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!  

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.  :sidefrown:

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.  :-))

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.   :-D

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:

Nov 092016
 

ww61-bAll right, I’ve always promised you that I wouldn’t get political here on the blog.  So here’s all I’ll say about yesterday’s election…

Thank Ghu, it’s over.  Hmmm… that makes a pretty good acronym – TGIO!  Maybe I could start a new trend… hashtag TGIO.  Before you know it, we’ll be seeing #TGIO all over the internet.  You think?

No? (sigh)

All right. Then on with the writing news, and it’s going to be a quick post, because I still have a LOT of work to do.

CV1 – As you can see, I just got the completed cover art for the print version of Chucklers: Volume 1 and I’m really happy with how it turned out.  The folks at Severed did an amazing job.  In other news, I just saw that CV1 got its first review, and it’s a 5-star!  Woohoo!  So thank you, “Emmet”, whoever you are.  I’m glad you liked it.

Y12Year 12 edits are ongoing, slower than I would like, but that’s mainly due to me getting distracted by life.  Every time I get on a roll, I end up having to review this, or approve that.  It’s almost like this writing stuff is a job, or something. :idk:  But for the moment, rolling through the Y12 edits is my main priority.  However, I did manage to shoot out a quick cover reveal of the Y12 cover today.  If you’re on the mailing list, you should already have it in your mailbox.  If you aren’t, well, first of all, why aren’t you?  And secondly, maybe I’ll give you a peek at it next week.   ;-)

And that’s it for now.  Like I said, lots of work to do…

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

Oct 202016
 

081215_1754_WW8Publishi1.jpgIt’s been a few weeks since I posted here.  Last you heard, I had just published  the short story, The Burning Land. Since then, I’ve been working like a fiend on my next two releases, Chucklers – Book 1, and Year 12, both of which are very close to being published.

CB1 – I have to admit to a bit of panic when Severed sent me the CB1 ebook file for approval.  See, I had requested a copy of the formatted .mobi file with the cover, table of contents, front matter, back matter, etc.  Basically, I wanted to see exactly what it was going to look like when a reader loaded it onto their Kindle.  I’m one of those readers who reads my Kindle with the nighttime mode on.  I find it easier on  my eyes.

If you don’t already know, night mode is the setting on most Kindles wherein you can invert the standard setting of black text on a white background, to white text on a black background.  There is even a sepia setting for those who prefer black text, but find the white background to tiring on the eyes.  However, I’ve run into documents that have formatting issues that only become visible in night mode.  Things like a bad tag on the text color that makes it black, even when the color of the background changes.  Yeah, try reading black text on a black background sometime.  See how well that works for you.  :dazed:

Another common problem is when certain parts of the work refuse to accept the night setting. You’re reading along, relaxing with your low light, white text/black background setting, when WHAM!  You click to the next page and there is a section that has black or gray text that is “highlighted” with a bright, white background, like in the picture above.

I’ve dealt with those, and other issues, either with my own titles, or in other books I’ve read.  As a result, I’m a little cautious.  I like to make sure my titles are as problem free as I can make them.  So when I opened the file they sent me, only to find no cover, no TOC, no front or back matter at all, and more than two dozen formatting problems, I have to admit, I began to panic.  I contacted the fine folks at Severed with a list of the issues and got a puzzled reply.  They weren’t having the same problems, even after testing on multiple devices.  They sent another copy of the file, and when I opened it, lo and behold, the cover, front matter, back matter… everything that had freaked me out when I found it missing in the first file, was there.  There were four minor problems, one of which was an error I had made in the original manuscript, that I didn’t catch until going over it again for this pass.

I have no idea what happened, but can only assume that the first file was somehow corrupted in transmission.  Whatever it was, Severed responded quickly, and I’m now confident that CB1 is going to come out as a fine product.  Better yet, it’s close enough to being ready, that I think it will probably be out pretty quickly.  So again, if you haven’t signed up for my new release mailing list, please consider doing so here.  I always make my first announcements and cover reveals there, before anyone else gets to see them.

 

Y12 Year 12 is off to Red Adept Editing.  I’ve used RAE for editing almost everything I’ve self-pubbed, and they’ve never disappointed.  They’re the people I always recommend whenever anyone asks for a good editor.  Since this is the beginning of the editing process, I know I probably have another month or so before Y12 is ready to publish, but believe me, I’m going to keep you all up to date as it winds its way through the process.  Besides, I still need to do a blurb, dedication, acknowledgements, and all the other finishing touches that go on a manuscript before it’s published, not to mention the cover.

And speaking of covers… I had a short conversation with Glendon at Streetlight Graphics that leads me to believe they’re already working on cover design for it.  To be perfectly honest, when they contacted me, I was so busy, that I don’t even fully recall the conversation.  But I do remember answering some of the basic questions they always ask before putting a cover together.  By the way, they’re another company I can recommend with the utmost confidence.  They do great covers and formatting if you’re in the market.

So, Y12 is getting close to publication, too.  I feel pretty confident that it will be out before the end of the year.

 

Other projects –

EPPEnd Point Pangaea is back on top as my priority WIP.  I hope to have the first draft done by the end of the year.

TBLThe Burning Land – But wait!  That one is already published, isn’t it?  Well, yes.  But I’m going to use it to try my hand at producing an audiobook.  I’ve already got a few titles out on Audible, but I’ve never taken the time to actually record one, myself.  But TBL, as a short story, is short enough that I hope to learn that process, and so open another income stream.

After those?  Well, I have several titles I plan on doing.  I just don’t know which ones will top the list.  I need to do Chucklers – Book 2, End Point Pangaea 2, the second Amber Payne book, or any one of several other projects.

But for now, I need to go fix dinner.  Sausage-stuffed portobello caps and salad.  Yum!   :-))  So stay safe, everyone.  I’ll talk to you next time.   :bye:

 

Oct 092012
 

I’ve been intentionally delaying this post, hoping that I would be able to put up the big “R2R is published” headline.  Unfortunately, that’s not going to be the case.  Here I am on Tuesday of the week right after I posted about how I was going to make it a point to be more timely with my “weekend” blog postings.  And yes, I’m late again.  (Maybe I need to stop setting deadlines that I don’t  know I can keep?)  Does it help if I do a cover reveal?  Those of you who follow me on FaceBook have probably already seen it, but for the rest of you… ta-dah!!!

First of all, I was nervous about publishing R2R to begin with, since I’ve never done the actual publishing on Kindle before.  For HPM, I hired a publishing company, and that was part of what they did for me.  People kept telling me that it was simple enough to do, especially compared to uploading the manuscript for the paperback version in CreateSpace (which I did do on my own, because I couldn’t afford to pay the publishing company for both electronic and print publishing), but I had my doubts.  I’d had no real problems with the CreateSpace formatting, so I didn’t see how KDP could be any simpler.  CS formatting was tedious and time-consuming, but far from difficult.

But I tried to tackle the KDP publishing this time on my own.  Not the formatting, mind you.  I’m not crazy enough to dive into that.  No, Glendon Haddix at Streetlight Graphics handled that for me.  He formatted the manuscript, and handed it over to me with instructions on how to upload it to Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.  He also told me that the actual publishing process was simple.  So I figured it would be easier to learn with a novella than a full-blown novel.  Besides, if I didn’t go ahead and tackle it now, I would never learn.  So I tried to publish R2R last Sunday.  In a way, everyone who told me how simple the process was on KDP was right.  It was a very straightforward process of filling in a few fields, uploading the cover, and the manuscript, then pressing “go”.  I began to get excited.  I had the crazy idea that I would be able to publish, make the announcement, and all would be right with the world.  I should have known better.

First of all, Amazon KDP was acting squirrelly and wouldn’t save my work.  Each time I tried to save a draft on the site I got some unhelpful message that indicated that there was a problem, and asking me to try back later.  There was no real indication as to what that problem might be, just a suggestion that I try again later.  It might as well have been a Microsoft Windows error message.

Monday was a little better in that KDP allowed me to upload the cover and manuscript.  It even allowed me to choose my BISAC settings and my keywords for metadata search parameters.  Then it asked me for the description.  That was when I was once again reminded how new I am to the writing game.  I had forgotten to write a blurb for R2R!  In the immortal words of Berke Breathed’s Bill the Cat, “Ack!”

Yep.  My Rookie Mistake of the Week.  And it had to be this! (sigh)  You see, I HATE writing book blurbs.  HATE IT!  I find the idea of attempting to condense the goings on of a story into a few lines to be incredibly intimidating.  Don’t ask me why, but it is.

Nevertheless, I wrote what I thought would be a clever little paragraph that I thought linked HPM to R2R, and let the reader know that this was a companion piece for HPM.  I shot it off to Red Adept Publishing for approval (because I have learned one thing at least, and that is to NEVER publish anything without running it past a good editor), whereupon my editor politely pointed out my obvious mistake.  I had spent so much time trying to show the link to HPM, that I’d pretty much neglected telling what R2R was actually about!  Basically, if you hadn’t read HPM yet, there was nothing to interest you in the blurb – nothing to make you want to read the novella.

(sigh)

So I wrote another blurb, and late last night I sent it off to the editor again.  Hopefully this one will work better and I’ll be able to publish later today (assuming there aren’t any more “gotchas” in the publishing process.)

Other writing news – I finally figured out why Streets of Payne has been giving me so much trouble.  It turns out that there was a subtle plot flaw that was evidently gnawing at my hindbrain.  It was a matter of a character having conflicting motivations that I hadn’t noticed.  When I correct those motives for the character, it turns out that he’s not the character I thought he was at all.  I thought this guy was the main antagonist, but it turns out he’s actually a good guy!  So I asked him, “What’s the big idea?”  He explains that there is a plot twist that I completely missed, that he wasn’t the guy that was behind it all, and the person that is behind it is a sneaky little SOB.  So there is some rewriting to be done on SoP and some clues need to be highlighted a bit to keep the big reveal from looking like a cheap, sneaky trick.  I hope I can pull it off properly.

On other news fronts – we found a car for Baby Bird.  It’s a nice looking Toyota Corolla.  The dealer was asking $8600 and we managed to talk them down to $7300.  I thought we had done pretty well until we took the car to our mechanic.  Bad brakes, filthy transmission fluid, battery that won’t hold a charge, and worst of all, a belt tensioner that was about to fall apart made it obvious that there may have been a reason the dealer came down on the price so easily.  I won’t go so far as to say we got taken, because the car is now really sound.  But it wasn’t the steal we initially thought it was, either.  Basically, most of the savings we thought we had gained at the dealer’s table, we ended up spending on the mechanic.  C’est la vie.

Last weekend was the neighborhood garage sale.  We live in one of those restricted neighborhoods where we are only allowed to have garage sales twice a year.  On those dates, the neighborhood turns into a giant flea market, with everyone bringing their goods out to the driveway.  The streets are clogged, and people stroll up and down the sidewalks for hours.  Only not this time.  Usually, you can barely get into the neighborhood, and if you do, you can barely drive for all the people wandering the streets.  This time?  Not so much.  We still managed to sell most of the large items we were trying to sell, but the attendance was abysmal when compared to most of the previous sales.  I don’t know if it was the fact that everyone is beginning to feel the pinch of the economy, or if it was simply that there were several other events going on that same weekend (Texas Renaissance Festival, Greek Fest, Buzz Fest, and the Komen Race for the Cure all started on Saturday).  Whatever the reason, it just wasn’t what it used to be.

And Sunday I ended up working with my son on the brakes on his truck.  One of our neighbors came over and lent a hand, and we were able to do both sides at once.  On mine, I had to really put some “oomph” behind the wrench when I took the lug nuts off, but did manage to get them off.  Once we were finished, we put everything back in place, and he took it for a test drive to make sure there was no air in the lines and that everything was running all right.  It was, and I figured we were finished.  A few minutes after he left he came back to the house saying that the truck was making a funny noise.  He put it back up on the jack and noticed that the lug nuts on the side I’d had so much trouble with were only finger tight and the tire was loose.  I felt terrible!  If that tire had come off while he was driving it could have been disastrous.

Well, yesterday, I pulled into the parking lot at work at 6:15 AM, and just as I shut off the engine, I got a call from my son.  The truck was making that same noise, and he didn’t have a jack.  He was a few miles down the freeway, so I headed down there and sure enough, the lug nuts were loose again!  I had him keep my jack until we can figure out why these things won’t stay tight, but I’m afraid someone tightened them too much previously and stretched the threads.  If that’s the case, we may have to replace the actual studs (sigh).

Okay, that’s it for now.  Stay safe, everyone, and watch for the R2R publication announcement.  It really is close.  I promise!  :bye: