Thursday, December 10, 2009

This, that, and the other thing

December, being the last month in our (conventional) year, seems to me to be a time to tie up loose ends in one way or another.
  • We mend fences with offended family members, if for no other reason than to try to keep the peace at holiday gatherings.
  • We writers try to write that closing scene to the novel that has been percolating on the back burner all year long... or maybe in worse cases, the opening scene.
  • We try to make last-ditch efforts to fulfill those promises we made that ended with, "...before the end of the year, I promise!"
  • The very young often frantically try to make up for all the naughtiness of the year in order to escape a gift of coal in the stocking.
  • We look into the closet to see what we can re-gift this year, thereby de-cluttering.
For me, it's often a time to stop and look back at the past year and sigh. "Regrets, I've had a few... but then again, too few to mention." Frank, thanks for that line. Regrets are not necessarily the nasty thing that many people seem to think. A powerful regret can give the impetus to do things differently next time, to turn things around, or simply to change an attitude.

Here are some regrets I have, that I'm using as fuel to power up some changes:
  • I regret waiting so long to put my publishing company's books into ebook format. Ebook sales have been too good to have let it go that long! (The Gift of Murder in Kindle format moved to Amazon sales ranking of 648 this week!)
  • Along with that, I regret not having a part of my publishing company devoted strictly to ebooks, so that is changing as of the first of the year.
  • I regret putting everything else in the world in front of my own writing. My early resolution is to devote time every week to my own creative efforts, not just publishing and promoting the books of other authors.
  • I regret not entering my work into more writing competitions, so today I sent off two pieces to writing contests. We'll see what happens. As the old saw goes, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
  • I regret not spending more time with my two granddaughters, so I'm going to work on remedying that.
  • I regret that we have not gotten as much done on the building of our new home as we wanted, so I (and my wife) simply need to focus on that a little more.
What regret do you have, if any, and what are you going to do to keep from having the same regret next year? Tell us about it!

Other things...

Protecting ourselves from ourselves: This past week I saw a cartoon where a guy had just finished typing up an email to the editor of a newspaper, but his computer wouldn't let him send it. Reason? It had Spiel Check. I laughed my butt off at that, but then thought about it seriously. I wonder how many times I... you... other folks, too, have written an email in haste and anger and sent it off without taking time for a cooldown period. Man, I know I did when email was a fairly new thing for me. Maybe we all need a Spiel Check on our computer, similar to Gmail's feature called Mail Goggles, introduced in late 2008. Spiel Check could detect words like "idiot," "jerk," "slimeball," and various other words that are spicier and even more insulting, initiating a ten-minute delay before the program would send the email. Programmers, take note!

Homebuilding: As stated before, Dear Wife and I are building a home on property across the road from where we now live. We are literally building it ourselves, putting up walls, pouring concrete, etc. We stopped buying premixed concrete in sacks (too expensive) and mix our concrete from the bulk ingredients. The other day Lara, aka Dear Wife, was mixing a batch of concrete while I did plumbing work, and she screamed. There was something wiggling around in the concrete. It seems that a hapless toad had taken up residence in the sand pile, and was inadvertently shoveled into the mixer. He took a few turns around the motorized cement mixer before she saw him and we mercifully rescued the toad. He seemed a bit dizzy but none the worse for wear. Two days later another toad did not fare as well. Now, she sifts the sand into the mixer instead of dumping it haphazardly. (All you crime authors out there, here's an idea for you: find a body in the sand pile or gravel pit of a construction company. Or better yet, find it after the concrete has set up, because of a body part visible from the edge of the poured concrete.)


Teagan Oliver said...

Tony, first... congrats on your Amazon ranking. It sounds like despite your words you have accomplished a great deal this year. Probably not in the area that you wanted. You are not alone in these end of year regrets. I find that as it approaches I become edgy as I know that I've once again let time slip by me. So many minutes that I could have devoted to writing, but instead wasted away. But regrets are useless in that we can't get that time back. Cherish your time with you grandkids and those few moments that you can escape into your writing. Those will be the times that you will cherish most. If I've learned anything from this year it is that we must take strength in those moments and hold onto them with both hands. Wishing you and your family happy tidings for the holiday.

Morgan Mandel said...

That will be my New Years resolution - spend more time writing. I'll see if it works or not. Also, I'm going to get more into the e-book business. All signs are pointing in that direction.

Morgan Mandel

Anonymous said...

Teagan, thanks! Actually, the ranking got as high as 221 at one point, and I was doing a Snoopy dance.

Even the hardcopy version was in the 60,000-range, and although that's not as impressive, it's still pretty cool for a small-press book.

And yes, I'll be spending more time writing this year, too, Morgan. (Especially since I got my replacement keyboard late yesterday, which had failed for two days and forced me to do all sorts of awkward workarounds!)

Anonymous said...


Great post,especially the regrets and especially this one:

"I regret putting everything else in the world in front of my own writing. My early resolution is to devote time every week to my own creative efforts ..."

I thought I was the only schmoe in the world who fell into that trap this year. Making time for "my time" will be my Early Resolution #2. I've already announced #1 -- improve my appearance by getting a better hairdo and jazzier glasses. (-:

Pat Browning

Kevin R. Tipple said...

I have quite a few regrets, but I won't go into all that.

Regarding writing---I regret not making enough time for my own writing. Far too often the review work has taken priority and that is something that has to change. It has grown into a beast of a non paying forty hour plus every week job for me and I continue to fall further and further behind.

I either have to figure out a way to make it a paying gig to justify the time spent or I need to get out of the business of reviewing books.

So, while I don't have a resolution for the coming New Year just yet, I do have a decision to make.

Kevin R. Tipple

Tony Burton said...


You'll remember, I think, that I had to make a similar sort of decision with regard to an ezine. And even now I'm frustrated with my review site. There, I figured, "Hey, I have reviewers who are doing the reviews. All I have to do is sort of herd cats--make sure the books get sent to the reviewers, make sure they get posted, etc."

But I can't for the life of me find a dependable team of reviewers! I have a couple who are consistent and reliable, and who can turn out at least one review each month... but two is not enough to make the site work, and I don't want to work them to a frazzle.

And Pat, you definitely are not the Lone Schmoe here!

The Digital Bookshop

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Yes, I do remember.

I could use a team--unreliable or otherwise. :)))