I once read a book called “The Productive Writer” by Sage Cohen. (The link should take you to my review on Goodreads.) Sometimes I remember that’s surely what I aspire to; to be a writer, and to be productive. And sometimes life gets in the way.
If you produce an email a day, does that make you a productive writer? If you read a hundred emails a day, are you a productive reader? (What if you only reply to one in a hundred?) And does collaborating with your spouse on resume-writing make you a productive editor?
What about seeing a book re-released? Does that make you un-productive since it was first removed from publication, or productive because it’s back? Or is productive simply a state of mind. I will call myself productive. I will rejoice in what I’ve produced. And I will…
…BE A PRODUCTIVE WRITER!
This month has seen the re-release of my “last” two Five-Minute Bible-Story books (11th and 12th in the series), and I’m very proud of them, even if the color versions are awaiting release, and the next book in the series merely fills me with stories and no time to write . I will make my state of mind productive and I’ll claim that yes,
I’VE PRODUCED SOMETHING!
Plus I just updated my website to include links to the new books. That’s “productive” isn’t it, even if I have’t updated it yet to include just one book on a page… And…
I’ve almost finished printing out the paperwork for this weekend’s Writers’ Mill meeting. And… DRUMROLL! … I have actually written something/produced a whole piece of writing. It’s a story I hope my Writers’ Mill colleagues will critique for me, so I can submit it to the Northwest Independent Writers Association for their anthology.
PLEASE WISH ME LUCK.
It’s another Tale of Hemlock, and I really hope it works because, as the doubts creep in, as I wonder if I’m productive after all, and as that state of mind falls prey to states of reality…
I’d love to find homes for the Hemlock series (maybe rewriting it comes first).
I’d love to write more Five-Minute Bible-Stories.
I’d love to see A Nose for Adventure come out (it’s slowly climbing the list with Linkville Press).
I’d love to write more novels.
I’d love to have 48 hours in a day.
And I’d love to stay awake!
But am I productive? Are you? And what’s your state of mind?
A friend asked if I hadn’t “got it out of my system” yet. And yes, there’s an underlying theme of abuse, forgiveness and recovery in my three novels. And yes, I’ve sort of got it out of my system, but, like a tendency toward migraines, “it” comes back whenever circumstances, politics, current events etc trigger it. My fourth novel will be different though; it’s a mystery, for a start. But it’s still about wounded characters, and abuse of any type will cause those wounds. For me, reading and writing are about seeing through different eyes and realizing life’s not as black and white as I’d imagined; about asking how and why others might be different from me; and about recognizing this is a broken world where none of us are perfect; where difference teaches; and otherness helps us better see ourselves. We none of us have the right to claim another’s imperfections more “wrong” than our own in this world. After all, I can’t eat wheat, though the Bible tells me it’s good…
Which leads to my other books. I’m delightedly seeing my Bible stories republished – same covers, same stories, same “inspired by faith and science” theme (the publisher’s imprint is even called “Inspired by Faith & Science,” an imprint of “Ink-Filled Stories” who have published the novels), and lots more illustrations. There are even “Collectors’ Color Editions” coming out. Getting it all linked up on Amazon will take time. I’m guessing getting the books into real bookstores might take even longer. But it’s exciting (to me at least), and it fits my theme of a broken world, where brokenness needs to be forgiven.
So here’s an excerpt from “Bethlehem’s Baby,” coming soon to print:
In the beginning, God created the universe. He made stars and planets. He made the sun, moon and earth. He made mountains and seas, flowers and trees, birds and bees, and animals and people. And everything was good.
God made the world like a painter creating a beautiful picture. He mixed its colors together, designed its patterns, and added light and dark in all the right places. When God finished painting, the earth was good enough to hang on the wall of heaven.
God made the world like an author writing a book. He worked out the details, solved all the mysteries, and linked all the pieces together. When God finished writing, he gave us his words in the Bible so we could read them. Meanwhile angels rejoiced to know what he’d done.
God made the world like a programmer designing a computer game. He set up all the scenes, made voices for the characters, and planned how all the rules would make everything work. But computer games often have bugs in them. Our world was so good when God finished making it, there wasn’t a single mistake in it anywhere.
But God didn’t hang the world on a wall when he’d finished. He didn’t leave the Bible on a bookshelf to look nice. And he didn’t sell his program to people who wanted to play humans on their computer. Instead, God made the world like a gardener who works in a park. When he’d finished planning and planting everything, God stepped right into the park to help the people look after it. God’s park was a beautiful place called the Garden of Eden.
God worked in his Garden of Eden every day, feeding animals, helping bees, watering flowers, cleaning the rivers, and pouring sweetness into beautiful berries hanging from the trees. God walked and talked with the people in Eden, loving them like a father loves his children. He taught them to play and he kept them perfectly safe. No one was ever hungry in the Garden of Eden. No one was tired or sick. Nobody ever had to work too much and no one was ever bored. Even plants and animals were perfectly safe in Eden, everything beautifully in balance, living and dying in due season with no sickness, no loneliness, no sorrow and no pain.
But then the people in God’s garden, the people God had chosen to be his very own children, broke God’s rules. They didn’t care that the rules were there to keep them safe, or else they didn’t remember. They just wanted to do as they pleased and have fun and pretend they were in charge. So they ate the fruit of a special tree that wasn’t theirs to eat…
Noise filled the forest that morning, growing louder as the day went on. It was almost like a party. Crowds, of young and old alike, thronged the paths, marched through trees, and gathered around the duck pond, the bench on the hill, and the parking lot. There was scarcely space for anyone to hide. But he knew his place. He’d watched them setting up sound systems, with amplifiers and speakers, wires like vines tangling with branches and leaves. He’d heard them testing, “One, two three,” and he’d almost smiled as birds and squirrels raucously answered the sound. But he hadn’t known what they were doing it for. He’d pretended not to care. He’d pretended not to hear those fate-filled words, Memorial for Amelia, so long after death and burial had rendered them meaningless.
A paper bag containing two whole burgers waited in the trashcan—food cast away by the murderer’s daughter-in-law who didn’t seem hungry, though she kept on buying more meals. The victim’s mother didn’t eat of course, and was quietly fading away. She stood near her nemesis now, each with that cone of silence hanging over her head, each separately alive though they seemed like they’d rather be dead. Poised by the makeshift stage, they waited ahead of the crowds while priests and pastors, imam and rabbi, passed by in robes of pomp and intensity.
Meanwhile the stranger stayed hidden under trees. The white cat twined around his feet. “Garnet,” he whispered, remembering its name from long ago.
“I lost my daughter,” Evie said into an ice-cream microphone, candy pink and much too cheerful for her frozen face. Her thin voice snatched at the air, while electronics caught the sound, amplifying silence to crackling booms. Confidence faded backward into the trees then reflected again. Is she looking at me? “I lost my daughter right over there.” She pointed. He was glad he’d hidden himself this side of the pond instead. People stared. “A dog found her and dug her up. She was buried like a bone. So then we put her in a coffin. Were you there? Did you see? She was so beautiful.”
He, the Prowler, had seen the coffin, but he hadn’t seen the child, grown old and still. He thought she must have been beautiful; she must have looked like her mother though she’d had her father’s eyes. He shuffled his feet, wondering where the dog had buried that particular, earth-shattering, beautiful feast.
The microphone fell from Evie’s hands. He almost wanted to run and comfort her. But the other woman, the evil Lydia, picked it up and handed it back. She held her arms around the broken mother, for a while, then let her speak again.
“You know what I prayed sometimes?” Evie asked.
What? Evie prayed? The Prowler thought she’d given up prayer long ago, when God stopped answering, and the child’s diagnosis remained unforgivably unchanged.
“For my Amelia? You know what I prayed? You know what she was like.”
He had no right; he couldn’t know, because he’d left her behind.
“I prayed that God would protect my little girl, because I wouldn’t always be here for her, because a mother’s meant to die before her children isn’t she? I never expected I’d have to bury her.”
A father shouldn’t have to bury his children either.
Evie sobbed again. “I thought, you know, the same things you all thought—about how she’d never learn to cope on her own.”
He’d thought it too. He’d known. He had to leave before his daughter’s future ceased to exist, before the blame became too great for any of them to bear. But Evie always insisted on believing there’d be hope; sweet Evie, ever betrayed by his denial and her broken child. So she stood, talking now about prayer.
“I asked God to help. So I guess God must’ve decided she wouldn’t have to cope. I guess God took her away instead of taking me. I don’t like how it happened. I’m sure she didn’t like it. But God took her, and now my Amelia’s okay.”
Evie sobbed, the sound hard and fierce, as loudspeakers turned it to shouting over the crowd. “Now she’s never going to suffer anymore, and I don’t need to be scared for her.” It might have been a cry of triumph, but Evie’s voice faded, strangling the final words. She wrung her hands and held the microphone low against her waist, a leaden weight that needed to fall to the ground.
Meanwhile the Prowler crouched over the cat, burying his face in fur. He tried not to cry, tried to make no sound, and prayed he wouldn’t be heard or seen at all.
“I guess it’s me who has to cope now on my own,” Evie continued, “not Amelia. And I just want to ask you all to help, ’cause it’s so very, very hard.”
He couldn’t help. His heart was stone, and he couldn’t put those shattered pieces together, never again. He really was a shiftless, worthless soul.
When the Prowler looked up, the other woman had taken Evie’s position on the makeshift stage. “I don’t know what I lost,” Lydia said, evil Lydia, unwitting daughter-in-law of a murderer. She faced the crowd’s accusation with a gaze that trembled and wavered even more than her hands. She held the shivering microphone close to her nose, and clutched her stomach as if in pain. “I lost my father-in-law I suppose. And then it was like he’d never really been there for me to lose, like I’d never really known him. I feel like everything’s sliding away, like it’s all an illusion. Nothing’s certain anymore.”
Curled low to the ground, crouched like a dog beside the cat, the stranger knew what Lydia meant. Nothing was certain, and life slips away like water in the stream. He remembered where he’d heard her name, Lydia Markham, from that distant part of his life. The cat wasn’t hers; it was her neighbor’s, and she was married to the son from Markham’s garage, just along the road. He needed to hate her, because the man from that garage was the man in the woods, the Paradise Predator turned Murderer, the man who killed the child.
Fair-haired Lydia looked around the crowd, seeing so many faces, but not the man’s. She confronted their knowledge of her father-in-law and called it their mistake too. “Did you take your cars to him? Some of you did, I know. If you talked to him in the garage, if you met him on the street, aren’t you wondering the same things as I am? How could we not have known? How could we all not have known?”
But no one had known that the man who mended cars would break the child.
—If the stranger had stayed, if he’d still been there in her life, could he have kept her from the predator in the woods? Could he have made her safe? Would he have known?
“I lost my memories of my children’s grandfather, and my husband’s father.”
—He’d lost his child, the life he’d thrown away when he left that day.
“All the things I thought he was, the things he could have been…”
—But Amelia could never be more, would never have been anything at all. She didn’t deserve what had happened to her.
“And then my little boy comes up to me and says, ‘I still love him.’”
—Does Evie love me still? Did Amelia?
People in the crowd turned toward each other, anger perhaps on their faces, disgust or something else. “My son still loves him,” Lydia announced firmly, sudden confidence infusing her voice. “His memories, my son’s memories, he’s holding onto them. They were real, those things he remembers; they’re part of my son, part of who he is. And I’m thinking maybe that’s alright, because I’m not sure how to tell him it’s all wrong.”
The Prowler sobbed out loud, knowing everything was wrong, everything since the day he left, since he’d thrown his own memories away. Afraid of little Amelia at three, he’d never known her at seven, at eleven, thirteen. He’d lost that right.
“Everything that’s happened, all these awful things, they don’t change the past.”
—They don’t change the fact that he wasn’t there when he was needed.
“The only thing that’s changing is the future.”
—He had none.
Hearing nothing now but a roaring pain in his ears, the Prowler crouched to the ground. A child’s high trill broke through, impossibly, but he wouldn’t listen. “Daddy, it’s okay. Daddy? Daddy?” The cat clawed his knees and he was still hiding under trees.
“I wonder,” evil Lydia asked, still standing in front of the crowd, still speaking into the microphone. “Is it possible for someone to be two people at once?”
—Could that be him? Could he be lover and betrayer, father and stranger both? Was that why he felt so torn apart?
He crouched in the shadows, waiting for the crowds to depart from the park again. He was well hidden. But then the stranger, husband, prowler, devourer, or father, felt a hand on his shoulder. He heard a once-loved, once-familiar voice whisper his name.
Sylvia had to forgive herself for not speaking earlier. The community needed to forgive itself (and forgive Lydia) for not knowing. And Andrew has to forgive himself for not being there. In the end, they all have to forgive the world for being a place where bad things happen to good people… forgive God for allowing such a place, though it’s we who broke his perfect creation… In the end Andrew has to learn there’s still good in the world. And for all our shouting, all our demonstrations and complaints, all our desperation, there is still good in the world. For that I thank God.
“Why did you do that?” Sharon asked. Sylvia just shrugged as they walked the tree-lined path in silence. “You always do it, don’t you?”
“Not always,” Sylvia mumbled.
“Oh come on!” Sharon stopped short. “Come on. Tell me one time you didn’t.”
They walked on. Dried leaves from long-gone fall crunched underfoot. The air smelled heavy and sickly sweet, pine needles dripping on the outer branches of trees. Light shone brighter as they came to the end of the path. Running water, shouts of children playing and adults calling names drifted nearby. Sunlight slanted through bark dust floating on air.
“Let’s stop here,” said Sharon when they came to a bench, so they sat. Sylvia gazed down at her hands, firmly, primly clasped over her knees, skirt pulled down, legs together. Beside her, Sharon threw herself into a sprawl, arms and legs akimbo on wooden slats. Then she stood again, stepping forward and back.
“No,” Sharon said as Sylvia started to move. “No. You stay there. Let’s talk.” She faced her friend. “You listen, Sylvia. You just sit there and listen to me for a change.” She turned back to the tree-hidden sky, gathering thoughts from the air. “Okay. So we’re at the party and it’s snowing outside.” Arms thrown out dramatically. “Everyone’s happy. Right? Great music. Great food. Nothing bad going on. Nothing our mothers wouldn’t approve of, right?”
Sylvia nodded and groaned.
“And then my brother, my dear sweet Simon that you’ve been going all gooey-eyed over forever, my brother that’s only there ’cause I told him I wanted him to meet you—’cause you told me you wanted to meet him… Yeah?”
Sylvia nodded again.
“My brother asks you to dance, and you stand there like a brick. Then he tells you you’re pretty—I know, I was listening—he tells you you’re pretty and you run away like he’s threatened to murder you or something.”
Sylvia’s head angled down. Tears splashed on the backs of hands tightly clasped in her lap.
“Why?” Sharon asked, reaching to comfort her friend. “Why, Sylvia?”
But Sylvia didn’t answer. Her sobs were quiet, though they drowned out the birds and the water, children and parents too. The rest of the park belonged to a different world as Sylvia wept in her secret circle of shame.
A mother walked by, holding a small girl by the hand. “Amelia, this way.” The child hummed tunelessly, trailing a red-dressed doll and stuffed rabbit behind her.
A bunch of schoolchildren, youngsters with bright happy shouts and flashing feet, burst from sunlight into the trees. They raced past the bench with parents following. Sounds of tears and laughter stayed behind, waiting for seasons and time.
“Will you tell me sometime, Sylvia?”
“Maybe. But I don’t think we should stay in the woods on our own. We should warn those kids.”
But how do we warn our children, and how can they know when their safe world’s suddenly strange?
I went out for coffee with Lydia then thought, how stupid—I couldn’t say anything in a store. We carried our drinks down to the park where I thought, how stupid—how could I talk with the forest still watching. Then we wandered the quiet streets back to Lydia’s house. I imagined I’d wait until we were inside, but instead my words just tumbled out.
“In the park. When I was a kid. This guy kept touching me.”
“Why didn’t you just say no,” said my sister, her voice as brittle as saccharine poured into coffee. “It’s what I did.” And I wondered what she meant…
I told my brother and he hugged me and said, “Poor you. Did you know our Lydia got abused too?” So I wondered if you can measure depth with the number of times it occurs, and define who’s more hurt…
Mom didn’t want to believe me at first. I sat beside her on the sofa and we stared at the TV’s empty eye. She said she would have known. She would have noticed it. She said I couldn’t have got home late from school so many times. She said someone would have told her. My school work would have suffered and the teachers would have said. I was never any good with secrets so it couldn’t be true.
Mom said they talk about recovered memories and so many times they’re false. Auto-suggestion, she said, and it’s all the psychiatrist’s fault. So what had my therapist said to me?
I said I never forgot, so I didn’t need to remember, and it had to be true.
She said I’d forgotten his face.
I said I never knew it…
I could tell when Lydia told Troy because of the way he looked at me, as if he was trying to imagine [those] hands on me, or else his own. I was glad I didn’t live in Paradise now. I was glad to get in my car and drive away, back to Donald and the children, back to the safety and secrecy of my home…
The therapist asks me, “What about when you told Donald? What did he say?”
Donald said men have needs and he was glad our children were all boys.
“What did he mean?”
I didn’t ask. I think he meant he loved me and it wasn’t my fault.
If you’ve ever wondered why we don’t tell, ask yourself how you would respond when someone you love tells you.
Sometimes circumstances conspire, or coincidences contrive. Personally I have a firm belief in “God-ordained coincidences,” but mine aren’t so exciting or world-changing as the ones in Exodus – plagues don’t follow the laws of nature (luckily, God has even spared me, so far, from catching the ‘flu); mountains don’t erupt into columns of fire and smoke (I shall be extremely disturbed if Mount Hood begins to rumble); and nobody’s giving me directions carved in stone, though perhaps that would help. No, my coincidences are small: the much-maligned doors that won’t open till you push them (but why do two open at once? Did I push the wrong one?); the possibility that raises possibilities that raise unwarranted terror and freeze me to the spot; the quiet balm of a friend who whispers (can emails whisper?) “I’m praying for you.” All of which leave me wishing I were someone I’m not — well-published, well-read, much-admired-and-requested for speaking engagements, an author who can truly answer the “Will I have read anything of yours” question with “Sure!”
All of which leaves me… with the how, why, when, where and what to do about publishing (or republishing) my books. So here’s my dilemma: The publisher of the Five-Minute Bible Story series is preparing to close. There are twelve books so far in the series, book thirteen currently being written, and surely eleven more still waiting in my head. How, why, when, where and what shall I do with them?
How? I can self-publish: I’ve done it before, with Bible picture books, spiritual speculative novellas, a poetry book, and several anthologies for our local writing group.
Why? I’m good at it; I would have total control of my books.
Why not? Without a publisher saying they were worth investing in, why would a purchaser choose to invest in them?
When? It takes time, and I’ve lots of other demands on my time, including writing (do I have enough years left in me to write those eleven?). But I’d have to self-publish quickly or I’ll lose my reviews when the original versions disappear from Amazon.
Where? All my experience is with Amazon – KDP and Createspace both. Neither of these is a good option for getting books into bookstores because… well, if you were a bookstore, would you want to pay Amazon every time you sold a book? So…
Where else? Ingram Spark is the recommended option. It looks very tempting except it costs money (which might be avoided by joining the right societies, using the right coupons, timing things right etc… but see “When?”). Also, I’d have to buy my own ISBNs instead of using Amazon’s free ones… and individuals buying ISBNs get to pay rather significant fees while huge organizations can get them for a dollar apiece (which is why Amazon gives them away free I guess).
Why? Better sales opportunities with Ingram Spark — more professional.
Why not? Greater expense. Bigger initial financial and personal commitment. If I’m going to do, I have to plan to stick with it.
What? Should I publish the books exactly as is? The publisher is willing to give me the files and the covers; as long as I can remove the original imprint I could use them as they are. Or I could re-edit while re-issuing; I could extend those ones that are really more like three-minute stories and make them five. I could add anything new I’ve learned from more recent research (I love making the stories scientifically and historically accurate as well as Biblically inspired). I could combine volumes (thus reducing the number of ISBNs needed). I could… Oh, so many decisions. Or…
Going back to the How — I’m also trying to find an agent or a publisher
Why? Because an agent would have access to more publishers (lots don’t take unsolicited manuscripts) and a publisher might already have a market of customers who like their books.
Why not? Finding an agent willing to take on 12 books at once… I’m told they like series, but one shouldn’t be surprised to learn they prefer shorter ones.
When? Send a query letter: Wait a couple of months: See if you get a reply… Actually, the agent I tried first said no in one day, which was good I suppose (a very personal rejection, to be celebrated with red wine and chocolate). But lots of agents only want personal recommendations. Lots don’t want children’s books. Lots aren’t taking submissions at the moment… and if I wait too long I’ll lose those reviews: Should I self-publish while waiting… or not? Query letters take lots of time and energy too.
Where? I have lists of agents – I check them one by one on the computer. I have lists of publishers too. I have lists that have only just come out, just as my problem arose — coincidence or guidance? My lists have lists… And my friends might have connections, maybe, sometime, perhaps…
So what… what shall I do?
A few days ago I imagined I might have to decide straight away. A wonderful (but limited-time) coupon appeared for self-publishing deals. I calculated where I’d get the money to finance the ISBNs. Then a friend delighted in the possibility of finding a publisher — maybe a real connection coming soon? Did I push the wrong door? Next, I learned I could get another less time-limiting coupon for self-publishing, so I can wait, at least a little while (still worried about those book reviews going away). I can wait. I will wait. And I will pray…
Because, if I’m not actively asking and watching and waiting, how will I know when God sends me an answer to prayer. No plagues, no volcanoes, no stone tablets please, but if you believe, please would you pray for me.
The best thing about getting flooded last year is the fact that one of our sons’ bedrooms has now turned into a library. I’ve always wanted a library of my own and, being somewhat of a book hoarder, I’ve always dreamed of having enough space to organize my books. Of course, the fact that my library’s shelves are (in many cases) stacked two deep and two high (and bending) does make it a little hard to find anything. I lost Brooklyn. Then I found it and lost A Man Called Ove, which surely should have been next to A Long Way Down. Then I forgot where the Ursula Le Guin paperbacks had been filed, though hardbacked Malafrena and the Dispossessed were safe on the top shelf. While looking for them, I realized I now had Asian novels on two different shelves, mixed up with The Thirteenth Tale and Olive Kitterege. So… I tidied my library, again. Each book like a much-loved friend, long-forgotten, long overdue an email or a letter… each character reminding and begging me to read me again… each shelf ever heavier while I cleared all the volumes from the floor.
Oddly, the empty spaces on my shelves seem to grow and shrink with no perceivable logic. But at least space exists, so new friends can join the old. I love my library!
Then there’s that secret shelf upstairs, where I hide my dream that someone might file my books in a library one day. Novels of small-town characters together with Biblical fiction for kids and novellas mysterious and strange… short stories in anthologies… even poetry and picture books! Would they ever go on the same shelf as each other?
New characters beg me to write me again and I turn to the computer… Write a blogpost, write a novella, enter a contest at our local writers’ group… Open up a page and…
… well, this is what we did for our Writing Exercise at the Writers’ Mill …
Write the number 1. This is the Beginning of your story. Ask who, what, where, and when is your character? What does your character’s heart want? (This is an exercise in character development.)
Next write the number 5 (NOT 2) This is the End of you story – how will your character and/or world change? (How will your character develop?)
Write the number 3. This is the Middle – how is your character struggling to effect that change?
And now you get to write down number 2. How did your character get into this mess and why (internal and external reasons)? (And our writing exercise morphes into the realm of plot development)
Almost done: write the number 4. How did your character successfully resolve his/her/its problem.
And finally, put things back in the right order and WRITE, from beginning to end.
“How was your day?” I ask as my husband returns from work. Sometimes he asks me the same question. Friends ask. Neighbors might ask. But what should I say? How was my day today? And what’s productive anyway?
Productive in washing, cleaning, tidying up…? It all has to be done again next week.
Productive in yardwork? Well, my herbs are still surviving and being eaten by husband, self and squirrels.
Productive in work that I actually get paid for? I don’t earn a lot, but I do get paid to edit novels sometimes, and I almost finished the final edit on one today. That’s a productive day.
Productive in editing my own work perhaps? I worked through the publisher file (from my publisher, Cape Arago Press) for Paul’s Purpose–number 12 of the Five-Minute Bible Story Series. That was productive, and depressing. You can find the e-book of Paul’s Purpose here, but maybe you should wait to buy it until I’ve worked through the the errors I found.
Productive in writing?I wish (from which you may deduce the answer is no). But I did log onto Amazon author central to see if I’d sold any of my Halloween short stories (Not the Night for Murder). They don’t list sales from the current week though, so the answer was no.
Productive in producing books? I finally released the Kindle version of an anthology (the Writers’ Mill Journal Volume 6) for our local writers’ group. If they paid me for this (minimum wage? how many hours?) I’d earn as much producing as I do editing. But they don’t. It’s my gift back to those who give me so much encouragement.
Productive in drawing?That’s what I do (on the computer) when my brain’s so fried I can’t see words anymore. It doesn’t count as work, I suppose, but it illustrates books sometimes for that writers’ group. There’ll be quite a few of my pictures in our next release–Carl and June: Tales of Two by Matthew McAyeal and the Writers’ Mill.
Productive in cooking? Nah, I had some good leftovers so we ate them. Really good was the leftover birthday cake from the Writers’ Group. If they pay me in cake I’ll be happy… so I’m happy.
Productive in shopping? I still can’t fathom how I fitted it in today, but yes; I bought gluten-free bread, real bread, fruit and vegetables, milk, beer and cheese–the essentials of life (except for chocolate, and I still have chocolate leftover from my own birthday–Yum!).
Productive in blogging?What do you think? I even sent out a newsletter earlier this week. Click here for my mail-chimp sign-up if you’d like to receive it… please 🙂
If you’ve followed my blog you’ll know our basement flooded six months ago. One month ago our kind and generous sons started moving our furniture back down to the newly refloored and redecorated rooms. Two weeks ago I started moving boxes of books. There were… er… rather a lot of boxes of books…
Soon there were… er… rather a lot of books all over my floor…
But look at it now!
My reading room/library is full to the brim with new friends and old, all waiting to be read and re-read. And my world is back to an even-better kind of normal.
But how many books are there? How many could you fit in your garage? And have you added Subtraction to your book collection yet?
Subtraction, third in the Mathemafiction series, is here, there, and everywhere good books are sold, or at least it soon will be, because all booksellers will surely want to know what happens to a subtracted life. Subtraction is here anyway–just click on the link.
But what is Mathemafiction? I’m a mathematician, so mathematical ideas come naturally to me. But not, mathemafiction is not about learning to do math.
The first novel, Divide by Zero, told the story of a strong community divided by tragedy. Why Divide by Zero? Because division by zero results in an undefined answer–it all depends on the initial conditions and the details of the equation. Divide x by x and you’ll always get 1. Divide 2x by x and you’ll get 2. Divide x squared by x and you’ll get x, which is 0 when x is 0. But divide 1 by x and you’ll get something that grows infinitely large as x grows small. When the subdivision of Paradise is divided by a violent crime… will it explode or unite around a finite solution?
The second Mathemafiction novel is Infinite Sum. It tells the story of a mother weighed down by the “infinite sum” of her troubles. She has a troubled past. She paints troubled pictures. And her perfect family and marriage might fall apart. The thing is, some infinite sums add up to nicely finite solutions. Try adding 1 plus 1/2 plus 1/4 plus 1/8 plus 1/16…. The more terms you add, the nearer you get to 2, which isn’t infinite at all. Will a mother’s sum of troubles sum to something manageably finite as well?
Then there’s Subtraction: A man whose had everything subtracted from his life… a man alone, who’d rather keep it that way since relationships only end in someone being hurt… a man who trusts no one, teaches math, and despite everything cares deeply for his students… What happens when this last thing that matters is threatened, when an autistic child is subtracted from his class? But subtracting a negative number is the same as adding a positive, and this teacher’s negative attitude just might change over the course of the novel.
Will you read Subtraction?
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Please search for my tweets on twitter under #Subtraction and retweet them, or cut and paste them from below. And please accept my thanks! I hope you like the book!