Oct 112017
 

This one will be both long and short.  Long in that it’s liable to take up a lot of your screen.  Short in that it’s going to be relatively quick to write.

First of all, some big news on the personal front.  Baby Bird has been accepted into the Master’s program she applied for.  Starting in 2018, she will begin her studies as an Art Therapist.  Both MBH and I, as well as all the rest of her friends and family, are SO proud of her, and wish her all the love, luck, and support in her coming endeavors.

Second, for the “quick to post”, but “long on your screen” writing information.  It’s no secret that I have a habit of asking for volunteers from the audience, so to speak… people who would like me to name a character after them in one of my books.  I just put out another call last week, and as I was compiling the list, it occurred to me that a few of the names were some I had used in previous stories.  Since I like to give priority to new volunteers whenever possible, I needed to prioritize the list.  I dug out the various character spreadsheets that I kept for each of the books, and after I looked over three different spreadsheets I realized there are some names that repeated on more than one of them, which meant that I’d lost track of them for one book and added them to the list for another.

(Sigh)

So now I’ve compiled them all into one “master sheet”, and it occurred to me that you folks might enjoy seeing who has been in what story, and who did or didn’t survive.  At some point in the (hopefully near-) future, I hope to eventually move to a page of its own here.  But for now I’ll just post it here.

 

Two quick notes…

First, if you want me to use your name in one of my books, the best way to make that happen is to comment on this post.  Second best way is to hit me up on my Facebook author page.  I’ll give lowest priority to requests on my personal Facebook page.  The reason for the prioritized system is that I try to keep my personal page personal, and my author page (and obviously this website) professional (for the most part).

So without further ado, here is the list I have so far.  It will change as things progress in my writing.

THE DEAD – (alphabetized by first name)

 

NAME

BOOK

STATUS

SPECIAL NOTES

Angela Montgomery Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Barry Begault Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Brad Moeller Crazy Larry (deceased) “appeared” only as William Brady’s dead cellmate
Catherine Cope Payne and Suffering (deceased) as Kitty Cope
Chris Moody Crazy Larry (deceased)
Chris Tallant Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Chris Van Duyne Crazy Larry (deceased)
Curtis Miller Streets of Payne (deceased) the only person I have killed twice in the same book
Inger Iverson Streets of Payne (deceased)
James Husum Payne and Suffering (deceased) as James Husum
Jeanette McSherry Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Ken Holtzapfel Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Ken Macken Pangaea Exiles (deceased)
Lesslie Lamphere Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Marsha McNeese Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Scott Ward Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)
Suzanne Sargent Chucklers, Volume 1 (deceased)

THE SURVIVORS (so far… but that could change as story lines evolve)

NAME

BOOK

STATUS

SPECIAL NOTES

Amber Brackett Streets of Payne AND Payne and Suffering (alive) as Amber Payne
Alex Cope Chucklers, Volume 1 AND Chucklers, Volume 2 (alive as of this writing)
August Grappin Chucklers, Volume 1 AND Chucklers, Volume 2 (turned into a “chuckler” – alive… sort of…) aka “Gus”
Blake Edwards Crazy Larry (alive as of this writing)
Brandy Brackett Year 12 (alive as of this writing) as Walela (“Hummingbird”)
Brooke Kannesha Smith The Road to Rejas AND Year 12 (alive as of this writing) as Kennesha (aka Kenni)
Candace Medeiros Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing)
Chris Van Duyne Chucklers, Volume 1 (turned into a “chuckler” – alive… sort of…) aka Emmet Pismire
Christy Allen Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing)
David Blankenship Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing) aka “Doc”
Denise Lhamon Crazy Larry (alive as of this writing)
Erica Lucke Dean Crazy Larry (alive as of this writing)
Erin Kazmark Chucklers, Volume 1 AND Chucklers, Volume 2 (alive as of this writing) aka Echo Kilo
Iyson Bondy Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing) aka “Ice Man”
Jaime Metcalfe Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing) aka “The Mr. Clean Killer”, aka “The Chemist”
James Husum Streets of Payne AND Payne and Suffering (alive as of this writing) as Seamus Husum
Jason Elliot Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing)
Jordan Dyer Payne and Suffering (alive as of this writing)
Justin Macumber Crazy Larry (alive as of this writing)
Linton Bowers Chucklers, Volume 1 AND Chucklers, Volume 2 (alive as of this writing)
Mathew Birdsall Chucklers, Volume 1 AND Chucklers, Volume 2 (alive as of this writing) as Matt Birdsall
Megan Cope Half Past Midnight (alive as of this writing) as Megan Dawcett
Nell Gavin Chucklers, Volume 1 (turned into a “chuckler” – alive… sort of…)
Nick Fife Crazy Larry (alive as of this writing)
Paula Shamulus Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing)
Paxton Frombaugh Pangaea Exiles (alive as of this writing) aka “Peaceful”, aka Pax, aka Boss
Peggy Bisard Chucklers, Volume 1 AND Chucklers, Volume 2 (alive as of this writing) aka Papa Bravo
Ranya Shingledecker Mosher Streets of Payne (alive as of this writing) as “Rayna”
Rita Post Chucklers, Volume 1 AND Chucklers, Volume 2 (alive as of this writing) aka Romeo Papa
Robin Scott Year 12 (alive as of this writing)
Scott Pond Payne and Suffering (alive as of this writing)
Shiri Sondheimer (turned into a “chuckler” – alive… sort of…) as Dr. Shiri Sondheimer
Zachary Brackett Half Past Midnight AND Year 12 (alive as of this writing) as Zachary Dawcett

LIMBO – VOLUNTEERS WHO HAVE APPEARED IN STORIES, BUT WHOSE STATUS IS UNKNOWN DUE TO VARIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES

NAME

BOOK

STATUS

SPECIAL NOTES

Tabatha Haddix Chucklers, Volume 1 status unknown – last seen alive in dire circumstances aka Tabby

 

VOLUNTEERS YET TO APPEAR (those of you who have been foolish enough to tell me you wish to have a character named after you – don’t worry, I’ll get to you… and it might not be pretty when I do. )

  • Morgan McNeil Powell
  • Karen Allen
  • William Antram
  • Lori Kidd
  • Billy Caperton
  • Patty Huber-Beth
  • Colleen Thompson
  • Tracy Pierce Malloy
 Posted by at 8:00 am
Sep 272017
 

Yes, once again it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted.  Sorry, but adjusting back to a regular day job has been trickier than I anticipated.  The problem isn’t the job.  Its my lack of focus.  It seems that Wednesday keeps sneaking up on me and is past before I realize I was supposed to write my blog post.

This time I decided to try working on the post Tuesday night, while I was thinking about it, before I let another week slide past me yet again.  It might not be a long post, but at least I’ll get something out there.  It’s almost a symbolic thing, or an exercise in self-discipline, but each time I miss a Website Wednesday, I feel like I’ve dropped the ball.

So I’ll write it now, and schedule it to publish Wednesday morning.  Ain’t I the clever one?  Okay, not so much.  Anyway, here’s a quick synopsis of recent events in the world of Jeff Brackett:

Work – As I said in the last post, I’m back in the saddle with the old IT career.  In fact, they’re talking about possibly extending my contract with enough work to keep me busy for a few months.  Yes, it’s going to slow the writing.  But it’s also going to help pay some bills.  And in the long run, the longer I can pay the bills, the better my chances of keeping the writing going.  So if I have to slow it down short-term, in order to keep going long-term, I’ll happily do so.

Writing Payne and Suffering is moving, slowly but surely.  The story is now pushing to be let out.  And while the timing isn’t perfect, what with the new job slowing things down a bit, it nevertheless feels pretty freaking awesome to have Amber Payne and Richard Kayani rumbling around in my head.  And what’s this?  They’ve brought company… new characters!  Are the new guys good?  Are they bad?  Who knows?  I sure don’t.  

Personal – We’re trying to get a little culture in the Brackett household.  Last weekend we got the opportunity to go to the ballet.  Yes, I know.  The idea of me and culture sharing room in the same sentence is a little shocking.  Want to know what’s even more shocking?  The fact that I actually enjoyed it.   I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be more such outings in the future.

Also on the personal front, the weather has been pretty awesome lately, and we’ve tried to take advantage of it.  Weekend before last, we went to the Rogers County Fair.  The highlight of the outing for us was the dog show.  Here’s a tiny glimpse of the fun.  I would have posted a longer piece, but there seems to be a size limit on the files I upload, and all my other clips exceed the limit.  Sorry.  

Then last weekend we got out to the lake to enjoy it for a short while.  Of course the first cool front of fall is moving through as I write this, so we’ll see how the weather holds up over the next week or so.

And since I’m writing this on my laptop, as my battery tells me that it’s about to die on me, I think that’s going to be all for now.  So as always, I wish you well, stay safe, and I’ll try to post again next week.  Talk to you later.   :bye:

 

Sep 132017
 

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this one.  It’s already after 9PM and I’m only on the second day of the new job.

Yep.  A new job.

Well, sort of…  I’ve been hired as a contractor to do something I’ve done repeatedly over the years, so it’s not like it’s really a new job.  First of all, it’s a contract position, not exactly a career move.  And second, it’s not really like it’s something I’ve never done before.  So it’s not new, or really a job (at least not in the sense of permanent employment).

I’m going to be helping to roll out a bunch of new computers… like I said, something I’ve done a few times before over the course of seventeen years in IT.  It’s always a big job, but that’s why they need a contractor, right?  Confirm and tweak the images on the new computers, customize them for the user to whom they’re going, migrate the data… the programs… help organize the old computers for return or disposal… and keep records of what’s been done.

Yeah, been there… done that.  And this time, it’s actually kind of fun.   :)

I used to dread doing it, and I was surprised to find that it seems different this time.  It took a little thinking about it to realize why.  Before, I was always one of the guys in charge of the project – responsible for one aspect or another of a herculean task that often felt like the old adage about eating an elephant turned to reality.  And all I could do was keep eating bite after bite of that persistent pachyderm.

But now, the scale is smaller.  The elephant is more like a nice dinner.  Where before, I was part of a team pushing out hundreds, and sometimes thousands of new computers, now I’ve only got double digits to worry about.  Granted, the time-frame is also smaller, but in a way that’s also better.  I mean, it takes a LONG time to eat a freaking elephant, right?  As a result, you get to continue to worry about the thing for months at a time.  And as a manager, you not only worry about your work, but that of your team as well.  You get to worry about the project, the reports, the personnel… and you do it day after day for however many months it takes to get it done.

But I’m not a manager in this one.  And like I said, it’s not an elephant.  It takes only a short while to eat a smaller dinner.  A shorter time, less worry about managing a team or justifying the progress.  Now, I just have to do the work.  And when I leave… I leave the work behind.

It’s a strangely comforting feeling, and my emotions are a little mixed.  I want to do the best job for them that I can.  That’s just who I am.  But I also have to accept that I’m nothing more than hired muscle.  I have no say in how the project will be done.

Don’t misunderstand.  There’s absolutely no way that I should have any say in it.  I don’t know the company, or the people, the systems, or anything else.  It’s just that for so long, I had so much more responsibility in projects like this that it’s a bit odd for me to stand back and realize that my job now is just to do the basic grunt work.  There’s no pressure to answer to upper management, to worry about the budgets, personnel reports, progress reports, inventories, disposal of assets…

I just have to do the work.  And that lack of pressure is oddly freeing.

Now, I’ve been out of the field for three years now, and I’m admittedly a bit rusty.  So there’s that small pressure to ramp back up to speed for them.  But it’s coming back to me pretty quickly.  And it’s going to bring in a steady income for a short while, where the writing hasn’t been.

Of course, the down side is that this is going to cut into the writing time.  But like I said, bills have to be paid.  Maybe doing temp jobs as an IT contractor can help me find a balance between what I love doing, and what will keep some cash coming in.  At least until the writing can fill both niches for me.  

So wish me luck, and I’ll try to manage my time a bit better next week so maybe I won’t be so rushed (or so late) with the blog post.

In the meantime, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you again soon.   :bye:

 Posted by at 10:40 pm
Aug 092017
 

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

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

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

“SURPRISE!!!”  

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

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

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

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

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

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

RPotW –

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

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

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

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

 

 Posted by at 8:00 am
Jul 262017
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now back to the reality of my own writing…

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

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