Creating the future

fractal 3I’m deep into writing d4 now, and am finding that it has an underlying connection with my second novel y1. This doesn’t surprise me, I always saw the second three novels in the collection 46.Ascending as being an “octave up”, if you will, from the first three books. Sort of a one-three-five set of chords played once, and then played again. The simplest of songs, because of course I’m not a song writer, but just a word writer. By our very nature we write simple music.

In y1, my character Toby has no objection to people earning wealth, but he takes offense at those who hold onto the wealth earned by others. I was surprised recently to learn that CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper is the son of blue jean designer and heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, who for philosophical reasons does not intend to pass any of her wealth along to her son. Interesting.

d4 is back to asking questions about wealth and why we are so driven to accumulate it and whether the rules we have in place concerning it are fair. In my research I stumbled on this article from an investment manager who breaks the “top one percent” into smaller increments and describes them. Those in the lower 90 percent of the “top one percent” tend to be doctors, lawyers, middle managers and successful small business owners who have generally Psychedelic 1trained hard and work hard for their money and although they enjoy more, they still struggle with economic concerns. The author contrasts them with the 0.01 percent who claim a considerably larger share of wealth than all the others combined and who benefit specifically from laws and policies that slant the odds ever more in their favor. It is worth reading and thinking about.

I’ve become a big fan of Daily Science Fiction and the story today impressed me more than most, perhaps because it played right into my mood after just finishing the article above. Called “Life on Mars” by Kelly Jennings it tells of the discovery of extraterrestrial life from the point of view of a woman too overworked and tired to really care. It is well worth reading also.

Unlike y1, d4 is a book about the future, and how we create the future every day by the choices that we make. One has to look at the policies we have in place now and wonder about the kind of world we are in the process of making.

Dance walking for joy

From Your True Voice

From Your True Voice

Ben Aaron of NBC is tired of being filmed participating in various fitness crazes that he dislikes. A few days ago he found a form of exercise he could finally embrace. If this short video of him discovering dance walking on the streets of New York doesn’t make you smile, then you probably need to put on some dance clothes and go try it for yourself.

Dance Walking Video From Superstar Magazine

Not sure how I would fare trying this on the streets of Houston, much less in the outskirts of the city, where I live, but then again it might be just what this part of the country needs. We get the red states dancing, we get the blue states dancing, and maybe after awhile everybody will stop worrying about what kind of state they are in and just enjoy themselves!

It’s about you.

zen2zany 1Or her. Or him. But not me.

I’m about halfway through d4 now and finally starting to roll. Today I came up with the final tweak to the final scene in the book. Mind you, there is many a occurrence in-between that I haven’t figured out yet, but I know from experience that once I get the very end in my head, I will find a way to get there. d4 will happen.

And with that done, part of me moves on to the next book.

This time around, however, it is the last one in the collection, and that is scary for me. It helps that I know already that this last book is not about me, it is about you. Whether you are young or old, healthy or struggling, male, female, who ever you are, I am going to be writing about how you were born with something you need to say, a truth you hold deep within yourself, and how desperately you need to find a way to sing it, dance it, whisper it or shout it. Pretending otherwise will just frustrate you. Your truth needs to be told.

There. Doesn’t that sound like a fun story? I will do my best to make it so, I promise.

(Please drop by the Facebook page for Zen to Zany and drop off a “like” for the image above.)

Gratitude

raising 3I’m getting ready to do several blog tours over the next few months, hoping to gain readers for my two most recent books z2 and c3. Part of the process is a series of interview questions, and part of answering those questions is having to reflect on personal choices like “why do you spend so much of your free time writing?” Good question.

I think often about the power and joy of realizing that writing is what I am meant to do. This is usually followed by a litany of complaints. I don’t have enough time to write. I can’t possibly concentrate with that damn leaf blower going next door. Why is my shoulder so sore. You get the idea.

Today, I’ve decided to focus on the things that make it easier for me to write.
1. I’m grateful I have a job that pays the bills well, and even more grateful that these people let me work just four days a week.
2. I’m thankful that my husband thinks it is incredibly cool that I write, as opposed to tolerating or even resenting it.
3. I’m grateful I’ve got the reasonable good health that I need to do this, and I appreciate the things in my life that keep me healthy. (a shout out here to qigong and my husband’s relentless efforts to feed me a healthy low carb diet)
4. I appreciate that all three of my children, my only sibling, and a fine smattering of other friends and relatives, have encouraged my writing, proofread for me, offered ideas and provided whatever publicity they could for my efforts.

Whew. That is a lot to be thankful for. Time to stop complaining and get back to writing. It is amazing what gratitude can do.

(speaking of gratitude, please drop by the Facebook page Raising Ecstasy and drop off a like for the cool image shown above.)

Going Crazy

Psychedelic 2Somewhere between meaningless uses of the word like “I’m crazy about you” and serious, perhaps even crippling, mental health issues is a world of sort-of-comic, sort-of-sad neurotic behavior that we lightly refer to as crazy. We use it to mean that you (or I) have crossed that fuzzy boundary that surrounds normal and you (or I) are now happily dancing around naked in pig shit singing songs from “The Sound of Music” while making funny faces. You know, crazy.

This wanton disregard for how one is expected to behave can be brought on by exhaustion, alcohol, drugs, elation or deep disappointment. Anything that knocks one out of one’s normal orbit will do. For me, it’s finishing a book. I mean totally calling it done, putting out there for anyone to buy, read, hate, love or ignore. There is something so raw about that act, so trusting and so daring, that it makes everything else seem silly.

word porn 2I’m having trouble eating and sleeping and concentrating. I don’t care what I’m wearing or how I look or what the damn bank statement says because I haven’t even opened it. All I care about right now is that somebody, anybody, reads my new book and says something. Nothing else matters. This book is everything.

Luckily, this is the fourth time I’ve done this, and so I am little more prepared. I know the craziness will pass. I’ll get back to bill paying and basic hygiene and maybe even schedule that dental check-up I put off the whole time I was writing it. Before too long, some people will praise my new book and a few will not and most people will never hear of it because that is that way of a self-published author. Knowing all this, will I write another?

I’m 30,000 words into book five and counting. Hey, I had to do something while book four was going through its final proofreads. By the way, I love this new fifth story even more. I can’t wait to publish it.

(Please drop by Facebook and give Psychedelic Adventure and Word Porn each a like for their clever posters shared here. If you are feeling especially kind or curious, you can check out c3, that fourth book, here.)

Meet Zane’s Little Sister

c3 cover smallThe hero of y1 comes from an odd family. Each member has an unusual skill they turn to when their lives, or the lives of their friends, are threatened. Meet Zane’s little sister Teddie. She’s nine years younger, only sixteen, and clearly the most Texan and least adventuresome of the group. She likes her country music and her old pick-up truck and she’s not sure how she let her best friend talk her into spending a semester abroad in Darjeeling India.

Teddie’s innocence quickly collides with an underworld in which young women are bartered and sold. As she fights to understand a depravity that she never dreamed existed, Teddie’s life takes a strange turn of its own as her mind insists on looking for her friends, with or without her body.  Teddie must summon up more courage than has ever been expected of her, and must open herself up to ideas so different that she struggles with their very concepts.

Zane, and the rest of the family, lend support as they can. In the end however, Teddie must decide on her own to take an incredible risk. Her friends’ safety and lives depend on it.

c3 is available now on kindle here. Look for it in paperback in a few months.

Also, check out the new blog for c3 here. It will feature fun tidbits about the book and information about giveaways, as well as posts about the struggles faced by real life young women the world over, and stories of the true heroes amongst them.

Embracing your inner opportunist

Patricia 1How far over the speed limit do you drive? Come on. No one drives it exactly. One mph? Two? Me, I allow myself up to about nine under normal circumstances.

How fast does someone else have to drive before you’re happy to see them get a ticket? If they’re going much more then ten mph over, I feel like public safety is being preserved. Less, and I rant about how we live in police state. Let’s face it. We all push the rules, and we all have our own particular definition of when enough is enough.

In my novels x0 and c3, I crafted villains who were clearly evil. In y1, I opted for someone easier for me to understand. He’s a man who pushes the rules, just like we all do, and a man who knows how to profit well from the little opportunities that his rule bending provides.

I put him in charge of marketing at a pharmaceutical company, not because I dislike prescription drugs or the companies that make them. I have had plenty of reasons to be grateful for modern medicine. But I do know that there is a lot of grey area in selling medication, regarding both the doctors who write the prescriptions and the eager public who watches the ads on television. Just like everywhere else, rules can be bent.

Doctors can be encouraged to write frequent off label prescriptions, something intended by law to be rare. They can feel slightly obligated to preferentially prescribe a new drug in spite of its not fully understood side-effects, and they can be encouraged to do both of these and more with travel, food, honorariums, and gifts. Most people in the medical profession are at the very least decent and well meaning, and they will truthfully insist that they cannot be bought for the price of a lunch.  I am sure that they can’t, and I made the same argument when potential suppliers took me out to lunch in my profession.

raising 3So how many lunches for how many people in the office does it take to have an impact? The folks in marketing are trying to find out. How lavish do the gifts have to be? Should we be ignoring the fact that the product itself has a unique capability to effect the health and happiness of others in a way that only medication, with all its side effects, can?

My villain in y1 is a very fine opportunist, happy to push those boundaries further each day, and glad to pay the nuisance fines slapped against his firm when he goes a little too far. Just the cost of doing business he tells his staff, ignoring the dangers of the products he makes and sells.

I got far enough inside this guys head to make myself squirm, before I let him spiral out of control and engage in the equivalent of doing 70 mph in a school zone. That way I knew that my readers would all be happy to see him caught and punished in the devious way I had intended all along. Before he turned ultra bad, however, I hoped that my reader would squirm a bit as well, and think about the fuzzy boundaries between playing the game well and doing harm.

(Please like writer Patricia Polacco’s Facebook page and the page for Raising Ecstasy, the sources of these two clever images. Please see my x0 blog for a post about crafting villains that are unambiguously evil from the start, and see my z2 blog for an upcoming post about my tale of researching racist groups in America.)