When I look at the last line of my last blog post I can’t help laughing at myself. Keeping my butt in the chair and fingers on the keyboard has been quite a challenge all year, but especially in the last six months or so. Yet I still feel pretty good about things. My writing pace wasn’t what I had hoped for in January, but I have still produced some new marketable material and gotten my first indie e-pub up for sale. Here’s a bit of a recap:

This past year was wacky busy from the get go for me and has stayed that way. I spent a few weeks on the East Coast and in Florida in January and February doing some consulting work. It was a chance to see some things in and around the Everglades as well as visit the Florida Gulf coastal area, both of which I had been wanting to visit for decades. In February I traveled to South America for a couple weeks from Peru south almost to Tierra Del Fuego, visiting dozens of interesting historical, agricultural and natural sites, the most breath-taking being Peru’s Machu Picchu, Saqsaywaman and Koricancha.

For a couple of weeks in April I was the chief chauffeur and water boy across the US Southwest for my three most beloved Norwegian-American women, hiking in the desert slot canyons, and visiting petroglyph sites (and there was also a relatively spectacular evening atop the Strat in Las Vegas that is probably best not described in detail).

In June I attended a short story workshop with Kristine Kathryn Rusch in wonderful Lincoln City, OR, staying at the delightful Anchor Inn. If you are ever on the Oregon coast, you really owe yourself a night or two at the Anchor Inn. It is both very reasonably priced, and at the same time a priceless motel experience. Check out their website for a little hint of what I mean.

In July I drove to Lincoln City again for a workshop on Independent E-publishing honchoed by Dean Wesley Smith and Scott Carter. So far I have one “product” for sale as a result of this training; it is a novelette called “Feolito’s Gift.​” See the home page for a description. I’m working on a couple more packages to get up for sale in coming weeks, but have been side tracked by a series of events.

In May and June a friend and her two energetic young sons stayed with us as they worked out some difficulties that were making it impossible to remain in their home. It’s been a while since we have had youngsters rumbling around the house. Yet, I managed to get several stories written in those weeks, and I’m working them over now for submissions to assorted venues. Yet, it was still a nice slowing of the pace in August when the wife and I flew to Maui. We really relaxed for the first time in several months. We relaxed alone for the first week and then were joined by our son and his wife who upped the pace. They put my wife on a tow line and parachute behind a boat and flew her around Lahaina and environs for a half hour or so. Me, they hung from zip lines over the rain forest and tried to see what an old man looks like when he cries.

In mid-September we met our daughter and her handsome gentleman friend at the Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We saw all nine of this year’s plays and visited historic Jacksonville a couple times as well. In the off hours we played some heavy duty Settlers of Catan that nearly took us to blows a time or two… we are Settlers fanatics… but all managed hugs and hopes for more games around the holidays when we next get together. After putting the young ones on the plane for home, the wife and I drove via some wineries to the coast and hung out another couple nights at the Anchor Inn (yes, it is that much fun). Then we turned inland and drove through the smoke-filled Northwest to visit her sister and brother in Yakima where we barbequed a pizza and watched his horses try to find the grass in the smoke (Barbequed pizza? Yeah that’s what I thought too, but it was great).

I’ve been mostly home since then, trying to figure out how to pay for all of the above. Some good news have been the sales trickling in from “Feolito’s Gift” and the sale last week of another short story, to the resurrected Perihelion on-line magazine. There was a nice acceptance letter from editor Sam Bellotto. If you are a writer, Sam’s looking for more humorous sci-fi, in the 5,​000 to 8,​000 word range.

I’m looking forward to life slowing a bit as we get wrapped in winter. Hopefully that will give me more time to write. I confess it is hard for me to stay focused because of a wife that likes to “DO” things and a community that has come to “count on” my occasional volunteerism in a couple of arenas. I don’t do all that much, but it works on me psychologically (slacker’s guilt trip), giving me easy excuses not to sit my keister down to write (which, then, of course, invokes a writer’s guilt trip). Also, when our rare opportunities to spend time with our grown kids (son 28 and daughter 33) come along, I try to pretty much drop everything and give them the time I was forced to be so stingy with when I had a fully ramped up professional life before retiring 5 years ago. I never feel guilty about doing things with my kids. They are the crown jewels of my life.

Okay, time to herd leaves into plastic bags for a couple hours. I rake some every day for a month or so on our acreage (It would be more streamlined if the trees would get their act together and all shed at the same time). Then, off to an organizational meeting in town for our spring art festival. Then, back home to put butt in chair and fingers on keyboard until the dog nuzzles my arm, letting me know she wants me to come to bed to keep her and the woman warm.

Bob Sojka

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