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
May 242017
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And stay safe.   :weep:

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

May 172017
 

WW82BShame on me.  Two weeks without a blog post.  But it’s been a busy two weeks.  We’ve had storm after storm here, one of which actually had me grabbing the dogs and ducking into a neighbor’s storm shelter.  You may have seen the news about the tornadoes in the Tulsa area.  This makes the second year that we’ve had to take shelter, although this year was admittedly much less dangerous.  We got plenty of rain, hail, and high winds, and I heard that a couple of small tornadoes touched down within a few miles of the house.  But it was nothing like the one last year, where we actually saw a tornado as it made its way past us.

Still, when those warning sirens started going off, I was considerably less inclined to wait until the last minute this time.  Even then, I got completely soaked going from the front door to the car… even more so going from the car to the storm shelter.  For the most part, the storm blew through pretty quickly, though. The picture here is of the mammatus cloud formation (see Suzanne? I remembered!) that was on the trailing edge of the system as it left our area to terrorize other parts of the country.

In other news…

EPPEnd Point Pangaea is pretty much done.  To be honest, I thought it was complete until I got these last few beta reads.  Some of the readers had some very cogent comments that I really have to address.  The biggest issue is going to require an additional scene that I hope to complete writing tomorrow.  I’ve spent the last few days clarifying other problems.  But the end is approaching rapidly.

Y12 – And I’m excited to announce that Corey Snow has tentatively agreed to put his voice talents back to work in the Half Past Midnight universe.  Corey is the voice actor who did the audiobooks for Half Past Midnight, and The Road to Rejas and his work was so fantastic that it was hard for me to imagine anyone else voicing Year 12.  So imagine how disappointed I was when I found that he no longer did royalty share jobs.  And after having taken so long between books, I was in no financial position to pay up front for him.  But after exchanging a few emails, he has agreed to make an exception.  If all goes according to plan, he will begin work on the audiobook version of Y12 next month, as well as Crazy Larry when it’s done.  Watch for future updates.   :)

That’s all for now.  Time to get back to writing. So stay safe everyone.  I’ll talk to you again soon.   :bye:

 

Oh!  RPotW – WW82C

For this week’s Random Pic of the Week, let’s go less random and more thematic.  Since I’ve already posted a picture from the back edge of the storm system from last week, let me post another from two days before that storm.  Details on the pic tell me it was 7:10 PM on May 9th.  MBH and I were walking the dogs, and we commented on how pretty the clouds were at the time.  Pretty, but also a bit unusual.  As you can see, the day was beautiful and I mentioned that the clouds ahead of us looked like a giant thunderbird.

Hmmm… in retrospect, maybe it was a giant thunderbird, and he was a warning of the storm to come.  Yep, there’s the old writer’s brain kicking in again.   :)

For a better look at the formation, click on the picture.

Take care.   :bye:

Apr 272017
 

WW81Another late post.  Sorry folks, but yesterday just got away from me.   :idk:  Chalk it up to the fact that MBH had to go out of town, which meant she needed me to take her to work (because her flight didn’t leave until after noon, and she could still work half a day before going to the airport). Or maybe it was due to the fact that a nasty storm blew through the night before, setting off our tornado watch alerts shortly after we got to sleep, and costing us a few precious hours of sleep.  (The pic to the left is radar from about an hour after the worst of it was past.)  Or perhaps it was because I was busy organizing beta readers and getting EPP ready to send out to them.  Whatever the reason, I blew it and forgot to write my WW post.

So here it is…

First, as mentioned above, the rough draft of End Point Pangaea is off to beta readers.  The urge to keep working on it… to keep tweaking it… was hard to ignore.  There is always something more that you feel the need to clarify or add.  But I finally had to tell myself that this is the rough draft, and beta readers don’t need it to be perfect.  As a matter of fact, beta readers add an unbiased eye to the manuscript, usually catching things that the author simply cannot see by virtue of the fact that the eye of the writer will usually see what he intended to write, rather than what he wrote.  So it’s often wasted effort trying to “fix” things in the rough draft.  You (or at least I) can spend all sorts of time working on something that you want to get just right, only to find that half of your beta readers have found another problem that makes your re-writes moot.  Eventually, you have to accept the fact that it’s never going to be perfect.  As the saying goes, art is never complete, it’s just finally abandoned.

WW81BThis morning I awoke to find that one of the beta readers has already finished it, and as of a few minutes ago, she has already sent a reply email and tracked changes on the manuscript.  Wow!  Talk about a fast turn around!   :shock:

I suppose that means I should get back to work, though.  So we’ll make this another short blog post.  But before I go, how about this week’s RPotW?  Here’s a cute puppy pic for you.  This is Tilly.  She’s a French Bulldog puppy, and we met her last week while walking the dogs.  She’s about as cute as she could be, and ran right up to us while we were walking.  As I’ve mentioned before, our girls are not the most social of dogs when it comes to people outside of our pack, whether they have two legs or four, so we were concerned that they would misbehave when she approached.  There were a couple of tense moments while we made sure Bella and Cricket sat and stayed, but it honestly looked like they were all right with her.  We just didn’t want to take any chances.

So smile at the cute puppy, (how could you not?) and have a great week, everyone.  Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you again soon.   :bye:

Apr 202017
 

WW80AYou may have noticed that my Wednesday post is being released this week on Thursday.  Believe it or not, this was an intentional decision.  There were a few different reasons… things that slowed production over the last week. There were more visits and obligations, putting together a self-defense presentation, recording some vocal work for another project… but none of that was really a good reason for postponing my “Website Wednesday” post.  Understand, I was still planning to write a small one until I received a text message letting me know that the painting Baby Bird did for MBH’s birthday was framed and ready for me to pick up.  You may recall that I teased a piece of a picture for my RPotW at the bottom of WW78. Well today you get to see the full thing.  And if I can play the part of a proud parent, I think she has an amazing talent.   :-)

There are only a few other little items worth mentioning this week, so this one really will be a short post (I promise, Matt. I really mean it this time! :rotfl: )

EPP – Because of the aforementioned slowdown in production last week, progress on the rewrites for End Point Pangaea has been slow.  I’m back on it, and about 3/4 of the way through, but there will be at least one more pass before I put out the call for beta readers. That final pass should be very quick, though.

Y12 – I mentioned earlier this month that I had ordered paperback copies of Year 12 so I could ship autographed copies out to those who might want them.  I’m down to four available copies now, so if you think you might want one, let me know.  You can either PM me on Facebook, or email me at “jlb.author@gmail.com”.  Cost is $12, plus shipping (which seems to run about $3 to $4 so far) so it’s actually cheaper than buying it on Amazon.  Yet, because of Amazon’s crazy pricing structure, I actually make a little more when you buy them directly from me.  Go figure.   :-?

RPotW

WW80BThis week’s random pic was almost a “Today’s Harvest” post on Facebook.  But it seemed a bit silly to show that we had gotten three spears of asparagus from the garden.  I don’t know why it excited me.  I don’t even like asparagus (though MBH loves it.)

Hmm…  You know what? Strike that. I DO know why it excited me.  We planted the asparagus crowns over two years ago, and as anyone who has grown it knows, this stuff is a long-term investment that usually takes at least two years to produce anything edible – even longer for more than just a few scattered spears here and there (like this).  We would have had more, but with the rains lately, I haven’t been able to get the garden going yet this year.  As a result, it took us completely by surprise when MBH and I were working in the yard and found that several of the plants had grown huge (three feet tall) stalks and already gone to seed.  I cut them back as I had been advised, and the next day found that ants were eating into the exposed core of the stalks.  I was honestly afraid I might have completely lost them.  But as you can see, it appears that we didn’t.  Yay!

So that’s it this week.  That’s all I’m going to post this week.  See Matt, I told you I could do it!  ;-)   So stay safe, everyone.  I’ll talk to you next week.   :bye: