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.

Jul 152015
 

Mailchimp signupYay!  I got the visual editor for my website working again (mostly).

Just in time for Wednesday, too.  And I’ve got a lot going on with my writing since the last blog post. First and foremost, you will notice a new signup field on my site. If you’re reading this on the actual site, you will see it over there on the right. The header presently reads “Sign up for new release notifications”. If you’re getting this in a feedburner email, the signup form looks like the picture accompanying this post. At the moment, it’s not much to look at. Maybe I’ll be able to pretty it up later on, but for now, I thought it was more important to get it up and active.

Now that last sentence will likely get a “huh?” out of a lot of you. In other words, why the push to get the mailing list going?

Like I said, I have a lot going on with my writing now. And ironically, a lot of this is due to an inspirational roadblock I hit on Year 12. Without going into a lot of detail, I hit a brick wall with the plot on Y12… lost the flavor. There was a day of panic, hair pulling, and chest beating before I decided my time would be better spent moving on to another project. Not wanting to actually start a whole different book, I instead began a project that I’ve had percolating for quite some time. It will be the story of how the antagonist from Half Past Midnight managed to roll into Rejas at the head of a small army. The story should be another novella, similar in length to The Road to Rejas – possibly a bit shorter. I’ve tentatively titled it Crazy Larry.

Additionally, I have another project that I’ve been slowly working on. It’s going to be a short story collection, and it came about because there are a few particular stories that some of you have asked me to publish, but I’ve not felt right about. Not that I don’t think they’re good, it’s just that I don’t feel right charging a reader 99¢ for a short story that will only keep them occupied for a few minutes. Yet 99¢ is the least amount that epublishers will allow you to charge. And let’s face it, after paying for editors, cover work, and formatting, I at least need to recoup my expenses on the work, right?

But if I put them all into a collection together, along with some that very few people have ever seen before, then I have a single edit, one cover, and can sell it in good conscience, knowing that I’ve given the reader their money’s worth.

And since the story collection is a bit shorter than most of my work, I’ve decided to throw in the beginning of something else a lot of you have been asking for. I’m adding the first chapter for the Streets of Payne sequel (working title Payne and Suffering).

So if you want to receive announcements about these, or any other writing I do as it nears release, please sign up for the mailing list. I’m not going to spam you, or bother you with the day to day miscellany. I figure, if you really want to torture yourself with that stuff, you can just read my blog, right?

And that’s it for now. Back to writing.

Stay safe, folks.  :bye:

Jun 152014
 

Yeah, I’ve been quiet for a while.  Ironically, it’s not because I haven’t been busy.  Quite the opposite.  Life has been pretty “interesting” for the last few months. As in “may you live in interesting times” interesting.   :struggle:

My wife & I sold our house about two months ago. The idea was that we would downsize to a smaller house with more property. But during the interim between selling the old house & buying a new one, we were going to stay with family members. We expected it to be a matter of a few weeks, possibly a month or two.

But right after we moved in with them, life jumped up and smacked us all. We had a few crises that have demonstrated to us that Murphy is alive and well, and apparently has taken a liking to our family. I won’t go into details, because those stories aren’t mine to tell.  But a minor side effect has been that I haven’t been paying much attention to marketing for my writing, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t know when this is going to change.  As a result, my numbers have slipped drastically, and I simply don’t have the time or setup to pursue the “traditional” marketing venues.

Streets of Payne 800 Cover reveal and PromotionalSo I’m going to try an experiment here. It may work, and it may not. I just figure this is the perfect opportunity to try something off the wall.

My book with the worst numbers right now is “Streets of Payne”. I don’t know if it’s because the book is cyberpunk, and there simply isn’t the following for the genre that there once was, or if it’s because that’s my newest book, or if I’ve made a mistake with the cover, or blurb, or categorization, or what… All I know for sure is that the thing isn’t selling.

So here’s my experiment. If you think you might be interested in a cyberpunk-ish techno-thriller, check out Streets of Payne. If it looks like something you might be interested in, buy it.  I recently lowered the e-book price to $2.99, so it’s not like it’s going to break the bank.  And for the first three people who purchase the novel in the next 24 hours, and can provide me with electronic proof of purchase, I will give you an Audible.com promo code for the free download of each of my three published works in audio format.

So, buy “Streets of Payne” in print or electronic format within the next 24 hours, email me (jlb DOT author AT gmail DOT com) with your proof of purchase, and I will send you promo codes for the free download of the Audible.com audio book versions of “Streets of Payne“, “Half Past Midnight“, and “The Road to Rejas“.

I will do this for the first three people who contact me with proof of purchase before 10PM central time, Monday night.

And then I’ll do it again for the NEXT 24 hours… and the next… until Friday night, or until I run out of codes, whichever comes first.  Like I said, I don’t know if this little experiment will help, but I figure it probably can’t hurt, either.  Right?   :-?

And that’s it for now.  As always, stay safe.   :bye:

Apr 042014
 

Zandy-02Yep. Lots of changes.  First and foremost, I’ve gained a new daughter.  Last month, my son got married to a wonderful young woman, whose only fault seems to be that she was insane enough to tie herself into this family.  So here’s to insanity and happiness.  May it last them for the rest of their lives. :heart:

And there are other changes in the Brackett household.  As a matter of fact, one of the biggest upcoming changes IS the Brackett household.  See, we’re in the process of getting ready to move.  When we first moved into our current home, our family unit was considerably larger.  There was me, my wife, my mother-in-law (whose back surgeries were beginning to get the better of her), a son, daughter, a dog, and a cat.  We also have other family that we wanted to be able to accommodate if they wanted to visit and needed a place to stay, so we found a nice house, big enough for our needs–six bedrooms, game room, lots of entertainment space–it’s been a great house.

Fast forward thirteen years… my mother-in-law has passed on, the kids have grown and moved out, and it’s just me, my better half, and two dogs in that big ole’ house, and we decided it’s time to downsize.  So we put the house on the market, and it sat for several weeks with a showing here and there, but no hard nibbles until a few weeks ago.  Then, suddenly, it went from “Hey, there’s someone who might be interested…” to “Hey, is April 17th a good day for closing?”  :shock:

That was just over a week ago, and needless to say, we’ve been scrambling ever since.  But here’s the real kicker… we don’t have a house to move into yet. We’re in one of those domino situations where we have to sell our existing house before we can afford to get another house.  Luckily, my sister and brother-in-law are in a similar living situation, their two sons having moved out a few years back, and they’ve offered to let us stay with them while we look for a new home.  In the meantime, there are all sorts of arrangements to be made on utilities, packing, storage, etc.  It’s going to be a frantic few weeks.

On the writing front, there are things a-brewin’.  ;)

HPM and R2R (audio books) – I’ve taken the plunge, and have contracted with the talented Corey Snow to do audio versions of Half Past Midnight, and The Road to Rejas.  This is something I actually started on almost two months ago, and the work on HPM is at this time just a few weeks away from completion.  Corey has an amazing voice (one of the female betas I sent a sample to, mentioned something about dampened undergarments)  :shock:  and he’s doing a great job with it.  I’ve been listening to the uploads on my commute to and from work, and I’ve noticed a few things.  One is how much work Corey puts in to his performances.  The guy is an amazing professional.

The other thing I noticed is of a more introspective nature.  I’m listening to my debut novel.  (My debut novel… it sounds like such a strange thing to say.)  It was something that began as a private exercise back in the 90’s – something that I never expected to actually publish.  Writing was just something that I liked to do.  It wasn’t like anyone was ever going to want to read it.  And that manuscript was picked up and put down so many times over the next several years that it’s amazing that it was ever completed.  Career changes… kids… just life changes in general, continually kept me from even considering doing anything more than writing as a hobby.

Not worthyAnd now, I’m listening to someone putting voice to my first novel.  It’s surreal in some ways.  It’s humbling in others.  Even as I listen to what Corey has sent me, I can recognize a younger me in the words–a less experience me.  I listen and think, “I could have done that so much better.”

I think that’s a good thing.  Now that I’m taking my writing seriously, I can see the growth in my work.  Like I said… a good thing.  And while HPM will always hold a very special place in my heart, I can’t help but wish I had done a better job with it.

Don’t get me wrong. I know better than to spend time worrying about what I might have done.  And I’m sure not going to go back and rewrite it.  HPM is the past.  But Y12?  I’m confident that Y12 is going to be much better.  I’ve learned so much from so many talented people, that I can’t help but think that with each piece of writing I produce, I will grow in this craft that I’ve come to love.  And someday, I’ll be able to point to a body of work with real pride.  Maybe I’ll feel more worthy when someone contacts me and tells me that they like my writing.  Because to be perfectly honest, I’m not there yet.  I’m thankful, yes.  But I still feel like Wayne and Garth, bowing and scraping before Alice Cooper.  I feel I’m “not worthy!”  :)

Ghost Story – I’ve already mentioned in previous posts that Ghost Story is completed.  You’ll note that the progress meter on that title (right hand widget bar) is now green and has been moved to the bottom of the list for now, pending input from the editor.  You’ll also note that there are a few more projects listed.

Chucklers face onlyChucklers – The apocalyptic horror collaboration with Edward Lorn has been moving pretty well… sort of.  Unfortunately, Ed has gotten very busy with other projects, and says it looks like he’s going to be tied up for quite some time.  Luckily, we decided to write the novel from the point of view of several dispersed characters and groups.  That means I can continue to move forward with my characters for a while, without much input from him.  And he’s such a freaking fast writer, that he should be able to catch up to me with very little effort once he gets a chance to jump back in.  So I’ll continue moving ahead with it for a while, as long as the story keeps my attention.

The only bad thing about this is that Ed and I found that working with one another seemed to speed up our output.  There was something about being able to bounce ideas and chapters off one another that kept the story hopping for us.  It became almost a game, each of us laughing as we came up with ways to help one another in the scenes we were working on, interacting in a way that somehow made the work better than just the sum of its parts.  I’ll miss that.

But the story is a good one, and I do want to see it through.  I’m having fun, finding new characters along the way, and new ways to torment them.  Yep, that’s me, the kid with the magnifying glass on the ant hill.  ;-)  Chucklers is still my highest priority project at the moment, but with Ed dropping out for a while, the urgency is considerably lessened.  So I’ve opened up a few other projects that I’ve been keeping on the back burner…

Y12 prelimYear 12 – Yes, the long promised sequel to Half Past Midnight is finally going to become a reality.  The story has been banging around in my head long enough, and it’s gotten pretty insistent on being released.  So I’ve finally opened a new folder on the computer, and am beginning the process of bringing Zach’s story to life.  I have a cast of characters, an overall story arc, some interesting side plotlines, and most of the story itself ready and waiting to be told.  This is going to be a new way of writing for me, since I have traditionally been a “pantser” in my writing.  This will be the first time that I’ll be working on a story that is already mostly formed in my head.

I suppose that’s to be expected, since I’ve continuously been kicking it to the back burner for about two years now.  Every time I started to work on it, something else came up and took priority.  But in each instance, I spent more time thinking about what was going to happen, until finally last summer I pretty much knew the whole story line.  Just a few weeks ago, I was discussing it with my wife.  There was a final plot element that I couldn’t figure out… an underlying motivation for a major plot sequence.  And in her typical fashion, my wife was able to break it down into a more basic question for me, pointing out that I had been unnecessarily complicating things.  Once I viewed it from her suggested POV, everything fell into place.

WC1 – This one is a new project.  It’s a more traditional science fiction tale that I had the idea for back in 2011.  I took a bunch of notes, and wrote a first chapter… and then promptly lost it.  :(   Recently, I found those notes, and part of that first chapter again.  There was still quite a bit of it missing, but the parts that I recovered really excited me.  When I read through the notes, the idea for the whole story really grabbed my attention.  Wow!  It was actually a good idea!  Who knew I could come up with something that could catch my attention not only as a writer, but as a reader?  It was good enough that after I re-read the chapter fragment, I was pissed that there wasn’t more to read.  And that tells me that I need to get it written.  ;)   So the code name for this new title is WC1, and it promises to be quite a ride.

All right.  That’s enough for now.  It’s time to get back to work.  So as always, stay safe people.  :bye:

PS – It was brought to my attention a few weeks ago, that the comment option on my blog wasn’t working, and that no one was able to leave comments.  I believe that has finally (hopefully) been fixed.  I would appreciate it if some of you would leave a short comment here to confirm.  Especially someone who has never commented on the blog before.  There are some settings that seem to affect people who have never posted more stringently than those who have.  And if you find that you CAN’T leave a post, please drop me an email at “jlbDOTauthorATgmailDOTcom”.

Thanks, everyone.

Jan 172014
 

I know, I know… more than two months?!?!  Yes, it’s been a LONG time since my last blog post.  But you know what?  I don’t really feel all that bad about it this time.  Between the holidays, writing, and getting the house ready to sell, the fact of the matter is that I’ve just been busy.

Getting the house ready sell?  :shock:

So you caught that, eh?  Well yes, we’re reaching that point in our lives where we’re looking to slow down and downsize.  We aren’t getting any younger, and our focus is shifting from the proverbial rat race, to trying to simplify our lives.  We moved into our home just about fourteen years ago.  At that time, we had kids and my mother-in-law living with us, and bought a home big enough to comfortably accommodate all of us.

Bella and Cricket

Bella and Cricket

But now my mother-in-law has passed on, the kids have grown and moved out, and it’s just me, my wife, and our two fur-babies (Bella and Cricket) in that big old house.  We no longer need all that square footage on the inside.  We need more on the outside.  See, you put a big house like ours on a standard lot, and the house takes up more of the available lot, leaving a smaller yard for the “girls” to play in.  Between that, and the fact that I am really itching to get more land so that I can get on with some of my self-sufficiency plans (gardening, maybe some chickens or quail, high volume water storage… who knows?), we are looking to change our living arrangements.

And that means patching, and sanding, and texturing, and painting, and caulking, and all the other things that have to be done to make a house more attractive to potential buyers.  Now, the truth of the matter is that my wife has been doing the vast majority of all this work.  She has already shown she has an amazing eye for decorating, and I’m more than happy to be the cheap labor to her superior eye.  Of course, you know what happens when you hire cheap labor.  :sidefrown:

However, I have gotten some writing done…

Ghost Story – The short story for next year’s Halloween horror anthology (tentatively titled Once Feared) is finally done.  It’s been turned in and either is, or will shortly be going through its paces with the editor.  And of course, now that I sent it to the editor, I’ve already found more mistakes.  :(   But that’s relatively normal.  As a writer/storyteller, you hate to turn loose of your work, knowing that there are imperfections in it that you’ve missed, wanting to hang on to it to polish it “just one more time”, knowing that the editor is bound to be shaking his or her head when they find your mistakes and wondering just what the hell you were thinking when you let such obvious mistakes get past you.  Yeah, some of us are relatively insecure.  :eek:

Chucklers – While Ghost Story is in the anthology editor’s hands, I’m freed up to work on my next project(s).  I’ve decided that I will focus most of my attention back on Chucklers, the collaborative novel I’m doing with Ed Lorn.  We’ve gone back and forth with this one, and between the two of us have written upwards of 40k words on it.  And now, we’ve decided to start over.

Yeah, I can hear the gasps and groans out there as you all read this.  It sounds like a huge setback.  But the reality is that it really won’t be that big a deal.  You see, we’ve decided that the “voice” for the novel needs to be shifted from first person to third.  As we progressed with the tale, we began to struggle with the scope of it, and gradually decided that it was too big a story to be told from such a limited number of POVs.  The way we had it, I was writing from one character’s POV, and Ed was writing from another’s.  Initially, that worked great.  It was an intimate, yet horrific story of two small groups of characters surviving an apocalyptic event.  :eek:

The problem is that there is so much more to the story than just what these characters will personally encounter.  That’s the trick with writing from a first person point of view.  On one side of the coin, you get to put the reader directly in the POV character’s head, giving them an intimate view of the world as seen through the protagonist’s eyes.  But the other side of the coin is that if the story depends on a lot of action that occurs away from your POV character(s), you can’t tell the reader about it without breaking them out of that intimate mode of storytelling.

Additionally, we quickly discovered that we needed more than just the small group of characters we were initially planning to use.  So we’ve decided to give you the full picture.  We’re going to give you a ring side seat to the end of the world, and I hope the results will blow you away.

But in order to do this, we need to rework the 40k that we’ve already written.  I guess it’s not really starting over, but it will delay us a bit in getting back into the full swing of actually writing the novel.

Year 12 – Ed is currently working on another project (actually at least three other projects that I know of – the man is a freaking writing machine) and won’t be free to start back on Chucklers for a few more weeks.  So if I manage to get the Chucklers rewrites done before he’s ready, I think I’m going to finally start the HPM sequel.  The story has been percolating for quite a while and lately won’t seem to leave me alone.  That tells me that it’s ready for me to start.  Y12 will be coming to life soon.

Streets-of-Payne-AudioBookStreets of Payne – I can hear some of you scratching your heads at my mention of this one.  SoP has been out for several months, after all.  So why am I mentioning it now?

Because the audio book is now out!  I’m so excited about this.  The actress (Joy Nash) who voiced the manuscript is absolutely perfect for the character of Amber Payne.  I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.  So if you like audio books, Streets of Payne is now available in that format on Amazon, Audible, or iTunes.  I am checking to see if I can make a sample available for you to listen to here, but until then, you can go to any of the three links above and listen there.

All right, I’ve gone on for long enough.  Time for me to shut up for a while.  So until next time, stay safe, everyone! :bye: