Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dratted Timelines!

My first novel, The Ways of Khrem, was actually something of a hybrid between a novel and an anthology.  It had three distinct parts, each taking place one month after the other, in a fantasy world running on it's own lunar calender. Under those circumstances, keeping my timeline straight was easy.

Argiope is a true novel, set in modern day Texas, and covers a span of a little less than a year. Unfortunately, while doing a read through last night, I discovered I have screwed up the timeline. And it matters. I guess that's the peril of writing without an outline. So I'm going to have to sit down and draw a timeline, plot out the points of different events, and go back though the story I have so far and fix everything. It shouldn't take very long, a day or maybe two, and it's far better to do it now instead of going forward and making a complicated mess even worse.

Sigh, the joys of first drafts.

Of course, it's Halloween weekend. Lots of kids and things to do...and little time to write. But sometimes living these experiences and sharing them are part of writing too. There is always the temptation for the writer to retreat into his own world and write...and resent intrusion while doing that. But at the same time, it is from the life we get our stories, and we need to keep ourselves open to that to keep our writing alive...and our spouses happy.

Ah well, Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Milestone

I have just reached the seventy thousand word mark on Argiope. I might just actually finish this dang book after all! I still have a ways to go, since I figure this one will weigh in at a little over a hundred thousand words, but I'm getting there. It would really be sweet if I could finish and shelve the first draft to this at Christmas. My stated goal is sometime in January, but you know me...ever the optimist.

November is Nanowrimo month, where writers take the challenge to try and put out a fifty thousand word manuscript of any kind during the month. Somebody suggested to me that I might ought to take that challenge and use in an attempt to finish Argiope. Considering that I tried Nanowrimo last year, and accomplished getting the most spectacular case of writer's block to ever shut a word processor down, I don't think I will tempt fate by messing with it again. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.

Once I get the first draft done, I'll shelve it for a month or two just to let it cool and get out of my mind. Maybe during that time I can get a short story or two done. It wouldn't hurt to get another Shades or Tales of Nur up on the kindle store. Production, production, production. That's the name of this indie game. You have to get titles up on that virtual bookshelf. The more the better. But they still have to be good too.

Then after that month or two, I'll  pull it down and give it it's first edit. This first edit will be just to find logic bombs, character problems, plot problems, etc. To go through it and figure out what works and what doesn't. After that, I will send it off to my proofreaders for the second edit. They will do a combination of the same things I did during the first edit, plus the beginnings of syntax and text editing. Then, once I'm confident I have the story right, I'll settle in for the real editing. Making sure the writing is tight, getting rid of those  pesky -ly adverbs and passive voices. Double checking the spelling, grammer, syntax, etc..

Then, hopefully, I'll have a book.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Writing Books and Stuff

How passive can the main character of a story be?

That's one of the issues I'm working through while writing Argiope. Adam, the main character, is physically handicapped and being threatened by people with "superhuman" abilities. For much of the book, he really doesn't do much but get rescued. He's getting better, but when I start draft two on this work I'm really going to have a long look at Adam's passivity. Part of it is intentional, but I need to carefully weight to make sure I haven't overdone it.

Argiope differs from my first novel, The Ways of Khrem, in several ways.

1. Adam is a crippled petroleum engineer who just wants to find out what happened to his nephew and his family, while Cargill is a much more dynamic character even though he is "retired." Of course, Cargill has the appropriate skills to face his situations, while Adam starts off way over his head.

2. The Ways of Khrem really didn't have any strong female characters, other than a couple of flashback scenes with Cargill's dead lover. Argiope has several, both good and bad. I may actually need to cut one out or down (Adams lawyer ex-fiancee) just because I think she might be too strong a character for the minor role she plays. As it is that will still leave Olivia, who Adam describes as a "multi-talented hyper beauty with an IQ off the charts,"....and Maggie, a rather fearsome powerhouse of an antagonist who blasts her way through a police squad in a hospital in an effort to  terminate Adam. Strong female characters in this story = covered.

3. Both feature large spiders, but in entirely different roles.

4. The Ways of Khrem is a sword and sorcery book set in a fantasy city, while Argiope is a sci-fi/horror set in modern Texas.

5. Both feature strong supporting main male character's. Ways of Khrem has Captain Drayton, a sort of old fashioned good guy in a steel helmet, while Argiope has Antonio...picture Ricardo Montalban in a cream colored suit, a pony tail, and a straw hat...with a gun, of course.

So my second novel coming along, and really beginning to take shape. It just takes time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


It seems the laundry beckons.

The piles are starting to tower, and I suppose that when they get  to towering that something must be done. I'm not really in the mood to deal with towering laundry today...but I suppose that's kind of how it got to be towering in the first place. And since towering laundry is not good, I guess I will see about doing something to un-tower it.

One thing is these pesky kids. They have this habit of getting bigger and outgrowing their clothes. Then the clothes continue to get mixed in with the laundry, and continue to take up space. So they sort of get cycled. They get tried on. Then taken off when they don't fit. Then thrown in the laundry for some reason. Then washed. Then tried on. Then thrown in the laundry....and the circle of lint continues. We must be the only family on the planet who has measurable dead space in their laundry.

Why are things so complicated?

Oh well, I'm a little over sixty seven thousand words into Argiope now, so progress on that front is incremental but steady. Since previously there had been little  progress at all, I'll take it.

I don't have a lot else to write about today. I guess I don't lead a very interesting life. I'm going to have to think about that.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Footballl and Stuff

Okay, lets face it. The Dallas Cowboys just aren't a very good football team this year. Romo has been making his offensive line look better than it is for too long now. Now that he's out for a big part of they year, I hope they don't use that as an excuse not to back up and critically examine the shortcomings of this team in certain areas. Pass protection, run blocking, and tackling being primary problems. They need to stop trying to bump runners down and learn to wrap up and tackle, just like football  players are taught in high school.

Oh well, at 1-5 their season is pretty much over and the only role they have left now is as spoilers. I wonder how high of a draft pick we will get next year.

On the writing front, I'm at 66,000 words on Argiope so progress plods along. I'm kind of forcing my way through a scene at the moment, just to get it written. I think it could be done much better but I've decided that my goal is to get that first draft done and worry about fixing things later.

Now begins my three grueling days of sitting at Starbucks every afternoon. Work, work, work.

Oh well, I'm still depressed over the Cowboys so I'm going to bed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Yet Another Writers NIght Out

Cherri Galbiati and I went out for our weekly writer's night out last night, and it went pretty good. Cherri is still recovering from the Death Flu that I gave her a couple of weeks ago, but since I've already had it I wasn't worried. She's feeling better, but we both still have hacking coughs so we wheezed our opinions on the writing world at each other on this particular evening. Much was discussed, mainly on the matter of books morphing as you write them.

See, some writers write with strict outlines and already have the skeleton of the story finished before they set down and start writing the book. Cherri and I aren't that type of writer. We're that other type that have a vague idea what the story is all about, with a few clear mental images of scenes here and there. Then we string those scenes together and see if we end up with the book we started out with. Don't try this at home kids...we're professionals.

Also, I slept in way to late this Sunday and there is no way I would be able to fall to sleep at a decent time. So I'm just going to stay up Sunday night and write. Hopefully I can get enough done to get a little "ahead." There really isn't such a thing, but it feels good pretending there is.

We also discussed the difficulty of just focusing on one book. It gets really irritating when you've decided to put all other projects aside and focus on just that one story...and then all the ideas that start popping into your head are about every story but the one your working on. Heck, last night I had an idea for a shelved project called Daguerrotype, and it has been shelved a year.  Sheesh, I just need to get my muse to shut the hell up about all this other stuff and help me buckle down and finish Argiope. I want to have the first draft done in January.

So I have a goal.

Yay, me!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Suddenly, I'm 49

Somebody on Facebook just wished me Happy Birthday. I stared stupidly at the screen for a moment, wondering what they were talking about, then realized they were right. Just shy of half a century ago, I graced this planet.

I guess forty nine isn't really THAT old...although, come to think of it, I can remember when cars had fins, so that can't be good. Still, I get this feeling there has to be a mistake somewhere. I mean, at the age of forty nine I should be an adult, and all 'adulty' and stuff. I don't feel adulty. I feel fat and tired a lot, but I never really considered that to be the same thing. Maybe I've had an over glorified idea of what it's supposed to feel like being an adult.

Anyways, if I'm still counting them then I ain't dead that's something. That's a lot of candles, though. Maybe this year I won't even bother with the candles and just set the damn thing on fire. The kids would love it. Or maybe I'll just go out and eat Chinese food...good grief, how old do you have to be to have that for an idea of how to celebrate your birthday? This might be worse than I thought.

And speaking of senility. I went to Sheridan's camp out and watched him get his Bobcat badge at the bonfire beside the river. So what did I forget? The camera...that thing that is usually glued to me whenever I go somewhere with the kids. I had even freed up a lot of space on the memory card for the event, then forgot the  stupid camera. Argghh! It was a cool event too. Sheridan loved the snipe hunt.

So, I guess that's it for now. I'm all tired and sandy from the campout...and being I guess I better get my rest. I need it.

Have a good weekend!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Weekends, Interviews, and Stuff

So I got a blog interview by T.L. Haddix. It's part of a series about writers who waited until over thirty to write, and I suppose I certainly qualify for that.

On another note, we are going to take Sheridan on a day trip to his Cub Scout camp out. We are going to only stay for the day, as we just aren't prepared for camp outs yet...especially with Rowan along. We are going to have to come up with a solution to that problem, because I don't want Sheridan having to miss out because of things like that.

I don't know if I will get much writing done this weekend. I'm currently finishing up a short scene in Argiope where Olivia has a short confrontation with an Elder and his wannabe nephew, then I begin the scene where Adam and Antonio have their first encounter with the "bad guys" on their own territory. So big scenes coming up there.

I've also been making a point to read more often. I had fallen out of that habit a few years back, probably about the time I started writing. I think it's a good idea to get back into it a little bit. Both for creative purposes, and for enjoyment. I guess everybody should stay up on whats going on in their field, and in my case the easiest way to do that is to read books. So now I have an account at Goodreads.

Anyways, I'll be out of the house all day Saturday, and have no idea what I'll be doing Sunday. So I guess I'll just wish everybody a happy weekend, and update on Monday.

Have fun!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Toiling For Great Justice

It's Friday...glorious Friday!

After three wearisome days of sipping mocha's at Starbucks while waiting for Rowan's therapy to let out, I finally get my one day of the week where the both the kids stay in school all day, and there are no Cub Scout meetings to prepare for in the evening. It's almost like a day off :)

I'll probably use it to write and do some laundry. I still have a cough, and the lingering effects of that cold kind of dragging at me, but the mountains of laundry that have accumulated during my illness are not impressed with my feelings on the unfairness of it all...and refuse to disappear of their own accord. Sigh. I'm sure this is bad for my sensitive artistic nature, or something like that.

Anyways, I'm at sixty two thousand words on Argiope so progress is slow but steady on that front. I can already tell this novel is going to be a mess when the first draft is finally finished, and is going to need heavy revision to correct for things like changes in writing style since I first started this book and shelved it last year, balancing of characters, character tweaks to the main character, and a complete rewrite of the prologue...but the main thing now is get the story done and all the rest is gravy.

As somebody once said (and I paraphrase)..."Nobody writes a good book, but some people rewrite great ones." I have learned that to be true, and one of the great unspoken truths of writing. That first draft must contain a good story, but it's going to take several more drafts to turn it into a good book.

Ah well, onwards and upwards!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Being Good

So I went to Target to get some chamomile tea to help my son sleep. When I walk in the store, I have to walk past a little in-store Pizza Hut they have on premises. That's where I almost got in trouble.

I am gluten sensitive, which means that things made with wheat tend to make me sluggish, sleepy, and stupid. It also doesn't do wonders for my writing production. So cool things like hamburgers, chili dogs, submarine sandwiches, and Italian food just don't exist in my world. I have gone a long way towards striking them from my mind and not seeing them when I chance upon them.

Today, that didn't work so well.

I was walking past that little in-store pizzaria, when I became aware of pizza. And I mean AWARE of pizza. Suddenly, the joys of melted mozzarella acting as a luscious bed for spicy pepperoni came crowding back into my mind in memories enhanced by long forgotten sensations of taste. I stopped at the door, and literally had to fight not to drool at the sight of their little pizza display. I wanted that pizza. I needed that pizza. My mind started negotiating with my wavering willpower for that pizza. It made promises of "only once," and "a little won't hurt anything," and "at the worst you go two or three days without the worst."

Not since I quit smoking six years ago, have I ever had a crisis of will like I did then.

And I prevailed.

Yes, dear reader, I struggled and fought with my inner oregano-fortified demons and managed to slowly turn away from that den of temptation...ever so slowly, like a zombie from a Romero flick...and shamble away. It was a very emotional moment, for it was a victory that tasted of ashes...when defeat would have tasted of glorious pizza. After getting the tea, I left by the far exit of the store to avoid walking past the place again,  and took the long walk to my car in the parking lot.

I was bloodied, but the battle had been won. Tomorrow the hearts of men may fail, but it wasn't on this day. Not this one.

Oh well, back to writing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another Milestone

Whoop! I have passed the 60,000 word mark on Argiope. I think that puts me at about sixty percent done, at the rate this book is going. It's going to be a little longer than my first novel, but that's okay. I just want to try and get that first draft done by January 1.

Today, I worked mostly on a conversation between protagonists. It's actually sort of a silly one, but one of the talkers has an agenda. The main thing I realized while writing it is that I'm going to have to go back to earlier conversations in the book and expand on them a little. They're kind of abrupt in style compared to the later ones. That's okay, this book is evolving as I write it, and it's a real learning experience. It's my "B-movie in a book" but I'm taking it seriously. It still needs to be the best quality I can make it.

My cough is still with me, and I'm hacking up junk, but other than that I'm feeling fine. The only drawback is that it wakes me up at night sometimes. I guess it will pass too. It seems to be the only symptom left.

I'm also enjoying the Fifty Great Ghost story book, and I hope to have a review of it up by next Monday. It's giving me a lot to think about. It had some sister books out back when I was a kid, so I think I'll look them up as well. It makes a great resource for certain writing purposes. I'm going to have to decide upon a reviewing criteria. I want any review I write to be useful to the reader.

Oh well, I'll think on these things later. For now, it's time to make sure I'm ready for the kids in the morning. Adios!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Maintaining Momentum

I reached Fifty-nine thousand words on Argiope today.

I wasn't sure about a scene, but I chose to write it out and include it simply to keep my momentum going in writing this book. I may very well elect to come back and remove, or at least alter, this scene later. It's basically a small scene designed as a break between scenes involving the main character and his allies. In this scene a kid out hunting encounters one of the antagonists, and has a brief conversation/confrontation with her. The effect is to add a little depth to a what has been a rather effective, but two dimensional, character.

The problem is that at this point in the story, I may prefer to keep her two dimensional. At this time she has a certain impact when she appears, and I don't think I want to dilute that. But I needed to keep writing, so for the moment the scene is in the book. It's just one of those decisions that will have to revisited after the first draft is finished. Right now, I just want to get a first draft done before the end of the year. While putting out short stories and novelettes has made me feel kind of productive, I need to get another novel out there.

So I need to get about ten thousand a week written between now and New Years. It's doable, but a tad fast for me. It will definitely cut into my promotion time while sipping mocha's at Starbucks. Sigh! The sacrifices a writer must make!

On another front, Sheridan did well in his test at Cub Scouts and will be getting his Bobcat badge this weekend at the campout. I'm very proud of him. I'm hoping he gets to do a lot of things in scouts, and we'll try to make sure our schedules allow him to be as involved as possible.

Now it's time to make the put the old nose to the grindstone, which sounds to me like an rather bloody and unproductive approach to getting work done but I don't make these metaphors.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hacking and Wheezing into Monday

Writer's Night Out was cancelled last night, due to illness on Cherri's part. It sounds like she has the same thing I do, but is about three or four days behind me. I've gotten past the fever and chills, but I'm still hacking and wheezing like an asthmatic. So naturally, I went out to Denny's anyways by myself so I could do some reading and writing outside the house.

Sometimes it's just good to get away for a few hours. My Cowboys let me down again today, so there was no joy in the Mudville of my Heart.. (hey, that's catchy!) They have apparently decided to see if they can lose each football game in a fashion more stupid than the one before. So far, they are doing a swell job of it. Needless to say, I didn't get much stress relief watching my team.

On the brighter side, I did get fifteen hundred more words written on Argiope. I'm not even sure I will keep the scene, but at least it's written. It adds a tiny bit of depth, not a lot, to a rather unsympathetic character. I don't know yet if I want to do that, but it's better to have something written and available. At least I'm producing. So I'll continue this focus on Argiope for now.

Tonight is Sheridan's Cub Scout Meeting. His mother has been drilling him on his Cub Scout homework, so he should be ready. I think Cub Scouts will be good for him. It's just hard for poor Karla to find time away from her work schedule to help make things possible. She's really trying though, and doing great. We won't be able to attend the whole campout this coming weekend, but we'll try and at least drop by during the day.

Ah well, Happy Monday everybody!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekend Update 2

So we decided not to do Renfest this weekend. I'm still under the weather and we didn't feel like taking the risk of making it worse after all this time. So we'll settle for taking the kids to a nearby park, and then the mall. After that, we'll just come back home and watch the football games.

I'm actually working on the next scene in Argiope so that's coming along. I think deciding to focus on finishing it, as opposed to splitting my attention between projects, is the right move. I have had too many irons in the fire lately, and not getting anything done. Considering I'm at the halfway point on Argiope, it only made sense to go ahead and finish that one. Besides, I wasn't really happy with the work I have gotten done on the Khrem stories...and since those are currently my signature fantasy stories, I'm not going to settle for just anything there.

Gotta keep those standards high!

I also need to get back to reading. Ever since I have started writing, my reading has simply stopped. I hardly read anything but the occasional internet article anymore. So now I've found a book that made a big impression on me when I was a teenager...about thirty years ago. It's called 50 Great Ghost Stories, edited by John Canning. I even found one with the old graveyard and ghost cover like the one of yore. So I bought it used off  the internet and I'm starting to read my way through it again. It kind of puts me back in my grandmothers house, reading on the front porch while visiting her that summer so long ago. I think it will be my first book review on Goodreads.

Anyways, it's nice to be reading again and I hope it fuels my own imagination as well. I think my muse has been running on fumes lately. Here's hoping this perks the little booger back up...before I have to get rough with the little guy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Weekend is Upon Us

It's the weekend, so I slept in.

Anyways, I'm thinking of taking the kids to the Renaissance Festival tomorrow. The weather looks good for it, and that will get it out of the way early this year. I've always wanted to go to the last day of it in December, but every time I have tried it hasn't worked out and I ended up missing the festival for the year. So my strategy this year is go ahead and take the family as soon as I can, then try and catch it myself later. Sounds like a workable plan to me.

Now if I can just shake this nasty cough. Oh well, I can cough at Renfest just as good as I can cough at home. So, no excuses.

Got another scene finished on Argiope, now I need to come up with a scene to cut away too in order to break the flow a little. Oh well, at least a little writing is getting done.

The only other thing to report is that the Two Ends of the Pen  reviewed The Ways of Khrem. It got four out five stars, so I'm more than happy with it. Anything that is three out of five or above is a win in my book. I have a lot of confidence in the book, but I do enjoy it when other's like it too.

Anyways, I need to set a goal. So my new goal is to finish Argiope by the end of the year. It's already halfway through October, and I'm a lot further along at 57,000 words with Argiope than I am on anything else. So, lets see if I can have a working first draft by sometime in December, then the year will be salvaged. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

It's Friday

Okay, It's Friday...the end of a rather futile and mostly unproductive week. Writing wise, I got a little work done on Argiope but little else. I'm reconsidering the story I'm working on for the Khrem sequel, as I may have just put the wrong story into the wrong setting. The current story doesn't require the setting it's in...the sunless canals...but I have a possible idea for a story that might make better use of them.

I'm also a little unsure of the current story in that it's more of a pure mystery, without as much action that usually shows up in Cargills tales. Basically a simple whodunit in a taven/inn with a bit of politics and a gloomy Cargill on the side. I started recognizing the tone would be completely different than the rest of the Khrem stories so far, and stopped to reconsider it.

This cough that I've been having the past three or four weeks has started getting wet, which brings it's own fun and sunshine into the world. At least the fever and chills are gone. Just my luck, the cough didn't go with them. Grrr....

Been doing a little promotion work, mainly on kindleboards. I know kindleboards work because that's where I promote my short stories and they are selling. Kindleboards only provide a trickle though. I know some people advise using Facebook, but I've tried it and don't recommend it. I have never seen facebook work for anybody, so I just use it mainly for social stuff.  I think friends get tired of friends promoting PDQ anyways. It's too much like preaching to the choir.

I would .like to see another review at a book blog come in. That one three star review this month caused a small spike in sales....I would be curious to see if the phenomenon repeats itself. I'm hoping that if enough people buy my book over the next couple of months, it will start showing up at Goodreads. That would be helpful.

Oh well, that's it for now. I hope everybody enjoys their weekend!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Realistic Goals

I ain't what I used to be.

Part of my problem is that I'm trying to live up to goals that only a couple of years ago may have been realistic, but no longer are. I'm still wanting to churn out one publishable novel and twelve publishable short stories a year. I've done it before, and the uncritical part of just assumes I can do it again. Then I get frustrated and despair as I fall off that pace.

I'm just going to have to accept that things have changed.

My hands simply don't function as well as they used to and I type a lot slower than I did even a year ago. Then there is the fact the kids are occupying more of my time. And on top of that is the overrarching fact I've already plucked the low hanging fruit of the easy ideas I've carried around with me for years, and now I'm having to work harder to come up with new ones. And it seems that this is my autumn to be sick, just to add that icing of misery to my layer cake of discontent.

And, of course, as I get less done my mood goes south. So unless I just enjoy wallowing in misery I may need to downgrade my expectations  a little. That way I stay the happy cheery person I'm known for being.

Regardless, I actually do have a short story already written for that takes that pressure off. It's a Christmas story, of all things. Not exactly my usual genre. I'm not even sure what I'll do with it, but at least November is covered.

My productivity is still sputtering. I still think it has more to do with promotion and time usage than anything else. I've been really good on the GFCF thing, but have been to much under the weather to enjoy any benefits. It's hard to notice any increase in mental acuity when your head and sinuses feel stuffed with cotton.

Anyways, I hope everybody out there enjoys their Thursday.

Have fun!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Structured Time

Well, I seem to be closing in on part of the problem with my recent drought of writing production. It actually is the promoting. This whole process of having Word 2007 open in one window and Chrome open in the other just isn't working. I end up checking my numbers, or making a post on the kindle boards, or even checking a review blog...and the muse just leaves me. Then there is a long while of me just staring at a screen, accomplishing nothing, before finally getting some progress and then starting the whole stupid process over again.

So something has got to give.

Now first of all, let me explain one thing right off the bat. When you're a small writer, following your sales on Amazon DTP and Novelrank can become addictive pretty damn quick. You'll find your mouse cursor easing over towards the bookmarks to those sites...seemingly of it's own will. And on a regular basis too. So lets establish something right now. If I have an internet browser open, I am in promotion mode and no writing worth mentioning is going to get done.

With that in mind, what I'm going to have to do is start dividing my time into blocs. The whole hour by hour schedule would never work with me. I would wander off it quickly, get discouraged, and then the whole idea would fail. So I'll try this "time blocs" idea instead. Basically, divide my time into multi-hour blocs of writing, promoting, kids, and if there is any left over, housework. The main thing is just committing myself to the idea that for a certain segment of my day, that I will be focusing my meager mental and physical resources in a certain area and not splitting them. Maybe that will lessen a little stress too, and let me be a little less of a grouch.

I guess we'll see. I'll give it a try today and see how it works out. Tomorrow divides best into three blocs...
1. Waking till noon.
2. The two hours while waiting for Rowan at her therapist.
3. The time between 3 until Karla gets him around 6:30. This time features children.

So basically I'll work with that, and see what I can come up with.

We'll see what happens.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Major Holiday

Apparently this is Columbus Day, so in honor of his discovery of the New World I slept in. That's why my blog is late today.

I was sick and in bed over the entire weekend, so the house is now a complete catastrophe after having two little baboons run loose un-picked-up-after for two days. I supposed I ought to try and work up the energy to do something about that, but at the same time I don't want to dishoner the accomplishments of the great Christopher Columbus by indulging in menial labor on his holiday. A man has to consider these things.

I did go and meet my seven year old's second grade teacher today for a parent-teacher conference. Academically, he's tops in his class...other than that he's a little goober. We all knew that, so it's all good.

I also did a writer's night out with Cherri Galbiati last night. I know, I know...I was sick all weekend, but after spending thirty six straight hours in bed, and another four or five on the couch, I figured I could handle sitting in a booth at Denny's. I had to promise the wife to adhere to a curfew of midnight, which was just as well because I tired early. I'm still not 100% but I think I'm on the mend.

Anyways, we mainly discussed how hard it is to write and promote. They are two completely different mindsets that interfere with each other in the worst way. You can't really hop from doing on to the other, and to be honest it's difficult to even do both on the same day. They are just alien mental states, and so far apart from each other that once you're in one mode, the other seems out of reach. Yet these days, a writer has to promote or his work dies on the vine...or at least it works that way for most writers. There is always that one who throws their work up there and it just takes off and sells...and the rest of us congratulate that person while trying not to hate them.


Oh well, I'm behind on laundry too...but there is till the matter of the Honor of Columbus being at stake, so I don't know about that either. I guess we shall see what we shall see.

Thank's Chris ;)

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Today, the next addition to the Shades series, Wind and Dark Waters, went live on the Kindle. It has the picture up, but not the story description yet. I'll provide that here...

Shades: Winds and Dark Waters feature the first two short stories of the author's that ever reached print.
First up is Storm Chase. Bernie March is a small farmer in 1961 with a big problem. He left his tractor down the hill and near the river, but that's not the problem. Hurricane Carla is roaring in and the river is about to rise, but that's not the problem. There is a pale figure flapping in the wind near his tractor...exactly where he buried the wife he murdered three years earlier. That is a problem.

Following that, and a short author's note, is The World in Strips. Cathy just wanted a little adventure, and a chance to get away from her work, so she persuaded her husband to take a little boat ride down a rural creek with her. But how much does anybody really know about the world, even in their own county...especially nowadays when we experience the world in strips.

Both of these stories were published by Pill Hill Press, in their "Middle of Nowhere: Horror in Rural America," and their "The Bitter End: Tales of Nautical Terror" anthologies. Thanks go out to Jessy and Alva for giving me that opportunity.

Sigh, at least I got something published for October. Now I feel like crawling off into a hole somewhere and passing out. I went to bed with a fever at seven last night. After a night of chills and hot flashes, I woke up at seven this morning to discover I still have the fever and body aches. Blech! The kids are in charge today.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Arrglle Snarrglle...

Well, I had hoped that when I checked Amazon DTP this morning it would show that my newest Shades story had been published. Then I would have linked an image of it here, and revealed it's new title, and announced it and all that.

But it wasn' I won't.

On another front, The Ways of Khrem got it's first review at a book blog. It got three stars out of five, which is a good rating. The critic thought the book was a real page turner, but felt the pace was too fast due to it's structure for him/her to build a rapport with the main charactor. It's a perfectly reasonable opinion and I have no quarrel with it. I have resolved to not be one of those authors who is thin skinned and bristles at every criticism of their work.

I'm tentatively moving forward with Argiope, and I've halted and started doing some replotting with sequel to The Ways of Khrem. For one thing, I'm actually looking at the matter of pacing now that the critic brought that issue up. Now I might just decide that's my style and change nothing, but it never hurts to try and look at your work through other peoples eyes. Argiope was intended to be a fast paced book from the outset, so I doubt little will change. But it's still worth a look.

The fantasy sequel needs some plotting and outlining work due to some mystery elements that I need to get straight. It's a little intricate, and it turns out I can't write it by the seat of my pants as much as I did with the first one. It appears I'm going to have to -- *gasp* -- do some outlining. Sigh.

Work, work, work.

Oh well, at least it's Friday. This is now the one day of the week where the kids are gone to school all day, and I don't have after school activities with either of them. I love Friday. I cherish Friday. Friday is my friend.

So I will now get on with my Friday, and let you get on with yours.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Things Done

Well, I hit the publish button on the latest Shades story last night. Hopefully it will be available and ready to announce by this weekend. At least with that out of the way, I can feel like I have accomplished something this month, and maybe focus and getting a little writing done on other things. I used to be able to write one publishable short story a month. It would be nice to continue that trend and put them up on the kindle.

Anyways, another thing done is the house being relatively clean. The lady who cleans our house every Wednesday has been here, so something else is done...even though I really can't take credit for it. But it still feels good sitting in a clean house...and I'm sure getting somebody else to do it has always been an idea of mine anyways so maybe I should get credit for it after all. Just sayin.

I made a green chili and beef stew last night that was delicious. It was cool because it's been a while since I've done any real cooking...especially something new, and my own recipe. So that's another positive thing to feel good about. Go me!

I've also been very good and stayed on my strict verson of the GFCF diet, even forsaking my Mocha Venti's at Starbucks for the house coffee instead. I feel smarter, but I don't know how that translates into real world performance yet. Man, with all this being good going on I can feel that halo growing already. Either that or my hat is getting tight.

Both buses were late today, which meant extra time spent standing out in the cold. The kids wore their jackets for the first time today. It seems they have grown since last winter, and they now look like orphans wearing sweaters that are too small for them. Sigh. This whole growing thing is inconvienent and starting to cost in clothes. They need to give it a rest for a few years :P

Ta ta!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Things Evolve

In the field of writing, it ain't done until it's published. As can be seen above, the cover and title of the upcoming Shades is still evolving. Both the creature and the phantom have gotten "face-lifts" and the title has changed to "Rural Elements." The artwork is pretty close to done, but the title is still in flux. The manuscript is evolving too, as I tweaked it's html file to improve some spacing issues that were coming though on the kindle reader. I still need to center a couple of things better, and possible rethink the author's note, but there is now a possibility I might be able to hit the publish button this weekend on it. (Update--Shades: Storms and Dark Waters...hmmm)

We'll just have to wait and see.

Poor Rowan has a loose tooth. We have no idea how long she has had it, and she had no way to tell us about it. Poor girl, this was probably why she was acting so distracted at school last week. Now that she knew about it, her teacher said she saw her messing with and wiggling it. It also interfered with her lunch. Hopefully it will come out soon and not give her much trouble when it does. It's her first baby tooth coming out. She's growing up.

Sheridan managed to not cough his way out of school today, which was a good thing...especially since I was gone all afternoon with Rowan. He's still coughing, but it seems to have tamed a little. I've been coughing too, and I've heard Rowan starting up as well. Sheridan and Karla are on the downside of it, so at least that's something. It's only early October...I don't want to start catching colds and flus yet.

On the bright side, autumn and winter were my most productive times writing wise the past two years. I'm hoping my muse gets his groove on...or his lazy ass out of bed...and lets me start hammering those keys in a big way soon. I need to get some novels written.

I'm sorta in the mood to cook...maybe even experiment. Maybe I'll make Green Chile Stew tomorrow night. I'm sure the rest of the family will stick their collective noses in the air and yell "Eww!", but being the cook sometimes means you get to make what you want. I'm sure they'll live.

Ah well, I just realized I don't have anything for Rowan's lunches tomorrow so I have to make a midnight run to Walmart.

Lucky me :P

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Currently in the Works

The next addition to the Shades series, it will include the short stories "Storm Chase" and "The World in Strips."

There are different versions of the above cover in existence, and a couple of others being developed. I just thought I would show what I'm currently working on. The main things that I'm going to work on are the title and the critter in the background. I'm not really happy with either. I'm debating calling it Shades: Countrycide. I've also got to edit the html file on the manuscript I've made, then make another .mobi file and see if I can get the formatting fixed on it. Work, work, work. But with a little luck, I might have another Shades out before Halloween.

The boy got sent home from school yesterday for coughing. No fever, not feeling sick...just coughing. Sheesh, back in my day you had to be bleeding from at least two separate locations and showing symptoms of a major communicable disease before they would actually send a kid home. Of course, back then they could give a kid a cough drop. I don't know, sometimes all this so called progress doesn't feel very much like progress at all.

Today being Tuesday means I'll be working at Starbucks later today. The joy sort of went out of that since I'm being strict on my GFCF diet at the moment and can't have my Venti Mocha's. Instead I'm just ordering their house coffee. Today I'm bringing ziploc bag full of sugar with me since I get tired of watching all the other patrons stare at me while I empty one tiny sugar packet after another into my cup in a futile effort to sweeten it. Dammit, I like a little coffee with my sugar! And what's with those little packets anyways? Pitiful! Another area where "progress" could use a little work.

Oh well, I guess it's time to get up and get busy at getting busy.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Morning, October

It's Monday morning, and October is in the air. In the picture above, the kiddos examine our neighbors Halloween decorations as they wait for the bus to come pick them up for school. Halloween is still almost a month away, but with the cool air this morning you could almost feel the first tingle of it around you.

Gotta go mail off another book today. This is my latest venture in trying to get noticed in the writing world. I'm submitting my book to any review bloggers who will agree to view it. It's actually a bit of work, because you have to find the blogger, query the blogger, then hope you don't get rejected...I've gotten rejected several times because apparently these folks are busy...and then if they do agree to read your book you have to get it to them in their preferred format. Finally, you get to cross you fingers and hope that whenever they get to yours in their long list of reading material, that they are in a good mood when they read it.

Blech! This  plan still doesn't have the same panache has Harper Collins sending supermodels to my doorway with bucketfuls of money.Why couldn't they have just cooperated?

Oh, well. It's cub scouts Sheridan will be thrilled. That means I have to get done whatever I intend to get done by the time the kids get home. That's usually the case though, anyways.

Now I've just got to get back to writing. My current status is...

55,000 words into Argiope
5,000 words into The Lords of Khrem
Pulled up one Christmas story called The Ornament for revision.
Considering publishing another old story, The World in Strips, as a Shades story on the kindle. Must make a cover for it first.

Oh well, thats enough for now. Have a good Monday, folks.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

From "Murder at the Dead Pelican"

Before me loomed the vista of Khrem’s sunless canals.
A century or two ago, after a series of earthquakes, the tip of the peninsula that holds Khrem sank into the sea. And like many situations involving the history of the ancient city, the story isn’t quite that simple.
It seems that the earthquakes were doing quite a bit of damage, and people were getting desperate. Some were even fleeing the city for the outlying towns and villages. Merchants were closing shops and caravans were leaving town half empty and weeks ahead of schedule.
Then an alchemist named Orasvis announced that he had made a mechanism that would stop the earthquakes and save the city. Needless to say, the citizens were skeptical and Orasvis was for the most part ignored. Regardless, he publically claimed he would activate his “earth tamer” during the next quake and put an end to the devastation.
Five days later he got his chance.
History gets a little vague on what happened next, but the consensus is that once the quake was underway, Orasvis activated the machine that he had assembled in Admiralty Square. The machine spun into motion and there came a thunderous “SNAP!” that every denizen of Khrem felt through the bottom of his feet straight up to his teeth. The shaking immediately subsided, and silence fell over the city.
A great cheer then arose and Orasvis was proclaimed The Hero of The City, and the three Academies in Khrem all offered him professorships.
The next day the end of the city sank into the sea.
Apparently there were no quakes, thunder, or explosions…just the end of Khrem settling grandly into the Akartic Sea like a holed river barge. The process took about six hours, and a large portion of the old section of the city now found themselves standing on their second floor balconies and watching the water lap about a foot below. The further out towards the tip you were, the deeper you sank.
No quakes followed this event, and the majority of the city considered it a price worth paying to put an end to the troubles. They declared Orasvis a genius who had acted in the greater good and held a party in his honor.
The problem was that Orasvis lived in the part of Khrem that sunk, and his neighbors held a simultaneous party for him with torches and pitchforks…and a noose. That didn’t harm his place in history, though. He still got the professorships post-humously, and the greater part of Khrem considered the old-towners to be a bitter and narrow minded bunch who behaved poorly in regards to the whole affair.
I’m sure that made Orasvis feel better…not as good as a rescue effort might have, but I guess you take what you get.
Life went on…except for Orasvis…and the people of Khrem responded by simply building another floor on top of their now shorter houses. Since it is standard in Khrem for builders to have the higher floors extend further out over the street than the lower ones, the streets were already semi-tunnels with only a five to eight foot gap between the eaves. Nobody bothered changing the order of things when the new floors were built, and the sky disappeared over the new canals where streets had once been.
Now the canals are black tunnels that are plied by lantern hung boats, with the occasional manmade cavern where a square once stood, featuring a rectangular hole high overhead. Plank sidewalks jut from the sides of many of the structures and run along the gloomy waterways, with wooden bridges spanning the gaps between buildings. Some are hung with the occasional lantern, some are not.
And on this end, the dark urban rivers all emptied out into the Grand Canal that ran along the fault line that separated this part of the city. Orasvis Avenue ran along beside it, from near the Cambriatic Seawall all the way to the Nur River.
Fighting the urge to flee, I made my way down the stone steps to the landing where the boat awaited. 

Friday, October 1, 2010


The tenth month is upon us. It is October!

This has always been my favorite month of the year, ever since I was a little kid. First of all, it ends with Halloween, which was one of my favorite holidays. Then there is the fact that my birthday is the week before, and childhood images of chocolate cakes with candy pumpkins are conjured. My cakes have always been that, as long  as I can remember. Sweet chocolaty memories. I don't think it needs to be said that all diets are off on my birthday. :)

My in-laws are coming into town sometime today, which means Karla wants the house nice and spiffy and she has taken the day off to see that things work out that way. Fortunately for the kids, they get to go to school. I will try to keep a low profile and slip out when I see a chance. Then we can all come back once the in-laws actually get here and it's safe. Karla won't murder us while witnesses are around.

Sheridan has said he wants to be a robot for Halloween. I need to start plotting that. He could always change his mind between now and then, but it's best to be ready. I'll have to see what I can construct out of cardboard and tinfoil. I've got a few ideas in mind. Of course, he wants his robot to have missiles...and a laser...and a flamethrower...and lord knows what else. I'll see what I can do. I was once a little boy too...once.

Not much writing done today. I did a little work on my next Khrem story, but I'm not sure I'm happy with what I did. I guess I'll just keep keep it for now with the knowledge I can always come back and change it later. I suppose any progress is progress, so it's all good...but it really isn't very good and I'm not pleased with it. I'm actually sort of in the mood to write a ghost story, but I don't have one in mind. Blech. Sometimes being a writer sucks.

Happy October, folks!