April Patron Support

Hey everybody!

It’s the 8th of the month, which means it’s time to give my Patreon supporters a short story.

This month, I chose How NOT To Rescue A Damsel In Distress, the first short story I ever wrote and the first of my Larian Elesir stories.  I really like this one, because it’s sort of fun and has an unexpected resolution.  And because it brings up a bit of nostalgia within me.  Call me sentimental.

Of course, you can buy the story pretty much everywhere.  And it’s in my Short Story 10-Pack and A Jar Of Mixed Treats collections.  But if you ask me there’s just something cool about being a patron of the arts.  So I suggest you go over to Patreon and sign up to support me there.

If you do, I’ll love you long time.  😉

Insanity

Those who know me know I generally keep fairly active.  I do triathlons and running races, train in martial arts, lift weights, things like that.  I also enjoy beer and wine and love good food.  Lots of good food.  Consequently, though I’m in pretty good shape in terms of strength and endurance (my resting heart rate the other day at the doctor’s office was 56), I’ve always had more of a twelve-pack than a six-pack, if you know what I mean.

Hell, in 2008, when I checked off the submarine at the end of my Department Head tour, I had more like a pony keg.  I got a big wakeup call when I transferred to that shore duty, let me tell you.  I had the trifecta of anti-fitness occur, all at once: I went over 30, served as Department Head on a submarine, and got married.  Any one of those three might have been easily overcome, but all together?  *headshake*

November 2008 - Ugh

November 2008 – Ugh

I weighed in at 240 lbs when I checked in to my new command in November of that year, and measured something like 26% body fat.  Unsat.  So I hopped on Weightwatchers, got back into running more, really started hitting the weight room, and by April I’d dropped to 215 and gotten back within the Navy body fat limits.

October 2009, while sailing my sailboat from Annapolis, MD to Charleston, SC

October 2009, while sailing my sailboat from Annapolis, MD to Charleston, SC – much better

At that point, I figured I should keep going, get back below 200 lbs for the first time since 1999.  But I didn’t feel a lot of pressure to do so, so I didn’t.  Subsequently, I transferred to Upstate New York for a couple years, then here to San Diego.  I put some lbs back on (depends on the time of year), but by and large I’ve stayed at the same overall place since 2009.  Except I’m in much better shape now than I was then.  Not as good as when I was  Junior Officer on shore duty (3 marathons in 24 months and five days a week in the dojo will have a good affect on a body), but still pretty darn good.  I beat much younger guys at the Navy PRT (not that this is all that difficult a feat…the PRT ain’t exactly hard).

But, all the same, a few things have been nagging at me.

First, Pull-ups.

I’ve always sucked at pull-ups.  Situps?  I make sit-ups my bitch.  Pushups?  I can crank out a lot.  But Pull-ups… Oy, pull-ups.  Back in 2009, I managed to get to the point where I could do 3-4, but that was the best I’ve ever done with pull-ups.  Well, I guess a month and a half ago, I got to thinking I was sick and tired of sucking at pull-ups, and I found this guy’s website where he described how he made his own pull-up bar using materials from Home Depot.  I thought, “What the hell,” and built one myself the next week, drawing off his plans.

Pull-Up Bar

At the time of it’s completion, I could maybe do 2 pull-ups at once.  But that’s ok.  I decided I’d do 10 sets of 1 every day.  Doing that would inevitably enable me to up my reps, over time.  And sure enough, it worked.  Within a week I was doing sets of two.  Now, I’m doing sets of 3 or 4, depending on the day.  I intend to continue working on them until I’m up to Marine Corps standards (technically I’m past their minimum spec, which if memory serves is three or four pull-ups for the PFA.  Or is it 5?  Regardless, I can do that minimum now.  But they get max points at 20, so that’s what I’m shooting for).  I figure I can be there by the time I get back from deployment in April.

Yes, deployment.  More on that later.

Anyway, I’d been making such good progress on the pull-up front that I got to thinking about the the second thing that keeps irking me: the twelve pack.  And I started thinking about what I’m going to do on deployment.  Obviously I’m going to write a lot.  Read a lot.  Work a lot.  But also work OUT a lot.  And that led to thinking about what manner of workout I wanted to do onboard ship, since i hate – and I meant HATE – treadmills and stationary bikes.

And then I remembered Insanity.

I heard some of the guys at work talking about Insanity and P-90X and the like, but never took part in them.  I had no interest.  But for whatever reason, the middle of last month I got to thinking about it, and I went online.  I found some articles reviewing the Insanity workout, watched some YouTube videos that people made documenting their Insanity experience (he series of videos I enjoyed best was by this lady named Nkechi Kwenu – she’s pretty funny).

And, again, I thought, “What the hell,” and ordered the DVDs.

The Admiral here at home wanted to participate as well, but she had a half-marathon to finish training for and run last weekend, so we didn’t start until this week.

I’m here to tell you, I’ve done some intense workouts over the years.  Conditioning and Sparring at Masters Studios of Self Defense in Charleston (my all-time favorite dojo) kicked my butt thoroughly.  As did each marathon I’ve run, and the Olympic length triathlons.  So I know how to deal with a hard workout.  No lie, Insanity is legit.  A good, hard workout, across the entire body.

It’s hard.  Totally doable, but hard.  And that’s good.

Today (it’s past midnight now but it’s still Saturday night so I’m thinking of today as Saturday even though technically it’s really Sunday) was day 6, and it was a repeat of the circuit workout we did on Tuesday.  Already I can tell it was just a little bit easier than it was just a few days ago.  Easier in that I was able to push a little bit harder before failure, if you know what I mean.

So that’s what I’m up to now.  I’m back on weight watchers, cranking on pull-ups, and working Insanity.  All with the goal of really getting back below 200 lbs by the end of my deployment.  After all, the Admiral at home, post kid #4, has become a PT machine and trimmed down to a size 2, which is smaller than she was when we met in bygone days of yore.  I should probably return the favor.

It’s going to be a lot of fun.  And now that I’ve finished blasting The Pericles Conspiracy at you, I figure I’ll bother you with workout reports for a while.

🙂

Hope you don’t mind.

Now, it’s time to hit the rack.  Later.

Book Bloggers and Publishers

Interesting article in the UK Guardian yesterday about the relationship between book bloggers and publishers.  Apparently there’s a bit of a spat over something that Harper Collins said.  In a letter to various book bloggers, HC set out their new policies about review copies.  Basically they’re saying they’re not going to just send out review copies willy-nilly anymore (did they ever?) but rather only send copies that the bloggers request, that they’d like reviews posted within a month of receiving the review copy and ideally within 2 weeks of the book release, and that they’ll be tracking who they sent review copies too and verifying that everyone actually posts a review who got one.  If someone receives review copies and doesn’t post a review, they may be removed from the mailing list for future review copies.

Apparently a lot of book bloggers are taking umbrage over this.  There’s a lot of “I ain’t your bitch” and “I don’t work for you” talk.  And frankly, I don’t understand why.  Nothing in that letter seems unreasonable to me.

Ok guys, you may not work for the publishers in the traditional sense, but they are paying you (in the form of early copies of their books for free) and they have a right to expect a satisfactory service in return for that payment.  Not a good review, but good service.  They are perfectly within their rights to request that service within a reasonable amount of time that supports their business needs, since that is the whole purpose for paying you.  They are also perfectly within their rights to verify that everyone who gets paid actually provides the service for which they are being paid, and to terminate the business relationship if they are not doing so.  Seriously, I don’t understand the outcry.

Dear readers, do you have any insights here that I may be missing?  Because if not, it seems to me this is much ado over nothing and, if I may be so bold, a rather sorry display of entitlement on the part of some bloggers.  Seriously folks, publishers aren’t your bitches.

Pen Name and a Facebook Faux Pas

When I decided to start this writing thing, I determined that I was going to use a pen name.  For a couple reasons:

  1. I have a professional career already, and don’t really want to intertwine my writing with that career.
  2. If I actually become really good, sell bazillions of ebooks, get signed to lucrative print contracts, do book tours, and all that, I really don’t want my family to be exposed to lots of limelight.  I’m down with riches.  Fame?  You can keep that.  From everything I’ve seen, fame is far too annoying.

I know what you’re thinking: aren’t you getting ahead of yourself with concern #2?  Well yes, probably.  But it’s better to be prepared early than to have to scramble to make adjustments later.  It’s the Boy Scout in me.  🙂

So I decided on Michael Kingswood as my pen name.  That came out of a funny little game we played back in the day to figure out what our porn star screen name should be.  It was either in college or on my first submarine, I don’t remember which.  The way you determine your porn star screen name is to take your middle name as your first name, and the street you grew up on as your last name.  My middle name is Michel, but that’s French for Michael, so Michael it is.  When I was a wee little one, we lived on Kingswood Road.  Hence, Michael Kingswood.  That would be a totally kick-ass porn star name.  But it also makes a decent pen name.  It’s easier to say and spell than my real name, for one thing (everyone’s always mis-pronouncing my real name).  And it has a nice ring to it.

So I dutifully started this blog, set up a twitter account and a goodreads account, and started a new Facebook account.

There’s where I went wrong.  After a few weeks of getting friends and joining a couple groups on Facebook, I discovered the rule that a single person can only have one personal account.  I should have started a page instead, since I wouldn’t qualify for a business account.  So late last week, I went through the convulsions necessary to extricate myself from that faux pas.  It wasn’t that hard: I just had to re-friend everyone as myself and explain what happened.  But I felt like a jackass.

Then I set up My Author Page on Facebook.  It exists now, and I’ve got a couple people who apparently like me.  So it’s all good.

Of course, I need at least 25 people to like it in order to get a username for that page.  The username bit will make it easier to link to (and I think allow me to automatically post to it from WordPress; right now wordpress posts to twitter and my personal facebook account.  It’d be nice if it posted directly to the author page, though).  So if you’re reading this, stop on by my facebook page and like it, will ya?

Oh, and if you want to be pals on Goodreads and twitter, I’m down for that, too.

🙂

Ok, I’ve slacked off enough now.  Back to work.

A New Beginning

Hello.  I’m Michael Kingswood.  No, that’s not my real name, but it’s the one I write under, so for our purposes here it’ll do.  I’m an aspiring writer and novelist.

For a long time, I’ve loved fiction of all kinds, but particularly science fiction and fantasy.  I’ve toyed with the idea for a long time of writing my own stories and books, but never really did anything about it until last year.  Around the middle of the year, I started working on a tale, but quickly lost traction.  I kept thinking about it off and on, though, and over the Holidays, I started over.  In the month since I began again, I’ve put down 15,000 words, and there are a lot more to come.

The purpose of this site is to document my progress in writing and publishing my stories, and to discuss related news topics of all kinds.  Enjoy!  I know I will.