sm1ley

Aug 092017
 

I missed last week’s post, but you know me… I had a good reason.  

Last Wednesday, our oldest daughter and granddaughter flew in from Utah for a visit.  We don’t get to see them very often, so this was a fantastic treat.  Even more of a treat was the fact that her siblings (who get to see them even less often) also decided to come up and surprise her.  So the day after she got here, Baby Bird and her girlfriend arrived to surprise her older sister.  The timing was perfect, as MBH had taken Elder Daughter into town to the store, while I had taken my granddaughter to a friend’s farm to get some eggs for the horde that MBH and I knew was coming.  It was a chance for her to see the chickens and ducks at the farm.  And while we were all gone was exactly when Baby Bird arrived.  When MBH and Elder Daughter got home, it was a very pleasant surprise.

She was tickled, to say the least.  She even mentioned how nice it would be to see her brother and his family.  But she “knew” that wasn’t going to possible, since he was in training with his new job.  What she didn’t  know was that his training ended Friday afternoon, and he and his wife were already packed.  Even more of a surprise was the fact that my mother had been wanting to come up for a visit.  When she found out about the surprise, she hitched a ride up with my son and his family.  So Saturday morning, Elder daughter woke up to find a house full of her siblings, their families, and her grandmother all waiting to greet her.

“SURPRISE!!!”  

So we had a great weekend.  There were all kinds of family stories as everyone caught up.  We went to the lake and walked Bella (who was tickled to have the whole pack to play with).  The only tricky part was that our shower in the master still isn’t finished and we only have three bedrooms.  Ten people in three bedrooms and only one shower was a logistical nightmare, so my son, his wife & daughter, and my mother stayed in a hotel in town. The girls stayed with us.

You would think that was an advantage for the girls, but the reality ended up being a little less peaceful than you would think.  A storm came through on Saturday night, and we went to sleep to the sounds of thunder and whistling winds.  At about 1:30 AM a deafening clap of thunder woke MBH and I.  In typical fashion, I rolled over and went back to sleep.  MBH got up to look outside. A few minutes later, she woke me again, letting me know that the tornado sirens in town were going off.

About then, the weather alarms on our phones and the NOAA radio all went off, and the kids got to experience their first Oklahoma tornado party.  MBH and I knocked on doors to wake everyone and had them get dressed in case we had to leave.  I gathered our “storm bag”, my laptop, and got Bella harnessed.  Shortly after everyone was ready to bug out, our good friends (the same ones who own the farm behind us) who are trained Civil Air Patrol weather watchers, called to let me know a couple of twisters were in the area and they were getting staged to get in their shelter.  We got everyone in the car and drove the half mile to our friends’, where we all waited on their back porch to see if things got bad enough to actually get inside the shelter.  Luckily, after about half an hour, the danger passed and we all went back home where most of them went back to bed, while MBH and I stayed up to watch the news until 4 AM.

It turns out that four tornadoes hit the Tulsa area, but only one did any damage near us.  Ironically, even though they were actually in town where the sirens were going off, we found out the next morning that my mom, son, and his family had completely slept through all the excitement.   LOL

Despite the weather, we all had a wonderful weekend.  Unfortunately, as these things do, it all ended too soon.  Everyone had to go back to their respective lives. So later Sunday morning Baby Bird headed back to San Antonio, while my son and his family headed back to the Houston area.  Elder Daughter and Granddaughter were flying back to Utah, and she had arranged to stay an extra day, so they and my mom (who is staying with us for a few weeks) got one more morning together.  At 2:30 PM, we had to take them to the airport for a flight leaving around 3:30.  We dropped them off, said tearful goodbyes, and told them to call when they got home.  Not fifteen minutes later, she called to let us know that her flight had been delayed until 5, which was going to make her miss her connecting flight.  Suddenly the trip that was supposed to get them home before 8 o’clock wasn’t going to get them back home until around midnight.

After a bit of back and forth, she managed to get them to reroute her through Denver on a flight that should get her home about 9 PM.  A few hours later, she called from Denver to let us know that her flight from there had also been delayed.  She didn’t end up getting home until 12:40 AM.  I have to say, flying just isn’t as reliable as it used to be.  But all’s well that ends well, right?

RPotW –

This week’s pic is the poster for “The Knockout”, the short film Yours Truly had a hand in.  If you click on the poster and look at the credits at the bottom, you’ll see me listed as a writer, boom operator, and an extra.  Despite not being edited, they still showed the movie at the competition, though it was still disqualified from winning anything.  The people from the team who went to OKC to see it said they still received plenty of compliments.  Unfortunately, since it was a musical, not having sound was a little problematic.

Oh, did I not mention it was a musical?  LOL.  Yep.  The genre we drew was musical.  I ended up writing lyrics to some short (very short) songs in a seven minute musical.  I would have NEVER thought I would be involved in something like that.  But it ended up being a lot of fun.

And that’s it for now.  It’s been an eventful week, and I haven’t gotten a lot of writing done. So it’s time to get back into the swing of things.  Crazy Larry and Amber Payne are waiting for me.

So take care, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you all next time.   :bye:

 

 Posted by at 8:00 am
Jul 262017
 

Minor change in the blog here. It looks like part of the problem I had on the site had to do with a corrupted emoticon plugin.  I traced the last three corrupted files to the plugin and when I tried to go to the site to see if there was an available update, their site was also messed up.  As a result, I’ve removed that plugin and you will notice new emoticons here.  There is supposed to be a table of them that shows up when you go to make comments, but since I post from the admin dashboard, I have no way of knowing if that’s true.  If anyone tries to comment, please look for the table marked “wp-Monalisa”.  It will hopefully have a bunch of smileys and the accompanying text codes that will create them.  If not, I’ll try to figure out an easy way to let you see what they are, but for now, I’m more concerned with just getting the site running smoothly again.

Other news… last weekend was the 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP) competition.  Now, because of the terms of the competition, I still can’t talk publicly about any specifics.  But speaking in generalities, I can say that I ended up pitching a story idea in a genre that I NEVER thought I would write in.  But I would like to tell you a little about the experience. So let me give you an idea of how my weekend went.  We (the writers) were supposed to show up on location at 6PM.  I got there a little early because I wanted to know what kind of locations we would have access to.  After all, it wouldn’t do any good to write a script about a car race if the only set we had access to was going to be a church, right?  I also wanted to discuss what the other writers knew about the actors… skills, aptitudes, etc.

At roughly 6:45, we received the phone call letting us know our required genre, character name, line of dialogue, and prop.  Each of these things had to be written into the script.  Three teams of two writers (including yours truly) then began putting our ideas into pitch form.  A few hours later the director and his team met with all three writing teams to listen to the pitches.

The pitch my writing partner and I made was accepted, and we went to work on the full script.  Things went a little off course from where I thought they were going to go at that point.  It had been my understanding that all six writers would get together to knock out the completed script, but someone had decided that having six writers working on a seven minute script would likely be a matter of too many cooks in the kitchen.   That made sense, so my partner (a great guy named Aaron Stein) and I sat down and knocked out a collaborative effort, writing until about 2:30 AM.  Between the writing, printing out the copies, and getting everything ready for the crew setup later that morning, I ended up getting to sleep around 3:30.

My alarm got me up less than three hours later, because the crew was supposed to meet at 7AM.  Yeah, after less than three hours of sleep, I got to haul my tired old phatass back to work with them.  This time I got to learn about setting up lights, power, how to set a boom mic just out of frame so it won’t show up in the film, but will still be close enough to pick up dialogue… it was both exhilarating and intimidating, not to mention incredibly hot and exhausting.  We filmed at three different locations, and finished up once again at around 3AM.  By the time I got home, got showered (I did mention hot, didn’t I? I was drenched in sweat and soaked through four shirts) and finally got to bed, it was about 5AM.

Let me tell you folks, I’m just too old for that kind of schedule anymore.  I remember pulling all-nighters when I was in my twenties.  I even remember literally working around the clock on rare occasions in my thirties.  But I’m nearly twice that age now, and I paid hell for the excess the following day.  I woke up with a migraine so bad that I ended up puking, and I was pretty much useless to MBH.  To make things worse, she had strained her back while I was gone, and the two of us spent most of Sunday lying around the house, while Bella looked at us wondering what in the world was wrong with us.

Unfortunately, despite all the work everyone put into the project, the film didn’t get through editing soon enough to make the deadline, and we were disqualified from the competition.  It was still an amazing experience.  Hard, HARD, work, but amazing, nonetheless.  It was also one hell of a learning experience, and I learned a new respect for the names that go at the end of a film… all the “grips” and “best boys”, lighting crew, and boom operators… Their work is thankless, tiring, and all it gets them is a little footnote at the end of the credits.  Like writers, these are people who love their craft, work hard to advance it, and my hat is off to them.

I’ve already been asked if I would participate again next year, and I have to say… right now, I’m on the fence.  As I said, I really liked it.  I just can’t put in hours like that.  This year was REALLY hard on me.  Today is Wednesday, and I still had to take a short nap this morning.  I’m still working to get my schedule back on track.  I can’t afford that much of a disruption in my writing schedule.  But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there is a draw to the comradery of working so closely with a team of artists to make something you can be proud of… something you can point to and say, “I had a hand in creating that.”

So will I do it again next year?  I don’t know.  Part of me wants to.  But next year I’ll be even older, my body will likely be less forgiving to the abuse, and I simply don’t think I can handle working back-to-back, twenty-something hour days.  It’s been one hell of a learning experience though.  I’ve learned that I can write under extreme pressure.  I’ve learned a little about script writing.  And as I said, I learned quite a bit about the work that goes on behind the scenes (literally) of a movie.

Now back to the reality of my own writing…

Crazy Larry hasn’t moved all that much.  Between the prep for the 48 HFP, and recuperating afterwards, I’m sitting on just under 22k words, and I haven’t made any more progress on Payne and Suffering since last week, at all.  But I’m feeling more like my old self again, and am going to try working on multiple projects at once.  I’ve tried this in the past, but didn’t have the mental discipline to keep track of the various projects.  I want to see if I can do it now.  I need to make it work.  Working on one project at a time seems to be bogging me down.  I have a problem with focusing on a single plot problem and letting it bog me down.  If I can make myself stop when I hit one of those proverbial walls, and move over to another WIP, then maybe that will give my subconscious time to chip away at the wall while I remain productive on another title.  I’ll let you know how it works.

That’s it for now. Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  

 

 

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.   :)

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.   :-?

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.   ;)

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.   8-)  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.   :-))

 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!   :-?

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.   :)

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: