Sep 252019
 

Hey folks.  Yes, it looks like I’m back.  I’m going to keep it short, though.  I’m still plugging away at Crazy Larry.  What I had planned to write as a novella of maybe 18 to 20k words, is quickly approaching the length of a short novel of around 40 to 45k.  I’m not certain, but I think I’ll probably put it together with The Road to Rejas (aka R2R), and bind them together as another novel in the Half Past Midnight universe.  The two of them combined would actually be large enough to even do a print version.

I think that’s probably a good idea anyway, since I contacted Amazon last week to see about getting them to set up a couple of series pages for me… one for the Amber Payne series, and one for the Half Past Midnight series.  When they asked me for the names of the titles in each of the series, they had no problem with the Payne titles.  But when I mentioned The Road to Rejas, they informed me that they were unable to list novellas as part of a series.  So if I combine R2R and Crazy Larry into a single volume and call it something like “Doomsday Tales” or some such, then I should be able to get them all together under a series page, after all.  And later, when I finally get around to writing the short story, “Silent Night“, that’s been rattling around in my brain, I can add it to the same volume.  In fact, it would likely make a great loss leader for the mailing list.  Things to think about for the future. 

Speaking of the future, I can’t seem to shake the ideas for the Sekrit Projekt.  I talked to the IP owner about a couple of ideas, and got a tentative green light.  That green light opened up some other ideas, and I think I have firm paths for at least half a dozen books in the series.  I hate when I see shiny new ideas on the horizon, while I still have work to do in the queue.  

On a final note, I recently found a some comments that got caught in the spam filter.  I’ve approved them now, but figured I would address them here…

One was from “Vikki”, who was extremely complimentary, and said “This is one of my all time favorites! Keep reading it over and over…”.  So thanks Vikki.  I really appreciate the kind words.  Unfortunately, your comment was attached to the Newsletter Signup, so I’m not sure which book you mean.  Regardless, I REALLY like hearing from people who’ve read my work, and enjoyed it.  Thank you.  :)

Two more were referencing Pangaea Exiles.  One of them also was attached to the Newsletter Signup page, and the other was attached to last December’s WW120 post.  Both comments wanted to know when the next Pangaea book was coming out.  Unfortunately, I don’t have anything definite to tell you guys about that.  The reality of trying to make it as a writer is that you have to write where the money is, and as much fun as I had with Pangaea, I have to concentrate my time on those projects that have the best chance of helping me pay the bills.  I’m not saying I won’t come back to it, because I’m sure I probably will.  I just don’t know when.  And it’s honestly going to be a lower priority than some of my other series.  I’m sure that’s not what you were hoping to hear, but I have to be honest with you.

So that’s it. Time to get back to work. Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you again soon.  

Sep 182019
 

Yep, it’s been a LOOONNNGGG time since I posted here.  Nine months, in fact.  That’s because I ran into problems with the new Amber Payne novel (lots and LOTS of problems) and I told myself that I was tired of posting excuse after excuse about why it was taking so long to get that particular novel written.  So my solution (misguided or not) was to stop posting on the blog until I could tell you that it was finally finished.

Well, guess what?  It’s finally finished!  Better yet, it’s published and is beginning to sell… at least the kindle version.  The title is Payne Before the Storm, and I hope to have the print version available within the next week or so. Once it’s out, there will also be a bit of work in reworking the cover and formatting on the first novel in the series, Streets of Payne.  It’s necessary from a branding perspective, and it takes time to do it right.  Luckily I’ve got a great cover artist and formatter in Glendon Haddix at Streetlight Graphics.  I can’t say enough about how great he is to work with.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to run a little promotion with the release of this newest title.  If you’re interested in getting a free, signed copy of Payne Before the Storm I’m going to be holding a monthly drawing for the first year after the novel is published.  You can enter one of two ways.

  1. If you haven’t already done so, you can go to “jlbrackett.com” and join my mailing list. Each new sign up will become eligible for the monthly drawing.  OR…
  2. Leave an honest review of the book on Amazon, then email me a copy of your review at jlb.author@gmail.com.

On the first of each month, for twelve months after the publication date, I will draw one name (or perhaps more) at random and email the winner(s) to get shipping information.

Offer ends twelve months after publication date.

So the bad news is that it took so long to get the book written.  You remember me mentioning “lots and LOTS of problems”?  Well, most of those problems were caused by me trying to put too much in one book.  It took forever for me to realize that I was actually telling two separate stories in the same novel.  Once I realized that, I had to dissect the novel, cut the two stories apart, clean up any references to the second story line in the first story line, and shore up the gaps.  The good news in all this is that in doing so, the culled story line gave me a good start on the third Amber Payne novel.  You might notice that the progress meters to the right have changed to reflect that.

At the moment, “Amber Payne #3” (AP3) is untitled.  I honestly have no idea what it will be called.  And the progress meter is currently sitting on 15000 words.  That’s just a guess, because I actually cut closer to 25000 words from the earlier version of Payne Before the Storm, but that’s just raw deletions.  Putting it back into a workable manuscript format is going to take a bit of work.

Personal Life

So what have I been doing on the personal front since my last post?  A lot.  Truthfully, way too much to list here.  But the biggest highlight is…

We have a new granddaughter!!  Say hello to Zaria Brackett.  Her due date was May 4th and everyone was all excited at the prospect of having a Star Wars baby (as in May the “fourth” be with you…).  Evidently Zaria heard about what a wreck Disney has made of the franchise though, and decided to hold out a few more days.  We took a little time and drove down to spend a bit of time with her and  big sister, Zoe.  And oh yeah, their parents were there, too.  

 

Writing Projects

I hope to get back into a regular routine with the blog here. But I also intend to really throw myself into some of the writing projects I have lined up.

Crazy Larry is coming along. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a long novella, or a short novel.  Either way, I’m hoping to have it finished in another week or two.  This is the story of the first months after the Doomsday War from Half Past Midnight, but it’s told from the perspective of the antagonist in the first novel.  They say everyone is the hero of their own story.  This is Larry Troutman’s story.

AP3 – I already talked about the third Amber Payne novel, but it’s going to be my next major project after Crazy Larry.

Sekrit Projekt – I keep taking these on… projects that I’m really excited about, but because of their nature, I’m not allowed to discuss them.  And even worse, my track record with them has been absolutely terrible!  This will be the fourth one I’ve taken on.  All three of the previous ones have fallen through.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed this time though.  If things work out, it could be a really fun series, and I’ve already got some ideas about some of the stories that want to be told.  IF it works out, I should start work on it in early 2020.

And that’s it for now.  Time to get back to writing.  Have a great day, and stay safe!  

Dec 062018
 

Just a short post here to catch up with everyone.  I’ve obviously fallen off the wagon with regards to posting here in a timely manner.  If you check the dates, you’ll see that my weekly blog post has been missing for a month now.  That happens every year around this time, with the holidays.  Our big one this year was Thanksgiving.  Hope yours was good (those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving). We managed to make a whirlwind trip down to see family for a couple of days. We drove down Wednesday, spent Thanksgiving day at my son and daughter in law’s new home, rested on Friday, and drove back on Saturday.  It was way too brief, but well worth it.  Even more so since my daughters, mother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and one of my nephews also made it over to visit.  It was the first time in several years that we were all able to spend time together.

Of course, right after we got back, I got sick.  Nothing terrible, just the typical chest cold.  I still have a touch of it, but I’m getting better.  Unfortunately, MBH has it now.  Yeah, I made her sick… even more so than usual. 

Hmmm… what else?

Ah, well, I got a ticket a few weeks ago.  Actually, I guess I need to back up a little bit more for this one…

See, MBH developed some eye issues that made it unsafe for her to drive.  Lattice degeneration that resulted in some torn tissue in her right peeper.  Luckily, she recognized that something was wrong and got in to see an ophthalmologist quickly.  The doc did some laser magic on her eye, and she’s healing up nicely now.  However, there were a few weeks where her vision wasn’t good enough to drive, so Yours Truly did the honors.  It was actually pretty nice, being able to drive her to and from.  But one afternoon, my foot was a bit too heavy on the accelerator, and I found myself on the wrong end of a speeding ticket.  

In other news, I’ve been studying the marketing side of the writing business.  I keep saying I’m going to change some of the things I’m doing with regards to writing.  One of the things I started looking at was why I’m not selling.  See, things have changed a lot since I first got into this.  Back then, you wrote a book, you published a book, you placed the book in a few mailing lists, and then you left it alone while you went and wrote the next story.  That’s not the case anymore.  At least, not if you want to make a living at it.

So I’m having to study some of the new tools available for writers.  I need to learn more about keywords and how Amazon has changed them.  I need to learn more about Amazon Ads, leveraging newsletters, working your title through Amazon’s niche categories so it can climb into the larger categories…  and the more I read, the more daunting it is to realize how far behind I’ve fallen.

So you may see more of the old style “Learning to Write” posts in the future as I go through various lessons and try different things.  Some folks will enjoy them.  Others will likely roll their eyes at the writer tech-speak that will ensue.  Of course, if no one leaves me any comments, I won’t know either way, right? 

Writing progress – 

AP2 – The second Amber Payne novel is mostly finished (I think).  I’ve settled on a new title… “The Payne Before The Storm“.  Or maybe I should drop it to “Payne Before The Storm“… Anyway, all but a few scenes are written. But because of all the cutting and rewriting, many of the chapters are a huge, jumbled mess.  This has, by far, been the most difficult book to write that I’ve done.  But stay tuned for a cover reveal in the near future.

IMR– This was the so-called “sekrit projekt”, and unfortunately, it fell through.  The author who contacted me about it said that his attorney had advised him to not job the project out.  He was going to have me write a prequel series that led into his current series, and there was too much chance of confusing the overlapping intellectual property rights.  That’s a true bummer, since I was actually very excited about the project, and had already written a few chapters and had ideas for six different books.  But nothing written is ever wasted.  What I wrote for that project can be adapted later.  When and/or if I ever get back to the “Warrior Clan” series I was fiddling with, these chapters might fit right in with just a little adjustment.

PE2 – So with IMR off the schedule, it looks like the next book in the lineup will probably be a new Pangaea novel.  Looks like it’s time for Sean Barrow to mount his camelo again. Wonder what he and his friends will run into this time?  

 

And that’s enough.  I said I was going to make it a short one, and that was more than 800 words back.  So I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.  And whether you celebrate Christmas, are in the midst of Hanukkah, or celebrate any other holiday, whatever it may be… stay safe!  

Apr 112018
 

Remember back in January when I mentioned that Severed Press had contacted me to say that Pangaea: Exiles was going to be released as an audiobook on Audible in a few months?  Well, I emailed them to check status on it a few days ago.  After emailing them, I figured I might as well go check on Audible to see if maybe it had already come out and they just hadn’t let me know.

Guess what?  It was released two weeks ago (March 28).  I haven’t heard it yet myself, but if you’d like to check it out, you can find it here.

What else?  Hmmm….

Oh!  remember the picture I posted of the Stenonychosaurus in WW106?  It was the critter I was writing about in the anthology story for Severed.  Well, come to find out, the Stenonychosaurus ceased to exist as of 1987.  Turns out that some paleontologists figured out that the bones they were using to identify good old Steggy were actually the bones of juvenile Troodons.

So yeah, more rewrites.  But it’s finished.  Both story and contract are off to Severed.  Watch for the upcoming anthology “Prehistoric“.  It will still be a few months, I’m sure.  The deadline isn’t until the end of April, and I’m sure there will be some back and forth with the editor.   But for my part, most of the work is done.

You know what’s so strange on this one?  I think the thing that gave me the most anguish was trying to find a title that fit the story.  I never really found one that gave me that “aha!” moment.  There was no clever, cutesy, tie-in to some word or phrase or theme in the story.  But I was spending WAY too much time trying to find something that, in my mind at least, pulled the whole thing together.  In the end, I simply picked “Apex“, the best of several unsatisfying titles I had come up with, and decided that it was time to cut it loose.

There is a saying among artists of any sort.  “Art is never completed, only abandoned.”  If you aren’t familiar with it, it simply means that artists (whether it be painters, singers, writers, or any other type of artist) will often spend WAY too much time polishing their latest work, trying to make it “perfect”.

For a writer, it may be changing a scene here or there… or simply switching a few words in order to alter the mood or connotation.  And it’s something that is probably needed on the first draft or two.  We tend to obsess over tiny details, polishing and polishing, until we’re really doing little more than wasting time.

But eventually we have to let it go.  We have to abandon the work… release it into the wild, so to speak.  And that’s what I’ve done.  If I don’t, I’ll never get the next project done.

So I’m back on Payne and Suffering, and the numbers there should start climbing again significantly.

And that’s it for now.  Stay safe.  :bye:

Mar 282018
 

How about this guy?  Good looking fella, right?  He’s a Troodontid named Stenonychosaurus, and is roughly the size of a large wolf.  He was a pack hunter, and based on the size of the brainpan, scientists think he was the smartest of all the dinosaurs.  And that made him ideal for the story I did.

Yes, the story for the Severed Press anthology is done.  Well, the rough draft is done, anyway.  The problem is they wanted something between 2000 and 7000 words, and unfortunately, my first draft is over 9000. 

So yeah, I’m tearing through it, trying to cut out 2000 words or more.  I’ve managed to get it down to about 8300 words so far, and am still ripping it up.  I know I can do it, but it’s hard, leaving things “on the cutting room floor” so to speak.  Still, if past experience is any guide, the story should be better for it when I’m done.  Short stories are great lessons in learning to write tight, concise, and clear prose, even though the lessons can be a bit painful.

Honestly, I’m having as much trouble figuring out what to call as I did in writing it.  See, there’s a contract I’m supposed to fill out for Severed, and one of the fields is “story entitled”.  The problem is, I have absolutely no idea what to call it.  Usually, I either have a title from the beginning of a project, or it comes to me as I write it.  On this one, I’m already finished, and I still have no idea.  I’ve toyed with several ideas, but none of them really fit.  And until I slap a name on it, I can’t finish filling out the contract!  How crazy is that?  

Anyway, I hope to have the word count down by the end of the day, and I’m considering sending it out to some beta readers tomorrow.  I should be able to get a quick turnaround on a 7000 word story, and betas will probably help me catch things my own eyes will miss (it’s the old “writer’s eye sees what it expects to see” problem).  Better yet, maybe some of them will have some title ideas!

Let’s see, what else do I have to report?  Baby Bird got straight A’s for her first semester in her Master’s program.  We’re very proud of her, of course.  

I can’t really think of anything else I need to report on.  And if I can’t think of anything more, then I guess it’s time to close this out and get back to writing.  Looks like it’s going to be a short post this week.

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