Mar 212018

Wow.  My last post was three weeks ago?  Well, yes, I’ve been busy, but three weeks? (sigh)

Sorry ladies and gents.

Even now, it’s after 9PM, almost past Wednesday completely.  But I really don’t want to miss another one, so here’s a quick rundown of what’s been going on…

I was given the green light to talk about the anthology story I’m working on.  It’s for Severed Press, and is an anthology for their dinosaur market.  Initially, I thought I would write the story of the first group of scientists that came through the Pangaea portal in the Pangaea: Exiles story.  It was briefly mentioned in the book, but never really fleshed out.  Since they said they don’t really want that story, (opting instead for something totally different), it’s a story that may never be written.

So that’s one more thing that I’m working on.

And someone else has contacted me about a sekrit projekt… someone whose writing I really admire, and who I know and respect on a more personal basis.  They wanted to know if I would be interested in co-writing a novel in their universe.  Now let me tell you something here folks – there really aren’t that many series that I get into enough to read (or listen to the audiobooks) of as soon as they come out.  This person writes one of the very few.  As a matter of fact, I had just finished the most recent available audiobook in their series the day before they contacted me.  It’s not firmed up yet, but I have hope that this one will actually take place.

Fingers crossed. 

On the personal front, we’ve had bad news, and then we’ve had BAD news.  First, yours truly ended up blowing up the engine in my Rav 4.  I was going to meet with some friends on Saturday a few weeks back.  It was a nasty, rainy day, and I was traveling down the toll road when I heard a bit of a thump like I had run over a branch or something.  At the same time, I had several warning lights on the dashboard light up, including the battery light.  This made me think I might have thrown a belt.

So I got off the toll road at the next exit, and turned around to take the back road to head back toward home.  I knew I ran the risk of overheating the engine so I kept a close eye on the temperature gauge as I drove back toward town.  I got lucky (or so I thought) in that nearly every traffic light I hit was green, so I didn’t have to stop until I got back into my home town.  That was when I first smelled the steam of an overheated engine.  Still, the temperature gauge showed the engine was cool.

It lied.  There was no way for the engine to be cool, and still produce that smell of steam and hot coolant.  By the time the engine died, it was too far gone.  It had died two blocks from our mechanic.  And since it was a Saturday, I couldn’t have it looked at until Monday.  Even then, I hoped it was just minor damage.

No such luck.  I’d killed the thing.  It would have cost more to fix it than the Rav was worth.    So we’re down by one vehicle in the Brackett household, at least for the immediate future.

But that’s not the BAD news.  You know that old saying about feeling sorry for yourself because you have no shoes, until you see the man who has no feet?  Well, that’s the way MBH and I have felt lately.  We’ve seen some people close to us going through so much worse than what we’re dealing with.  I won’t go into details, because those stories aren’t mine to tell.  Suffice to say that some of what our loved ones are dealing with is truly heartbreaking.  So much so that we feel blessed to only have minor things like burned out ceiling fans, broken fence posts, (a few other minor issues) and car engines to worry about.

And we are SO lucky in so many other ways.  We have friends and family who love us, and are loved by us.  And no matter what happens, I don’t see that changing.  In the end, that’s really all that matters.

So hug your loved ones, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you again soon.  :bye:

Feb 282018

Yep.  Another project.  A few weeks ago I was invited to write a story for an upcoming anthology.  I don’t know whether or not I’m at liberty to talk about it publicly, so I guess I’ll have to speak in general terms here. When they made me the offer and told me the subject matter, I was at first reluctant.  Short stories and anthologies historically haven’t done me a lot of good.  At least, not financially.  If you’re an indie, you still have to pay for editing, formatting, and cover design.  Then, since it’s a shorter work, you can’t charge as much for it.  And if you don’t charge at least $2.99, Amazon cuts your royalty from 70% to 35%, even further cutting into what you can make from it.  So yeah, I usually view shorter works as time and effort spent on creating something that takes forever to make your return – time that could be better spent on writing something of longer length that has a better chance of helping to pay some bills.

On the other hand, it’s also excellent practice for learning to write in a shorter, more concise, format… a skill that ultimately pays off in producing better novels down the road.

Still, there’s that money thing…

Wait. What’s that?  This anthology is a paying market?  And the publisher will be handling the cost for editing, formatting, and cover, so no out-of-pocket expenses.  And it’s tied into something I’ve already done?

Well that certainly changes things.  Where do I sign?  

So with an idea for a story already in mind, I replied back that I would love to write for their anthology.  I went to work on the story the next day, getting about a thousand words into it.  I sent them an email, letting them know in general terms what I had in mind, in order to make sure it fit the antho well enough for them to be comfortable.  I was fairly comfortable that it would, but better to be sure, right?

Unfortunately, it didn’t.  Since my story tied into the novel that had garnered me the invitation, I had figured it would be a shoe-in.  I figured wrong.  They wanted something that was more of a stand-alone nature.

Well crap. Back to the drawing board. 

And since I had jumped in feet first with the first story, I was now at a complete loss about what to write.  So I tossed a few ideas around.  I wrote a few hundred words on a second idea, then abandoned it… another thousand or so on a third idea (one that I really liked, actually), but found a problem with the world building for it… as in, there’s no freaking way the world I’m writing in could ever exist.  Then I wrote a couple of paragraphs on a fourth story line that also didn’t work.  I was beginning to think I was going to have to pass on the offer.

Then I finally had my eureka moment a few days ago.  I realized that, while the world I had envisioned in the third story might not ever happen the way I originally envisioned it, it could happen in a more localized environment.  And wouldn’t it be interesting to tell the story of how that disaster began?

So you’ll notice a new progress meter entitled Terrorists in the sidebar to the right.  It’s just getting started, but I think I finally found its feet and it should really start moving now. 


Other news –

MBH is doing much better now.  She’s still not 100%, but the illness has gone from killer plague back to uncomfortable flu.  Vestiges of it are still hanging on for both of us, but we’re no longer contagious, and we’re no longer up all night hacking up our internal organs,  So yay for us, right?

Writing news – 

Chucklers – Evidently, CV1 was on sale for a day back on February 17.  I would have made an announcement, but unfortunately, I didn’t know about the sale until February 25.  Not being in control of things like this is one of the trade-offs for being published through a press.  You don’t have to worry about the up-front expenses of publishing, but you also relinquish control of the work.  It’s a fair arrangement, but it makes it harder to track things until after the fact.

Pangaea: Exiles – This one continues to surprise me with how well it’s doing.  Reviews are still coming in, and they’re overwhelmingly positive.  PE currently has a 4.5 rating, and the only negative review is from some poor soul who was upset because the book had humans living in a time when they “didn’t belong”, and killing “the animals that lived there” (dinosaurs).  I supposed that’s a viable view.  I just have to wonder what he thought the book was going to be about, based on the cover and book description.  

And there’s really no other writing news to report this week.  Payne and Suffering is pretty much on hold while I concentrate on this antho story, and I’ve got nothing new to report on the Y12 audiobook, or Crazy Larry.  So, in sticking with my “keep it short” blogging policy, I think I’m just going to end it here.

You guys stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  :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
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.


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?


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
Dec 062017

WARNING – LOTS of foul language ahead.

This post is going to hearken back to the early days of my blog.  It’s going to be a discussion about a writing topic – namely, foul language in writing.  If this offends you, then you might want to pass on this week’s post.  If not, then read on at your own risk.  And if you have a few minutes afterwards, I’d really like to hear what you might think about it.

The line of thought came about when I read a recent review for Streets of Payne.  It was a Goodreads review, and was written back in July.  But I seldom log on to Goodreads any more, and so I just read it recently.  It was a good review, four stars, but something she said struck me.  During the review, she (the reviewer) mentioned that it made her cringe to see that I went out of my way to avoid “common curses like ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ and effectively replaced them with ‘fudge’ and ‘sludge’.”

I’ve seen and heard discussions wherein authors get upset because reviewers take them to task for dropping too many F-bombs.  On the other hand, I’ve been told by some people that I don’t curse as much as I should (whatever that means).  LOL.  In my normal life, I don’t curse that much.  That’s just the way it is.  It’s just the way I am. I don’t feel the need, for the most part.  In my writing, well, it depends on the character.  I have some characters who are reserved, and some who are real ass holes.

Charlie Griffe, in Chucklers Volume 1 is a prime example.  He’s a conniving, narcissistic, misogynistic, schizoid douche-canoe with a mouth to match.  Cussing fits his character, and when I read the comment about me going out of my way to avoid harsh language, I had to go back and check to see if I had misremembered.  Nope, I hadn’t.  I shit you not… actually, I shit you a lot.  88 times to be precise.  88 shits, 63 damns, and there were 44 fucks given, most of them from good ole Charles Griffe.

But here’s the thing about Streets of Payne… it takes place more than a hundred years in the future.  I don’t recall exactly what year it starts, and I don’t honestly want to go look at my notes.  I think it was about 140 years in the future, though.  And I actually put a lot of thought into how that would affect how the characters speak.  SoP was published in 2013.  So go back about a hundred years to the early 1900s and think about the idioms of the time.  How many of you would know what “hog-eye” refers to?  What about “purr-tongue?  What if I said my “Mr. Horner” was a “roaring jack”?  And believe me when I tell you that at one time back then, if someone said they wanted to go to the “barrelhouse”, and his buddy said he wouldn’t mind going with him to get a “bit of keg”, they were NOT talking about getting a drink.  

If you haven’t already guessed, all of those words and phrases were considered foul language for the time.  They refer to either sexual acts, or descriptions of genitalia.

So with the idea that language changes, I thought that in another hundred to two hundred years, isn’t it likely that the word fuck would change, as well?  So it… slid.  Fuck became “fuggle”.  I thought, you know… you take the phrase “fuck it all”, slur it around a bit, and it could easily begin to sound like “fuggle”.  And what else might be considered foul in a few hundred years?  Maybe some kind of sewer sludge that smells so rank that it makes the eyes water just to think about it?  I mean, if you’ve ever lived in an area where you aren’t on a city sewer system, and you’ve had to have your septic system pumped, you know just how strong such a stench can be.

Like I said, that comment stuck with me for whatever reason.  And I want to re-iterate that the reviewer was actually pretty complimentary to the book.  But the comment presented an opportunity for me to get back to something that I haven’t done much of lately… namely, posting about actual writing topics.

So tell me, how do you feel about “cussing” in books?  For me, it depends on the story and the character.  Each character and story presents their own special circumstances.  If I write a character that is a straight-laced, Sunday-go-to-meeting devout religious type, it’s unlikely that I’ll have him or her dropping F-bombs on the pages of the story.  But when I write Charlie Griffe in the Chucklers series, well, you’d better believe he’s not going to give a damn about who he might offend.  Not unless he needs to keep them happy in order to get something from them.  That’s just the self-centered kind of character he is.

If you have a few minutes, and you feel so inclined, drop me a comment.  Let me know your thoughts on the matter.

Stay safe.  TTYL.  :bye: