Wednesday, March 30, 2011
So I'm about five thousand words into my new project. Right now it's placeholder title is "Dead Stop."
It's going to be my contribution to the zombie genre.
After reading several titles and giving it a lot of thought, I came up with the basic way I intended to approach the subject. I'm going to blend the old school with the new, and I'm actually doing some (rather morbid) research in the effort to make this as authentic as I can. I'm sort of a fiend when it comes to things like that. My fantasy worlds have to make sense...so do my zombies. Trust me, it doesn't take anything away from them at all.
As a matter of fact, one of the issues I'm wrestling with on this project is whether or not to publish it under my name or a pseudonym. It's definitely going to be bloodier and more violent than anything I've published before, and more disturbing in other ways as well. Of course, by todays standards what I consider gory is probably pretty tame in other peoples books. Anyways, I'll probably just focus on finishing the story before worrying about what name to put on it.
At least I've been writing. Whether it goes anywhere or not...we shall see. The main thing is to keep hammering those keys. I had let myself get bogged down to the point I wasn't doing that so much anymore. Now I'm trying to get it back.
But as Seth Rogin emphasizes in his book, Poking the Box, the main thing is to get started.
Monday, March 28, 2011
So it's been a busy weekend.
All of it has been in the name of getting something done but some things have been more fun than others. I'm still reading zombie stories, which probably counts as much as entertainment as work but I'm starting to get a feel for these things. Most seem to be the new kind of "virus" zombie. Of course, my natural inclination is to go old school and have them crawl out of the ground, but I can see where the new style zombie would pose a greater threat. I'm actually debating something now that is a bit of both.
I've also been trying to start finding my house again. Over time, it has become something of a mess...what with having two kids whose sole occupation in life is finding ways to wreck it or fill the floor with their toys. Combine that with a wife who's first instinct is to save everything and a husband (me) who was never the greatest housekeeper in the first place...and what you get is a situation where cleaning up sometimes seems to be pushing everything up against the walls.
So this time I'm taking the long view. I'm starting with drawers and cabinets and going through them one by one, and pulling everything out of them and throwing away things that haven't been used in a year. So far, that has been coming to a surprising amount. I'm not in a hurry, I'm just trying to do a drawer or cabinet a day. I don't expect quick results because I know I would just get discouraged and give up. So I'm not worrying about results right now. I'm just trying to make myself do it.
Same with the writing. I'm trying something new and attempting to plot out a story in advance, along with creating the cast. It's a really weird way for me to do things, and we'll just have to see how it goes. I went ahead and wrote a thousand word prologue for my zombie story, just to have a starting point, but now I'm fiddling around with names and characters without actually writing. I'll give this way of doing things another day or two, and if this continues then I'll just go back to writing by the seat of my pants and see how that goes instead.
I'm also reading a motivational book at the moment called Poking the Box. Since it is by a guy who is also a writer, I'm finding it somewhat useful.
Anyways, Happy Monday Folks! It's another glorious start of the week!
Friday, March 25, 2011
So I am now buying cheap zombie e-stories from Amazon.com. My criteria for selection is that they must be .99 cents and they must be selling. So far, I have read two.
The first thing that jumps out at me is that they are both novellas. They don't come with a word count, but in both cases I managed to read the stories in under two hours. Their writing was decent, although I thought the editing on one of them was really dodgy. It was just bad enough to kick my internal editor on and that kept interfering with my ability to simply read and enjoy the story. But I'm a writer, and since the story is selling then it is obviously good enough for most readers out there.
I noticed that both featured characters that were either ex military, or police officers before the zombie apocalypse happens. I understand that others out there don't so I'm not going to draw any conclusions from that yet. Both also feature the "virus" zombie...live people turned into bestial cannibals by some virus. Again, too small of a sample to draw any conclusions from yet, but I'm curious to see how prevalent this is.
Also, while blood and gore is mentioned, neither were quite as graphic as I thought they might be. More like they simply stated there was blood and gore. Thats another thing I intend to get a feel of. What is the average graphicness of the ones that are selling. While my style tends towards leaving things to the readers imagination, neither of these featured graphic violence that I couldn't comfortably match...or even exceed. Again, a small sample though.
At least as I'm reading this, I'm starting to get my own ideas of how I would do this or that different. That is always the first step to coming up with ideas of my own. But I want a better feel of this genre before jumping in, so I still have a lot more reading to do. But it's cool. I'm having fun, and I'm doing it with purpose. And that's a lot of what this whole thing is about.
Oh, and the coolest part is that I'm buying these stories with the recent revenues from my writing, and that adds an extra layer of satisfaction to it. So, all in all I'm feeling pretty good about this at the moment :)
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
It looks like Argiope may be heading back to the shelf for a while so that I can...
1. Work on other projects with a higher likelihood of being completed sooner.
2. Rethink Argiope and where it is going.
One of the main problems is that I stepped back and read some of the work I've managed to accomplish this week and discovered that it was so different in tone and manner than the rest of the book that it was unusable. I realized I had really started to go off the rails with this project and that I need to back up and wait till I have a clear idea of where I'm going before I proceed further. Sometimes I can do good work writing by the seat of my pants, but this project is simply not working out that way.
Even worse, I realized that the original ending I had vaguely envisioned for the novel wouldn't work at all...primarily due to the fact that I had only vaguely envisioned it and started heading towards it without really thinking it through. When I sat down last night and actually pictured the scenario point by point in my head, I realized it was completely unworkable.
The thing is, being shelved is not the same thing as being abandoned. There is already eighty thousand words of work in this book, so I'm not just going to can it. I'm simply putting it aside until I can come back to it and do it right.
So now what?
Well, that's actually what I'm going to get serious working on. Putting some real effort into finding out what I can do next that will have a high chance of successful completion. I need some production to point at. So for the next few days I'm going to buckle down and do some serious brainstorming, outlining, and research. I need to think, and think hard. Hopefully, I'll have the beginning of some answers by my Friday update.
Monday, March 21, 2011
So I enjoyed another Writer's Night Out with Cherri Galbiati and we discussed current releases, current projects, and future projects. Her current release is Tracking Perception, which is the author approved version of her previously released Scent of Money. It is now available at Amazon.com for an introductory price of only .99 cents. Here is the cover...
We also discussed my struggles with my current project, Argiope. I wasted an entire day today writing, deleting, then rewriting, then deleting, then rewriting the same two paragraphs over and over again. Since the final action in that cycle turned out to be a deletion, I ended up not accomplishing a damn thing. This book just fights me that way. As I was venting frustration about that to Cherri, she suggested it might be time to shelve it again for a while and turn to other projects.
She might be right.
I am getting to the point where I don't even like my main character, which is a sure sign of serious frustration. It might be good thing to try another Shades story or two...or even see if I can come up with another Tales of Nur since I have had requests for those. There is utility in both ideas, as another Shades tale will get me one story closer to having enough to make my own collection/anthology...while the Tale of Nur tend to sell better as individual short stories. Or maybe I'll toy around with that vampire/zombie/werewolf genre and see if I can come up with anything in that direction.
I feel kind of odd shelving a story when I'm right at about 80,000 words but there are actually good reasons to do so. This story is going to finally weigh in at over or around 120,000 words so it's not like nearly done. Even after I put "The End" on that rough draft, I will have a tremendous amount of work to do on it as both my style and the direction I intended to go with the story changed in the time I shelved it last time. And I really am spinning my wheels on it.
But I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel yet.
So I will spend the rest of this week trying to get a flow going on Argiope again. If I can do so, then i will continue to work on it. If it turns out I'm still spinning my wheels, then I'll shelve it for a while and turn to another project. It's all about being productive, and if I can't be productive on this project then I need to let it rest for a time while I'm working on another one that I can be productive on.
So thats what's going on this week for me. Also, don't forget that I'm now on a three day a week schedule on this blog...so for the near future I will only be updating on Monday, Weds, and Fridays. This means you, Mother. When I don't post on Tuesday, it doesn't mean I'm dead in a ditch somewhere :P
So have a happy Monday folks!
Friday, March 18, 2011
Well, it's Friday...and I survived.
The kids have been home all week due to Spring Break, and the wife has been home most of the week while she's doing temp work while hunting another full time position. So it's been interesting. Add to that the fact we have sprung another leak in a ceiling pipe and it's been an "entertaining" week. But where would we be without entertainment?
In my case, not quite as gray.
Anyways, this will be the last week of daily posts in this blog for a while. I'm officially going to a three day a week schedule. Currently my plan is to update the blog every Monday, Weds, and Friday. I'll try that for a while and see how it works. Hopefully, with more time and fewer posts to spread content through, I'll be able to make better posts. So we'll see.
Hopefully it will also improve my writing production. I have gotten some done this week, which is a bit of a surprise considering the circumstances, but my production is still way down from last year. I need to make better use of my time, and this will give me an average of three to five more hours of writing time. Trust me, these days that's a lot.
So here's hoping everybody has a happy weekend, and I'll post again on Monday.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
So, they are remaking Conan.
Above we see the old Conan of the 1980's and the 21st century Conan. To be honest, I'm starting to fear the worst.
I think the problem is that some remakes aren't approached in the right way. It seems to me there need to be a few questions honestly answered before the first frame of film of a remake is shot.
1. Is there a demand for a remake? Are people really feeling the need for more of the original product?
2. Can it be made better? Because if you are offering something that isn't as good as the original, or even just on a par, then the audience already has the original to enjoy and your effort is already doomed to scorn.
Now some people try to get around the above questions by claiming they are "re-envisioning" the product. That's okay to a point, as long as you are still staying true to the spirit of the original. You can change the style of Superman's suit, and raise or lower his power to a degree for different versions, but you still have to stay true to certain archetypes or it's no longer really Superman. And once you stray to far, you lose the audience of that character.
There also seems to be a temptation lately to use CGI as an excuse to think that certain films could be made "better" when the final product shows just the opposite to be true. A good example of this is the remake of John Carpenter's "The Fog." The original was a low budget horror film who's antagonists were dark, dripping figures lurking in the mists that were armed with hooks and other sharp instruments. CGI allowed filmmakers to make them ghostly figures with godlike powers something akin to telekinesis...and it sucked. It was awful. It should have never been made.
Truthfully, I view remakes with only slightly less reserve than I do sequels. Of course they are different beasts and should be considered in completely separate catagories...but all too often the motivation that drives both in the face of good common sense is the same. Money. And while there is nothing wrong with making money, I wish people would stick to attempting to make it on projects that are not bad ideas.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
This is the second alien interstellar invasion movie that I have gone to this year that features the city of Los Angeles as the backdrop. In the good old days these kind of movies always happened in Washington DC, New York, or Tokyo but I guess LA is the new hotspot for aliens with a hankering for earth stuff. The previous movie, Skyline, was such an embarrassingly bad example of what can go wrong with this kind of thing, that I entered this movie with my expectations guarded.
But it turns out that Battle LA is a much better movie than Skyline. As a matter of fact, I think the best description of Battle LA is that it is two thirds of a very good movie.
What do I mean by that?
I mean that for the first two thirds of the movie, the script and action is tight, logical, and makes sense within the scenario set forth by the filmmakers. In this scenario, the aliens have chosen to send in ground troops to exterminate humans and establish a beachhead. Against the backdrop of this bigger story, a group of marines have been sent in to enemy territory to rescue some civilians trapped in a police station and bring them back to a forward base for extraction. And for two thirds of the movie, this is what is going on. And as long as the movie stayed on the rescue effort, it was a tightly focused film that also happened to be very good scifi.
Sadly, things start to unwind after they finally get back to the base. First, when the guy in charge of the squad answers the doubts of some of his squad mates over a former mission of his in Iraq where he lost some men, he did it by talking about his own feelings about losing them instead of the circumstances of their loss. But for some nonsensical reason the other soldiers are reassured by this. Then while flying out with the civilians they discover the location of some command and control center of the aliens that they can restore air superiority to the Air Force by taking out. I don't want to go to much further into this, but just leave it by saying the scenario doesn't make any sense whatsoever and your going to end up wondering how the aliens managed to get the massive thingy where they did in the small time they had.
Also there was Michelle Rodriguez playing...oh well, you've seen this role before. She really wasn't too annoying in this one though.
So overall, I liked the movie. I just wish they would have dedicated the entire movie to the scenario they dealt with in the first two thirds of the movie and left it at that. And while the remaining part isn't terrible, it just gets a little hokey. Suddenly the aliens don't seem as tough or as smart as they were earlier, for one thing. I hate when they do that.
Oh well, I recommend it. It's a good popcorn movie. Enjoy!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Sunday night, I managed to crawl out of bed and limp my aching carcass out to a Writer's Night Out with Cherri Galbiati. I always enjoy those and it takes more than crippling cramps and battered muscles to keep me away.
We discussed the usual stuff. Pricing, blogging, marketing, and book covers...and speaking of book covers, here is the cover to Cherri's soon to be released book, Tracking Perception.
This is an authors preferred version of her previously released book, The Scent of Money.
Anyways, one of our main topics was pricing. Joe Konrath once stated that 2.99 was the sweet spot for pricing an indie novel. This is the minimum price that an author can charge on Amazon.com that will allow him to recieve 70 percent royalties on each sale. Many indie authors seem to agree with that and set their prices accordingly.
On the other hand, some seem willing to sell their novels for .99 cents. It seems their hope is to increase sales to the point that the lower 35 percent royalty at this price will still garner the same or more income. Other authors object to this practice because they believe that these writers are training the customer to expect an indie work to cost .99 cents. There is some merit to that argument, and also the fact that since .99 cents is the minimum price that Amazon.com allows means that it's the price that a lot of us would prefer to use to sell our short stories and novellas at. So yeah, I'm not crazy about the .99 cent novel.
Now I can understand if somebody wants to start their novel out at .99 cents for a month or so to give it a good start. Even the big publishers tend to do this, so I can't object to an indie doing it. But I would be nice if the indie would then at least go to that 2.99 price so that would be the price the consumer would be expecting to see. It would also mean the customer wouldn't be surprised or annoyed to be getting a short story or novella at .99 cents.
On the other hand what I wish would happen, and what I think should happen, don't necessarily jibe with the reality with what is actually happening out there. So I have to take that into account when I decide what to price my next novel (if I ever finish the damn thing).
Oh well, we'll just have to burn that bridge once we've crossed it.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Sorry for the late post, but I've been in bed. Karla and I took Rowan to the zoo on Saturday and I have been an aching knot of misery since. Due to the crowds, we had to park clear over by the Museum of Natural History and walk over a quarter mile to the zoo itself. Then there was all the walking in the zoo, and finally the quarter mile trip back to the car. I pushed my poor legs way over the limit, and even worse my feet hadn't really adapted to my new braces yet so they hurt even worse.
But it was worth it..
I have never seen Rowan so engaged with what we were doing. She knew where we were going, and when asked what she wanted to see she specifically named the giraffe. When asked later she repeated this desire, so we made sure that would be on itenerary. As it turned out, things worked out even better than we hoped.
As you can see they allowed some people to feed the giraffes, and much to Rowan's delight she got to be one of them. And then there was the encounter with the Komodo Dragon...
And she was also this involved with the flamingos, the tropical bird house, the elephants, and everything else. She was a blonde little dynamo of curiosity and happiness. Needless to say, Karla and I indulged this for as long as we could. We were having as good a time watching her as she was watching the animals.
So all my current aches and misery were in a good cause...and believe me, I'm hurting. I spent most of the day in bed both yesterday and today, only taking a break to get up yesterday afternoon to spend a little time with the family and do a writer's night out with Cherri Galbiati. I'll report on that tomorrow. For today, I'm just trying to get my legs back and my feet healed. But it's all good :)
Friday, March 11, 2011
Sorry for the late update, folks.
I was up late last night, trying to get some writing done and practically fell asleep in front of my laptop. My wife came out and startled me back to consciousness and told me to go to bed. So I did, then I naturally slept in late.
The problem with running a daily blog is that it is starting to take as much, if not more, of my braintime as writing itself does. Coming up with new things to blog about every day is difficult, and the problem is that I have found that the only deadlines that seem to mentally loom for me is the update for the next day. And here is where the real problem begins. Assuming my blog posts average a conservative 500 words a day, that means I posted around 170,000 words on my blog last year...and that's not counting time spent on photo editing and things like that. My only novel to date, The Ways of Khrem, is only 80,000 words long.
See the problem?
I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet, but I'm starting to lean towards the idea of updating three times a week...on Monday, Weds, and Friday. The attraction to that is it would both free up more mental energy to actually writing stories, and it might also improve the quality of blog posts since I might actually have something to say three times a week.
I haven't totally decided whether or not to do that yet, and I will be sure and make a big announcement here if I do. But the idea does have a strong appeal.
Oh well, thats it for today folks... (see what I mean?)
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
So I'm about halfway through a scene in Argiope that will probably not even make it into the book. It's a scene where the Cole County Sheriff has returned to a farm where the farmer and his wife mysteriously vanished earlier, and now he's taking a walk around the place and trying to piece things together. He encounters something very strange and leaves in a hurry. As a bit of a homage to my first story to ever reach print, the scene (and the one where the farmer initially vanishes) takes place on the same farm as the one in the story "Storm Chase." As a matter of fact, the farmer that disappears is Curtis March...a relative of the Bernie March who meet his own well deserved fate in the aforementioned short story.
I can do this because many of my short stories, and Argiope, are set in the same fictional area of Cole County, Texas.
The scene itself really doesn't add anything to the book other than to be a break between too many consecutive scenes with the main characters. Not to mention, it adds the complication of involving a whole new character that the story really doesn't need. And I would have to come up with a reason why a law enforcement officer wouldn't come back later with backup, which would mess up the whole story. Since I'm something of a stickler for stories at least making sense within the framework of the scenario they have created, this scene is pretty much doomed.
At the same time, I'll probably go ahead and finish it just to get it done...and possibly reinvent it later with a different character that wouldn't complicate the story arc...perhaps an heir to the farmer. After all, using some nobody character frees me up to even bump him/her off if I feel like it will improve the scene. And the whole point of the scene is simply to add an air of menace to a situation that the reader hasn't had fully explained to him yet...and improve the flow of the story by breaking up the continuous main character scenes.
But things are being done and writing is happening...and I guess that's all that matters.
Happy Humpday, Folks!
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
So I've been looking at what fantasy novels are selling these days. For the most part, the ones that are actually moving seem to have a lot in common with the ones that have sold before. One of the things is a strongly identifiable theme...the quest, the fight for power, the slaying of the monster, or the war against the bad guy. When I look at these, I realize that one of the problems I have with my novel, The Ways of Khrem, is that I can't hang one of those monikers on it as a starting point for describing it to potential readers.
That doesn't mean it's a bad novel...I'm actually rather proud of it...but that means it's a novel that can be complicated to market. While as an author I took pride in avoiding as many of the usual fantasy archetypes as I could in that novel, I realize now that leaving a few in for a potential reader to get a fix on might have been useful. I don't think I would want to change any future Cargill of Khrem novels, but I definitely would keep the idea of archetypes in mind if I branched out. Even if it's maybe for a different character in the same world.
I've put a lot of thought into the world of Nur, so I would be predisposed to use it in the future. At the same time, I might be inclined to do something more like I did with The Barrow Wolf and start with a more archetypical protagonist in a different section of the world. I mention the The Barrow Wolf because it's my best selling story, I find myself looking at it and contrasting it to the stories that don't move as well. What's different? Why does this story do better?
Is it the cover? Is it the simple theme of a boy going out to kill a monster? Is it the witches? Is it the wolf? It's still not very archetypal...you realize that once you've read it...but it's probably moreso than my other fantasy. So perhaps I need to look harder at the archetype thing.
Oh well, it's tuesday. I think the lady who helps clean our house is coming today but the place is currently in such a state of disrepair that I would be embarrassed for her to see it. So I guess I gotta get moving.
Happy Tuesday folks!
Monday, March 7, 2011
So it rained, and we didn't go to the weekend camp out...but took the kids to the movies instead. It was our first attempt at trying Rowan in a real theater. She didn't do bad, but I'm not sure she's quite ready yet. Even with lots of animated characters on the screen, she started getting restless before the movie was over. It went well though, and we all had a good time.
The movie we saw was Rango.
Rango is the latest addition in a recent string of animated movies to hit the screen. It's actually a decent movie that suffers from the fact that it can't help but be compared to a recent crop of truly superior animated films like Tangled and Megamind. Having said this, it does a fair job of holding it's own.
It's basically the story of a city lizard in a terrarium that gets left out in the desert after it's owners have a near car accident and it wanders into a faded western style town of desert critters of different species. Up until this point the lizard has been having little plays it holds for itself with assorted props in it's lonely terrarium. Now he has to find an identity of his own...so naturally he makes one up. He pretends to be a super tough gunfighter to impress the locals and through a series of slapstick misadventures manages to become sheriff. Of course, the town comes to depend on him to solve their problems and he has to deal with the fact that his legendary prowess is just a figment of his imagination. Real bad guys show up, and you can guess the rest.
I think what was frustrating to me about this movie was I kept thinking it was about to get better than it ever really did. For instance, there were these four little owls that showed up briefly in various scenes and acted as musical narrators. They were okay, but I think the creators of the movie really dropped the ball with them because they could have been so much better. A couple of other characters were like that too. You just expected them to do a little more with the character they created, but somehow they came up just a tad short.
That aside, the movie is worth seeing. The animation is fine, the voice acting is fine, the look of the town is right, and the story is good. The gags are pretty good, but again they are one of those things you keep thinking might have been done better somehow. Overall, I recommend it...and while you won't feel cheated if you have to pay full price, this is one I would lean towards recommending matinée prices instead.
Anyways, Happy Monday folks. May all you get off to a glorious start on your week. My, I am going to dedicate this day to writing.
Friday, March 4, 2011
I just finished putting Rowan's breakfast together and bellowing at the boy to finish getting dressed, (it seems that since becoming a father, I bellow a lot) so now I'm squeezing in a little blogging before heading off with Karla to go get Rowan fixed....her arm that is. Today they will be putting a new splint or a cast on her arm. Once they see what's left of the old splint, I'm betting they put her in a cast. She has pretty much destroyed the splint they put on her in the emergency room.
So that will be Karla and I's morning. Sitting in doctor's offices.
Then we have to get back and start preparing for the cub scout campout this weekend. I'm really not looking forward to this, but it's good for the boy so off I go to wobble on uneven ground on my blistered feet in new braces. Sigh. I know Karla is going to need help on this excursion or I would be desperately inventing excuses to find a way out of it. I used to camp out as a Boy Scout leader in New Mexico back in 1980's, but those days and that spritely young chap are long gone. Now I'm a fat old Dad who'll be floundering around in the dripping Texas humidity like a dinosaur hunting a tarpit.
Yeah. I'm just aquiver with anticipation.
So that's my day. I hope all of the rest of you are looking forward to your weekends with brighter hopes, and may your Friday's go happily as well.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
I have actually had a little bit of success writing lately, but today I'm going to take a break and have a "book day." I need to get caught up on my reading.
First of all, I want to get more into Diana Driver's Ninth Lord of the NIght. I'm enjoying the way she brings you right down into the Guatemalan jungle. It always helps to read other authors, and see how they handle things...and this has the added benefit of being an enjoyable book.
Also, I'm going to be studying up on my new book on right brained children. It seems I may have a couple of those, and might even be a little that way myself. It never hurts to educate yourself on something new. When you stop learning you stop living...or something like that.
As I've said, I've had a little success working on Argiope. Skipping ahead some scenes has loosened up the mental logjam, and actually inspired me on how to correct and improve some earlier scenes as well. Sometimes it just takes backing up and doing things in a different way to start moving forward again.
The house is clean, which is always a good feeling. The only downer right now is that I'm still adjusting to my new braces. The edges of the plastic that molds to my foot is in a different place than my old braces, which means I have to go through the whole rubbing and blister phase before I'm used to these. Sigh. It's all good though. They really do work better than my old ones.
Speaking of braces, Rowan has just about disassembled that splint of hers and it won't be a minute too soon when we finally get her in to see that orthopedic guy for a new splint or cast. That was supposed to be done on Weds but they rescheduled due to an orthopedic emergency. What's an orthopedic emergency? I didn't know orthopedics HAD emergencies.
Anyways, it's all good and things are going forward at my house. I hope everybody out there is doing well too. Happy Thursday!
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Well, February ended with a bang.
Broken bones, new braces, and other challenges. So I'm hoping that with the new month, we'll get a new infusion of luck. Rowan is adjusting to her splint, and we have an appointment with an orthopedic specialist on Weds to fix her up. I'm hoping it doesn't require anything too drastic, like surgery. But the odds are still hopeful that she will get by with just a splint or cast.
And speaking of orthopedics, I am now wearing new braces of my own. They are a very similar variation of my old braces, but since they are new they feel different. It's kind of like wearing new shoes, only more so. I'll have to adjust to them, but I think I can do it fairly quickly. They really are an improvement over my old ones that were wearing out. They just have a difference "balance" to them, and I've got to get a feel for them.
On the bright side, I bought a new BBQ grill and smoker and my dad and sister assembled it for me (yeah, how lame does that make me sound?). So soon I will be back to grilling dinners and smoking briskets. Oh yeah, that sounds good. First, I'll need to get some vegetable oil and season the grill. Then it will be time for some good stuff.
Finally, I intended to make a major push on Argiope in March. Rowan's injury and Karla's temporary status as a relief vet may complicate that, but I still intend to try. We'll just see how I can adapt to the new circumstances. I still intend to make that push, though. It's long overdue.