I’m Back

Tuesday, July 4th, 2006

I’ve spent almost all of my time since my last post getting ready for, traveling to and from, or participating in Jon and Nicole’s Wedding. Jon’s been one of my best friends for twenty years. I was honored to be asked to participate. The ceremony was amazing (if a bit hot), and the reception was a lot of fun. It was great to see some people I haven’t seen in some time (including Jon’s family), and meet some really fun new people. I even managed to give my toast without choking too badly. I wish Jon and Nicole the very best, and hope they’re having a great time on their honeymoon.

The drive there took forever, but coming back things at least kept moving. Denise and I listened to the amazing unabridged reading of Ender’s Game (I’d heard it before, but it’s great to be able to enjoy a good book with your wife). The full-cast unabridged readings of the Enderverse books are some of the greatest audiobook productions I’ve ever experienced. I can’t recommend them highly enough (available for download from audible.com as well).

I need to thank my Dad for spoiling… er… taking care of the kids while we were gone. I also need to thank Edna and my grandparents for helping him survive the experience.

Now it’s time to clean the desk off (it got a bit cluttered during the search for the GPS serial cable), and get back to work on the book.

The Gift of Time

Sunday, February 12th, 2006
Yesterday was a very busy day. Even Kiddo1 told me it was a very long Saturday, and she hopes today is shorter. Today, it’s snowing. Denise said I could have most of the day to myself to catch up on the giant To Do I have hanging on a white board in the kitchen. She told me she would need me to watch the kids while she made dinner, and the rest of the day was mine. Isn’t she great? Yeah, she is, but it only took about 15 minutes from the time she said good morning until she started asking me to do other things, and watch the kids so she could do other things. So much for a guilt free productive day. I’ll settle for a guilt-ridden one if I can make it productive. She is in no way being unreasonable. Time is in short supply in our life right now, and that’s mostly my fault. I’m doing a lot. Well, I’m trying to do a lot. I feel that I’m failing at doing a lot, to be honest. I’m working eight to ten hours a day, taking Kung-Fu one or more times a week, revising a novel, working on the next novel, being a dad, and being a husband. When I look at that list and try to pare it down, the only thing I want to drop is working. I can’t do that if I want to keep the house and eat. I’m not sleeping excessively (six or seven hours a night). So I’m having to make do with the failing. Here’s hoping today is at least somewhat productive.

Life, the Universe, and Chapter 12

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

Everything has been way too hectic of late. Family, work, writing, you name it. I’ve been overwhelmed, and not overly motivated these past few weeks, but I’m hoping to change that starting now.

I need to come up with a schedule for finishing this draft. Writing as time permits is pretty much a recipe for me to be lazy about it. It seems I need a deadline of some kind. I did some fairly major rewrites of Chapter 12, but I now need an entirely new chapter to stick between 12 and 13.

2005 Year End Clearance

Saturday, December 31st, 2005
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 00:00:54 -0500
From: Jason Penney <...>
To: Jason Penney <...>
Subject: story idea

an epic battle/war is tearing apart the land. A small time thief sees his opportunity to make good, but becomes involved in helping a refugee family (maybe just some kids?)

I found this email earlier this week. I have a lot of these ‘story idea’ emails, but this one is the novel I’ve been working on since shortly after sending this to myself two years ago today. I’m slightly less than half way done my second draft, and while the story has changed with time, I can still see how I got from there to here.

I’ve been a writer most of my life. When I was younger I sort of just assumed that you learned to read, learned to write, and then wrote down the stories in your head, and that’s how books were made. Today, I’m still pretty sure that’s how it’s supposed to work, but three years ago I didn’t feel that way. That type of thinking was schooled out of me. I never stopped writing, but I really forgot about writing books.

Throughout high school I wrote poetry. Lots. Every emotion I felt hit the paper while it was still fresh. I probably wrote four or more hours a day. I have stacks of notebooks filled with the stuff (which are fading away because I can only write long hand in pencil). Inside these notebooks I can find a few first chapters or unfinished short stories. I never stopped wanting to write fiction, but I stopped believing I could (or maybe that I should). After high school the writing mostly stopped. A few ideas here and there, and the occasional poem, but mostly nothing.

Sometime in 2003 I decided to take this whole writing thing more seriously. I worked on short stories a few nights a week. Then, near the end of December in 2003 I found Mugging the Muse: Writing Fiction for Love AND Money by Holly Lisle. This free book on writing really got me going. It helped me organize my thoughts on being a writer, and commit myself to making it happen. I set out a series of goals and started working towards them.

Have I met them? Not exactly. I originally planned to write short stories for all of 2004, and try to have a draft of a novel done in 2008. Right at the end of 2003 Lazette Gifford posted on Forward Motion that she would be teaching a 2 Year Novel class. Moving from idea to completed novel over a two year period. I signed right up. So I missed my 2004 goals, but I’m ahead of things for my 2008 goal, so I figure I’ll call it progress and keep moving forward.

As 2005 winds to a close, I want to take this time to thank Holly and Zette. If it wasn’t for them I’d probably still be floundering around wondering how to get from A to B instead of making my way along the path. I also want to thank my wife, Denise, for being so supportive of my writing, even when she’s frustrated that I’d rather write than vacuum.

Clocky, where are you?

Friday, March 25th, 2005

I need to get one of these for my wife. She’s not good at getting out of bed, and this could be the perfect solution (unless she smashes it to little bits).

I’m a long time hater of alarm clocks. I don’t like be awoken to the standard alarm noise. It fills me with rage almost the second I wake up, which is a crummy way to start the day. See, I’m not a morning person until I get out of bed, and then things change (usually). I’m quite happy with my Digital Zen Alarm Clock. At least I was, until just now, when I saw they have a new verison with a silent strike mechanism. It wakes me up with a single peacful chime, which will repeat itself at progressivly shorter intervals if I fail to get up. It very rarely chimes more than once.