Jul 252018

First, let me address the elephant in the room.  As you can see, I’ve begun to revamp the site here.  It’s a need that was recently driven home to me when a Facebook friend and fellow writer posted a link to his own site and I visited it.  I was immediately struck by how professional and lively his website was, and when I went from his to my own, the comparison was pretty drastic.  So yeah, I need to do some work here.

As you can see, I’ve already changed the background, and I’ll probably start experimenting with my old personal site to see what kind of changes I want to make before doing anything too drastic.  But rest assured, more changes are probably coming in the near future.  ;)   (BTW, please comment on anything that you like and/or dislike here.  I’m just spit-balling at the moment.)

Moving on to another elephant here… it’s been three weeks since my last post.  Too long for a supposedly weekly blog.  This time I have a good excuse, though.  I’m working a contract job again, so my weekdays are pretty much spoken for.  In addition to that, we had family come and visit last week.  All that combines to make for some busy times… so no blog entries, no Sunday’s Share, and very little social media presence at all.

And of course, it also means that the writing is slower than usual.  Worse yet, the WIP (which was up over 96k words a few days ago), suffered from drastic weight loss surgery and lost a bit over 5000 words.  It hurt to chop all that, but the parts I cut were a necessary loss.  There’s an old adage that writers use, attributed to Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.  When asked to give practical advice to fellow writers, he gave the following:

“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—wholeheartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

Today, “Murder your darlings” is a common catch phrase with writers.  It means that we must be prepared to cut out the words that we hold most dear.  If those words don’t move the story forward, then it doesn’t matter how much you might love what you’ve written.  They have to go.  A writer has to remember that no matter how pretty the prose might be, it’s secondary to the actual story.

So the WIP lost a character, and all references to him.  He was part of a twisty little sub-plot that really didn’t contribute to the tale.  And after cutting him out, I have to admit that the draft is much tighter.

And that’s pretty much it.  Time to get back to it. So stay safe, and I’ll talk to you later.  :bye:


 Posted by at 4:41 pm

WW113 – Happy 4th of July

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Jul 042018

I’m not going to spend much time on a post here today.  It’s the 4th of July… Independence Day for those of us here in the US.  So I’m just going to wish a safe and happy 4th to those of you who celebrate it.  And for those of you who don’t… well, I still hope you have a safe and happy 4th.  

I’ll talk to you next time.  Until then, stay safe.  :bye:

 Posted by at 4:22 pm

WW112 – Of Solar Panels and Speaking Engagements

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Jun 272018

I’m going to try to make this post a short one.  (I’m really, REALLY working hard to try and finish up the latest Amber Payne novel, and I need to stay after it.  :)   So, some quick updates…

First, remember the mystery I mentioned in the last post?  The Goal Zero solar charger?  Well we finally found out where it came from.  It turns out that some very dear friends (who really shouldn’t have spent anything on me) sent it to me for my birthday.  So a huge THANK YOU to the two of you.  (You know who you are.)  

Also, I think I mentioned a while back that I had been invited to speak at a local seminar on creating audiobooks.  That took place on June 16th, and it went very well.  The primary speaker was WB Ward, a local radio personality.  He is a narrator of several audiobooks (unfortunately, I don’t recall exactly how many… it’s just a LOT), and he spoke on the ins and outs of creating one.  Since he did his own voice work though, he had never had to go through the auditioning process from an author’s perspective.  That’s where I came in.  And yes, there are pictures, so it really happened.  ;)

Writing report –

I’ve found a handy new tool to help keep me on track with the writing.  It’s called “The Magic Spreadsheet” (TMS), and writers have been using it for years.  It’s an online spreadsheet where many writers list their wordcount each day, complete with goals, levels, and a few other things.  The spreadsheet itself isn’t all that unusual, although someone has put a LOT of work into the formulas being used to track everything.  The thing that seems to make it so useful is the fact that it puts your progress out there for your peers to see.  There’s a psychological element in that… it makes you want to keep going – to keep working, so you can compare your progress with that of the men and women you see who are “making it” as writers.  I can see that “Writer X” is writing an average of 2100 words per day, every single day.  And I can see that “Writer X” has days like I do, where you only get an additional 400 or 500 words.  It’s heartening to see that they can have the same setbacks that I do, and still put out that high overall average wordcount.

And then I see that I’m putting out an average of 1200 words per day.  I can look at their numbers and see that most of them work at it seven days a week, where I definitely take it easier on the weekends.  At first, I wasn’t writing at all on the weekends, but TMS has a minimum word requirement if you want to stay in the rankings, so for the last several week, I’ve made it a point to at least hit the minimum, even on the weekends.

And my numbers have been rising.  More importantly, the book is progressing!  Yay!  


Here’s how…

Payne and Suffering – the novel is a bit over 86000 words at the moment, and promises to carry on for well over 100K.  However, I have finally realized that I’m very likely going to have to cut a few characters and some sub-plots out of it.  My end goal is to keep the book under 100K in its finished form.  Wish me luck.

IMR – (AKA “the Sekrit Projekt”) I’ve barely started on this one… less than a chapter so far.  I’m torn between wanting to write this one, and having to wait for the contract.  But there was an opening scene that I felt needed a home, so I’ve written a tiny bit.  Of course, I’ve also collated 53 pages of notes for the story so far.  LOL

But it’s time for me to get back to writing.  So I’ll talk to you next time.  Until then, stay safe, everyone.  :bye:

 Posted by at 5:20 pm
Jun 062018

As you can see, I finally got the final monitor working.   The external graphic card adapter I bought worked like a charm.  As a matter of fact, if I ever decide to go crazy with them, this particular card is capable of concurrently synchronizing up to six monitors at once.  Of course, you have to buy a new adapter for each one, but it’s nice to have options, right?  LOL

And it seems to already be making a difference as far as the head- and neck aches are concerned, so it looks like this was definitely a good decision.  Thanks, Better Half.  

I have a new mystery.  Not a story I’m writing… a real life, honest to goodness, mystery.  You see, I had an outing last Saturday.  The outing itself isn’t really germane to the story.  But when I got home, there was a package from ‘Zon waiting on the porch.  I was a bit confused, since I didn’t recall ordering anything, but hey, my name was on it so maybe MBH had ordered something & I just hadn’t known it.  I brought it in and sat it on the desk without thinking too much of it for a few minutes.

But when I asked MBH about it, she was as much in the dark about it as I was.  So I opened it up, and found an item I had looked at on Amazon on more than one occasion.  You know, one of those, “if I only had money to spare” kind of things.  It was a Goal Zero portable solar charger and battery core with some USB attachable accessories.  Now, I’ve looked at various Goal Zero products in the past, so I had to make sure I hadn’t accidentally clicked something and ordered it without remembering. (Yes, I’ve done that in the past, so I had to be sure.)

Nope.  Then it occurred to MBH & I that maybe it was an early Father’s Day or birthday present from one or more of the kids.  But they didn’t know anything about it either.  I called my sister & brother-in-law, and they hadn’t done it.  And since my mom lives with them, I checked and she hadn’t bought it, either.

Like I said… mystery.  

The only other thing I can think of is I had just written up a bunch of product reviews for the monitors, graphics adapter, cables, and a bunch of other items I had purchased on Amazon.  I’ve heard that ‘Zon sometimes sends customers items to review.  But if that were the case, wouldn’t they at least send me an email letting me know they had done so?  At any rate, I’ve got a very nice little portable solar panel and charging setup that I’ll be playing with.  And yes, I’ll likely do a full review on it, too.


Writing news –

The latest Amber Payne story just keeps going and going.  I’ll probably break 70k by the end of the day, and the characters still don’t even know what the real problem is, let alone the solution.  I have a feeling this one is going to take some serious cutting to bring it down to size.  To give you a comparison, Streets of Payne was right at 90k.  That was my target goal for this one, too, but like I said, I think I’ll probably bust that limit by a considerable amount.

Guess I’ll just have to see where the story takes me.  For now though, it’s time to get back to writing.

Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  :bye:

WW110 – Of Pains and Payne

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May 302018

So last year the chiropractor said my x-rays showed the beginning stages of arthritis in my neck, and that this was likely the cause of my recurring head and neck aches.  They’ve been getting more frequent lately, so MBH suggested I order a dual monitor desk mount with the idea that I would get a couple of decent monitors and hang them in a more ergonomic position.

So we went to Best Buy to purchase a couple of monitors that were on sale.  Unfortunately, they were out of stock at the store we went to, but said they had them at another store, and would ship them to the house at no charge.  Yay!

But when they arrived, I realized they weren’t VESA compatible, so I wouldn’t be able to use them on the new mounting system.  Luckily, I realized this before I opened the boxes.  So we went back to BB for a simple and easy return.  Then I found a decent pair on Amazon and ordered them.

And you would think that the problem was solved at that point, right?


My laptop is a 17″ Dell XPS laptop.  It’s a real workhorse that came with Win 7, and a GeForce M555 graphics card.  That card has mini-DP, and HDMI output ports and is capable of supporting the laptop monitor and two external monitors.  Now, the laptop came with a mini-DP to VGA adapter, so I’ve always run the laptop and one external monitor.  I’ve never been able to use two externals though, because all my monitors only had VGA and DVI input ports… and I just realized that the IT geek in me is starting to come out.  Suffice to say, the old monitors weren’t compatible with the remaining HDMI port.

But the new monitors both had HDMI ports.  The idea was to be able to close the laptop and run on the two externals, with them both moved into that more ergonomic position I spoke of.  Only when I plugged the HDMI cable into the second monitor, it didn’t work. (sigh)  

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the laptop to see that last monitor.  So I went online to see if anyone else had come across this issue.  Unfortunately, there were a LOT of people who had.  The problem is, some have the issue, some don’t.  Some claim it is cause by upgrading to Windows 10.  Others claim it’s the push for 3D optimization in Win 10.  Yet others claim the graphics card can only support the mini-DP OR the HDMI port, but not both at the same time.

And yet others have posted pictures showing that they have all three monitors working at the same time with no issues whatsoever.  Bottom line, no one seems to know what triggers the problem, or how to fix it when it presents itself.

So I’ve decided to bypass the graphics card issue altogether.  They sell external graphics card adapters that attach to your laptop via USB port, and they’re relatively inexpensive (about $30 for the one I ordered).  It should arrive in a few days and I’ll hopefully be able to get my writing setup optimized the way I want it.  For now, I still have the laptop monitor, and one of the new monitors that’s hung high enough that I’m able to look up when I’m writing.  I can already tell the difference in how it affects my neck.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the eventual change to properly placed screens will alleviate the majority of the neck aches.

Other news…

Baby Bird had some pain of her own last weekend.  I’ve mentioned before that she’s living in New Mexico now, working on her Masters in Art Therapy.  As such, she’s learning to adapt to a much different environment than she’s been used to in south central Texas.  There’s the temperature extremes and the thinner air at her altitude.  Recently though, she woke up at 2AM to a stinging on her back.  A bit of slapping and thrashing revealed the culprit to be Scolopendro heros, AKA the giant desert centipede.  If you don’t already know (and I didn’t until recently), these little suckers sting like wasps, injecting venom with their front legs.  Baby Bird said she just hopes it didn’t lay eggs in her ear.  LOL  Yep.  that’s definitely MY daughter.

Writing news –

Not a lot to write about here.  The new Amber Payne novel is really flowing now, with a current word count of a bit over 60k at the time of this writing.  I hope to have the first draft complete in the next few weeks.

Let’s see… what else?

Just got an email this morning from Corey Snow.  He says he hopes to have the last of the Year 12 audiobook recorded by the end of this week.  I’ll still have to go through and listen to it and give final approval, so it won’t actually be available for sale for a bit after that, but it’s great to see it in the final stages.

Oh!  guess who’s going to be a guest speaker at an upcoming seminar?  Yep, I was approached as a local writer to talk about my experiences in finding voice talent to convert my written titles into audio books.  It’s funny, when WB Ward (the main speaker for the seminar) approached me, he wanted to know if I thought I would be able to speak for about 20 minutes on the ins and outs of auditioning voice talent for audio books.  At the time, I thought “Twenty minutes?  Am I going to be able to fill twenty minutes?”  I was convinced I would have about ten minutes and then have to start taking questions to fill in the rest of the time.

Then I started taking notes on what I was going to say.  Now I realize why WB was so adamant that I had absolutely no more than twenty.  I’m working to thin it down, but it’s going to be close.  LOL.  Let’s just hope I don’t get up there and freeze.

All right, I’ve rambled long enough.  Amber Payne is calling, so I’d better get back after it.  You all take care, and I’ll talk to you next time.  :bye:

 Posted by at 11:20 am