Just letting my readers know, I’m still alive

Some of my author friends are very prolific when it comes to writing blogs and having something to say everyday in social media. I’m not among them. It’s not that I don’t write–I’ve been writing seven days a week––on short stories, novels, and novellas. But I’ve never been comfortable talking about myself. Yes, I know in today’s reality, social media and branding the author is important to marketing. But blogs––I have this thought that eyes will glaze over if I blog too frequently. But after more than a year of not posting here, it’s probably wise to send up smoke signals and say, I’m still here. I’m very close to new titles coming, so in the name of branding, I thank you for your moments reading this.

Secure in my home, my heart and mind are not far from terrible events. In particular, this weekend we witnessed the terrible loss of life and homes from tornadoes in the South. My daughter Amy has a friend in Tennessee who said the most destructive tornado struck less than 50 miles away. That’s a little too close when your local weather forecaster says, take shelter immediately. Fortunately, her friend is okay.

My wife and I are also grateful to be in good health (knock on wood). I’ve lost two good friends recently, and I’ve lost several other friends to Covid-19. Others survived after being infected, but were very ill. One friend has lingering and debilitating effects continuing after months. My words and their words are get vaccinated! It’s like a recurring bad dream to be saying that month after month. The virus will eventually find you if you’re not protected. Stop playing Russian Roulette. Enough lecture for today.

Two other dear friends I learned this week face serious medical issues. One is in diagnosis and one went went under the knife today. My brother-in-law is also struggling with health issues. People should find only joy and happiness with their families this time of year, not facing terror because of health problems. Say a prayer for everyone facing health problems. I hope you’re not among them. As we climb out of the pandemic, 2022 will hopefully be a year when we can resume gatherings, breaking bread together, hugs, and standing under the mistletoe without worry.

The house is ready for Christmas. Christmas shopping is nearly complete. Meanwhile, I try to get closer to my sweet daughters from my first marriage who live among the Rocky Mountains. And I’m resigned to watch just about every Hallmark Christmas movie ever made. My wife Carol loves them, but I confess that they’ve grown on me enough to postpone epic adventure movies. Yes, we must all make sacrifices. LOL! I’m only kidding, Carol. *kiss*

Most mornings are devoted to working on my latest story. Currently, I’m working on a short anthology horror piece (Carol is writing one also). Our workshop leader, and mentor, author Catherine Jordan (Cathy), is planning to publish an anthology of horror based on the theme, open doors, in 2022. We hope our “stabs” at this genre are selected for the anthology. If you want to become a better writer, turn to a mentor or someone who has the experience to give you wise advise. Being around other writers is one of the best ways to remain inspired to write.

I haven’t been that comfortable with writing horror over the years, but our mentor and workshop leader has encouraged me to consider it. A short story completed in the workshop this fall focused on a theme I abhorred for years–—vampire stories. Then I got over my literary snobbery and created a short tale about a vampire-obsessed young man who is shocked to encounter a real vampire queen in Romania. The story, titled “Black Swan,” has been accepted for consideration. No guarantees it will be published, however. Being considered is an important step for a writer–kind of like an actor being given a call back for a role.

A fun part of writing this story was a consultation with author, Iuliana Foos, a native of Romania, now an American citizen, who published a trilogy of vampire tales. English was not her native language, but she has successfully published an impressive string of science fiction books because she was so determined to succeed.

In the second half of 2021, I also completed a science fiction novel and submitted it to the same publisher who published my sci-fi novella, OLYMPUS, in 2020. DLG Publishing also publishes books by Foos. My latest novel, AZIZA AND THE CAVES OF MARS, is about the first humans to set foot on Mars and discover an entire civilization living below the surface. It’s also a love story. This title will hopefully be among book titles in 2022.

Daughter Amy, coming off her accomplishment of publishing a fantasy novel, SOULBOUND: TOWER’S END, continues her digital art success and has designed a cover for AZIZA, which the publisher is considering (her publisher used her design for her own novel).

Another project, a trilogy of romance novels set in the 1960s, are titled HEART IN THE JUNGLE. A publisher had previously accepted the first novel, subtitled MOUNTAIN CITY, from this series, but then the pandemic hit. They decided to focus more on nonfiction, so the manuscript sat dormant while I focused on other writing projects and promoting my published work. The positive side of any setback is, no story is every truly finished. There are always more tweaks or chapter rewrites possible before it hits the presses. For this novel, I completely rewrote the first and last chapters, added a chapter, consolidated characters, and looked for ways to polish every paragraph in the book. After the rewrites, my thought is, this book needs an agent! Based on life in my hometown when I was 19, during the turbulent 1960s, my perception is publishers who like the genre and style of this fiction require submissions only by a literary agent. I think this novel may be my best work, but I’m ready to consider whatever opportunity is offered.

Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Publishing a work of fiction takes a lot of work and a lot of time devoted to it. That’s more true than ever in traditional publishing, but in the life of someone retired from the 8 to 5 world, there is no retirement from something I love to do. Travel has been out of the question in 2020-21, but a week or month “stuck” at home is just another normal week or month for a writer. I write because I must.

Whether or not anyone values my words is for others to decide, just as it is for a painter or a musician. As long as the brain functions, and the winds or waters don’t carry off the house, I’m still writing. I try to look ahead with what I call forward hindsight. What I mean by that is, if you feel a sense of accomplishment at any point in your life, it moves the hard work and setbacks into a different perspective that are no longer painful. Keeping an awareness of how life works is one way to remain unfamiliar with the word “discouraged.”

Merry Christmas and happy holidays no matter how you choose to celebrate. May 2022 be your best year yet!

Fred J. Lauver

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