Friends –

I thought I’d give you an update on what I’m doing in my retirement. Many of you know that I’ve been writing, and I’m enjoying it tremendously. After years of being constrained by facts in my work, it’s nice to be able to make things up.

I have four novels and several short stories in process. To be honest, I didn’t write all that since I retired this year. I had two almost finished novels and an outline for a third on my computer. I started the first of those in 2001, but got too busy writing science to finalize them.

So, what’s my new day job like? Mostly, I do chores in the mornings and write in the afternoon and sometimes in the evening. Now, “write” can mean making up new stuff, or editing stuff I’ve made up, or working on my Web site.

I’ve decided to self-publish my work. The publishing industry is still in turmoil because of the disruptive force of eBooks. The winners are authors who are willing to do the hard work of e-publishing their own work. I got plenty of practice in the mechanics of putting out a quality product while I was running Oilfield Review. Self-publishing allows a greater sense of control than one gets with a traditional publisher, and the rewards are also bigger for the author. I may go to a publishing house some time in the future, but for now, I’m going the indie route.

I will have help. I’ve been working with an editor on the first of my novels that will come out the door. I’m thankful to Catherine for her encouraging words, but more importantly for her critiques and comments that have helped me improve my work. I’ll have editors who help me in the rest of the editing process, all the way to proofreading. I’ll also get a professional cover artist. I’ll do all that because I want my readers to have an excellent experience all the way around.

Let me tell you a little about what I’m planning to do. In the Spring, I will have a short story and a novel that go to Amazon simultaneously. The short story is a prequel to the novel, and I will give it away. Free. I hope it will encourage a larger audience for the novel.

The basic plot is that Merlin shows up in Houston looking for King Arthur. For those wondering where an idea like that arose, I have a story. I was in a couple of writer’s groups back from 1999 through 2001. At one of them, we had a presentation that ended with all of us scribbling an opening scene onto a blank piece of paper. An image popped into my head of Merlin walking up to a guy on the streets of Houston and saying “I’m Merlin. I need your help” (… to find Arthur). The book actually starts with a slightly different line: “I’m Merlin. You must help me.” Next, I had to deal with the bulk of the novel: why were Merlin and Arthur in 21st century Houston, and why did Merlin need the help of a seemingly random Houstonian? You’ll have to wait for publication to get the answers.

Many of you have looked at my Web site. I have two freebies posted there. One is called Revenge, or Who’s Got the Money. As you might imagine, it’s a revenge fantasy, but with a twist. The other story is quite different. The Great Adventure is a fairy tale about an owl’s life. I wrote it while thinking about a relative suffering from senility.

The best way to find out about additional freebies, and to get notice before everyone else when they are available either on my Web site or on Amazon, is to sign up. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up.

Finally, today we celebrate Human Rights Day. This day is a reminder that everyone should enjoy inherent dignities and rights. It’s a constant fight against tyranny around the world, and even in this country we occasionally backslide. The UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and two years later established December 10 as Human Rights Day. Read the text of the declaration at .