Sep 122018
 

Endings seem to be the theme of the post today.

  •   The End of the End of the WIP

You’ll notice that the progress bar for Payne and Suffering took a drastic reduction.  The manuscript was sitting at 98%.  But the last several chapters I had written didn’t sit well with me. What I was writing didn’t feel “right”, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly why.  Well, I recently had the chance to go back and begin re-reading the manuscript from the beginning, and I was finally able to put a finger on where the story zigged when it should have zagged.

Bottom line? I had tried too hard to force the story into a set word count.  I was shooting for a 90k to 100k word count, when the story wants to be more like 125k to 150k.  I didn’t really want to write anything quite that long, but I finally realized that everything I was weaving into the story wouldn’t work unless I gave it free rein.  Besides, in all the time I’ve spent trying to wrangle the word count under that 100k self-imposed restriction, I probably could have already written the full 150k words I was trying to avoid.

So, I chopped of the end of the manuscript, nearly a quarter of what I had written, and brought it back down to where I had last been happy with the story as a reader.  That brought me down to just under 78k words.  Then I started re-writing the story as it wanted to be told.  I’m currently back up to 85k, and MUCH happier with the way it’s progressing.  I hope you, as readers, will be happy with the result.

 

  • The End of the Laptop

Yes, I had to retire an old friend.  He was a Dell XPS 17″ L702x laptop with a 750 GB primary drive and a 2 TB secondary drive… a real workhorse of a machine.  I bought him back in January of 2012 and it’s now September of 2018.  That’s six years and nine months of tireless work.  And I HAVE worked him hard.  The only criticism I have of him is that he was a bit overweight.  Hauling that 17″ behemoth around was rough on the back… especially as I get older.

Technically, he’s still working.  The problem is that one of the hinges is giving up the ghost.  Anytime I try to open or close the lid, the hinge separates from the screen, popping and scraping, and leaving bits of plastic as it tries to break completely.  And there are only so many times you can continue to try to force the lid up or down before entropy finally wins.  So for now, he is still set up in the office, still powered up.  If not for the fact that the power button is beneath the lid, I would keep him hooked up indefinitely, using him as a desktop.  But I will still have to open the lid (at least enough to reach the power button above the keyboard) any time I want to power him back up.  Eventually, that hinge will go.

So I had to make a decision.  I had saved up enough from the book earnings to fund my next book.  For the first time, I was going to be able to afford editing, cover art and design, formatting… all the publishing expenses, completely off my royalties.  But not if I bought a new laptop.  At least not if I bought another workhorse like the XPS.  So, as in so many things in life, I had to compromise.  I bought a good, business class laptop… a Dell Latitude 15″ 5590.  It’s not got anywhere near the drive capacity of the old XPS, and the drive is slower (5400 rmp vs 7200), but it’s a mid-range and dependable business-class laptop.  It should do the job.  As a matter of fact, I’ve had it for almost a week, am working on it as I type this, and have zero complaints with it.  In fact, my back really appreciates the difference in weight.  LOL

  • The End of a Business Relationship

It’s been more than a year since I commissioned the audiobook version of Year 12.  For whatever reason, the narrator I commissioned has still not delivered the audio files, and it’s time for me to sever the relationship.  For the longest time I was patient as he claimed personal issues.  Truth is, he has a wonderful voice, and I really REALLY wanted him to do the book.  But he’s stopped answering emails, and the contract called for the book to be completed in July of 2017.  It’s now September of 2018.  That’s a year of lost income, and I guess the time for patience and understanding is pretty much past.  So I’ll be severing ties with him.  

I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with regards to a Y12 audiobook… put it back up for audition?  Do the narration myself?  There are pros and cons to both options, and I need to think it over for a while.  In the meantime, I have other books to write.

And that’s it for now.  Time to go from all these ending to beginnings.  Like, beginning to get myself back to work.  

So take care, and stay safe.  I’ll talk to you again soon.  :bye:

Aug 222018
 

It’s been a while, right?  Yes, I’m still working the contract IT gig.  And you remember how I mentioned last time that we’d had two of our three kiddos, as well as their families (as in daughter-in-law and grand-kids) come visit for a bit?  Well, it was “two of our three kiddos”, and we really needed a trifecta.  So yeah, we just got back from visiting the third kiddo. You’ve heard me mention Baby Bird before, right?  She’s going to school in Santa Fe, and MBH hadn’t seen her in about a year.

We rectified that situation with a road trip.  It was about a ten-hour drive from Claremore, OK to Santa Fe, NM, and while the drive was long, it also held some beautiful sights.  As we drove west, the hills and greenery gave way to plains and windmills, and eventually to long expanses of desert, scrub, cacti, and mountains in the distance.  What was especially awe-inspiring was the sight of thunderclouds in the distance, with dark sheets of rain falling so far away that we couldn’t even begin to judge how many miles lay between us and that rain.

Our arrival in Santa Fe, however, was somewhat less awe-inspiring.  We’re some of those folks that like to use Air BnB to find places to stay.  Sometimes you find a real gem, and sometimes not so much.  This time, we followed our trusty Garmin to the little casita we had rented, but were stopped before we even got there.  When we tried to pull up the little gravel road, our way was blocked by several police cars.  And of course, as soon as they saw us, one of the cops got on the radio.

So what do you do in that situation?  If you turn around to leave what appears to be a pretty intense situation, you look like you’re running from the cops.  If you get out to ask them to move, you look like you’re trying to cause trouble.  And to top it all off, we weren’t even completely sure we were in the right place.  MBH suggested I simply ask if this was the correct address. (gulp)  So, masculinity on the line, I got out of the car to speak to the nice, intimidating, scowling officer.  I asked if this was “456 That-street”,  explaining that we were trying to get to a casita we had rented through Air BnB, and weren’t even sure we were in the right place.

Nope.  They were at “452 That-street”.  Right street, wrong address, and our casita was four doors farther down, with multiple police vehicles between us and it, and no way around them.

Needless to say, we decided to go visit Baby Bird a bit earlier than planned.  A few hours later, we went back, and this time, Johnny Law was gone.  We found our accommodations for our stay without any further issue and settled in.

While we were in town we took advantage of an annual event in Santa Fe.  The Santa Fe Indian Market is an annual show in (you guessed it) Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It’s sponsored by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, and features Native American artists from all over the US and Canada.  Just to be allowed to exhibit, the artists have to apply months in advance, must be able of Native American descent, and have their work judged and accepted by a jury for the show.  It’s one of the largest shows of its kind in the country, and Santa Fe actually closes down the streets downtown to make room for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come (as we did) from all over to visit.  After seeing the work on display, I think (hope?) we may have convinced Baby Bird to apply for a booth next year.  At the very least, I hope we’ve finally convinced her to stop undervaluing her work.  She was able to see that some of her peers who had paintings on par with some of hers, were selling them for thousands of dollars, where she’s been reluctant to charge hundreds.

Of course, there were artists of all kinds at the show… jewelers, painters, weavers, potters, and even traditional dancers.  Yeah, this was an event where the phrase “dancing in the streets” takes on a whole new meaning.

But one of the stars of the show (at least for us) was the giant teddy bear of a dog, ironically enough named “Oso” (which is Spanish for “bear”).  Oso is a Malamute almost shocking in his size.  I mean, look at the picture there.  Look at the size of his paws, as compared to his master’s.  He was huge!  But he was also as calm and gentle as you could ever imagine.  Oso is a service dog, who has been trained to smell sugar levels in anticipation of diabetic problems.

After we’d worn ourselves out at the art show, we went back to cool off and get ready for a nice dinner.  I didn’t know it, but Santa Fe is apparently known for some pretty fancy dining spots, and we decided to treat ourselves to a very rare night at a fancy restaurant.  Let me tell you, if you ever get the chance to eat at the Fenix at Vanessie Restaurant, I highly recommend it.  The food was amazing, as was the atmosphere.  The decor was (of course) high end Native American, and there was a piano bar.  And did I mention the food?  (insert drool here)

Anyway, MBH and I took Baby Bird, and it was an evening we’ll remember for a LONG time.

I could go on about the trip, but I’m already pushing a thousand words on the blog here, and I haven’t even said anything about the progress on revamping the web site (not a lot to talk about anyway), writing progress (same), marketing (learning some things, getting ready to put the learning into practice), or the business side of writing (bought a book that’s beginning to convince me I’ve messed up with my newsletter philosophy).

I guess that just means I have something to write about for next time, right?    But until then, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you later.  :bye:

 

Jul 252018
 

First, let me address the elephant in the room.  As you can see, I’ve begun to revamp the site here.  It’s a need that was recently driven home to me when a Facebook friend and fellow writer posted a link to his own site and I visited it.  I was immediately struck by how professional and lively his website was, and when I went from his to my own, the comparison was pretty drastic.  So yeah, I need to do some work here.

As you can see, I’ve already changed the background, and I’ll probably start experimenting with my old personal site to see what kind of changes I want to make before doing anything too drastic.  But rest assured, more changes are probably coming in the near future.  ;)   (BTW, please comment on anything that you like and/or dislike here.  I’m just spit-balling at the moment.)

Moving on to another elephant here… it’s been three weeks since my last post.  Too long for a supposedly weekly blog.  This time I have a good excuse, though.  I’m working a contract job again, so my weekdays are pretty much spoken for.  In addition to that, we had family come and visit last week.  All that combines to make for some busy times… so no blog entries, no Sunday’s Share, and very little social media presence at all.

And of course, it also means that the writing is slower than usual.  Worse yet, the WIP (which was up over 96k words a few days ago), suffered from drastic weight loss surgery and lost a bit over 5000 words.  It hurt to chop all that, but the parts I cut were a necessary loss.  There’s an old adage that writers use, attributed to Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.  When asked to give practical advice to fellow writers, he gave the following:

“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—wholeheartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

Today, “Murder your darlings” is a common catch phrase with writers.  It means that we must be prepared to cut out the words that we hold most dear.  If those words don’t move the story forward, then it doesn’t matter how much you might love what you’ve written.  They have to go.  A writer has to remember that no matter how pretty the prose might be, it’s secondary to the actual story.

So the WIP lost a character, and all references to him.  He was part of a twisty little sub-plot that really didn’t contribute to the tale.  And after cutting him out, I have to admit that the draft is much tighter.

And that’s pretty much it.  Time to get back to it. So stay safe, and I’ll talk to you later.  :bye:

 

 Posted by at 4:41 pm
Jul 042018
 

I’m not going to spend much time on a post here today.  It’s the 4th of July… Independence Day for those of us here in the US.  So I’m just going to wish a safe and happy 4th to those of you who celebrate it.  And for those of you who don’t… well, I still hope you have a safe and happy 4th.  

I’ll talk to you next time.  Until then, stay safe.  :bye:

 Posted by at 4:22 pm
Jun 272018
 

I’m going to try to make this post a short one.  (I’m really, REALLY working hard to try and finish up the latest Amber Payne novel, and I need to stay after it.  :)   So, some quick updates…

First, remember the mystery I mentioned in the last post?  The Goal Zero solar charger?  Well we finally found out where it came from.  It turns out that some very dear friends (who really shouldn’t have spent anything on me) sent it to me for my birthday.  So a huge THANK YOU to the two of you.  (You know who you are.)  

Also, I think I mentioned a while back that I had been invited to speak at a local seminar on creating audiobooks.  That took place on June 16th, and it went very well.  The primary speaker was WB Ward, a local radio personality.  He is a narrator of several audiobooks (unfortunately, I don’t recall exactly how many… it’s just a LOT), and he spoke on the ins and outs of creating one.  Since he did his own voice work though, he had never had to go through the auditioning process from an author’s perspective.  That’s where I came in.  And yes, there are pictures, so it really happened.  ;)

Writing report –

I’ve found a handy new tool to help keep me on track with the writing.  It’s called “The Magic Spreadsheet” (TMS), and writers have been using it for years.  It’s an online spreadsheet where many writers list their wordcount each day, complete with goals, levels, and a few other things.  The spreadsheet itself isn’t all that unusual, although someone has put a LOT of work into the formulas being used to track everything.  The thing that seems to make it so useful is the fact that it puts your progress out there for your peers to see.  There’s a psychological element in that… it makes you want to keep going – to keep working, so you can compare your progress with that of the men and women you see who are “making it” as writers.  I can see that “Writer X” is writing an average of 2100 words per day, every single day.  And I can see that “Writer X” has days like I do, where you only get an additional 400 or 500 words.  It’s heartening to see that they can have the same setbacks that I do, and still put out that high overall average wordcount.

And then I see that I’m putting out an average of 1200 words per day.  I can look at their numbers and see that most of them work at it seven days a week, where I definitely take it easier on the weekends.  At first, I wasn’t writing at all on the weekends, but TMS has a minimum word requirement if you want to stay in the rankings, so for the last several week, I’ve made it a point to at least hit the minimum, even on the weekends.

And my numbers have been rising.  More importantly, the book is progressing!  Yay!  

 

Here’s how…

Payne and Suffering – the novel is a bit over 86000 words at the moment, and promises to carry on for well over 100K.  However, I have finally realized that I’m very likely going to have to cut a few characters and some sub-plots out of it.  My end goal is to keep the book under 100K in its finished form.  Wish me luck.

IMR – (AKA “the Sekrit Projekt”) I’ve barely started on this one… less than a chapter so far.  I’m torn between wanting to write this one, and having to wait for the contract.  But there was an opening scene that I felt needed a home, so I’ve written a tiny bit.  Of course, I’ve also collated 53 pages of notes for the story so far.  LOL

But it’s time for me to get back to writing.  So I’ll talk to you next time.  Until then, stay safe, everyone.  :bye:

 Posted by at 5:20 pm