Feb 012017
 

 

It’s been a busy couple of weeks.  Remember that water heater that was leaking?  Well, while the leaking was down to a minimum, the pilot light kept going out on it. So that had to be replaced after all.  And after it was replaced and the plumber was gone, I let the water heat up, then went through the house testing all the faucets to make sure the hot water was flowing the way it should.  As you might imagine, there was a bit of air in the lines, and the pipes rattled quite a bit at first, so I left them on for a few minutes and went out in the garage to sweep up the water that had leaked out when the plumber removed the old water heater.

Imagine my dismay when I finished sweeping, and after only a few minutes opened the door from the garage into the laundry room to find the floor covered in water!  Eek!  See, our laundry room has a storage cabinet with a sink in it, and the faucet is one of those kitchen faucets with the extendable, hand-held sprayers. Evidently the air in the line caused enough vibration that the connector for the faucet came apart, letting the line spray water into the cabinet beneath it, flooding it, and pooling on the floor of the laundry room.

Luckily, it was easy enough to fix, though it took about every spare towel to sop up the water.  But hey, I was already in the laundry room, so cleaning them afterwards was simple enough.   Laugh  Wet towels went from the floor directly into the washer, and voilá… problem solved.

WW70But we also ran into issues with MBH’s car.  A few months ago, she had several dashboard lights come on… the check engine light, the LSD (limited slippage differential – used for added traction on slick roads), and the VSC (vehicle stability control – also related to traction control). So those three lights came on for about a day, then just as mysteriously, they went out.  About a week later, I took her car in to the “local” dealership (and living a bit off the beaten track as we do, said dealership is about a forty minute drive) for a recall on a completely unrelated issue, and while there I spoke to the mechanic about it. Since the lights were no longer on, he couldn’t hook it up to the diagnostic computer and see what it specifically was, but he mentioned that he had seen some of those lights come on in relation to a bad gas cap.

A day or two later, the lights came back on again.  This time they were only on for a few hours before they went out.   Question

Hmmm…. well, maybe it was worth trying that whole gas cap thing.  I had heard of a bad gas cap causing other problems in the past, so I figured “why not?”  Before I got the new gas cap though, the lights came back on… and this time they seemed to be staying on.  They stayed on for a few days before I got the new gas cap and put it on.  From what I had read, it could take several times of driving the car before the lights would go back off again, if that was indeed the problem.  Nearly a week later, the lights were still on.

Now, you have to understand, as far as MBH or I could tell, the vehicle was driving just fine.  It wasn’t sluggish, smoking, missing, running hot… there were none of the basic indicators that you typically see when your vehicle is giving you trouble. Just those freaking lights. (sigh)  But not wanting to do some sort of hidden damage to the vehicle, I broke down and took it in to the local mechanic.  After waiting for a couple of hours, they came back with a report…

The code on the check engine light told them to check the code related to the VSC light.  The code on the VSC light told them to check the code on the check engine light.  And the code on the LSD light told them that the rear oxygen sensor was bad.  Bottom line, they didn’t know for sure what was causing all of the lights to come on, but they were sure that the rear oxygen sensor was bad, and it was going to cost over $300 to fix it.

When I asked if that would take care of the other lights, the best I could get out of them was “it should, but we can’t tell for sure until we do it.”  I called MBH to let her know and, being the practical woman she is, she asked what I should have already asked the mechanic.  “What does the rear oxygen sensor do?”

So I asked the mechanic.  His answer (paraphrased… if I remember correctly) “There are two oxygen sensors in the vehicle. The front oxygen sensor is tied into the proper mix of oxygen in the engine, and can cause the car to start backfiring.  The rear one detects proper mix in the exhaust and catalytic converter.”

When I asked if it’s detrimental for the car to continue driving the way it is, he told me that if it was the front sensor, he would say yes.  But with the rear one, it probably wouldn’t hurt anything at all.  So for the time being, MBH has a well-lit dashboard.  ITMT, I’ve been looking at online videos on how to replace the sensor myself, and it doesn’t actually look all that difficult… as long as everything goes smoothly.  I saw one video where the sensor had been on so long that it stripped the threads when it was removed.  If that happens, then you could end up having to take the car to a muffler shop to have them weld a new sensor housing into the exhaust.  Of course that’s assuming the sensor is on the housing.  That’s the other issue.  There is conflicting information as to where the sensor actually is.  So, project for the near future.  Wish me luck.

But the news isn’t all bad.  We’re getting ready for good friends to visit from Houston.  We have some really great friends that we left behind when we moved up here, and it’s always exciting when we get to see any of them.  But are some that are so close that they might as well be family.  That’s the way it is with the couple that are coming to spend a few days with us this weekend.  They’re just all-around wonderful folks, and MBH and I are really looking forward to getting to spend time with them.

Now, writing news…

CV1 – I received a request for interview last week from Nick Kelly, who had read Chucklers: Volume 1.  Needless to say, I was tickled that someone would like the book enough that they would reach out to me that way, and the interview was a lot of fun.  You can read it here if you’re interested.  And afterwards, Nick was kind enough to leave a nice review on Amazon.  Thanks, Nick.  Smile

Y12 – Speaking of reviews, they’re finally beginning to come in on Year 12, too.  And while I know it won’t last, so far all of them (only three so far, but still…) are five-star reviews.  So thanks to those of you who like my writing enough to leave a review.  It helps with the visibility in Amazon’s rankings, and that helps with sales, which helps with the rankings, which helps with sales… well, you get the picture.

EPPEnd Point Pangaea is moving again.  I had a bit of a slump, but I’m pretty sure I’m over it, and the story is flowing well once more.

CL Crazy Larry is moving slowly but surely, too.  I’m not really going to make this one a top priority, because as a novella, it’s honestly not going to make me much money.  And let’s be honest, if I’m going to treat the writing like a business, I have to be a bit mercenary with some things.  I will definitely finish it, and I will definitely publish it.  But short stories and novellas simply don’t make money like full-blown novels do.  I mean, sure, they’re shorter, and somewhat easier to write.  But the overhead for them is almost as much as for a novel.  I mean, you still have to pay for your outside services (editing, formatting, cover art), but you can’t charge as much for them.  And unless you charge over $2.99, you only get 35% of the sales from Amazon, which means it takes even LONGER to recoup your initial expenses.  But I still want to get the story out there.  It will answer a lot of questions for those of you who have read the other titles in the HPM world.

And that’s it for now.  Time to get to cleaning for our guests.  Hope you all have a great week.  Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you later.  Bye

Jan 182017
 

Yesterday started like most other days.  At 5:45 AM the alarm goes off.  MBH gets up, feeds the girls and grabs a bite for breakfast, while I lay in bed for another few minutes trying to get my mind reconnected to my body. MBH finishes her breakfast, showers, gets dressed for work, and heads out the door.  In the meantime, I’ve usually managed to motivate my lazy butt out of bed and in front of the computer to begin my writing.  It might be actual writing, or researching, or world building, character building, editing, or any of the many activities that goes into creating a book.

Yesterday was mostly about world building.  At any rate, after a couple of hours in front of the computer, I usually need a break. So I will grab a bite for breakfast and take a shower before getting back to it.  And that’s exactly what I did.  I noticed, in an abstract kind of way, that the shower wasn’t as hot as usual. But it wasn’t too bad, and I thought maybe it was because the weather’s been cold, and maybe MBH took a longer shower than usual.  In other words, it wasn’t anything more than an item of note in my morning.

Then later in the day I went to rinse some dishes in the kitchen and noticed the hot water was barely tepid.  That was when I realized something was wrong.  When I went into the garage (where the water heater is) I knew for certain there was a problem.  There was water pooled on the floor under the door to the water heater closet.  It wasn’t a huge amount, but it was enough to tell me that we had trouble.  I opened the door and found that the drip pan under the water heater was full, and draining onto the floor, and that the pilot light was out.

So after some fumbling around, I figured out how to get the pilot light re-lit.  I didn’t think that had anything to do with the leak, but it definitely accounted for the lack of hot water.  I was about to put the cover back over the pilot light when the flame flared from that pretty blue gas flame, to a bright yellow.  It was only for a second, but it was enough to get my attention.  A few seconds later, there was another flare… then another.  Kneeling down to peer into the hole, I could see that there was water dripping down from the actual tank of the water heater, directly into the flames.   Eek!  It was time to call a plumber.

I checked with my neighbors, and got a few recommendations for the same plumber.  I called, got a ballpark figure for a replacement water heater, and after nearly passing out from the sticker shock I made an appointment to get them out this morning.  When Mr. Plumber arrived, the whole thing turned into a bit of a good news / bad news morning.

WW69Good news…  It looks like the problem isn’t the water heater after all. Instead, it looks like the “T&P” valve (the temperature and pressure valve, in the picture here) is bad, and it will only cost a tenth of what the water heater would cost.

Bad news… Mr. Plumber doesn’t have the part.

Good news… he can get it in less than an hour.

Yay!!  Problem solved.  Less than an hour later, he was back, and had completely replaced the valve.  Additionally, he tells me that the dripping I saw was relatively common, just condensation from the tank in the cold weather.  So I text MBH to let her know we’re about done, and she asks if I could have him take a look at a minor problem we’ve been having in the kitchen.

See, the hot water in the kitchen only seems to be about half what the pressure is at any other faucet in th house.  Additionally, the dishwasher doesn’t really seem to clean very well.  So I ask Mr. Plumber if he would mind taking a look at the problem.  He clears everything out from under the kitchen sink, goes to shut off the water, and finds immediately that it won’t shut off all the way.  The shutoff valve is bad.  He explains that this might be the cause of the pressure problem, though there’s no way to know for sure.  But if it won’t shut all the way off, then it might not be opening all the way, either.  Sounds logical, right? So once again, it’s good news / bad news.

Good news – a possible easy fix is in sight.

Bad news… you guessed it, he doesn’t have the part.

Good news… the part will only cost another $60 plus labor (and since I had been braced for a MUCH higher water heater replacement cost, that didn’t sound all that bad.)

Once more, he drives off to get the part. Once more he returns.  Once more we play good news / bad news.

He goes to shut off the water at the water heater and notices that the brand new T&P valve is trickling water down the side of the water heater.  Not much, mind you… just a drop or two every few seconds.  But there is a very slight leak.  And this time, we’re starting the game with the bad news side going first.

Bad news… we still have a leaking water heater.

Good news… it isn’t the T&P valve.

Wait, that’s good news?  In a manner of speaking, yes.  Since the problem isn’t the T&P, it means that the water heater itself is defective. It means that Mr. Plumber runs the numbers on the water heater and can tell that there is a replacement warranty on it.

And good news… with the warranty, it’s only going to be about half the cost of what I was originally going to have to pay.

Bad news… it’s still going to be about half of what I was originally going to have to pay.

Good news… since the water heater is barely trickling, replacement can be put off until such time as we can be better prepared for it.  So while it’s not completely fixed, it is repaired enough to function for some indefinite amount of time.

So he shuts off the water, goes back to the kitchen, and replaces the defective shutoff valve under the sink.

Bad news… while it does give a slight increase in pressure to the hot water side, the hot water is still about half that of the cold water.

Good news… Mr. Plumber seems to see this as a bit of a personal challenge.  He tests the flexible line leading from the shutoff to the faucet.  It’s clear.  He tests the water pressure from the hot and cold side by side at the line and finds they’re both good. He tests everything he can, eliminating all possible problems south of the faucet itself.

Bad news… that means that the problem is the faucet itself.

So after about three hours with Mr. Plumber, we now have a better idea of what’s going on with our plumbing, and a plan for later, if the water heater gets worse.  I also have a faucet to replace in my future.  But I should be able to handle that on my own.  (Wait, isn’t that what Custer said just before Little Big Horn?)

All right.  Time for me to get back to writing.  So stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next week.  Bye

 Posted by at 2:58 pm
Jan 122017
 

Yes, it’s another late blog post. Better late than never?  Sometimes I wonder.  But whenever I go more than a full week without posting (without a good reason), I start feeling like I’m getting lazy.  So if you’re reading this, I guess that makes you a part of my self-discipline regimen. Or maybe it’s better if I think of you as therapy.  However you want to view it, I’ve developed the blogging habit to the point that I feel guilty whenever I go a week without posting something.

I decided to start “Website Wednesdays” in June of 2015, and was determined to post at least once a week, unless something in my schedule prevented me from doing so.  My first such post came a few days later with the first such weekly post on June 24th. Since that date, there have been 102 weeks.  You’ll note, however, that this is only WW68.  That gives me a rather abysmal 67% success rate. (sigh) IDK

All right, that’s enough self-flagellation.  I’ll just have to do better. Moving on…

WW68…To more upbeat things.  Like the fact that Year 12 just got its first review!  And it’s a good one!  WOOHOO!!  I can’t speak for all writers (obviously), but any time I release something new, there’s a mental and emotional roller coaster that goes on inside me.  Many other authors I’ve spoken to have the same issue.  It’s an offshoot of something called impostor syndrome, wherein we’re halfway convinced that we have no talent, and that this will be the project that convinces people that we’re nothing more than delusional hacks who have simply fooled you into buying our little pieces of drek, and that this will be the last time anyone will ever want to see our work ever again, and we might as well jump off a cliff becausenothingwedoisevergoingtomatter… Eek!  and then…. someone writes a review.  If we’re lucky, it’s a good review, like the one Year 12 just received.

Now, I’m not foolish enough to think that they will all be good.  I’ve received my fair share of bad reviews.  But it truly sucks to start the review cycle that way.  I guess we writers are little more than needy children at heart, striving for the approval of others.  All I know is that I’m breathing a little easier now after this review. At least I know that someone liked the book.  So thank you “Quiltingnana”, whoever you are.  Thank you for your kind words, and for bringing me back from the ledge.   Blush

And that brings me to the weekly updates –

Year 12 Y12 is officially out in both print and kindle.  In addition, I’ve put the script out on ACX to begin taking auditions for the audio book.  In my experience so far, that’s a pretty long process, so it’s unlikely to produce any fruit for a few months yet.  Still, I look forward to being able to offer it in the future.  So I guess it’s time to move Y12 from the “Current Projects” folder and into the “Completed Projects”. I suppose this also means that it’s time to remove the title from these weekly status updates and remove the progress meter from the side bar to the right.

End Point Pangaea – For the moment, EPP is once again my primary WIP.  I hope to once again start making serious progress on getting this one out, and unless something else happens, I hope to have the first draft done in about a month.

FSJ – I have up to this point referred to this as the “Sekrit Projekt”.  The proposed book now has a tentative title, and as such, you will notice that the progress widget has changed from FSJ to RRH.  I know, I know, it’s confusing.  But since the projekt doesn’t really exist yet, it doesn’t really matter, right?  And the reality is that the only thing this really means is that I have mentally given the proposed project (a project that may or may not be given the green light) a name (that may or may not be accepted).  However, since there is still no word on whether or not it is actually going to become reality, I still can’t say anything about it (other than to drop these vague clues).   Quiet  However, I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and hope to have something more concrete to say soon.

And that’s enough.  Time to get back to work.  So once again, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you again soon.  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

Dec 282016
 

ww66-bI hope you had (or are having) a fantastic holiday this year. I know MBH and I did. Our youngest daughter, as well as our son, daughter-in-law, and youngest granddaughter came up to visit, and spend the holiday weekend with us.  So yeah, we got most of what we wanted for Christmas.

It’s true, you know… the saying about your wish list getting shorter as you get older.  At least for MBH and I, it’s true.  Just having part of the family here was more than we could ask for, especially with the youngest member visiting.  I mean, just look at that face.  How can you not be content around such a cutie? Big Smile

ww66-aWe got to spend time with the kids (even though our youngest “kid” now is a college grad – LOL), going to the movies, cooking, and playing “chicken feet” or just relaxing out on the patio in the evenings.  It was tough to see them head back home, but such is life when families begin to go their separate ways.

On the writing front, I honestly didn’t get much done.  As you can imagine, with the kids here, I had other things on my mind.  But that’s not to say nothing happened.  For one thing, I received the review files for the print version of Year 12, so that’s back underway.

fb-cb1Additionally, I got word early this morning that Chucklers, Volume 1 is about to go on sale, starting on December 30th, and will be featured in the Booksends mailing list on January 1st.  So if you haven’t been able to afford it up to now, this is your chance.

And that’s about it, for now. I’m just getting back into the swing of things, so I should have more to report next time.  For now, I hope you have a happy new year, so take care, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you in 2017.  Bye