Nov 292017
 

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

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

Well, hell yeah, I was okay with it.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Nov 012017
 

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

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

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

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

Writing –

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

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

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

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

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

RPotW

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

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

 

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