Aug 222018
 

It’s been a while, right?  Yes, I’m still working the contract IT gig.  And you remember how I mentioned last time that we’d had two of our three kiddos, as well as their families (as in daughter-in-law and grand-kids) come visit for a bit?  Well, it was “two of our three kiddos”, and we really needed a trifecta.  So yeah, we just got back from visiting the third kiddo. You’ve heard me mention Baby Bird before, right?  She’s going to school in Santa Fe, and MBH hadn’t seen her in about a year.

We rectified that situation with a road trip.  It was about a ten-hour drive from Claremore, OK to Santa Fe, NM, and while the drive was long, it also held some beautiful sights.  As we drove west, the hills and greenery gave way to plains and windmills, and eventually to long expanses of desert, scrub, cacti, and mountains in the distance.  What was especially awe-inspiring was the sight of thunderclouds in the distance, with dark sheets of rain falling so far away that we couldn’t even begin to judge how many miles lay between us and that rain.

Our arrival in Santa Fe, however, was somewhat less awe-inspiring.  We’re some of those folks that like to use Air BnB to find places to stay.  Sometimes you find a real gem, and sometimes not so much.  This time, we followed our trusty Garmin to the little casita we had rented, but were stopped before we even got there.  When we tried to pull up the little gravel road, our way was blocked by several police cars.  And of course, as soon as they saw us, one of the cops got on the radio.

So what do you do in that situation?  If you turn around to leave what appears to be a pretty intense situation, you look like you’re running from the cops.  If you get out to ask them to move, you look like you’re trying to cause trouble.  And to top it all off, we weren’t even completely sure we were in the right place.  MBH suggested I simply ask if this was the correct address. (gulp)  So, masculinity on the line, I got out of the car to speak to the nice, intimidating, scowling officer.  I asked if this was “456 That-street”,  explaining that we were trying to get to a casita we had rented through Air BnB, and weren’t even sure we were in the right place.

Nope.  They were at “452 That-street”.  Right street, wrong address, and our casita was four doors farther down, with multiple police vehicles between us and it, and no way around them.

Needless to say, we decided to go visit Baby Bird a bit earlier than planned.  A few hours later, we went back, and this time, Johnny Law was gone.  We found our accommodations for our stay without any further issue and settled in.

While we were in town we took advantage of an annual event in Santa Fe.  The Santa Fe Indian Market is an annual show in (you guessed it) Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It’s sponsored by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, and features Native American artists from all over the US and Canada.  Just to be allowed to exhibit, the artists have to apply months in advance, must be able of Native American descent, and have their work judged and accepted by a jury for the show.  It’s one of the largest shows of its kind in the country, and Santa Fe actually closes down the streets downtown to make room for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come (as we did) from all over to visit.  After seeing the work on display, I think (hope?) we may have convinced Baby Bird to apply for a booth next year.  At the very least, I hope we’ve finally convinced her to stop undervaluing her work.  She was able to see that some of her peers who had paintings on par with some of hers, were selling them for thousands of dollars, where she’s been reluctant to charge hundreds.

Of course, there were artists of all kinds at the show… jewelers, painters, weavers, potters, and even traditional dancers.  Yeah, this was an event where the phrase “dancing in the streets” takes on a whole new meaning.

But one of the stars of the show (at least for us) was the giant teddy bear of a dog, ironically enough named “Oso” (which is Spanish for “bear”).  Oso is a Malamute almost shocking in his size.  I mean, look at the picture there.  Look at the size of his paws, as compared to his master’s.  He was huge!  But he was also as calm and gentle as you could ever imagine.  Oso is a service dog, who has been trained to smell sugar levels in anticipation of diabetic problems.

After we’d worn ourselves out at the art show, we went back to cool off and get ready for a nice dinner.  I didn’t know it, but Santa Fe is apparently known for some pretty fancy dining spots, and we decided to treat ourselves to a very rare night at a fancy restaurant.  Let me tell you, if you ever get the chance to eat at the Fenix at Vanessie Restaurant, I highly recommend it.  The food was amazing, as was the atmosphere.  The decor was (of course) high end Native American, and there was a piano bar.  And did I mention the food?  (insert drool here)

Anyway, MBH and I took Baby Bird, and it was an evening we’ll remember for a LONG time.

I could go on about the trip, but I’m already pushing a thousand words on the blog here, and I haven’t even said anything about the progress on revamping the web site (not a lot to talk about anyway), writing progress (same), marketing (learning some things, getting ready to put the learning into practice), or the business side of writing (bought a book that’s beginning to convince me I’ve messed up with my newsletter philosophy).

I guess that just means I have something to write about for next time, right?    But until then, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you later.  :bye:

 

Jul 252018
 

First, let me address the elephant in the room.  As you can see, I’ve begun to revamp the site here.  It’s a need that was recently driven home to me when a Facebook friend and fellow writer posted a link to his own site and I visited it.  I was immediately struck by how professional and lively his website was, and when I went from his to my own, the comparison was pretty drastic.  So yeah, I need to do some work here.

As you can see, I’ve already changed the background, and I’ll probably start experimenting with my old personal site to see what kind of changes I want to make before doing anything too drastic.  But rest assured, more changes are probably coming in the near future.  ;)   (BTW, please comment on anything that you like and/or dislike here.  I’m just spit-balling at the moment.)

Moving on to another elephant here… it’s been three weeks since my last post.  Too long for a supposedly weekly blog.  This time I have a good excuse, though.  I’m working a contract job again, so my weekdays are pretty much spoken for.  In addition to that, we had family come and visit last week.  All that combines to make for some busy times… so no blog entries, no Sunday’s Share, and very little social media presence at all.

And of course, it also means that the writing is slower than usual.  Worse yet, the WIP (which was up over 96k words a few days ago), suffered from drastic weight loss surgery and lost a bit over 5000 words.  It hurt to chop all that, but the parts I cut were a necessary loss.  There’s an old adage that writers use, attributed to Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.  When asked to give practical advice to fellow writers, he gave the following:

“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—wholeheartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

Today, “Murder your darlings” is a common catch phrase with writers.  It means that we must be prepared to cut out the words that we hold most dear.  If those words don’t move the story forward, then it doesn’t matter how much you might love what you’ve written.  They have to go.  A writer has to remember that no matter how pretty the prose might be, it’s secondary to the actual story.

So the WIP lost a character, and all references to him.  He was part of a twisty little sub-plot that really didn’t contribute to the tale.  And after cutting him out, I have to admit that the draft is much tighter.

And that’s pretty much it.  Time to get back to it. So stay safe, and I’ll talk to you later.  :bye:

 

 Posted by at 4:41 pm
Jul 042018
 

I’m not going to spend much time on a post here today.  It’s the 4th of July… Independence Day for those of us here in the US.  So I’m just going to wish a safe and happy 4th to those of you who celebrate it.  And for those of you who don’t… well, I still hope you have a safe and happy 4th.  

I’ll talk to you next time.  Until then, stay safe.  :bye:

 Posted by at 4:22 pm
Jun 272018
 

I’m going to try to make this post a short one.  (I’m really, REALLY working hard to try and finish up the latest Amber Payne novel, and I need to stay after it.  :)   So, some quick updates…

First, remember the mystery I mentioned in the last post?  The Goal Zero solar charger?  Well we finally found out where it came from.  It turns out that some very dear friends (who really shouldn’t have spent anything on me) sent it to me for my birthday.  So a huge THANK YOU to the two of you.  (You know who you are.)  

Also, I think I mentioned a while back that I had been invited to speak at a local seminar on creating audiobooks.  That took place on June 16th, and it went very well.  The primary speaker was WB Ward, a local radio personality.  He is a narrator of several audiobooks (unfortunately, I don’t recall exactly how many… it’s just a LOT), and he spoke on the ins and outs of creating one.  Since he did his own voice work though, he had never had to go through the auditioning process from an author’s perspective.  That’s where I came in.  And yes, there are pictures, so it really happened.  ;)

Writing report –

I’ve found a handy new tool to help keep me on track with the writing.  It’s called “The Magic Spreadsheet” (TMS), and writers have been using it for years.  It’s an online spreadsheet where many writers list their wordcount each day, complete with goals, levels, and a few other things.  The spreadsheet itself isn’t all that unusual, although someone has put a LOT of work into the formulas being used to track everything.  The thing that seems to make it so useful is the fact that it puts your progress out there for your peers to see.  There’s a psychological element in that… it makes you want to keep going – to keep working, so you can compare your progress with that of the men and women you see who are “making it” as writers.  I can see that “Writer X” is writing an average of 2100 words per day, every single day.  And I can see that “Writer X” has days like I do, where you only get an additional 400 or 500 words.  It’s heartening to see that they can have the same setbacks that I do, and still put out that high overall average wordcount.

And then I see that I’m putting out an average of 1200 words per day.  I can look at their numbers and see that most of them work at it seven days a week, where I definitely take it easier on the weekends.  At first, I wasn’t writing at all on the weekends, but TMS has a minimum word requirement if you want to stay in the rankings, so for the last several week, I’ve made it a point to at least hit the minimum, even on the weekends.

And my numbers have been rising.  More importantly, the book is progressing!  Yay!  

 

Here’s how…

Payne and Suffering – the novel is a bit over 86000 words at the moment, and promises to carry on for well over 100K.  However, I have finally realized that I’m very likely going to have to cut a few characters and some sub-plots out of it.  My end goal is to keep the book under 100K in its finished form.  Wish me luck.

IMR – (AKA “the Sekrit Projekt”) I’ve barely started on this one… less than a chapter so far.  I’m torn between wanting to write this one, and having to wait for the contract.  But there was an opening scene that I felt needed a home, so I’ve written a tiny bit.  Of course, I’ve also collated 53 pages of notes for the story so far.  LOL

But it’s time for me to get back to writing.  So I’ll talk to you next time.  Until then, stay safe, everyone.  :bye:

 Posted by at 5:20 pm
Jun 062018
 

As you can see, I finally got the final monitor working.   The external graphic card adapter I bought worked like a charm.  As a matter of fact, if I ever decide to go crazy with them, this particular card is capable of concurrently synchronizing up to six monitors at once.  Of course, you have to buy a new adapter for each one, but it’s nice to have options, right?  LOL

And it seems to already be making a difference as far as the head- and neck aches are concerned, so it looks like this was definitely a good decision.  Thanks, Better Half.  

I have a new mystery.  Not a story I’m writing… a real life, honest to goodness, mystery.  You see, I had an outing last Saturday.  The outing itself isn’t really germane to the story.  But when I got home, there was a package from ‘Zon waiting on the porch.  I was a bit confused, since I didn’t recall ordering anything, but hey, my name was on it so maybe MBH had ordered something & I just hadn’t known it.  I brought it in and sat it on the desk without thinking too much of it for a few minutes.

But when I asked MBH about it, she was as much in the dark about it as I was.  So I opened it up, and found an item I had looked at on Amazon on more than one occasion.  You know, one of those, “if I only had money to spare” kind of things.  It was a Goal Zero portable solar charger and battery core with some USB attachable accessories.  Now, I’ve looked at various Goal Zero products in the past, so I had to make sure I hadn’t accidentally clicked something and ordered it without remembering. (Yes, I’ve done that in the past, so I had to be sure.)

Nope.  Then it occurred to MBH & I that maybe it was an early Father’s Day or birthday present from one or more of the kids.  But they didn’t know anything about it either.  I called my sister & brother-in-law, and they hadn’t done it.  And since my mom lives with them, I checked and she hadn’t bought it, either.

Like I said… mystery.  

The only other thing I can think of is I had just written up a bunch of product reviews for the monitors, graphics adapter, cables, and a bunch of other items I had purchased on Amazon.  I’ve heard that ‘Zon sometimes sends customers items to review.  But if that were the case, wouldn’t they at least send me an email letting me know they had done so?  At any rate, I’ve got a very nice little portable solar panel and charging setup that I’ll be playing with.  And yes, I’ll likely do a full review on it, too.

 

Writing news –

The latest Amber Payne story just keeps going and going.  I’ll probably break 70k by the end of the day, and the characters still don’t even know what the real problem is, let alone the solution.  I have a feeling this one is going to take some serious cutting to bring it down to size.  To give you a comparison, Streets of Payne was right at 90k.  That was my target goal for this one, too, but like I said, I think I’ll probably bust that limit by a considerable amount.

Guess I’ll just have to see where the story takes me.  For now though, it’s time to get back to writing.

Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  :bye: