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.   Confused

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.  Wink

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.   Cool  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.   Big Smile

 Posted by at 9:56 am
Jun 222017
 

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted here, but the truth of the matter is, I haven’t had all that much to post about.  I’ve been writing my way through the novella Crazy Larry until recently, with the word count so far coming in at around 15K.  I still feel like it’s going to be a little shorter than The Road to Rejas, but I’ll just have to see where the story takes me.  Maybe I can combine the two and publish a printed version of both novellas in a single volume.  For that matter, maybe it will be time to do an omnibus of all the titles in the Half Past Midnight universe.  Something for me to ponder when I get some time.

In the meantime, I recently got back the first round of edits for Pangaea – Exiles from the publisher.  So far, it looks like the comma and I are not going to be close friends.  I seem to put them where they aren’t needed, and leave them out where they are.  And there are also a lot of minor (to me) formatting issues.  One that I see quite a bit of on this pass is an apostrophe that curls left rather than right.  I’m not sure what the difference is, and quite honestly, I didn’t even know there were two kinds, but evidently I used the wrong one A LOT!   Confused

There are also a few spots where the editor is asking questions that I thought I had already explained earlier in the manuscript.  The fact that she is asking the questions tells me that I may need to do some clarification.  So I’ve written extra bits that should do just that, with notes to the editor to see if the new parts are needed, or if she simply missed the earlier parts.  I guess that will all come out in the second round of edits.  At any rate, I hope to have this round done later today and will be back to Crazy Larry for a short time while the editor goes over the returned manuscript.  ITMT, I still have to see what they end up with for a cover design, so we’re not quite ready yet.  Soon though, I hope.  Smile

WW85A RPotW – And here’s this week’s random pic.  It’s a simple “Harvest of the Day” picture.  It’s not much… a single tomato, two little asparagus spears, and a handful of strawberries. I haven’t posted very many of these pics this year, mainly because my garden is really doing poorly this time around.  I waited until much too late in the season to get things started.  On top of that, all of the pepper seedlings I tried to start were duds.  Not a single plant started.  If not for the two plants I bought at the store, we wouldn’t have any peppers at all this year.

I can only assume I used some bad soil.  This will be the second year in a row that bad potting soil has bitten me.  I’ll just have to accept that no matter how small the batch I’m going to be planting, I can’t skimp by using a no-name bag of potting soil.  I suppose it’s just like anything else in life… you have to start with quality if you want to get quality.

So here’s hoping you get great quality out of your life.  Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  Bye

 

Mar 152017
 

WW75AWell, as you can see, we got the fence back up, though it did take a few days longer than expected. I managed to get the old post out of the ground well enough.  See that big “log” on the ground in front of the fence?  If you click on the picture, you’ll see that it’s really not a log at all.  It’s the two feet of concrete that the old post was set into… two feet of concrete that I had to dig out of the ground before I could plant the new post.

I suppose I should be grateful, though.  The guy that put up our fence used an auger to plant the posts, so the holes are all nice and neat – smooth cylinders of concrete straight into the ground, and relatively easy to find and dig loose.  Not so easy to get out of the ground by yourself, though.  I mean, that much concrete is heavy!  Beat Up 

However, I managed it all right, though I had to go wide enough with the hole so that I could get enough leverage with the shovel to help lift it out.  And that meant that the nice, neat, round hole, was no longer nice, neat, or round.  Now I had an oblong, ragged, gaping hole in the ground, with considerably more volume to fill than I had bought concrete for.  But yours truly is nothing if not inventive. You see, I get buckets from the local bakery for use in my various gardening experiments.  They’re free, and give me considerable freedom to test out various ideas for planting, irrigation, or to just carry tools around.

In this case, I just sacrificed the bottoms of two of them, cutting them out so that I had a couple of empty plastic cylinders.  I poured a little concrete in the bottom of the hole, slid the first bottomless bucket around the new post, filled it with more concrete, and when it was full, repeated the process, stacking the second one on top of the first.   The end result was a post set within concrete filled buckets that were then easily surrounded with the fill dirt I had dug out in order to remove the old post.

So there I was, feeling quite clever… old post still propped up, holding the horizontal rails and fence in place so the dogs couldn’t get out and nothing else could get in. The new post was standing straight up in the ground (I knew it was straight, since I had repeatedly checked it with the level while placing it).  And that was when I realized that the horizontal posts from the old fence had to go into the new post before the concrete completely set.

And I still hadn’t even taken them off of the old post!   Eek!

The next several minutes were filled with me frantically struggling to remove the fencing staples that held the fence to the rails with a screwdriver and hammer, all the while hoping the “QuickCrete” I had bought, wasn’t so quick that I wouldn’t be able to move that post to get the rails into the holes on the new post.  And after considerable hammering and prying at the staples, (you know, those crazy “U”-shaped, double-headed nails?) and more than a little bit of cussing, I managed to get the rails loose from the fence itself, and then from the old, broken, post.

And the concrete hadn’t set so much that I wasn’t able to move the post.  So I shoved the new post out a bit, placed the horizontals in place, and shoved the new upright back into place, all with the concrete still pliable enough to fill back into the hole. Crisis averted.  Whew!  Struggle

At that point, the new post and rails were in place, but the concrete hadn’t set well enough to put any tension on them.  The QuickCrete bag said it would be four to six hours at a minimum, so I still had to prop the old fence back up again with old lumber (and a bit of wishful thinking) right up against the new post.

Saturday came, and as promised, brought with it more than enough rain to keep us from working on the fence any further. No big deal though, we still had Sunday, right? (sigh)

Unfortunately, Sunday brought its own set of issues… namely, me.  I’d been having problems with my asthma for the last few weeks, which let me know that I was probably getting ready to have a full-blown allergic reaction sometime soon.  “Soon” ended up being Sunday.

MBH and I got up and made cinnamon rolls.  It was another experiment for us, as we had never made them before.  They turned out pretty good, though as with most experiments, there was room for improvement and we’ve already decided how we’re going to change the recipe for next time.  After breakfast, we bundled up (Saturday’s rain brought more cold weather with it and the temperature was down into the upper 30s), and took the girls for a brisk morning walk.  That was all it took.

WW75BMany years ago, I was diagnosed with exercise induced allergies.  My first attack was when I was a teen.  I had just finished one of my karate classes, and was jogging home when I started noticing how much my feet were hurting. Within a few minutes, I was having trouble breathing, and by the time I made it home, I was in the midst of my first asthma attack, accompanied by my first experience with hives.  My mom freaked (understandably), and rushed me to the local emergency clinic, where the doctors also just about had a cow.  To be fair, I suppose I would have done the same.  I mean, you see a thirteen year old kid on the table, face so swollen that his eyes are barely able to open, and he’s wheezing like his throat is swollen shut.  My mom told me later that they were about ready to trache me.  Luckily, one of the docs recognized my symptoms, administered a dose of adrenaline, and within several minutes, I was breathing normally again and the swelling was going back down.

Since that first time, I’ve learned to deal with this as a normal part of my life.  I’ve also learned to recognize the symptoms leading up to an attack, and minimize their effect.  MBH has also learned to help me deal with them.  Because of the tightness of chest and trouble breathing I’d been experiencing for the last few weeks, we knew it was coming.  And since I had shut down the last few attacks before they’d really run their course, we suspected I was due for a relatively bad one.  Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as we had feared, though as you can see in the picture, I did end up with a few hives.

But the end result was that my Sunday was spent kicked back, trying not to scratch, while I tried to let the attack run its course.  A few hours of hives, with the accompanying itching, swelling, high blood pressure, and asthma, meant that I wasn’t about to be outside working on the fence.  Instead, I ended up sitting like a lump in the easy chair, waiting on the symptoms to peak so I could take a Benadryl and crash.

But Monday, I finally got to get outside to finish the freaking fence.  Yay!  It’s still not perfect.  It turns out that I set the pole a couple of inches higher than the original, and the gate is about an inch higher off the ground than it was.  And while there’s nothing I can do about the post being higher, there is enough adjustment in the gate itself to line it up properly.

So that’s it for my “Post about the Post”.

Other news…

End Point PangaeaEPP now sits at nearly 55k words, and is still moving.  This has been my main focus (other than visiting family, fence posts, and allergic reactions Wink ), so no other real writing news to report.

The Burning Land – “But wait,” you say. “I thought there wasn’t any other writing news.”  That’s true.  However, I’ve done a bit of recording, and am going to see about releasing TBL as audio via ACX and Audible.  We’ll have to see how that works out.  But with the changes that Amazon has made in terms since they bought out ACX, it’s very difficult to find voice actors who are willing to work for a royalty split.  These days, they want payment up front, and for anyone that does a decent job, the cost is usually at least $200 per finished hour.  Since ACX lists Year 12 as an estimated 12.8 finished hours, that means I would have to come up with roughly $2600 to have it produced.  And I just don’t have that kind of money.  So it occurred to me that perhaps I could do it myself.  But I need to start with something smaller… MUCH smaller.  Most sources agree that you can count on working about eight to ten hours per finished hour when you begin audio work.  Thus, this experiment with TBL.  I’ve already recorded the basic reading, and I already have the software, and know how to use it.  I’ve used it to record my promos for my other books.  Now it just remains to be seen if I can get a decent enough production level to put out something good enough to Audible.  That means editing out the miscellaneous train whistles from town, jet noises as they pass overhead, stomach gurgles from when I try to record just after eating (lesson learned there), wind whistling through the trees, laptop fan when it kicks on… I think you get the idea.  But IF I can get all that done, and manage to produce a decent audio file, then I might consider tackling the recording for Y12.

And that’s it for now.  Time to get back to writing.  So for now, stay safe everyone, and I’ll talk to you next time.  Bye

Jan 052017
 

First of all, I hope you all had a fantastic New Year’s.  I’ve reached that point in my life where quiet is better, so no crazy parties for MBH and I.  Truth be told, we’ve never been much for the wild New Year’s Eve parties. For us, getting our wild on this year entailed fixing one of our favorite meals.  Now, in order to let you appreciate just how different this meal is for us, I have to let you in on a not-so-secret secret. I’m not a big fan of red meat. Sure, I’ll munch on a burger as much as the next guy, and I love sausage and bacon in the morning.  But I’ve never really developed the appreciation most people have of a fine steak or roast.  It’s just not my thing.

But a few years back, I sampled my first buffalo flank steak and fell in love.  I don’t know why, but buffalo just tastes GOOD to me. And luckily, there was a store that carried it near our house in Houston.  It’s a little pricier than regular beef, but both MBH and I liked it enough that it became a semi-regular treat for us.

When we moved to Oklahoma, one of the things on my mind was the idea that we had moved into buffalo country!  It’s true.  Driving around this part of the country, it’s relatively common to see small herds of buffalo, where ranchers raise them like other ranches raise cattle. I just knew we were going to have quick and easy access to more buffalo at better prices.

ww67-aUnfortunately, the truth was much different. I’ve only found a few stores here that carry any buffalo at all, and those stores typically only carry it ground.  I found one place in Tulsa that says they have buffalo sirloin in their frozen food section… sometimes.  But none of them carry flank steak.  Side Frown

We searched online and also found some sites that sell the cuts we’re after, and we ordered from one of them… once.  Don’t get me wrong, the meat was delicious, and the people at Wild Idea Buffalo were very knowledgeable.  As a matter of fact, we learned to try some other cuts from them, and loved their skirt steaks and their flat-iron steaks.  The problem with ordering from them was the shipping fees.  Buying half a dozen steaks cost us about $40 in shipping, and that is just something we can’t afford to keep doing.  But I get it.  Shipping meat across the country requires fast, refrigerated shipping.  And that isn’t cheap.

But it’s still outside of our budget.

ww67-bSo for the Christmas holiday this year, we asked our son to bring some buffalo flank up from that store in Houston, where we used to buy it.  It’s ironic that we’re here, in the heart of buffalo country, and the best way for us to get our favorite flank steak is to have it brought up from Houston.  But he brought us four absolutely gorgeous steaks, and one of those was our New Year’s Eve dinner.  (insert a sigh of contentment here)

And as you can see from the pictures, it didn’t go unappreciated.  Big Smile

On the writing front…

Chucklers, Volume 1 – Severed Press put CV1 on an Amazon countdown sale for 99¢ and advertised it in the Booksends newsletter. The sale ends at 2AM tomorrow morning (central time), or just about fifteen hours from the time of this posting.  So here’s me, crossing my fingers and hoping sales do well.

End Point PangaeaEPP moved slowly for a bit, but I’m back on it today.  Between the holidays, and other writing projects, EPP simply didn’t get the attention it deserved, so the progress meter on it barely moved over the holidays.  That changes now.

FSJ – The Sekrit Projekt went pretty well. For now, I’m waiting to see what happens with it, and that’s all I can say about it for now.

Year 12 – I got the file for the Y12 print interior and, after some quick back and forth changes, I’ve approved the result and we’re moving on to the e-book files and print cover.  I’m hopeful that the final product will be ready to publish VERY soon.   Grin

So that’s it in my world. Time to get back to writing.  So as always, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you more next week. Bye

Oct 202016
 

081215_1754_WW8Publishi1.jpgIt’s been a few weeks since I posted here.  Last you heard, I had just published  the short story, The Burning Land. Since then, I’ve been working like a fiend on my next two releases, Chucklers – Book 1, and Year 12, both of which are very close to being published.

CB1 – I have to admit to a bit of panic when Severed sent me the CB1 ebook file for approval.  See, I had requested a copy of the formatted .mobi file with the cover, table of contents, front matter, back matter, etc.  Basically, I wanted to see exactly what it was going to look like when a reader loaded it onto their Kindle.  I’m one of those readers who reads my Kindle with the nighttime mode on.  I find it easier on  my eyes.

If you don’t already know, night mode is the setting on most Kindles wherein you can invert the standard setting of black text on a white background, to white text on a black background.  There is even a sepia setting for those who prefer black text, but find the white background to tiring on the eyes.  However, I’ve run into documents that have formatting issues that only become visible in night mode.  Things like a bad tag on the text color that makes it black, even when the color of the background changes.  Yeah, try reading black text on a black background sometime.  See how well that works for you.  Dazed

Another common problem is when certain parts of the work refuse to accept the night setting. You’re reading along, relaxing with your low light, white text/black background setting, when WHAM!  You click to the next page and there is a section that has black or gray text that is “highlighted” with a bright, white background, like in the picture above.

I’ve dealt with those, and other issues, either with my own titles, or in other books I’ve read.  As a result, I’m a little cautious.  I like to make sure my titles are as problem free as I can make them.  So when I opened the file they sent me, only to find no cover, no TOC, no front or back matter at all, and more than two dozen formatting problems, I have to admit, I began to panic.  I contacted the fine folks at Severed with a list of the issues and got a puzzled reply.  They weren’t having the same problems, even after testing on multiple devices.  They sent another copy of the file, and when I opened it, lo and behold, the cover, front matter, back matter… everything that had freaked me out when I found it missing in the first file, was there.  There were four minor problems, one of which was an error I had made in the original manuscript, that I didn’t catch until going over it again for this pass.

I have no idea what happened, but can only assume that the first file was somehow corrupted in transmission.  Whatever it was, Severed responded quickly, and I’m now confident that CB1 is going to come out as a fine product.  Better yet, it’s close enough to being ready, that I think it will probably be out pretty quickly.  So again, if you haven’t signed up for my new release mailing list, please consider doing so here.  I always make my first announcements and cover reveals there, before anyone else gets to see them.

 

Y12 Year 12 is off to Red Adept Editing.  I’ve used RAE for editing almost everything I’ve self-pubbed, and they’ve never disappointed.  They’re the people I always recommend whenever anyone asks for a good editor.  Since this is the beginning of the editing process, I know I probably have another month or so before Y12 is ready to publish, but believe me, I’m going to keep you all up to date as it winds its way through the process.  Besides, I still need to do a blurb, dedication, acknowledgements, and all the other finishing touches that go on a manuscript before it’s published, not to mention the cover.

And speaking of covers… I had a short conversation with Glendon at Streetlight Graphics that leads me to believe they’re already working on cover design for it.  To be perfectly honest, when they contacted me, I was so busy, that I don’t even fully recall the conversation.  But I do remember answering some of the basic questions they always ask before putting a cover together.  By the way, they’re another company I can recommend with the utmost confidence.  They do great covers and formatting if you’re in the market.

So, Y12 is getting close to publication, too.  I feel pretty confident that it will be out before the end of the year.

 

Other projects –

EPPEnd Point Pangaea is back on top as my priority WIP.  I hope to have the first draft done by the end of the year.

TBLThe Burning Land – But wait!  That one is already published, isn’t it?  Well, yes.  But I’m going to use it to try my hand at producing an audiobook.  I’ve already got a few titles out on Audible, but I’ve never taken the time to actually record one, myself.  But TBL, as a short story, is short enough that I hope to learn that process, and so open another income stream.

After those?  Well, I have several titles I plan on doing.  I just don’t know which ones will top the list.  I need to do Chucklers – Book 2, End Point Pangaea 2, the second Amber Payne book, or any one of several other projects.

But for now, I need to go fix dinner.  Sausage-stuffed portobello caps and salad.  Yum!   Big Smile  So stay safe, everyone.  I’ll talk to you next time.  Bye