Nov 292017
 

Yes, Pangaea: Exiles was released last week.  It was a bit of a surprise, since I had turned in the final edits back in August.  I heard nothing back from them after that for the next few months.  I’m not complaining, mind you.  I know that working with a publisher is much different from publishing indie, and I am far from the only author they have in the stable, so I was okay sitting back and working on other projects in the meantime.

Then, out of the blue I got an email on the 11th.  It was pretty much, “Hey, you okay if we publish this thing next week?”  Obviously that wasn’t the exact wording, but that was the gist of it.

Well, hell yeah, I was okay with it.  

The only problem was that I was on the road when I got the email.  You remember me mentioning that Baby Bird has been accepted into a masters program?  Well, It involves her having to move from San Antonio, TX to Santa Fe, NM.  Yours truly was in Santa Fe with her, helping her find a place to live when she moves.  Needless to say, that made it a bit difficult for me to work on any of the normal release items.

So there was no newsletter, no cover release, no nothing.  Just a post on Facebook… “Hey everyone!  My book is out!”  And since I didn’t get home until a week later, by the time I was in a position to make an announcement, it was pretty much old news.  Still, I suppose I should go ahead and send out an announcement newsletter, since not everyone follows me on Facebook or on this blog.  

On another note, I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving (at least, those of you who celebrate the US Thanksgiving).  Ours was low-key, just MBH, myself, and my sister-in-law.  SIL, who knows of our love of buffalo meat, brought us a buffalo tenderloin to cook for our thanksgiving meal (we seldom do the whole turkey and dressing thing).  We cut it into individual serving sizes, put them in a marinade, and into a vacuum container to make sure the marinade got into every ounce.  On the traditional day of gluttony, we pulled the steaks out, put a nice searing rub on them, and tossed them into a scalding hot cast-iron skillet for a few minutes on each side.

That ended up being the absolute best bit of red meat I’ve ever had in my life!   Top it off with MBH’s crab stuffed portobellos, and fresh green beans roasted with bacon and pine nuts, and WOW, that was a fantastic meal.  Definitely something to be thankful for.

And that’s all I’ll bother you with this time around.  I have another topic I was going to talk about, but it’s a more serious discussion… back to the nuts and bolts of the writing world, and not necessarily something that fits with the tone of today’s post.  Besides, it gives me something to write about next time.

So that’s all for now.  Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you all later.  

 

Nov 012017
 

Remember back in WW93 when I mentioned that the IT contract job I was working on might end up getting extended?  Well, it did.  They’ve been flying me back and forth between home in Claremore, Oklahoma, and another of their locations in Columbus, Georgia.  The routine is a little rougher now, starting on Monday mornings at 3:30 AM so I can make a 6 AM flight that gets me to Atlanta, where I rent a car and drive an hour and a half to Columbus.  Needless to say, I’m pretty wiped by the end of the day on Monday.  Then on Friday, I work until about 1 PM, drive the hour and a half back to Atlanta, fly back to Oklahoma, where MBH picks me up and takes me home so I can spend the weekend with her.

And if Friday’s flight home is delayed by three hours (like last week), then the day goes on even longer. 

Then Monday morning at 3:30 AM, it starts it all over again.  I don’t mind the work, but those Mondays!  

The up side is that the job is paying (at least for a little while) some of the bills that were beginning to pile up.  The down side is that it impacts the writing. Of course, I already discussed this, too, back in WW93. So nothing new there.  But while the writing has been greatly slowed, it hasn’t completely stopped.

Writing –

Payne and Suffering – The new Amber Payne novel is a bit over 7500 words.  Not huge, but it’s moving.  I picked MBH’s brain a couple of weeks ago regarding some of the threads that were stumping me.  Many writers talk about their “muses”.  I don’t need a muse.  Ideas and inspiration aren’t my problem.  I have trouble with the more mundane minutia (wow, talk about your alliteration).  I tend to let the details of a story keep me from progressing… the old “can’t see the forest for the trees” thing.  I get an idea or a scene, and I lock onto it, trying to work it into the story, and when it doesn’t work, I can’t seem to see my way around it.  When that happens… when I find myself banging my head against the same wall, over and over again, I can usually count of MBH to guide me through a doorway that I simply didn’t see.  This time was no exception, and she once more helped me find a new path through a winding and overly convoluted story line.  Yes, once more, I was making things more complex than they needed to be.  Thank you, wife.  

Pangaea Exiles – Nothing new to report here.  Final edits were turned in to the publisher more than two months ago.  As far as I know, cover was approved, edits were done, but no word on an actual publication date.

Year 12 – The audio version of Y12 is also moving very slowly.  In this case, I know what the hold-up is.  When you find someone who is willing to work on a royalty share basis, slow production times are the trade-off.  After all, the voice actor also has bills to pay, and he or she has to give priority to those jobs that come in that offer an up-front payment.

Crazy Larry – No change on this one.  I hit a brick wall, and haven’t opened the manuscript back up in almost two months.  I think I know what needs to be done with it, but the changes entail a LOT of extra work.  And it had already gone from a project I was enjoying, to something that turned into a frustrating chore.  I began to think of it less as a story, and more of a justification.  So for now, it still sits.

So that’s it for writing news.  How about a random pic?

RPotW

The Random Pic of the Week for this week is another of the many sunset pictures I find myself taking.  I don’t know why, but we just seem to get some amazing sunrises and sunsets here in Claremore.  The colors… the texture of the clouds… it all makes for some incredible sights.  As much as I loved living in Texas, I find that I love my new life here in Oklahoma even more.  And as beautiful as the sunrises and sunsets are, the star-filled sky on a clear, crisp night is even more breathtaking.  We never had skies like this around Houston.

Okay, that’s enough gushing.  Time to get back to it.  You guys take care, and stay safe.  I’ll talk to you again soon.  :bye:

 

Aug 302017
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

RPotW – 

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

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

Aug 232017
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.