Mar 152017
 

WW75AWell, as you can see, we got the fence back up, though it did take a few days longer than expected. I managed to get the old post out of the ground well enough.  See that big “log” on the ground in front of the fence?  If you click on the picture, you’ll see that it’s really not a log at all.  It’s the two feet of concrete that the old post was set into… two feet of concrete that I had to dig out of the ground before I could plant the new post.

I suppose I should be grateful, though.  The guy that put up our fence used an auger to plant the posts, so the holes are all nice and neat – smooth cylinders of concrete straight into the ground, and relatively easy to find and dig loose.  Not so easy to get out of the ground by yourself, though.  I mean, that much concrete is heavy!  Beat Up 

However, I managed it all right, though I had to go wide enough with the hole so that I could get enough leverage with the shovel to help lift it out.  And that meant that the nice, neat, round hole, was no longer nice, neat, or round.  Now I had an oblong, ragged, gaping hole in the ground, with considerably more volume to fill than I had bought concrete for.  But yours truly is nothing if not inventive. You see, I get buckets from the local bakery for use in my various gardening experiments.  They’re free, and give me considerable freedom to test out various ideas for planting, irrigation, or to just carry tools around.

In this case, I just sacrificed the bottoms of two of them, cutting them out so that I had a couple of empty plastic cylinders.  I poured a little concrete in the bottom of the hole, slid the first bottomless bucket around the new post, filled it with more concrete, and when it was full, repeated the process, stacking the second one on top of the first.   The end result was a post set within concrete filled buckets that were then easily surrounded with the fill dirt I had dug out in order to remove the old post.

So there I was, feeling quite clever… old post still propped up, holding the horizontal rails and fence in place so the dogs couldn’t get out and nothing else could get in. The new post was standing straight up in the ground (I knew it was straight, since I had repeatedly checked it with the level while placing it).  And that was when I realized that the horizontal posts from the old fence had to go into the new post before the concrete completely set.

And I still hadn’t even taken them off of the old post!   Eek!

The next several minutes were filled with me frantically struggling to remove the fencing staples that held the fence to the rails with a screwdriver and hammer, all the while hoping the “QuickCrete” I had bought, wasn’t so quick that I wouldn’t be able to move that post to get the rails into the holes on the new post.  And after considerable hammering and prying at the staples, (you know, those crazy “U”-shaped, double-headed nails?) and more than a little bit of cussing, I managed to get the rails loose from the fence itself, and then from the old, broken, post.

And the concrete hadn’t set so much that I wasn’t able to move the post.  So I shoved the new post out a bit, placed the horizontals in place, and shoved the new upright back into place, all with the concrete still pliable enough to fill back into the hole. Crisis averted.  Whew!  Struggle

At that point, the new post and rails were in place, but the concrete hadn’t set well enough to put any tension on them.  The QuickCrete bag said it would be four to six hours at a minimum, so I still had to prop the old fence back up again with old lumber (and a bit of wishful thinking) right up against the new post.

Saturday came, and as promised, brought with it more than enough rain to keep us from working on the fence any further. No big deal though, we still had Sunday, right? (sigh)

Unfortunately, Sunday brought its own set of issues… namely, me.  I’d been having problems with my asthma for the last few weeks, which let me know that I was probably getting ready to have a full-blown allergic reaction sometime soon.  “Soon” ended up being Sunday.

MBH and I got up and made cinnamon rolls.  It was another experiment for us, as we had never made them before.  They turned out pretty good, though as with most experiments, there was room for improvement and we’ve already decided how we’re going to change the recipe for next time.  After breakfast, we bundled up (Saturday’s rain brought more cold weather with it and the temperature was down into the upper 30s), and took the girls for a brisk morning walk.  That was all it took.

WW75BMany years ago, I was diagnosed with exercise induced allergies.  My first attack was when I was a teen.  I had just finished one of my karate classes, and was jogging home when I started noticing how much my feet were hurting. Within a few minutes, I was having trouble breathing, and by the time I made it home, I was in the midst of my first asthma attack, accompanied by my first experience with hives.  My mom freaked (understandably), and rushed me to the local emergency clinic, where the doctors also just about had a cow.  To be fair, I suppose I would have done the same.  I mean, you see a thirteen year old kid on the table, face so swollen that his eyes are barely able to open, and he’s wheezing like his throat is swollen shut.  My mom told me later that they were about ready to trache me.  Luckily, one of the docs recognized my symptoms, administered a dose of adrenaline, and within several minutes, I was breathing normally again and the swelling was going back down.

Since that first time, I’ve learned to deal with this as a normal part of my life.  I’ve also learned to recognize the symptoms leading up to an attack, and minimize their effect.  MBH has also learned to help me deal with them.  Because of the tightness of chest and trouble breathing I’d been experiencing for the last few weeks, we knew it was coming.  And since I had shut down the last few attacks before they’d really run their course, we suspected I was due for a relatively bad one.  Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as we had feared, though as you can see in the picture, I did end up with a few hives.

But the end result was that my Sunday was spent kicked back, trying not to scratch, while I tried to let the attack run its course.  A few hours of hives, with the accompanying itching, swelling, high blood pressure, and asthma, meant that I wasn’t about to be outside working on the fence.  Instead, I ended up sitting like a lump in the easy chair, waiting on the symptoms to peak so I could take a Benadryl and crash.

But Monday, I finally got to get outside to finish the freaking fence.  Yay!  It’s still not perfect.  It turns out that I set the pole a couple of inches higher than the original, and the gate is about an inch higher off the ground than it was.  And while there’s nothing I can do about the post being higher, there is enough adjustment in the gate itself to line it up properly.

So that’s it for my “Post about the Post”.

Other news…

End Point PangaeaEPP now sits at nearly 55k words, and is still moving.  This has been my main focus (other than visiting family, fence posts, and allergic reactions Wink ), so no other real writing news to report.

The Burning Land – “But wait,” you say. “I thought there wasn’t any other writing news.”  That’s true.  However, I’ve done a bit of recording, and am going to see about releasing TBL as audio via ACX and Audible.  We’ll have to see how that works out.  But with the changes that Amazon has made in terms since they bought out ACX, it’s very difficult to find voice actors who are willing to work for a royalty split.  These days, they want payment up front, and for anyone that does a decent job, the cost is usually at least $200 per finished hour.  Since ACX lists Year 12 as an estimated 12.8 finished hours, that means I would have to come up with roughly $2600 to have it produced.  And I just don’t have that kind of money.  So it occurred to me that perhaps I could do it myself.  But I need to start with something smaller… MUCH smaller.  Most sources agree that you can count on working about eight to ten hours per finished hour when you begin audio work.  Thus, this experiment with TBL.  I’ve already recorded the basic reading, and I already have the software, and know how to use it.  I’ve used it to record my promos for my other books.  Now it just remains to be seen if I can get a decent enough production level to put out something good enough to Audible.  That means editing out the miscellaneous train whistles from town, jet noises as they pass overhead, stomach gurgles from when I try to record just after eating (lesson learned there), wind whistling through the trees, laptop fan when it kicks on… I think you get the idea.  But IF I can get all that done, and manage to produce a decent audio file, then I might consider tackling the recording for Y12.

And that’s it for now.  Time to get back to writing.  So for now, stay safe everyone, and I’ll talk to you next time.  Bye

Feb 222017
 

Vitamin B3, or Niacin, is a fantastic little vitamin that serves all sorts of functions in the human body.

Hmmm….  I suppose before I go any farther with this, I should do the whole “I am not a doctor or medical care specialist of any sort. Anything I say regarding the matter is for educational and/or entertainment value only. I am not offering advice, making suggestions, or in any other way indicating that anyone should do anything that I write about here. I am only passing on my personal observations on what I have done, and what has happened to me.”

There. All the crazy legalese is out of the way. It’s insane what the gooberment requires you to do before talking about medicine or nutrition. After all, someone might accidentally interfere with all the money that the pharmaceutical, “health”, and medical industries make by fleecing er, helping all of us to a “healthier” lifestyle.

Uh, oh. Sorry, but I seem to have stumbled up onto this soapbox somehow, when all I intended to do was tell you about something that happened to me recently. As I was saying, B3 serves all sorts of functions in our bodies. But did you know that it also has an interesting side effect once you’re body reaches its saturation point with it?  It’s call the “Niacin Flush”, and occurs to various degrees to different people. For some, it manifests as a slight warmth and reddening of the skin on the head and upper body (a flush).  It usually lasts somewhere between fifteen minutes to an hour or so, depending on many variables.  I’ve read that some people actually find the feeling to be quite pleasant.

But Yours Truly has a history of allergic reactions that includes breaking out in hives all over my body. So when I began to feel that warmth, I started getting a little concerned that I was heading into another reaction.  After a few  minutes though, I realized this was something different. For one thing, my hives are accompanied by an insufferable itching sensation, and almost always first begin with itching and swelling in the tender areas of the body (inside elbows and wrists, backs of knees, behind ears, around the eyes, and yes, the groin – after all, they aren’t called the “tender bits” for nothing).

WW72aBut this was different. It was more like a sudden sunburn on my forehead that soon spread down to my upper torso and arms.  And there was none of the insane itching or racing heartbeat that always accompanied my allergic reactions.  But lucky me, I did still get a slight swelling of my face, eyes, and wrists. (see the pic to the left, here.)  Nowhere near as bad as when I get a true allergic reaction, but enough that I decided to show my wife just in case it was some new presentation of my allergies.

Within an hour or two (I’m at the outer range of the timeline for such things – like I said, lucky me…), the swelling and “flush” were mostly gone. Of course, the next morning, I began my typical Holmsian investigation of what all I had done the night before it occurred and quickly stumbled upon reports of the Niacin Flush. The vast majority of the articles I found indicate that it is quite harmless, and while the swelling that I had is rare, it does occasionally happen.  I imagine my predisposition to such reactions because of my allergies likely makes a difference, as well.

Bottom line, while the reaction was a little disconcerting as it was happening, at least now I know what it was, and will be prepared if it happens again (which most accounts seem to agree, it likely will).  So that was my excitement for the week.  And I get to combine my regular blog post with my RPotWHeh

So enough about the weirdness of my reaction. On to the writing updates.

EPPEnd Point Pangaea is now a bit over 46k words in length, and the plot still flows smoothly.  Ask yourself, how would a society develop if we began to dump murderers and political dissidents into the late Triassic Era?  How would they and their families adjust to a world of dinosaurs, where the world is barely evolved, with no grains, fruits, or vegetables as we know them?  Fun stuff.   Wink

BoRThe Sekrit Projekt (phase 1) is now done and out of my hands. There is nothing more I can do with it until I hear back from those who are farther up the food chain. Now I can only wait to find out if it moves forward.

Y12 – The only other thing worth reporting is that there are now six reviews on Year 12, and three reviews of Chucklers, Volume 1, all of which are five star reviews.  Yay!

And speaking of Y12, I had been getting a bit depressed about not getting any audiobook auditions for it.  I posted an audition script for it in mid-January and received a single audition. But after that, nothing for almost a month.  I was beginning to think no one was interested in working on it. My original narrator no longer works for royalty share, and as much as I like his work, I simply can’t afford to pay up front. But I remembered that I had saved some of my favorite auditions for HPM back when I was taking auditions for it, so I thought I would investigate whether any of those narrators still worked for royalty share. Imagine my surprise when I found that somehow, Y12 had been marked as no longer taking auditions! I have no idea how or when that happened, but it sure explains why I haven’t received any more auditions!  So I’ve now reset it to accept auditions, and we’ll see whether or not that makes a difference.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Well, that’s enough for now.  Time to get back to writing.

So stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  Bye

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!   Grin

BoR – Yes, the Sekrit Projekt is back in play.  Cool  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.   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 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