sm1ley

Oct 092019
 

We have family visiting for a while, so the writing has slowed a bit.  I’m still getting a few hundred words a day, but like I said, slow…

October 1st saw the first three names drawn in my Payne Before The Storm (PBS) giveaway.  Of the three I drew, only one replied back with their shipping address.  I don’t know if this is going to be a recurring theme, but if so, I suppose I’ll just continue to draw multiple names each month until I get a reply.  And as you can see by the pic to the left, the first books going out will be advanced reader copies, and are stamped with Amazon’s “Not for resale” banner. Some people prefer these, others don’t.  For now, that’s what I have.  ;)

Amber Payne book 3 (AP3) is currently sitting at just under 21000 words, but until I get more of the sections patched together, I still have no way of knowing how much of that will make the final cut.  I’ve decided for now that I’ll simply report the numbers as they fall with the knowledge that on some weeks, they will drop (when I cut sections out), and on others they will climb.  At some point things will level out and they will become a reliable indicator of the actual length of the book once more.

Crazy Larry has stalled again. I’m not sure what the problem is, but the story simply isn’t satisfying to me.  And if I’m not happy with it, I can’t write enthusiastically about it.  And if I’m not enthusiastic about it, the writing comes across as sub-par.  I try not to do sub-par.  So for now, it’s sitting on the back burner while I work on AP3.

Let’s see, what else is going on…

Oh!  I’ve contracted with the amazingly talented Veronica Giguere to do the audio version of PBS.  She’s got a busy schedule, and won’t be able to get to the book for a couple of months, but the estimated completion is mid-December.  More on that as things progress.

And I think that’s about it for now.  I’ll get back to you next time.  Until then, stay safe everyone.  

Sep 252019
 

Hey folks.  Yes, it looks like I’m back.  I’m going to keep it short, though.  I’m still plugging away at Crazy Larry.  What I had planned to write as a novella of maybe 18 to 20k words, is quickly approaching the length of a short novel of around 40 to 45k.  I’m not certain, but I think I’ll probably put it together with The Road to Rejas (aka R2R), and bind them together as another novel in the Half Past Midnight universe.  The two of them combined would actually be large enough to even do a print version.

I think that’s probably a good idea anyway, since I contacted Amazon last week to see about getting them to set up a couple of series pages for me… one for the Amber Payne series, and one for the Half Past Midnight series.  When they asked me for the names of the titles in each of the series, they had no problem with the Payne titles.  But when I mentioned The Road to Rejas, they informed me that they were unable to list novellas as part of a series.  So if I combine R2R and Crazy Larry into a single volume and call it something like “Doomsday Tales” or some such, then I should be able to get them all together under a series page, after all.  And later, when I finally get around to writing the short story, “Silent Night“, that’s been rattling around in my brain, I can add it to the same volume.  In fact, it would likely make a great loss leader for the mailing list.  Things to think about for the future. 

Speaking of the future, I can’t seem to shake the ideas for the Sekrit Projekt.  I talked to the IP owner about a couple of ideas, and got a tentative green light.  That green light opened up some other ideas, and I think I have firm paths for at least half a dozen books in the series.  I hate when I see shiny new ideas on the horizon, while I still have work to do in the queue.  

On a final note, I recently found a some comments that got caught in the spam filter.  I’ve approved them now, but figured I would address them here…

One was from “Vikki”, who was extremely complimentary, and said “This is one of my all time favorites! Keep reading it over and over…”.  So thanks Vikki.  I really appreciate the kind words.  Unfortunately, your comment was attached to the Newsletter Signup, so I’m not sure which book you mean.  Regardless, I REALLY like hearing from people who’ve read my work, and enjoyed it.  Thank you.  :)

Two more were referencing Pangaea Exiles.  One of them also was attached to the Newsletter Signup page, and the other was attached to last December’s WW120 post.  Both comments wanted to know when the next Pangaea book was coming out.  Unfortunately, I don’t have anything definite to tell you guys about that.  The reality of trying to make it as a writer is that you have to write where the money is, and as much fun as I had with Pangaea, I have to concentrate my time on those projects that have the best chance of helping me pay the bills.  I’m not saying I won’t come back to it, because I’m sure I probably will.  I just don’t know when.  And it’s honestly going to be a lower priority than some of my other series.  I’m sure that’s not what you were hoping to hear, but I have to be honest with you.

So that’s it. Time to get back to work. Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you again soon.  

Sep 182019
 

Yep, it’s been a LOOONNNGGG time since I posted here.  Nine months, in fact.  That’s because I ran into problems with the new Amber Payne novel (lots and LOTS of problems) and I told myself that I was tired of posting excuse after excuse about why it was taking so long to get that particular novel written.  So my solution (misguided or not) was to stop posting on the blog until I could tell you that it was finally finished.

Well, guess what?  It’s finally finished!  Better yet, it’s published and is beginning to sell… at least the kindle version.  The title is Payne Before the Storm, and I hope to have the print version available within the next week or so. Once it’s out, there will also be a bit of work in reworking the cover and formatting on the first novel in the series, Streets of Payne.  It’s necessary from a branding perspective, and it takes time to do it right.  Luckily I’ve got a great cover artist and formatter in Glendon Haddix at Streetlight Graphics.  I can’t say enough about how great he is to work with.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to run a little promotion with the release of this newest title.  If you’re interested in getting a free, signed copy of Payne Before the Storm I’m going to be holding a monthly drawing for the first year after the novel is published.  You can enter one of two ways.

  1. If you haven’t already done so, you can go to “jlbrackett.com” and join my mailing list. Each new sign up will become eligible for the monthly drawing.  OR…
  2. Leave an honest review of the book on Amazon, then email me a copy of your review at jlb.author@gmail.com.

On the first of each month, for twelve months after the publication date, I will draw one name (or perhaps more) at random and email the winner(s) to get shipping information.

Offer ends twelve months after publication date.

So the bad news is that it took so long to get the book written.  You remember me mentioning “lots and LOTS of problems”?  Well, most of those problems were caused by me trying to put too much in one book.  It took forever for me to realize that I was actually telling two separate stories in the same novel.  Once I realized that, I had to dissect the novel, cut the two stories apart, clean up any references to the second story line in the first story line, and shore up the gaps.  The good news in all this is that in doing so, the culled story line gave me a good start on the third Amber Payne novel.  You might notice that the progress meters to the right have changed to reflect that.

At the moment, “Amber Payne #3” (AP3) is untitled.  I honestly have no idea what it will be called.  And the progress meter is currently sitting on 15000 words.  That’s just a guess, because I actually cut closer to 25000 words from the earlier version of Payne Before the Storm, but that’s just raw deletions.  Putting it back into a workable manuscript format is going to take a bit of work.

Personal Life

So what have I been doing on the personal front since my last post?  A lot.  Truthfully, way too much to list here.  But the biggest highlight is…

We have a new granddaughter!!  Say hello to Zaria Brackett.  Her due date was May 4th and everyone was all excited at the prospect of having a Star Wars baby (as in May the “fourth” be with you…).  Evidently Zaria heard about what a wreck Disney has made of the franchise though, and decided to hold out a few more days.  We took a little time and drove down to spend a bit of time with her and  big sister, Zoe.  And oh yeah, their parents were there, too.  

 

Writing Projects

I hope to get back into a regular routine with the blog here. But I also intend to really throw myself into some of the writing projects I have lined up.

Crazy Larry is coming along. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a long novella, or a short novel.  Either way, I’m hoping to have it finished in another week or two.  This is the story of the first months after the Doomsday War from Half Past Midnight, but it’s told from the perspective of the antagonist in the first novel.  They say everyone is the hero of their own story.  This is Larry Troutman’s story.

AP3 – I already talked about the third Amber Payne novel, but it’s going to be my next major project after Crazy Larry.

Sekrit Projekt – I keep taking these on… projects that I’m really excited about, but because of their nature, I’m not allowed to discuss them.  And even worse, my track record with them has been absolutely terrible!  This will be the fourth one I’ve taken on.  All three of the previous ones have fallen through.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed this time though.  If things work out, it could be a really fun series, and I’ve already got some ideas about some of the stories that want to be told.  IF it works out, I should start work on it in early 2020.

And that’s it for now.  Time to get back to writing.  Have a great day, and stay safe!  

Dec 202018
 

WARNINGTHIS POST HAS MANY MORE PICTURES THAN NORMAL!  AND THEY’RE AWESOME! 

First of all, yes, I missed last week’s blog post.  But I have an excellent excuse this time.  I flew to New Mexico to help Baby Bird move from Santa Fe to her new apartment in Albuquerque.  Of course, flying during the holidays can be all sorts of fun, as you can see in the picture here.  That was the scene at a bit before 5 AM last Thursday at Tulsa International.  I can only imagine how wild it was later in the day, and TIA is a small airport compared to some of the larger cities.  Places like Houston, Chicago, or New York must be truly nightmarish during the holidays.

But it all went smoothly, and I arrived the morning after the first snow of the season in Albuquerque.  And while the snow was beautiful, the ice on the roads was most definitely not.  Still, we made it all right, and there’s that whole, “all’s well that ends well” thing, right?  ;)   And the view was really nice once we were safely at the apartment.  I mean, isn’t that beautimous?  (Well, other than the chain-link fence, that is.)

She had a few friends to help, so I got to meet some of her cohorts.  They were really nice… wow, I almost called them kids.  And when I think about it, they’re all around the age MBH & I were when we got married.  (And here’s where I insert the obligatory “where did the time go?” comment… Oy!)  

Over the next few days, we finished packing her life into boxes, (though she had honestly already done most of the packing), got one of those big, orange, moving trucks, packed it up, moved her from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, unpacked her life at the new location, and organized things in such a manner that she could function in the new apartment.  And for an artist, that includes setting up the improvised painting studio in the breakfast nook, and hanging lots of artwork.

And I LOVED being able to see how she does that, and to help with it.  There is painter’s canvas on the floor, plastic sheeting on the walls, flaps cut in the plastic for air vents and thermostats… it was a pretty intricate setup.  But it’s necessary for a college student who would like to one day get back her security deposit.  LOL

MBH and I worry about her commute now.  She’ll have classes in Santa Fe, so there’s about an hour commute each way.  But in truth, it’s not the distance or the time that concerns us.  It’s the fact that there’s the potential for her to be driving it in snowy, icy conditions.  And for someone used to living in Houston and San Antonio, those are some seriously different driving conditions than she’s used to.

But Baby Bird isn’t really a baby anymore, so we’ll just have to worry in relative silence.  RELATIVE silence…

The Ladies – six panels, oil on canvas

Now, I’m going to move on to my writing progress synopsis, but since we’re talking about Baby Bird and her art work (yeah, I’m a proud papa, so sue me ), I’ll be sprinkling some pictures of some of her paintings throughout the rest of this post.

 

 

Writing Progress

Animorph – Acrylic on paper

AP2 – .  Between the holidays and travel, I haven’t made a whole lot of progress on The Payne Before The Storm.  It’s currently sitting at just over 99k words after the third major revision, but that isn’t counting about 20k that I excised as part of the beginning of AP3, the third in the series.  So once this one is finished, I’ll already have a decent start on yet another Amber Payne novel.  No promises on when it will be finished, because I have other books I also need to be writing.  Nevertheless, it’s a little bit of a head start.

TBL – I haven’t spoken about The Burning Land in quite some time, have I?  The only reason I’m mentioning it now is that I’ve decided to use it as practice for recording my own audiobooks.

Owl – Watercolor on paper

After the problems I ran into with my narrator for Year 12, I’m leaning more and more toward starting to do my own narrations. I think I have a decent enough voice, and I’ve done some minor readings and sound editing for a few podcasts, so I’m familiar with the basics of the process.

But none of that is a guarantee that I can really do what I think I can do.  With that in mind, I decided that it made sense to start with something small.  And since The Burning Land is the shortest work I’ve published, what could be better?

So I set up and recorded it the day before I left for New Mexico.  It’s a 5k word short story, and it took me right at an hour to do a master take.  Next step is to make a copy for backup, and then begin the editing process.  After that, I hope to be able to submit it to ACX for release on Audible, iTunes, and of course, Amazon. So if things go well with the production of the TBL audiobook, then I can make a more informed decision on whether or not there’s an ROI to doing the audiobook for Y12.

 

Untitled – Oil on Canvas

Learning to Write

And finally, in the writing “business” category… the flights back from New Mexico gave me a little time to read.  I didn’t get time to read on the way out because I ended up in a fun conversation with a very pleasant gentleman across the aisle on the flight to Albuquerque, and we were back on the ground before I knew it.  By the way… Nate, if you actually read this, here’s me saying hello.  ;)

Untitled – Oil on Canvas

However, on the way home, I was able to finally make quite a bit of progress on the book I mentioned in WW115, way back in August… (Newsletter Ninja: How to Become an Author Mailing List Expert).  I’m about 90% through it now, and am amazed at just how much sense the book is making… and in just how badly I’ve missed the mark in what I should be trying to do with my mailing list.  In fact, a LOT of what I always considered “conventional wisdom” with mailing lists and newsletters really doesn’t make sense when you examine it closely.  So yeah, another project to tackle at some point in the future.  What’s more, some of what I’ve read might actually affect this blog, as well.  But more on that whenever the changes get closer.  For now, there are too many other irons in the fire.

Don’t Be an Ass – Watercolor on paper

And finally, I’ve been studying a bit on Amazon ads, keywords, book categories, and the like, in an effort to (hopefully) learn how to gain more visibility for my books.  The more I learn, the more I’m reminded that writing is a business… and that business is always shifting.  When you try to settle on a working model, the industry has a tendency to shift and leave you in the dust.  I need to be more vigilant on that side of things.

All right, I suppose I’ve meandered on for long enough.  However, in reading back through this post I realized that with all of Baby Bird’s paintings, I didn’t show anything to give the scale.  She doesn’t do much in the way of small paintings, so these last few pictures will give you an idea of what kind of size we’re looking at.  Enjoy, and stay safe.  :bye:

Dec 062018
 

Just a short post here to catch up with everyone.  I’ve obviously fallen off the wagon with regards to posting here in a timely manner.  If you check the dates, you’ll see that my weekly blog post has been missing for a month now.  That happens every year around this time, with the holidays.  Our big one this year was Thanksgiving.  Hope yours was good (those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving). We managed to make a whirlwind trip down to see family for a couple of days. We drove down Wednesday, spent Thanksgiving day at my son and daughter in law’s new home, rested on Friday, and drove back on Saturday.  It was way too brief, but well worth it.  Even more so since my daughters, mother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and one of my nephews also made it over to visit.  It was the first time in several years that we were all able to spend time together.

Of course, right after we got back, I got sick.  Nothing terrible, just the typical chest cold.  I still have a touch of it, but I’m getting better.  Unfortunately, MBH has it now.  Yeah, I made her sick… even more so than usual. 

Hmmm… what else?

Ah, well, I got a ticket a few weeks ago.  Actually, I guess I need to back up a little bit more for this one…

See, MBH developed some eye issues that made it unsafe for her to drive.  Lattice degeneration that resulted in some torn tissue in her right peeper.  Luckily, she recognized that something was wrong and got in to see an ophthalmologist quickly.  The doc did some laser magic on her eye, and she’s healing up nicely now.  However, there were a few weeks where her vision wasn’t good enough to drive, so Yours Truly did the honors.  It was actually pretty nice, being able to drive her to and from.  But one afternoon, my foot was a bit too heavy on the accelerator, and I found myself on the wrong end of a speeding ticket.  

In other news, I’ve been studying the marketing side of the writing business.  I keep saying I’m going to change some of the things I’m doing with regards to writing.  One of the things I started looking at was why I’m not selling.  See, things have changed a lot since I first got into this.  Back then, you wrote a book, you published a book, you placed the book in a few mailing lists, and then you left it alone while you went and wrote the next story.  That’s not the case anymore.  At least, not if you want to make a living at it.

So I’m having to study some of the new tools available for writers.  I need to learn more about keywords and how Amazon has changed them.  I need to learn more about Amazon Ads, leveraging newsletters, working your title through Amazon’s niche categories so it can climb into the larger categories…  and the more I read, the more daunting it is to realize how far behind I’ve fallen.

So you may see more of the old style “Learning to Write” posts in the future as I go through various lessons and try different things.  Some folks will enjoy them.  Others will likely roll their eyes at the writer tech-speak that will ensue.  Of course, if no one leaves me any comments, I won’t know either way, right? 

Writing progress – 

AP2 – The second Amber Payne novel is mostly finished (I think).  I’ve settled on a new title… “The Payne Before The Storm“.  Or maybe I should drop it to “Payne Before The Storm“… Anyway, all but a few scenes are written. But because of all the cutting and rewriting, many of the chapters are a huge, jumbled mess.  This has, by far, been the most difficult book to write that I’ve done.  But stay tuned for a cover reveal in the near future.

IMR– This was the so-called “sekrit projekt”, and unfortunately, it fell through.  The author who contacted me about it said that his attorney had advised him to not job the project out.  He was going to have me write a prequel series that led into his current series, and there was too much chance of confusing the overlapping intellectual property rights.  That’s a true bummer, since I was actually very excited about the project, and had already written a few chapters and had ideas for six different books.  But nothing written is ever wasted.  What I wrote for that project can be adapted later.  When and/or if I ever get back to the “Warrior Clan” series I was fiddling with, these chapters might fit right in with just a little adjustment.

PE2 – So with IMR off the schedule, it looks like the next book in the lineup will probably be a new Pangaea novel.  Looks like it’s time for Sean Barrow to mount his camelo again. Wonder what he and his friends will run into this time?  

 

And that’s enough.  I said I was going to make it a short one, and that was more than 800 words back.  So I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.  And whether you celebrate Christmas, are in the midst of Hanukkah, or celebrate any other holiday, whatever it may be… stay safe!