Oct 112017
 

This one will be both long and short.  Long in that it’s liable to take up a lot of your screen.  Short in that it’s going to be relatively quick to write.

First of all, some big news on the personal front.  Baby Bird has been accepted into the Master’s program she applied for.  Starting in 2018, she will begin her studies as an Art Therapist.  Both MBH and I, as well as all the rest of her friends and family, are SO proud of her, and wish her all the love, luck, and support in her coming endeavors.

Second, for the “quick to post”, but “long on your screen” writing information.  It’s no secret that I have a habit of asking for volunteers from the audience, so to speak… people who would like me to name a character after them in one of my books.  I just put out another call last week, and as I was compiling the list, it occurred to me that a few of the names were some I had used in previous stories.  Since I like to give priority to new volunteers whenever possible, I needed to prioritize the list.  I dug out the various character spreadsheets that I kept for each of the books, and after I looked over three different spreadsheets I realized there are some names that repeated on more than one of them, which meant that I’d lost track of them for one book and added them to the list for another.

(Sigh)

So now I’ve compiled them all into one “master sheet”, and it occurred to me that you folks might enjoy seeing who has been in what story, and who did or didn’t survive.  At some point in the (hopefully near-) future, I hope to eventually move to a page of its own here.  But for now I’ll just post it here.

 

Two quick notes…

First, if you want me to use your name in one of my books, the best way to make that happen is to comment on this post.  Second best way is to hit me up on my Facebook author page.  I’ll give lowest priority to requests on my personal Facebook page.  The reason for the prioritized system is that I try to keep my personal page personal, and my author page (and obviously this website) professional (for the most part).

So without further ado, here is the list I have so far.  It will change as things progress in my writing.

THE DEAD – (alphabetized by first name)

 

NAME

BOOK

STATUS

SPECIAL NOTES

Angela Montgomery Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Barry Begault Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Brad Moeller Crazy Larry (deceased) “appeared” only as William Brady’s dead cellmate
Catherine Cope Payne and Suffering (deceased) as Kitty Cope
Chris Moody Crazy Larry (deceased)
Chris Tallant Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Chris Van Duyne Crazy Larry (deceased)
Curtis Miller Streets of Payne (deceased) the only person I have killed twice in the same book
Inger Iverson Streets of Payne (deceased)
James Husum Payne and Suffering (deceased) as James Husum
Jeanette McSherry Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Ken Holtzapfel Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Ken Macken Pangaea Exiles (deceased)
Lesslie Lamphere Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Marsha McNeese Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Scott Ward Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Suzanne Sargent Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)

THE SURVIVORS (so far… but that could change as story lines evolve)

NAME

BOOK

STATUS

SPECIAL NOTES

Amber Brackett Streets of Payne AND Payne and Suffering (alive) as Amber Payne
Alex Cope Chucklers, Volume 1 AND Chucklers, Volume 2 (alive as of this writing)
August Grappin Chucklers, Volume 1 AND Chucklers, Volume 2 (turned into a “chuckler” – alive… sort of…) aka “Gus”
Blake Edwards Crazy Larry (alive as of this writing)
Brandy Brackett Year 12 (alive as of this writing) as Walela (“Hummingbird”)
Brooke Kannesha Smith The Road to Rejas AND Year 12 (alive as of this writing) as Kennesha (aka Kenni)
Candace Medeiros Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing)
Chris Van Duyne Chucklers, Volume 1 (turned into a “chuckler” – alive… sort of…) aka Emmet Pismire
Christy Allen Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing)
David Blankenship Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing) aka “Doc”
Denise Lhamon Crazy Larry (alive as of this writing)
Erica Lucke Dean Crazy Larry (alive as of this writing)
Erin Kazmark Chucklers, Volume 1 AND Chucklers, Volume 2 (alive as of this writing) aka Echo Kilo
Iyson Bondy Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing) aka “Ice Man”
Jaime Metcalfe Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing) aka “The Mr. Clean Killer”, aka “The Chemist”
James Husum Streets of Payne AND Payne and Suffering (alive as of this writing) as Seamus Husum
Jason Elliot Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing)
Jordan Dyer Payne and Suffering (alive as of this writing)
Justin Macumber Crazy Larry (alive as of this writing)
Linton Bowers Chucklers, Volume 1 AND Chucklers, Volume 2 (alive as of this writing)
Mathew Birdsall Chucklers, Volume 1 AND Chucklers, Volume 2 (alive as of this writing) as Matt Birdsall
Megan Cope Half Past Midnight (alive as of this writing) as Megan Dawcett
Nell Gavin Chucklers, Volume 1 (turned into a “chuckler” – alive… sort of…)
Nick Fife Crazy Larry (alive as of this writing)
Paula Shamulus Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing)
Paxton Frombaugh Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing) aka “Peaceful”, aka Pax, aka Boss
Peggy Bisard Chucklers, Volume 1 AND Chucklers, Volume 2 (alive as of this writing) aka Papa Bravo
Ranya Shingledecker Mosher Streets of Payne (alive as of this writing) as “Rayna”
Rita Post Chucklers, Volume 1 AND Chucklers, Volume 2 (alive as of this writing) aka Romeo Papa
Robin Scott Year 12 (alive as of this writing)
Scott Pond Payne and Suffering (alive as of this writing)
Shiri Sondheimer (turned into a “chuckler” – alive… sort of…) as Dr. Shiri Sondheimer
Zachary Brackett Half Past Midnight AND Year 12 (alive as of this writing) as Zachary Dawcett

LIMBO – VOLUNTEERS WHO HAVE APPEARED IN STORIES, BUT WHOSE STATUS IS UNKNOWN DUE TO VARIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES

NAME

BOOK

STATUS

SPECIAL NOTES

Tabatha Haddix Chucklers, Volume 1 status unknown – last seen alive in dire circumstances aka Tabby

 

VOLUNTEERS YET TO APPEAR (those of you who have been foolish enough to tell me you wish to have a character named after you – don’t worry, I’ll get to you… and it might not be pretty when I do. )

  • Morgan McNeil Powell
  • Karen Allen
  • William Antram
  • Lori Kidd
  • Billy Caperton
  • Patty Huber-Beth
  • Colleen Thompson
  • Tracy Pierce Malloy
 Posted by at 8:00 am
Sep 272017
 

Yes, once again it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted.  Sorry, but adjusting back to a regular day job has been trickier than I anticipated.  The problem isn’t the job.  Its my lack of focus.  It seems that Wednesday keeps sneaking up on me and is past before I realize I was supposed to write my blog post.

This time I decided to try working on the post Tuesday night, while I was thinking about it, before I let another week slide past me yet again.  It might not be a long post, but at least I’ll get something out there.  It’s almost a symbolic thing, or an exercise in self-discipline, but each time I miss a Website Wednesday, I feel like I’ve dropped the ball.

So I’ll write it now, and schedule it to publish Wednesday morning.  Ain’t I the clever one?  Okay, not so much.  Anyway, here’s a quick synopsis of recent events in the world of Jeff Brackett:

Work – As I said in the last post, I’m back in the saddle with the old IT career.  In fact, they’re talking about possibly extending my contract with enough work to keep me busy for a few months.  Yes, it’s going to slow the writing.  But it’s also going to help pay some bills.  And in the long run, the longer I can pay the bills, the better my chances of keeping the writing going.  So if I have to slow it down short-term, in order to keep going long-term, I’ll happily do so.

Writing Payne and Suffering is moving, slowly but surely.  The story is now pushing to be let out.  And while the timing isn’t perfect, what with the new job slowing things down a bit, it nevertheless feels pretty freaking awesome to have Amber Payne and Richard Kayani rumbling around in my head.  And what’s this?  They’ve brought company… new characters!  Are the new guys good?  Are they bad?  Who knows?  I sure don’t.  

Personal – We’re trying to get a little culture in the Brackett household.  Last weekend we got the opportunity to go to the ballet.  Yes, I know.  The idea of me and culture sharing room in the same sentence is a little shocking.  Want to know what’s even more shocking?  The fact that I actually enjoyed it.   I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be more such outings in the future.

Also on the personal front, the weather has been pretty awesome lately, and we’ve tried to take advantage of it.  Weekend before last, we went to the Rogers County Fair.  The highlight of the outing for us was the dog show.  Here’s a tiny glimpse of the fun.  I would have posted a longer piece, but there seems to be a size limit on the files I upload, and all my other clips exceed the limit.  Sorry.  

Then last weekend we got out to the lake to enjoy it for a short while.  Of course the first cool front of fall is moving through as I write this, so we’ll see how the weather holds up over the next week or so.

And since I’m writing this on my laptop, as my battery tells me that it’s about to die on me, I think that’s going to be all for now.  So as always, I wish you well, stay safe, and I’ll try to post again next week.  Talk to you later.   :bye:

 

Sep 132017
 

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this one.  It’s already after 9PM and I’m only on the second day of the new job.

Yep.  A new job.

Well, sort of…  I’ve been hired as a contractor to do something I’ve done repeatedly over the years, so it’s not like it’s really a new job.  First of all, it’s a contract position, not exactly a career move.  And second, it’s not really like it’s something I’ve never done before.  So it’s not new, or really a job (at least not in the sense of permanent employment).

I’m going to be helping to roll out a bunch of new computers… like I said, something I’ve done a few times before over the course of seventeen years in IT.  It’s always a big job, but that’s why they need a contractor, right?  Confirm and tweak the images on the new computers, customize them for the user to whom they’re going, migrate the data… the programs… help organize the old computers for return or disposal… and keep records of what’s been done.

Yeah, been there… done that.  And this time, it’s actually kind of fun.   :)

I used to dread doing it, and I was surprised to find that it seems different this time.  It took a little thinking about it to realize why.  Before, I was always one of the guys in charge of the project – responsible for one aspect or another of a herculean task that often felt like the old adage about eating an elephant turned to reality.  And all I could do was keep eating bite after bite of that persistent pachyderm.

But now, the scale is smaller.  The elephant is more like a nice dinner.  Where before, I was part of a team pushing out hundreds, and sometimes thousands of new computers, now I’ve only got double digits to worry about.  Granted, the time-frame is also smaller, but in a way that’s also better.  I mean, it takes a LONG time to eat a freaking elephant, right?  As a result, you get to continue to worry about the thing for months at a time.  And as a manager, you not only worry about your work, but that of your team as well.  You get to worry about the project, the reports, the personnel… and you do it day after day for however many months it takes to get it done.

But I’m not a manager in this one.  And like I said, it’s not an elephant.  It takes only a short while to eat a smaller dinner.  A shorter time, less worry about managing a team or justifying the progress.  Now, I just have to do the work.  And when I leave… I leave the work behind.

It’s a strangely comforting feeling, and my emotions are a little mixed.  I want to do the best job for them that I can.  That’s just who I am.  But I also have to accept that I’m nothing more than hired muscle.  I have no say in how the project will be done.

Don’t misunderstand.  There’s absolutely no way that I should have any say in it.  I don’t know the company, or the people, the systems, or anything else.  It’s just that for so long, I had so much more responsibility in projects like this that it’s a bit odd for me to stand back and realize that my job now is just to do the basic grunt work.  There’s no pressure to answer to upper management, to worry about the budgets, personnel reports, progress reports, inventories, disposal of assets…

I just have to do the work.  And that lack of pressure is oddly freeing.

Now, I’ve been out of the field for three years now, and I’m admittedly a bit rusty.  So there’s that small pressure to ramp back up to speed for them.  But it’s coming back to me pretty quickly.  And it’s going to bring in a steady income for a short while, where the writing hasn’t been.

Of course, the down side is that this is going to cut into the writing time.  But like I said, bills have to be paid.  Maybe doing temp jobs as an IT contractor can help me find a balance between what I love doing, and what will keep some cash coming in.  At least until the writing can fill both niches for me.  

So wish me luck, and I’ll try to manage my time a bit better next week so maybe I won’t be so rushed (or so late) with the blog post.

In the meantime, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you again soon.   :bye:

 Posted by at 10:40 pm
Aug 302017
 

This week’s post has nothing to do with writing.  No reports of progress or lessons learned in the business. This week is about Hurricane Harvey.  It’s about the friends and family that MBH and I left behind in Houston when we moved to Oklahoma three years ago.  It’s about recognition of the way they, and Texas in general came together in the face of one of the worst natural disasters in recent history.

BTW, if any of you ever wondered why I’m such a strong proponent of prepping, look at the picture here.  That was taken the day before Harvey made its first landfall. This is typical of store shelves just before a disaster.  I’ve been through a few such events, and seen this repeated in most instances.

But moving on…  For the most part, our friends and family have come through without any serious damage.  My son & his family evacuated when things got close, but they got out before any water got in, while it was still safe to do so.  And as it turns out, they made it through without the water actually getting in (though like so many others in the Houston area, it came REALLY close to coming in.

My brother from another mother, James Husum, lives in The Woodlands, just north of Houston, and was house sitting when Harvey hit.  He was trapped away from his home, with several dogs, while the water rose and trapped them in.  But other than a leak in the roof, there was no water damage in either his home, or the one where he was staying.

Another friend posted on Facebook that he and his family had been forced to leave their home and had taken shelter in a local high school.  And my cousin Brenda Jackson, who is an awesome amateur photographer, has taken all sorts of pictures from the area where, until three years ago, MBH and I called home.

The picture to the right shows a strip center where we used to stop pretty often. The pic is taken from a freeway overpass through a rain-streaked window.  Just to the left of the frame of this pic, there is (or at least, there used to be) a Smoothie King where we would occasionally stop for a light dinner or lunch.  Now to be perfectly honest, this picture isn’t that much of a surprise.  The area has flooded several times in the last few years, a victim of all the construction that’s popped up around them.

This picture (to the left) hits a little closer to home, though.  It’s taken from hwy 249, and you can see the water is up onto the freeway.  If I’m not mistaken, this is near the exit for an HEB grocery store we used to shop at quite often.  It’s where we used to buy our buffalo flank steak for grilling.

By the way, you can always click any of these photos to see an enlarged version.

The picture below to the right shows a strip center near my sister and brother-in-law’s place.  We’ve eaten at that Gringo’s restaurant on a few occasions.  I honestly don’t recall it flooding before, but since it was a little farther from our home, I’m not as familiar with the area. I found this picture online.

Another picture from Brenda here (left).  She called this one, Boat on the Feeder.  Yes, that’s the feeder road to a freeway.

It’s a shame that it took a flood of such magnitude to wipe the previous flood of political crap from our news feeds.  But since the goal of our media “services” is to sensationalize everything, it takes something huge to refocus them.  The message I see repeatedly coming out of the news now is that people are helping one another.  Joe Everyman is grabbing his fishing boat, kayak, canoe, or fishing waders… if he’s high and dry, then he’s moving to where he’s needed.

I’ve read numerous accounts of people launching their boats and helping out wherever they can, and I’m proud to know so many of them.  To the right here, my cousin, once removed (Brenda’s son Jason) is helping a friend get a family and their dog out of danger.

One of my former martial arts instructors has been posting videos on Facebook as he has worked for the last few days, helping to get people and animals to dry land.  I know others who have worked (and are still working) at getting supplies from surrounding areas into the shelters where they’re needed.  As a matter of fact, the church where my parents went for years was just recently remodeled.  It’s been closed for months during the process.

But they’re open now, supplying food, clothing, and shelter to those in need.

This is the America I recognize.  We pull together, lift each other up, help those who need help.  It’s how I was raised, and I’m so glad to see that it is apparently also the way a lot of other Texans were raised.

 

RPotW – 

Let me wrap this up with a “not so” Random Pic of the Week. I don’t know who took this one, but it’s been running around the interwebs for the last day or so.  It’s a powerful image, and doesn’t really need any comment so I’ll just leave it right here for you.

Stay dry everyone.  Stay safe.  I’ll talk to you next time.

Aug 232017
 

Yep.  Lots going on.  And that’s a good thing.  There’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment that comes from whittling down the old “to-do” list.  We’ve had friends and family in and out of the house for the last few weeks, gotten the bathroom remodel nearly completed, and are in the final stages of getting my mom’s cabin cleaned out and ready for the new tenants to move in.

On the writing front, you may be happy to know that I got the manuscript for Pangaea Exiles back from the publisher three days ago.  As of a few minutes ago, I finished the final revisions and sent them back.  That should be the last of the editing, and as far as I know, the manuscript is now ready for formatting.  Woohoo! 

CL – In the meantime, Crazy Larry has proven to be longer than I originally anticipated. In fact, it looks like it’s actually going to be a little longer than The Road to Rejas.  But I think I’m in the final stretch now. We’ll see how it finishes out.

Y12 – The audiobook for Year 12 is in production, and the chapters I’ve reviewed so far sound fantastic.  Corey Snow is an amazing talent.  I’m so lucky to have him as the voice of the Half Past Midnight universe.  If anyone needs a talented voice actor, Corey is one of the absolute best.

I think I’m actually going to make this one a short entry.  I know I always say that, but this time it’s true. So very quickly, here’s the RPotW.  I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but Baby Bird is a sushi fanatic.  I think she would eat the stuff for every meal if she could afford to.  We recently found a sushi restaurant in a nearby town that serves amazing rolls.  We’ve been able to take her there a few times, and she declared it the best she’s ever had.

Of course, that means that any time we get a chance to go, we have to send her a pic like this one and tease her with the fact that we’re there, while she’s back home eating the college student’s typical diet of Raman, or some similarly blasé meal.  Yeah, we’re mean that way.  But it serves to remind her that she has good food here anytime she comes to visit.  (Hint, hint!) 

And that’s it.  Time to get back to it.  Stay safe everyone, and I’ll talk to you next time!