Wednesday, September 30, 2009

No Writing Planned Today

I don't plan on doing any writing today. I'm going to focus on other matters. My brain needs a vacation.

No real solid plans. I just intend to let my mind relax and follow it's own pursuits. I woke up early, around 2:30, and couldn't get back to sleep. So I finally just came out and did a load of dishes.

Not a lot else to report at the moment. Just puttering around the house, waiting for the kids to wake up so I can do my part to get them off to school. I may post again today, just to report on my progress at not writing, or whatever. Or if I surprise myself and do something despite myself. It could happen.

On another note, I'm trying to figure out what to do about the back yard in regards to the party on my birthday. I've already got a bunch of LED lightwands on order for the kids to chase each other around with. Just trying to figure out how to make it as kid friendly as possible. A lot of our grass died back there during the drought . . . and due to a swimming pool being placed in one location too long. It's kind of shabby looking back there.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


(making a little progress today)

Fortunately, the rocking subsided almost at once, and she dared to raise her head and look out.
Her husband stood sputtering, chest deep in brown water and covered with mud and wet leaves that had been floating on the slow moving surface. He looked like some B movie swamp monster.
“Pfft! . . .pfft! . . .Oh crap, I forgot how bad creek water can taste. This stuff is foul! I think every catfish in south Texas must have pissed in it.”
Once again, she found herself giggling as Paul presented another memorable scene for the record books. She could already picture the look of long suffering on his face as she regaled all their friends back home with his acrobatics. Fortunately, he acknowledged his own lack of coordination and she knew he would be a good sport about it. She grinned at him affectionately, but then the laughter died in her throat as she followed his furrowed gaze over to where the paddle still protruded from the water.
The top foot of it stuck straight up from the surface.
Something about the way it stood there, defiant against the slow current, raised the hair on the back of her neck. As high as the water came on her husband, the paddle shouldn’t have been sticking out at all.
“Paul? What’s happening? How is it doing that?”
She leaned forward to see better as the boat continued is snail like drift downstream.
“I’m not sure,” He eyed the paddle suspiciously, “but I intend to find out.

A Ray of Sunlight

I actually managed to write a couple of paragraphs last night. Not a big amount, but I'm hoping it's a crack in the dam. I need to get this story moving along again, so I can finish it and move on.

Today I start my low carb diet. Lots and lots of chicken, to keep the fat content down. Maybe this will widen the cracks in that aforementioned dam.

I returned the snake to the rental place this morning, since it totally slipped my fogged brain yesterday. See? I have to do something about this. It's really that bad.

When I dropped Sheridan off at school, I told him I wanted him to have a good day. He looked at me quizzically and replied, "That means you don't want me to get poked in the eye, right Dad?" I assured him that not getting poked in the eye was an important part of having a good day, and he seemed satisfied with that answer. Sometimes I don't understand kids.

Later today I'll look around into getting some more glasses. Another thing I've been meaning to do for over a week, but keep forgetting once I drop the kids off. Ugh.

UPDATE: I found a coupon for Eyemaster . . . buy one get one free . . . but I'll have to go to Deerbrook Mall to use it. I'll wait till Friday, when Karla is home to get Rowan off of the bus, and use it then.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Okay, I Want My Brain Back

It's official. I'm in brain fog. I stared at the story I'm working on for almost an hour, and added two sentences. While surfing the net, I intended to go to a web page via another that's on my list of bookmarks, and twice in a row I got distracted once I got to my bookmarked page and went elsewhere instead.

So Tuesday, after allowing myself to indulge in Monday Night Football goodness, I'm going to go on a strict diet to try and kick my brain out of this fog. No gluten products, milk products, and low on the carbs. Nothing but coffee or tea if eating out, to avoid any chance of cross contamination. Lots of chicken, garlic salt, greens, ground turkey, etc. Two weeks of that should show some results if gluten is the problem. I'll also get back on the Omega 3's.

A friend cued me in to supplements called nootronics. Basically brain boosting stuff. I'll do some research on that too. I need every edge I can get.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Weekend Part 2

Went to see "Pandorum" at the movie theatre last night, after the kids went to bed. As scifi/horror goes, it's okay. It borrows it's setting of a "haunted house in space" pretty heavily from Alien, but then a lot do. Another ridiculously big ship with huge, dark, air expensive areas and tight tunnels. All the walls are dark metal, and dim grid covered lights barely illuminate the pipe stuffed hallways. It was cool when Alien did it the first time, but it's really been over-copied since then.

If I ever write a scifi, I will be sure and address that issue.

My creek story is still stalled, although I did have company today and then took a nap after they left. I know roughly what I intend to have happen next, it's just a matter of figuring out the details and writing down the steps of it happening. I'm really beginning to suspect either burnout or gluten contamination. We'll see. I haven't set a date for starting the stricter diet yet. I want to give it a few more days to see if it goes away on it's on.

Sunday is Frito pie day with Sheridan, at least on the weekends when Karla works on Saturday, so I need to do that tomorrow afternoon. They were having some kind of vintage car show in Old Town Spring, so the crowds may be pretty big. Sheridan might like looking at the cars though. Or he may not even differentiate them from the ones he sees all the time. We'll see.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Weekend Begins

Good morning, Saturday.

Another weekend begins. Oddly enough, I don't get much writing done on weekends. The kids are home from school all day, so I spend more time with them. Then there is usually my Cowboys football game to watch, at least in the fall, but this week they have the Monday Night Game. And of course the weekend is when I usually have any company that is going to visit.

Today, my Dad is visiting to help me snake out a drainage line. I'll need to get the kids dressed here in a minute to go pick up the snake from the rental store. I also installed the new DVD player all by myself last night, despite the doubtful sounds originating from the wife, so I got the weekend off to a good start. Yay, me!

Ah well, time to get busy.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Just did a reread of the work I did on the story last night and discovered a glaring POV mistake. The kind of thing that takes a reader right out of the story. How I managed that without catching it at the time is beyond me. POV is one of the things I usually monitor automatically while I write, so this was definitely a case of lack of concentration.

I suppose I'm going to have to do it.

I need to set a date and get ready to start a low carb, high protein diet and be a real stickler about the gluten. If things improve after a couple of weeks of that, then I know what the problem was. It takes a couple of days of preparation and planning to do these things right. I'll have to shop for it, etc.

I suppose I could stand to lose a few pounds anyways =/

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Grain is a Pain

Slightly less than a year ago, we stumbled upon the fact that I was allergic to wheat and gluten. My daughter had to go on a gluten free/casein free diet, and I went on it just because she was on it.

Suddenly I developed the ability to write, my concentration improved, and the chronic fatigue that dogged me off and on all improved. Four months later I had written my first novel. Just like that. It got rejected, mainly because I didn't really know what I was doing yet, but I managed to take what I learned while writing it and used that to be a better short story writer.

Blood tests would later confirm my allergy to wheat and gluten.

So now 11 months after going on the diet, I have nine short stories written, one published, five others accepted for publication, one submitted and awaiting an answer, and two awaiting the proper anthology to submit too. Not bad.

The book "Dangerous Grains" posits the assertion that we all may be allergic to wheat and gluten, to one level or another, because we weren't evolved to eat grain. It's premise is that grain is a recent addition to the diet of a species that evolved to eat meat, nuts and greens. I have no idea as to validity of this theory, not being a scientist myself. I can attest that when I first went on that ancient diet, the results were indeed very noticeable and positive.

I still avoid wheat and gluten, but I'm not as much of a stickler about some things as I used to be. I don't worry as much about cross contamination for instance, such as worrying whether or not a diners french fries were cooked in the same grease as their breaded stuff. The problem is that lately my productivity has fallen off, and I wonder if there is a connection. Of course, I could simply be burning out after having written more than a hundred and thirty thousand words in eleven months. On the other hand, I do find myself staring blankly at the screen more lately. And I have been a little tireder than usual lately.

So I guess I'm going to have to decide whether or not the evidence is strong enough to warrant getting super strict again. Ugh. It's a real pain, and it would cut into some things I do enjoy. I just don't know.


Didn't want to wake up this morning. Too early. Six thirty comes earlier than it used to somehow. Or I'm getting older. Or I'm still muzzy from that wheat yesterday. I can tell that inertia is going to be my enemy today.

Oh well, I did get a load of laundry run yesterday so I have socks and I did accomplish something. Today Rowan doesn't have any therapists, so I actually get to stay home all day. I'll get out that stream of thought story I started and see what I can do with that. I'll be sure and edit in Charlie's suggestion over the cell phone.

It's not a terribly inspired story, but it's what I got at the moment.

On another front, I intend to start shopping for party decorations for next months get together. I want to make this memorable for the kids. I think it will be as much a Halloween party for them as anything else. And I know Karla will look forward to the kubideh . . . a blend of ground lamb, ground beef, and spices. The salmon on a cedar plank is popular in other quarters, and my ribs are pretty popular as well. I just hope it doesn't rain.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Bought a candy bar from one of the desk ladies at Childrens Hospital. It contained almonds and krisps. I was a good way through it when I discovered the "crisps" weren't puffed rice. They were puffed wheat.

Now it's caught up with me and I'm feeling groggy and dumb.

Go me :(

A Better Idea of What the Lark Looked Like

Pictured is the steamboat Lizzie, loading bales of cotton in Houston in 1873. This is exactly the type of ship Lark is based on. Notice how the lower deck extends to accomodate more cargo. Bales could be stacked so high that the only thing visible would be the smokestacks, the wheels, and the pilothouse.

Also note the barges. Steamboats often towed barges along with them to increase their capacity. The Lark would not have been doing that, as she would not have been doing the business in 1900 to require one. Also, I have noticed this practice was used in Buffalo Bayou, Galveston Bay, etc . . . but no mention of it in the Brazos. It may not have been feasible, what with the shallowness and other difficulties of the river.

Picture courtesy of the Maritime Texas Blog.

Good Morning

I went to bed early last night, so there is little to report on the writing front this morning. Just a few musings while falling asleep.

I wonder how dangerous a giant crawdad would be?

I've also got an image for underwater zombies and a glass bottom boat.

But images do not a story make.

I'll probably take advantage of having the time that the kids are off to school to try and catch up on some housework. The place isn't in bad shape, but the laundry is falling behind. Yeah, the washing machine is backing up but Karla says that if you remove the plug outside that the water will just gush out into the yard instead of backing up into the house. I'm sure the neighbors will love that.

Ah well, might as well get down to it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Gloomy Day

Charlie points out today that there is a better and more believable answer for dealing with the cell phone dilemma than having our two creek explorers leaving it at home. Just having it get wet. Thanks, Charlie.

Cell phones are definitely a feature of modern life that horror writers have to deal with. One of the key elements of suspense is isolation, and cell phones connect everybody these days. Almost every horror story I write nowadays almost always has the question "How do I nullify the cell phone," as one of it's primary questions.

My birthday is October 24th, which is on a Saturday this year. We've decided that makes for a good excuse to have an afternoon get together, with glow sticks and LED light wands for the kids in the backyard after dark. I'm thinking of grilling kubideh, cedar plank salmon, and ribs. That should cover everybody. Plenty of time to prepare for this one.

The cats have the right answer to a rainy day. Curl up somewhere and sleep through it. I wish I could do that.

Submissions and Research

I finished editing "Rendered Verdict" this afternoon, and after much agonizing I submitted it to LL Dreamspell for their revenge anthology. It's always hard to hit that send button on a manuscript, because you just want to go over it one more time, to find that glaring error that escaped your notice all those times before. All the rereading in the world will never make that particular flock of stomach butterflies go away. At least for me.

But there comes a time when you just have to grit your teeth and push that button. Of course, you have to watch out that you aren't gritting your teeth and sending out the manuscript to soon (I have done that) only to discover that it really did need another going over. Argh! Welcome to the paranoia of being a writer.

After sending the manuscript off, I didn't feel like starting right off on the next story so I went to Denny's and took some books with me to do a little research for "Flight of the Lark." I make a point of paying attention to my shelved pieces and not forgetting them. Anyways, I'm going to have to work on a backstory explaining why the Lark was in Brazoria in 1900, since regular riverboat traffic pretty much ended with the sinking of the Hiawatha on the Brazos in 1895. There were still paddlewheelers in the area though, most up around Houston and Buffalo Bayou. The Alice Blair still visited the Brazos occasionally after the Hiawatha sunk, for instance. Anyways, it will fit in well with the whole "end of age" theme to the story.

Oh well, off to bed.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back to the Nut and Bolts

I have now gotten critiques from two of the three people who agreed to go over my manuscript for "Rendered Verdict." Thanks Rob and Steph. That gives me enough feedback to start my final edit. I'll check with Charlie and see if she's got any observations for me, although I know she went to visit family over the weekend.

It's very helpful to have people who will critique your work for you. Some writers belong to large critique groups, but so far I've kind of avoided those. I prefer to just get the opinions of a few individuals I personally know, who have demonstrated the ability to give me useful suggestions and observations. It keeps the signal to noise ration at a higher and more useful level.

Anyways, I want to give a big thanks to Rob, Steph, and Charlie. I intend to edit and then submit this story by the week's end. And then it's on to the next project.

Whatever that is.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Todays Frito Pie and Philosophy Fest

Writing Stream of Thought Style

(The excerpt below was written stream of thought style. I have no idea where it's going, or if it's even going anywhere. It's just writing.)

“Paul, wait a minute. Stop rowing.”
“Yes, again. I’m telling you there is something under the water, and I just saw it move. But it’s hard to make out with you stirring up the water too.”
“Honey, there is nothing under there but weeds, turtles, and fish. You probably just saw a gar.”
Cathy bit her lip in uncertainty, not wanting to make a big deal out of nothing. It had been her idea to row their way down Potter’s Creek, feeling that it made a romantic adventure that they could both enjoy. It took a little perseverance to get Paul to take a weekend off from his home accounting business, and it surprised her how much guilt she had to push down for insisting on her comp time at the school. She chose to look at that as proof that they buried themselves too much in their careers, and needed some time away to themselves, out of the reach of calling clients and faxes from officious superintendants.
Paul still grumbled about leaving his cell phone in the Blazer, but Cathy stood firm. If people could manage to go 48 hours without being in instant reach for the centuries leading up to the past ten years, she figured the two of them could pull it off. Besides, she noted with sad affection the number of times he kept putting his hand to where his cell usually rode on his hip only to pat in distress at the empty spot. Stories of animals caged too long rose in her mind.
“You’re right,” she acquiesced with a chuckle, “I’ve just gotten so used to living in the garden paradise of suburbia that I forgot that things out here haven’t been completely tamed, trained, and trimmed into obedient conformity. Sorry about that.”
“Well, it’s farm and pasture land. Not exactly the great dark forests of yore.”
“Ah, but how do you know? All we know about Potter’s Creek is where we see it cross the highway near Hallisboro and then way down at the bridge near Pritchard Hill. That’s over forty miles apart. Think about it, we only know the world around us in strips, whatever is in sight along the road or street.”
“Oh brother, here we go again . . .”
“Oh c’mon, Paul. You know it’s true. Even when you go jogging in the park, you have no idea what’s thirty feet off of the path. And that’s because you never left it.”
“Hon, I’m an accountant, not Daniel Boone. I blaze my trail through the tax codes. Besides, the only thing to discover off the trails in that park is kids getting high. I’m sure they would just be thrilled to see me prancing through the underbrush in jogging shorts.”
Cathy giggled at the image of her paunchy husband driving hordes of stoned teens before him as he thundered through the brush in his track outfit. She leaned back and watched the tree limbs that overarched the creek slide past. Even when the creek snaked through cultivated fields, a tree line was left along the banks. In pastures, the trees thickened in places where one almost had the illusion of being in woods.
Dappled sunlight filtered through the canopy above, casting a mottled pattern on the brown waters below. Other than the occasional rusted can or scrap of paper along the water’s edge, nothing distinguished their surroundings from how they must have appeared a century ago. Twice they startled deer who came to the banks of the creek for a drink, much to Cathy’s delight, and even Paul smiled and started recounting his adventures of younger days at camp.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Almost Between Stories Again

And we all know what that means. . .

So, instead of waiting until I'm done editing the current story, I'll go ahead and at least give a few thoughts towards the next one. Maybe that will help the creative process.

Pill Hill Press has a couple of other anthologies that are accepting submission. They have their "Bitter End Anthology" for seafaring horror stories. I started a story for that but it morphed into "Flight of the Lark", which is completely different. So I could try and come up with something else for that. They also have an urban legend anthology open, but I just never was a huge fan of those. If I think of something, I have no problem writing for it. It's just not the way my mind usually runs. The Halloween mystery anthology of theirs might be promising.

LL Dreamspell will have another Nightmares anthology opening soon. I actually already have a couple of stories in the wings waiting on that one though. But since they accept more than one submission per author, I might also consider writing another one for their Revenge anthology as well.

There are other markets out there too. Maybe even one of the webzines that don't pay anything, but will get my work and name out there a little bit. I'm sort of partial to getting paid, but it's not like I would be losing a fortune if I don't. There is something to be said for exposure.

Anyways, I got plenty to think about.


I finished my second draft of "Rendered Verdict" last night, and this morning I sent it to the people agreeing to critique them this time. With that out of the way, I'm going to take the rest of the day off, I think.

I do want to get this story finished and submitted though. The revenge anthology is filling fast, so I intend to edit and submit this story by early next week. That will make nine stories on the year, and only three more to go.

I'm feeling a little better this morning, and I'm hoping the worst of the flu is behind me. Perhaps some extra rest will go a long way towards seeing it out the door.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day Three of the Plague

This sucks. The flu persists, and the worst part is I still have to get up in the morning to help get the kids off to school. And by the time I caffeinate myself to the point where it is safe to drive Sheridan to his school, I'm too awake to go back to bed when I get home.

I barely have the energy to move, and the house of course is sliding into shambles. Ugh.

So here I sit, doing my first edit and feeling like an extra from Return of the Living Dead. Only instead of brains, I want to eat something involving an immune system or two.

"Annntttiiiibodiessssss! Giveee mmmeeee aaannntttiiibodieeessss!"

Nom! Nom! Nom!

You get the picture.

UPDATE: The four year old is now home and cheerfully charging around the house and running amok. I can just sort of wave feebly in her direction and say "no no, honey. Mommy won't like it if you destroy that."

Oh well, maybe Karla can find me under the rubble when she gets home.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First Edit

After taking the day off so that I could simultaneously bask in the glow of having a book out there with one of my stories in it while also suffering from the Gharstly Flu from Beyond, I now need to get back to work.

I will do a first edit of "Rendered Verdict", maybe even come up with a better name for it, and then get some critiques for it. Since Cheri is now extremely busy with editing her novel, I'll be trying to enlist the talents of others again.

Oh well, it's time for me to crawl off to try and recuperate. Then it's back to work.

Drumroll, Please . . .

The Middle of Nowhere anthology, by Pill Hill Press, is now available. Copies can be ordered at

Barnes and Noble


My short story in this collection is called "Storm Chase." It's a straightforward, one scene, ghost story that was designed to move at a different pace than most other ghost stories. It was a bit of an experiment, and I hope everybody enjoys it.

I AM PUBLISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The first draft of "Rendered Verdict" is finished. I'm not totally sure about that title, but it will do for the moment. Now I can spend time later doing editing and revision, before going into my famous trademarked Between Story Panic.

Yay me!

On the downside. I have a sore throat, fever, body aches, chills, and this strong desire to crawl off in a corner somewhere and collapse with dignity.


Moving Along

The story is moving along rather well. I'm at 2,600 words and I might have actually finished if I hadn't of had to stop to take my daughter to her appointment. I'll try to get back on it, and with a little luck I might actually have my first draft by tonight. I should definitely have it by tomorrow evening if I don't finish it today.

I'll try writing a little more, but now I have the kids home and that means splitting my attention even under the best of conditions. I'll just cross my fingers and hope for the best of conditions.

Ah well, back to it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Almost 2000 Words In

Pictured is Judge Buller of Ireland. An enlightened individual who ruled that it is only permissible to beat your wife with sticks no thicker than your thumb. What a guy.

Meanwhile I'm still working on the judge in my story, and his fateful conversation in a watering trough. Most of my stories run about five thousand words, but this one is going to be a challenge to get to three thousand. I'm using lots of conversation, which makes the story seem to fly along, but also doesn't eat up as much of the word count as more descriptives would.

At least this time I'm happy with the almost complete absence of taglines. I may actually reread the story with an eye to checking whether I overdid it on that score or not. I don't know if that is possible, since this is one of those topics that I still have a lot of ignorance on due to my newness to the field.

I'm still hoping to get the first draft of this story done this week. At my normal speed, I would be confident to be done by Wednesday, but I notice that lately my production has slowed. I don't know if that is due to burnout, more distractions, just being more careful with what I'm doing, or a combination of the above. Anyways, as long as I have a first draft by Friday night, I'm happy.

Good Morning

Good morning!

Well, I just finished making the kids breakfast, and they'll soon be off to school. Since this is Karla's day off, I'll let her have the computer this morning and I'll probably go back to bed for a few hours.

Mondays aren't so bad when you think about it.

Then I'll get back to writing this afternoon and work on drowning this guy I'm writing about. I'm intending to keep this story nice and tight, somewhere between three and four thousand words, and much of it dialogue. Hopefully, I'll have it done in the next few days.

Then there is the matter of this messy kitchen. My gentle, artistic soul recoils from such harsh peasant duties, but I guess it's the cross I have to bear.

Sigh! At least my cats understand me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Well, things went in fits and starts today.

I now have a story to work on, which is a good thing. On the other hand, the kids were in rare form today, which was a bad thing. Karla had a bad day at the office, which was another bad thing. But she managed to get home before I murdered my children, which was a good thing. But they had so thoroughly destroyed my chain of thought that I really couldn't write anymore, which was a bad thing. So I went to bed early, which could be either a good or bad thing, depending on how the rest of the weekend pans out.

But now the rest of the family is peacefully asleep and I'm writing . . . which is a good thing. I'm hoping this story writes itself fairly quickly and I can keep it short and sweet. Right now it's tentatively titled, "Rendered Verdict." I'm hoping to submit it for L&L Dreamspell's Revenge anthology. Then I want to try and come up with something for Pill Hill Press again.

Busy, busy, busy.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Currently . . .

. . . I'm writing a story about a farmer drowning a judge in a horse trough. Just another happy tale from yours truly.

Bad CMT days.

Woohoo, I'm a cartoon! You too can do this with your pictures at

Been having bad CMT days the last couple of days. Fortunately, that doesn't affect my writing very much. Unfortunately it affects everything else.

I don't mention my malady often, simply because I usually don't think of it. I guess I came up with this interesting form of denial when it comes to my handicaps. Unless they are actively interfering with what I'm doing, they don't exist. I don't attend any support groups, see any counselers, or read much literature involving my condition. Heck, after all these years with it, I still don't have it in my dreams. I guess I just don't identify myself with it on that level yet.

I put my braces on first thing in the morning, and of course they're with me till I go to bed. And I don't think anything more of it than putting on shoes. They're just a necessary part of my wardrobe. So unless I'm actively having trouble with it, I just don't think about it.

Lately it's been getting into my hands more, which of course has been giving me some trouble. Buttons, snaps, lids, can openers, grabbing kids, etc, are getting more difficult lately. . . so I end up being reminded of it, which is why my mention of it today. I guess as long as I can operate a keyboard though, I'm okay. Anyways, I'll eventually adapt to this level of the stuff and then stop thinking about it again. That's the key to not thinking about it . . . successful adaptation.

And it gives me an element that I can use in my charactors while writing. For instance, the main charactor of Argiope suffers from permanent injuries to his legs and back that he sustained in a car crash. My experience helps round out his character, because I can understand his day to day difficulties, and I understand his vulnerability. And vulnerability is an important element in characters. They all have them. Understanding that and consciously working with that makes for better writing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We Interrupt 2009 to Bring You This Message

While I try to put my muse in a headlock and force four more short stories out of her this year, I thought it might be informative to stop and look at my 2010 schedule.

Basically, I have three projects. They follow in no particular order.

1. Argiope:(genre-horror/action) This project was initially shelved as I was determined to work out some logic issues with the story. I'm a big believer in stories following their own internal logic, and this one had a couple of fundemental logic bombs that would have interfered with people like me enjoying it. Then I got serious on trying to write twelve publishable short stories this year so I didn't pick it back up. Currently, my artistic niece is putting together a book cover idea for it, in order to give me something to look at next year for inspiration while writing it.

2. Flight of the Lark: (genre-historical fiction) The name of the game with this story is going to be research. I need to study a lot to get this tale right. It is going to start in Brazoria, and then move towards Galveston. I've got a lot to learn about that area in that time period.

3. The Ways of Khrem: (genre-fantasy)This was my first attempt at a novel, and now that I look at it through more "professional" eyes, I can see how badly flawed it was. At the same time, I can also see that it can be salvaged. It's flaws were primarily due to bad writing, not to bad story or charactors. I'm going to have to go through it, identify what needs to be fixed, and then start over.

Can I do all this in 2010? Hard to say. Since last November, I have written well over a hundred thousand words, and I have already been warned by another writer about burnout. That actually makes the research attractive. Regardless, I will have a lot on my plate.

Anyways . . . back to 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Shelving "Flight of the Lark."

I have decided it's time to shelve "Flight of the Lark."

Not because I don't like the story, far from it, but I'm not ready yet to commit the resources that are necessary to doing this story right. Shelving a story does not mean that I don't intend to get back to it. There are many reasons that a story can get shelved, and in this case the reason is pretty specific.

I set a goal of writing twelve publishable short stories by the end of the year. Now that it has become obvious that "Flight of the Lark" is not going to be a short story, I need to set it aside so I can get back to work on the original goal. "Flight of the Lark", is going to take a lot of research and I've already spent time doing that when I should be focusing back on my primary mission.

For instance, I spent a sizeable part of this morning researching the type of milk cans they had in 1900. Those are going to be the kind of details that this story is going to require. Not to mention I'm going to have to research Brazoria in 1900. That's a lot harder than Galveston. I'll probably have to take a trip there.

Apparently historical fiction is a big pain to do if you want to do it right. But I don't intend to do it wrong since I have to live with whatever I publish.

Anyways, back to short stories and genre fiction.

The Joys of Research

funny pictures of cats with captions
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My day so far . . .

Monday, September 7, 2009


L&L Dreamspell has accepted "Closing Time" for inclusion in a future anthology.

Time to get back to writing!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Characters and Stuff

So, there I sat. Having another quality father/son moment in Old Town Spring as Sheridan and I discussed life over Frito pies, french fries, and slushies. I am definitely going to start making that a weekly routine. I sometimes forget what an amazing world kids live in. And in today's world, they are learning to take so much for granted that didn't even exist when I was a kid. For instance, I bought his cousin Zack a cartoon computer game called Plants vs Zombies this weekend. Needless to say, Sheridan is curious about the zombies.

I didn't even know what a zombie was until fifth or sixth grade. And they were still serious business back then . . . not overexposed to the point one goofs on them and makes a kids game.

Also met a future character in a story of mine. A cute girl taking orders at the burger stand who had a voice that sounded like she breathed helium. Yes, that was her real voice. And it was obvious that she was a rather competent person in the way she kept large orders straight and took care of several things at once. I just wondered, as she asked me if I wanted ketchup, how much of a handicap that voice was, and how aware of it was she?

On another front, I'm starting to have the inkling of an idea for the L&L Dreamspell revenge anthology. I'll try and tease it out and see if I can turn it into anything.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Zack!

Tomorrow is my nephew Zackary's seventh birthday, and me and the family will be celebrating at my sisters house. They are setting up a swimming pool, so the kids will be delighted. And it's always good for me to see the rest of the family.

Karla read what I've written on the storm story so far, and has already pointed out a useful criticism. I had a charactor talking differently in different scenes. I have to watch things like that. But thats why you always have proofreaders. You can't catch all of your own mistakes. I always have at least two people proofread my work, and sometimes more. It's no fun to submit what turns out to be sloppy work.

Bonus: The Cowboys won tonight. Yeah, it's a meaningless preseason game but it's still a win.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Writing with Children Around

Is it really possible at all?

I couldn't find a public domain picture of rampaging clowns.

Toodling Along

Still writing "The Flight of the Lark." I'm using it to improve my dialogue skills, and to practice weeding out those taglines that the editor at L&L Dreamspell detests so much. Basically, removing a lot of the "he saids" out of the dialogue, and setting it up so the position and content of the dialogue will identify the speaker as much as possible. That seems to be working well, so far.

I'm also paying a little more attention to conflict in this story. Usually, the conflict in my stories is fairly straightforward . . . man vs the spooky thing I throw at him. This time I'm trying to be little more nuanced than that. I'm also trying to have different conflicts going on on different levels. There's man vs nature obviously, primarily the crew of a riverboat trying to survive a hurricane. There's man vs man on a slightly more subtle level, with different characters playing off each other. Even man vs himself in several charactors.

So this story is actually proving worthwhile. Even if for the experience alone. Still don't have any other ideas anyways.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Snippet Below . . .

. . . ends at about 2,500 words into the story. So at this point, the action is only really starting to begin, and the real action is still well ahead. I can shorten the story by having it mainly focus on Covey and telling it from his point of view. I will probably do that as much as is feasible, but it's still going to probably go over five thousand words. Maybe well over it. Tying it closer to Covey probably means it won't reach ten thousand words, which is likely a good thing.

I decided not to shelve this story right away, simply because I don't have another more marketable story to work on at the moment. And shelving is not the same thing as terminating a project. Far from it. I have a couple of projects shelved that I have every intention of getting back into.

But for now, I'll just keep working on this one and see where it goes.

On the bright side, I'm actually working on a story my wife can read (at least except for maybe one scene), which is a nice change.

Another Snippet From Later in the Story

The beast was born in late August, south of the Tropic of Cancer, off the African coast of the Atlantic. Long before the age of air travel or satellites, it prowled its way across the ocean unobserved, gaining strength as it moved. It grew slowly as it drew sustenance from the mild southern Atlantic waters.

It hit the Caribbean at the beginning of September, washing out railway tracks in Jamaica. The winds were ordinary as such storms go, and it truly hadn’t achieved the status of hurricane yet. The storm started the usual curve northward and it reached Cuba on the fourth, dropping ten inches of rain in eight hours. It crossed over the island, and somewhere between Cuba and Florida it strengthened into a hurricane. Florida and the east coast states braced themselves for a major storm.

It never came.

The beast had a mind of its own, and chose a path unlike most of its brethren. Instead of continuing to curl north as was the norm, it flattened its NW course to a WNW course instead. It’s edges brushed Florida’s east coast, confusing meteorologists and convincing them that their initial predictions were right. Meanwhile, the storm moved out over the bathtub warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

On the sixth, the steamship Louisiana, south of New Orleans, encountered it in the gulf. As the ship attempted anchor to ride out the storm, the captain watched in disbelief as the barometer headed south to a reading of 28.75, a reading he had never seen before in his life. He would later estimate the winds to have reached 150 miles per hour. Lacking any ability to contact the shore, he had no way to warn people of what lurked out in the gulf.

The beast had become a monster.

And as that monster started to turn yet again, it pushed massive amounts of water ahead of it. On the morning of the eighth, as the Lark entered the waterway leading to Galveston Bay, the hurricane sat twelve hours off shore and taking dead aim at the city itself. 37,000 people went about their lives without any idea of what now howled their way.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sometimes a story . . .

. . . has a song associated with it in my head. I've been listening to "Sleeping Sun" by Nightwish while working on Flight of the Lark.

I'm going to have to do some research to get the preceding weather conditions correct. I have a rough idea how things were, but I want to get this right.

The Lark

Pictured above is the packet steamer Magnolia. Aside from a few important details, it could be a sister ship of the Lark. The Lark is a packet steamer, but adapted to hauling cotton. It would have extended decking on the front and sides to stack cotton bales on. While it was capable of taking passengers, by 1900 most passengers preferred to take the train.

And thats part of the setting unspoken of in the story, is the backdrop of the death of river travel. In the story, the Lark is running a load of cotton from the Brazos to Galveston. Most of that business has also been taken over by the railroad as well, and the Lark is reduced to grabbing loads from farmers who don't want to wait for the next train. Which is what motivates the Captain to make the decision to attempt to beat a storm to Galveston. Time is a factor, and he needs to unload and get back for another load before the railroad gets all the business. From the Captains point of view, it's a matter of survival.

So he unwittingly sends his ship into the worst natural disaster in US history.

A minimum of six thousand people died in the Great Storm of 1900, and some historians place the real death toll as high as twelve thousand. That large disparity reflects the number of unknown people, and possibly ships, in the area. The idea for the story is that the Lark is one of those unknown craft, and I want to plot it's course through some scenes that are historically accurate.

I realize as I'm working on this story that it isn't really suited for a short story at all. The only way to do this story justice is in the form of either a novella or novel. It needs to be researched further, outlined and plotted out, and more attention paid to characterization. But I really think it is a story worth writing. But I also think the story deserves to be done right, and that's going to take some time and work.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Second Thoughts

The story below is tentatively titled "The Flight of the Lark", and it's intended to be the story of a doomed sidewheeler steaming straight into the Great Storm of 1900. I have a fairly good idea of the general course of the story, and I think it can be a good one, but I'm already foreseeing problems.

For one, there is absolutely no way it can be fit into the 5000 word maximum that the anthology it was originally conceived for demands. And since it is historical fiction as opposed to a true horror story (although it will have some horrific parts), it's market might be rather limited. That's two strikes against it, right there.

The First 500 words (raw)

Saturday morning Sept 8th, 1900:

“Gimpy, Walters just told me that you relieved him from the wheel. “
The pause that followed belied the old pilot's weighing of his words.
“Aye, Cap’n. If we’re gonna take the Lark into this mess, then I reckon it’s for the best that I be steerin’. Besides, Walters ain’t never piloted a sidewheeler before and I figure you don’t need the Canal Authority givin’ you grief for somebody chewin’ up their banks with a paddle wheel.”
“And I suppose you just want to go ahead and stay at the wheel once we get into Galveston Bay?”
“Aye. That, I do.”
Covey crouched below the stairs leading up to the pilot house, clutching the covered tin tankard of coffee with both hands. The boy felt no qualms about eavesdropping on the conversation above, as he had no doubts that he had been sent with the coffee for the purpose of doing just that. The crew already knew Captain Wallenbrech’s intentions, now they wanted a report on Gimpy Simmons true thoughts on the matter.
Although no greenhorn to riverboats, Captain Eli Wallenbrech’s rank came by dint of his ownership of the Lark, as opposed to any experience based promotion. He could be counted on to pilot the boat himself in a pinch, and possessed a decent grasp of every job on board. The crew didn’t doubt his competence in most situations, but when it came to piloting a riverboat, Gimpy Simmons had no peer.
The grizzled old codger, with his confederate gray pilot’s hat and corncob pipe, had guided paddlewheel craft, both stern and the rarer sidewheelers, over the waters in this area as long as anybody could remember. A relic of a former era, before steam driven propellers began to come into their own, it seemed fitting that he piloted one of the last known sidewheeler packet ships in the rivers and waters around Galveston Bay.
“Gimpy, I’m guessing you were wantin’ to dock and ride out whatever’s coming back at Brazoria, weren’t you.”
“No Cap’n, I wasn’t.”
“No. Truth be told, I’d rather we turned this boat around and git back as far north up the Brazos as we can.”
Covey could tell by the old vet’s voice how he clenched his teeth around that beat up pipe of his and imagined him squinting out over the wheel as he talked. The smell of tobacco drifted down to him in the heavy air, mingling with the scent of coffee he held.
“Are you serious, man? Look at that sky. There’s hardly a cloud in it. Surely we can beat whatever gale is coming to Galveston. Especially with the wind coming out of the north like it is.”
Gimpy’s grunt of a reply barely reached Covey’s ear, and it didn’t carry the sound of a man convinced. It ended the conversation though, as the next sound was the clomp of the captain’s boot on the top step. The boy retreated further into the shadow under the stair, and warily eyed Capt. Wallenbrech's descent.