Communion Of Dreams

Happy (re)Birthday to me …

A year ago yesterday, I met my cardiologist for the first time. After looking over the results of my stress echo-cardiogram and discussing what it possibly meant with me, he said that I needed to have a cardiac cath procedure sooner rather than later. Since he’s one of the premier heart surgeons in the mid-west, and always in demand, I expected that this meant I’d get put on a waiting list and have it done sometime in the next month or so when there was an opening in his schedule.

I nodded. “OK, when?”

He looked down at my chart, then back at me.  “What are you doing tomorrow?”

Good thing I don’t panic easily.

* * *

Well, as I recounted a few days later, the procedure went smoothly, though longer than usual, with the end result that I had a couple of stents placed to correct a congenital heart defect. It took a while for all the ramifications of what I had lived with, and what it meant to have it corrected, to really sink in. Part of that was coming to full understanding of just how close to death I had come, because even the slightest amount of atherosclerosis, even the tiniest little blood clot, would have triggered a massive heart attack.

But now it’s been a year. I saw the cardiologist several times over that year, most recently a few weeks ago. And, basically, I’m now past it all. I’m no longer taking any blood thinners, I don’t need to take any real precautions, I only need to check in with the cardiologist once a year or if I notice a problem. If I’m smart, I’ll continue to get regular exercise (I now walk three miles each morning, and get in plenty of additional exercise doing yard work and such) and be a little careful about my diet, but those are things which any man my age should probably do.

So, basically, today’s the first anniversary of my rebirth.

And it feels good.


Jim Downey



Happy Independence Day, everyone!

And a quick update on how things are going with the promotion so far: almost 1300 downloads of Communion of Dreams, and the current ranking for that book is #647 overall in the Free Kindle Store (it down all the way to #289 at one point on Tuesday evening!) And Her Final Year is presently at #1,570, with 231 downloads so far. Remember, the promotion ends tomorrow night — so take advantage of it now!

Have a safe & fun Fourth!

Jim Downey

*Because I’m 55, get it? Yes, I am so very clever. Also because of the meaning of “five by five“, which is unknown to most people these days, belonging to another era.

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me …

As I’ve noted previously, July 4th is my birthday (secondary thought – damn, this blog is six years old!).  And in something of a “Hobbit’s Birthday” spirit, again this year I’m going to run a promotion in celebration. But because I’m turning 55, it’s going to be a bit different than last year. Instead, the Kindle edition of Communion of Dreams will be free for 5 days – yup, July 1st through July 5th.

And that ain’t all. Nope. At the same time, from July 1st through July 5th, the Kindle edition of Her Final Year will also be completely free.

And that still ain’t all. Nope. When the promotional period is over, the Kindle edition price for each book will drop to just $3.01. Why $3.01? Well, because of Amazon’s policies, it’s best to keep the price over $2.99. And I like the ‘shape’ of 301, mild synesthete that I am. And the number has some interesting properties. So, $3.01 it is.

And remember, you don’t even need an actual Kindle to enjoy either book, because there is a free Kindle emulator/app for just about every computer/tablet/mobile device out there. Earlier this year I installed the app on my Android phone, and I’ve been happily using it in lieu of my Kindle since.

So, starting Monday: five free days of Communion of Dreams. And five free days of Her Final Year. 5 + 5 for my 55th birthday. Help make it a good one, and spread the word. Thanks.


Jim Downey

As Grackles do.

And then the Grackles came. As Grackles do.

* * * * * * *

Yesterday’s “Hobbit’s Birthday” Kindle promotion was something of a bust. While an appropriate eleventy-one people downloaded Communion of Dreams here in the U.S. (no, really, 111 did), that number is miniscule in comparison to previous promotions. Another 10 downloads went through the Amazon.UK portal, and 4 through Amazon.DE.

It’s hard to be sure what conclusions to draw from this. It could be to not do a promotion on a major national holiday. It could be that the market is saturated. It could be something else entirely.

But I think I’ll hold off for a couple of months before running a promotion again.

* * * * * * *

I enjoy blogging. It allows me to keep tabs on my emotional state, share bits of perspective and odd thoughts. It also keeps my writing skills sharp when I don’t have an ostensible goal I am working towards. That advice everyone hears in writing classes to “just write” really is true — writing regularly makes a huge difference.

But there are different kinds of writing. In the 5.5 years I’ve had this blog up, and through the 1324 blog posts, I’ve probably written something over half a million words. Add in some 160 articles/reviews for, the 150,000 words initially in Communion of Dreams and the 140,000 in Her Final Year (not all of which were mine, of course), along with other various articles and whatnot, and I’ve probably written/re-written a million words in the last 6 years. But all of that is a real mixed bag, written for different purposes and different audiences.

One of the things I noticed a couple months back was that I was starting to layer meaning in some of my blog posts. And I *know* what conclusion to draw from that: my subconscious is starting to practice for writing the next novel. For the most part this isn’t something that most people would notice — I’m building in these layers of meaning for my own amusement/practice. The surface of each piece needs to still communicate directly with the reader, just as the surface story of Communion of Dreams is an enjoyable tale without demanding a lot of thought. Accomplishing that while building in other stories and ideas in the subtext is what is hard, and it requires practice.

* * * * * * *

I spent part of the morning filling the bird feeders, each according to their type, and dusting the seed first with cayenne pepper powder to dissuade the squirrels and deer. Black oil sunflower seed for the cardinals and jays. Fresh syrup for the hummingbirds. Suet block for the woodpeckers. Cracked safflower for the finches (thistle is also good for them, but dealing with the damned thistle plants which result is a pain). And a “mixed songbird feed” for everyone else.

And I thoroughly scrubbed and then refilled the birdbath. With our current moderate drought conditions and high temps, it has been getting a lot of use.

I’d barely gotten back inside before all the bird varieties were populating the feeders. There was some squabbling between the sparrows, and the jays were being their usual bossy selves, but mostly everyone got along.

And then the Grackles came. As Grackles do. They’re not that much more violent than other birds. I honestly think jays are tougher. But the Grackles don’t just show up by ones and twos. They show up in a mass, making a ruckus, demanding that everyone do things their way. They eat, squawk, and shit. Until they are satisfied that everything is in a sufficient state of chaos.

And then they left, as Grackles do. Leaving the others to pick over what they didn’t want. Leaving me to clean up the mess.

Jim Downey

“…it’s only a day away.”

Tomorrow’s my birthday. And as noted, I’ll be giving away copies of Communion of Dreams to one and all! No purchase necessary — just go to Amazon and download the Kindle edition for free. You don’t even need to own a Kindle, since Amazon has a free Kindle emulator/app for just about every variety of computer/tablet/mobile device out there.

And even better, I’m also going to be holding a drawing for a free signed paperback copy of Communion of Dreams. All the details are in Sunday’s blog post. Be sure to get your entries in by Thursday morning!

One more bit of news: we’ve just enabled print-on-demand for Amazon Europe. Soon you’ll be able to order a paperback copy through any of the Amazon sites there (,, et cetera). Previously getting a paperback copy in Europe was a logistical mess, but soon that should no longer be the case. For readers & fans in Europe this is good news — and if you’re over there and would like to have a ‘signed’ card to insert into your book, just drop me an email and we can make the arrangements.

So, see you tomorrow!

Jim Downey

Hobbit’s birthday.

“Our Sam says that everyone’s going to be invited to the party, and there’s going to be presents, mark you, presents for all — this very month as is.”

Indeed, presents for all. This Wednesday. July 4th. My birthday, as it happens. In keeping with fine Hobbit tradition (though I am by no means a small person), I’ve scheduled that a promotion day — when everyone can download the Kindle edition of Communion of Dreams for free. My gift to you.

And if you can identify the speaker of the above quote (without cheating and looking it up) and send me an email, I’ll put your name in a drawing for a free signed paperback copy of Communion. Don’t post your answer in a comment — that’d give away the answer — just send it to me at before July 5th.

If you would like to give a gift to me in return, all I ask is that you help spread the news of the promotion. I’d like to bump up awareness of Communion of Dreams before I leave on my trip. In spite of the many excellent reviews, sales and promotional efforts last month have slipped. I only managed to give away 2,351 copies of the book, and sold (or had borrowed through the KDP Select program) 259 copies. As a result, the Amazon ranking for the Kindle edition has hovered around 20,000 most of the month, and this morning was #21,932. It’d be great if we could push those numbers back into the low “a few thousand” range.

Likewise, Her Final Year only keeps plodding along, again in spite of excellent reviews. We managed to give away more copies of that book — 2,986 — but only sold 32. And consequently the Amazon ranking has largely been stuck around 200,000 most of the month. There will be a free promotion day on July 14 for HFY — in observation of the first anniversary, or ‘birthday’, of the book being published. Something else to look forward to!

So, happy July, everyone! Be sure to email your answers about the mystery quote soon!

Jim Downey