Category Archives: Fitness

My Year In Review: Guest Post by Doug Dandridge

My Year In Review

I had planned for 2016 to be my best year yet, moving forward with all my writing projects, and doing the ground work to build a larger readership. As some of you may know, I do this writing gig fulltime, it is my job. As this year closes out, I have sold about 200,000 books, eBooks, paperbacks and audiobooks. I was hoping to pass the half million dollar gross income level as an independent for the four years I had been doing it. I was planning on releasing seven books, as well as finishing off an effort I was hoping to interest Baen books in. Unfortunately, things don’t always work as planned.

As the year dawned, I had just returned from a workshop cruise in December (Sail To Success), and had taken a belt test for Kempo Karate. I had been feeling my best in years, and I was planning on putting out five thousand words a day, which would put me at almost two million words. I really didn’t think I would do that, but a million seemed like a possibility. Then, in January, I started losing energy. Every morning I woke up feeling like I had fought a battle the night before. I kept on writing, but not at the level I wanted, and the workouts went out the window. In March my primary care physician told me she thought I had sleep apnea. Now, since I go to the VA, this didn’t mean I would get immediate treatment. It took two months to get the sleep study, followed by another sleep study, and four months after my primary told me her thoughts I finally got my CPAP. It has made a world of difference, and I started working out again. Still not at one hundred percent, but I can see it coming.

Now that that’s out of the way, what did I do with my year? To start off I put out a book I had on my hard drive for five years, just so I could get something out. The first of the second trilogy of The Deep Dark Well series, it did well enough. I also put out a collection of short stories set in the Exodus Universe, a little under 70,000 words, and sold about five thousand copies in the first three months, about what the first, shorter volume had done. The production company that does my audiobooks put out Exodus: Empires at War: Book 5: Ranger, which did okay, though I’m not sure if sales were enough to convince them to do book 6. Time will tell. In May I put out Exodus: Empires at War: Book 10: Search and Destroy. While the book sold well, it was probably my weakest reviewed novel since the first of the series, many people thinking it was just a placeholder novel, which it kind of was. That taught me something about series, something I will avoid in future efforts. In August I put out Book 11: Day of Infamy, which met with much better reviews. I had planned to have that book out by the end of June, but the sleep apnea interfered. I started to work on Exodus: Machine War: Book 3 and finally got it out the door on November 20th. I have also put out some short stories for anthologies, and did some of the planning on future series. Not my most productive year, but still enough to make more than twice what I made in a year at my old day job.

I attended three conventions this year, starting with Pensacon, where I was merely a visitor and spent some time with my Superstar Friends. In July I went to Libertycon in Chattanooga, where I sat on two panels and moderated a third. Good practice. Dragoncon in September, and this year I was able to get two panels, one on the writer’s track, and a really fun one in the scifi lit track called starship showdown. I have been told I will get even more next year, and I am planning on putting in an application as a Dragoncon guest. We can always dream. And I was invited back to Sail To Success this year as a Student/Instructor, at a hefty discount, so I can give my take on Indie Publishing on two panels. Add to that, I have been invited to next year’s Florida Writer’s Association con as a faculty member.

The year didn’t go as planned, but I still was able to work my dream job and make a good living at it. Hopefully I will do better this next year, and if I don’t? No problem, I will still be happy.

 

Doug’s Bio:

Bio – Doug Dandridge

Doug had been writing since 1997, and had garnered almost three hundred rejections from publishers and magazines before trying his hand at self-publishing on December 31, 2011. A little over a year later he quit his day job with the State of Florida, and has been a full-time author ever since. Doug has published thirty-one books on Amazon, and has sold over two hundred thousand copies of his work. His Exodus books, with eleven volumes in the main series, plus five in the two spinoff series, have sold over a hundred and seventy thousand books. They have consistently hit the top five in Space Opera in the UK, as well as top ten status in the US. Doug likes to say that he does not write great literature, but entertainment, and his fans agree enough to keep buying his work. He has well over three thousand reviews on both Amazon (4.6 star average) and Goodreads (4.12 star average).

Doug attended Florida State University (BS, Psychology) and the University of Alabama (MA, Clinical Psychology). He served four years in the Army as an Infantryman and Senior Custodial Agent, followed up with two years in the National Guard. A lifelong reader of the fantastic, he had an early love for the classics of science fiction and fantasy, including HG Wells, Jules Verne and the comics of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He writes fast moving, technically complex novels which appeal to a hardcore fan base. He has plans for several future series, including several space operas, a couple of classic fantasies, some alternate history, and even a post-apocalyptic tale. He puts out about five books a year, and still has time to attend several conventions, including Dragon Con and Liberty Con. This year he added board member of Tallahassee Writers Association to his resume’.

Stay Fit

A Guest Post by C Stuart Hardwick

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how infirm! In action how like a potato!

My first stories were played out in childhood, in the badlands and ghost towns of South Dakota, in tree forts and sandboxes, woods and bicycle trails, onto magnetic tape and 8mm movie film. We did not stop to create stories, we left them behind like breadcrumb trails leading back to alternate worlds.

Flash forward a few decades to when I finally decided to get serious about writing stories down. I was already married, with kids and a white-collar job. I was already suffering from a life of too much TV, too much office work, and too little sun. The last thing I needed was another few hours a week sitting in a chair, but that’s just what you need to do to be a writer. What to do?

First, I set up a standing desk. I figured, standing’s better than sitting, right? For two years, I did most of my writing at a laptop perched atop a high chest of drawers in my bedroom. I had to buy a rubber mat to keep from wearing holes through the carpet. I wrote half a million words that way. I went through my creative writing courses at Berkeley that way. I didn’t loose any weight, but at least I didn’t gain any.

Then in late 2012 several studies came out warning of the health effects of sitting. It turns out, not only do those cushy middle class office jobs make us fat, they cause potentially irreversible spinal curvature and stiffening, reduce hip flexibility, cause insulin overproduction, soften bones, obliterate posture, and cause deep vein thromboses and varicose veins. Oh, and they make us stupid.

See, humans didn’t evolve in office buildings. We evolved on the African savanna, where we were marathon hunters. Sure, it’s nice to have a comfy pad under our backside with a cup of jo and an air conditioner. It’s comfortable. But it’s not good for us. These studies were proposing something radical—we should get up and walk.

American’s should ditch the office chair and switch to a treadmill desk they said. We could loose a few pounds a week just by walking instead of sitting, and address all the other health impacts at the same time. We are not evolved to sit around, nor to stand around, but to hike.

Hardwick_walking deskSo okay, I decided to give it a try. Treadmill desks are stupid expensive, though, so I made my own. I put a laptop and $10 worth of wire shelving on a $600 Horizon T101 treadmill. I learned to touch type while walking at 2.2 MPH on an incline—just enough to barely crack a sweat. I started loosing weight.

After two months, I was so impressed, I decided to splurge on an upgrade.

I bought a dedicated workstation and bolted it to the treadmill with a monitor arm and a theatrical clamp (I blogged about it here: https://cstuarthardwick.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/upgraded-treadmill-desk-2/). My weight kept falling. In addition to the treadmill, I also started spending time on the exercycle as well, and I used MyFitnessPal to track my net calories. In six months, I lost 45 pounds.

But? There is no but. I felt great. I looked great. I thought great. Walking on the treadmill takes a certain amount of brainpower and I usually stop when working on something really mentally taxing, but it’s highly conducive to writing, especially to finding and maintaining “the flow.”

And then I went and hurt my leg and had to take an extended break. Now that I’ve started back up, I’ve worn out the tread and broken a siderail (stepping off to drink coffee), but that’s okay. New parts are on order. While I wait, I’m taking advantage of the springtime weather, taking to the neighbor hood trails, and taking Kevin J Anderson’s advice and giving mobile dictation a fair chance.

And that’s good, because some new papers have come out suggesting that many of the ailments of modern Western society may stem from inadequate exposure to sunlight…

Take care of your body. The writing muscle can’t work if the other muscles keep flopping over. We only get one stab at this life thing.

 

C Stuart Hardwick:

C Stuart Hardwick is an L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future winner and a Jim Baen Award finalist. He writes scifi and fantasy, lives in Houston, and is married to an Aquanaut. You can follow him at www.cStuartHardwick.com, or on Twitter, Quora, or Facebook.

 

SLICING THE CAKE

A Guest Post by David Heyman

“Honey, where are you?”

Physically I’m in the store with my wife, where she is asking my opinion of an item she’s seen. In my mind though – I’m on a far-off snowy plain, trying to get my heroine out of the scrape I’ve written her into. This is the world of the writer and their family, and it’s one I’m betting most of you are familiar with. Managing the scales between the time and energy we give to our writing and the time we give to other demands can be one of the more difficult challenges an aspiring writer can face.

It’s commonly called the work/life balance, but for us it is a more complex beast – one more properly named a work/work/life balance. We all have lives that include family, friends, pets and the many activities that make life worth living. These are all wonderful, but they rightfully expect an investment of your time. Then most of us have the job that pays the bills, taking care of that rewarding life and keeping the road ahead of us clear. That job also makes demands on your time, demands that can be harder to negotiate with than Fido.

Now you want to add writing, but for most of us writing no mere hobby. It doesn’t fall into the ‘pursuits’ section of that life category. No, writing for us is our second job – the one that might not be paying bills yet, but someday….

Something’s gotta give – somewhere a sacrifice must be made.

cake

I always view my time as cake. I cut a piece of cake for my family, one for work and one for myself. If I want to write and that’s going to use some of that available time, then someone’s piece of cake is going to get smaller.

My advice: make sure you are the one making the sacrifice. Cut into your cake, not someone else’s.

Want to write on your lunch break? Sure. You can bang out that scene while you have your sandwich. Write during that boring dial-in meeting where they never call on you anyway? No, that time is committed to the job that pays the bills. Writing after play time with the kids and TV time with your spouse? Sure, but discuss it with them first.

You are the one who wants to be a writer, the big time sacrifice must come from you. Video game time, Game of Thrones watching time, Facebooking time.

Your time.

I would caution not to take all of your time, though. Don’t take away the sleep you need, or the time you exercise to stay healthy. Reserve some time for yourself to de-stress, to recharge and get the creative juices going again. Moderation is the key.

Each day is a cake that you choose where to make the cuts and choose the sizes. Your job, your friends and families all have their plates out, waiting to be serves a slice of your time.

How you distribute those slices will have a big impact on your support system going forward – and you will need that support to succeed.

David Heyman:

Dave writes both novels and short stories in the various genres of speculative fiction. His other passions include his family, gaming and reading about mountaineering. Sleep is added to the mix when needed. You can visit him at daveheyman.com