Jun 222016
 

WW45About twenty years ago, we lived in a small house in Spring, Texas (a northern suburb of Houston). In front of that house were some huge pine trees that towered overhead like giants. These trees were so big that the lowest branch was a good thirty feet in the air, if not higher, and we didn’t have much of a front yard because the branches blocked out so much light that the grass had trouble growing there.

At that time, we also had a neighbor who worked for the city’s largest electrical provider, and he had some pretty awesome flat-woven nylon cordage that was soft and pliable like cloth, but had something like a 5000 lb. tensile rating. I remember tying hand tools to a length of that cable, and after many, MANY tries, getting a length of it over that lower-most branch so that I could hang a swing for the kids.

Imagine a swing that is connected to a thirty-something foot length of cordage. Imagine you are a child and can swing from one side of the yard to the other in one thrilling and terrifying go.

Imagine you are the parent of that child, watching those memories being made. That you are the one who lifts your little one up so she can hang onto the swing, clenching her eyes closed, partly in fear, partly in anticipation of the thrill to come.

I didn’t even know there was a picture of any of this. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t really remember a time when there was only a little handle for them to grip. We had something called a “sky chair”WW45B (pictured on the right) that we hung from that nylon cord, and that’s what I recall being there. But knowing me and my impatience, I can easily see me hanging an improvised swing up there before I got around to hanging the sky chair.

Last week was a pretty eventful week, between my birthday, Father’s day, the Orlando shooting and the predictable ensuing political fallout. But we also had a more personal event here at the Brackett household.  Baby Bird came to visit for almost a week. And for my birthday she painted me a memory. Evidently she has a picture of a much younger me pushing a much younger her on that swing all those years ago, and she used it to paint one of the gouache pictures that she’s gotten so many requests for.

I have to admit, seeing that painting… well, I think there was some dust on it or some such, because I got something in my eyes when she gave it to me.

Yeah, MBH and I have some pretty amazing kids, and it’s things like this that constantly remind us of that little fact.

 

In other news…

Writing has been going well. I got some really positive comments from betas on the newest revisions to Chucklers. I was honestly beginning to worry about this one. Comments from the first round of betas were good, but not overly enthusiastic, and there were a few of them who had trouble with the complex timeline. This latest revision compresses the timeline, making it much easier to keep events together. And evidently it worked. I got a couple of those “I couldn’t put it down” comments that the writer always strives for, and have no complaints about following the sequence of events this time.

Also, I’ve had the first round of cover art from the publisher, but neither the editor I’m working with, nor I are really wild about the first attempts. That’s all right though.  After all I’ve been through in the past with cover art, and the lessons I’ve learned, I’m not going to stress over this first attempt at all.

The new project, “End Point Pangaea“, is now officially underway. This one is going to be different. In order to get to the main story, I have to build the back story for the reader. In doing so, I’m finding that the dark and macabre mood from Chucklers seems to be bleeding (no pun intended) over into this new project. It concerned me at first, but I decided it was too soon to worry about it for now. I’m going to write and see where it all takes me, and if the story ends up being too dark, I can make any necessary changes later.

And a final bit of writing news… Year 12 (the sequel to Half Past Midnight) has been languishing in a drawer as a stalled project for a few months now. I got most of the novel written, but was unhappy with where the story was taking me and had absolutely no clue as to how to resolve the problems. This morning I had a bit of a breakthrough with it, and I think I know how to fix the issues. Keep your fingers crossed for me.   Smile

So that’s it for now. Time for me to get back to work. Hope you all have a wonderful week, and stay safe!  Bye

Jun 092016
 

ww44Sorry I’m late with this post. There was a lot going on in the “Personal” sector of my life yesterday, and I was so preoccupied with it that I honestly went all day thinking it was Tuesday. It wasn’t until MBH and I were taking the girls for their evening walk that I realized it was Wednesday. By then it was too late to do much about it.  And as it turns out, it was probably kismet that things turned out that way.  Why?

As those of you who frequent Facebook know, after you’ve been there a while, you begin getting notifications about “memories” each day.  These are reminders of things you posted on the same date, in years past.  By interesting coincidence, it was exactly one year ago today that I committed here on the blog to be more regular on my blog posts, AND to making the writing more of a priority. I guess I can count myself at least partly successful.  And it somehow seems fitting that I start the next steps of the journey on the anniversary of that promise to myself.

Next steps?  Yep.   Grin

As I’ve been hinting at for the last two weeks, I’ve been in communication with a small press about working with them on some books. Well, it’s finally done!  Mostly, that is.  As of today, the contracts are signed, witnessed, scanned, and emailed.  I suppose it’s technically not a done deal until they send back the copies with their signatures as well, but at this stage, that’s mostly just a formality (I hope).  So I think it’s safe to announce now that I’m now part of the Severed Press stable of authors.  I’ve signed two contracts, for two series of books – the Chucklers trilogy (which I’ve been working on -off and on- for a couple of years), and another project that will likely turn into a series that I’m just going to call EPP for now.

 

So, status reports –

Writing –

Chucklers – rewrites are about done (hopefully by tomorrow), and I think I’ve fixed the timeline problems I was having. It will go back out to betas either this weekend, or early next week.  Looks like the current draft is going to come in at just a bit over 120k words.  This novel has been so much more complicated to put together than I ever imagined.  Two contiguous timelines that have to intertwine, showing events happening in three different locations with six main POV characters, and a host of secondary POVs. There have been times when I’ve had to put it in the drawer for months at a time just to get a fresh perspective on it.  Confused

EPP – New project – This is the first of at least two novels set in mid-Triassic Pangaea, about 240 million years in our past.  It’s going to be quite a departure from anything else I’ve written, and is going to take a LOT of research.  But I’m a glutton for punishment, and I’m actually looking forward to working on it.  So wish me luck.   Thinking

Miscellany – I’ve had a recent streak of winning things over the last several weeks.  Nothing huge, but a book here, a door prize there. Most recently, I won a free book cover from author/artist Denise Lhamon.  I need to figure out what to use it on.  Maybe the EPP project?  Hmmm….

 

Personal –

I just found out that our eldest had to put her pug down this morning.  He was very old (I think fourteen years), was listless, had stopped eating and drinking, and had lost a lot  of weight, so it was time.  But as anyone who has been through this can attest to, knowing it’s the right thing to do doesn’t make it any easier. MBH & I had to put one of our dogs to sleep several years ago after he had a stroke.  I walked out of the vets office with water running down my face, and that dog didn’t even like me!

But there’s an undeniable connection between the pet and the pet-owned.  And it hurts like hell when that connection is lost.   Big Frown

WW44BOn a brighter note, Baby Bird is supposed to come for a visit in a few days. Things can still change, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s going to work out.  If you’ve read my past posts, you know that she recently graduated with her BFA, and she’s making the transition from college life to working to pay the bills.  She put the word out this morning on FB that she’s now able to do some commissioned paintings.  Before now, almost all of her time was spent doing work that was assigned to her for her classes.  Now that she’s graduated, she wants to start by doing some 9×12 inch gouache (it’s a type of opaque watercolor – I had to look it up Wink  ) human/animal morphing paintings similar to the one here.  If you’re interested, drop me a line and I’ll put you in touch with her.

As of now (about six hours after she made the post), she has six inquiries, with at least two of them sounding pretty serious. I hope this works out for her.  I know I’m the proud parent, but she really is incredibly talented.

 

So that’s it.  Sorry again for the late post.  And as always, stay safe everyone!  Bye

Jun 012016
 

WW43Writing –

Well, I hinted in my last post that I might have some news on the writing front.  I’d hoped to have everything hammered out by now, but I suppose that was too much to hope for. Bottom line… I still don’t have anything definitive that I can tell you. However, I can say that I am working with a small press trying to come to an agreement for the publication of two series of books. Not two books, mind you… two book series.   Jump  Now, I’m going to just pretend that this isn’t awesome news, and that I’m just so very macho that it doesn’t make me want to jump up and down like a little kid.

Yeah, I’m way too mature for that.

Riiiight….   Party

I know the whole thing still might fall through. We’re in the back and forth part where they make a boilerplate offer and I counter. For all I know, they might decide I’m not worth the counter and rescind the offer. But this is where I have to decide what my writing is worth, and live with the consequences. And I’ve decided to concentrate on the positive side of this. I’m not going to dwell on the fact that I could conceivably hose up the whole deal, and be left holding the proverbial bag. Instead, I think my takeaway from all this is going to be that I have two book series that someone is interested enough in that they’ve made me an offer to publish them!

So excuse me for a moment while I do a little happy dance.   Fingers Crossed

And if they don’t accept my counter, I just have to bite the bullet and do it myself. After all, it’s not like I haven’t already self-published. Sure, going that route eats up money on the front end, but you eventually make it back. So one way or another, I’m going to have more books out in the near future.

 

Personal –

On a more personal note, my efforts in gardening seem to be better this year than last. I’ve got more plants (healthy plants) in less space this year, and they appear to be fruiting up much better than last year. I’ve learned from a lot of friends, and actually am at the point that I’m having to give seedlings away. I have way too many cantaloupe and watermelon seedlings. Many more than I have room for. Luckily, I know people in the area that will take some off my hands. I like the idea of spreading the wealth, so to speak. That way, if I screw up and kill mine, there are still others who will be able to reap the benefits.   Wink

And that’s it. I need to get back to work. So stay safe everyone.  I’ll talk to you next week.  Bye

 

UPDATE:  I was just about to post this when I received an email. We have a tentative agreement on terms! All that’s left now is the actual signing of the contracts.  Looks like I’m going to transition into being a hybrid author.  Well, what do you know?  Heh

May 182016
 

WW42AWow. I missed two weeks in a row.  Sorry about that, folks. Two weeks ago, MBH & I were sick li’l puppies, and we both took the day off. And last Wednesday, I was in San Antonio, looking at Baby Bird’s artwork at her first gallery showing.  Cool   Yep. Baby Bird had a piece in the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Spring BFA Exhibition, and we are all so proud of her.

The piece is called “Across The Expanse” and the detail in it was amazing. I mean, just look at this! Click on it (below) and see just how detailed and textured it is. (Yeah, I know, I’m now the obnoxious proud papa, but you’re the one still reading, right?)   Wink

"Across The Expanse"

“Across The Expanse”

A side benefit of the trip was that we got to visit with family for a while. My son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter stayed with us while we were there, and we got to spend all sorts of time with each other. My son and I went to see the new Captain America: Civil War movie together (and yes, it was amazing!), and my wife and daughter-in-law went to take a painting class that my daughter was teaching at Painting With A Twist. They both had a lot of fun.

And of course, there was more time to get to play with our granddaughter. As you WW42Ccan see, she caught a bad case of sticker-itis while we were out to eat at Olive Garden. But she survived the ailment, and was able to join us all for the main event.

The main event? Oh, did I not mention it?   Grin  A few days after the art exhibition, Baby Bird graduated with her BFA! Woohoo!  She is no longer an undergrad. She plans on going for her Masters, and wants to become an art therapist, using her skills in art to help traumatized children. There are still a lot of hoops for her to jump through, but I have no doubt that she’ll manage them with little trouble.

And here’s a tiny taste of the actual graduation. WW42D Talk about your pomp and circumstance!   Laugh  What was really great was that we had so many family members that made the trip to see her walk across that stage. I already mentioned my son and his family. In addition, my sister, brother-in-law, my mom, my sister-in-law, my nephews… all of them made the trip from Houston to San Antonio (in nasty, rainy weather, no less) to show their support.  I love them all for that. You guys rock!

Needless to say, I didn’t get a lot of writing done while all this was going on. But you know what? That’s all right. Some things are more important. And I’m back on the writing wagon again now, so I’ll make up the lost time. As a matter of fact, I do have a few things percolating with regards to writing.

First the bad news… I received an email yesterday letting me know that I wasn’t chosen for the 2017 Tulsa Artist Fellowship. No real surprise there. It was a real long shot, but I figure, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

And for the good news… well, actually, the good news has to wait. Mainly because it may not pan out, and I don’t want to jinx myself. I’ll just say that there’s a slim chance that I’ll have some good news to share on the writing front next week, and leave it at that. Superstitious? Me??!!  Wink

Well, maybe.

And that’s it for now. I have words to write, and you have lives to live. So go. Live. Enjoy. And as always, stay safe. Bye

Apr 272016
 

WW41Personal –

We’re really getting a crash course in life within Tornado Alley.  For the second time in less than a month, we’ve had to deal with local tornadoes.  Having learned my lesson from our March 30th brush with disaster, as soon as reports started coming in on how bad the incoming storm might be, we began to take precautions. We brought in patio furniture and loose yard items (aka “body shredding missiles of death”), put the tree tubes back on the saplings to protect them against strong winds and/or hail, put the BOBs in the back of my car (in case we needed to bug out), pulled the car in the garage (making it easier to get in during bad weather, and to protect the car from potential hail damage), filled the tub with water (in case we had to bug in and lost water for a while), got the blackout kit out and had it ready (again, in case we had to bug in and lost power), made sure the weather apps on my phone were up to date (to monitor upcoming and ongoing weather situation)…

See? I CAN be taught!   Grin

All in all, we were much more prepared for this one than the last. And when our friends called offering room in their storm shelter, we didn’t hesitate long at all. When that system blew through our area, we were all nice and cozy below ground. It was my first time in a storm shelter like that, and I’m glad theirs isn’t a tiny, cramped one. There were five adults and three dogs inside, and I think we were in it for about an hour or so.

We left their company around 12:30 AM, I think, and came home to a house without power. But thanks to the blackout kit, we had plenty of light. And since the weather apps indicated the worst of the storm was past, we sank into our comfy bed to try to sleep through what was left of the night. Power came back on at a quarter after 1:00, and that was pretty much the end of our second severe weather adventure.

Of course, there’s supposed to be another system coming through in a few days.  (sigh)

 

Writing –

I found out yesterday that one of the publishers I submitted Chucklers to has just opened to new submissions. That implies that when I submitted the first time, they were NOT open to submissions.  Thinking  So I’m working on a new cover letter and synopsis, and hope to resubmit the novel today. Wish me luck.

But in the meantime, I’ll continue reworking it, assuming that I never heard back from them because the novel simply wasn’t up to snuff for them, or maybe just wasn’t something they were interested in. We’ll see. I’m okay with it, whether they want it or not.  On the one hand, going through a small press would eliminate the cost of having to pay for a freelance editor, cover artist, and formatting, as well as possibly get me exposure to a larger audience. On the other, it also means I would split the income from the book.

Like I said, I’m okay either way.

And that’s it. Time to get back to it. So you guys stay safe, and I’ll try to do the same.  Bye