Dec 062018
 

Just a short post here to catch up with everyone.  I’ve obviously fallen off the wagon with regards to posting here in a timely manner.  If you check the dates, you’ll see that my weekly blog post has been missing for a month now.  That happens every year around this time, with the holidays.  Our big one this year was Thanksgiving.  Hope yours was good (those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving). We managed to make a whirlwind trip down to see family for a couple of days. We drove down Wednesday, spent Thanksgiving day at my son and daughter in law’s new home, rested on Friday, and drove back on Saturday.  It was way too brief, but well worth it.  Even more so since my daughters, mother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and one of my nephews also made it over to visit.  It was the first time in several years that we were all able to spend time together.

Of course, right after we got back, I got sick.  Nothing terrible, just the typical chest cold.  I still have a touch of it, but I’m getting better.  Unfortunately, MBH has it now.  Yeah, I made her sick… even more so than usual. 

Hmmm… what else?

Ah, well, I got a ticket a few weeks ago.  Actually, I guess I need to back up a little bit more for this one…

See, MBH developed some eye issues that made it unsafe for her to drive.  Lattice degeneration that resulted in some torn tissue in her right peeper.  Luckily, she recognized that something was wrong and got in to see an ophthalmologist quickly.  The doc did some laser magic on her eye, and she’s healing up nicely now.  However, there were a few weeks where her vision wasn’t good enough to drive, so Yours Truly did the honors.  It was actually pretty nice, being able to drive her to and from.  But one afternoon, my foot was a bit too heavy on the accelerator, and I found myself on the wrong end of a speeding ticket.  

In other news, I’ve been studying the marketing side of the writing business.  I keep saying I’m going to change some of the things I’m doing with regards to writing.  One of the things I started looking at was why I’m not selling.  See, things have changed a lot since I first got into this.  Back then, you wrote a book, you published a book, you placed the book in a few mailing lists, and then you left it alone while you went and wrote the next story.  That’s not the case anymore.  At least, not if you want to make a living at it.

So I’m having to study some of the new tools available for writers.  I need to learn more about keywords and how Amazon has changed them.  I need to learn more about Amazon Ads, leveraging newsletters, working your title through Amazon’s niche categories so it can climb into the larger categories…  and the more I read, the more daunting it is to realize how far behind I’ve fallen.

So you may see more of the old style “Learning to Write” posts in the future as I go through various lessons and try different things.  Some folks will enjoy them.  Others will likely roll their eyes at the writer tech-speak that will ensue.  Of course, if no one leaves me any comments, I won’t know either way, right? 

Writing progress – 

AP2 – The second Amber Payne novel is mostly finished (I think).  I’ve settled on a new title… “The Payne Before The Storm“.  Or maybe I should drop it to “Payne Before The Storm“… Anyway, all but a few scenes are written. But because of all the cutting and rewriting, many of the chapters are a huge, jumbled mess.  This has, by far, been the most difficult book to write that I’ve done.  But stay tuned for a cover reveal in the near future.

IMR– This was the so-called “sekrit projekt”, and unfortunately, it fell through.  The author who contacted me about it said that his attorney had advised him to not job the project out.  He was going to have me write a prequel series that led into his current series, and there was too much chance of confusing the overlapping intellectual property rights.  That’s a true bummer, since I was actually very excited about the project, and had already written a few chapters and had ideas for six different books.  But nothing written is ever wasted.  What I wrote for that project can be adapted later.  When and/or if I ever get back to the “Warrior Clan” series I was fiddling with, these chapters might fit right in with just a little adjustment.

PE2 – So with IMR off the schedule, it looks like the next book in the lineup will probably be a new Pangaea novel.  Looks like it’s time for Sean Barrow to mount his camelo again. Wonder what he and his friends will run into this time?  

 

And that’s enough.  I said I was going to make it a short one, and that was more than 800 words back.  So I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.  And whether you celebrate Christmas, are in the midst of Hanukkah, or celebrate any other holiday, whatever it may be… stay safe!  

Aug 222018
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

May 092018
 

We finally got a storm shelter!  Ever since our tornado scare two years ago, MBH and I have been trying to figure out how to fit a storm shelter into our household budget.  Luckily, the Choctaw Nation has a grant program for tribal members that covers the majority of the cost.  And of course, yours truly is a member.

Yep, if you didn’t already know, I’m a member of the Choctaw Nation, and very proud of my heritage.  Even more so, now that I’ve seen first hand what they do to help their constituents.  Yes, there’s a bit of paperwork, and several months of wait time before approval.  And it took several more weeks for us to be able to get the actual shelter… ironically, because of the weather.

For those of you who might not know, storm shelters are typically pre-manufactured, then transported in pieces before being assembled at the installation site.  In our case, the installation site was our back yard, and intermittent rain over several weeks kept the ground pretty wet.  Much too wet to support a heavy truck with a mini-crane and a the shelter on it.  It turns out that such a load typically runs over fifteen tons.  And if you tell them to install and they get stuck, guess who’s responsible for getting a heavy-duty wrecker out to get them un-stuck?

So we had to wait until we had several consecutive days of dry, sunshiny weather before we were able to finally get it in the ground. And that didn’t happen until last week.  But it’s here now, and just in time for tornado season.

Such a huge relief!

Writing news – 

Payne and Suffering – I mentioned in my last post that I was having trouble tracking the plot and motivations in the latest Amber Payne novel.  The story was threatening to stall for me, and I was really beginning to worry that I was on the wrong track.  Then I had a dream about it.  I’ve mentioned before that I actively try to think about my stories as I go to sleep when I’m having trouble… sort of guiding my subconscious in an attempt to get it to work the problem as I sleep.

Sometimes it works, sometimes not.  To be perfectly honest, it usually doesn’t.  But if it doesn’t work one night, and I don’t solve the problem during the following day, I simply try again the next night.  This time, after several days of minimal progress, and nights of… well nothing, I had my eureka dream.

I realized that I was trying to force the wrong antagonist into a plot that didn’t fit them.  Not only that, but I realized who my antagonist really was, and what their motivations were.  Suddenly, the story is flowing again.  Woot!! 

 

IMR – The sekrit projekt I mentioned last month in WW105 looks like it’s going to really happen.  It’s still in the early stages, so of course I can’t really talk much about it other than to say I’m really, REALLY excited about this one.  We’ve had preliminary discussions, and the contract is being drawn up, so technically, it isn’t a reality quite yet.  But we have verbal agreements in place, and things are looking really good.  As for the story itself, the more we talked about it, the more convinced I was that this was going to be an incredibly fun project.  It’s going to be a lot of work, and will of course impact my writing schedule for the foreseeable future, but I have to admit, I’m looking forward to it.

Watch for the new meter, (IMR) to begin moving when the final details are hammered out and the projekt begins in earnest.

Fringe News – 

This one isn’t really related to my current projects, but rather to a past one.  Streets of Payne was (I think) the first book I had produced in audio format.  It’s available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes and was narrated by the magnificent Joy Nash.  At the time, Joy was a “struggling actress” in Hollywood, having been in a few shows.  At that point, her most notable role was Simone on The Mindy Project.  Since then, she has gotten several other roles and seems to have finally hit it big with a starring role in AMC’s new series, Dietland (co-starring Julianna Margulies and Adam Rothenberg).

So while I’m incredibly happy for Joy and her success, it looks like I’ll probably have to find a new narrator for the next Amber Payne novels.  

 

And that’s it for now.  Time to get back to writing.  Take care, everyone, and stay safe.  :bye:

Mar 212018
 

Wow.  My last post was three weeks ago?  Well, yes, I’ve been busy, but three weeks? (sigh)

Sorry ladies and gents.

Even now, it’s after 9PM, almost past Wednesday completely.  But I really don’t want to miss another one, so here’s a quick rundown of what’s been going on…

I was given the green light to talk about the anthology story I’m working on.  It’s for Severed Press, and is an anthology for their dinosaur market.  Initially, I thought I would write the story of the first group of scientists that came through the Pangaea portal in the Pangaea: Exiles story.  It was briefly mentioned in the book, but never really fleshed out.  Since they said they don’t really want that story, (opting instead for something totally different), it’s a story that may never be written.

So that’s one more thing that I’m working on.

And someone else has contacted me about a sekrit projekt… someone whose writing I really admire, and who I know and respect on a more personal basis.  They wanted to know if I would be interested in co-writing a novel in their universe.  Now let me tell you something here folks – there really aren’t that many series that I get into enough to read (or listen to the audiobooks) of as soon as they come out.  This person writes one of the very few.  As a matter of fact, I had just finished the most recent available audiobook in their series the day before they contacted me.  It’s not firmed up yet, but I have hope that this one will actually take place.

Fingers crossed. 

On the personal front, we’ve had bad news, and then we’ve had BAD news.  First, yours truly ended up blowing up the engine in my Rav 4.  I was going to meet with some friends on Saturday a few weeks back.  It was a nasty, rainy day, and I was traveling down the toll road when I heard a bit of a thump like I had run over a branch or something.  At the same time, I had several warning lights on the dashboard light up, including the battery light.  This made me think I might have thrown a belt.

So I got off the toll road at the next exit, and turned around to take the back road to head back toward home.  I knew I ran the risk of overheating the engine so I kept a close eye on the temperature gauge as I drove back toward town.  I got lucky (or so I thought) in that nearly every traffic light I hit was green, so I didn’t have to stop until I got back into my home town.  That was when I first smelled the steam of an overheated engine.  Still, the temperature gauge showed the engine was cool.

It lied.  There was no way for the engine to be cool, and still produce that smell of steam and hot coolant.  By the time the engine died, it was too far gone.  It had died two blocks from our mechanic.  And since it was a Saturday, I couldn’t have it looked at until Monday.  Even then, I hoped it was just minor damage.

No such luck.  I’d killed the thing.  It would have cost more to fix it than the Rav was worth.    So we’re down by one vehicle in the Brackett household, at least for the immediate future.

But that’s not the BAD news.  You know that old saying about feeling sorry for yourself because you have no shoes, until you see the man who has no feet?  Well, that’s the way MBH and I have felt lately.  We’ve seen some people close to us going through so much worse than what we’re dealing with.  I won’t go into details, because those stories aren’t mine to tell.  Suffice to say that some of what our loved ones are dealing with is truly heartbreaking.  So much so that we feel blessed to only have minor things like burned out ceiling fans, broken fence posts, (a few other minor issues) and car engines to worry about.

And we are SO lucky in so many other ways.  We have friends and family who love us, and are loved by us.  And no matter what happens, I don’t see that changing.  In the end, that’s really all that matters.

So hug your loved ones, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you again soon.  :bye:

Feb 072018
 

You know that flu that’s been making the rounds?  Yeah.  I can now vouch for just how crappy this bug can make you feel.  The sinus pressure was bad enough that I was fantasizing about removing my own eyes with a spoon in order to gain some relief.

Okay, maybe that was a slight exaggeration.  But only slight.

Two nights ago, the sinus pressure eased, as the crud in them began to shift into my chest.  Of course, this presented its own set of issues.

Imagine, I’m in the guest room trying to sleep (because I’m bound and determined that I will NOT give this crap to MBH).  I lay down and try to take a deep, relaxing breath before sleeping, and the rattle from inside my chest causes me to start coughing.  And I mean, the deep, gut wrenching cough that makes you think your abs are about to leave your body by way of your esophagus.

After fighting it for a bit, I decide to sit up and watch a bit of late-night television.  A few minutes later, the rattle subsides, the coughing stops, and I lay back down.  Within about thirty seconds, the rattling begins again, which brings on another bout of coughing.  I sit up again, and guess what?  Yep, everything calms down again.

Lay down, rattle, cough. Sit back up, cough stops, rattle stops, I begin to drift off.

After about three hours of this, my coughing was interspersed with considerable cursing.  And as I established in an earlier post, I really don’t cuss that much.  That night was an exception.  By midnight, I was frustrated.  By one o’clock, I was exhausted.  By two o’clock, I was coughing and cussing and punching my pillow as if it was its fault that I couldn’t find a position or angle that would allow me to sleep without the incessant and irritating noise from within.  I think I finally succumbed to the exhaustion around three AM.

If not for the fact that I was so frustrated and tired, the whole situation might have been funny.  In the wee hours of a frustratingly restless morning, I found absolutely zero humor in the situation.

Go figure.  

Needless to say, I’ve gotten very little writing done over the last week, though.  Yes, I’m beginning to feel better.  Actually, I’m almost feeling normal again.  The rattle is beginning to subside, and I was able to get a relatively decent night’s sleep last night.  Tomorrow, I plan to get back in the saddle with the writing, and hopefully get Amber Payne back on the case.

Wish me luck.  In the meantime, stay safe, and don’t catch the flu.  :bye: