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:

Oct 142015
 

Critter notes –

Last week I mentioned some of the furry critters we’re learning to share space with.  Some are harmless, like the rabbits, deer, and armadillos.  Others are nuisances, like the opossum from the other night, or the moles that dig in the yard.  And of course, some are downright nasty.  Just ask Bella and Cricket about that skunk.   :pain:

Brown Orb WeaverSomething else that we’ve noticed lately though, doesn’t exactly fall into the furry critter category.  There are some BIG spiders here that seem to be relatively common.  Now, we’re used to the little grass spiders, wolf spiders, etc, that are common in the Houston area, but these suckers are huge by comparison.  I’m pretty sure that they’re Brown Orb Spiders, but since I’m no expert, I could be wrong.  This not-so-little beauty keeps weaving its web just to the side of our front entrance.  I’ve knocked the web down when it gets too close to the walkway, since MBH is considerably less tolerant of our eight-legged neighbors, but he keeps building back up in the same general area.  I generally don’t have much of a problem with them, and I’ve noticed them all around the neighborhood, so I guess they’re simply more common here.

Cricket has a couple of hot spots on her back, and she’s chewed strips into her fur with all the gnawing.  I looked online, and found that a vet recommends treating it with diluted povidone iodine.  So I made the diluted solution, took her on the back patio, and swabbed the affected areas.  (I’m supposed to do this twice a day until the spots clear up.)

Coming back inside though, I saw this little guy on the left. Black Widow-01 And while I don’t mind sharing space with Orb Weavers, a Black Widow is another thing altogether.  First came the bug spray. Black Widow-02 That was quickly followed by my size twelve spider stomper.  I might not mind spiders, but I’m no saint, either.   :shock:  I have several friends who usually mention spiders and flamethrowers in the same breath.  Black Widows are enough to make me think they just might be right.

So, on to writing notes…

Giveaway notes –

Last weekend was the big giveaway.  Okay, maybe not all that big, but it was a giveaway.  Friend and reviewer, Carol Conley from the “I’m a Voracious Reader” book review blog, contacted me a few weeks ago to let me know she had read Ghost Story, and wanted to know if I would consider running some free days to coincide with the release of her review.  Now, I generally don’t like doing free days, since my experience with them has been mostly negative in the last couple of years.  They worked really well for me back in the early days of Amazon’s KDP Select program, and I’ll never forget that first nail-biter when I put HPM up for free shortly after it released.  In a single day, I gave away more than 11k copies of Half Past Midnight.  That giveaway, and the reviews it sparked, shot followup sales through the roof for the better part of the following year.

For a new author, just getting his feet wet in the world of indie publishing, it was nothing short of miraculous!

Of course, shortly after that, Amazon changed their algorithm, as they so often seem to do.  The next time I ran a book for free, it didn’t do nearly as well, but wasn’t a total loss.  So I tried it again later.  The third time I did it was with the release of Streets of Payne.  This time, not only did I not get as big a response, I completely lost all momentum and sales actually went down.  When I checked into it, it seemed that moving from the Top 100 Sold, to the Top 100 Free was a sales killer.  Since “free” was not “sold”, SoP‘s sales rank dropped like a stone.  No visibility, no sales.  It was the exact opposite of the Ouroboros Effect I wrote about in an old post “In answer to Mike’s question…“, and this time instead of boosting my sales, it actually killed them.

So no, I don’t like doing free days any more.  But Carol is a friend, Ghost Story is just a novella, and it’s not like it was really selling all that well anyway.  So what did I really have to lose, right?   :-/   And while I was putting Ghost Story out there for free, why not also throw SoP out again?  It wasn’t selling either, so what could it hurt?

As it turned out, nothing.  It didn’t hurt, and there actually was a slight bump in sales afterwards.  Not huge, but a few extra sales is a few extra sales.  Yay team!   :-)

Year 12 notes

I have problems with what I call “transition scenes” when I’m writing.  I get scene “A” pretty clear in my mind, and I go after it, flying through it like there’s no tomorrow.  I can see in my mind where scene “B” is, and how it should run.  But the transition from “A” to “B” stumps me.  For whatever reason, I get hung up in the minutia of who says what to trigger what, and why did this do that, and… I get stuck.  I just got through one of these transitions yesterday, and I have to say, I get a little frustrated with myself.  I feel like I should be able to knock out three or four thousand words a day.  Instead, I’m lucky if I average over one thousand.

Yeah, I have problems.  But I’m progressing.  Not as quickly as I want, but I’m progressing.

Speaking of writing, I need to get back to doing just that.  So time to stop whining, and get back to work.  Take care of yourselves, and stay safe.  I’ll talk to you later.   :bye:

Oct 072015
 

Bella and CricketWe’re getting our fair share of woodland critters running around lately. If you don’t follow me on FaceBook, you won’t have heard about our little adventure last Saturday. It seems that the girls thought they could run a skunk out of their territory. And while it’s true that there was no skunk out there when I finally checked to see what they had been barking at, they were still able to prove it had been around. :eek: Bella came trotting through the house with an aroma wafting after her that was pungent enough to burn the back of my throat. Luckily, Cricket was still outside and MBH and I were able to get them cleaned up relatively well. Checking online quickly told us that the old tomato juice bath is little more than an old wives’ tale. Most places recommended hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, vinegar, or various mixtures thereof. I was surprised to find that we didn’t have any hydrogen peroxide (some prepper I am), but MBH made a mixture of warm water, dishwashing soap, and baking soda. It worked well enough to where we could let the poor girls back in the house, though we still couldn’t stand to be too close to them, and we sure weren’t about to let them on the furniture.

The next morning I ran out and got three bottles of hydrogen peroxide and we used some to wash their snouts (where most of the remaining stench seemed to be concentrated). It seemed to mostly do the trick, and now, several days later, the only reminder of the incident is in the back yard near the east gate. The ground out there still reeks of skunk.

Last night, they were barking again, once more announcing an invader to “their” territory. And fearing a repeat, I went out with my trusty flashlight, worried that we might have to go through the whole mess all over again. The thing that kept going through my mind was “at least we have the hydrogen peroxide this time.” Luckily, it wasn’t a skunk. Instead, they had zeroed in on an opossum that looked more than a little angry that his night of foraging was interrupted by all the noise and light. I kicked the fence a few times and he wandered off without any further incident (other than that nasty hissing that they seem so fond of.)

Writing –

I’m back on track with Year 12. After the fiasco of a few weeks back, I’ve managed to regain all the lost ground, and am moving back along. The word count meter on the right is over 58k words, and I’m still moving. I’m shooting for roughly 100k words, but we’ll just have to see where it ends up. It might be 75K, or it might be 125k. Whatever it takes to tell the story, right?

Ghost Story sold well for the first month, though at 99¢ it’s not going to make much money. And if any of you haven’t gotten your copy yet, this weekend will be the time for you to do so. I’ll be running a promotion on October 10th and 11th, letting both Ghost Story and Streets of Payne go for free. I normally don’t like going free any more. It’s been my experience that it kills your sales momentum, and your sales ranking plummets as a result. But at the prompting of a reviewer, I agreed to give it another shot. Besides, sales of SoP have pretty much stagnated anyway, so I figure I don’t have a lot to lose. So if you’re interested in either of those titles, this is your time. And of course if you like them and are inclined to leave a review on Amazon, that definitely wouldn’t hurt my feelings any. J

And that’s it. Time to get back to writing. So stay safe everyone, and I’ll talk to you next week. :bye:

PS – To catch weekly snippets of my works in progress, you can follow my Author Page on FaceBook. Each Friday I post a short bit from one of my WIPs.