Sep 252019
 

Hey folks.  Yes, it looks like I’m back.  I’m going to keep it short, though.  I’m still plugging away at Crazy Larry.  What I had planned to write as a novella of maybe 18 to 20k words, is quickly approaching the length of a short novel of around 40 to 45k.  I’m not certain, but I think I’ll probably put it together with The Road to Rejas (aka R2R), and bind them together as another novel in the Half Past Midnight universe.  The two of them combined would actually be large enough to even do a print version.

I think that’s probably a good idea anyway, since I contacted Amazon last week to see about getting them to set up a couple of series pages for me… one for the Amber Payne series, and one for the Half Past Midnight series.  When they asked me for the names of the titles in each of the series, they had no problem with the Payne titles.  But when I mentioned The Road to Rejas, they informed me that they were unable to list novellas as part of a series.  So if I combine R2R and Crazy Larry into a single volume and call it something like “Doomsday Tales” or some such, then I should be able to get them all together under a series page, after all.  And later, when I finally get around to writing the short story, “Silent Night“, that’s been rattling around in my brain, I can add it to the same volume.  In fact, it would likely make a great loss leader for the mailing list.  Things to think about for the future. 

Speaking of the future, I can’t seem to shake the ideas for the Sekrit Projekt.  I talked to the IP owner about a couple of ideas, and got a tentative green light.  That green light opened up some other ideas, and I think I have firm paths for at least half a dozen books in the series.  I hate when I see shiny new ideas on the horizon, while I still have work to do in the queue.  

On a final note, I recently found a some comments that got caught in the spam filter.  I’ve approved them now, but figured I would address them here…

One was from “Vikki”, who was extremely complimentary, and said “This is one of my all time favorites! Keep reading it over and over…”.  So thanks Vikki.  I really appreciate the kind words.  Unfortunately, your comment was attached to the Newsletter Signup, so I’m not sure which book you mean.  Regardless, I REALLY like hearing from people who’ve read my work, and enjoyed it.  Thank you.  :)

Two more were referencing Pangaea Exiles.  One of them also was attached to the Newsletter Signup page, and the other was attached to last December’s WW120 post.  Both comments wanted to know when the next Pangaea book was coming out.  Unfortunately, I don’t have anything definite to tell you guys about that.  The reality of trying to make it as a writer is that you have to write where the money is, and as much fun as I had with Pangaea, I have to concentrate my time on those projects that have the best chance of helping me pay the bills.  I’m not saying I won’t come back to it, because I’m sure I probably will.  I just don’t know when.  And it’s honestly going to be a lower priority than some of my other series.  I’m sure that’s not what you were hoping to hear, but I have to be honest with you.

So that’s it. Time to get back to work. Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you again soon.  

Dec 202018
 

WARNINGTHIS POST HAS MANY MORE PICTURES THAN NORMAL!  AND THEY’RE AWESOME! 

First of all, yes, I missed last week’s blog post.  But I have an excellent excuse this time.  I flew to New Mexico to help Baby Bird move from Santa Fe to her new apartment in Albuquerque.  Of course, flying during the holidays can be all sorts of fun, as you can see in the picture here.  That was the scene at a bit before 5 AM last Thursday at Tulsa International.  I can only imagine how wild it was later in the day, and TIA is a small airport compared to some of the larger cities.  Places like Houston, Chicago, or New York must be truly nightmarish during the holidays.

But it all went smoothly, and I arrived the morning after the first snow of the season in Albuquerque.  And while the snow was beautiful, the ice on the roads was most definitely not.  Still, we made it all right, and there’s that whole, “all’s well that ends well” thing, right?  ;)   And the view was really nice once we were safely at the apartment.  I mean, isn’t that beautimous?  (Well, other than the chain-link fence, that is.)

She had a few friends to help, so I got to meet some of her cohorts.  They were really nice… wow, I almost called them kids.  And when I think about it, they’re all around the age MBH & I were when we got married.  (And here’s where I insert the obligatory “where did the time go?” comment… Oy!)  

Over the next few days, we finished packing her life into boxes, (though she had honestly already done most of the packing), got one of those big, orange, moving trucks, packed it up, moved her from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, unpacked her life at the new location, and organized things in such a manner that she could function in the new apartment.  And for an artist, that includes setting up the improvised painting studio in the breakfast nook, and hanging lots of artwork.

And I LOVED being able to see how she does that, and to help with it.  There is painter’s canvas on the floor, plastic sheeting on the walls, flaps cut in the plastic for air vents and thermostats… it was a pretty intricate setup.  But it’s necessary for a college student who would like to one day get back her security deposit.  LOL

MBH and I worry about her commute now.  She’ll have classes in Santa Fe, so there’s about an hour commute each way.  But in truth, it’s not the distance or the time that concerns us.  It’s the fact that there’s the potential for her to be driving it in snowy, icy conditions.  And for someone used to living in Houston and San Antonio, those are some seriously different driving conditions than she’s used to.

But Baby Bird isn’t really a baby anymore, so we’ll just have to worry in relative silence.  RELATIVE silence…

The Ladies – six panels, oil on canvas

Now, I’m going to move on to my writing progress synopsis, but since we’re talking about Baby Bird and her art work (yeah, I’m a proud papa, so sue me ), I’ll be sprinkling some pictures of some of her paintings throughout the rest of this post.

 

 

Writing Progress

Animorph – Acrylic on paper

AP2 – .  Between the holidays and travel, I haven’t made a whole lot of progress on The Payne Before The Storm.  It’s currently sitting at just over 99k words after the third major revision, but that isn’t counting about 20k that I excised as part of the beginning of AP3, the third in the series.  So once this one is finished, I’ll already have a decent start on yet another Amber Payne novel.  No promises on when it will be finished, because I have other books I also need to be writing.  Nevertheless, it’s a little bit of a head start.

TBL – I haven’t spoken about The Burning Land in quite some time, have I?  The only reason I’m mentioning it now is that I’ve decided to use it as practice for recording my own audiobooks.

Owl – Watercolor on paper

After the problems I ran into with my narrator for Year 12, I’m leaning more and more toward starting to do my own narrations. I think I have a decent enough voice, and I’ve done some minor readings and sound editing for a few podcasts, so I’m familiar with the basics of the process.

But none of that is a guarantee that I can really do what I think I can do.  With that in mind, I decided that it made sense to start with something small.  And since The Burning Land is the shortest work I’ve published, what could be better?

So I set up and recorded it the day before I left for New Mexico.  It’s a 5k word short story, and it took me right at an hour to do a master take.  Next step is to make a copy for backup, and then begin the editing process.  After that, I hope to be able to submit it to ACX for release on Audible, iTunes, and of course, Amazon. So if things go well with the production of the TBL audiobook, then I can make a more informed decision on whether or not there’s an ROI to doing the audiobook for Y12.

 

Untitled – Oil on Canvas

Learning to Write

And finally, in the writing “business” category… the flights back from New Mexico gave me a little time to read.  I didn’t get time to read on the way out because I ended up in a fun conversation with a very pleasant gentleman across the aisle on the flight to Albuquerque, and we were back on the ground before I knew it.  By the way… Nate, if you actually read this, here’s me saying hello.  ;)

Untitled – Oil on Canvas

However, on the way home, I was able to finally make quite a bit of progress on the book I mentioned in WW115, way back in August… (Newsletter Ninja: How to Become an Author Mailing List Expert).  I’m about 90% through it now, and am amazed at just how much sense the book is making… and in just how badly I’ve missed the mark in what I should be trying to do with my mailing list.  In fact, a LOT of what I always considered “conventional wisdom” with mailing lists and newsletters really doesn’t make sense when you examine it closely.  So yeah, another project to tackle at some point in the future.  What’s more, some of what I’ve read might actually affect this blog, as well.  But more on that whenever the changes get closer.  For now, there are too many other irons in the fire.

Don’t Be an Ass – Watercolor on paper

And finally, I’ve been studying a bit on Amazon ads, keywords, book categories, and the like, in an effort to (hopefully) learn how to gain more visibility for my books.  The more I learn, the more I’m reminded that writing is a business… and that business is always shifting.  When you try to settle on a working model, the industry has a tendency to shift and leave you in the dust.  I need to be more vigilant on that side of things.

All right, I suppose I’ve meandered on for long enough.  However, in reading back through this post I realized that with all of Baby Bird’s paintings, I didn’t show anything to give the scale.  She doesn’t do much in the way of small paintings, so these last few pictures will give you an idea of what kind of size we’re looking at.  Enjoy, and stay safe.  :bye:

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!  

Sep 122018
 

Endings seem to be the theme of the post today.

  •   The End of the End of the WIP

You’ll notice that the progress bar for Payne and Suffering took a drastic reduction.  The manuscript was sitting at 98%.  But the last several chapters I had written didn’t sit well with me. What I was writing didn’t feel “right”, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly why.  Well, I recently had the chance to go back and begin re-reading the manuscript from the beginning, and I was finally able to put a finger on where the story zigged when it should have zagged.

Bottom line? I had tried too hard to force the story into a set word count.  I was shooting for a 90k to 100k word count, when the story wants to be more like 125k to 150k.  I didn’t really want to write anything quite that long, but I finally realized that everything I was weaving into the story wouldn’t work unless I gave it free rein.  Besides, in all the time I’ve spent trying to wrangle the word count under that 100k self-imposed restriction, I probably could have already written the full 150k words I was trying to avoid.

So, I chopped of the end of the manuscript, nearly a quarter of what I had written, and brought it back down to where I had last been happy with the story as a reader.  That brought me down to just under 78k words.  Then I started re-writing the story as it wanted to be told.  I’m currently back up to 85k, and MUCH happier with the way it’s progressing.  I hope you, as readers, will be happy with the result.

 

  • The End of the Laptop

Yes, I had to retire an old friend.  He was a Dell XPS 17″ L702x laptop with a 750 GB primary drive and a 2 TB secondary drive… a real workhorse of a machine.  I bought him back in January of 2012 and it’s now September of 2018.  That’s six years and nine months of tireless work.  And I HAVE worked him hard.  The only criticism I have of him is that he was a bit overweight.  Hauling that 17″ behemoth around was rough on the back… especially as I get older.

Technically, he’s still working.  The problem is that one of the hinges is giving up the ghost.  Anytime I try to open or close the lid, the hinge separates from the screen, popping and scraping, and leaving bits of plastic as it tries to break completely.  And there are only so many times you can continue to try to force the lid up or down before entropy finally wins.  So for now, he is still set up in the office, still powered up.  If not for the fact that the power button is beneath the lid, I would keep him hooked up indefinitely, using him as a desktop.  But I will still have to open the lid (at least enough to reach the power button above the keyboard) any time I want to power him back up.  Eventually, that hinge will go.

So I had to make a decision.  I had saved up enough from the book earnings to fund my next book.  For the first time, I was going to be able to afford editing, cover art and design, formatting… all the publishing expenses, completely off my royalties.  But not if I bought a new laptop.  At least not if I bought another workhorse like the XPS.  So, as in so many things in life, I had to compromise.  I bought a good, business class laptop… a Dell Latitude 15″ 5590.  It’s not got anywhere near the drive capacity of the old XPS, and the drive is slower (5400 rpm vs 7200), but it’s a mid-range and dependable business-class laptop.  It should do the job.  As a matter of fact, I’ve had it for almost a week, am working on it as I type this, and have zero complaints with it.  In fact, my back really appreciates the difference in weight.  LOL

  • The End of a Business Relationship

It’s been more than a year since I commissioned the audiobook version of Year 12.  For whatever reason, the narrator I commissioned has still not delivered the audio files, and it’s time for me to sever the relationship.  For the longest time I was patient as he claimed personal issues.  Truth is, he has a wonderful voice, and I really REALLY wanted him to do the book.  But he’s stopped answering emails, and the contract called for the book to be completed in July of 2017.  It’s now September of 2018.  That’s a year of lost income, and I guess the time for patience and understanding is pretty much past.  So I’ll be severing ties with him.  

I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with regards to a Y12 audiobook… put it back up for audition?  Do the narration myself?  There are pros and cons to both options, and I need to think it over for a while.  In the meantime, I have other books to write.

And that’s it for now.  Time to go from all these ending to beginnings.  Like, beginning to get myself back to work.  

So take care, and stay safe.  I’ll talk to you again soon.  :bye:

Apr 112018
 

Remember back in January when I mentioned that Severed Press had contacted me to say that Pangaea: Exiles was going to be released as an audiobook on Audible in a few months?  Well, I emailed them to check status on it a few days ago.  After emailing them, I figured I might as well go check on Audible to see if maybe it had already come out and they just hadn’t let me know.

Guess what?  It was released two weeks ago (March 28).  I haven’t heard it yet myself, but if you’d like to check it out, you can find it here.

What else?  Hmmm….

Oh!  remember the picture I posted of the Stenonychosaurus in WW106?  It was the critter I was writing about in the anthology story for Severed.  Well, come to find out, the Stenonychosaurus ceased to exist as of 1987.  Turns out that some paleontologists figured out that the bones they were using to identify good old Steggy were actually the bones of juvenile Troodons.

So yeah, more rewrites.  But it’s finished.  Both story and contract are off to Severed.  Watch for the upcoming anthology “Prehistoric“.  It will still be a few months, I’m sure.  The deadline isn’t until the end of April, and I’m sure there will be some back and forth with the editor.   But for my part, most of the work is done.

You know what’s so strange on this one?  I think the thing that gave me the most anguish was trying to find a title that fit the story.  I never really found one that gave me that “aha!” moment.  There was no clever, cutesy, tie-in to some word or phrase or theme in the story.  But I was spending WAY too much time trying to find something that, in my mind at least, pulled the whole thing together.  In the end, I simply picked “Apex“, the best of several unsatisfying titles I had come up with, and decided that it was time to cut it loose.

There is a saying among artists of any sort.  “Art is never completed, only abandoned.”  If you aren’t familiar with it, it simply means that artists (whether it be painters, singers, writers, or any other type of artist) will often spend WAY too much time polishing their latest work, trying to make it “perfect”.

For a writer, it may be changing a scene here or there… or simply switching a few words in order to alter the mood or connotation.  And it’s something that is probably needed on the first draft or two.  We tend to obsess over tiny details, polishing and polishing, until we’re really doing little more than wasting time.

But eventually we have to let it go.  We have to abandon the work… release it into the wild, so to speak.  And that’s what I’ve done.  If I don’t, I’ll never get the next project done.

So I’m back on Payne and Suffering, and the numbers there should start climbing again significantly.

And that’s it for now.  Stay safe.  :bye: