Feb 152017
 

We had a great time last week with wonderful friends from the old stomping grounds in Houston.  Needless to say, after living in the Houston area for most of our lives, we ended up leaving a lot of folks behind when we moved up here to Oklahoma.  Luckily, Oklahoma isn’t so far that we never get to see them, and some (like our friends from last week) don’t mind driving up for visits.  We’re incredibly lucky in that respect.  For while we love where we live now, we do miss being able to see friends and family whenever we want to.

On the up side, I can honestly say I now live less than five miles from renowned author Mercedes Lackey.  How cool is that?  LOL.  Not that I’ve ever met her, but as an author myself, the thought that I might is pretty cool.

Other than that, (and the writing, of course), I don’t have a lot more to talk about.  However, I’ve decided to begin a quick section on the blog here based on random recent pictures from my phone.  (Yeah, I’m weird, but you should have figured that out by now.) So here’s today’s Random Pic of the Week, and a few words about it. This picture was taken last Saturday, February 11th.WW71a

During the spring, summer, and fall, we try to walk Bella and Cricket twice a day. But here in Oklahoma, we actually get all four seasons, and during the cold winter months, it’s simply too cold and dark in the mornings to walk them.  So when the weather is nice on the weekends, we like to make up some of the missed time with them by going to nearby Claremore Lake and taking extra long walks with them.  Endomondo tells me that our typical course takes us about 2.5 miles.  It’s not a huge gain for them, but they definitely seem to love the extra smells and activity.  And they get to see other people and animals, too.  They aren’t the most social of animals, and being able to expose them to joggers, walkers, and other people walking their dogs is definitely good for them.  They get to learn that strangers aren’t necessarily all out to murder their pack.   :heh:  Who knows? Maybe someday soon, they won’t feel compelled to growl and bark at that murderous mailman that comes by every day.

Now on to writing news…

EPP – I’m having to split my time between writing projects.  The end result is that nothing is moving incredibly quickly, but everything is moving forward. End Point Pangaea is moving along, and I had a major plot point reveal itself to me last week. Yes, remember that I’m a pantser when it comes to my writing, so the story often unfolds for me as I write it.  Usually it’s just an organic evolution of the story as I flow from one scene to another.   But on occasion, there is a major “Ah hah!” moment, where some pivotal scene comes to me that opens all sorts of other ideas to me.  This was one of those occasions, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all unwinds.

CL – Not much to report on Crazy Larry this week.  Quite honestly, between having friends out, and playing catch up on the larger projects, CL didn’t get the love that it should have.  I’ll have to rectify that situation next week.

Y12 Year 12 is doing relatively well… six reviews so far, all five-stars.  And the sales are beginning to show signs of life.  Yay!   :-D

BoR – Yes, the Sekrit Projekt is back in play.  8-)  The first pass at this one was rejected.  Without revealing any details, they simply didn’t like the story line I proposed.  Luckily, they didn’t completely kick me to the curb, and suggested something else.  I worked up a few ideas on character and setting, but got stumped on the actual story.  Late last week, I received a query wanting to know how it was going, and I had to sheepishly admit that I had hit a brick wall.  Rather than being dumped, I was offered a brainstorming session.  After an hour and a half on the phone, I was full of inspiration… well, I was full of something.  I’ll know in a few days whether it was truly inspiration.  It was either that or gas.   :rotfl:  At any rate, where just last week I was drawing a complete blank, I now have a full plot, characters, intrigue… I can truly say that I’m really excited about this one now.

And that’s it for today.  I hope you all have a wonderful week, and I’ll talk to you again soon. Stay safe!   :bye:

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.   ?:-)

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.   :)

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:

Dec 012016
 

ww63a-copyHope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving – at least, those of you who celebrated it last week. My Canadian friends are likely looking down here to the US thinking, late to the party again, eh? (Heavy emphasis on the “eh”.)   :laugh:  But for those of us here in the US, we just finished our Thanksgiving, and immediately began the after-party madness that is Christmas decorating.

Yep, MBH is a traditionalist. The day after Thanksgiving is always the day we put up Christmas decorations. Honestly, I would probably be a bit of a Scrooge if not for her, but I love seeing how happy it makes her to put up the tree, and garland, and the lights and all the admitted cheeriness that also is Christmas decorating. And she does a great job with it (and I’m not just saying that because I know she’ll read this later.)  :-)   I mean, just look at the tree!

ww63b-copyOf course, for the girls, the tree is just something new for them to sniff at and figure out.  Is it an intruder? A piece of furniture? A chew toy? And evidently, at least part of it fell into the latter category. I had to take MBH’s car into the dealership yesterday to address a recall on the rear suspension.  Five hours after they started the two and a half hour job, I finally got out of there, only to come home and find that some of the insides of the new tree skirt, had mysteriously migrated to the outside of the new tree skirt.

Yeah, see that puff of white in the bottom of the pic there?  And if you look closely, you’ll see a little more back behind the tree, and the little tear where the skirt spontaneously erupted, spewing its guts onto the floor. When I walked into the house and saw it, of course I wondered aloud what had happened.

ww63c-copyAnd for some strange reason, when I asked Cricket about it, she immediately rolled onto her back.  I could almost hear her telling me, “Really Dad!  It jumped up and attacked me!  It was all self-defense! Honest!”  It was all I could do not to laugh at her attempts to apologize.

As for writing news…

Y12 – Year 12 has gone through two rounds with the editor and it off to the final proofreader. After that, it comes back here, where I add the front and back matter (dedication, acknowledgements, etc.) and then send it off for formatting.  And at that point, it should be ready to publish.  Woot!

Oh! And speaking of Year 12, I let those of you on my mailing list get a sneak peek at the cover a couple of weeks ago.  For those of you who aren’t on the list, I guess I can finally let you take a look, as well.   ;)  Here are all three titles in the Half Past Midnight universe, so you can see them all together.all

 

Hat tip to Glendon Haddix at Streetlight Graphics, for the outstanding cover work.  He did all three covers here, as well as much of the work on my Streets of Payne covers.

EPPEnd Point Pangaea is back on the front burner as my primary WIP.  I stumbled for a few days after being away from it while working on Y12 edits and then the holidays. When you’re gone from something like that for a while, you tend to forget the characters and plot twists that you’re trying to weave through the story.  So it took me a couple of days to regain the momentum.  But I’m back in, and the story is flowing well, once more.

CLCrazy Larry is a planned novella I’m working on.  It’s another HPM title – the story of what happened to Larry Troutman after Leeland left him on D-day. So far, I’m about 8000 words into it.  And while it’s planned as a novella, it’s beginning to feel as if it might just be a bit shorter.  I’ll just have to see where the story takes me.

And that’s it for now. Time to get back to work. So stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.   :bye:

 

Oct 052016
 

tblcover02Those of you who are on my mailing list got a sneak peek at The Burning Land on Monday, the day before it published.  Last night (Tuesday), I got the email from Amazon that it had gone live.  I was out at the time, so when I got home, I checked it online and was initially tickled to see that it was true.

I say initially, because it didn’t take long for me to discover that there was a minor problem with the “Look Inside” sample.  When you click the link (above the cover on the Amazon page), the sample you get ends at the Dedication page.  It turns out that this is evidently common when publishing short stories on Amazon, and has to do with the fact that Amazon normally defaults to a “first 10%” setting on their end.  When looking inside a novel, the first 10% usually gets you well past the forward matter (the title page, copyright material, table of contents, and all the other little requirements at the beginning of a book).  But with a short story?  Not so much.

The good news?  Because it happens so often, it was simple to find the solution.  All I had to do was contact Amazon’s KDP tech support and, using the proper online form, give them the specifics of the problem, the ASIN of the title, and ask them to override the default, setting it to 20% instead.

Simple!

The bad news?   The requested change won’t take effect for three to seven days.  That means that during the first several days that it’s live, sales will likely be hampered by the fact that anyone going to check it out, won’t be able to see a sample before they decide to buy it.   :idk: ww58

However, word of mouth evidently has an effect, too, because I was pleasantly surprised this morning when a friend let me know that TBL is climbing the charts, despite the glitch.  As 11AM this morning, it is #18 in Kindle Short Reads (Science Fiction & Fantasy), #106 in Kindle Short Reads (Literature & Fiction), and #287 in Kindle eBooks (Hard Science Fiction).

Funny thing is, I never registered it in the Kindle Short Reads category.  I can only assume that’s an automatic thing with Amazon, based on the length of the work.  And I know a lot of this quick rise in the rankings is based on the fact that it’s newly published, and the ranking will likely start dropping pretty quickly.  But it’s still pretty awesome to see.   :-D

And who knows? Maybe it will get another boost once they get the 10% / 20% glitch fixed.  That would be great!

So, enough about TBL.  In other news, I’m beginning to get feedback from some of my Year 12 beta readers, so it’s looking good for getting the notes in time to incorporate them before sending the manuscript off to the editor.

And as soon as it’s off, I’ll be able to get back to concentrating on End Point Pangaea.  Looking at my calendar, it looks like I should have three new titles out before the end of the year (TBL, Y12, and Chucklers), and hopefully another one (EPP) in the first quarter of 2017.  Of course, Chucklers and EPP are a little trickier, since they’re part of a collaboration with the publisher.  That makes it a little more difficult for us to coordinate with one another, so things move a bit slower, but I think Chucklers is in the last stages of production.

And I’m at the point where I have to start thinking about what I need to do next (after EPP).  There are a lot of projects that need to be done.  The second book in the Chucklers series, second book in the Pangaea series, second book in the Amber Payne series, I have a couple of short stories (possibly novellas) set in the Half Past Midnight world.  Hmmm…. and now that I think about it, one of them is probably about halfway done already. Yeah, I think it’s time to finish Crazy Larry.  Then, maybe the next Chucklers novel.  I don’t know… maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

For now, it’s time to get back to work on the Y12 edits.  So take care, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time!   :bye: