Feb 012018
 

Today is February 1st, the “oneth of the month.” This is the day that we do our monthly maintenance chores like feeding the dog her monthly Heartguard, adding bleach to the septic system, etc.  This year, it’s also the day after the rare “super blue blood moon”.  It was “super” because the moon was at perigee, “blue” because it was the second full moon of the month, and a “blood” moon because it also marks the occurrence of a lunar eclipse.

It was also the 32nd anniversary of the day MBH and I got married.  Yep, I’m a lucky man.  

You may have noticed that I didn’t post anything last Wednesday.  That’s because MBH and I took a quick road trip to visit some folks in Texas.  Ever notice how birthdays and celebrations seem to come in waves?  Well, the end of January and beginning of February is just such a wave for our family.  There is our son’s birthday, our granddaughter’s birthday, my mother’s birthday, my brother-in-law’s birthday, our anniversary, and a very close friend’s birthday… all within a matter of a week.  We also had some personal business we had to take care of.

We all managed to cram a lot of life into those few days.  It was a whirlwind trip that left us pretty much exhausted by the time we made it back.  And as you can see, we weren’t the only ones exhausted. 

Now, on to the writing front –

Not a lot to report this week.

Payne and SufferingP&S is moving along.  I had a nice revelation over the weekend that revealed a bit of a plot flaw, as well as its solution.  That has meant some rewrites, which in turn means not as much improvement on the actual word count.  It also means that the story is pulling together better though, so no complaints here.  The book is currently sitting at a bit over 32k words.  Once I finish the rewrites, I expect to be back on track to finish the first draft by the end of March.

Now, I do seem to recall that I promised myself that I wasn’t going to spend too much time on this blog post each week, since  my time should be spent on writing my actual titles, so I’m going to make this one a very short post this week. So take care of yourselves, and stay safe.  :bye:

 

Jan 172018
 

Paxton Lee Frombaugh

About a two and a half years ago, I reconnected with Paxton Frombaugh, an old high school friend.  As often happens, he and I had fallen out of touch after school, each going our separate ways in pursuit of our lives.  We found one another again in August of 2015 through Facebook when some mutual friends reintroduced us and we began catching up again.

I won’t pretend that we struck up our old friendship like nothing had ever happened, or that we were just as close as we had once been.  Like I said, we had both pursued other lives, and there was about a thirty year gap since we had last spent any time together.  But the occasional chat session would remind me of how much fun he was back in the day, and he always brought a smile to my face.  There was even a certain amount of nostalgia involved as I recalled our old weekend D&D sessions. (Yes, we were some of those people.) 

And yes, this is the same Paxton that I named the leader of the Guard team after, in Pangaea: Exiles.  Paxton, Pax, Peaceful… if you remember that character from Pangaea, that was him.  He even chatted with me at one point about how much he loved that he finally got to be the “badass” that he’d never been in real life.  If you knew how kind he really was, the idea of him ever being a badass might make you chuckle.  

But I also knew he’d had some pretty serious health problems.  He spoke of them publicly, so I’m not betraying any confidence when I mention that he had kidney disease.  In November, he posted that he had some necrosis in the heel of his foot, but also mentioned that the doctors had assured him that it was under control, and that amputation wouldn’t be necessary.

Then the holidays came around, and he stopped posting.  I never thought anything about it, assuming that he, like many of us, was just busy with the holidays and family.  Then a friend of ours posted that she’d just heard Paxton was back in the hospital, and that they had been forced to amputate his leg, after all.  Apparently the necrosis had spread, despite what he’d first been told.  Worse, it had gotten all the way into his abdomen, and they didn’t expect him to live much longer than a few weeks.  I was shocked, to say the least.

That was January 7th.  A few hours later I went back to that same post to check his status.  As I was reading, a new comment popped up letting everyone know that Paxton had just passed away at about three o’clock.

Rest well, Peaceful.

 

Justin Macumber

Then, just a few days ago, on January 15th, I found that one of the people who inspired me to get serious with my writing passed away unexpectedly.  Justin Macumber also had kidney issues.  He’d just recently gotten a kidney transplant, and most of us assumed that was good news.  Unfortunately, his body rejected the transplant and he passed away.

Justin was the founder of the writing podcast, The Dead Robots’ Society.  This podcast was what caused me to revisit my old love of writing, and get off my butt to actually do something with it.  If you run a search through my blog here, you’ll see that Justin and the Dead Robots’ Society are mentioned pretty often.

And while he and I weren’t terribly close, I can indirectly attribute much of what little success I’ve had to him. For without Justin, there would have been no DRS Podcast.  I wouldn’t have learned about the ins and outs of indie publishing… wouldn’t have received encouragement from him and the other “robots” back in the days when DRS had its own online forum… wouldn’t have enjoyed the friendship of even more fans when they closed the old forum in favor of a Facebook page that allowed them to reach an even larger audience.

When I think back on the online writing community I’ve come to embrace, there is so much of it that ties back to Justin.  He inspired me, and so many others in the writing world.  I know I told him a few times, and I saw occasional posts where others told him.  I can only hope he truly understood it.

Goodbye, Justin.  We’ll miss you.

 Posted by at 3:16 pm
Jan 102018
 

Sure, it’s ten days late. But it’s the first post of 2018, so Happy New Year.  

I going to try to be short and sweet with this one because one of my personal resolutions is to buckle down more with the writing.

I don’t have a lot of time to read these days. If I have time to read, then I have time to write.  That means I feel guilty for reading and not putting more content out there.  But I do still listen to audiobooks, since I can do this when I’m walking the dog, or working in the house.

And there is something I’ve noticed.

Some of the more successful writers I’ve listened to just really aren’t all that good.  Or rather, they aren’t as good as I would expect, based on their financial success as authors.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic indie authors out there.  But there are also some pretty mediocre writers that are still extremely successful.

I know, I know, that sounds like the epitome of vanity for me to say something like that.  And it’s not that they’re actually bad writers.  They just aren’t where I would expect them to be as full-time writers who are making a good living at their craft.

And that got me to thinking… what are they doing that I’m not?

Answer –

  1. They produce more titles than I do.  A LOT more.  Sure, they’re usually shorter books, but there are a lot more of them.
  2. They market better than I do. They keep their name and titles out there so that they always have something in the new releases.  And the more the public sees your name, the more they buy your books.
  3. For better or worse, they don’t worry (obsess?) over the quality of the writing as much as I do. The quality of the prose is secondary to the quantity.  
  4. For the most part, they concentrate on a single series until there are several titles under its umbrella before they ever move on to another series.

In short, they’re better businessmen and businesswomen than I am. Now, I can’t do much about the last two items on my list.  It’s in my nature to worry over the quality of my writing and I’ve made myself a promise that I’ll never intentionally let my quality slide.  That’s not to say that I’ll be producing literary masterpieces, but it’s just not in me to do less than I can reasonably be expected to do.

As for the series, I’m already committed to the four series that I have going.  Two are under contract, and the other two make me more money and have established fan-bases, however small they may be.

But I can address the first two items.  I can get better organized and increase my word production.  I’ve already gotten better since the beginning of the year, simply by employing some of the techniques I’ve read about and heard about in various writing podcasts.  In the last few weeks, I’ve almost doubled my average daily word count.  Not only that, but I think I can see ways to do even more.  Fingers crossed here. 

And I can learn more about the marketing side of things.  The problem here is that the marketing aspect of the business is constantly changing.  What worked in 2012 won’t work in 2018.  The marketing tips and tricks I learned back when I started just won’t cut it.  And I haven’t taken the time to keep up with current trends.  I need to address that.

But part of that whole “produce more content” thing also means I need to spend less time on my blog posts.  I need to stop trying to think about something clever to write about, and put my effort into increasing my catalog.  So from now on, I’m going to limit myself on this blog.  It will be a sort of New Year’s resolution… posts will be either shorter than 1000 words, or I will limit myself to half an hour’s time in which to get them written.  On thousand words or half an hour, whichever comes first.

So moving on to other writing news:

Pangaea: Exiles – Severed Press sent me word last week that PE1 has been selected by their audio partner, Beacon, to produce as an audiobook.  Estimated time to release is about three months.

Payne and Suffering – After a few derailments, P&S is really moving along now.  I had a few plotting issues earlier in the week that forced me to slow down and open up some mind mapping software, but it only took a few hours to get things back on track.

Crazy Larry – I had dropped CL into the virtual file cabinet several months ago when the story went stale for me.  When MBH asked me how it was progressing, I had to admit I was stumped.  She brainstormed with me, and helped me see a way out of the bog.  So I made a bit of progress on it, too.  Man, I love that woman.  

And with that, I’m beginning to approach my self-imposed 1000 word limit, so that’s it for today. Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  :bye:

Dec 062017
 

WARNING – LOTS of foul language ahead.

This post is going to hearken back to the early days of my blog.  It’s going to be a discussion about a writing topic – namely, foul language in writing.  If this offends you, then you might want to pass on this week’s post.  If not, then read on at your own risk.  And if you have a few minutes afterwards, I’d really like to hear what you might think about it.

The line of thought came about when I read a recent review for Streets of Payne.  It was a Goodreads review, and was written back in July.  But I seldom log on to Goodreads any more, and so I just read it recently.  It was a good review, four stars, but something she said struck me.  During the review, she (the reviewer) mentioned that it made her cringe to see that I went out of my way to avoid “common curses like ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ and effectively replaced them with ‘fudge’ and ‘sludge’.”

I’ve seen and heard discussions wherein authors get upset because reviewers take them to task for dropping too many F-bombs.  On the other hand, I’ve been told by some people that I don’t curse as much as I should (whatever that means).  LOL.  In my normal life, I don’t curse that much.  That’s just the way it is.  It’s just the way I am. I don’t feel the need, for the most part.  In my writing, well, it depends on the character.  I have some characters who are reserved, and some who are real ass holes.

Charlie Griffe, in Chucklers Volume 1 is a prime example.  He’s a conniving, narcissistic, misogynistic, schizoid douche-canoe with a mouth to match.  Cussing fits his character, and when I read the comment about me going out of my way to avoid harsh language, I had to go back and check to see if I had misremembered.  Nope, I hadn’t.  I shit you not… actually, I shit you a lot.  88 times to be precise.  88 shits, 63 damns, and there were 44 fucks given, most of them from good ole Charles Griffe.

But here’s the thing about Streets of Payne… it takes place more than a hundred years in the future.  I don’t recall exactly what year it starts, and I don’t honestly want to go look at my notes.  I think it was about 140 years in the future, though.  And I actually put a lot of thought into how that would affect how the characters speak.  SoP was published in 2013.  So go back about a hundred years to the early 1900s and think about the idioms of the time.  How many of you would know what “hog-eye” refers to?  What about “purr-tongue?  What if I said my “Mr. Horner” was a “roaring jack”?  And believe me when I tell you that at one time back then, if someone said they wanted to go to the “barrelhouse”, and his buddy said he wouldn’t mind going with him to get a “bit of keg”, they were NOT talking about getting a drink.  

If you haven’t already guessed, all of those words and phrases were considered foul language for the time.  They refer to either sexual acts, or descriptions of genitalia.

So with the idea that language changes, I thought that in another hundred to two hundred years, isn’t it likely that the word fuck would change, as well?  So it… slid.  Fuck became “fuggle”.  I thought, you know… you take the phrase “fuck it all”, slur it around a bit, and it could easily begin to sound like “fuggle”.  And what else might be considered foul in a few hundred years?  Maybe some kind of sewer sludge that smells so rank that it makes the eyes water just to think about it?  I mean, if you’ve ever lived in an area where you aren’t on a city sewer system, and you’ve had to have your septic system pumped, you know just how strong such a stench can be.

Like I said, that comment stuck with me for whatever reason.  And I want to re-iterate that the reviewer was actually pretty complimentary to the book.  But the comment presented an opportunity for me to get back to something that I haven’t done much of lately… namely, posting about actual writing topics.

So tell me, how do you feel about “cussing” in books?  For me, it depends on the story and the character.  Each character and story presents their own special circumstances.  If I write a character that is a straight-laced, Sunday-go-to-meeting devout religious type, it’s unlikely that I’ll have him or her dropping F-bombs on the pages of the story.  But when I write Charlie Griffe in the Chucklers series, well, you’d better believe he’s not going to give a damn about who he might offend.  Not unless he needs to keep them happy in order to get something from them.  That’s just the self-centered kind of character he is.

If you have a few minutes, and you feel so inclined, drop me a comment.  Let me know your thoughts on the matter.

Stay safe.  TTYL.  :bye:

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: