sm1ley

Feb 072018
 

You know that flu that’s been making the rounds?  Yeah.  I can now vouch for just how crappy this bug can make you feel.  The sinus pressure was bad enough that I was fantasizing about removing my own eyes with a spoon in order to gain some relief.

Okay, maybe that was a slight exaggeration.  But only slight.

Two nights ago, the sinus pressure eased, as the crud in them began to shift into my chest.  Of course, this presented its own set of issues.

Imagine, I’m in the guest room trying to sleep (because I’m bound and determined that I will NOT give this crap to MBH).  I lay down and try to take a deep, relaxing breath before sleeping, and the rattle from inside my chest causes me to start coughing.  And I mean, the deep, gut wrenching cough that makes you think your abs are about to leave your body by way of your esophagus.

After fighting it for a bit, I decide to sit up and watch a bit of late-night television.  A few minutes later, the rattle subsides, the coughing stops, and I lay back down.  Within about thirty seconds, the rattling begins again, which brings on another bout of coughing.  I sit up again, and guess what?  Yep, everything calms down again.

Lay down, rattle, cough. Sit back up, cough stops, rattle stops, I begin to drift off.

After about three hours of this, my coughing was interspersed with considerable cursing.  And as I established in an earlier post, I really don’t cuss that much.  That night was an exception.  By midnight, I was frustrated.  By one o’clock, I was exhausted.  By two o’clock, I was coughing and cussing and punching my pillow as if it was its fault that I couldn’t find a position or angle that would allow me to sleep without the incessant and irritating noise from within.  I think I finally succumbed to the exhaustion around three AM.

If not for the fact that I was so frustrated and tired, the whole situation might have been funny.  In the wee hours of a frustratingly restless morning, I found absolutely zero humor in the situation.

Go figure.  

Needless to say, I’ve gotten very little writing done over the last week, though.  Yes, I’m beginning to feel better.  Actually, I’m almost feeling normal again.  The rattle is beginning to subside, and I was able to get a relatively decent night’s sleep last night.  Tomorrow, I plan to get back in the saddle with the writing, and hopefully get Amber Payne back on the case.

Wish me luck.  In the meantime, stay safe, and don’t catch the flu.  :bye:

 

Feb 012018
 

Today is February 1st, the “oneth of the month.” This is the day that we do our monthly maintenance chores like feeding the dog her monthly Heartguard, adding bleach to the septic system, etc.  This year, it’s also the day after the rare “super blue blood moon”.  It was “super” because the moon was at perigee, “blue” because it was the second full moon of the month, and a “blood” moon because it also marks the occurrence of a lunar eclipse.

It was also the 32nd anniversary of the day MBH and I got married.  Yep, I’m a lucky man.  

You may have noticed that I didn’t post anything last Wednesday.  That’s because MBH and I took a quick road trip to visit some folks in Texas.  Ever notice how birthdays and celebrations seem to come in waves?  Well, the end of January and beginning of February is just such a wave for our family.  There is our son’s birthday, our granddaughter’s birthday, my mother’s birthday, my brother-in-law’s birthday, our anniversary, and a very close friend’s birthday… all within a matter of a week.  We also had some personal business we had to take care of.

We all managed to cram a lot of life into those few days.  It was a whirlwind trip that left us pretty much exhausted by the time we made it back.  And as you can see, we weren’t the only ones exhausted. 

Now, on to the writing front –

Not a lot to report this week.

Payne and SufferingP&S is moving along.  I had a nice revelation over the weekend that revealed a bit of a plot flaw, as well as its solution.  That has meant some rewrites, which in turn means not as much improvement on the actual word count.  It also means that the story is pulling together better though, so no complaints here.  The book is currently sitting at a bit over 32k words.  Once I finish the rewrites, I expect to be back on track to finish the first draft by the end of March.

Now, I do seem to recall that I promised myself that I wasn’t going to spend too much time on this blog post each week, since  my time should be spent on writing my actual titles, so I’m going to make this one a very short post this week. So take care of yourselves, and stay safe.  :bye:

 

Jan 172018
 

Paxton Lee Frombaugh

About a two and a half years ago, I reconnected with Paxton Frombaugh, an old high school friend.  As often happens, he and I had fallen out of touch after school, each going our separate ways in pursuit of our lives.  We found one another again in August of 2015 through Facebook when some mutual friends reintroduced us and we began catching up again.

I won’t pretend that we struck up our old friendship like nothing had ever happened, or that we were just as close as we had once been.  Like I said, we had both pursued other lives, and there was about a thirty year gap since we had last spent any time together.  But the occasional chat session would remind me of how much fun he was back in the day, and he always brought a smile to my face.  There was even a certain amount of nostalgia involved as I recalled our old weekend D&D sessions. (Yes, we were some of those people.) 

And yes, this is the same Paxton that I named the leader of the Guard team after, in Pangaea: Exiles.  Paxton, Pax, Peaceful… if you remember that character from Pangaea, that was him.  He even chatted with me at one point about how much he loved that he finally got to be the “badass” that he’d never been in real life.  If you knew how kind he really was, the idea of him ever being a badass might make you chuckle.  

But I also knew he’d had some pretty serious health problems.  He spoke of them publicly, so I’m not betraying any confidence when I mention that he had kidney disease.  In November, he posted that he had some necrosis in the heel of his foot, but also mentioned that the doctors had assured him that it was under control, and that amputation wouldn’t be necessary.

Then the holidays came around, and he stopped posting.  I never thought anything about it, assuming that he, like many of us, was just busy with the holidays and family.  Then a friend of ours posted that she’d just heard Paxton was back in the hospital, and that they had been forced to amputate his leg, after all.  Apparently the necrosis had spread, despite what he’d first been told.  Worse, it had gotten all the way into his abdomen, and they didn’t expect him to live much longer than a few weeks.  I was shocked, to say the least.

That was January 7th.  A few hours later I went back to that same post to check his status.  As I was reading, a new comment popped up letting everyone know that Paxton had just passed away at about three o’clock.

Rest well, Peaceful.

 

Justin Macumber

Then, just a few days ago, on January 15th, I found that one of the people who inspired me to get serious with my writing passed away unexpectedly.  Justin Macumber also had kidney issues.  He’d just recently gotten a kidney transplant, and most of us assumed that was good news.  Unfortunately, his body rejected the transplant and he passed away.

Justin was the founder of the writing podcast, The Dead Robots’ Society.  This podcast was what caused me to revisit my old love of writing, and get off my butt to actually do something with it.  If you run a search through my blog here, you’ll see that Justin and the Dead Robots’ Society are mentioned pretty often.

And while he and I weren’t terribly close, I can indirectly attribute much of what little success I’ve had to him. For without Justin, there would have been no DRS Podcast.  I wouldn’t have learned about the ins and outs of indie publishing… wouldn’t have received encouragement from him and the other “robots” back in the days when DRS had its own online forum… wouldn’t have enjoyed the friendship of even more fans when they closed the old forum in favor of a Facebook page that allowed them to reach an even larger audience.

When I think back on the online writing community I’ve come to embrace, there is so much of it that ties back to Justin.  He inspired me, and so many others in the writing world.  I know I told him a few times, and I saw occasional posts where others told him.  I can only hope he truly understood it.

Goodbye, Justin.  We’ll miss you.

 Posted by at 3:16 pm
Jan 102018
 

Sure, it’s ten days late. But it’s the first post of 2018, so Happy New Year.  

I going to try to be short and sweet with this one because one of my personal resolutions is to buckle down more with the writing.

I don’t have a lot of time to read these days. If I have time to read, then I have time to write.  That means I feel guilty for reading and not putting more content out there.  But I do still listen to audiobooks, since I can do this when I’m walking the dog, or working in the house.

And there is something I’ve noticed.

Some of the more successful writers I’ve listened to just really aren’t all that good.  Or rather, they aren’t as good as I would expect, based on their financial success as authors.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic indie authors out there.  But there are also some pretty mediocre writers that are still extremely successful.

I know, I know, that sounds like the epitome of vanity for me to say something like that.  And it’s not that they’re actually bad writers.  They just aren’t where I would expect them to be as full-time writers who are making a good living at their craft.

And that got me to thinking… what are they doing that I’m not?

Answer –

  1. They produce more titles than I do.  A LOT more.  Sure, they’re usually shorter books, but there are a lot more of them.
  2. They market better than I do. They keep their name and titles out there so that they always have something in the new releases.  And the more the public sees your name, the more they buy your books.
  3. For better or worse, they don’t worry (obsess?) over the quality of the writing as much as I do. The quality of the prose is secondary to the quantity.  
  4. For the most part, they concentrate on a single series until there are several titles under its umbrella before they ever move on to another series.

In short, they’re better businessmen and businesswomen than I am. Now, I can’t do much about the last two items on my list.  It’s in my nature to worry over the quality of my writing and I’ve made myself a promise that I’ll never intentionally let my quality slide.  That’s not to say that I’ll be producing literary masterpieces, but it’s just not in me to do less than I can reasonably be expected to do.

As for the series, I’m already committed to the four series that I have going.  Two are under contract, and the other two make me more money and have established fan-bases, however small they may be.

But I can address the first two items.  I can get better organized and increase my word production.  I’ve already gotten better since the beginning of the year, simply by employing some of the techniques I’ve read about and heard about in various writing podcasts.  In the last few weeks, I’ve almost doubled my average daily word count.  Not only that, but I think I can see ways to do even more.  Fingers crossed here. 

And I can learn more about the marketing side of things.  The problem here is that the marketing aspect of the business is constantly changing.  What worked in 2012 won’t work in 2018.  The marketing tips and tricks I learned back when I started just won’t cut it.  And I haven’t taken the time to keep up with current trends.  I need to address that.

But part of that whole “produce more content” thing also means I need to spend less time on my blog posts.  I need to stop trying to think about something clever to write about, and put my effort into increasing my catalog.  So from now on, I’m going to limit myself on this blog.  It will be a sort of New Year’s resolution… posts will be either shorter than 1000 words, or I will limit myself to half an hour’s time in which to get them written.  On thousand words or half an hour, whichever comes first.

So moving on to other writing news:

Pangaea: Exiles – Severed Press sent me word last week that PE1 has been selected by their audio partner, Beacon, to produce as an audiobook.  Estimated time to release is about three months.

Payne and Suffering – After a few derailments, P&S is really moving along now.  I had a few plotting issues earlier in the week that forced me to slow down and open up some mind mapping software, but it only took a few hours to get things back on track.

Crazy Larry – I had dropped CL into the virtual file cabinet several months ago when the story went stale for me.  When MBH asked me how it was progressing, I had to admit I was stumped.  She brainstormed with me, and helped me see a way out of the bog.  So I made a bit of progress on it, too.  Man, I love that woman.  

And with that, I’m beginning to approach my self-imposed 1000 word limit, so that’s it for today. Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  :bye:

Dec 282017
 

Belated Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah, or Winter Solstice, or whatever holiday you may or may not celebrate.  I hope you had a good one. Now, I’m not sure if it’s because of the holidays, or because of all the traveling I’ve been doing lately… or maybe it’s just me getting older… or my brain not firing on all cylinders. Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. For whatever reason though, I truly thought today was Wednesday.

So yes, here’s another Website Wednesday post going out on a Thursday.  Late on Thursday, at that.

Sorry.  

Now, I’ve not posted a lot over the last two months anyway.  I mean, three “weekly” posts in two months is hardly a reliable schedule.  But like I mentioned in the first few sentences, there’s been a lot going on.

I mentioned back in WW93 and WW95 that the contract work I was doing had me traveling.  What I didn’t mention was just how much I was traveling.  For five weeks, my schedule was something like this… Monday morning at 3:30 AM, MBH and I would get up, get ready for the day, and get me to the airport between 4:30 and 5 so I could catch a 6 AM flight from Tulsa to Atlanta, Georgia.  With the time difference, that put me arriving in Atlanta at roughly 9 AM.  From there, the company I was working for had arranged for me to rent a car, so I would travel the two trams from the gates to the rental facility, get the car, then drive from Atlanta to Columbus Georgia… about an hour and a half drive.  Now, this sometimes meant some absolutely beautiful sunrises from the plane.

Of course, there were some pretty nasty mornings, too.  As you can imagine, during the winter months, the weather was somewhat less than reliable.  As a matter of fact, my last day on the job was December 8th, the day an unseasonably bad winter storm rolled into Atlanta.  You remember me mentioning Atlanta, right?  The airport I flew in and out of for the job?

Yeah, that’s the one.  That storm on December 8th was bad enough that Delta alone canceled more than 600 flights.  And of course, mine was one of them.  My initial flight from Atlanta to Tulsa was supposed to leave at about 4:30 PM.  I got there at about 2:30, returned my rental, rode the tram back to ticketing, and found that my flight had already been changed.  My 4:30 ticket was rescheduled for a 10 PM flight.  About 5:30, they announce that my 10PM flight was canceled.  As a matter of fact, that was when Delta decided to cancel just about every flight out of Atlanta.  So thousands of other people were also finding out that their flights were canceled, too.

That meant there was a mad scramble of people who were A) trying to book alternate flights out for the next day, and B) trying to find hotel rooms for the night near the airport.  Yours truly got extremely lucky in both regards.  First, when the gate attendant announced that all those flights were cancelled, customers were instructed to line up at some desk so that booking agents could get them booked on flights for the next day.  I saw that line folks.  Within the first couple of minutes, it was hundreds of people long.  

So I went to the gate attendant who had made the announcement.  And while he explained that he wasn’t supposed to do it, he did put me on standby for a flight leaving at 8:30 the next morning.  He warned me that there wasn’t much chance of my actually getting on it, since it was already full, but that it would almost guarantee that I made a later 2 PM flight.

Then I sat about trying to find a room.  It needed to be someplace nearby with a shuttle service to the airport.  I got on my phone and searched for “lodging near me”, then refined my search by making sure they had shuttle service to and from ATL.  Unfortunately, hotel after hotel let me know that they had just filled up.  Like I said, there were thousands of people in the same boat I was in.  As that occurred to me, it also occurred to me that those people were likely looking at a search list just like mine.  So I stopped searching from the top of my list down, and moved to the bottom of the list and started working my way up.  After half an hour of phone calls, I got lucky with a Howard Johnson’s. The conversation went like this:

HJ: “Howard Johnson’s. Can I help you?”
Me: “Yes, ma’am. Do you have any rooms available?”
HJ: “Yes, sir. It’s a single, non-smoking room with a King sized bed. It costs-”
Me: “I’ll take it!”  

So I got my room, got a decent night’s sleep, and made it back to ATL an hour and a half before the 8 AM flight that I was on stand-by for… me and forty-one other people.  Yep, there were forty-two of us on the standby list for that flight.  As several of us sat around talking about the situation, we found out that the order in which they chose who got the stand-by seats was a matter of who got on the list first the night before.  That meant that I, by virtue of the gate attendant helping me out, was number six on the list.

As the flight time approached and the flight crew began gathering information, we found out that there were five cancellations.  So I was number six, on a flight with five open seats, and I resigned myself to waiting for the 2 PM flight to Tulsa.

Ten minutes before they were going to close the cabin door, they began calling for a David Williams.  Five minutes later, they announced the final call for Mr. Williams, letting him know that if he didn’t get to the gate immediately, his reservation was going to be canceled.  One minute after that, they called my name.  David Williams had just freed up seat number six.  Woot! 

Thank you, David Williams!

Of course, we still weren’t out of the woods.  Because the weather was so unusual for ATL, the airport was still running behind.  Our plane pushed back from the gate, taxied a short ways onto the tarmac, and promptly announced that we were in a line of fifteen to twenty planes waiting for clearance.  It was an hour later that we moved once more – this time to another group of jets – all of us waiting to be de-iced.

Ever had the opportunity to see the wings on your jet getting de-iced?  It looks a lot like this picture.  As a matter of fact, it looks exactly like this picture… some guy in the freezing weather, on a cherry-picker, with a high pressure hose, spraying what looks like a mixture of water and sand at the ice and snow that’s caked on the wings.

And then we went back into line for the runway.  Twenty minutes later, we took off, and I don’t think I have ever been so glad to be in the air.  It was a day late, but I made it home.

It was the end of the job… the end of having to travel every week, living out of a suitcase, and missing MBH.  You would think I was done with flying around for a while, wouldn’t you?

HAH!

Remember me mentioning a while back that Baby Bird had been accepted into a Master’s program in Santa Fe, New Mexico?  Guess who went to help her move?    You got it.  I flew from Tulsa to San Antonio, where she had made arrangements to get a moving truck.  Of course, my flight was three hours late, so she had to move the pickup time back.  But luckily, she had gotten some of her friends to help us load the truck.  The bad news was that she was on the third floor.  That was forty-two steps up to her apartment, forty-two steps back down.  Eighty-four steps for each trip to the truck… or to the dumpster.  By the end of that day, my legs felt like rubber.  To top it off, her internet provider, who was supposed to send a tech out to pick up the router “sometime between 8 AM and 9 PM” still hadn’t shown up by the time she was supposed to go to a goodbye dinner that her employer was throwing for her.

So I stayed in her apartment, waiting for the tech that I was pretty sure wasn’t ever going to show up.  Baby Bird left to go to her dinner at 7:30.  At a few minutes before 8, she texted me asking if they had come for the equipment.  When I told her no, she said they had sent her a receipt, indicating that they had completed the service request.    Just to be safe, I stayed until 9, so we could honestly say that someone had been with the equipment for the entire service window.

Next morning, I drove the moving truck, and she drove her car from San Antonio, to Santa Fe.  We got there late, but the apartments she was moving into had arranged for the head of their maintenance crew to meet us. He let us in and helped us move in her bed and a few other essentials before we called it a night and she drove me to my hotel.

We spent the next few days getting her moved in and mostly unpacked.  Then on Christmas Eve, Baby Bird drove me to Albuquerque airport, where I once again got to catch a delayed flight.  I have to say this though… they’re smart about it in Albuquerque.  They have dogs that they walk through the place with “PLEASE PET ME” printed on their vests (the dogs, not the walkers.) But I got home in time to spend Christmas with MBH.  And as much as I love Baby Bird, and spending time with her, I also didn’t want to spend Christmas away from my wife.

It occurred to me recently, that out of the six weeks of flying, I think there was only one flight that actually left on time.  Five weeks to and from Atlanta is ten flights.  Add to that the two flights involved in getting from Tulsa to San Antonio, and the two from Albuquerque to Tulsa, and I only recall a single flight that actually left when it was supposed to.  I don’t remember flying being such a problem in the past.

Oh well.  It’s done for now.  And more importantly, I got carried away with this post, so an already late post, has just gotten even later.  So stay safe, and I’ll talk to you later.  Next year, even.  :bye:

 Posted by at 10:29 pm