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:

 

Aug 232017
 

Yep.  Lots going on.  And that’s a good thing.  There’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment that comes from whittling down the old “to-do” list.  We’ve had friends and family in and out of the house for the last few weeks, gotten the bathroom remodel nearly completed, and are in the final stages of getting my mom’s cabin cleaned out and ready for the new tenants to move in.

On the writing front, you may be happy to know that I got the manuscript for Pangaea Exiles back from the publisher three days ago.  As of a few minutes ago, I finished the final revisions and sent them back.  That should be the last of the editing, and as far as I know, the manuscript is now ready for formatting.  Woohoo! 

CL – In the meantime, Crazy Larry has proven to be longer than I originally anticipated. In fact, it looks like it’s actually going to be a little longer than The Road to Rejas.  But I think I’m in the final stretch now. We’ll see how it finishes out.

Y12 – The audiobook for Year 12 is in production, and the chapters I’ve reviewed so far sound fantastic.  Corey Snow is an amazing talent.  I’m so lucky to have him as the voice of the Half Past Midnight universe.  If anyone needs a talented voice actor, Corey is one of the absolute best.

I think I’m actually going to make this one a short entry.  I know I always say that, but this time it’s true. So very quickly, here’s the RPotW.  I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but Baby Bird is a sushi fanatic.  I think she would eat the stuff for every meal if she could afford to.  We recently found a sushi restaurant in a nearby town that serves amazing rolls.  We’ve been able to take her there a few times, and she declared it the best she’s ever had.

Of course, that means that any time we get a chance to go, we have to send her a pic like this one and tease her with the fact that we’re there, while she’s back home eating the college student’s typical diet of Raman, or some similarly blasé meal.  Yeah, we’re mean that way.  But it serves to remind her that she has good food here anytime she comes to visit.  (Hint, hint!) 

And that’s it.  Time to get back to it.  Stay safe everyone, and I’ll talk to you next time!  

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.