Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sheridan!

Eight years ago today, Sheridan came into this world.

He arrived almost three months early, at the astonishing weight of two pounds and six ounces. He was so tiny that other newborns I saw being carried in the hospital looked huge by comparison.  Karla and I were probably some of the most scared and worried parents on the planet.

But he made it.

And he grew.

And he thrived.

And that thin tiny cry he uttered eight years ago has been replaced with a high volume, non-stop torrent of chatter and "kapows" and "bangs" and god knows what all kung fu and space opera noises the young human mouth can make. But he's healthy, and happy, and his heart is in the right place. He's a good kid, with a fast and agile mind that makes him think bringing home straight A report cards is child's play. I couldn't be a happier or prouder father

Over the years I've watched his passions morph from Wall-E...and now to Star Wars. Where he once sat enraptured in front of the TV by the exploits of Dora the Explorer, he now punches the air along with the characters of Dragon Ball Z. As a three year old he used to sit in my lap and ride the rollercoasters with me that I built on the computer with Roller Coaster Tycoon 3...nowadays he builds his own on that same computer. Things change...but they're changing in good ways.

He's getting taller, and louder, and faster, and I love every second of it. Eight is a good year, and I hope he has a great one.

Happy Birthday, son. I love you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Humpday Productivity

So Gerald Plimpton and his dismal girlfriend Holly will be joining the cast of Dead Stop. What I will do, is simply continue writing the story with them in it, and go back and insert them in a couple of earlier scenes later. They really don't do anything up until this point anyways.

I have also looked at some potential cover art for the Shades collection I will be putting together soon. I am waiting till I get the rights back on another story next month, so I can add it to the collection. And I'm also working on a short story on the side that might make it in there too. As it is, I will soon be pulling down and unpublishing the individual Shades story from

Mainly, my productivity the last couple of days has  been an archeological enterprise centered around chiseling down through the layers of clutter to see what remains of the house I remember living in years ago...before the kids showed up. My son's birthday party is this weekend and we are having guests, which means I needed to clear out room for them to occupy once they arrive. I've actually made good headway, with the help of my lovely assistant Karla.

Today, I will go get my car inspected and the tags updated. So more is getting done. This week seems to be mainly getting caught up with stuff that I've been slacking off driving around  with expired stickers and inspection tags for a month. So I've been really good the past two days, just not doing a whole lot of writing. I imagine my writing will be spotty between now and the party, and then I intend to accelerate and try to finish this story by the end of May. Yay!

Anyways, that's my news for now. Happy Humpday, folks!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jerk Substitution Alert

I am taking a pause, for a maximum of 24 hours, to consider whether or not to introduce a new character into Dead Stop, while I'm  at a place that I can do it without too much complication.

I had noticed that pretty much all the characters in this story were fairly decent folks (Well, except for one but she is killed off almost immediately). Here I was, bumping off people left and right, in horribly gruesome ways, and none of them were really awful people. It just seemed to me that I ought to consider the possibility of including at least one complete asshole into my list of victims.

So I've been pondering it...and I have a guy who might fit into the scenario rather well. Actually, he would even add something to one scene in particular...where he could carry a role that I couldn't really see any of the characters I currently had doing very well.  This guy would be a young, pasty faced psuedo-intellectual, who looks down on the other people in the truckstop while being absolutely useless and cowardly... and feeling victimized when this is pointed know, the type of guy whose life revolves around winning arguments on the internet. This would also be the guy screaming that the people wounded by zombies need to be locked up or thrown outside. Create some internal tension in the group.

I think I'll give him one of those little tufts of chin whiskers and a poly sci major. I might also include a sullen and long suffering girlfriend.

Anyways, it's just an idea and I will set a time limit of 24 hours to consider it. If I don't have a way to comfortably insert him into the tale by then, I will discard the idea and move on with the story I have. I want to move on with this story. I'll use the time considering tomorrow to get some other chores done, and then Monday evening write a couple of quick chapter drafts with him in it just to see if it will work. I would need to  go back and insert him into a couple of earlier scenes, but since he would hardly be talking to any of the locals before the zombie attack, that shouldn't be too difficult. He would mainly be background in the early part of the story.

I'll need to come up with a good "jerk" name. Phillip? Chip? (anybody named chip has to be a jerk, but I think more of a preppy jerk) Donald? Manfred? Hmmmm....any idea for true jerk names out there?

Oh well, thats what's up with Dead Stop.

I have survived the three day weekend home with the kids (after successfully scraping all the peanut butter of the couch Friday morning), and they had a lovely Easter. Rowan was very talkative and actually wished people Happy Easter. Sheridan had a good time playing games at his cousins house, and we all enjoyed a good family get together.

So it was a good weekend. Now it's time to get back to work.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter and Stuff!

So, I crossed the thirty thousand word threshold on Dead Stop tonight. Not bad for a story I only started on March 27th. I would dearly love to keep this rate of production up, but I'm not sure if that is going to be possible over the course of this weekend. It's a three day weekend for the kids, and somebody went and had a holiday at the end of it.


Anyways, writing around kids is just something I'm going to have to work on as the summer approaches. I'll have them both home all day over the summer, so it's going to behoove me to come up with some strategies to cope with that.

One of those is going to have to be writing times set aside for that and nothing else. Since the kids go to bed at 8:30, I'm thinking between the hours of nine and midnight will have to become scheduled writing times when I'll just have to have the discipline not to let my activities wander to other things. Being more focused will help make up for shorter writing times...a little bit.

Lowering expectations and choosing projects tailored to my time limitations will also go a long way towards preventing me from pulling my hair out. Dedicating the summer to nothing but short stories might be a good idea. That way I can feel like I'm getting more done while I'm actually putting out less word count. It sounds like a practical solution that will head off some bad feelings.

It's helpful to remember that thirty thousand words I've done over the past twenty four days would equal four or five of my usual short stories. So I have been productive. I just need to finish something so I can publish. Publishing is good. Publishing makes Nate happy. It's nearly the end of April and all I've published this year is one short story. So that needs to change.

Hopefully summer will provide that change.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


So, I'm now at roughly twenty eight thousand words into my zombie story. That's a pretty good pace for me, since I've only been at this for two weeks. The trick is to keep going.

And that requires motivation, direction, time, story, and opportunity.

Lately motivation has been figuring large.

I have been dealing with an array of motivations to get this story written, completed, and out the door. First of all, I wanted to try my hand at writing within a specific this case, zombies...and compare the sales results with those of my other stories. So there is the business angle for motivation.

Then there is the problem of my CMT spreading into my hands. My fingers have all lost a lot of strength, and now the outside two fingers on each hand are losing sensation. I have no idea how far that may go, or how long it might take, but I do have the reality of my hands having an expiration date as another reason to push onwards and start trying to up production.

Then there is the approaching summer and the reality of having the children home all day, which means a drastic reduction in writing time. I really need to get what I can done now.

So I'm pushing it. I'm writing, plotting, outlining, and trying to get this done as professionally and competently as I can. I'm following blogs and reading books that I find motivational. The effect is that I currently seem to be riding a wave of productivity. Here's hoping it continues...because it doesn't really count till a product ships.

So it's time to push onwards. Wagons Ho!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An Outline for Success?

So last week I wrote sixteen thousand words on my new zombie story. That's a pretty good pace of writing. If I could maintain that pace for two months, we would be talking a 128,000 word novel.

Now, I don't think I can keep that pace up, but I am pretty sure I know what has caused it. I was clearly visualizing what was happening in the story, and I knew where it was going. That let me write with a lot of confidence instead of starting, and stopping, and backing up, and trying different things. And at the end of part two, I decided to see if I can do something to maintain at least a portion of that success.

So, today I sat down and decided to outline the rest of the novel. That turned out to be a full day project in itself but I'm really glad I did it. I discovered a couple of things that wouldn't work ahead of time, and came up with a couple of other things that would. Not to mention, I now have a clear idea how it's going to end and it's actually a slightly better ending than the one I originally had. I know who is going to live and mostly who is going to die...and now I'm debating cutting a charactor simply because it doesn't serve a purpose. I've even improved one character, seeing how she could actually carry part of the story better in one place that I would have never seen without outlining the whole thing like I did today.

So, was it a success? The proof is still in the pudding. If I can get the draft of this story done in a timely fashion, then maybe I'll look into outlining more. I do know that if I ever pick up Argiope again I will outline it from the beginning to the end and then completely start over on it. A good outline could have prevented some of the problems I had with that story. I've just never done it before because I didn't need it for the Ways of Khrem because I saw that one so clearly...and short stories seldom need an outline. I may still play with them for a short story or two anyways.

Anyways the zombie story is progressing. It has one evisceration, and one tooth and claw killing so far. More blood is coming, so this is not a Nonnie book! Sometimes that bears repeating for certain family members out there. It's also kind of fun going to my wife who answers questions about certain things then suddenly turns arounds and starts saying "I'm not Listening!" when I try to explain what I'm thinking. I've never figured out how a veterinarian who deals with all kinds of gross stuff and was once absolutely forbidden to talk shop at the dinner table, can be freaked out by gore. Will somebody explain that to me? She does surgeries fer crying out loud!

Oh well....women. Who can figure 'em.

Have a Happy Humpday Folks

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blogging From Denny's

I've been sitting at Denny's, working on my story, and thought I better switch over to blogging while I still had battery power left. So I'm typing fast and at 39 percent battery power.

Work is proceeding pretty good on the zombie story. It's still titled "Dead Stop," and I might actually stick with that. After all, it's a pretty appropriate name for a night time zombie attack on an isolated truck stop. I've now bumped off two characters, and the second one was pretty graphic. I understand that that is sort of expected in this genre, so I'm trying to live up to that.

I have high hopes for this story getting done though. It has a couple of things going for it, that also were working for The Ways of Khrem. First of all, I'm "seeing" it. I'm visualizing scenes and the imagery is coming rather easily. Second of all, I have a rough draft of the story and how it ends in my head already. It's an ending that makes sense so there is no reason to give up on it like the ending I had in mind for Argiope. Third, it has a "song." When I was writing The Ways of Khrem, I had this song I would listen to from time to time to get into the mood of that story, and it would help me visualize and write it. That song was "The Mass" by Era. Well, Dead Stop has a song too. Oddly enough, it's Ghost Riders in the Sky. Maybe because two of the main characters are redneck slackers.

Hey, whatever works. Right?

As can be read in the snippet, the story also has a couple of waitresses as supporting characters. Since I come to Denny's from time to time, and I'm acquainted with some of the waitresses here, let's just say there was some curiosity exhibited on the fate of the waitresses in my story. I was greeted with "So, now you're bumping off waitresses, huh." as I sat down. I assured them that great care had been taken to make sure these waitresses had nothing in common with them...and I think they were somewhat disappointed by that. One even said she had looked forward to showing her friends the book and bragging about being the fourth victim eaten by zombies.

LOL!. I can't win.

Oh well, the words are flowing and that's what matters. Go me!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Welcome to the Hotel Raccoon

This is beginning to get seriously stupid.

I thought we would have had at least a little time since capturing the last raccoon in our attic before we needed to nail shut every hole into the place...but noooooo! Just a few days ago I got treated to the sound of scampering, thudding, and clomping going on above my head while I lay in bed once again. How the hell does a raccoon "clomp" anyways?

So out came the trap, and for lack of anything else on hand I baited it with vienna sausages. I realized last night that was probably a dumb thing to do since the sausage would only take about 24 to 48 hours to spoil and start to stink...but it was too late and the deed was done. I didn't look forward to crawling back up there to scrape the melted and mouldered gunk out of the little can, but fortune smiled on me...

This morning I awoke to the sounds of a raccoon testing the bars of the cage. Apparently this fellow wasn't as bright as some of his predecessors, and wandered straight into the trap. Or maybe raccoons have a weakness for vienna sausages. Who knows. Personally, another and even more sinister possibility rose in my mind as I transported the little booger out to the car.

Was this the same coon as before? Was he partying with the coons in the park, then crossing an entire neighborhood full of houses, yards, and dogs to come back to this attic for a while before wandering back into the cage for another free ride to go hang out with his friends again? Am I running a hotel for raccoons in my attic?

As I watch the released the raccoon in the video below, I couldn't help but wonder if this guy hadn't been through this before.

Anyways, I'm just kind of doing little bits of work on Dead Stop and Black Mattie. I'm taking it easy, and experimenting by picturing things in my head before writing them down. I think that's one of the things I missed about the early enthusiasm of my first stories...the fact that I was so clearly seeing them as I wrote. I'm working on getting that back.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Are We Having Fun Yet?

It's been a busy weekend.

We took Sheridan to a Cub Scout function where he was taught to use bows and BB guns, and given safety lessons in both. He took a while getting the hang of the bow, but with his very last arrow managed to get it to reach and stick in the target. He did a whole lot better with the BB gun, hitting the target six out of seven times and scoring one bullseye. Not bad, considering I was going to consider anything that didn't include winging a scoutmaster as a roaring success.

Then Rowan got sick Saturday night, so we had to leap out of bed and perform those parent duties involving midnight urpings. Sheets were changed, pillowcases yanked, and the unhappy kiddo thrown into the bathtub while Mommy tried not to retch from the smell. I thought for a minute there I was going to have a community puking contest take place in the bathroom, but poor Karla managed to keep it together. So we got through that too.

On another front, I started a second writing project. This one will hopefully be an addition to the Shades series, and  involves a cursed statue that haunts a town. The idea just kind of leaped out at me while researching some urban legends. The idea is to jump back and forth between this and my zombie project as the mood strikes me.

I think part of my problem earlier was that I had gotten too grimly determined to complete the task of finishing  Argiope, and it just sort of killed the whole thing. I was to the point I didn't even want to write anymore...and to a degree I'm still fighting that. Now I'm backing up and trying a lighter approach. I want to produce, but I don't want to force things. So I'm trying to have fun with my writing again.

I intend to do a little photography and research, while at the same time trying not to push things too hard. I'll be keeping my eyes open for graveyard statues and similar things to photograph for cover art purposes. Might look at some truck stops too, since the bulk of the zombie story takes place in a truck stop. Besides,  photo junkets and exploring can sometimes lead to stories that I hadn't even considered before. For instance, my trip to the graveyard of the vanished town of Port Sullivan to research steamboat destinations turned into the inspiration for the Shades story, "A Memory of Me" instead.

So I'm going to try and recapture some of my earlier enthusiasm, and hopefully that will result in a better writing experience...because turning it into a grueling test of will didn't end up working so well.  And who knows, maybe if I'll lighten up the inspiration will come more freely. The statue story idea was certainly a welcome change. Maybe not as frightening as the idea of Sheridan running around the neighborhood with a bow and arrow, but it still has promise.

Oh, one last thought as I read the story snippet in my last post. That scene needs crows. Crows would add something. And maybe the rumble of distant thunder. See how rough drafts work?