Oct 092012

I’ve been intentionally delaying this post, hoping that I would be able to put up the big “R2R is published” headline.  Unfortunately, that’s not going to be the case.  Here I am on Tuesday of the week right after I posted about how I was going to make it a point to be more timely with my “weekend” blog postings.  And yes, I’m late again.  (Maybe I need to stop setting deadlines that I don’t  know I can keep?)  Does it help if I do a cover reveal?  Those of you who follow me on FaceBook have probably already seen it, but for the rest of you… ta-dah!!!

First of all, I was nervous about publishing R2R to begin with, since I’ve never done the actual publishing on Kindle before.  For HPM, I hired a publishing company, and that was part of what they did for me.  People kept telling me that it was simple enough to do, especially compared to uploading the manuscript for the paperback version in CreateSpace (which I did do on my own, because I couldn’t afford to pay the publishing company for both electronic and print publishing), but I had my doubts.  I’d had no real problems with the CreateSpace formatting, so I didn’t see how KDP could be any simpler.  CS formatting was tedious and time-consuming, but far from difficult.

But I tried to tackle the KDP publishing this time on my own.  Not the formatting, mind you.  I’m not crazy enough to dive into that.  No, Glendon Haddix at Streetlight Graphics handled that for me.  He formatted the manuscript, and handed it over to me with instructions on how to upload it to Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.  He also told me that the actual publishing process was simple.  So I figured it would be easier to learn with a novella than a full-blown novel.  Besides, if I didn’t go ahead and tackle it now, I would never learn.  So I tried to publish R2R last Sunday.  In a way, everyone who told me how simple the process was on KDP was right.  It was a very straightforward process of filling in a few fields, uploading the cover, and the manuscript, then pressing “go”.  I began to get excited.  I had the crazy idea that I would be able to publish, make the announcement, and all would be right with the world.  I should have known better.

First of all, Amazon KDP was acting squirrelly and wouldn’t save my work.  Each time I tried to save a draft on the site I got some unhelpful message that indicated that there was a problem, and asking me to try back later.  There was no real indication as to what that problem might be, just a suggestion that I try again later.  It might as well have been a Microsoft Windows error message.

Monday was a little better in that KDP allowed me to upload the cover and manuscript.  It even allowed me to choose my BISAC settings and my keywords for metadata search parameters.  Then it asked me for the description.  That was when I was once again reminded how new I am to the writing game.  I had forgotten to write a blurb for R2R!  In the immortal words of Berke Breathed’s Bill the Cat, “Ack!”

Yep.  My Rookie Mistake of the Week.  And it had to be this! (sigh)  You see, I HATE writing book blurbs.  HATE IT!  I find the idea of attempting to condense the goings on of a story into a few lines to be incredibly intimidating.  Don’t ask me why, but it is.

Nevertheless, I wrote what I thought would be a clever little paragraph that I thought linked HPM to R2R, and let the reader know that this was a companion piece for HPM.  I shot it off to Red Adept Publishing for approval (because I have learned one thing at least, and that is to NEVER publish anything without running it past a good editor), whereupon my editor politely pointed out my obvious mistake.  I had spent so much time trying to show the link to HPM, that I’d pretty much neglected telling what R2R was actually about!  Basically, if you hadn’t read HPM yet, there was nothing to interest you in the blurb – nothing to make you want to read the novella.


So I wrote another blurb, and late last night I sent it off to the editor again.  Hopefully this one will work better and I’ll be able to publish later today (assuming there aren’t any more “gotchas” in the publishing process.)

Other writing news – I finally figured out why Streets of Payne has been giving me so much trouble.  It turns out that there was a subtle plot flaw that was evidently gnawing at my hindbrain.  It was a matter of a character having conflicting motivations that I hadn’t noticed.  When I correct those motives for the character, it turns out that he’s not the character I thought he was at all.  I thought this guy was the main antagonist, but it turns out he’s actually a good guy!  So I asked him, “What’s the big idea?”  He explains that there is a plot twist that I completely missed, that he wasn’t the guy that was behind it all, and the person that is behind it is a sneaky little SOB.  So there is some rewriting to be done on SoP and some clues need to be highlighted a bit to keep the big reveal from looking like a cheap, sneaky trick.  I hope I can pull it off properly.

On other news fronts – we found a car for Baby Bird.  It’s a nice looking Toyota Corolla.  The dealer was asking $8600 and we managed to talk them down to $7300.  I thought we had done pretty well until we took the car to our mechanic.  Bad brakes, filthy transmission fluid, battery that won’t hold a charge, and worst of all, a belt tensioner that was about to fall apart made it obvious that there may have been a reason the dealer came down on the price so easily.  I won’t go so far as to say we got taken, because the car is now really sound.  But it wasn’t the steal we initially thought it was, either.  Basically, most of the savings we thought we had gained at the dealer’s table, we ended up spending on the mechanic.  C’est la vie.

Last weekend was the neighborhood garage sale.  We live in one of those restricted neighborhoods where we are only allowed to have garage sales twice a year.  On those dates, the neighborhood turns into a giant flea market, with everyone bringing their goods out to the driveway.  The streets are clogged, and people stroll up and down the sidewalks for hours.  Only not this time.  Usually, you can barely get into the neighborhood, and if you do, you can barely drive for all the people wandering the streets.  This time?  Not so much.  We still managed to sell most of the large items we were trying to sell, but the attendance was abysmal when compared to most of the previous sales.  I don’t know if it was the fact that everyone is beginning to feel the pinch of the economy, or if it was simply that there were several other events going on that same weekend (Texas Renaissance Festival, Greek Fest, Buzz Fest, and the Komen Race for the Cure all started on Saturday).  Whatever the reason, it just wasn’t what it used to be.

And Sunday I ended up working with my son on the brakes on his truck.  One of our neighbors came over and lent a hand, and we were able to do both sides at once.  On mine, I had to really put some “oomph” behind the wrench when I took the lug nuts off, but did manage to get them off.  Once we were finished, we put everything back in place, and he took it for a test drive to make sure there was no air in the lines and that everything was running all right.  It was, and I figured we were finished.  A few minutes after he left he came back to the house saying that the truck was making a funny noise.  He put it back up on the jack and noticed that the lug nuts on the side I’d had so much trouble with were only finger tight and the tire was loose.  I felt terrible!  If that tire had come off while he was driving it could have been disastrous.

Well, yesterday, I pulled into the parking lot at work at 6:15 AM, and just as I shut off the engine, I got a call from my son.  The truck was making that same noise, and he didn’t have a jack.  He was a few miles down the freeway, so I headed down there and sure enough, the lug nuts were loose again!  I had him keep my jack until we can figure out why these things won’t stay tight, but I’m afraid someone tightened them too much previously and stretched the threads.  If that’s the case, we may have to replace the actual studs (sigh).

Okay, that’s it for now.  Stay safe, everyone, and watch for the R2R publication announcement.  It really is close.  I promise!  :bye:

Jul 302012

Well, I guess I’ll start this entry with some observations about the renovations around the ol’ homestead.  My wife is really going to town on fixing the place up.  Not that it was in bad shape, by any means.  But there were some things that really did need to be done (especially the carpet), and I really have to admit, I could use some new office furniture.  But there’s no use buying the furniture to put into a room where the carpet is going to be replaced, until after the carpet is done, right?  And painting!  In another room where we’re replacing the carpet, we decided that it needed to be painted.  And painting should really be done before the carpet gets in.

So you see, there’s a sort of cascade effect that has to be considered.  For renovations like we’re doing, everything really has to be done in the correct order, if at all possible.  And my better half (who has always been incredibly organized) has shown a huge talent for planning this revamping, as well as for interior decorating.  She’s doing the majority of the planning, painting, decorating, etc., while I play the bull in the china cabinet, simply trying not to screw up more than I help.  :)

But here are some pictures of her handiwork.  In my opinion, she really has a knack for it.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On the writing front, last week was a bit of a good news / bad news situation.

On the bad news side –

1.  I thought I had found a great cover artist to do my cover for Streets of Payne.  I contacted her, we exchanged several emails, I described what I had in mind, she agreed to the project, and I sent her payment.  And sadly, that’s the last I’ve heard from her.  I’ve tried emails, and posting on her FB wall, but she seems to have vanished.  So, I’ve learned a lesson here.  Never hire an artist that you have to pay in advance via Western Union.  And it’s a real shame, because her portfolio is really outstanding.

2.  Road to Rejas is just about ready for formatting, though not necessarily for publication.  I still need to decide what I’m going to do for a cover.  I had one commissioned, but the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced I need to try something else.  And until I have a cover I’m comfortable with, I can’t really format it for publication.  So R2R is very close, yet still so far from publication.  I need to figure this one out pretty quickly, as I really want the story out asap.

So that’s the bad news.  On the good news side –

I received a phone call from Lynn McNamee (founder and owner of Red Adept Publishing) earlier in the week, letting me know that R2R has been voted in as a Red Adept Select!  This one was really out of the blue, since I hadn’t even known that novellas were eligible for RAS.  What was even better was when she told me that she hasn’t yet read it.  Don’t get me wrong, I do want her to read it.  And of course I hope she really likes it.  But the fact that her other editors and proofreaders voted it in as RAS brings a certain validation with it.  It tells me that there were other eyes on the work, and they deemed it worthy.

Lynn was an incredible editor for me with Half Past Midnight, and has gone on to become a really good friend.  But she’s running a business now, and is much busier these days than she was this time last year.  When I submitted R2R for editing, she explained how busy she was, and asked if it was all right if she passed it on to one of her other editors.  She said it would get done much faster that way, so I went for it.  So Lynn introduced me to Stefanie Spangler Buswell, one of RAP’s new editors.  Stefanie took me under her wing and has been helping me polish the story to make it halfway presentable for you folks. (Thanks, Stefanie!)  Thank goodness for quality editors!

And finally, HPM reached a personal milestone last week.  Without going into gauche detail, HPM has earned in six months, what I had hoped to earn in a year.  Granted, my goals weren’t all that lofty, and I’m not about to quit the day job in favor of a lucrative writing career.  But the modest success of my first book gives me hope that I might be able to become a full-time writer in not too many years.

So thanks to any and all of you who have purchased my debut novel.  I hope to send many more your way.

Stay safe!  :bye:


Jul 092012

Well, it’s been quite an eventful week.  Starting with last weekend, my wife and I went shopping for a decent desk for me to work on.  I currently have an old Ikea computer desk that I really outgrew several years ago.  It has little surface area, and no drawers at all.  My better half convinced me that if I’m going to take this writing stuff seriously, I need a real desk with real storage in it.  So we went shopping and found a great U-shaped desk with a credenza, hutch, lateral file drawers, bookshelves, and about triple the surface area that I currently have.  However, since we’re also looking into getting new carpet, we need to wait for the furniture until the new carpet is in.

Oh well, patience is a virtue (or so they tell me).

Then on Monday, I was honored to be one of the guests on the Dead Robots’ Society podcast!  It was so cool to be part of the podcast that rekindled my interest in writing to begin with.  In case this is the first time you’re reading my blog, I was on DRS because I had a short story (The Burning Land) in their anthology, Explorers: Beyond the Horizon.  I urge you to get a copy, and not just because I have something in it.  I’ve read about half of it so far, and there are some really good authors represented in it.  And as icing on the cake (for me), the anthology has received its first review:

Jul 05, 2012

Anita King        rated it        4 of 5 stars false

As a fan of the Dead Robots’ Society podcast, I have long anticipated the release of their anthology project, and it does not disappoint.If I could give halves, I would give this a 4.5.
Overall, this anthology is a very enjoyable read. While a few of the stories have darker endings, the book carries a thread of hope and optimism throughout, especially appropriate for an anthology that focuses on exploration and the very human drive for discovery.
A couple of the stories near the end didn’t really strike a chord with me, but most of them were just what I was hoping for. A few that I especially enjoyed are “The Burning Land,” by Jeff Brackett, “A Mournful Rustling,” by Court Ellyn, and “Beneath an Orange Sky,” by Andrew Hawnt. This book has given me a whole new list of authors to look out for in the future.

Wow! I feel like pulling a Sally Fields – “you really like me!”  Thanks, Anita.

And of course, this week was also the 4th of July.  So belated Happy 4th, everyone!  It sucked that it fell in the middle of the week this year, but c’est la vie.  The worst part of it was that our dogs don’t much care for fireworks, so we got little to no sleep, then had to get back to work on Thursday. (sigh)

Thursday I saw a great piece of artwork online, and was able to find the artist.  I contacted Ana Fagarazzi about doing a cover for me for Streets of Payne, and will hopefully have the cover in a few weeks.  I’m really looking forward to this.  Ana’s artwork is phenomenal.

And I got an email from my editor regarding “The Road to Rejas.”  She says she’s finished the story, has her notes, and we are scheduled to discuss round one of edits tomorrow evening.

I just finished my first installment in “EBS”, the book that Ed Lorn and I are working on together.  It is shaping up to be quite the fun tale.  It’s finally reached the point where I’m no longer writing the characters – they’re now telling me how the story goes.  I’ve never been involved in a project like this before.  We have a cast of characters, and Ed and I have split them up.  He writes some of the characters, and I write others.  What’s really intriguing about this process is that we work off of each other’s pieces – Ed writes part, sends it to me, and after reading it, I write my character’s response.  Then I send mine to him, etc.  It keeps the story fresh and interesting for both of us.

And speaking of Ed Lorn, I mentioned a few weeks ago that he had asked me to write a guest blog for him on the subject of prepping.  Well, I finally did it, and he’s posted it on his website.  Read “Ruminating on: Jeff Brackett on Preppers” and leave a comment.

I’ve also gotten a little more done on Streets of Payne.  Working to get cover ideas to Ana has helped clarify some points about the protagonist, Amber Payne.

On a more personal note, my better half an I sanded, spackled, taped off and painted three rooms in the house.  We’re now officially empty-nesters, and are responding appropriately – we’re rebuilding the nest.  :)

That’s it for now.  It’s midnight, and I have to get up in five hours to go to work.  So until next time, stay safe. :bye:

May 292012

The title pretty much says it all, though it likely seems a bit confusing at the moment.  It’s simple, really.  First of all, I owe you all an apology. I typically post on the weekend, and here I am at the close of the day on Tuesday, just getting my post out there.  I’ve been sick, and let myself get a little run down.  No big deal, but after work, I have all the energy of a wet washrag.

However, I noticed something today.  I checked the hits on my blog here and found that the number of visitors here just took a big jump.  I can only assume it’s related to a message I got from Lynn McNamee (formerly Lynn O’Dell – more on that below).  Her message was a bit cryptic:

I just added a new post to http://RedAdeptSelect.com/ that you might wanna check out.”

That was it.  So of course, I followed the link, and read the below:

 Half Past Midnight, by Jeff Brackett, has been reviewed on I’m a Voracious Reader.

Quote from Review:

Well-written, smooth-flowing, excellent plot and compelling. I kept thinking throughout the story: Would I, could I be able to do that? What would I do here? What if…?

To read the full review, visit I’m a Voracious Reader.

Of course, I followed the link and read the review…  All I’ll say is… Woohoo!  Just follow the link and go read it for yourself.  Whether or not one event had anything to do with the other, the number of visitors to my little blog here spiked at almost triple my normal average.  So to all you new folks, if you’re still checking in here… welcome!  I hope you keep dropping by.

Now, on to the celebrations.  This last weekend, I got the chance to meet some of the Red Adept family when Lynn O’Dell celebrated her marriage to Chuck McNamee, and we were invited to share in the celebration.  While there, I also had the chance to finally meet some others of the Red Adept family in person.  I met Jim Chambers, who saved my bacon in the proofreading stage of HPM.  He is now a publicist for the newly opened Red Adept Publishing.  I also got to meet with Ed Lorn, fellow Red Adept Select author, and vangard author for Red Adept Publishing.  We had the chance to discuss story ideas, and it looks like we will be working on a project together in the very near future.  I’m really looking forward to it.

And of course, Sunday was Memorial Day.  I hope you all had a fine time, but still spared a moment to remember the real reason behind the holiday – our brave men and women who have sacrificed so much in the name of our freedom.  We all owe them so much!

And now for the goodbyes portion.  A friend of mine from work has been battling esophageal cancer for the last few years.  Each year the doctors told him that he needed to get his affairs in order, that he wouldn’t make it to see another Christmas.  And for the last two years he proved them wrong.  This year, they were right.  He went into the hospital last Friday for an upper GI obstruction.  He didn’t make it out this time.

So long, Jim.  I’ll miss you, my friend.  May every day be Beer Friday for you now.

May 152012

Below is the interview I had with new author, Edward Lorn. I “met” Ed (as much as you meet anyone on the internet) as a fellow client of Red Adept Publishing. I used Red Adept editorial services before they had an actual publishing arm, and now that they’ve launched as a full-fledged small press, Edward Lorn was one of the first authors they snatched up. His latest release, Dastardly Bastard , is currently for sale in electronic format, and should be out in print later this month.

The book description of Dastardly Bastard follows:


Dastardly Bastard cover

When war photographer Mark Simmons is sent to do a promo on Waverly Chasm, he assumes it’s a puff piece, a waste of his talents.
Widow Marsha Lake brings her son, Lyle, to help him heal after his father’s death.
Donald Adams, aka H.R. Chatmon, joins the tour to get away from a sticky situation.
Justine McCarthy consents to the hike to placate her boyfriend, Trevor.
For Jaleel Warner, the tour guide, walking the chasm is just part of his job.
Each of these people must face their darkest memories in order to discover and defeat the secret buried in Waverly Chasm.



The Dastardly Bastard of Waverly Chasm
Does gleefully scheme of malevolent things
Beware, child fair, of what you find there
His lies, how they hide in the shadows he wears
`Cross wreckage of bridge, is where this man lives
Counting his spoils, his eye how it digs
Tread, if you dare, through his one-eyed stare
This Dastardly Bastard is neither here, nor there…



And now, without further ado, here is the interview with Edward Lorn. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


JEFF: I’ve recently had the opportunity to read both Bay’s End and Dastardly Bastard and my immediate impression is that your writing strikes me as very “Stephen King”-ish. I assume that King is one of your writing influences. Would you agree?

ED: I’m a huge Stephen King fan. With that said, I don’t really try to emulate him, so much as learn from his successes and mistakes. The man has this ability to give life to characters on a page. They transcend the novel you are reading and become a part of your life. You know these people, love them and hate them. I only want to write the best characters I can without using stereotypes or cop-outs.


JEFF:Who or what are some of your other influences?

ED: Richard Laymon is, by far, my favorite author when it comes to no-holds-barred horror. Before his death in 2001, Laymon saw success in the UK only. His books were always brutally violent and sexually graphic. I’m no prude, but he’s made me blush on more than one occasion. Everyone seems to liken “Bay’s End” with Stephen King’s novella, “The Body,” but a better comparison would be Laymon’s “The Traveling Vampire Show.” I won’t spoil anything about Laymon’s coming-of-age piece, other than to say that the book has absolutely nothing to do with vampires. The novel is about two boys and a girl, friends till the bitter end, and the struggles they must go through. “The Traveling Vampire Show” deals with sexual awakening, jealousy, the curiosity of young teens, and an event that will change them all forever. Yeah, Laymon was a master, though highly underrated. He normally scares new readers off within the first chapter or two. Fun times.


JEFF: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

ED: I started as a horrible liar. Everything that came out of my mouth was either terribly exaggerated, or completely false. From the time I could form sentences, I was telling stories. I got in quite a bit of trouble around school—I told one class my baby brother had died over the weekend, and I’d never even had a brother. My first grade teacher offered my mother a venue for my tales. “Have him write these things down. Let him get them out, and maybe he won’t feel the need to tell everyone every little thing that pops into his head.”


JEFF: Here’s one that most authors are asked at one time or another – where do you find your inspiration for your stories? I mean, you write about some pretty messed up stuff. I assume they’re not stories of your summer vacations.

ED: My inspiration is life. Everything has a story behind it. You just have to show enough interest in it, and it will cough up its wares.

As far as the darker content in my stories, I grew up in southern California in the ’80s and ’90s. My memories are filled with twisted things.

When I was ten, I saw a young man hit by a truck while trying to cross the street on his way to school. The vehicle knocked him down, and he was dragged under the chassis. The back tire treated his head like a piñata in a vice.

I lived through drive-by shootings, witnessed fights where knives were brought out, and even saw an overdose victim with a needle still in his arm. Years later, I do wonder if I ended up becoming a product of my environment, or if writing saved me from what I might have become.

I have no problem with being looked upon as twisted. But I would have people know that I don’t enjoy these things. I only know that they exist and choose to shed a light on them. If I can give away some of my nightmares, maybe I can start sleeping better at night.


JEFF: Getting back to your writing, are you a plotter or a pantser?

ED: What do you mean by pantser? I’ve never heard that term. I know I’m not a plotter, so I figure I’m a pantser.

JEFF: Ah! Sorry. It’s a relatively common term with writers these days. I mean do you plot your stories out, or do you write “by the seat of your pants”? I’ve also heard it called “Discovery writing” or “Intuitive writing.”

ED: Then yeah, I’m a pantser. Plotting kills my creativity. Every time I plot, one of two things happens. Either I grow bored with the story—because, heck, I already know what’s going to happen—or the plot changes so drastically, an outline was a complete waste of time. “Bay’s End” just kind of happened. I don’t know how else to explain it. I didn’t plot a single line of that book. I trusted my characters to tell me what was next. When Eddy walked in with those cherry bombs, I was just as excited as Trey was. I know, I’m crazy. But I love being insane. It’s so much more fun.


JEFF: You were chosen as one of the vanguard authors for the new Red Adept Publishing small press. What has your experience been like working with them?

ED: The entire crew has been a godsend. Lynn O’Dell is a fabulous editor, but she’s an even better human being. When you delve into the creative arts, family and friends are absolutely no help to you. They love you and do not want to hurt your feelings. Well, that kind of crap doesn’t help you grow. Lynn lays it out like it is, as does Michelle Rever, who did the initial content edit for “Dastardly Bastard.” I don’t need someone to tell me what I did right. I need to know what I did wrong.


JEFF: Why have you chosen to publish your books via Indie and/or small press, rather than via traditional publishing?

ED: If I had never met Lynn O’Dell, I would have stayed Indie—actually I never would have published anything of quality from the jump. I have no doubt about that. Once I heard she was starting up with the publishing side, I had to get in. With the bigger publishers, authors like me get lost in the mix. My book’s too short, the content is too controversial, blah, blah, blah…

Another big thing is length of time between novels. Lynn hasn’t—not yet, at least—put a cap on how many novels I can put out in a year. I write a lot. So that’s a good thing. I believe she’s of the same mindset as me. As long as they’re quality works, get them out there. No need to be a tease.


JEFF: Do you have any other writing projects in the works?

ED: Of course.

JEFF: LOL. Can you share a little of what it’s about?

ED: I don’t know, really. It’s hard to tell what will be next. I can keep up with three different books at a time. Right now, I’m doing just that. I have one that I’m working on more than the other two, but I have no idea if that will be my next book. I’m unearthing everything as I go. I am trying to give my readers something a little more substantial as far as length is concerned. There’s nothing wrong with a short book, but I know people like to get lost for a while. Up until now, I didn’t have a long story to tell.

I will add this: We’re going back to Bay’s End. I can guarantee that.


JEFF: For those of us who are beginning to learn our way around in the ever-changing business that is non-traditional publishing, are there any lessons you’ve learned that you’d like to share?

ED: I’m still learning myself, brother. I would love to divulge secrets, but I’m not privy to them at this time. Sorry.


JEFF: Any other thoughts, comments, or advice you’d like to leave us with?

ED:  I try to lend an element of humor and truth to everything I write. If you can make someone believe your characters are real, that reader will follow you anywhere.

It’s really easy to fall in love with a person if they’re funny. Ask just about any woman on the face of this planet what she looks for in a man, and most will respond with “He has to be able to make me laugh.” They’ll have other criteria, of course, but that one’s almost always present. It’s how I managed to woo my wife, because Brad Pitt, I am not.

With truth, people must believe the motivations that drive your character. They don’t have to agree, but they must understand. The hardest chore I have as a writer is to not add my own reactions and emotions to a situation. Just because I would run from the beastie in the shadows does not mean my character would. There are plenty of people with more strength and will power than I in this world. But there are also weaker souls. Continuity is key. If your character acts off type, there has to be a reason. Have they finally broken? Has something presented itself to embolden them?

Good fiction finds the truth in the lie.


JEFF: Thanks, Ed. I wish you luck with Dastardly Bastard, and look forward to future books from you.



And now, as promised, below is your entry information for Ed’s Dastardly Bastard promotional raffle. Check it out, enter, and I wish you all the best of luck.

In the meantime, be safe, everyone.


a Rafflecopter giveaway