This issue adds a new column, Random Things on My Office Walls.
Zombies, a Novel is makinggoodprogress: The word count has gone from 29151 words on April 14, 2022 to 62317, as of August 14, 2022.
Scream and Leapt has been sent to select (limited) Beta readers. Felt good.
I have received feedback from all of my Beta readers.
I received some enlightening comments that have me thinking about how to handle a couple of plot points, among other things. Refer to Monthly Newb Moment II below for a minor, yet annoying, one.
I was a little optimistic with the "99% Final" I put on the title page.
I'm looking forward to getting back to it, but for now, I have set it aside to concentrate on my novel.
A Last Reminder:
I will issue The Newb Files three times a year until further notice.
Starting in 2022, I will issue The Newb Files on:
April 14th, 018
August 14th, 019
December 14th, 020
This will preserve the August 14th date that commemorates writing (beginning) my first short story, Scream and Leapt.
The column name, The Monthly Newb Moment, will remain unchanged.
Random Things on My Office Walls
Yes, there is a story behind this, as there is for everything on my office walls.
This cardboard Garfield "bumper sticker" has been pinned to the wall over my various at home work desks for approximately thirty-six years.
Mounting it in a frame happened when we moved in here, so, about four years ago.
When I moved it into my newly renovated office, I decided the fact that it was not parallel to the frame was a hint to how I should hang it.
The picture hanging wire is now mounted on the frame at a matching angle, to make it easier to hang at this, the proper, improper angle.
A Sad New Addition to my Office Wall
We did not see this coming, but we lost our doggy.
Chica Teeta Bailey, 2010ish-June 16, 2022. Liver failure. I miss the annoying little fluff.
Yes, she was my dog.
This is a picture that I look three days before her last trip to the vet. I got lucky taking a "selfie". It hangs beside my writing desk.
Yes, she was a Chihuahua mix. The other two she was mixed with (I think) being a Yellow Lab and a Stegosaurus (hackles!).
Why I Became a Writer
In January 2019, I became a member of the second home inspection association I had joined since 2013, in yet another attempt to get my home inspection career started. Computer drafting work, home renovations, selling our home, and moving into our new home had caused numerous delays.
In January 2019, I also started planning my first vacation in twelve years. Obviously, I didn't deserve it. Best wife ever.
I quickly realized the planning of my vacation constantly interfered with studying for the new (additional) testing to become a home inspector. So, I delayed, yet again, starting my home inspection business until after my vacation.
In early 2019, I had once again taken steps towards my home inspection business. Without realizing it at first, I was also taking the first steps toward thinking about what I wanted to do. What I could do, and what I could physically do.
So, before, during, and after my vacation, I thought a lot about what to do with the rest of my working life. It took a lot of time, a lot of agonizing over every minute detail, but I decided on several things:
First, I decided I would not go back to school at 59-7/8 years old to get Civil 3D training and continue my computer drafting career.
Second, I decided I would not be a home inspector. Likely, Too Much Information, but I think my feet being closer to the earth have aged them faster than the rest of me. Enough said.
And, lastly, I decided what I was going to do, what I was going to try doing.
Without talking to my wife about it first, I told her I had officially retired from computer drafting and I would not work as a home inspector.
I was going to write.
She was a little surprised, as I am not known for my communication skills. I am sure all of my past English teachers were (are) spinning in their graves.
The only fiction I had written up to that point was a short story I wrote in a grade ten English class I was mistakenly, and briefly, put into.
But, she supported me, as she does. Well, if she had any doubts, she kept them to herself. Again, best wife ever.
Several weeks later, she read a rough draft of my first short story, and the support turned into active encouragement.
Turns out, I could write. Well, if you read a paper printout, in a darkened room, while squinting. Hard.
What's more, the people that read what I wrote shared the joy, the sadness, the out-loud laughs that I experienced while writing it. Amazing.
So why did I conclude that I could write? That I should even try?
First, is how I handled the challenges I faced in my childhood. We all had them.
In the personal essay/memoir I wrote (unpublished), I explained at length how my mental health issues when I was young were much more pronounced. One of the main reasons I think I can write is directly related to how I tried to compensate for some of these problems.
In any social situation, at pretty much any age after I was ten or eleven, I was often mute. It was like a switch was turned off.
In my head, thoughts, entire conversations (that didn't happen) were bouncing around inside my skull, but none of them made it out.
Yes, at sixty plus, this still can happen. Believe me, it is frowned upon even more at my age than when I was a kid.
To fix this, I would, in social situations, run through any and every possible conversation that could happen in my head, in order to have a prepared response to anything said directly to me.
While it took years to get good at it, it's debatable how much help it was. It was some help, and it was better than not doing it, which would have left me completely mute. This was, unbeknownst to me, a way of practicing dialogue.
Second, I have always had to put a restraint on my imagination. I had to. Whatever I was supposed to be doing at any age you want to look at, I was off somewhere else, in a daydream about something else.
Now, I'm a writer. I work at something that daydreaming is what I'm supposed to be doing. And I do it freely, without restraints of any kind. Fucking awesome.
Third, there were other signs I could write, however minor, when I put more thought to it.
As an example, I have, for as long as I can remember, not watched movie previews, movie reviews or TV commercials for shows of any kind. Why? Because any hint of the story, and I instantly fill in the probable story line in my head. Annoying, to say the least, and much worse when I would pay to go to a theatre to watch a movie, only to find out I was correct.
Fourth, I have often had—I'll call it—more organized daydreams fill my thoughts. In other words, short stories, outlines of a book? Who knows? Until 2019, I never wrote them down. Indeed, the first short story I wrote, Scream and Leapt, was something I first thought of in the early nineties.
Last, the struggle I experienced to find work when I was younger was again a problem in my sixties. The personality quirks that often kept me from being hired, or would end my employment prematurely, were back. ... were a problem again. Great, what to do about that? Writing was a solution, as I could work at it until I had something worth selling. With a good enough manuscript, I figure they will, um, overlook any extreme quirks in the author. Just as I had a reputation in computer drafting that kept me busy despite said quirks. I know, shocking to think authors can be quirky. But perhaps most importantly, I had nothing to lose by trying.
The story of how I sat down and started writing I will leave, for now, in the personal essay/memoir about how I write.
When I look back at the last twelve, fifteen years? Let’s be kind and say ten plus years. Almost every decision, large or small, that I made was wrong. I don’t know if working in engineering firms had fried my brain or what it might be, but it was not a pleasant period.
Until I decided to retire and write. Excellent decision.
It is telling that the title of the personal essay/memoir I wrote is “Righting my life”. I wish all my decisions were as obviously "right" as becoming a writer was. But baby steps, even at sixty plus. ...
And, yes I am still unpublished after three years, but this is not something to be rushed. Did I mention the best wife ever? I did? Okay, good.
Monthly Newb Moment
Writing Book Reviews. ... NOT. ... Maybe
I am not that good at writing book reviews. The review (issue XV, October 2021) that I did of "On the Beach" by Nevil Shute is fine, as far as reviews go.
The reason I am not good at writing book reviews is related to something mentioned in my opinion piece (see above) in that I hate having advanced warning about a movie or a book.
Writing a review of a book with NO spoilers is very difficult.
And not worth the trouble to do. At best, the recommendation of a book is as far as I should go—as I do for writing related books. See below.
NOTE: I am considering doing the same for fiction. ... as an author, I do feel I should review books.
Monthly Newb Moment II
Dialogue Quotes by a Newb
In issue XI of my newsletter (June 2021), I explained how I was using a style of punctuation that was often used in the past, when they would write one character talking about multiple subjects more often than is done now.
Jenna Moreci (YouTube) will tell you it is the only proper way to do it. On the other hand, ProWritingAid is not a fan, and will always mark it as an error.
In my recent (limited) Beta release of Scream and Leapt, seventy-five percent found it confusing.
It involves how you punctuate one character speaking about, for example, three topics:
I think it works well, but most found it confusing.
Or did they?
This is proper in American English fiction books. I write in American English. I think it was a problem because I overused it. Or, I executed it poorly. Okay, both.
The Actual Problem
I have multiple characters speaking for too long, which results in three, four, or five paragraphs tied together by nothing more than a missing double qoutation mark at the end of the paragraph(s). Whatever the number of paragraphs, it apparently can confuse people.
I will have to rewrite a lot of the dialogue in my short story.
And, yes, I have over sixty-two thousand words of my novel written. I wrote a lot of dialogue, written the same way, in my novel as well. Not as much as in the short story, thankfully.
Double drat. I mean, for fuck's sake! I'm not kidding about the newb part, folks.
The interesting thing is, my whole life I've been told repeatedly how quiet I am. I'm not sure, but it may be "Castle" worthy irony that I overwrite dialogue in my fiction writing. And, I like it like that. ... and have to force myself to control it.
Mac Newb Part V
I received and setup my Mac mini, coincidently, on August 14, 2021. After a full year these are my thoughts.
I prefer, overall, using a Mac. Yes, that shocks me.
My last PC I bought was designed to be quiet. It's great, but it is much noisier than the Mac mini. The Mac mini is silent. Period.
The Finder (Windows Explorer) application has some good points, but speed is not one of them.
Copying or moving files is painfully slow. No excuses Apple.
8GB of RAM is not enough; they shouldn't even sell them. A memory manager makes it workable for me. Your results may vary.
The Mac operating system is, as it should be, in the background. It's easy to just work on a Mac.
When an update happens it is relatively quick and painless.
Applications update very quickly and simply.
The worst thing I can say is that the operating system doesn't always realize there is an update (for the OS) until the system is restarted. How Windows of it. ...
The other point, of course is that I have many programs on my PC that I need a Windows machine for. So, two computers it is for the forseeable future. I have not tried using an emulator for Windows on a Mac. Yet.
The best punctuation book, period.
by Jane Casagrande
This book is a reference book, period. Not something to read through at your leisure.
Even I, with three decades of ingrained computer drafting patience, could not force myself to do that. Yes, I tried.
Keep it handy. I have the printed paperback, because I'm an old fart, and I prefer it that way.
The paperback has the punctuation marks printed on the page edge for easy reference.
It also recognizes that there is more than one way to do things, and labels the “rules” as used in: Books, News, Science, or Academic use.
American style is emphasized, to quote the book.
Also available on Kindle.
Future newsletters may have Frequently Asked Questions. Send your question(s) to: Eric.
That's all for now!
Eric C Bailey, August 14, 2022
Chica Teeta Bailey
Starting on the left: the only picture that exists of my usual view of her; the last time I was Chica'd with her stretched out on my lap in the lazy-boy; briefly one of her beds was in my new office—she was banned after she got sick; and last, judgmentally sitting to the left of my desk because she wanted me to go upstairs so she could have her pre-bed nap with me in the same room. Some have said that she was spoiled, but I don't see it. I continued to work until 9:30pm (twenty minutes) that night, as I had planned. Then I spoiled her.
The Newb Files, Science Fiction and Fantasy
I will never send you spam. You may unsubscribe anytime.