Yes, I am a long time player of World of Warcraft. I have been playing for many years. As some of you might know, you can have multiple characters playing on the same game. After the last expansion, I created a Draenei character and named her "Theflamebook".   I have been leveling up this character during the time the editor was doing surgery on the book. 

     Shortly after the book was released, I was logged into WoW, and queued for a 25 man raid. In the excitement of the recent release, I could not help but talk about the book in Guild chat. 

    For those of you not familiar with World of Warcraft, I'll explain 'chat'. During play, there is a dialog window that scrolls different conversations you can watch and interact with. You can choose which channel of conversation you wish to talk in. The two channels I'm discussing are "Guild chat" and "Trade chat". Guild chat is a channel dedicated to a group of players who have come together and formed mini social societies within WoW. Trade chat used to be for buying and selling items; now it's for hecklers and internet trolls in training. There is a constant stream of sarcasm, off color and misogynistic banter that flows from this group. It's not for the faint of heart to speak up in this channel. 

    I had switched into guild chat and began telling anyone who would listen about my newly published book. I received warm congratulations and questions about it. One brave guildie actually bought a kindle version while I was playing. Talk about seventh heaven. Later, while in a raid, I would converse with the player in the background while downing the last boss. I can't tell you how strange it was to have my first reader conversation during a 25 man raid. Life throws you some wonderful stuff now and again.
    
        I decided to share my news with trade chat. 'Note to self, never post up anything in trade chat.'  No sooner than I'd spoken up about the book release than several people were trash talking my work. Quickly, the trolls had looked up the website to use as fodder for criticism. Rather than reply, I quickly took my bruised ego and ran off to play somewhere else. My abrupt departure from chat was heralded by some of the chatters as weakness. They gloated at their apparent power to intimidate me.  

     As I sulked with my bruised pride, I quested quietly. Then, I received a private message from one of the hecklers. They were actually apologizing for hurting my feelings. I was totally surprised to have one of the hecklers console me. We engaged in a long private conversation and in the end we left as good friends. What had started off as a low point had become one of the best moments and learning experiences I have had so far. 
    
     
     

     

 
 
     As my wife, and the editor, will be more than happy to tell you, my exuberance at wanting to share "The Flame" with the world is inexhaustible. I proved this once again on our August vacation.

    We have been preparing for this trip all summer. We are experimenting with van camping. You'd think this would be pretty straightforward. Stuff all your crap in your beloved van and drive off into one of life's grand adventures. Well…let's just say traveling in a van is not all sugar & spice. 

    First, there's what to bring, and how to pack it. Lisa and I have different ideas about what constitutes a want and a need. She thinks I would pack nothing but a big hunting knife and three matches. I think she needs a caravan of elephants to carry all the baggage. Then, there's how to pack the ship, where we want to go, reservations, etc, etc. After a summer of experiments with different supplies and packing techniques, I believe we're getting to the point of equilibrium and harmony. Now for the trip.

    Our destination was Campobello, the vacation home of the Roosevelt family. After watching all 14 hours of Ken Burns’ documentary "The Roosevelts", a movie our good friend Margaret worked on, we decided to make the trip. At this point we have negotiated, bartered, planned, begged and whined to van happiness. We would leave our midcoast home and travel downeast, meandering peacefully up the coast to stay at Cobscook State Park. 

     One hitch, our new born child, "The Flame”, is demanding time and energy. The vacation is planned though. We can't just leave the newest member of the family abandoned at the house to await our return. The book is not a cat to be left with a bowl of crunchies and water. Here we were wanting a romantic getaway as van traveling nomads, and now we are carrying an emotional fifth wheel. We had to make some accommodations in our plans to placate the wants of the book. 

     This is where Stephen King comes in. What would be more inspiring to a new book than to visit one of the most popular writers in the world? Stephen lives in Bangor, Maine which was right on our way. Why not? The well known home was only a few minutes out of our way. His beautiful wrought iron gates would make a great backdrop for a photograph with the newborn. Pointing the wheels northeast we started our voyage. Well, that is after some Thai food, checking our e-mails, and responding to facebook and twitter. 

     Our trusty I-pad navigated us right to Stephen's. The home is on a broad street lined with shade trees and old well maintained houses. At this point, I started getting a little nervous. We don't know Mr. King. Our van with attached cargo box could be viewed with suspicion. I had visions of large burly men waiting to repel us like college protesters. Perhaps law enforcement officers, all too familiar with unwanted fans, would take us away. 

     None of this came to pass. We quietly parked near the house and quickly took a few pictures in front of the impressive gate. Driving off, we were exhilarated to have accomplished our goal. It was humbling to be on the hallowed grounds of one of the great American authors. I can only hope a little bit of magic might rub off on "The Flame".

 
 
     Just two days after the book went live, the editor and I took a hiking trip to the AMC Madison Hut in the White Mountains of NH. Even as I write this post, my exuberance since the moment the book launched has not diminished. I, much to my wife's chagrin, talked about and promoted the book at every opportunity. 
     Two of the kindest people we met, Knock On Wood & Honeybuns, agreed to have this picture taken at the hut with the book. They too are on an adventure - a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail from GA to ME, just like I did years ago. I will now be following the blog of their journey. 
    Thank you very much Knock On Wood & Honeybuns. You're great people!
 
 
       It is finished. It has just begun. 
Sometime in October of 2013 the first words started flowing from my mind and into the word processor. Now in August 2015, twenty two months since it began, the book is published. This completes the conception and incubation of the book. The anticipation of delivery has been keeping me up at night for months. After a long and arduous delivery, the birth has happened. It is over, complete, finished. 

       I had no idea this fling with my own thoughts would produce a bundle of joy. It was all so easy in the beginning. As so many of these relationships start, I had some time on my hands. Why not put a few of these daydreams onto paper? What could it hurt? It could be fun. Why not?

      It was a lot of fun at first. The ideas flowed like champagne. Words and ideas poured onto the pages. Then the rough patches started to show up. I could see the relationship was starting to consume me. Doubt over my abilities and the number of years from my last english class showed in my work. 

        Before I knew it, the manuscript was complete, thus committing me to see this child into the light of day. The hard work began. What started as fun was now an editing stone to be rolled up the hill only to tumble down again and again. These were the hard months. Now that I could no longer hide my words from the family, I enlisted many of my closest supporters. We all worked together to make sure this child was born healthy and ready to take on the world. 

        I couldn’t wait for the day to arrive. I thought it would never come, but finally it did. 

       But wait! It is not over. The end is the beginning. Since the delivery it needs feeding and nourishment all the time.  It’s demands for a public are insatiable. Even as I long for a sense of accomplishment, it demands my attention. Thus begins the new chapter in the life of the book. I must do my utmost to see that it’s read by those who may enjoy it. Time will tell if I have succeeded in bringing this creative endeavor to fruition. 

    Here’s to endings, and here’s to beginnings.