I came home to find my contributor’s copies of my new story A Classic Beginner’s Mistake, along with a few extra for signing! You can order a signed copy (or the ebook, or an unsigned trade paperback) at that link.
Ooh! My new story has picked up a review! https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5404239594?book_show_action=false
You can buy the story here: https://waterdragonpublishing.com/product/classic-beginners-mistake/
EIGHT MINUTES BEFORE MY BOUT, and I was struggling with my goggles — the one really important piece of protective gear. A rapier through the heart is a legitimate medical emergency, but one that the on-site medical staff handle with routine ease. Only a rapier into the brain is at all likely to produce a career-threatening injury and, except for the very rare fluke of a thrust through the soft pallet or the ear, the skull provides enough protection that just about the only way into the brain is through the eye socket.
I shared some preliminary images of the cover of my new book a couple of months ago, but here’s the official cover:
The book comes out tomorrow in ebook form, and you’ll be able to order it here:
A brief synopsis:
On a contract to fix a software bug, Trevo is shamed into entering a fencing tournament where poor folks fight for the entertainment of the wealthy. While diagnosing the bug will earn his pay, the insight from his fencing bouts may prove to be worth even more.
There will also be a print version, and that page will have links for buying it—and for buying a signed version, if that’s what you’re into. (Note that it is a short story and not a novel, even though there’ll be a book version.)
Check it out! I have cover art for my new story! 😍
Due out February 2023 from Water Dragon Publishing!
My brother @limako and I bought our memberships to WorldCon some weeks ago. If you’re in the sf world, you should come too! Membership rates go up May 1st, so you’ll want to join right away.
We just got word that the website for room reservations will open in less than three weeks!
After a couple of years when I didn’t do much writing (beyond this blog), this year I’ve gradually gotten back to it. I recently finished my first story in a long time, and I’ve gotten to work on another. (Datestamps suggest that I worked on at least three others in 2021.)
A big inspiration in this has been my brother, Steven D. Brewer, who has not only been writing fiction, he has been submitting stories with praiseworthy diligence—which, unsurprisingly, has led to some success. You can buy his first published story via Amazon, on paper or as an ebook!
As I’ve mentioned in the past, one obstacle to getting back to work writing fiction has been the difficulty of establishing a daily routine while I was still teaching tai chi (which had me occupied all through my prime writing time for two or thee days a week). Since that wrapped up a week and a half ago, I’ve had some success getting back to a daily writing. The holidays (and a minor medical thing) presented as obstacles, but today (as I write this it’s mid-afternoon on New Years Eve) I actually did an excellent job of spending the day the way I mean to.
As I have figured out over and over again, literally for years now:
The key—and I’ve known this for a long time—is to start my writing first. Once I’ve had a solid writing session, taking a break for some exercise is perfect. After that, I can get back to writing. (Whereas I’ve found it very hard to start writing after a long morning of exercise.)Another attempt at a daily schedule
I’ve not been writing daily, but I have been writing nearly daily (I wrote at least some new words on eleven days in the second half of December), which is probably good enough—and which I am determined to continue into the new year. I have also submitted a story to an editor for the first time in a very long time.
I’m hoping to have a much more interesting “Writing in 2022” post next year.
Whether I’m trying to “get enough exercise” (as I tried to do for years), or trying to “fill my days with movement” (which I’ve realized is a much better way to think about my physical activity), training has been a constant. As someone who has only rarely trained as part of a group, or had a teacher or coach, a lot of my training has been solo training.
Often my focus was on endurance training: preparing for very long walks, foot races, or a 100-mile bike ride. I also did strength training. And my training often included skill training—Tai Chi, parkour, tennis (long ago), even fencing (one brief term in college).
Training by yourself is hard. It’s hard to motivate yourself to go out and do it, and it’s hard to push yourself enough to make good progress (and if you’re good at pushing yourself, it’s hard to know when to take time to recover instead). For skills-based training, it’s hard to learn those skills without a teacher or coach. And for activities with any sort of competitive element, such as tennis or fencing, it’s especially hard to train without a partner. This has been particularly acute during the pandemic, but really it’s always true.
And here is where Guy Windor’s new book The Windsor Method: The Principles of Solo Training comes in.
A lot of the specific information in the book is stuff I’ve figured out myself over the years: Some training is just about impossible to do without a teacher (learning your first Tai Chi form) or a partner (practicing return of serve in tennis). But for most activities, that fraction of the training will be much less than half of your training. Much of the rest of your training is either easy to do by yourself (strength and endurance training), or at least possible to do by yourself once you’ve learned the skill well enough to be able to evaluate your own performance (practicing a Tai Chi form, for example).
The key is to spend some time figuring out the entire scope of your training activities, and then think deeply about what category each activity falls into.
To the extent that your access to a teacher, coach, or partner is limited (as during a pandemic), emphasize the things that are easy to train solo (such as strength training and endurance training), then judiciously add those parts of the training that are advantaged by (or require) a teacher or partner as they are available.
What Guy Windsor adds to this sort of intuitive structuring of training is, as the title suggests, a method. He has systematized the structure in a way that makes the decision-making parts of the activity easier to do and easier to get right.
Perhaps even more important than that, he has taken a step back to talk about all the parts of training that aren’t just skills training for your particular activity. That other stuff—sleep, healthy eating, breathing, mobility, flexibility, strength training, endurance training, etc.—are actually more important than this or that skill, while at the same time being the bits that are easiest to train solo. If you’re stuck for a year with no partner, no teacher, and no coach, but you spend that year focusing on health and general physical preparedness, you’ll scarcely fall behind at all, and make yourself ready to jump into your skills training with both feet once that’s possible again.
I should mention that Guy Windsor’s book was written with practitioners of historical European martial arts especially in mind, but that scarcely matters. It is entirely applicable not only to practitioners of any other martial art, it is entirely relevant to literally anyone who trains in anything.
And, since many of my readers are fiction writers, I should also mention another of Guy Windsor’s books Swordfighting for Writers, Game Designers, and Martial Artists. When I signed up for his email list, he offered it as a free download for people who did so.
Being forced into purely solo training for 18 months has made me keenly aware of the many opportunities for non-solo training available here locally. There’s a local fencing club that I’ve had my eye on for some time, and our financial situation is such that now we could afford for me to join and buy fencing gear. Just today I searched for and found a local historical European martial arts club on campus—I’ve asked to be added to their Facebook group and joined their Discord. One of my Tai Chi students teaches an Aikido class with the Urbana Park District—I had started studying with him right as the pandemic began and got in two classes before everything was canceled. And, not sword-related, but cool and great training, is indoor rock climbing at Urbana Boulders.
Just as soon as the pandemic lets up for real, I’ll be doing some of those things.
In the meantime, I’m going over my solo training regimen, taking advantage of the insights that Guy Windsor provides in The Windsor Method: The Principles of Solo Training to figure out what adjustments I should make.
I’m a little happier about my writing this year than I’ve been in the last several years. I finished two new short stories, both of which have been sent to markets. That feels a lot better. It also leaves me feel like I’m ready to write some more—I have several bits and pieces already in progress.
In non-fiction news, writing for Wise Bread ran along about as it has in recent years, with six articles published (and one more that I’ve submitted, but that hasn’t appeared yet). Posts that appeared in 2017 are:
- The Surprising Truth of Investing: Mediocre Advice Is Best
- The 3 Rules Every Mediocre Investor Must Know
- How to Spot Lousy Investment Advisers
- How One Mediocre Investor Prospered After the Market Crash
- How to Make Sure You Don’t Run Out of Money in Retirement
- How the Risk Averse Can Get Into the Stock Market
I’m pretty pleased with all of these, especially the mediocre investment advice series. Once again, none of them is a listicle (although the editors did give one of them a listiclish title).
My plans for next year are more of the same. I hope to maintain some momentum in getting stories out to editors and working on new stories. I’d even like to get back to my nearly finished novel. (Or else definitely give up on it and start on a new one.) And I’ll carry on with Wise Bread stories.
Happy New Year!
Because it was so precisely in my wheelhouse, I simply had to submit a story for the Universal Basic Income short story contest Into the Black.
I plugged away at a story most of October. In particular, I worked on it three different times with Elizabeth Shack’s Thursday writing group. And I got a story nearly finished, except it refused to turn into a basic income story.
Finally, about three days ago I gave up trying to twist that story into a basic income story and sat down to write another—even though I only had four or five days until the submission deadline.
It reminded me of Clarion in a way—sitting down at my computer, determined to get a story done in less than a week. At Clarion the motivation was simply that if you didn’t get a story done each week you’d miss out on the chance to get a story critiqued by that week’s instructor, but it was enough. And this made for a similarly strong motivation.
And I’m pleased to report success: I finished a draft on Saturday. On Sunday I read through it and made minor edits and gave it to a couple of first readers. Today I made another pass through it, making changes suggested by my reader’s comments, and then submitted it to the contest.
That was all fun and good, but there is yet more good.
First, the story that would not be a basic income story is nevertheless a perfectly good story. I’ll let it sit for a bit, then go through and remove the failed attempts to twist it into one, and then take a go at finishing it on its own terms. I’m hopeful.
Second, there’s also a fragment of that story that I pulled out and stashed that might well turn into another story. It was part of one effort to twist the story, but it’s really a pretty good idea in its own right, and might make for a whole story all on its own.
So I come out of this with one finished story, one mostly-written story, and a few fragments of a possible third story. Go me!
I am also reminded that I have a couple of finished, critiqued stories that only need a rewrite pass to be ready to submit to markets, which I have been woefully lax about submitting. (My Clarion instructors would be appalled.)
So, with a little luck, in a matter of days I might well have five stories out to markets. Well, not luck exactly: Diligence and persistence are what’s called for.