Friday, April 29, 2011

Philosophies for a Peaceful Life Part 1

*Worry is pointless and detrimental to your health.*

     There are two kinds of situations that call for worrying. The kind you can change and the kind you can't. If you find yourself in a worrisome situation that you can fix, then make a plan, take action, and allow yourself to stop worrying.
     If on the other hand, the situation is completely out of your control, CHILL OUT! If there's nothing you can do, there's nothing you can do. Worrying about it will only do you harm. ((It has been proven that excessive worrying releases cortisol into your blood stream. This harmful chemical causes aging, cancer, high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack, and reduces the efficiency of your immune system.))

*Anger is a useless emotion*

     Anger is one of the most basic human emotions. It's hardwired into our brains by our biology. Fortunately for us, we have logic and reason on our side. Here's the thing. The world is full of lovely, kind, people who want nothing more than to sprinkle sunshine over the world.  The world is also full of jack-holes who take pleasure in ruining your day. If they ruin your day, they win. Don't let them win.
     Try to let rude, accusatory, self-entitled, and confrontational people pass into and out of your life without leaving negativity stains on your emotional carpet. Spray yourself down with mental scotch-guard. The best defense for this is pity. Horrible people have horrible lives. Maybe they have more money, better cars, a nicer house, a prettier wife, than you, but for some reason, they are unable to appreciate what they have. That is something to be pitied.
     Another defense is thankfulness. Be grateful that you didn't accidentally marry someone that negative. ((unless you did, then I'm really sorry)) Be grateful that person's unhappiness isn't YOUR unhappiness.

     Most of the time, the situations that anger us are not caused intentionally. They are caused by small, insensitive, and repeated slights from those we love. Instead of allowing these situations to cause familial discord, ignore them. Which will take you longer, fighting with your spouse about taking the garbage out, or taking it out yourself? I ask myself this. Would I rather have an evening full of yelling and hurtfulness, or a happy evening together? This works in reverse as well. If your spouse/roommate/parent asks you to do something that you don't really feel like doing, just get it done. It will make everyone happier in the long run.
    Another option is to just let their chore go undone. Perhaps they'll get to it eventually. Let people work within their own time frames. They are your spouse, not your employee.
     If someone hurts your feelings, try to remember, that they didn't do it intentionally. They probably didn't even realize they were being hurtful. Rather than take the offensive, consider first. Are you being reasonable? Are your hurt feelings really his/her fault or are you being oversensitive? Is it important enough to ruin the rest of your day over?

     Sometimes it is their fault. Sometimes it is a big deal. Just remember, once people start yelling, they stop listening. Once the yelling starts, it becomes a contest, and everybody likes to win.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

I turn 30 in an hour. I guess it's supposed to be a big deal but it doesn't feel like one. When my mom turned 30 she went out with a group of friends, got drunk,  and got a tattoo. I don't think I'll be going to that extreme. :)

I'm thinking cake with my family and writing.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Madden '12

Madden and ESPN are holding a vote to decide who is going to grace the cover of Madden 2012. They are down to two finalists. Michael Vick of the Eagles and Peyton Hillis from the Browns. I'm not really a football fan and I don't play Madden but I DETEST Michael Vick. I don't care how much money he donates or time he volunteers. I have no respect for someone who would hurt and kill animals the way he did. Taking sweet puppies and turning them into aggressive fighting dogs is twisted. So, boo for Michael Vick and everyone should go to

and vote for Peyton Hillis.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Are writers allowed to take sick days?

I haven't written anything in 4 days. My allergy meds have been knocking me on my ass. Mostly I've been sniffling and sleeping. It makes me wonder something though. How do people who take 10 years to write a single book manage to keep the enthusiasm burning? For the past 3 days, perhaps because I'm not writing, ideas for other books keep popping into my head. I've been jotting them down as they come to me... about 3 a day... but how do I keep my internal obsession focused on the RIGHT idea. And once I do get to those other books, how do I reignite the excitement for them?

I hope this makes sense. :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Is There Something Holding You Back?

When I was a kid, all I ever wanted to be was a writer. When I grew up, I convinced myself that it was a pipe dream and created more achievable goals. I went to college for years and changed my major 8 times. I had so many ideas for stories, books, screenplays, and I never even started one. I wrote for class. Often. If I compiled every essay, research paper, oral presentation, and writing assignment, I could create 2 full length, and boring novels. My diaries could make ten.

Why were the research papers easy, while the fiction was so hard? It's the same thing. Writing a blog, writing an essay, writing a novel. You give your audience what they want. Why is giving an analysis of the themes in Macbeth  easier than telling a story? Answer: it isn't. It was all in my head.

When I wanted to write fiction I would sit at my computer and NOT write. I would judge every line. I couldn't get through an entire paragraph without needing to reread the entire thing and pronounce myself useless. I expected perfection without experience.

I have learned a little in the past month. It doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to get done. It's okay if my first draft is complete garbage because every edit will be better than the one before. You have to mine a lot of dirt to get diamonds. Giving myself permission to suck has freed me.

So, while I'm qualified to give advice about very little, I AM qualified to give advice about this: If this sounds familiar to you, anonymous reader, if you too have struggled with the passion to write but the inability to actually finish something, JUST WRITE. Write anything. Write badly. If the scene isn't coming to you, just describe what you can and move on. If you aren't sure what comes next, skip to a scene that you'll be able to write more easily. Give yourself permission to suck.

Now I have an hour before I need to leave for work, and I'm going to go write something terrible.  ;)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

While I should have been working...

Here's what I was doing last night when I should have been working. The best book covers I've seen all have people in them, but there's no way I'd be able to work on something that complicated. There's a local artist I might try to commission for something more professional.

Chapter 1

Monday, April 11, 2011

Speaking of Product Descriptions...

This is the trial blurb that I have on my website, what do you think?

One thousand years in the future, an extraordinary woman will have to make a choice between losing her humanity or her life. Lythian Kennett is a vampire trapped in a world she despises. A fatal misstep draws her out of the shadows and into the fight of her life. Persued by a relentless adversary, one mistake could cost her not only her own life, but those of her companions as well. 

She never asked to be their leader. 

She never asked to be their savior. 

But then again, she never asked to be a vampire... 


I'm conflicted. I'm getting to the 1/2 way point in my novel Out of the Shadows, and I'm torn on what to do with it when it's done. How do I want to release it? There's the classic method, send it off to agents, cross your fingers, have them send it off to publishers, cross your fingers, then wait, and wait, and wait. Or there's the kindle self-pub method, stick it online, market, market, market, and cross your fingers.

People tend to be in one camp or the other. Either they think self-pubbing is for the desperate and untalented, OR they think that letting a publishing house control and profit off of your work is stupid. I don't know where I stand.

I believe that some of the traditional publishing methods are inefficient. They could definitely stand to have their entire business completely remodeled. Just because a business is running in the black, doesn't mean that it couldn't be streamlined. It also takes forever to start seeing any actual money.

When it comes to kindle publishing, I  believe that making a self-pubbed kindle book profitable over the long term would be hard. Marketing, networking and the like is fantastic if you're a likable person with interesting opinions, but what if you aren't? What if you can tell a story like nobody's business, but are otherwise an enormously boring person? What if you can't get anyone to even check out your book on Amazon?

When I ask myself which is more important, the thrill of having my book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble, or the possibility of making a steady monthly paycheck with my writing, I'm lost. But, if I look at it from a failure stand point, my options do start to come a little clearer.

What if I submit to 100 agents and no one wants to rep me? What if I publish on kindle and make $2 a month? What if I publish traditionally, DO manage to sell my novel to a publisher, get the standard $5-7k, the book doesn't earn out, and they kick me to the curb? What do my options become then?

So, I've decided on a middle of the road compromise. Instead of choosing one over the other I'm going to hedge my bets. I'm setting a time limit. From the day I send out my first bunch of queries, I'll wait 3 months. If I haven't gotten a positive response back from an agent within that time frame, I will post my work up on kindle. This will give me time to further polish my novel, format it, design cover art, release a second teaser chapter,  do some market research, create an irresistible product description, immerse myself more fully into message boards, blogs, and get my name out to more people.

What does everyone else think? Which is the more appealing choice? If three years ago, this choice didn't even exist, and now it's this hard to chose to between them, what will the state of publishing be in another 3 years?

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Yesterday was only a 1/2 day for writing. I had to go grocery shopping in the afternoon and then to work afterwards. I did manage to get over 2,000 words in just a few hours but this success pales in comparison to my other accomplishment of the day...

My website is FINISHED!!! and uploaded. I am so very excited.

Jimmie Hammel's Website

There are links to my facebook account if anyone wants to friend me, and I posted a few pieces of fiction as well.

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I spent all day yesterday in front of my computer. I had two things that I wanted to get done. I knew I wouldn't do both so I let myself choose.

#1- Get some writing done on the first book in a series I'm working on. (Escaping Death: The Lythian Kennett Chronicles... futuristic, dystopian, space drama, with vampires, zombies, and flying cars. It's so much fun to write. I can't wait to see what people of think of the finished product.)

#2 - Design and Upload my new website. 

I have managed to design the website in my head. That's an important first step. Figuring out what I want it to look like is always the hardest part for me, but I didn't get anything down on paper, metaphorically speaking. I spent the day working on my novel. 

This is good, and also disheartening. I don't write very quickly. I'll be lucky to churn out 250 words in an hour. The most I've done in a single day (before yesterday) was about 1k. They aren't easy words either. They're hard, wrung sponge for a brain hard. A couple hours of that and my head hurts. There's a reason for it, I don't draft. When I write, every word comes out exactly the way I want it on my first try. It might take me longer, but I don't have to do much editing later. I can just move around a couple of sentences, maybe reorder some paragraphs. 

I got online yesterday afternoon and found some numbers. 1k isn't bad for literary fiction writers, however, 3k-15k seems to be the standard for genre. I decided that I needed to step up my game. I googled ((you would think Google would have added that verb to the spell check dictionary for their Chrome web browser)) writing speed to find some more stats on average daily production for writers and found a cute little site where people  posted the writing quirks of different famous authors. Evidently, all writers are obsessed with their speed. I found one mention of a man who would pull his hat down over his eyes while he was typing so he couldn't read what he had already written. Why not?

I fetched a scarf from my bedroom, put in my ear buds. I like to listen to eerie, atmospheric, wordless, goth music while I write. Then I tied the scarf around my eyes. I spent a minute giggling at the silliness of it, then I wrote 1300 words in an hour. They aren't perfect words, but neither are they bad. In fact, the darkness, coupled with the music, helped me see my scenes more clearly. I'm gonna try it for a few hours this morning. Hopefully I'll be able to get to the point where I'm disciplined enough to just keep my eyes closed. I'll post my results before I go to work tonight. Wish me luck.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Web Page

For the past week I've been thinking about increasing my internet presence and what that might entail. I decided I needed a few new accounts: an email, a blog, a youtube, a twitter, a facebook, and a website. Signing up for the first few was easy peasy. The website... not so much. I didn't want to sign up for a tripod account. I've done that a couple times before. I wanted something entirely mine. WWW.JIMMIEHAMMEL.COM... It was a huge pain in the ass.

First you have to choose a domain registrar, then you need site host, most hosts offer registrar services but there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of these companies! Which to choose? It's hard to tell because the online reviews for several of my first picks, appeared to be faked. They just seemed to complimentary. I finally did find one that I liked. They'll register your domain name for $8.99 a year and the monthly charge for their hosting services is based on the amount of space you use and the number of hits you get. It's super cheap for someone just starting out. If it ever starts to cost more $7 a month, I can switch to an unlimited hosting service.

So I get my hosting service and they register my domain name, all is swell. Now I need an ftp uploading program... that's something I never had to bother with when using Tripod. They had a pretty user friendly GUI. But I try out one called "fling"... couldn't figure it out. At this point I'm feeling a wee bit frustrated. Turns out my "site" is called something different and my domain is an alias... I need to link my site to my domain... then I need a username and password which are not the ones I chose but ones they assigned me... and some kind of file key... lolz... I wanted to rip out my own hair. But my host recommends a different ftp uploader called WinSCP so I try that one out and voila, I manage to get all this stuff entered into the right boxes and my "under construction" page uploaded.

But then it's been a couple years since I created my own website so of course I named it MAIN when it should have been named INDEX and spent another hour trying to figure out why I was still getting an error message when I tried to look at it...

But there is an upside. I now understand the mechanics a bit better. I have full control over my site and no one can put advertisements on it except for me. I have a central hub from which I can easily refer people to all my different social networking sites. It'll take me a day or so to create a fully functioning website to replace the "under construction" place holder but I'm excited. Can't wait to show my mom!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Something Old, Something New

When I was 16 I desperately wanted to be a writer and a friend of a friend of my grandmother's had published 7 or so books. My grandmother started sending me autographed copies of this woman's work and though I was initially skeptical, they turned out to be amazing. My family took a trip to Kansas one summer and while we were there my grandmother took me and my new favorite author out to dinner. To be honest, it was 14 years ago and I don't remember a thing that we talked about. I do have a picture commemorating the event. (Why oh why did I ever think that skunk hairdo was cute?) At the time, most of her books had gone out of print and she wasn't publishing anymore. We kept in touch on AIM for a few years and at one point she let me read a draft of a screenplay she had written. (I cannot begin to tell you how giddy I was at that opportunity.)
A few days ago I was perusing the kindle store and discovered that she is writing again. She has two new books for sale. I snapped them up immediately and I am elated. I have the day off tomorrow and I will be spending the entire day in bed so I can gobble them both up. I can't wait to review her on Amazon.

Her name is S. K. Epperson. She has written some of the best novels I have ever read. Her most popular novel is Borderland and it's amazing. I think they file her under horror but she isn't just scary. Her novels are crosses between horrors, mysteries, and psychological thrillers. Borderland has just a touch of paranormal tossed in there too (the ghost of a woman who was murdered 200 years before).

Check her out @