I've moved to another two blogs, one on writing, and one on general stuff like this one. Please come visit! MY NEW BLOGS:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Book Update

I wanted to give you an update on my book, since its completion is approaching. There's a lot more to producing a book than just writing -- in fact, I find myself longing to have the time to write again, just write, instead of dealing with all of these other things that eat up my time. But this is the nature of the beast. The good news is, Lever will be the best that I can make it. I hope, my dear friends, you all read it and then write to me so I can say hi, and thank you.

Kudos to my copyeditor, Chris, who has covered pages of my manuscript in red ink, pointing out the teeny stuff that makes an unconscious but real difference in the book's readability. Especially for someone like me who's grammatically challenged, Chris's talents are invaluable.

Once I've finished making these changes, the words are graven in stone. The word file goes to the interior book designer who chooses the fonts, spacing, and general artistry of the pages to make it look beautiful. I was interested to learn that book design is so involved. It's the kind of thing that you don't notice unless it's done poorly, in which case you may still not notice it but you may have an offputting sense of the book. In preparation for this stage I need to write my dedication and acknowledgments, quotes and permissions, contact info, and anything else that might go into the book.

One very important thing is to collect the short reviews that books have on their back covers or in the first few pages. I've been bothering lots of people lately :-) as well as going broke on printing cartridges, paper, 3 ring binders, and postage. I have a few reviews back already, and am hoping for more soon. Once the ARCs (advance reader copies) are printed, the book can also be reviewed by sites, like the Midwest Review of Books, that do this professionally. The ARC is basically the book before the release date, and although it may not be in quite final form, it should be pretty darn close.

Also to be done is the finishing of the book cover design. The illustration is completed already -- isn't it gorgeous? I'm so excited about it. I have to submit my back cover copy, my author photo, a short bio, and any review comments that might entice someone to buy. I'm waiting, as mentioned above, on the short reviews coming back.

Once these items are finished, the book is assigned an ISBN number and put into a big PDF file, ready for the printer. Then the real fun of marketing begins! First, the book is made available on amazon and other venues. My website has to be spiffed up, which will hopefully be done by July. I want to find some blogs to interview me, so if you have a blog, I'd be delighted to work with you! I need to continue building my "web presence", and enlisting as many people as possibly to be "influencers" for the book.

BTW, if you, reading this blog, would like a free book, consider becoming an influencer. Write to me at amydeardon @ and put "book influencer" in the subject line. The influencers are the ones who talk up the book to their friends, write about it on their blogs, submit a 5 star review on amazon, stuff like that. If you have a book club, I'd be happy to call in to answer Qs--> just let me know. I promise, I'm approachable :-)

I'm hoping to have prerelease-yet-final copies by the end of July, since I'll be attending a writing conference with a consignment table. I can't wait to hold the first book!

Well, that's enough for today, short as this entry may be. Have a good Memorial Day weekend.

~smiling~ to dear friends

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Be Careful of What You Wish For

Have you ever been tempted? Not by something little, like whether you should eat that chocolate brownie, but a big thing that takes your breath away. A million dollars. Revenge. The leadership of your organization. The love of your life.

What do you do if you could take what you desire, but you know you shouldn't?

One of my favorite quotes about temptation is from CS Lewis' Mere Christianity: "No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because he was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means -- the only complete realist."

Fighting a temptation is hard work, and it can be a lasting fight: for days, months, occasionally a lifetime. So what keeps people from succumbing to a temptation?

Let me suggest one remedy: Love. Of course there are different types of meaning for that word that we use: love of self, affection, friendship, eros (romantic/sexual), agape. I'm talking about the agape selfless love. As described by Lewis, "Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained." (Answers to Questions on Christianity). It is the love that recognizes how your actions affect others for good or for ill, the decision to be willing to sacrifice for the other. The highest form of Love. While showing agape may seem unreasonable, don't we all admire this, for example in the man who goes back into a burning building to rescue a child? Let me suggest that aiming for this standard will inevitably lessen the temptation's bad effects, if not the pain of the battle.

If you haven't been greatly tempted yet, don't be like the man Shakespeare describes when he says, "He jests at scars that never felt a wound." (Romeo and Juliet, act 2 scene 2). The temptation may come to you in a way or form that you might not expect. It can broadside you out of nowhere, and battling it can cause you to weep every day for months. Decide, now, that you are, that you must be, strong enough to overcome.

Since I'm sticking on CS Lewis today, let me tell one more story of his, from The Magician's Nephew (One of the Chronicles of Narnia). In the book, Aslan the great lion tells a little boy that he must go on a journey to fetch a magical apple that will protect Narnia. The little boy retrieves it, but then is tempted by a witch that the apple could instead restore his dying mother. He struggles but withstands the suggestion, his heart's desire, and instead brings the apple back to Aslan.

Aslan says, "Well done. For this fruit you have hungered and thirsted and wept. No hand but yours shall sow the seed of the Tree that is to be the protection of Narnia." The little boy plants the apple, and a tree quickly grows. Aslan then invites the little boy to take an apple back to his mother. "The stolen apple," Aslan explains, "would have healed her, but not to your joy or hers. The day would have come when both you and she would have looked back and said it would have been better to die in that illness...[but] it is not what will happen now. What I give you now will bring joy."

A fairy tale? Maybe. But I believe Lewis tapped into a rich truth of the universe, that good and bad do exist, and that our actions do matter. My dear friends, stand strong. You don't know what unseen forces may be set into play.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Time Solid

I love to ponder the nature of time. The only thing I'm sure of is that we humans don't perceive it as it actually is. So what might it be like? Hmm. I have two favorite analogies: the time solid, and paint. I'm not saying these analogies are correct, or even mathematically consistent, just that they feel to me like they could very well be correct. And since it's my blog, I get to write about what I want to :-)

The first analogy, the time solid, I used to invent a mechanism for time travel in my soon-to-be-released novel, A Lever Long Enough. (The novel is coming out this January, my dear friends, and you will certainly hear more about this!). My analogy comes from Edwin Abbott's often-reprinted 1880 classic, Flatland. This is a terrific and readable book whose ideas on dimensions have stayed with me since I was a kid.

Taking a direct application from Flatland, imagine that you are a two-dimensional figure living on a plane (visualize that you are a square sketched on a piece of paper). Now imagine that your plane passes through a cube, point first. You’d see a triangle drawn on the paper that grows larger, then smaller again, then disappears. You’ve observed sequential slices of the same object over time, like a movie. As a two-dimensional being you wouldn’t be able to imagine what a three-dimensional constant object might look like, or that what you've just seen is qualitatively more of a square than you are. How could sequential views of a triangle even be a square? Similarly, if there is an arched shape that passes through your plane, you'd see two dots. If you push one dot, the other dot also moves and you can infer they are related although you confirm no physical connection between the two dots. Mr. Cube, though, easily understands this physical linkage.

Although our bodies exist in three dimensions, I imagine in my novel that time is a greater-than-three-dimensional constant solid object that we can only experience one slice at a time. My time machine is able to somehow “turn” the time solid so that one of the physical components becomes the cross-section while time is expanded into a full dimension. With this circumstance, an object can travel through seconds or years by being thrown into the time solid or pulled out of it.

The time solid is obviously an extreme oversimplification of what time might be like, and raises all sorts of metaphysical questions such as the existence of free will versus predestination. No, I won't go there today.

The time solid theory also doesn't take into account that time, in its true form, lacks "edges." What are edges? This is a sense, something I believe but it's hard to articulate. It's like explaining what the color "red" looks like. But let me try.

OK. Everything in this world has a beginning, and an end -- everything is "more than" or "less than" something else. There are no absolutes, since things don't exist in isolation, but only in relation to each other. It's hard for us to imagine, say, infinity of distance or size, because we have to start somewhere and continuously calculate "where we are now" compared to "where we were." These are edges. But time, I believe, is limitless and uncompared to other things, even itself. Time isn't linear; it only seems so to us because of our three dimensional limits. I believe that our bodies on this Earth are filters, interfaces, that allow our spiritual soul or
spirit to interact with a three dimensional world. While we are attached to these bodies, we are unable to comprehend transcendent concepts, such as time.

Time may also be more than just one extra dimension that we see in cross-section. Lisa Randall, in her book Warped Passages, postulates eleven dimensions interconnected through the ubiquitous pull of gravity. I'm not even going to start on this concept, except to say that I'm not the only one who has strange imaginings!

OK, I think that's enough for today. Are you confused yet? My dear friends, please forgive me for rambling. In a near-future entry I'll explain why time is like paint :-)