Why would anyone call a collection of books 46. Ascending?

I spent most of my free time over the past six years writing a collection of six novels. I’d never written a book before and, now that I’m finishing the last one, I’m starting to puzzle through what possessed me to do such a thing.

It seemed like fun? I’d always wanted to write fiction? Why the hell not?

Part of the answer lies in something I wrote today to put at the end of the sixth book to explain to any curious reader who had stuck with me exactly why I called this collection of books 46. Ascending.

Here is how I explained it.

  1. It is an I Ching hexagram.
  2. It is what I came up with when I decided that my six proposed books could be made into an I Ching hexagram. Those with a female protagonist would have two lines and those with a male protagonist a single line and book one would be at the bottom and book six at the top because I was pretty sure that was how you were supposed to do it. I thought it was a cool idea.
  3. The lines make Sheng, the I Ching hexagram number 46, as I discovered when I looked up the above cool idea.
  4. Sheng answered the question that bothered me most. The question was not “will my books make money?” or “will I sell a lot of books?” It wasn’t even “will these be good books?” or “will I enjoy writing them?” Those would all have been fine questions. But, this I Ching hexagram answered my question “should I do this or not?”
  5. Researching Sheng, I read that “it is a time of development and progress, the direction is correct” and “hexagram 46 shows a time where a steady progression will occur where the predicted outcome is positive  and “keep working on your plans and maintain confidence in their success.” Those all sure sounded good to me.
  6. My research on 46 Ascending also put this quote in front of me. It is always better to fail in doing something than to excel in doing nothing. – Chinese Proverb . It is undoubtedly a good quote for anyone contemplating anything.
  7. I learned that Sheng was also referred to as the Symbol of Rising and Advancing, Ascending, Ascension, Rising, Promotion, Advancement, Sprouting from the Earth, and Organic Growth. Who can argue with all that?
  8. Sheng’s details included “The emphasis is on upward motion, from obscurity to influence, with growth that is supported by adaptability and an absence of obstacles.” and “Make a sincere effort to apply resolute effort against the forces of inertia, bending around obstacles that arise, and good fortune will follow.
  9. In other words, everything I read about the I Ching hexagram told me loud and clear “write the damn books.” So I did.
  10. Was the universe talking to me? Was I talking to myself? Am I lucky I didn’t put the lines in the reverse order? Those are all great questions. But the one I started to consider was how well did the hexagram fit in with the books themselves.
  11. If you asked me what this collection of books was about, from the beginning I would have told you it was about how all humans have so much more potential than they realize. We can improve, we can rise, we can ascend. Climb the mountain. Move towards the light to the south. You know. Grow.
  12. So this collection of books is named after an I Ching hexagram that not only got me off my butt and writing, but just happened to perfectly describe what it was I was trying to say. Go figure. At the least, it seemed reasonable to name the collection of books after it.

What I don’t address at the end of my novel is the question “did writing the books make me happy?” It’s an important question, but it’s important to me, and not really to my readers. That makes it a more appropriate topic for my blog.

Well …

I can tell you that I wrote these books filled with a sense of energy and purpose unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. Many days, writing wasn’t just what I wanted to do, it was all I wanted to do. It was an addiction, an obsession, and a nepenthe against all the world’s ills. I let it consume me, and I enjoyed the ride.

I emerge at the other end, tireder, older, fifteen pounds heavier and with six years of my life mysteriously gone. But, I was lucky enough to have five people in this world who loved me throughout this process and I was lucky enough to have a way to make a living while I wrote that kept serious worries away. Neither is to be taken lightly and for both I count my blessings.

Everybody always tells you to pursue your passion in life. I don’t think that “everybody” has much of an idea of all that really entails. It changes you in ways you do and don’t like. It’s not always fun. It doesn’t always turn out well, certainly not in the Hollywood kind of way.

But once you’ve done it, you can’t imagine not having done it, if that makes any sense. Like not doing it wasn’t even an option, or at least it shouldn’t have been.

Is that happiness? I’m not sure, but I think it might be something even better.

 

Who says the end of the world can’t be fun?

good sign 4Arggghhh … this happens every time I finish a book. I forget to pay bills. I forget people’s birthdays. I forget to post on my blogs and I love writing on my blogs. (I’m okay with birthdays and not terribly fond of the bill paying). And I’ve had so many great ideas to post about here, too, over the last few weeks … but never got them down on paper.

What I did manage was to get the newer, sleeker, better version of x0 out on Kindle, repubbed as a 2nd edition in paperback, and — finally late last night — resubmitted to Smashwords where it is now part of a site-wide promotion and available for exactly no dollars and no cents. Check it out!

What I also managed to to was do get my latest and greatest love — d4 — to the point where it is only three writing days away from being done and ready to share with the first of my beta readers. I’m lost in this story. It is unlike any of the previous ones, and yet carries a connection to the novel y1 and to the organization y1 as well. Zane and his shape shifting talents make a second and crucial appearance and Toby comes out of the shadows as well to help save the world with his philosophy of economic fairness.The encouragement to be the person you were meant to be continues, but the melody is perhaps sung an octave higher or lower, with a few new interesting minor chords as well.

I promise, it will be the most enjoyable pre-apocalyptic novel you will ever read. Who says the end of the world can’t be fun?

(Please drop by Facebook and give the clever folks at This s a Good Sign a like for the great visual 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.)

Celebrate!

cakeToday is a special day for me because it is the birthday of one of my children.  I really like this being a mother thing, and among other things I love all the extra celebrations it has brought into my life.

Beyond all the usual hugs and laughs and triumphs, my kids and husband have given me an extra helping of joy by agreeing to let me use each of them to inspire a book in my collection 46 Ascending. There are probably dozens of reasons why this was a bad idea, fraught with potential problems from the very beginning. The characters are fictitious after all. Bad things happen to them and they even all behave a little poorly on occasion. They curse, they think about and even have sex and they aren’t always happy with each other. The make-believe characters have some faults that are exaggerations of my own family’s less desirable traits, and then they have faults that are purely my own or absolutely made up.

Against all odds, these four people I share a nuclear family with have been mature and reasonable about this. In fact they complained a little about their character’s relatively minor roles in x0, the first book in the collection that centers on the mom in the family. My son acknowledged a bit of trepidation when he learned that the second book, y1, would feature the character inspired by him. As my writing went on, however, he confessed that it was a bit of high knowing that somewhere somehow parts of his personality were being spun into that of a superhero.

My husband refers to the third book in the collection, z2, as “his” book. Indeed, he almost wrote it with me, building replicas of my Maya boxes, reading civil war history as I wrote and even heading off to a re-enactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek in order to better research “his book”. The collaboration turned out well I think, producing something richer than I could ever have done alone.

I recently handed c3, the fourth book in the collection, off to my youngest daughter who is learning to be a social worker. Her studies and interests shaped much of this particular story. By tradition each family member gets to read “their” book first, and they know from the beginning that they have veto power over anything in the novel. This is my agreement with them; I do love each of them more than I love my stories. I was particularly concerned about c3, because my main character has some  horrific things happen to her early on in the book that later inspire her to become such a hero. My youngest child responded with the same grace that the rest of my family has shown. No one has vetoed anything yet, or even complained  once about anything I have written. Are these people cool or what?

celebrateToday, as c3 sits in the hands of my beta readers, I am starting the fifth book in the collection. This novel will tell the tale of a fiery hero inspired by my feisty middle child. The story has been growing in my head for years, and it’s time to get the basic building blocks down into the hundred or so bullet points that constituent a working outline for me. In real life, this daughter is probably the least patient person in my family (except for me), and it is unfortunate that her tale was destined to be the last to be told. That is just how the collection unfolded. I tell her that I saved the best story for last.

Next year on her birthday, I plan to publish the story she has inspired. The timing is entirely reasonable given my own pace, and if it happens as hoped for it will be a heartfelt way to celebrate her next birthday.  I do love celebrations. They make me want to dance for joy!