Jul 192017
 

I received the first couple of chapters of the Year 12 audiobook, and let me just say HOLY CRAP!  Corey Snow captures the book perfectly.  I’ve heard a lot of vocal artists… some are actually pretty bad, some are all right, and some are actually pretty good.  Then there are the few like Corey who are in another league.  The man has the timber, the cadence, and the inflection to bring the words on the page to life.  There are just a few who can do this, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with two of them. Joy Nash, who voiced Streets of Payne, and Corey Snow, who has done all of the Half Past Midnight titles so far.

I’ll let you all know what’s going on as the project draws closer to being ready for release.

In the meantime, I’m also still working on Crazy Larry, and the story just keeps on growing. I honestly thought it would have ended around 20k words, but I’m already past that point, and am finally beginning to believe it will come in longer than The Road to Rejas.  Possibly as long as 30k… we’ll just have to see.

Pangaea Exiles – I haven’t heard any more from the publisher on this one.  As far as I know, I’m waiting on the final round of edits.  Again, I’ll let you all know as things progress.

Payne and Suffering – And here it is… I finally broke out that manuscript for the second Amber Payne novel today.  This has to be the one I hear the most questions about, so there will be a few of you out there who may actually be happy to hear that I’m gearing up on it.  Smile

But I’m not yet jumping in with both feet.  The rest of this week is going to be mostly dedicated to working on the 48 Hour Film Project I discussed last week. Tonight is another meeting, and then Friday is the beginning of the actual project.  That means I need to try and get some extra sleep over the next few days, because I’ll not likely get much at all over the weekend.  In addition to the writing part of the project, I learned at the last meeting that I will also be a “grip” for the team.  For those of you who are like me, and don’t really know what that means, it’s pretty much a glorified gopher (as in “go for this” and “go for that.”)  Last meeting I got a crash course in setting up lights (“striking”) and breaking them back down again (“going dark”), as well as how to set up various light adjustments like “barn doors”, and “soft boxes”.

Yep, filmmakers have their own language.  I mean, who would think that “hot sticks” is a warning that someone is moving the camera?  But there it is.  And this is going to be a great learning experience.

What I’ve been reading / listening to

I mostly listen to audiobooks these days.  It’s so much easier to pop an audiobook into my iPod and listen while I drive anywhere.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve listened to the first five books of Terry Mixon’s “Empire of Bones” series.  It’s a military sci-fi series written by an author I am happy to call friend, and he’s done a wonderful job with this series.  This is a story of the far future, where the Terran Empire has spread across the galaxy, fallen, and is beginning to rise again… only to find that the reason for the fall 500 years earlier is still lingering in wait.  Terry has done a wonderful job with the characters of the expedition sent to explore for the New Terran Empire, as they clash with undreamed of obstacles during their mission.

I’ve also listened to the second book in Dennis E. Taylor’s “Bobiverse” series (For We Are Many). I listened to the first one (We Are Legion, We Are Bob) about a year ago, when it first came out. It’s the story of a software entrepreneur who is killed, and his brain is frozen. He awakens in the future, as the artificial intelligence piloting a spaceship.  As things get increasingly complex, Bob discovers how to create new versions of himself from software backups.  But each new iteration of himself takes on a personality of it’s own.  I can’t wait for the third installment (All These Worlds), due out next month.

And that’s it for now.  I still have things to do before tonight’s meeting, so I’m going to cut this short. Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  Bye

Jul 132017
 

WW86AI tried to publish this one on time yesterday.  Really, I did!  But there was some sort of issue with my browser or the connectivity between this website and home.  I was able to hit other sites all right, but whenever I tried to get to this one, the browser repeatedly timed out.  But only when I tried it from my computer.  Other people were able to get to the site without any problem, and I was able to hit it from my phone.  But for whatever reason, any time I tried from my laptop, the freaking thing refused to connect.   Confused

Oh well, I’m in now… so on with the blog.  Below is the post I tried posting yesterday.  The only thing that has changed since then is that I just got back from my first Tai Chi class (more on that below.)

So read and comment.  I’ll talk to you later.

______________

Hope you had a wonderful 4th, at least those of you who celebrate it. Yes, I’ve been pretty lax lately about posting here on the blog, but the truth of the matter is that I haven’t had that much to post about.  Yes, I’m still writing, but I don’t think people want to read a running count on my production numbers every week.  That would be boring, even for me.  Wink

But this week, there are some interesting things afoot.  For starters, I have been invited to participate in a 48-hour indie film competition as one of six writers on the team.  I have a friend who is a local actor & they lost one of their writers at the last minute, so he contacted me to see if I was interested.  Of course, I had no idea that such a thing as an indie film competition even existed, so I was understandably hesitant.  Like I told him, I’ve no idea whatsoever how to approach script writing, know next to nothing about film making, and I would hate to be the reason his team did poorly.

He explained some of the rules though.  The competition works something like this… the team lead has to be physically present at the beginning of the competition.  This is where they will receive the (for lack of a better word) variables for our team.  What this means is that the team lead will travel from Tulsa to Oklahoma City and will draw a genre from a hat. They will also be given a character name, a prop, and a line of dialogue – all of which MUST be incorporated into the film. At that point, the competition begins, and we have 48 hours to turn in a finished short (roughly ten minute) film.

From our perspective, what happens is that as soon as the team lead receives the information, they will immediately call the team back in Tulsa. They will pass the information on to the writers (yep, this is where yours truly comes in).  There are six writers (and thankfully, the others will have more experience with this and I do), and we will be divided into three teams of two writers. The writing teams will be given a short amount of time to come up with a story concept and the rest of the team votes on which of the three concepts will make a better film.  At that point, all six writers will work together, writing through the night to come up with a script based on the concept and the mandatory variables. Once the script is done (or while it is being written, for all I know), the actual acting and filming begins.  From what I’ve heard and read, this will basically be a sleepless day or two that ultimately culminates in the production of a film that is turned in for the competition.

I figure it will be an exposure to a new kind of writing, as well as the ultimate exercise in writing under pressure.  I mean, I’ve had deadlines before, but basically writing a script in a few hours is going to take the cake.   Wish me luck.   Cool  I mean, I may have some input into a script for an indie film.

Hope I survive it.   Struggle

Another little item is that I am going to be starting a Tai Chi class.  It’s a short-term class… basically a starter class, just ten weeks.  It will allow me to get a better feel for one style of martial art that I’ve never studied.  Up to now, my studies have included all kinds of “hard” styles, but I’ve never taken time to learn anything at all about the so-called “soft” style martial arts (other than some peripheral study from books and observations).  And since the next book in the Chucklers series will involve a couple of Tai Chi experts, some hands-on experience can only be a good thing.  Right?

In other news, we found out a few weeks ago that we had a leaky shower pan in the master bathroom.  This means we’re going to be going through a bit of a bathroom overhaul… new shower, new pan, and we decided while we were at it, we might as well go for the trifecta and do new flooring, as well.  And you can’t do all that without also painting.  So by the end of the month, we’ll basically have a new bathroom.  It’s actually going to be a fun project.  No, we’re not doing it ourselves.  But we’ve picked out new tile for the shower, and new flooring, and new paint… we’ll be painting it ourselves, but the construction involved in replacing the shower pan, putting in new shower tile, and flooring is well beyond my nearly non-existent handyman skills (or lack thereof).  So is it strange that I’m viewing this as a fun project?

Well, “strange” and I are old friends.

And on the writing front…

Crazy Larry – Currently sitting at a bit over 18k words.  It’s moved slower than I wanted, but it’s moving.  It’s beginning to look like it might come in around 20k to 25k.

Pangaea Exiles – Just recently received an email from the publisher with a cover for it, so things are moving right along with this one, too.  Hopefully , the book will be out on Amazon shortly.

And that’s about it.  I’m going to try to publish this thing before something else goes wrong with my connection.  Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  Bye

WW86B

Oh!  RPotW! – 

I almost forgot.  Today’s Random Pic is some sort of fruiting vine that MBH saw on our last walk at the lake.  I haven’t looked into it to see if I can figure out what it is, so if one of you knows, drop me a comment.  I’m curious.

Thanks.   Big Smile

 Posted by at 9:56 am
Jun 222017
 

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted here, but the truth of the matter is, I haven’t had all that much to post about.  I’ve been writing my way through the novella Crazy Larry until recently, with the word count so far coming in at around 15K.  I still feel like it’s going to be a little shorter than The Road to Rejas, but I’ll just have to see where the story takes me.  Maybe I can combine the two and publish a printed version of both novellas in a single volume.  For that matter, maybe it will be time to do an omnibus of all the titles in the Half Past Midnight universe.  Something for me to ponder when I get some time.

In the meantime, I recently got back the first round of edits for Pangaea – Exiles from the publisher.  So far, it looks like the comma and I are not going to be close friends.  I seem to put them where they aren’t needed, and leave them out where they are.  And there are also a lot of minor (to me) formatting issues.  One that I see quite a bit of on this pass is an apostrophe that curls left rather than right.  I’m not sure what the difference is, and quite honestly, I didn’t even know there were two kinds, but evidently I used the wrong one A LOT!   Confused

There are also a few spots where the editor is asking questions that I thought I had already explained earlier in the manuscript.  The fact that she is asking the questions tells me that I may need to do some clarification.  So I’ve written extra bits that should do just that, with notes to the editor to see if the new parts are needed, or if she simply missed the earlier parts.  I guess that will all come out in the second round of edits.  At any rate, I hope to have this round done later today and will be back to Crazy Larry for a short time while the editor goes over the returned manuscript.  ITMT, I still have to see what they end up with for a cover design, so we’re not quite ready yet.  Soon though, I hope.  Smile

WW85A RPotW – And here’s this week’s random pic.  It’s a simple “Harvest of the Day” picture.  It’s not much… a single tomato, two little asparagus spears, and a handful of strawberries. I haven’t posted very many of these pics this year, mainly because my garden is really doing poorly this time around.  I waited until much too late in the season to get things started.  On top of that, all of the pepper seedlings I tried to start were duds.  Not a single plant started.  If not for the two plants I bought at the store, we wouldn’t have any peppers at all this year.

I can only assume I used some bad soil.  This will be the second year in a row that bad potting soil has bitten me.  I’ll just have to accept that no matter how small the batch I’m going to be planting, I can’t skimp by using a no-name bag of potting soil.  I suppose it’s just like anything else in life… you have to start with quality if you want to get quality.

So here’s hoping you get great quality out of your life.  Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  Bye

 

Jun 072017
 

WW84ALots of writing news this week.

First, I’ve been listening to some new podcasts about writing.  (Well, new to me, anyway…)  They are less about the craft of writing itself, and more about the business side.  By the way, if you’re a writer, and want to hear some good tips about marketing and sales, try David Wood’s “Wood on Words” podcast.  The other one I’ve just started listening to is “Authorcast”, co-hosted by (again) David Wood and Alan Baxter.

I also got a chance to read (and blurb) an ARC of Ed Lorn’s upcoming novel, The Sound of Broken Ribs.  It is definitely Lorn at his best.  If you like horror so twisted that you can’t tell the good guys from the bad, then this is definitely one to watch for.  Fair warning though, Lorn holds nothing back.  If you need trigger warnings, just assume they are all given.

And that brings me to something that I said I was going to start doing a LONG time ago, but never actually did.  I’ll be reviewing books as I read them.  I can’t hold to a schedule with this.  Mainly because I simply won’t review anything I read that I can’t recommend.  That means I won’t be reviewing anything that I don’t consider at least a four-star book.  That’s not to say I won’t end up reading some clunkers, but when I do, I simply won’t review them.

This also means I won’t be telling anyone in advance what titles I’m reading.  After all, if I mention that I’m reading XYZ by Joe Blow Author, and then I don’t review it, you would know I didn’t consider it worth the effort.

Other news…

End Point Pangaea is off to the publisher.  Well, technically, “Pangaea Exiles” is off to the publisher.  In the end (no pun intended), the “End Point Pangaea” title just didn’t work for me.  I started writing the story with the idea that there would be a single location around which the story would be centered, and for whatever reason, I initially had it in my mind that it would be called “End Point”.  I don’t know why it came to me like that, but as the story grew, the idea of a single location was just too unbelievable, as well as too confining for the series.  So when I sent the manuscript to the publisher, I also requested that we change the title.  We’ll see what they say.

Year 12Y12 is officially going to be an audiobook, and Corey Snow (aka VoxMan) has officially accepted the offer.  Of course, it’s all dependent on his schedule, as he is booked through some point in June.  That means that will be the earliest he can start on it.  But I’m just so happy that Corey will once again be the voice of the Half Past Midnight universe that waiting a bit longer is NOT going to be a problem.

Crazy Larry – While I wait on word (and the inevitable edits) from the publisher for the Pangaea project, I’m going to be hammering away at Crazy Larry.  I know I promised several of you that my next project would be the next Amber Payne book (Payne and Suffering), but when I spoke to Corey about voicing Y12, he indicated that he would also be interested in doing Crazy Larry, and wanted to know when it would be ready.  There’s absolutely no way it will be ready by his June opening, but I might be able to finish the first draft and get it to beta readers in a few weeks.  After that though, it will need to go to editing, get a cover, etc.  Too many of those steps are outside of my control, so I expect CL will likely still be a few months out.

Payne and Suffering – And just because P&S isn’t going to be my primary WIP for a while, that doesn’t mean I won’t be working on it at all.  Two chapters are already done, and I will continue to work on it as time permits. My plan is to have more Amber Payne in your hands by late fall.

WW84BRPotW

And this week’s pic is one to give you a few shivers. I was working in the garage last week when I moved a box away from the wall and found this little lady.  Now, I’m not normally one who believes in killing snakes or spiders on sight, and I don’t have any sort of phobia with them.  But a black widow is NOT something that I will leave alive around my home.   I snapped the picture so I could be sure of the identification (the spider was around the corner, and so it was difficult to get a direct look at it), and when I zoomed the picture in and saw that my suspicions were correct, I got the bug spray and sent the deadly girl to “the bleedin’ choir invisible”.  That means that this pic is now the only record that she ever existed, and I have to admit that I’m completely comfortable with that.  If you love spiders and think I shouldn’t have killed her, just send me your mailing address and from now on, I’ll make it a point to jar them up and send you the next ones I find.  Of course, you’ll have to cover the postage.  Wink

That’s it for now, except my reminder to stay safe.  And I’ll talk to you again soon.  Bye

May 242017
 

WW83We lost a good friend this weekend… a member of the family.  She was a pretty girl who was as loving as she was stubborn.  In the end, it was the stubborn that got her.  But I suppose we all have our faults, don’t we?

Cricket loved her family, of this I have no doubt.  She loved having her belly rubbed, as most dogs do, her ears were silky soft, and she had eyes that you couldn’t  help but smile at.  For those of you who have followed me for a while, you may recall that Bella and Cricket have had a long history of getting into dominance fights.  It got so bad last year that they had three bad fights in three months, and we were so afraid for Cricket’s safety that we actually tried to find another home for her.  The problem was that even though she was half Bella’s size, she was the one who kept pushing for dominance, which resulted in increasingly severe fights between the girls.

When MBH found a description of our problem in a book about dog behavior therapy, we found out that we had unwittingly been the cause of those fights.  We had two dogs of the same sex whom we treated equally.  We treated them like children.

Here’s a word of warning, people.  Dogs don’t think the same way we do.  Deep in our minds, we know that they are pack animals, and that they adopt us as members of the pack.  But all too often, we don’t know what this really means.  We call ourselves alphas, without understanding that this implies a ranking system.

The book explained that you can’t treat all dogs equally.  If you don’t establish which dog is dominant in the pack, they will often try to figure it out for themselves.  And the way they do that is by fighting.

We began a recommended training regimen, putting ourselves above them by not allowing them on the furniture, and not allowing ourselves to get on the floor with them.  Some of the fights had occurred when we were sitting on the floor with them, or when one of them was on the furniture with us.  According to the information we read, this encouraged them to think of themselves as our equals.  We refused to pet them when they nudged our hands (and this one was really tough) because it meant that they were initiating the affection, in essence telling us what to do.

We stopped petting them at all unless they first “earned” the affection by sitting, laying down, or in some other way doing as they were told.  This taught them that good behavior was rewarded.

And for the safety of the whole pack, we had to choose one dog to be dominant over the other.  Since it was painfully obvious that Bella could kill Cricket if it came down to it, we picked Bella as “top dog”.  We fed Bella first, let her go to bed first, walked her in front of Cricket… even showed Bella affection first.  It was hard not to think of the new regimen as “cold” or “mean”, but dogs are more comfortable with an established pecking order.  And while it was difficult not to love on the cute little girl when she looked up at you with those eyes, we had to realize that the reason we did it was to keep her from picking fights that she couldn’t win.

And it seemed to work.  Their last fight was almost a year ago… until this weekend.

We got complacent.  They had behaved so well for so long that we felt it was under control.  When Cricket got a “hot spot” on her tail and flank, we could tell she was hurting some, so we felt sorry for her.  When I saw her on the couch, instead of a stern scolding, I shooed her off with a voice that was almost apologetic.  When we doctored her hot spot, we once again treated her like we would a sick child, comforting her and showing her affection without always doing the same for Bella.

We weren’t in the room when the fight started this time, so we don’t know for sure which dog started it.  All we know is that it started on the furniture, where neither of them was supposed to be.  Even if we had seen it start, that doesn’t necessarily mean we would know what really happened.  There are unspoken cues between animals that we humans simply don’t have the capacity to understand.  At one point last year, I thought Bella was the one starting the fights.  I later realized that Bella was silently being challenged by Cricket, when the smaller dog would claim Bella’s bed as her own, or in some other subtle way try to assert dominance on her larger packmate.

So perhaps Cricket was on the couch, challenging Bella.  Or maybe Bella was trying to assert her dominance over Cricket, and so attacked Cricket.  What we do know is that Cricket has always been the more aggressive of the two.  Bella has always been our marshmallow with people, even refusing to bite either of us in the midst of their fighting when we’re trying to break them up.

Not so with Cricket.  When she started fighting, she would tear into anything or anyone within reach of her teeth, and I have the scars to prove it.  Like I said, we all have our faults.  Whatever the reason, they got into it again, and this time she was wounded too severely.  The vet told us she might live, but that she was unlikely to fully recover.  She also warned us that the fights were likely going to continue to get progressively worse.  In the end, we had to make the hard decision.

So we loved on her the way she always wanted, and we cried as she left us.  Hell, I’m crying now as I write this.  But we got several good years with her.  I’ll try to concentrate on that.

The irony now is that Bella keeps going through the house, as if looking for Cricket.  She’s still limping a little – she didn’t get out unscathed, by any means.  But she doesn’t give the impression that she’s stalking an enemy.  I’ve heard it said that dogs don’t hold grudges for most things, and I think for Bella that must be true.  I don’t know if I’m just putting my thoughts into her actions, but to me it looks like she’s wondering where her pack mate has gone.  She goes from room to room, and afterward she’ll come find me and lay down on the floor where she can keep an eye on me.

Yeah, we’re going through a rough patch here at the Brackett household.  So I mean this with all my heart… love your family, love your pack.  Not just in a way that makes you feel good, but in whatever way they actually need.

And stay safe.   weep

Here’s the way I’ll remember her.  (Our Girls Playing 20161016_091056)