Wednesday, January 30, 2019


I completed my book goal for 2018, and now I have to do the work of getting all the links for all my books in one place. Though I still haven't put the latest books on wide release through Smashwords or Draft to Digital. Still, last week I did some vanity shots of my Hike with Me books. I can hardly believe that I'm up to 8.

8 Hike with Me books - mostly proof copies. 
I've got my first one, Stump Lake, with the original cover. I started with the cover creator provided by CreateSpace with that one, and added my own picture. The next year, I wanted to give the books their own particular style. The second in the pile there has a light green strip next to the cover picture because I was trying to just have the spine be dark green. But the spine just wouldn't line up, no matter what I did. So I changed the design to what I've kept for the rest of them. One picture on front, one or two on the back.

I really like these books that I've created. I can see how I've grown in both writing and photography by looking back at these. Having them to create gives me motivation to write more consistently, even if I'm not doing the fiction I still want to do.

Sometimes I think about whether I should have tried to sell this project to a publisher. I like where I've landed with the design of both the exterior and interior, but the costs per unit would be smaller for a publisher that could afford to order in bulk, bringing the overall price into a more reasonable range. I price the paperbacks as low as I can, and that means skipping out on expanded distribution, which would allow my book to be found and purchased by libraries and book stores. That's probably the thing that bugs me most, is that I can't price them to sell - not if I want to stick with full color.

One year, I did an experiment and made a normal print size edition to sell in addition to the large print. The price difference was $10; I should probably do more of those, though the back end setup of Kindle Direct Publishing isn't really designed to have multiple editions like that. It has a one-to-one relationship between each ebook and paperback.

I finally got around to updating the secondary pages on the my blogs to display an up to date reckoning of where my books can be purchased. Next, I've got to set up last year's books to expanded ebook distribution.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Moving on with Diagnosis

I went to the doctor last week. Nothing conclusive, again, but we're moving forward with trying to figure out what's wrong. Maybe it isn't IBS, maybe it is, but we're going to continue to try and pin it down instead of giving up and trying to manage it. Because I can't manage it. Nothing I've done has made a lasting difference. And when something seems to work, it only works for a little while and then I'm back where I started, still in pain. 

The pain's actually getting worse lately. Again, I don't know why, since I haven't changed my diet, exercise or routine. I can't take the strong pain killers because they cause constipation, and that's the last thing I need right now. So I have to try to get by with over the counter pain killers, which sometimes help and sometimes don't. Really, I'm working on pushing through it with natural remedies, like melatonin and valerian at bedtime. I'm afraid they'll stop working too. 

Thanks to a cancellation, I'll be getting a colonoscopy next week. I'm not looking forward to the prep that I remember Ambrose going through when he had his preventative screening years ago. But at the same time, I want to take this next step and check out what's going on. And I'll be doing this at a different gastroenterology clinic, because I did not appreciate how I was communicated with at the first one. 

In other fun news, I also get the privilege of collecting some samples for a fecal occult blood test. It's... not the kind of thing that sparks joy. But again, it's a step towards figuring thing out. 

I hope this turns out to be something fixable. Preferably something easy to fix. But even if we do a ton of tests and they decide that it's IBS after all, I think I'll feel better knowing that with more certainty. And I'll definitely be more assertive in getting help with a management plan other than "ignore the pain, because it's just functional." Which is pretty much what the doc from the other gastro place told me to do. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Dream Management

Taking as a premise the Four Agreements view of life as a personal dream, I realized that I try to manage other people's dreams.

No one can make anyone else happy; our happiness is determined solely by our own reactions and choices. So when I go tip-toeing around, trying to be pleasing to everyone, trying to play specific, positive, roles in other people's dreams, I am doing a whole bunch of work for nothing.

That's not to say I shouldn't be polite. But it is to say that I should interact with others without overthinking how they are going to take what I'm saying. It is not my job to stage manage their dreams. It is not their job to cast me in a pleasing role in their dreams.

This, I think, is what I realized without consciously realizing it when I listened to Mel Robbins give a speech. What she was talking about, her 5 second rule, was interesting, but not particularly applicable to me. I don't have a problem getting out of bed in the morning, or getting started on other things, necessarily. But after her talk, I found myself talking to strangers with more ease and less anxiety about how I would be perceived.

It felt, at the time, a bit like magic. I wasn't sure why I was feeling more free to interact with other people without worrying about how I would be perceived, but I was. And, because I didn't know why, the effect gradually faded. Lately, I've found myself again trying to come off in certain ways, or nitpicking myself for a perceived failure to say the "right" thing to someone.

Subconsciously, I was taking the advice about getting started and applying it in a different way, by focusing on myself instead of the unknowable thoughts of others. I have no power to force others to think of me in a specific way, so there's no point in wasting my time and energy fretting about it. I can be polite and be kind without worrying about whether the words I use to convey my intentions are taken by the recipients in the exact way I intended.

The only dream I get to manage is my own, so I might as well invest my energies to make it a good one.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Pain

During the night on Monday night, I woke up in pain. It's become common for my stomach to hurt, so if I have stomach pain, then I'll usually just go right back to sleep. This was not stomach pain.

The pain was in my mid to low back, and it burned. I couldn't get comfortable. Every position was uncomfortable, though some were worse than others. Because it was a back issue, I didn't go to my 5 am workout, but because I was in such pain, I also didn't take that opportunity to go back to sleep. Instead, I took Aleve and Alka Seltzer and waited for the pain to subside.

When it didn't, I called in sick to work and tried to find a comfortable position to wait it out.

Nothing that I tried seemed to help the pain go away. An ice pack on my back felt good, but I was still hurting. Eventually, I dozed off on the couch, sitting with my body curled around a pillow. Then I moved to the bed for more dozing.

And at some point, the pain just went away from my back and seemed to migrate to my lower right abdomen. Though that could have been just because the back was no longer hurting that I could feel that the tummy was STILL hurting.

I haven't been running a fever, and there aren't any other "red flag" type symptoms, so at this point I'm just going to hope that it doesn't happen again. It could have been muscular, since I did have a back "ow" moment during Sunday's workout, but I worked out Monday morning without a problem and had a massage Monday evening. Plus, if it were muscular, then the Aleve should have been efficacious and it wasn't. So, I don't really think the issue is exercise.

I mean, I did take a rest day today, just in case, but that's not just because I was worried about aggravating a back injury. It's also because I'm exhausted and can't shake the feeling that something is wrong.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

2018 Publishing Goal Complete

I left it to the last minute, but I finished. 6 books published in the year 2018. Two guidebooks, three Hike with Me books and one blog compilation/reflection book. I'm up to 8 Hike with Me books now, though one of them is very short since I split the two Idaho Centennial Trail trips into separate books rather than make one larger one.

I haven't written much fiction this year, and that's something that I'm going to look at getting back into in 2019. I should only be doing one Hike with Me book this year, on the next section of the ICT through the Frank Church Wilderness. That's going to be an interesting book since it will be around a 10 day trip. It will be big, for sure.

It's been a long while since I tried to sell any fiction. I was getting closer on the last submission with some personal rejections, but I stopped writing fiction. Part of it was the focus on writing all of the nonfiction, but I also felt frustrated with my stories.

This year's goal will be to write one piece of fiction per month for the year. If it's something that can fit a short story market, then I'll submit it. If it's not, then I'll either publish it on my blog or on Amazon. 12 works of fiction. That's an extremely achievable goal, so I'll try to complete it as quickly as I can and when I finish, I'll start another goal.

I know I can write over 1000 words a day when I get my butt in the chair. I did that to finish my write ups for the Hike with Me books this year, and I know I can do it. There's just still this fear and hesitation when I write fiction instead of the account of something that happened.

2019 will be the year of Butt in Chair.