Jul 262017
 

Minor change in the blog here. It looks like part of the problem I had on the site had to do with a corrupted emoticon plugin.  I traced the last three corrupted files to the plugin and when I tried to go to the site to see if there was an available update, their site was also messed up.  As a result, I’ve removed that plugin and you will notice new emoticons here.  There is supposed to be a table of them that shows up when you go to make comments, but since I post from the admin dashboard, I have no way of knowing if that’s true.  If anyone tries to comment, please look for the table marked “wp-Monalisa”.  It will hopefully have a bunch of smileys and the accompanying text codes that will create them.  If not, I’ll try to figure out an easy way to let you see what they are, but for now, I’m more concerned with just getting the site running smoothly again.

Other news… last weekend was the 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP) competition.  Now, because of the terms of the competition, I still can’t talk publicly about any specifics.  But speaking in generalities, I can say that I ended up pitching a story idea in a genre that I NEVER thought I would write in.  But I would like to tell you a little about the experience. So let me give you an idea of how my weekend went.  We (the writers) were supposed to show up on location at 6PM.  I got there a little early because I wanted to know what kind of locations we would have access to.  After all, it wouldn’t do any good to write a script about a car race if the only set we had access to was going to be a church, right?  I also wanted to discuss what the other writers knew about the actors… skills, aptitudes, etc.

At roughly 6:45, we received the phone call letting us know our required genre, character name, line of dialogue, and prop.  Each of these things had to be written into the script.  Three teams of two writers (including yours truly) then began putting our ideas into pitch form.  A few hours later the director and his team met with all three writing teams to listen to the pitches.

The pitch my writing partner and I made was accepted, and we went to work on the full script.  Things went a little off course from where I thought they were going to go at that point.  It had been my understanding that all six writers would get together to knock out the completed script, but someone had decided that having six writers working on a seven minute script would likely be a matter of too many cooks in the kitchen.   That made sense, so my partner (a great guy named Aaron Stein) and I sat down and knocked out a collaborative effort, writing until about 2:30 AM.  Between the writing, printing out the copies, and getting everything ready for the crew setup later that morning, I ended up getting to sleep around 3:30.

My alarm got me up less than three hours later, because the crew was supposed to meet at 7AM.  Yeah, after less than three hours of sleep, I got to haul my tired old phatass back to work with them.  This time I got to learn about setting up lights, power, how to set a boom mic just out of frame so it won’t show up in the film, but will still be close enough to pick up dialogue… it was both exhilarating and intimidating, not to mention incredibly hot and exhausting.  We filmed at three different locations, and finished up once again at around 3AM.  By the time I got home, got showered (I did mention hot, didn’t I? I was drenched in sweat and soaked through four shirts) and finally got to bed, it was about 5AM.

Let me tell you folks, I’m just too old for that kind of schedule anymore.  I remember pulling all-nighters when I was in my twenties.  I even remember literally working around the clock on rare occasions in my thirties.  But I’m nearly twice that age now, and I paid hell for the excess the following day.  I woke up with a migraine so bad that I ended up puking, and I was pretty much useless to MBH.  To make things worse, she had strained her back while I was gone, and the two of us spent most of Sunday lying around the house, while Bella looked at us wondering what in the world was wrong with us.

Unfortunately, despite all the work everyone put into the project, the film didn’t get through editing soon enough to make the deadline, and we were disqualified from the competition.  It was still an amazing experience.  Hard, HARD, work, but amazing, nonetheless.  It was also one hell of a learning experience, and I learned a new respect for the names that go at the end of a film… all the “grips” and “best boys”, lighting crew, and boom operators… Their work is thankless, tiring, and all it gets them is a little footnote at the end of the credits.  Like writers, these are people who love their craft, work hard to advance it, and my hat is off to them.

I’ve already been asked if I would participate again next year, and I have to say… right now, I’m on the fence.  As I said, I really liked it.  I just can’t put in hours like that.  This year was REALLY hard on me.  Today is Wednesday, and I still had to take a short nap this morning.  I’m still working to get my schedule back on track.  I can’t afford that much of a disruption in my writing schedule.  But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there is a draw to the comradery of working so closely with a team of artists to make something you can be proud of… something you can point to and say, “I had a hand in creating that.”

So will I do it again next year?  I don’t know.  Part of me wants to.  But next year I’ll be even older, my body will likely be less forgiving to the abuse, and I simply don’t think I can handle working back-to-back, twenty-something hour days.  It’s been one hell of a learning experience though.  I’ve learned that I can write under extreme pressure.  I’ve learned a little about script writing.  And as I said, I learned quite a bit about the work that goes on behind the scenes (literally) of a movie.

Now back to the reality of my own writing…

Crazy Larry hasn’t moved all that much.  Between the prep for the 48 HFP, and recuperating afterwards, I’m sitting on just under 22k words, and I haven’t made any more progress on Payne and Suffering since last week, at all.  But I’m feeling more like my old self again, and am going to try working on multiple projects at once.  I’ve tried this in the past, but didn’t have the mental discipline to keep track of the various projects.  I want to see if I can do it now.  I need to make it work.  Working on one project at a time seems to be bogging me down.  I have a problem with focusing on a single plot problem and letting it bog me down.  If I can make myself stop when I hit one of those proverbial walls, and move over to another WIP, then maybe that will give my subconscious time to chip away at the wall while I remain productive on another title.  I’ll let you know how it works.

That’s it for now. Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  

 

 

Jul 192017
 

I received the first couple of chapters of the Year 12 audiobook, and let me just say HOLY CRAP!  Corey Snow captures the book perfectly.  I’ve heard a lot of vocal artists… some are actually pretty bad, some are all right, and some are actually pretty good.  Then there are the few like Corey who are in another league.  The man has the timber, the cadence, and the inflection to bring the words on the page to life.  There are just a few who can do this, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with two of them. Joy Nash, who voiced Streets of Payne, and Corey Snow, who has done all of the Half Past Midnight titles so far.

I’ll let you all know what’s going on as the project draws closer to being ready for release.

In the meantime, I’m also still working on Crazy Larry, and the story just keeps on growing. I honestly thought it would have ended around 20k words, but I’m already past that point, and am finally beginning to believe it will come in longer than The Road to Rejas.  Possibly as long as 30k… we’ll just have to see.

Pangaea Exiles – I haven’t heard any more from the publisher on this one.  As far as I know, I’m waiting on the final round of edits.  Again, I’ll let you all know as things progress.

Payne and Suffering – And here it is… I finally broke out that manuscript for the second Amber Payne novel today.  This has to be the one I hear the most questions about, so there will be a few of you out there who may actually be happy to hear that I’m gearing up on it.   :)

But I’m not yet jumping in with both feet.  The rest of this week is going to be mostly dedicated to working on the 48 Hour Film Project I discussed last week. Tonight is another meeting, and then Friday is the beginning of the actual project.  That means I need to try and get some extra sleep over the next few days, because I’ll not likely get much at all over the weekend.  In addition to the writing part of the project, I learned at the last meeting that I will also be a “grip” for the team.  For those of you who are like me, and don’t really know what that means, it’s pretty much a glorified gopher (as in “go for this” and “go for that.”)  Last meeting I got a crash course in setting up lights (“striking”) and breaking them back down again (“going dark”), as well as how to set up various light adjustments like “barn doors”, and “soft boxes”.

Yep, filmmakers have their own language.  I mean, who would think that “hot sticks” is a warning that someone is moving the camera?  But there it is.  And this is going to be a great learning experience.

What I’ve been reading / listening to

I mostly listen to audiobooks these days.  It’s so much easier to pop an audiobook into my iPod and listen while I drive anywhere.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve listened to the first five books of Terry Mixon’s “Empire of Bones” series.  It’s a military sci-fi series written by an author I am happy to call friend, and he’s done a wonderful job with this series.  This is a story of the far future, where the Terran Empire has spread across the galaxy, fallen, and is beginning to rise again… only to find that the reason for the fall 500 years earlier is still lingering in wait.  Terry has done a wonderful job with the characters of the expedition sent to explore for the New Terran Empire, as they clash with undreamed of obstacles during their mission.

I’ve also listened to the second book in Dennis E. Taylor’s “Bobiverse” series (For We Are Many). I listened to the first one (We Are Legion, We Are Bob) about a year ago, when it first came out. It’s the story of a software entrepreneur who is killed, and his brain is frozen. He awakens in the future, as the artificial intelligence piloting a spaceship.  As things get increasingly complex, Bob discovers how to create new versions of himself from software backups.  But each new iteration of himself takes on a personality of it’s own.  I can’t wait for the third installment (All These Worlds), due out next month.

And that’s it for now.  I still have things to do before tonight’s meeting, so I’m going to cut this short. Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.   :bye:

Jun 072017
 

WW84ALots of writing news this week.

First, I’ve been listening to some new podcasts about writing.  (Well, new to me, anyway…)  They are less about the craft of writing itself, and more about the business side.  By the way, if you’re a writer, and want to hear some good tips about marketing and sales, try David Wood’s “Wood on Words” podcast.  The other one I’ve just started listening to is “Authorcast”, co-hosted by (again) David Wood and Alan Baxter.

I also got a chance to read (and blurb) an ARC of Ed Lorn’s upcoming novel, The Sound of Broken Ribs.  It is definitely Lorn at his best.  If you like horror so twisted that you can’t tell the good guys from the bad, then this is definitely one to watch for.  Fair warning though, Lorn holds nothing back.  If you need trigger warnings, just assume they are all given.

And that brings me to something that I said I was going to start doing a LONG time ago, but never actually did.  I’ll be reviewing books as I read them.  I can’t hold to a schedule with this.  Mainly because I simply won’t review anything I read that I can’t recommend.  That means I won’t be reviewing anything that I don’t consider at least a four-star book.  That’s not to say I won’t end up reading some clunkers, but when I do, I simply won’t review them.

This also means I won’t be telling anyone in advance what titles I’m reading.  After all, if I mention that I’m reading XYZ by Joe Blow Author, and then I don’t review it, you would know I didn’t consider it worth the effort.

Other news…

End Point Pangaea is off to the publisher.  Well, technically, “Pangaea Exiles” is off to the publisher.  In the end (no pun intended), the “End Point Pangaea” title just didn’t work for me.  I started writing the story with the idea that there would be a single location around which the story would be centered, and for whatever reason, I initially had it in my mind that it would be called “End Point”.  I don’t know why it came to me like that, but as the story grew, the idea of a single location was just too unbelievable, as well as too confining for the series.  So when I sent the manuscript to the publisher, I also requested that we change the title.  We’ll see what they say.

Year 12Y12 is officially going to be an audiobook, and Corey Snow (aka VoxMan) has officially accepted the offer.  Of course, it’s all dependent on his schedule, as he is booked through some point in June.  That means that will be the earliest he can start on it.  But I’m just so happy that Corey will once again be the voice of the Half Past Midnight universe that waiting a bit longer is NOT going to be a problem.

Crazy Larry – While I wait on word (and the inevitable edits) from the publisher for the Pangaea project, I’m going to be hammering away at Crazy Larry.  I know I promised several of you that my next project would be the next Amber Payne book (Payne and Suffering), but when I spoke to Corey about voicing Y12, he indicated that he would also be interested in doing Crazy Larry, and wanted to know when it would be ready.  There’s absolutely no way it will be ready by his June opening, but I might be able to finish the first draft and get it to beta readers in a few weeks.  After that though, it will need to go to editing, get a cover, etc.  Too many of those steps are outside of my control, so I expect CL will likely still be a few months out.

Payne and Suffering – And just because P&S isn’t going to be my primary WIP for a while, that doesn’t mean I won’t be working on it at all.  Two chapters are already done, and I will continue to work on it as time permits. My plan is to have more Amber Payne in your hands by late fall.

WW84BRPotW

And this week’s pic is one to give you a few shivers. I was working in the garage last week when I moved a box away from the wall and found this little lady.  Now, I’m not normally one who believes in killing snakes or spiders on sight, and I don’t have any sort of phobia with them.  But a black widow is NOT something that I will leave alive around my home.   I snapped the picture so I could be sure of the identification (the spider was around the corner, and so it was difficult to get a direct look at it), and when I zoomed the picture in and saw that my suspicions were correct, I got the bug spray and sent the deadly girl to “the bleedin’ choir invisible”.  That means that this pic is now the only record that she ever existed, and I have to admit that I’m completely comfortable with that.  If you love spiders and think I shouldn’t have killed her, just send me your mailing address and from now on, I’ll make it a point to jar them up and send you the next ones I find.  Of course, you’ll have to cover the postage.  :wink:

That’s it for now, except my reminder to stay safe.  And I’ll talk to you again soon.   :bye: