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:

Dec 062017
 

WARNING – LOTS of foul language ahead.

This post is going to hearken back to the early days of my blog.  It’s going to be a discussion about a writing topic – namely, foul language in writing.  If this offends you, then you might want to pass on this week’s post.  If not, then read on at your own risk.  And if you have a few minutes afterwards, I’d really like to hear what you might think about it.

The line of thought came about when I read a recent review for Streets of Payne.  It was a Goodreads review, and was written back in July.  But I seldom log on to Goodreads any more, and so I just read it recently.  It was a good review, four stars, but something she said struck me.  During the review, she (the reviewer) mentioned that it made her cringe to see that I went out of my way to avoid “common curses like ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ and effectively replaced them with ‘fudge’ and ‘sludge’.”

I’ve seen and heard discussions wherein authors get upset because reviewers take them to task for dropping too many F-bombs.  On the other hand, I’ve been told by some people that I don’t curse as much as I should (whatever that means).  LOL.  In my normal life, I don’t curse that much.  That’s just the way it is.  It’s just the way I am. I don’t feel the need, for the most part.  In my writing, well, it depends on the character.  I have some characters who are reserved, and some who are real ass holes.

Charlie Griffe, in Chucklers Volume 1 is a prime example.  He’s a conniving, narcissistic, misogynistic, schizoid douche-canoe with a mouth to match.  Cussing fits his character, and when I read the comment about me going out of my way to avoid harsh language, I had to go back and check to see if I had misremembered.  Nope, I hadn’t.  I shit you not… actually, I shit you a lot.  88 times to be precise.  88 shits, 63 damns, and there were 44 fucks given, most of them from good ole Charles Griffe.

But here’s the thing about Streets of Payne… it takes place more than a hundred years in the future.  I don’t recall exactly what year it starts, and I don’t honestly want to go look at my notes.  I think it was about 140 years in the future, though.  And I actually put a lot of thought into how that would affect how the characters speak.  SoP was published in 2013.  So go back about a hundred years to the early 1900s and think about the idioms of the time.  How many of you would know what “hog-eye” refers to?  What about “purr-tongue?  What if I said my “Mr. Horner” was a “roaring jack”?  And believe me when I tell you that at one time back then, if someone said they wanted to go to the “barrelhouse”, and his buddy said he wouldn’t mind going with him to get a “bit of keg”, they were NOT talking about getting a drink.  

If you haven’t already guessed, all of those words and phrases were considered foul language for the time.  They refer to either sexual acts, or descriptions of genitalia.

So with the idea that language changes, I thought that in another hundred to two hundred years, isn’t it likely that the word fuck would change, as well?  So it… slid.  Fuck became “fuggle”.  I thought, you know… you take the phrase “fuck it all”, slur it around a bit, and it could easily begin to sound like “fuggle”.  And what else might be considered foul in a few hundred years?  Maybe some kind of sewer sludge that smells so rank that it makes the eyes water just to think about it?  I mean, if you’ve ever lived in an area where you aren’t on a city sewer system, and you’ve had to have your septic system pumped, you know just how strong such a stench can be.

Like I said, that comment stuck with me for whatever reason.  And I want to re-iterate that the reviewer was actually pretty complimentary to the book.  But the comment presented an opportunity for me to get back to something that I haven’t done much of lately… namely, posting about actual writing topics.

So tell me, how do you feel about “cussing” in books?  For me, it depends on the story and the character.  Each character and story presents their own special circumstances.  If I write a character that is a straight-laced, Sunday-go-to-meeting devout religious type, it’s unlikely that I’ll have him or her dropping F-bombs on the pages of the story.  But when I write Charlie Griffe in the Chucklers series, well, you’d better believe he’s not going to give a damn about who he might offend.  Not unless he needs to keep them happy in order to get something from them.  That’s just the self-centered kind of character he is.

If you have a few minutes, and you feel so inclined, drop me a comment.  Let me know your thoughts on the matter.

Stay safe.  TTYL.  :bye:

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:

Apr 122017
 

WW79AI usually start these posts with a bit about my personal life before I get to the writing news.  But tonight I’m going to just jump right in.  You see, as of a few hours ago, the first draft of End Point Pangaea is done! Of course, anyone who knows anything about writing understands that this doesn’t mean that the book is completed. But it is a huge first step.  I’ve already begun reading back through to find the most glaring mistakes, so I can at least present something to my beta readers that (hopefully) won’t make them want to gouge their eyes out.  The novel clocked in at a bit over 72K words, and I fully expect to have some changes in that very soon.  It’s by far, the shortest novel I’ve ever written, but adding more to it would be a disservice to the book.  It would end up being fluff, and I hate fluff.

I’ve finished the story, and it wanted to be 72K.  No need trying to force it into something that it isn’t.  Of course, there will still be some changes. For one thing, I’m not happy with the ending yet.  This seems to be a recurring theme for me, though.  I was unhappy with the endings in the first drafts of the last two novels I’ve done.  I’m not sure what it is, but things just have to percolate for a bit for me to find the right tone for the ends of my books.  Now that I think about it, when I wrote Half Past Midnight I ended up fretting over the ending for months before I was okay with it (or at least, happy enough to let it go).

There are other, minor issues that I anticipate changing within the next few days, but I think I’ve reached the point where I don’t feel the need to fret about it anymore. I’m comfortable enough with the process now that, between my re-reads, and my beta readers, I’m confident I’ll get the kinks worked out.

In other news, the first autographed copies of Year 12 went out today, and a few more are ready to go soon.  I was happy to find that the USPS gives a break in shipping “media” such as books.  It looks like I can ship just about anywhere in the continental US for about three or four dollars.  Believe me, that’s a HUGE break compared to the ten to eleven dollars that UPS wanted, or the original six to eight for regular shipping with USPS.  So if you want an autographed copy of Year 12 or Streets of Payne, email me at “jlb.author@gmail.com”.

Personal stuff

And now for what I couldn’t talk about last week.  Last week was MBH’s birthday, and Baby Bird decided to drop in to help us celebrate.  Those of you who’ve followed me for a while already know that I don’t like to mention when MBH and I are gone, or when any of the kids are visiting – at least not until everyone is back at home.  It’s a security thing.  Letting people know when you aren’t going to be at home just isn’t a good idea.

WW79BWhile she was here though, we had a great time, and she painted something new for her mom. It’s currently at a framing shop being, well… framed.  (Yes, that was the RPotW I posted last week.) But I’ll post a pic of it when we get it back.  And while she was here, we tried a new sushi place in Owasso.  For those of you who don’t already know, sushi is my new culinary obsession.  I could barely stand the stuff just a few years ago, but I found that having GOOD sushi is an amazing experience.  Since I found a good place in a nearby town, I’ve been obsessed.  I didn’t think it could get any better.

WW79CI was wrong.  We tried a new place while Baby Bird was here, and it was amazing.  In the picture here, you see (left to right) the Cowboy Bebop (Shrimp tempura, avocado, jalapeno, lemon, cilantro, Lemon, soy garlic. Topped with seared beef and mayo, hot sauce and scallions. Served with a side of ponzu sauce), the Brown Eyed Girl (Shrimp tempura, garlic cream cheese, habanero and avocado. Topped with roasted salmon, mango and, drizzled with eel sauce and a tangy berry reduction), and the Big Mama (Albacore tuna, avocado, crab, scallion, lemon slice and masago. Tempura fried and rolled in rice with sea-weed on the outside. Served with Eel sauce).  They were all… well, how many ways can I say amazing?  :-))

And that’s about it.  This week, I won’t post a Random Picture of the Week.  Instead, I’m posting a picture I took when we went to the park with Baby Bird.  MBH & Baby Bird on a beautiful day at the lake.  I’m a lucky man.

Now, back to edits.  Stay safe everyone.   :bye:

Mar 292017
 
WW77a

MOUNTAIN POSE

Yep, as the title of this week’s post will likely tell you, we’ve been doing a little yoga at the Brackett household.  It’s something that my wife has explored before, and it really helped some of the back issues she had a few years back.  And since I stopped my martial arts classes five years ago, I’ve begun to develop some serious tightening of my tendons and ligaments. To combat the problem, MBH talked me into doing some yoga with her.

WW77b

CHILD’S POSE

So three or four times a week, we set up in the living room, pop in a DVD (one that she has long since memorized and no longer has to look at, though it has me fumbling about trying to shift from one pose to another), and I embarrass myself by trying to look graceful as I lug my phatass through the most basic of exercises.  But don’t you worry about me.  I’m a quick learner. In fact, I’ve pretty much mastered two of the poses already… mountain pose, and child’s pose.  That means I can stand up straight with my hands held in front of my heart, and I can fall to my knees with my head on the floor with the best of them. ;-)

As far as the sitting, squatting, stretching, shifting, and balancing that goes with moving from one pose to another… well, let’s just say I’m still working on that.   :-/

All right, moving on to the writing news –

EPP End Point Pangaea is moving pretty well, sitting at a bit under 65K words. Some days the writing flows really well, with me knocking out 2500 to 3000 words, other days I spend fixing items that I messed up previously.  For instance, did you know that you can make cloth from bamboo?  Well sure, I guess many of you did, because unbeknownst to yours truly, this is evidently a big deal in linens.  Bamboo cloth sheets and pillowcases are a luxury item.  And it just so happens that I had been trying to figure out what people in my late Triassic setting could use as a cloth substitute, since during that time period none of the usual cloth sources had yet evolved… no mammals meant no hairs or wool, no flowering plants meant no cotton or other sources of blend-able fibers.  In short, I was about to call it quits on their ability to have much in the way of cloth until we went to the local home and garden show where one of the vendors was selling (yep, you guessed it) bamboo sheets and pillow cases.

And in my typical OCD manner, that meant I had to go back and find any references to anything in the book that could have been served better by having cloth instead of leather. But I’m caught back up now, and the numbers should begin to rise quickly again.

SoP – I recently read about a new promotional site for audiobooks called “Audiobook Boom“.  It’s basically a newsletter similar to those that have done so well for written and e-books, like Bookbub and the like, only it’s just for Audiobooks.  The rates were very affordable, so I figured I would give it a try.  Streets of Payne has always been one of my favorite books, but it never seemed to get the attention that I had hoped it would.  So that was the book I put in my ad.  I got some codes for free promotional copies of the audiobook for both US and UK readers, and so far, I’ve given away about twenty of them.  Hopefully they will result in some decent reviews.

WW77cAnd finally, Random Pic of the Week!

Set the picture gallery spinning and tap… and we get a picture of our chickenfoot dominoes. Um…. I’m not honestly sure why I have a picture of them on my phone, but here it is.  Some of our closest friends come to stay with us for a few days two or three times a year.  When they do, we often spend several hours in the evenings playing chickenfoot.  It’s a bit of a holdover from when we lived in Houston and used to have a monthly game night.  It was a pot-luck with the hosting household cooking a main dish, and everyone else bringing side dishes. We would eat and laugh and eventually begin breaking out various games to while away the hours.  We played Scattergories, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Taboo, or whatever other game lent itself to keeping us all amused until we had to go home.

Now that we’re in Oklahoma, it’s seldom that we get to have a regular game night anymore. So when we get visitors that we know enjoy such things, we break out chickenfoot.  I’m not entirely sure why we settled on this as our default game, but we all seem to enjoy it enough that we spend hours with friends, food, and fun.

What more can you ask for?   ;-)

And that’s it for this week. Time to get back to writing. Stay safe everyone.   :bye: