The Fun Has Stopped (Part 1)

Sixty hours in. No chocolate. No fruit. No chips or oatmeal bars. All the meat I want. Most of the veggies. More fat than I’m accustomed to. (Ever drink melted butter? It’s weird. Even with cinnamon and sweetener.)

Sixty hours–two and-a-half days. No Fresca (a staple in our house) or Coke Zero, either. They don’t have any carbs (0% natural goodness) but they’re always like the lone sock. They need their better half–in the form of pretzels and Sun Chips.

Breakfast the first morning (10 hours in): Ham. Oh, that was weird, too. This morning? Sausage links with almonds. I could eat about ten links, but I restrict myself to three. Restriction is a good, wholesome thing, now, after too much time without restriction. (Besides, I don’t want to keep running to the store for breakfast meat, as we have a fridge full of holiday leftovers that I have to pass over with a sigh.)

Now, you may have guessed from my consumption list that I’m on a no-carb diet. Yay. It’s drastic. It’s not fun. It’s necessary.

The Blerch got me. There, I admit it.

(For those who haven’t seen or heard, the Blerch is Oatmeal.com creator Matthew Inman’s ugly, slovenly fear incarnate. The one where middle-age laziness and a lack of dedication adds a few dozen pounds to your mid-section.)

Now wait just a f_____g minute. I’m not lazy. I get exercise four times a week, including two hours of pickup soccer (7-8 miles of jogging and sprinting, realistically).

So WTF happened? Good question. The simple, harsh fact is that I’ve gained 35 pounds since May of 2015, the build-up to my last half-marathon. Really? Thirty five? Really.

Pointing fingers might be helpful. I’m super-busy (Who isn’t?). I’ve turned 40 and 41 since then (my body isn’t quite the shiny SUV that got me up Mailbox Peak and through a full marathon in ’08). I’m often tired from not enough sleep (again, Who isn’t?).

Excuses excuses excuses.

I don’t eat terribly. Lots of chicken and veggies, seldom fast-food meals, not going crazy on cookies and chips. Truth be told, I eat pretty well, don’t I?

Apparently not.

The only logical explanation for my state (around 220 pounds) is that my diet, as it was, wasn’t good enough. My theory (which I haven’t researched) holds that stumbling into my early 40s–the dreaded middle age–brought a slight change in my metabolism. From a fuel standpoint, the intake choices which were good enough before aren’t good enough any longer.

Naturally, one of my dietary problems was eating something because it’s there. Only a “handful” of Wheat Thins left in the box–it would be silly to take up room on the pantry shelf with that. There’s only two Oreos left in the package. Why not kill them off?

Oh boy, if that isn’t the antithesis of discipline. And they’re carbohydrate no-nos. Who ever gained weight from killing off peppers or sugar snap peas? From the low-carb standpoint (Yes, I’ve drunk the proverbial Kool-Aid) each Oreo is like a stick bomb. Go military-defense: “Can’t even let one of those bastards in, Gunny!”

Now, when I say I’m being drastic, that’s because I have to. One thing I’ve learned about myself (I am 41) is that I can’t have soft restrictions or half-assed discipline. Doesn’t work. And the experts and bloggers who tout this religion–where keto is a positive state of being–warn against even one slip in the early stages. So tonight I’m skipping a friend’s vodka-and-latke party because temptation there looms like a pit of quicksand. When the kids and I walk down for doughnuts in a few minutes (3.5 miles RT) I’d rather put duct tape over my mouth. One chocolate with rainbow sprinkles completely derails the train. Goddammit.

The way this works, for those outside the loop, is fourteen days of a maximum of 20 grams of carbs per day. That’s less than half of a Clif bar. One apple blows that out of the water. An apple! Yes, I miss fruit. I miss a lot of things. But they will come again.

Another fact I accept about myself (my days of delusion are behind me) bolstered by looking in the mirror and reading books like The Yoga of Max’s Discontent: I’m not going to starve. Justin is not going to wither away and become dust anytime soon. In Minnesotan terms (think snowbound in a ditch) I must have two to three weeks of reserves on me. Yes, I think I’d rather be strapped to a gurney or put in a coma for three weeks. Bam, problem solved. Life doesn’t work that way (kids, work, marriage, house, cat, a host of other responsibilities).

Besides, how could this be any fun without some much-deserved pain?

[To be continued…]

 

Author Justin Edison after a run

Post-run, at 186.8#

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Endgame Still Free

For subscribers of Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime, Endgame is still free on Kindle. So, while this initial period lasts, I’m literally (virtually?) handing out free digital copies of my book. As the old Garfield was fond of saying, “Take my dog, please!”

Not a lot to show for 1,500 hours of work.

For those who aren’t subscribers of the above, the Kindle version costs $2. If my math is correct (dubious at 4:30am) I get two quarters and two dimes every time someone sees the cover, thinks it might be interesting and says, “Why not?”

Twenty-five years of practice and my work still aspires to be a why-not.

Uplifting.

Red pen and coffee mug with Edison's draft work.

Publishing Process

With some luck (and the expedited shipping I’ve paid for) I’ll have five proof copies of Endgame in my hands on Xmas. Gift to me. From there, I have to approve the proof so the print version can officially be live on Amazon and other distributors. Considering how the ebook version’s been available since October 10th, this ten-week lag doesn’t exactly equate to fire-and-forget. C’est la vie.

The delays were all my own doing–getting the abso-smurfly perfect back copy to my cover designer, monkeying around with formatting, the Word page numbers dilemma (worthy of a blog post all by itself), etc. It takes time.

For those who haven’t gone through the process, CreateSpace seems like a wonderful machine. You go through tasks in order, and you get the product you want. *Note: Both the interior file (your manuscript) and the exterior/cover have to fit specifications, so don’t leave the reading about those details until the last step. Save heartache and time, and read read read first.

First-timers (rookies? newbies?) this is also where the writer has to wrestle the perfectionist. It’s an icy slope: Perfect meets good enough and one has to win. What’s good enough? This is not to be taken lightly, as they say. You’ve spent three to four (or five, or twelve, or twenty) years of your life on this digital masterpiece in your hands. If you’re anything like me, the hours spent hammering at a keyboard don’t equate to the amount of time you’ve lived with this story, heard good dialogue when getting out of the shower, realized you left out a crucial detail while fastening your seat-belt, etc. June Vereeth, Prubius, Esch, Dhani and Bohl have been with me for a long time. So have the Mitasterites, their missiles and their foolish decisions. Raking leaves, I can pause and hear the quiet of snowfall with the sinister rustling of soldiers getting into position.

So if, in Chris Farley’s words, “It’s go time!” you want to be sure the damned thing is ready. Really, really ready.

(For those who run into that problem of not know when to stop monkeying with the thing, it’s time to hand the manuscript to a trusted reader, bribe them appropriately and find another project to occupy you for a month. *Note, when you get that copy w/ comments back from your reader, you go through another pass or three and re-tinker what, in your opinion, is the last word.)

In travel parlance: You’ve picked the flight, purchased tickets, have a hotel and car lined up on the other end. You’ve gotten to the airport, gotten through security, have the proper carry-on in hand and have watched others pass through the gate to the jet-way. Now, pristinely queued, you’re scrutinizing your boarding pass and wondering if that flight to Topeka to see the family wouldn’t be better, after all, than the direct to Lihue, Kauai for Xmas. (Let’s up the ante, temptation-wise: You’re going solo and the flight attendants are decked out in saucy Mrs. Claus suits. Their smiles and eyes are gorgeous. “Second Thoughts, still holding on line one. Second Thoughts on line one.”)

So…is it GO time? Wheels up in five?

This might also be the point where you ask yourself (for the twelfth time) if this is what you really want. Is this it? Is it ready?

With CreateSpace (and KDP, and others) this isn’t the point of no return. You can make changes…or can you? Because while you can alter the text, pages, cover, etc., this is the point where your book becomes public. It’s out there. Out in the world. And unless you happen to be a certain future world leader who shall not be named here, you actually care about your words and what people will think. You give a crap. It’s the reason you’ve worked so hard on this story, the reason you put up with the suffocating self-doubt (Narcissists, you don’t have this) and questions about how you’ve spent your time. Factor in all the hours, nebulous costs of pens and paper and printer ink and coffee and fees to cover designers and proofreaders (Yup, you need those!) and clicking that ‘Submit’ button comes down to a real ‘Oh sh*t’ moment.

So…is it GO time? For real?

If in doubt, still, take a few deep breaths of cold air, listen to some David Gray and then decide.

For me, once again, Yes.

Now, with skillet-to-the-face irony, I’ll point out that all this worry and work may not amount to anything in your checkbook. (To wit: For Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime members, Endgame is still free.) C’est la vie. Again.

But is that why we write?

Red pen and coffee mug with Edison's draft work.

Endgame and Green Lights

Two months ago, on the eve of self-publishing my third book, I wrote about the frustration and worry of putting so much effort (1,500 hours, at least) into a novel that so few people might read.

Well, THIS makes it all worth it!

Justin,

I was blown away (not by a Sky Claw [enemy warplane] fortunately!) by Endgame.  My hearty congratulations!  I think it’s a fantastic achievement.  I’ve already recommended it highly to several people.  
Here’s my review
Justin Edison has fashioned a beautifully crafted and near-flawless galactic war tale in turns surprising, gripping and amusing. I so loved this book and can not wait for its sequel, may there be many!
5 stars – by S.F.

 

Endgame cover by Greg Simanson Designs. Cover shows characters, rockets and a woman's eye against a green-ice background and twin suns, orange lettering. "The war begins" is added at the top.
More than anything, it’s a green light to keep going with this madness.
Cheers!

Review of “The One and Only Ivan”

Here’s my review of Katherine Applegate’s “The One and Only Ivan.”

Obviously, I loved it and I wouldn’t change a thing about the story. Kudos to her for taking a relatively simple concept and crafting one of the most poignant stories of our time.

The One and Only Ivan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an amazing story told with clarity and clever devices. My son read this for 4th grade, and it’s really the kind of book that should be required reading in our school systems–especially today.

Told from the perspective of a thoughtful if downtrodden Silverback gorilla, “Ivan” puts readers into his domain–a cage in the center of a down-and-out circus-themed mall. You buy every word of it. There’s no Disney-type anthropomorphic gags, and the humor is mostly of the poignant variety. Start to finish, the story and characters are spot-on.

Author Katherine Applegate also is a master in the use of white space and import. The book is largely written with a poet’s economy of words. When Ivan thinks something profound, it resonates in part because of how those words dominate a largely blank page. It’s a genius tactic, leaving the reader to ponder many facets of the Human condition.

View all my Goodreads reviews.

 

 

“Destruction” Smidge

November wasn’t the super-fat successful writing month it was supposed to be. My NaNoWriMo efforts–like the rest of mindset–kind of took a crowbar to the back of the head. That said, I made some progress on the sequel to “Endgame.”

The novel opens with our heroine, June Vereeth, and buddy Prubius providing sharpshooter watch over a bizarre mission: Locate (and retrieve an item from) a downed freighter sitting atop rock towers some 3,000 feet off the ground. Catch 1: Intense, relentless fog. Catch 2: The rock’s chemical makeup emits enough electromagnetic radiation that nothing electrical–like weapons or radar–will work within twenty miles. Catch 3: June Vereeth and company know they aren’t alone. Catch 4: Their sworn enemies, the Mitasterites, are not their only problem up here.

Enjoy.

~

I hurried to the top of the tower and took a knee. The strap for the knee-pad was biting into my calf again, but it made a 400-degree swivel easier. The sky was clear—for now.

Something caught my attention on the next pillar, but I made sure my eyes registered no threat before I returned to that something.

Fifty yards away, it was suspended from the side of the next tower. Hanging by a parachute, swaying in the breeze. On scope, I confirmed the bizarre sight: the top third of a Mitasterite. His frayed, dark-stained uniform ended mid-chest. His expressionless face was lolled to the side. A piece of material was flapping. The parachute backpack had pulled up—still hanging on—so his arms were unnaturally raised like a doll’s. At any moment, I hoped, he would fall away.

Drop, you bastard. Get out of my sight.

“Satok,” someone said, coming up on my left. Hulk. “Well that’s one way to go.”

“Yeah. Damned quick.”

 

Endgame cover by Greg Simanson Designs. Cover shows characters, rockets and a woman's eye against a green-ice background and twin suns, orange lettering. "The war begins" is added at the top.

ENDGAME