be King once I get through grading finals and posting my students’ final grades. (I’ll have most of it done by the end of next weekend.) I’m glad I’ve waited to start working on it, since some of the ideas I’ve had recently will make it a better book than it would have been if I had written it sooner.

I’ve thought more about that good vs. evil series I mentioned awhile ago, but I’m a long way from writing it. I have an unreliable narrator that I like (Twig), but I need other characters, a basic plot outline, world-building, etc. I plan to spend A LOT of time mapping out this series before I start working on it. Reading the Harry Potter series helped me to understand better how the plot for a series should be developed. I only had a generally idea of what I was doing when I wrote my Angus the Mage series (it sort of developed on its own), and I want to have a strong idea of what I’m going to do before I start the first book of my next fantasy series. (My Aftermath series doesn’t count, since it is more like four separate-but-connected novels than a series building to a single climactic event. With the exception of the first book, each one should stand fairly well on its own.

One last thing: I bought a second computer to make it easier to write while I am “watching” television programs on my computer (or letting Slotomania run on autopilot). I think it will help, once I figure out how to use Microsoft Edge and adjust to Windows 10. It will also make it easier to work with my students in online classes and manage my prep work from home. Unless, of course, my old computer craps out on me, which it could easily do. (It’s old enough that it has Windows XP….)

That’s enough of an update. The next one should be in a couple of weeks, when I intend to start on I Will Be King.

Poem #40: “Sisyphus”

The semester is winding down and I’m thinking about getting back into writing again. I’m not quite ready to resume work on Book 2 of Aftermath yet, though; I still have a week of instruction and another week or two of exams before I can shift my focus away from teaching and toward writing. So I decided to write a few poems to get the creative juices going. “Sisyphus” is one of those poems, and I’ll probably post a few others in December to close out the year. Next year, I think I’ll resume my goal of posting a poem a week (even if it is one from a prior year), but I’m not going to commit to that yet. We’ll see.


The trail ahead of me
was behind me

Each step I take
retraces the same steps
I took to get here.

Up the mountain.
Down the mountain.
Always the same view.

The boulder—
.     my constant companion,
.     my only friend—
never complains.

Yesterday, I counted
the steps. Today?
I won’t bother.


© 2016, all rights reserved.

Poems #37 and 38: “Omen” and “Marriage Counselor”

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything, mainly because of midterms and having nothing much to update on my writing. My white board is accumulating a cluster of post-it notes, though. I’ve developed a bit more of the plot outline for my next book and jotted down a few story ideas, but that’s about it.

I’m still toying with the possibility of writing a good vs. evil fantasy series, but I haven’t talked myself into it yet. I have a few ideas for characters and setting, but not much more than that. If I set it in the same world as my other fantasy novels, I’ll need to work up a better historical timeline than I have at the moment and decide whether it precedes these novels / series or follows after them. I’ll also need to decide on a name for the world, and I’m leaning toward calling it Skein. (The other option is Knittingham, but that’s a bit of a cheesy pun. It would work for The Drunken Wizards but not the other books.)

Anyway, here are a couple of short poems I wrote earlier this year.


after flower
the petals fall,
always ending
on she loves me


© 2016, all rights reserved.

Marriage Counselor

The Kama Sutra
lies open to
page 3.

© 2016, all rights reserved.

(Non-)Writing Update and Poems #35 and 36: “ASL 101” and “Barometric Pressure”

I spent the last week and a half dealing with allergies and sinus issues, and then preparing for midterms. This week and next, my students will be taking those midterms and I’ll be reporting midterm grades. If it goes normally for the Fall semester, there will be quite a few students in the 50-65% range on the exams, but I’m always hopeful students will use the review to help them do better than that. I’ll find out soon enough….

Needless to say, I haven’t written anything of note during this time. However, you may remember that I read the Harry Potter series earlier this year to find out why it has such widespread appeal. I’ve been thinking about it and may take a stab at writing something similar after I have finished my Aftermath series. I might be able to work a world-shaking battle between good and evil into the history of the world where my Angus the Mage and Aftermath series are set, but I think it may be better to build a new world for it. Either way, I’ve jotted down some notes for characters and potential ways to link it to my other series. We’ll see how it germinates over the next year or so.

In the meantime, here are a couple of short poems that I wrote earlier this year:

ASL 101

Her fingers flutter
softly spelling her name
over and over again—

but all I can see
is what lies hidden
behind the words.

© 2016, all rights reserved.

Barometric Pressure

the deeper

the silence

the deeper

the wound

© 2016, all rights reserved.

Poem #34: “mo[u]rning”

Well, it looks like my writing is on hold this semester. I simply don’t feel like doing it, and the note I put on my whiteboard isn’t making me feel guilty like I thought it would. It says in bold caps:  WRITE SOMETHING! (I suppose this post constitutes writing something, but that’s not what I intended….) Anyway, I have a rough outline for a couple of the characters in I Will Be King, but I still have quite a bit of thinking to do for the other three. Unfortunately, I just don’t feel like thinking about writing right now. Maybe after the midterm I’ll get something done, but no promises.

I haven’t written very many poems this year, either, but here’s one of them:



crisp air
fluffy white clouds

cold dirt

light rain
with silent tears

© 2016, all rights reserved.

Poems #31 and 32: [ostriches] and [Dust bunnies]

I’m adjusting to my Fall teaching schedule. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a regular sleep schedule (my Summer course was an online one), so I’ve found myself to be rather sluggish and tired most of the time. That lethargy makes it too easy to get distracted by online games (mostly sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, Plants vs. Zombies, and Slotomania), but I’ve managed to get the first draft of a couple of scenes for Symptata’s Curse done. As for I Will Be King — the book I should be working on — I need to sit down and skim through some of Angst so I can bring the general outline into focus. All I have so far is a stack of notes printed off that are in need of trimming and organization. I might do that this weekend if I don’t visit my mom and sisters, but even if I do, I probably won’t get a lot of writing done this semester — especially after the Fall TV schedule starts up.

I might rewrite The Tiger’s Eye, but I don’t know about the other books in the series. I was happy with how they all turned out when I finished them, but I’ve learned quite a bit about writing novels since the first book in the series. If I do anything, it will relate to word choice, sentence structure, and presentation rather than content changes. I’m happy with the plot and characters, but there are too many me-dashes and ellipses in The Tiger’s Eye (I also got a bit carried away with some of the descriptions). I still need to talk myself into it, though. 🙂

Anyway, here are two more poems that I wrote earlier this year. I haven’t written any poems in the last month or two, either….


their heads
in the ground

climate doubters
in denial

© 2016, all rights reserved.


Dust bunnies
under the sofa
lie as still as
the rabbit
on our lawn.

© 2016, all rights reserved.

Penguin’s Update

I appreciate all of the nominations and the continued interest in Please Don’t Eat the Penguins. Unfortunately, Kindle Scout decided not to publish it. I’m not surprised by this, but I am disappointed. I thought the late push at the end might have been enough to persuade them to risk publishing it, but since it wasn’t, I have to decide what to do with it. I am considering these two options:

  1. Publishing it myself.
  2. Submitting it to a small press publisher that has published several of my stories.

I am leaning toward the first option, and if I go that route, it should be available on Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and Apple early next week and available in print format not long after that. If I submit it to the small press publisher, it will likely take a month or two for them to make a decision and longer still for them to publish it.

In the meantime, I’ll be publishing two other books soon. The first is Installments, a multi-tiered narrative with the outer layer a kind of romance / psychological study / suspense story about a mystery writer and his interactions with a writer’s group. The inner layer is a mystery story. The interplay between these two layers sheds light on the kinds of things writers think about and experience while writing. I am waiting for the cover for this one, but I expect it to have it soon.

The second is the first book in my Aftermath series. The Aftermath series is essentially book 5 of my Angus the Mage series, with each book beginning where Angst left off (but before the epilogue) and following different characters from that series. Book 1: Aftermath is the most direct sequel and involves the characters in / near Hellsbreath, primarily Embril, Giorge, Hobart, and Taro. It is at the copy editors, and I will be publishing it shortly after she finishes with it. The second book, I Will Be King, will focus on the events taking place in Tyrag as King Tyr attempts to regain his throne and involves Ortis, King Tyr, Queen Grayle, and other characters from Tyrag. I intend to have it finished early in 2017. The third book, The Dwarf Wars, will follow Voltari and introduce several new characters as he tries to get home, and I expect to finish it by May or June of 2017. I won’t know if the last book, Symptata’s Curse, will be a separate book or a part of The Dwarf Wars, since it will depend upon how the two stories develop. It is more of a prequel than a sequel, but it will have elements of both in it. I probably won’t finish it until the end of 2017 or early in 2018.