Feb 012018
 

Today is February 1st, the “oneth of the month.” This is the day that we do our monthly maintenance chores like feeding the dog her monthly Heartguard, adding bleach to the septic system, etc.  This year, it’s also the day after the rare “super blue blood moon”.  It was “super” because the moon was at perigee, “blue” because it was the second full moon of the month, and a “blood” moon because it also marks the occurrence of a lunar eclipse.

It was also the 32nd anniversary of the day MBH and I got married.  Yep, I’m a lucky man.  

You may have noticed that I didn’t post anything last Wednesday.  That’s because MBH and I took a quick road trip to visit some folks in Texas.  Ever notice how birthdays and celebrations seem to come in waves?  Well, the end of January and beginning of February is just such a wave for our family.  There is our son’s birthday, our granddaughter’s birthday, my mother’s birthday, my brother-in-law’s birthday, our anniversary, and a very close friend’s birthday… all within a matter of a week.  We also had some personal business we had to take care of.

We all managed to cram a lot of life into those few days.  It was a whirlwind trip that left us pretty much exhausted by the time we made it back.  And as you can see, we weren’t the only ones exhausted. 

Now, on to the writing front –

Not a lot to report this week.

Payne and SufferingP&S is moving along.  I had a nice revelation over the weekend that revealed a bit of a plot flaw, as well as its solution.  That has meant some rewrites, which in turn means not as much improvement on the actual word count.  It also means that the story is pulling together better though, so no complaints here.  The book is currently sitting at a bit over 32k words.  Once I finish the rewrites, I expect to be back on track to finish the first draft by the end of March.

Now, I do seem to recall that I promised myself that I wasn’t going to spend too much time on this blog post each week, since  my time should be spent on writing my actual titles, so I’m going to make this one a very short post this week. So take care of yourselves, and stay safe.  :bye:

 

Jan 102018
 

Sure, it’s ten days late. But it’s the first post of 2018, so Happy New Year.  

I going to try to be short and sweet with this one because one of my personal resolutions is to buckle down more with the writing.

I don’t have a lot of time to read these days. If I have time to read, then I have time to write.  That means I feel guilty for reading and not putting more content out there.  But I do still listen to audiobooks, since I can do this when I’m walking the dog, or working in the house.

And there is something I’ve noticed.

Some of the more successful writers I’ve listened to just really aren’t all that good.  Or rather, they aren’t as good as I would expect, based on their financial success as authors.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic indie authors out there.  But there are also some pretty mediocre writers that are still extremely successful.

I know, I know, that sounds like the epitome of vanity for me to say something like that.  And it’s not that they’re actually bad writers.  They just aren’t where I would expect them to be as full-time writers who are making a good living at their craft.

And that got me to thinking… what are they doing that I’m not?

Answer –

  1. They produce more titles than I do.  A LOT more.  Sure, they’re usually shorter books, but there are a lot more of them.
  2. They market better than I do. They keep their name and titles out there so that they always have something in the new releases.  And the more the public sees your name, the more they buy your books.
  3. For better or worse, they don’t worry (obsess?) over the quality of the writing as much as I do. The quality of the prose is secondary to the quantity.  
  4. For the most part, they concentrate on a single series until there are several titles under its umbrella before they ever move on to another series.

In short, they’re better businessmen and businesswomen than I am. Now, I can’t do much about the last two items on my list.  It’s in my nature to worry over the quality of my writing and I’ve made myself a promise that I’ll never intentionally let my quality slide.  That’s not to say that I’ll be producing literary masterpieces, but it’s just not in me to do less than I can reasonably be expected to do.

As for the series, I’m already committed to the four series that I have going.  Two are under contract, and the other two make me more money and have established fan-bases, however small they may be.

But I can address the first two items.  I can get better organized and increase my word production.  I’ve already gotten better since the beginning of the year, simply by employing some of the techniques I’ve read about and heard about in various writing podcasts.  In the last few weeks, I’ve almost doubled my average daily word count.  Not only that, but I think I can see ways to do even more.  Fingers crossed here. 

And I can learn more about the marketing side of things.  The problem here is that the marketing aspect of the business is constantly changing.  What worked in 2012 won’t work in 2018.  The marketing tips and tricks I learned back when I started just won’t cut it.  And I haven’t taken the time to keep up with current trends.  I need to address that.

But part of that whole “produce more content” thing also means I need to spend less time on my blog posts.  I need to stop trying to think about something clever to write about, and put my effort into increasing my catalog.  So from now on, I’m going to limit myself on this blog.  It will be a sort of New Year’s resolution… posts will be either shorter than 1000 words, or I will limit myself to half an hour’s time in which to get them written.  On thousand words or half an hour, whichever comes first.

So moving on to other writing news:

Pangaea: Exiles – Severed Press sent me word last week that PE1 has been selected by their audio partner, Beacon, to produce as an audiobook.  Estimated time to release is about three months.

Payne and Suffering – After a few derailments, P&S is really moving along now.  I had a few plotting issues earlier in the week that forced me to slow down and open up some mind mapping software, but it only took a few hours to get things back on track.

Crazy Larry – I had dropped CL into the virtual file cabinet several months ago when the story went stale for me.  When MBH asked me how it was progressing, I had to admit I was stumped.  She brainstormed with me, and helped me see a way out of the bog.  So I made a bit of progress on it, too.  Man, I love that woman.  

And with that, I’m beginning to approach my self-imposed 1000 word limit, so that’s it for today. Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  :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:

Sep 272017
 

Yes, once again it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted.  Sorry, but adjusting back to a regular day job has been trickier than I anticipated.  The problem isn’t the job.  Its my lack of focus.  It seems that Wednesday keeps sneaking up on me and is past before I realize I was supposed to write my blog post.

This time I decided to try working on the post Tuesday night, while I was thinking about it, before I let another week slide past me yet again.  It might not be a long post, but at least I’ll get something out there.  It’s almost a symbolic thing, or an exercise in self-discipline, but each time I miss a Website Wednesday, I feel like I’ve dropped the ball.

So I’ll write it now, and schedule it to publish Wednesday morning.  Ain’t I the clever one?  Okay, not so much.  Anyway, here’s a quick synopsis of recent events in the world of Jeff Brackett:

Work – As I said in the last post, I’m back in the saddle with the old IT career.  In fact, they’re talking about possibly extending my contract with enough work to keep me busy for a few months.  Yes, it’s going to slow the writing.  But it’s also going to help pay some bills.  And in the long run, the longer I can pay the bills, the better my chances of keeping the writing going.  So if I have to slow it down short-term, in order to keep going long-term, I’ll happily do so.

Writing Payne and Suffering is moving, slowly but surely.  The story is now pushing to be let out.  And while the timing isn’t perfect, what with the new job slowing things down a bit, it nevertheless feels pretty freaking awesome to have Amber Payne and Richard Kayani rumbling around in my head.  And what’s this?  They’ve brought company… new characters!  Are the new guys good?  Are they bad?  Who knows?  I sure don’t.  

Personal – We’re trying to get a little culture in the Brackett household.  Last weekend we got the opportunity to go to the ballet.  Yes, I know.  The idea of me and culture sharing room in the same sentence is a little shocking.  Want to know what’s even more shocking?  The fact that I actually enjoyed it.   I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be more such outings in the future.

Also on the personal front, the weather has been pretty awesome lately, and we’ve tried to take advantage of it.  Weekend before last, we went to the Rogers County Fair.  The highlight of the outing for us was the dog show.  Here’s a tiny glimpse of the fun.  I would have posted a longer piece, but there seems to be a size limit on the files I upload, and all my other clips exceed the limit.  Sorry.  

Then last weekend we got out to the lake to enjoy it for a short while.  Of course the first cool front of fall is moving through as I write this, so we’ll see how the weather holds up over the next week or so.

And since I’m writing this on my laptop, as my battery tells me that it’s about to die on me, I think that’s going to be all for now.  So as always, I wish you well, stay safe, and I’ll try to post again next week.  Talk to you later.   :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: