Dec 282016
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dec 212016
 

year-12-3Yep, Year 12 is off for formatting.  For now at least, there is nothing more that I can do to move it along.  Nothing but wait.  So, I’m back to End Point Pangaea and FSJ (aka the “Sekrit Projekt”) as my primary WIPs.

But for now, Christmas planning, decorating, and other miscellaneous preparations is taking a front seat.  That means the writing is slower than usual, but that’s normal for this time of year.  And that’s all right.  We’re about to have visitors.  My youngest daughter, my son, daughter-in-law, and youngest grand-daughter are due here in a few days, and MBH & I are doing what we can to make sure we get to enjoy as much time with them as possible.  So there are meals to plan, floors to keep clean, and of course, gifts to wrap.   :)

But I’m still moving along, and enjoying the new writing projects more than I thought I would.  As a matter of fact, FSJ, which was originally slated as a quick 2500 word… er, project, is currently at just under 2900 words, and still going strong.  It will likely lose quite a bit as I finish and then revise it, but it speaks volumes to me that I am having so much fun with it that I don’t want to cut it short.  But for now, I’ve simply moved the target on the progress meter form 2500 words to 3500.  And I’ll just have to see where it actually ends up as things progress.

But for now, it’s time to walk the girls.  Hopefully, I’ll get time for a bit more writing after that.  So take care, and have a safe and very merry Christmas.  I’ll talk to you next time.   :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:

 

Aug 242016
 

Children often have trouble when they’re learning to speak, and some of those troubles lead to fun little sayings that stick with your family for many years. Most of you have probably experienced this. A prime example in our family is when my oldest daughter was about nine. At that age, she used to occasionally mix up song lyrics, as we’ve all done from time to time. But some of hers were so memorable that they became ingrained in the family history. For instance, the chorus to the old song “When Smoky Sings” by ABC, begins with the line “when Smoky sings, I hear violins.” To this day, my wife and I can’t think of that song without remembering it as “when smokin’s a sin, I hear firemen…”   :rotfl:

When my son was at that stage of his life, he had trouble with “yesterday”. For him, moving back in time consisted of going from today, to this morning, to last night, to “lasterday”, (which does have a kind of logic to it, right?)

For a great-niece, dogs were “goggers”. And for our youngest daughter, the color yellow was “lellow.”  (Ironically, she just got her BFA in painting, and depends quite a bit on the color palette.)

Now we’re on the next generation. When my oldest granddaughter was younger, and still learning to talk, she loved penguins. But for whatever reason, the word “penguin” evaded her grasp. Instead, she called them “poogins”. My dad loved that so much, that he began calling her Poogin, and even though that was a good four or five years ago, she still remains “Poogin” to us.

Well, now she’s nine years old, just starting fourth grade. As a matter of fact, last week was her first week back in school after summer vacation. When we spoke to our “smokin’s a sin” daughter, we asked her how Poogin liked the fourth grade. She told us that she had asked the same question when she’d picked the little one up after her first day. And with all the drama that a nine-year-old can muster, she related the tragedy of her first day…

“It was absolutely horrible!”

“Why? What happened?”

“I lost my tooth!”

“Well, that’s all right. You’ve lost teeth before.”

“No mom, I lost my tooth… and then I lost my tooth!”

“Oh. You mean you lost it, lost it?”

Poogin nodded woefully. “Somewhere on the playground. I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find it.”

“Well that’s okay, baby.”

“No it’s not. How is the tooth fairy going to know I lost it, if I don’t have it to put under my pillow?”

:-D

You have to understand, Poogin is a very smart young lady who speaks with a vocabulary beyond her years. That conversation was a reminder that, while she might speak with the conviction and vocabulary of a teenager, she still has the beliefs of a nine-year-old. We got a good chuckle out of her mom relating that the tooth fairy was a lot like Santa Claus, and that she would know about the tooth, whether it was actually under the pillow or not.

WW53aBut the real kicker was when Poogin decided that just to be safe, she should leave a note for the tooth fairy…

Dear tooth<>fairy,

I have lost a tooth today, (literaly) but if you are still generous enouph, mabe you could still give me the money. (‘.

So does the mercenary nature of the note come from the child, or the adult struggling to come out?   :-))  Either way, I love the fact that she didn’t simply give up on the lost tooth, and that she turned to writing as a solution.  She’s a Poogin after my own heart.   8-)

And speaking of writing… (how’s that for a segue?) …another round of edits for the first Chucklers book is done.  Better yet, I received an email with a proposed new cover on it, and it’s looking really good, folks. I sent back a request for a few tweaks, but I think we’re quickly approaching a publishable product.  Woohoo!! Want a sneak peek?  Here you go….WW53b

How’s that for a tease?  :-D

My other big project, End Point Pangaea, is still moving well (you can see the progress meter at the top of the column to the far right), and though I did stall for a couple of days, I’m back on that horse and riding for all I’m worth.  I’m still waiting for that magical mental and emotional breakthrough where everything falls into place just right, and I’m suddenly consistently breaking the 2500 word a day mark.  So far, I haven’t seen that breakthrough.

And I can tell you that today isn’t very likely to be it, either.   ;-)   But the progress is consistent, and I’m happy with it, as it is.  Of course, just like my Poogin, at the end of the day I just can’t help myself.  When it’s all said and done, I just really want to see that big payoff.   :rotfl:

But that’s not going to happen if I don’t get back to writing.  So take care, and stay safe everyone.  I’ll talk to you again next week.   :bye:

Jul 202016
 

Writing –

The last week has been a whirlwind of events and emotions around here. The first phase of editing on the first book of the Chucklers series is done. I’ll have to see where we go from here, but we’re getting closer to publication by the day. We’re still working on cover ideas, but that’s also progressing.

In the meantime, I’m back at work on the next Severed Press project, End Point Pangaea. As of this writing, I’m about 4000 words into it, and trying not to let the dark tone of Chucklers invade the new project too much. I had to completely delete a few scenes I had written when I decided they were simply too gruesome for EPP. But the project is ongoing, and I’ll be putting a new progress meter in the side column shortly.

 

Other stuff –

Back in March when all the nasty weather blew through here, our roof took some minor hail damage. We finally got around to getting someone out to give us an estimate, and now I’m in the middle of an argument between the roofer, who has an interest in getting the roof completely replaced (because, let’s face it, this is how roofers make money), and the insurance company, who has an interest in simply having it repaired (because, let’s face it, this is how the insurance company saves money).  So the insurance adjuster says the damage isn’t that bad, the roofer says it’s worse than the adjuster is admitting, and I’m standing between them, uncomfortably recalling little league baseball games where parents are yelling at the umpire (“What? Are you blind, ump?”).

And now, I have a check for what the insurance company says they’ll pay, and I’m waiting to see if the roofer can do the necessary repairs for that cost. And now that the deal has been done, they’re making me wish I’d never started the whole process.  Man, I hate dealing with stuff like this.   :struggle:

 

Other other stuff –

Bella and Cricket

Bella and Cricket

You’ve seen me write about my dogs, Bella and Cricket, and you know how much I love them. A few years ago, the two of them got into their first fight. Cricket was clearly the instigator, evidently not realizing that she was only half the size of her pack mate. We broke them apart, and honestly, Bella seemed shocked that it had happened. She broke off as soon as MBH and I got involved, but Cricket kept re-engaging, going so far as to run all the way around a table to get back into the fray. She actually ended up biting me during the fight and I got a nasty infection on my arm. The final outcome was a few stitches for both of them, and a doctor’s visit and a vet bill for us.

Several months later, it happened again. Cricket triggered and attacked Bella, with even worse results. I suppose Bella, who had always been a marshmallow up to that point, realized that she had the upper hand in a fight, and she tore Cricket up pretty easily with very little damage to herself.

There were a few more fights over the next year, and things slowly shifted from Cricket being the aggressor, to Bella attacking instead.

We’ve tried repeatedly to figure out what causes the fights. For the longest time, we were convinced that it was simple jealousy over MBH’s affection. At first, it always seemed to happen when she was holding Cricket in her lap. Maybe that made Cricket feel especially brave or something, but after the first couple of times, we made it a point to make sure neither dog was allowed on the furniture.

Another time, it happened when I got down on the floor with them, between the couch and a pair of footstool/storage cubes we have. I don’t know if it was the enclosed area, or the fact that I was on the floor with them, but Bella went from happy and tail wagging to attack mode in less than a second. No growl or warning of any kind. Just a sudden attack.

Lately, it’s been happening more frequently. Last week, Bella was on her blanket behind my chair in the den. Cricket was laying in a little bed beside my chair. MBH and I were eating, and Bella got up, started to walk past Cricket, and next thing I knew, she was on Cricket, tearing into her for the fourth time in as many weeks.

At that point, I was becoming convinced there was something mentally wrong with Bella. The thought that she was becoming so dangerous that we were going to have to put her down was tearing me up, but I didn’t see anything else we could do. In my eyes, Bella had clearly become a loose cannon… a dangerously aggressive loose cannon.

Then MBH found some information on a website that described our situation perfectly. It was from an article on a book called “Dogs on the Couch” by Larry Lachman.  It said:

When it comes to fighting between dogs in the same household, there are four common characteristics:

* Dogs are of the same sex.
* Dogs fight only in the owner’s presence.
* Dogs are adult dogs, four years or older.
* Fights involve a struggle for which one will be the dominant dog in the family pack. And in these cases, the owners frequently choose to wrong dog as the dominant dog and begin treating him as such. Or the owners attempt to treat the dogs equally and democratically.

Well, that described our situation to a “T”. Both of our girls are… well, girls. The fights only happen around MBH or myself. Bella is seven years old, Cricket is five. And we’ve always tried to treat the girls as if they were equals.

I’m telling you, no matter how much Dog Whisperer you watch on TV, nothing prepares you for the fact that the reason your dogs are fighting… is you.   :-(

Dogs are not people, and have a hierarchical mentality. One dog MUST be superior to the other, or they will fight for dominance in the eyes of the human leaders of their pack. In trying to treat them equally, we had unwittingly created an unbalanced dynamic in our pack. We were basically telling the girls, “we don’t know which of you is dominant, so you have to figure it out.”

There were all sorts of recommendations as to how to “repair” our pack, but they are long-term solutions, involving weeks of training. And at the rate that they’ve been fighting, we don’t know if Cricket will survive long enough. As it is, she seems to be wondering why we’re suddenly showing preferential treatment to Bella. There’s no way she can understand that it’s pretty much to keep her from being killed. But she does seem to understand that she’s no longer being treated as the cute little girl who nudges our hands for affection. Now, instead of affection, she’s being corrected for horning in on Bella’s time.

So while we’re going through the exercises and adjustments, trying to correct the situation that we caused, we’re also trying to find Cricket a new home. She needs a home where she’s the only dog. Where she can get all the attention she craves, because she’s one that loves to cuddle up with her humans… loves to bump your hand with her nose so you’ll pet her. She really is a sweetie, and it’s not her fault that we didn’t create a proper pack environment.    :-(

I feel like such an idiot.

But an old friend from my old Woodlands Writers Guild days has said she might be able to take Cricket, if I can get her back down to the Houston area. And if that’s what it takes to ensure that Cricket doesn’t end up seriously injured or killed, then we’ll give her up. It will break our hearts, but we’ll do it.

Crap. It really hurts to say that.  :cry:

We’ll see how it plays out, but it looks like there’s no happy ending. All we can do is try to avoid a bloody ending.

Stay safe, everyone. :bye: