Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year in Review

2009 was a very good year for me as a writer. True, I didn't have any professional sales and I won't be paying my bills doing this any time soon. I don't have an agent yet, although it isn't for lack of trying and I don't have any books out with just my name on them, but I still consider this to be a very good year. It was a year that, I believe, saw my work get just a little bit better. I haven't received nearly as many form rejections as the year before and on a better note, I received more acceptances than I thought would be possible in a single year. Especially considering the number of stories I wrote. Let us get on with the stats.

Short stories written (completely): 14
Short stories sold: 14 (2 of these were in December. I made it into the zombie Western anthology and into the four horsemen of the Apocalypse antho as well)
Rejections received: 51 (I finally looked them all up)

On the surface this looks fantastic (I am including flash in this number because a story is a story no matter how long it is) I have sold more of the stories I wrote this year, either in their primary or secondary markets. Most of the stories I have left out in sub land (5) either are from last year or they haven't been out that long in the first place.

Words written in short stories: just over 25,000 (this includes one that I am still working on)

Not too bad. I can live with this number. It is the equivalent of 100 manuscript pages.

Short stories actually published in 2009: 10
words actually published in 2009: 14,765

Novellas, books written in 2009 (complete): 3; (incomplete): 4
words in those books: 114,000 (complete); 151,000 (incomplete)
books accepted: 0 (I really need to work on this)
Books out in submission land: 1 (I really, really need to work on this)

Now I could state my goals for next year and in writing them I might attain that but the acceptance part, while in large part due to my writing ability, is also dependent on the mood of the editor reading my material so no such goals will be put forth. As far as my blog-roll group as a whole I predicted good things to come last year and I was right. Of the 19 or so of you that regularly post comments on my blog 7 of you have sold books in single author formats either online or in print this year. That is pretty good company to keep. Congratulations to all of you. I hope more of us can join the ranks of you in the next year.

Would I like a better year. You bet. Who wouldn't. Will I get a better year. We will see. If I continue to see improvements in my writing then perhaps.

Here is hoping everyone has a wonderful New Year and I hope to see you all in 2010! May we all share many ToC's to come.

Monday, December 28, 2009

that was rough

Just went almost an entire week without internet service at my house. I didn't care for that, not one bit. We are back on and stronger than ever- even if the power still goes out periodically while they put back power lines. If you can't tell it has been a heck of a week for weather around here. Ice that accumulated to an inch thick and broke trees. Over a foot of snow (two feet in some places). I actually have a drift in my yard that is taller than my truck at this point. The temperatures are going to be below 0 here this week and they are calling for more snow. I won't even bring up the wind at this point. I am ready for spring.

I have managed, in my net deprived existence, to get a little bit of editing and re-writing done. I am almost to the half-way point of my novella. It is to the point where it is needing more work and, quite frankly, that takes longer.

in other news my end of the year wrap-up will be my next post. It will be full of statistics for those of you that like that sort of thing. Overall I can't complain about the year I had. Much better than I thought it would ever be when I started this whole writing thing. Have a safe New Year and if you happen to get blitzed and run around in the streets with a lampshade on your head please send me pictures. I won't show anyone :) I promise. ;)

Monday, December 21, 2009

'Tis the Season

I offer everyone who reads my blog a Merry Christmas (that would be you. Yes, you.). It is fast approaching and I am prepared as much as any guy can be. I guess. The presents are bought and wrapped. They are even under the tree, of which only one has been unwrapped by my youngest and had to be re-wrapped. The baking is done and tastes delicious. You will have to trust me on that because I would share but you would have to come over. We even have snow on the ground and it looks like that will be staying around until about March if Mother Nature has anything to do about it. She is even moving in a slow moving storm that arrives tonight and won't be leaving until Friday if the local weatherman is correct.

All in all I have to say it has been a good year. Good friends, good stories, good books (okay- great friends, great stories and great books). I hope that we can say that 2010 will be even better as we all improve with every story and continue to find our audiences.

Have a great rest of the year. I will see you around New Years.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Waking Nightmares

"I had the weirdest dream last night," Carl said as he wrapped his arms around his lover.

"What about?" she asked. Her voice was groggy and she cleared her throat.

"I was trapped in our house and a monster was after me."

"How did it end?" she asked.

"I don't know. I woke up before it got to me."

She turned to him and bared her teeth, "Are you sure?"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WiP, the unruly child edition

My current WIP is actually the same as last week. I have just changed the beginning. Now that I have started it (curse me for starting another story when I have so many others that need work) it has taken a life of its own. It doesn't know whether it wants to be a short story (it has so gotten over being a flash piece), a novella (a very real possibility at this point, or a short novel. I have thought up enough subplots to explain my mysterious prism and the people around it that a novella is probably where it is heading. another story with a very small chance of getting published but it seems to fit around the themes that I have been working lately, namely my stories Wine for Two (Ruthless Peoples Magazine, issue #3), Play Date (Sand, issue 5) and Monday Morning (still looking for a publisher on this one). They are ghost stories but not the boo, gotcha kind.

Hope everyone else has stories that are cooperating with them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

you can thank Aaron for this post

I am taking my cue from Aaron Polson and making a list of the small press purchases of the year. It was a worthwhile investment. There is some incredible reading out there that doesn't have Stephen King, Dan Brown, Nicholas Sparks, or Stephanie Meyer on the cover. I did fairly well. Many of the books or magazines I purchased featured works of those in my blogroll. It is great to have such amazing writers in my online circle of friends. So- without further ado- the books I bought over the last year from the small press. (and I have read most of them. Believe it or not.)

1. The Monster Within Idea by R. Thomas Riley (Apex Publications). In the top 5 books I have ever read. Easily.
2. Sand magazine subscription (Strange Publications) I look forward to the new format next year and hope I can take another subscription out.
3. Shroud Magazine (Shroud Publications) I think I took this one out this year, it may have been late last year. Well worth it, even though they have gone quarterly now.
4. Necrotic Tissue subscription (Stygian Publications) I haven't read these cover to cover yet, but I really like what I have read so far.
5. the Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon by Cate Gardner (Bucket O'Guts Press) this chapbook was amazing. If Nate offered a subscription on his press I would take it out as well.
6. Jack of All Trades by K.C. Shaw (Ancient Tomes Press) One of the nicest books I have read all year. My wife and I both enjoyed this one.
7. Malpractice (Stygian Publications) I actually received this one as a prize and have only read some of the stories in it. I like it so far.
8. Devil's Food (The Monsters Next Door) This one is gruesome, through and through.
9. Return to Luna (Halley Rilley Press) Some very good science fiction in this antho. If you like sci-fi I can't recommend it enough.
10. Monstrous (Permutated Press) I bought this book for 2 reasons. Aaron Polson and Steve Alton are both in it. It is great if you like the giant creature movies from the 50's, and I do.
11. Phantasy Moste Grotesk by Felicity Dowker (Corpulent Insanity Press) Wow, I don't know if there are any copies left (I believe it was limited to 26 copies) but if there are you should read it.great looking chapbook as well.
12. The Art of Science by Ransom Noble (4RV publishing) this short YA book is very cool and I went to school with the author.
13. Debris by Barry Napier (Library of Horror Press) I haven't read this one yet but I have read many of the stories in it and I don't think anyone would be disappointed in what he has put together. This one is on my early list TBR for next year.

Well, as far as I can tell that is it. I don't know what subscriptions I will be taking out this upcoming year or who in our group will be published next but I am looking forward to it. I knew it was going to be one hell of a year for our little group and I was not disappointed. Good luck to everyone next year. I look forward to breaking the bank buying all of your single titles again next year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Goals for the week

I don't know if this will do any good, but I am setting goals for the week with my writing. I will probably fail miserably but at least I can fail in front of all of you. Here we go-

1. I will finish my triangulation story. As polished as I can get it and submit it. It will not be a horror story, but many of my stories aren't. I can live with that.

2. I will re-write the first third of a novella that I wrote last spring. This should amount to the first 40-50 pages or so. It should be interesting and I hope to turn it into more of a ghost story than a suspense thriller. I think it will add to the suspense when I am done.

3. read, read, read. I am far behind on my reading for the month and I really would like to get caught up. I hope that my boy and his new fascination with play-doh will not get in the way of this goal.

I think that should do it. I don't need to set myself up for blatant disappointment. I hope everyone had a productive weekend, even if it wasn't writing. It is easy this time of the year to get lost in everything else that is going on as we are only a little over 2 weeks away from 2010. Have a nice day.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday (TGIF)

We are slowly getting back to normal after our blizzard on Wednesday. They are at least having school today, although the buses will only run where they can because they haven't got all the gravel roads plowed out yet.

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of the day editing. Several hours worth. I think it was worth it. It had a lot of problems and i think I fixed most of them. I also managed to submit said story and now I can wait, and wait, and wait. . .
maybe I work on something else to kill the time.

I love being a writer. how is your week going?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

WIP Wednesday

It is a blizzard here. I have large drifts of snow behind my garage doors that are probably taller than my truck at this point. The wind is blowing like crazy and occasionally I lose sight of my mailbox which is only about 20 yards from the house (probably closer). Not a single car has traveled the road this morning, mostly because the plows haven't been by yet. As I am writing this my wife's job called and said they are closing for the day. I think the only thing open around here are the grocery stores and no one can get to them.

I saw yesterday that the Triangulation Antho series is open for business again. I subbed to them last year and didn't make it in, so I thought I would try again this year. The theme is End of the Rainbow. Interesting, or so I thought. I am giving it a whirl. Here is my opening-

It was the last thing I received from my grandma. A prism. At least that was what she called it. It always sat in her kitchen window, which oddly enough, faced the north and never caught the sun.
I could never get it to work, not even on the most brilliantly sunny days. My father speculated it was cut wrong and couldn't refract the light properly. Still I kept it, in my kitchen like she had, even though in my tiny apartment the kitchen had no windows.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Wonderland (or the white apocalypse)

It is the second snow of the season, the first was exceptionally early in October. The tenth to be accurate. This snow actually stuck for more than a couple of hours. They are calling on another 6-10 inches tomorrow and high winds to go with it. It could turn into a full fledged blizzard. I hope not, but it could.

I honor to commemorate this first snow of the season I am getting my truck worked on and making sure my snowthrower runs. I think I need to change the oil and put a new sparkplug in it. I should also get new gas for it. In the meantime, I might try to get some edits and re-writing done, although it isn't looking good for such frivolity. Here is a picture out of my backyard for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another religious holiday in Iowa

Today starts one of the most important religious holidays to many Iowans. Shotgun deer season (we don't allow hunting deer with rifles in this state) opens day and even though the sun is not yet up it is light enough to see the hunters driving by with their blaze orange vests and caps on. It is tamer than it used to be around here. My first year in this house it was almost scary. We had no neighbors that we could see (we have 2 now, the nearest is 1/4 mile away) and I watched in horror as some hunters, known by the locals as the cowboys, drive a herd of deer from their trucks, half of them loaded in the back. They almost caused an accident in front of our house by pushing the deer into the path of an oncoming car. I know at least two of the deer didn't make it out of the field next to my house, at least not on their own.

I am a more civil hunter. I prefer to wait or take a nice walk through the trees, by myself. I will give credit that the way they hunted they had a much better chance of getting something (like being shot) but I prefer my way to theirs. It seems more sporting.

In writing news- I managed to finish one story I have been working on since October, now I need to sit back and edit it. I also received a nice form rejection from one of the mags on Cate's list, Shock Totem last night. I will look over that story and figure out where it shall go. I might hold off on sending it out until the beginning of the year when Necrotic Tissue and Shroud re-open for submissions. I like the story too much to give it to the first market I come across. I don't know if that makes me a snob, but I don't care.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday post

Don't you love the title of this post. So original. So thought provoking.

Really, I have been up to amazingly little this week. I have gotten some words down, but not very many. I have worked on reading some friends stories, but I haven't made it through them (and not because I don't like them. Quite the contrary, they are actually some of the best work I have read from these people.). I have tried to work on re-writes of my own stories and haven't made it past the first chapter.

Some weeks are like that. I will get over it. Maybe today will be more productive. How is your week going?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December, in like a lamb

I know, March is the month that comes in like a Lion and out like a Lamb but I think that December is where the Lamb exits stage right. mostly because it is supposed to be almost 60 degrees today and tomorrow it isn't going to get above freezing. Lucky us.

I was wrong about my post yesterday. I said I probably wouldn't get any more rejections in my inbox before the night was through. I was wrong. I got a lovely personalized rejection from an agent. Apparently she really liked what I was trying to sell, but it isn't what they are buying right now as they are narrowing their focus as an agency. At least it was encouraging. It was at least the most encouraging of all of my agent rejections so far this year.

I don't know how much writing is going to get done today. My daughter is home sick from school (the stomach-like flu strikes the Eyberg household again) and both children are being exceptionally demanding this morning. I will see where this afternoon goes. I would like to work on my NaNo story and get it closer to done. I still think it has some teeth.

Now, as we go into the last month of the year, I must get going myself. Later.

Monday, November 30, 2009

End of November

Well, it is the end of November. I have little hope that I will actually get any more responses this month (although it could happen) so I will start this post with my stats.

Accepted stories: 1 to 52 Stitches called 'The Problem With Gnomes' I like this little story and I can't wait to see the rest of the line-up.

Rejected stories: 2. both of which have gone on to find where they properly belong. (I hope)

Stories written: 0. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I couldn't even finish my nano book, although I do have a damn good start on it. I am also working on a short story that I have yet to complete. We will tack onto this stat that I still managed to write 43,000 words, just not all in one story. I can't complain. It was probably my last year to attempt NaNo. It was fun. Everyone should do it. At least once.

Published: 1. 'The Passenger' has been published, and beautifully I might add, in Midnight Echo. Link at the right because I am lazy today.

In other news I am a picture of health. Thanks to everyone for the well wishes. I went to the doctor today (3rd time this month) and after running a battery of tests usually reserved for men almost 2X my age, they have declared me to be in good health. While they could come up with no concrete reason why I have problems breathing sometimes lately I am happy to say that my heart is in good shape, especially. I am also in good shape, although after running the stress test I have found out I would have to do a lot of conditioning to get in shape for the Olympics. I guess that ship has sailed because I am not interested in doing that much work. I will stick to writing.

That is good because I have some stories I need to get back to work on. December is upon us. Hope you all had a good November.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving

Tomorrow celebrates the 388th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving in this country. it was a long hard summer and they learned a lot about the land they lived on, their new neighbors, and about themselves as well. It was as good a reason as any to celebrate the end of the harvest and hoping that they would make it through the winter months again.

Brings into focus all of the struggles we have to deal with on a daily basis. The broken ATM machine, the grocery store is out of the bread that we like, the internet is SO slow. It really makes it seem kind of pathetic. I wonder what our children will look at and expect from the world (This microwave is taking too long, its been like 5 seconds already). Or if we can find our roots and take the tough road because it will make us better in the long run.

I hope we can look at tomorrow and say, yes, we can persevere and grow from it, gain wisdom and move on, embrace new things and share with others. Let us hope we can get through the next winter together.

Monday, November 23, 2009

One week to go, 15K left

I have seven days and 15,000 words to go in my NaNo project. I actually think I have closer to 25K left in the story but that is for another day. Either way, I don't know if I am going to finish on time. It is looking pretty bleak. Life is just getting in the way this year. I will still try and I am still enjoying the story that I have going so we will see where I end up next Monday.

Mind you, Monday morning I have a Dr.'s appointment and I don't know if they will decide I need something drastic like heart surgery then or not (I don't think that is in the cards, but I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't need stents). If I do it will put a damper on my writing plans for the rest of the year.

Still, I can't complain. I haven't had a month where I have written 35K in one month this year. It might be more but I haven't added my short story numbers in yet.

Now I am off to grill steaks and make nachos from them. My cardiologist would be so proud, cheese and red meat on salty fried chips and don't forget the sour cream. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A little about me

Okay, I know this is a writing blog but I am going to post this here anyway. Yesterday I went to the Dr. to get some tests run. Blood, chest x-ray, and an EKG. I am thirty-five by the way. The blood work came back good. No viruses, everything normal, cholesterol is a high but I have known that for years and changing my diet hasn't helped. The Chest x-ray was clear. The EKG showed a partial blockage in the right ventricular arteries.

So, basically I have the mind of a child, the body of a healthy 35 year old (I'm not overweight according to my Dr.), and the heart of an old man. I am going in for a consultation in December. I don't know what that will entail and I don't know if surgery is on the table (the rest of the males in my family on my mom's side are full of stents) or if they are going to try the med route. I am hoping for the latter, mostly because the thought of having them push a small tube through my veins makes me a little queasy.

Needless to say I didn't get my writing done that I wanted to yesterday. All morning I was waiting for the call back about the tests and then I was looking crap up, trying to find out all I could about it during the afternoon. My total word count for yesterday was a measly 1200 words. A far cry from the 2800 I wanted to hit. So today I find myself 3100 words behind schedule and ready to go. No more distractions for me today.

So, in conclusion. I am okay. things are under control and now I must get back to writing, my book is looking like it might be short anyway.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Midnight somewhere in the world

My very short ghost story, The Passenger, is up in Midnight Echo issue 3. The issue is flat out cool with an awesomely done comic and a couple of Stoker winners headlining the ToC.

My NaNo progress was slow yesterday, I was sidelined with two Dr. appointments (One chiropractor, one regular Dr.) and grocery getting. I had to conclude my Dr. visits this morning (I hope they are done anyway) getting some tests. Nothing major, just making sure my family medical history isn't going to haunt me anytime soon. That and it has felt like I have been standing in a pool of water up to my neck when I breathe for the last couple of weeks. I hope I have a case of asthma or something like that.

Anyway, I had better get to writing. I was pretty well caught up when I woke up yesterday morning and now I appear to be behind again on my NaNo book.

Words: 27,069 goal by the end of today: 30,000 (you can laugh now, I am)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Still behind, but gaining

So this weekend was spent running around. I managed to make it into the largest cities in two states in two days and still managed to write about 3400 words. 1700 of them were in the car yesterday on my way to Des Moines, where, thanks to an old college buddy I obtained Office Pro 2003 (I know, it is already years old, but it should be able to transform .doc files into readable .rtf files which is all I really want to do with it). Hurray for friends with more tech gadgets than me!

In other news I am still behind on my NaNo project, but only by a day so I can catch up to that, I hope. Still, other writing stuff needs to get done in the meantime, I have a short story I need to finish and submit (thank God for the new program). Also my story threw me another twist last night. I will be curious to see how my characters cope with this latest wrench thrown in the works.

And if anyone needs a laugh, I mean a really good belly laugh and you even vaguely remember the 80's then go to Carrie Harris's blog today and watch the video she has posted.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday, Thank goodness

I would post a flash story today, but I don't have any to post. Sorry.

Instead I will post my progress on my NaNo book. I am 100 pages into it and not quite to the 20 K mark. I should hit that pretty easy this morning if the boy and his propensity for puzzles doesn't get in the way.

I have been amazed how I keep thinking of stories for the second and third tier characters in this book and giving them complete lives. these lives are only in my head so far and not on the page. They only have lives on the page as long as it moves the other characters story forward. It has me thinking of books like John Dos Passos's Manhattan Transfer or Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio. Both are excellent books that deal with the intricate natures of our lives and the way they intertwine with those around us. (Yes, I had to study both of them for English Lit classes in college.)

I am still hoping to get caught up and perhaps get a little ahead over the weekend, but I don't know if that is going to be a pipedream or reality.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Keepin' It short

I am a full day behind on my NaNo book. Taking a three day vacation will do that to you I guess. I plan on catching up completely over the next couple of days (I think I have started that before). So as of yesterday I stand at 78 pages of text and 15,094 words. I think I use big words or something because at that rate I will be at just under 300 pages before I am done. Doesn't matter, it will get done.

Anyway, this book isn't going to write itself, although it is trying its best and is going pretty smooth. Still, the computer insists that I actually pull up the program and type words into the file to accomplish my goal. Thank you to all of you cheerleading out there, it means a lot and it seems to help.

I gotta go. Later.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday

I am writing this from my hotel room. It is a nice room, a suite actually. The Fairly Oddparents is on the television and my boy has had me awake for an hour. I would take him downstairs for breakfast, but I need to get him dressed and his clothes are in the other room where his mother is trying to sleep.

My word count, while a little behind schedule is not so far behind that I can't catch up again (only 300 words as of last night). I am really getting into a lot of subplots that I wasn't expecting. They work well in the story and I am glad they have been found. It is giving the story a much more rounded feel to it than the linear story I wrote last year.

As long as we are talking well rounded stories, you should head over to Aaron and Jameson's blogs to find the locations for their newest published stories. Both are excellent little reads this fine Sunday morning.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NaNoWriMo, Barns and other flammible objects

Okay, so I am roughly 700 words ahead of schedule now, which means I only have about 950 to meet my goal. The writing is going amazingly well, and is probably amazingly bad by the same token. I would be amazed if this storyline is anywhere near publishable. It should probably be punishable.

Still, the story keeps on rolling. Words keep getting put on the page and I am having a good time. I hope to hit 10K by tomorrow morning if I am lucky. I have a feeling this weekend will put me behind again, but if this week has taught me anything it is that playing catch up is kind of fun.

In other news, my wife called on the way to work and the neighbors barn is on fire. It wasn't being used for anything other than storing some old farm equipment, but she met the fire trucks so she is thinking it is an accidental fire and not a purposeful one meant to get rid of an old building. Either that or they are trying to contain it from getting into the dried corn fields.

Have a good day. Until later.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NaNo, day 2

so I, like many others, am two days into NaNo. My word count is a little lacking, but I am not concerned. I was down 600 on day one and I am only down 400 as of last night (a net gain of 200). This isn't too bad considering I am only writing in quick bursts of 5-10 minutes at a time throughout the day. The strategy seems to be working and I should be ahead by the end of the week, just in time to go visit my sister and her new son (My nephew is a brute at 9 pounds 3 ounces). I am hoping the hotel time is productive time, following the same strategy of bursting. We will see.

In other news, Halloween was fun. The local funeral parlor had someone dressed as a zombie out front. I should have taken a picture, but I am not that quick. I promise if they do it again next year I will snap away.

Also I found out that the issue I have with my word processing software could be costing me sales. When I format in .rtf it does wonky things to the spacing, some of it is doubled, some of it isn't. Things that are centered aren't anymore and my headers are gone completely in some cases. Lucky for me I have a friend who is an IT guy and is giving me his old copy of Office 2003. I look forward to it.

Happy NaNo, everyone!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

October in Retrospect

I have managed to blow my record by not getting acceptances in October. This is the first time since November I believe. As they say, all good things must come to an end. I did receive seven rejections and managed to write two new stories and start on another (I still need to finish up that Zombie Western). I had two stories published. Beneath the Willows was published in Bards and Sages and The Glass Jar was published in Fissure. In an uninteresting side note both of these publication managed to get my name wrong. Bards and Sages fixed it but as Fissure is a chapbook form and has already gone to print I will be known in there as James Eyberg.

Today is the first day of NaNo and I should be working on that, but I am using this as a writing exercise and trying to loosen my stiff fingers (because getting old stinks). Good luck to everyone doing it and to all of you out there cheerleading us on, thank you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Finishing up

I am finishing up my October tasks. Mostly trying to finish, polish, some short stories so I don't have them lingering over me for November. I believe I have my 52 Stitches story ready to go, but I will check it over one more time. It is twice as long as when I originally wrote it. I really am glad I gave myself some time on this one. It needed the work.

Now all I need to do it finish a zombie western and then I am ready to go. Ready to bury myself in a book for a month and hope it doesn't suck too bad.

At this point my week is so screwed up I am not completely sure what day it is. It feels like Friday, but my calendar says it is Thursday and my mind still doesn't know where Wednesday went to. Still, I think I will be ready for the weekend, whether that is tomorrow, in two days, or a week away.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

T-minus 4 days and counting

I have been compiling information to get started on one of two NaNo projects I could undertake. Both are ideas that have been in my head for awhile, although I one is considerably longer than the other and I believe I will be going with that one. It seems to be just right for a month-long foray into the dark recesses of my mind that deal with the way people deal with each other, and if it sucks I wouldn't feel bad about it.

Other than that, my girl is home sick from school. It isn't the dread disease that everyone is talking about on the news, thankfully.

While we are at it, go out and buy Barry's new book, Debris.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Idea factory

I find it amazing where ideas come from (other than that blackened piece of my brain the rest of my body wishes would die off already). I was in a forum the other day and on a completely different topic than the one they were talking of when I read something that someone else had said and it got my brain going in a different direction. It was completely off the subject. I don't know how my brain came around to thinking what it did but it solved a problem I had been dealing with since I finished a story last spring. It was a novella and it never did feel quite right. Something was off and I couldn't figure out how to fix it.

Needless to say, the story has been sitting in a file since that time, uncorrected, unproofed and essentially unfinished even though I did write 'the end' on it. I think I have it now and I can't wait to get back to it and add several thousand words to it. I don't know when that will be, but it will happen, of that I am sure.

I am reminded of my flash piece, Playdate, which was in the last issue of Sand. It was actually inspired by a story that J.C. Tabler had written in the previous issue of Sand Called Crib Death. You may read the two and wonder how I got from point A to point B, but somewhere in that diseased part of my mind I made the winding trip. If you don't know what I am talking of go ahead and order copies of both, or you can wait until the year end antho comes out and read them both there.

How about any of you, do you get ideas when you least expect them from the most unexpected places?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just checking in

I really don't have a lot going on. My wife and I have managed to get most of our Christmas shopping done for the kids as of this weekend (just waiting for a couple of things to come out of back-order and to be released). Yesterday I spent most of my day hoping the house wouldn't cave in from the swarm of Asian beetles that the government decided was a good idea to bring into the country a decade ago. For those of you that don't know what I am talking about, they look like ladybugs and they eat soybean aphids which are bad to the soybean crop (although I don't remember them being a problem before). The little dudes will also bite humans and they stink to high heaven when they die. Another brilliant idea from the federal government *this line just drips with sarcasm*.

It would probably make a good horror story, if it weren't true.

So today I am going to be running errands and if I can find a few minutes I will be doing more outlining for my NaNo project.

That is all.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday at last, Now flash!

For this Flash Friday I am going to do a literary, experimental piece I wrote last year and had published in Literary Chaos print issue #1(link to the right if you want to see about buying a copy). It isn't horror, but I still liked writing it.

Life In Vignettes

It is dark. Light has not touched my skin. I have not been born.
This is the beginning. My story goes back further but this is where I start, deep in my mother’s womb. The muffled sounds of the world pulse around me as I contemplate my own existence. What will I be and who will I look like. My sex has not been determined by any visible means.
This is my life.

Light floods my eyes and drowns out the rest of my senses as I gasp for air. Hands reach and grab as I am forced out by my mother’s body. My own body is ready to live outside but depends on the body that has just rejected me. I am soon suckling a tit that tastes like sweat and pain.

I have grown older. Taunted, teased by so many an older neighborhood child as I walk down the street. My grimy hands holding plastic six-shooters as I wage war with invisible natives and bank robbers. I play alone in a world of millions, perhaps billions of others like me.

Adolescence now. Acne mottles my face. My voice struggles with pitch and errant boners strike me down as I try to understand girls and life in general. Running away is always an option but not a good one. I am frightened to die but scared that I may live forever like this.

College. My voice has settled as well as my pecker. My face is clearer. I meet new people who don’t know the old me. I struggle with classes but pass anyway. The future is still uncertain but the nightlife has improved.

Graduation. Silent parties of cards come in with the bills. Grim reminders of reality, expectations, and an empty wallet. It leaves me no choice but to carry on and hope for an early retirement or a sudden winning streak in the lottery.

My wife is beautiful. She looks elegant with her flowing white gown and shimmering shoes. I love the way her hair spills over her shoulders and envelopes her face like a picture frame made specifically for her. She smiles at me.

The children arrive and my wife yells at me to get off the couch, put my drink down, and get another diaper from the cabinet. I slump off to do this for her.

Graduation day comes for my children. I look at the people that they have become and wonder where the kids are that used to fall from their bikes and ask me to make it feel better. I wonder if I will ever be able to take them fishing again.

My children start to marry. I wonder what some of them see in their spouses but give them a smile and a nod to bless their choice. I remember being young and in love once too.

Grandchildren. Wonderful little moppets that I can load full of sugar and ambition and send home at the end of the day. It makes me feel old thinking that my children are in charge of these little people.

The day I have been working almost forty-five years for. Retirement. Day in and out of sluffing paperwork and nodding in agreement to the right people to get to this endpoint. I can finally get to work on that perfect golf game or maybe write that novel.

I lay in my casket. The tears of loved ones drip on my starched lapel. My spirit floats amongst family and friends as they make peace with my corpse. I make peace with my life.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WIP Wednesday, kind of-

I have had a slump of sorts. Sure I have worked and finished 2 (maybe three, I haven't decided if one is complete enough to be called a story yet, even flash) stories this month and I feel very unproductive. The first story took me ten days to write and was only 3900 words long. The second was only 371 words long and took me all day, a writers day, not a normal persons day.

Now, this morning I am trying to come up with a short story idea and I have three different tabs on my monitor, all are shorts, none are finished and I think they will all be deleted without being saved before I leave the computer this morning. Mostly because they not only suck, but they aren't going anywhere.

I am considering starting another book at this point. The other idea is to leave the rest of the month be and just read instead of write for a couple of weeks because the writing is going nowhere.

Now for something I have tinkered with this morning:

Still, I am finding it oddly relaxing, sitting here. Listening to the worms as they edge closer. Tiny scratching sounds like millions of tiny fingers working against the earth. So small, but in unison they could move the planet, change it somehow.
Even now I can feel the thump of footsteps above me. They walk with impunity, thinking little of what they are on and caring not, for the dead can't know.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Snowing in Hell

So it is October 12, 2009 and it is snowing for the second time in 3 days. The first time was actually a new record in our area. It had never snowed that much that early in recorded history. Now it is snowing again and that just seems cruel. It makes me want to rip an icicle from my roof and beat Al Gore with it.

Today I don't know if I will work on any new stories or not. I might just work on edits and re-writes from at least 2 different stories and maybe a 3rd. I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with something for 52 stitches but I am at a loss. I haven't been able to write a flash piece for quite some time now. I think I broke that part of my brain and I can't fix it with super-glue. I tried, but now my fingers are stuck together and for some reason my leg twitches all the time.

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Broken Shells

Jake looked at his friend in the ancient Humpty Dumpty costume. “I told you you were too big for it.”

“Shut up and get me out of this, it smells like old meat and cigarettes,” Bryan said. He was trying to reach the zipper on the back, spinning around in circles with his arms outstretched, hoping desperately that the next go-round would connect his fingers to the clasp that held him in.

“Hold your horses there Egg-boy.” Jake undid the fingers on his own costume, which looked nothing like the Cheshire Cat from the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland, even with the over sized smile and dark stripes, but it was the only one that fit him. He tugged at the zipper on the stained eggshell costume. “What the hell did you do?”

“I didn't do anything. You were the dumb-ass who said 'let's try these costumes on.'”

“Stop moving, I just about have it.”

“Hurry up, its getting hot in here and I gotta go.”

“Settle down, you won't be late for curfew. ” Jake said in between grunts. His fingers slipped on the clasp that held the zipper in place. “I don't know. We might have to go ask for some help.”

“I can't see a thing and I really have to pee, I don't have to be home for hours.”

“Oh,” Jake said and tugged as hard as his fourteen year old fingers could. Bryan's potty dance wasn't helping him out. “Maybe I could use the pliers my dad keeps in his truck.” Jake let go and started to cross the road to the blue Ford truck his dad had driven them in.

“Don't leave me here,” Bryan pleaded. He was grabbing himself, trying to hold back his bladder with one hand, and pulling at the top of the costume to see through the misplaced eye-holes with the other.

“Fine,” Jake said and walked back to take his friend's free hand. “Just stop grabbing yourself. What are you, three?”

“I can't help it. I shouldn't have drank that two liter of Mountain Dew.”

They started across the road as a dark GTO rounded the corner. The driver had his head tipped back, a bottle to his lips. Jake saw him and tried to pull his friend out of the way only to be clipped by the front bumper. Jake didn't see Bryan get run over by the car, but heard the crunch of bones and the thump of suspension.

By the time Jake dared to look the GTO was speeding down the road, a ragged piece of material clung to the undercarriage. Bryan, still locked in most of his costume, was twisted in unnatural forms and he wasn't leaking yolk.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The 'Ah-ha' moment

I love it when that moment comes. That moment that brings everything together, if not on the page yet, but in the mind. That point where you aren't quite sure where the story is heading and then AH-HA! Or maybe you are a Eureka type person. I don't know.

That moment happened to me this morning. I have been trying to figure out where to take this Scoiry story of mine and I have had several different paths I could take it down. The problem is that it is written in first person and you can't kill them off. Mostly because then you have no one to tell your story. I figured it out and now I can finish it and be happy because bad things can still happen to the living.

Tomorrow my flash story (that didn't make it into the finals, only the semi-finals) at the Shroud flash fiction contest will be up for flash Friday.) See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

One down

So we are down one week in October already. At this rate I am going to be scratching the bald spot on my head November 1st and going, Where the Hell did October go? Right after that I will be going, Crap! I have to start my NaNo project! (I would be off to a rough start on the first day of it and consider myself behind.)

I have been plugging away, a couple of hundred words at a time, trying to finish the story that I have been working on since last week. It is a slow go, but I think the effort is worth it. I am a little frustrated that the words aren't running from my fingertips like I think they should be. I have something in my mind that is making me edit it as I go. This is especially frustrating since I am not sure which information is relevant to the storyline yet. It might go in a direction I have not seen yet and wipe out half of the manuscript yet.

Anyway, that is where I sit, at a couple of thousand words and no idea where they are going, with November looming around the corner.

Have a good Wednesday. *sigh* here is the last little bit I wrote for WIP Wednesday (I almost forgot)

“Are you busy today?”

Something in the back of my mind told me to say yes, I was incredibly busy. “No, I've got nothing going on as far as I know.”

“Come on over to my friend's house.”

She hung up before I could change my mind

Monday, October 5, 2009

What weekend?

Another unproductive writing weekend. I am used to them. I have managed to submit two pieces this morning (one magazine folded, the other rejected) and continue work on my untitled work from my Wednesday post this morning. I think it is taking a dark turn for the worse for my main character. :)

I can do all of this because the boy is still asleep from last night (going on almost 14 hours of sleep now) so I thought I should be as productive as possible.

Anyway, I was told that my old heating and cooling guy in my hometown has published a book. I haven't been able to find it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, yet, so I am assuming he had it self published. All of the proceeds go to a veterans fund and I have been told that it is actually quite good (he was a pretty good storyteller and often did more talking than working) If I ever find a link to it I will post it, but that isn't the reason for my post. I found out that my hometown (not the town I was born in with the ax massacre but the one I was actually raised in for 16 years) was the inspiration for the 2005 Pulitzer prize winning book Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I had no idea. I still haven't read the book either, but I am planning on finding a copy now. You can read more about it HERE.

So, what are your hometown's literary backgrounds (other than you)? The world wants to know (and I am curious as well).

Friday, October 2, 2009

Doh!

I can't believe that I forgot that I had a short story published in Sand last month, plus I received a beautiful book called 52 Stitches. Yesterday my story Beneath the Willows was released at Bards and Sages.

So, yesterday I managed another 1500 words in my scoiry (to borrow a word from Carrie) story. I don't know how long this is going to end up. Something tells me far longer than will be usable in any short story market. I might surprise myself and pull it in under 7500 words. I don't know yet. I've got a few ideas where I could take it, I just don't know yet.

Last night, in one of the worst nights of my life, my boy (who my wife thinks is getting sick) didn't let me go to bed until 5. I think I am running on about an hour of sleep and I haven't had any coffee yet, mostly because I keep forgetting about it. Because of this I don't know if I will attempt any writing (my typing is seriously lagging and I am giving my delete button a real workout right now). I might try and find something on the History Channel and call it a day. At least until I have to go watch the homecoming parade that my daughter will be walking in.

Have a great weekend. A great, rest-filled, weekend.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gone in an instant

September, hello? Are you around here? No? Who the hell are you? Oh, Hi October.

September was quite possibly the shortest month this year. It started off great. I made my only acceptance of the month in Midnight Echo issue #3 (should be out shortly) and was published in Feathertale.com on their short fiction page. Other than that I received 3 rejections and one new hold as a semi-finalist for the Shroud short fiction contest #7, where we are still trying to figure out which Monday Mr. Deal meant.

Other than that I wrote no completed short stories although I did start one, and I outlined a new YA book that I have a lot of research to do before I start. I also managed 1 query letter that didn't look like crap and did more editing on my MG book, Big Chief's Gold.

I have no goals in mind for October, we shall see what the month brings although I would like to finish this story I have started and outline the book I plan on writing for NaNo. Not real ambitious but my kids don't take naps anymore.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Untitled WIP Wednesday

I have been slowly working on a story, in between notes for other stories, that I can't quite place where it will go. Could go scary, could go noir. Haven't decided yet. It is centered around a man picking up a beaten up girl after her beaten up car calls it quits on her miles from town. It leads him into a dark driveway he has never before seen in a town he knows all to well. this is the last little bit that I have written in it.

She got out, her spirits brighter already. “Thank you,” she said and handed me my phone. In the low light I could see how pretty she had been. The shadows hid most of the bruising. “Can you come in for a moment?” There was a hint of an East Coast accent in her voice.

“I really can't, but if there is anything I can do for you, just give me a call.” I reached into my shirt pocket and handed her one of my business cards. They were cheap, but they did the job.

She took it and looked it over, flipping it in her fingers like she had my phone. “I will.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

*Cough, sniffle, sneeze*

This post has been going around like the flu and I thought I might share my take on it as well. It is fun, everyone should catch this.

1. Are you a “pantser” or a “plotter?”

I would say mostly a pantser for my short stories. I like to see where the character will take a situation. For books I have to be a plotter, otherwise it becomes an unfinished book.

2. Detailed character sketches or “their character will be revealed to me as a I write”?

My characters usually reveal themselves to me as i write but i might know a few things about them before I start, usually academic and not personality.

3. Do you know your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts before you start writing or is that something else you discover only after you start writing?

I think this goes to question 2. I like to think I discover my character along the way.

4. Books on plotting – useful or harmful?

I've may have them on my shelf, but I have ignored every single one.

5. Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work?

I procrastinate until I get the itch. Once a story gets into my head it is head down and fingers going until I have to come up for air.

6. Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time?

I can burst for about 10-15 minutes at a time, take a half hour break and then go it again.

8. Do you write with music/the noise of children/in a cafe or other public setting, or do you need complete silence to concentrate?

*shhhh* Quiet, please. I'm writing.

9. Computer or longhand? (or typewriter?)

Notes get handwritten and then transferred to the computer before I can't read what I wrote anymore. Stories always get typed out.

10. Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One?

I have no clue where my short stories are going and if I don't know where a book is going I never finish it.

11. Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write?

Not really. I write what I like. I can't write were-beast stories but I can write a ghost story for example. I have never tried zombies (although I have a story coming out in a zombie antho later this year) and I really doubt if I could write a Nancy Drew Mystery but I might have good luck with the Hardy Boys.


12. Editing – love it or hate it?

It is nice to clean up a piece and make it presentable, but I really don't enjoy it as much as I probably should.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday :P

This weekend was good. I guess. I managed to finish my rough outline of my next YA book (I hope I can still call it that. I have to read Crank to see how that author handled some very sensitive subjects). Now I am working on sketching out my characters. In the meantime I want to start outlining my NaNo book (Or maybe it is the other way around and I have outlined that and am going to outline something else completely) I don't know.

I can't believe that the month will be over by the end of the week and the only things I have gotten done are outlines, query letters and edits. No new stories at all. Sadly, I am not planning on starting any anytime soon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Biblical proportions I tell you

I have had a brain surge yesterday and today. It felt good. It cost me most of a nights sleep, but it felt good. Still feels good. A welcome relief from the past month or so when I have had a collective word count of probably under 10K.

I didn't write much today, it was all notes, but it was words and a better part of a much longer story in now in outline form on my computer. I am ready to roll. I haven't decided if I am going to go back on my original NaNo story and use this one instead or start this one and then go into my NaNo idea. Either way, it feels good to have the brain working again. I think it was the large quantity of chocolate I inhaled yesterday at lunch.

I also managed to pound out 1500 words of a story I don't know how to finish (or if I ever will). I really like where I have taken it so far, with a very hardboiled feel to it, but I dont' know if I should continue it as a crime story (the way I originally intended) or take it into the realm of horror (which I could very well do the way I have set it up). Either way I need an appropriate monster, be it man or beast.

Oh, this feels good. I just hope it doesn't disturb my sleep for many more nights. Although if it propels my brain like it did last night I'll take it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ya, something like that

So after reading K.C.'s very nice book (Jack Of All Trades) I moved into the depths of my bookshelf for a collection. Someone I haven't read, at least that I know of. I figured this way if I was unimpressed with the writing it would be easy to put it down and move on to the next book. I picked a book from Apex Publications called The Monster Within Idea by R. Thomas Riley. So far I am 70 pages into it and from the first story (a little flash fiction piece called Attrition)it was like getting hit in the face with a ball pein hammer.

I am in awe of his very visual style of storytelling that doesn't hold back, even when he probably should. After reading K.C.'s book, which was a nice walk through the countryside (and English countryside at that), this book is a graphic depiction of the roller coasters in hell. He keeps this prose up and I not going to be able to sleep soundly for days. I might have to re-read Jack just to calm my nerves down.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another day

I can remember exactly what I was doing 7 years ago today. Mostly because it was the day my daughter came into the world. This morning as I sent her off to school (and she waited patiently for the bus, which was running late) I was reminded that because of her I am writing, again. If it wasn't for my children I would still be pounding nails, or working for a farmer, perhaps doing a factory job. I would probably not be doing any writing, even on days like today when the words struggle to make it to paper. Amazing how seemingly dissimilar events unfold to create the day that we have today.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jack is in the house

So last night I finished Jack of All Trades by K.C. Shaw. I don't know, you may have heard of her, very nice gal. Anyway, I don't know when I have liked characters that well in a long time. I can say that because most of the books I read have characters that are hard cases. The world she set up was complete and vivid and - charming is the best word to describe it. I really wanted to know what Jack and his dragon, Pepper (love that name) would get into next. If you haven't bought it go to Ancient Tomes Press and purchase a copy (or you can go to Amazon if you are so inclined) and buy a copy.

Something tells me that whatever I read after that is going to be a little bit of a letdown, so I might have to turn to a short story collection I have been eying for awhile.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Nice Weekend, I think. . .

It is Monday, again, and as soon as I post this I am back on the wagon. I have words in my head that will spill onto the page, not unlike blood on a wall during the 1912 Ax massacre in Villisca, IA . (I was born in that small town of 1,000 people). You really should check out that link.

Anyway, I got no writing done this weekend, far to many other things to do, like change oil, clean, laundry, take daughter and friends to zoo (with the rest of family) for birthday celebration. It was packed. I managed to get a little reading done; only 30 pages left in Jack and I can't wait to finish (I am just a horridly slow reader).

With all of that useless information, I will leave you to go write. I think I can get in 1500 words before my boy wakes up.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Squirrel!

By the way, the title of this post is a reference to the movie UP! If you haven't seen it you are missing out. Anyway, I feel like a squirrel getting ready for winter. I have been running around doing just about everything but writing. Sure I have done some edits and actually I wrote a query letter yesterday that (after countless drafts) I am proud to say is mine, but my word count on actual stories has been zilch lately. This morning, before the boy woke, I managed to pound out 600 words and felt pretty good about it.

The rest of my days have been spent running around, trying to potty train my boy, and working on the yard, trying to get it into decent shape before winter sets in. I figure the better it looks now the less work I have in the spring, when all of my good intentions turn into summer and then fall again.

In good news there is a really good book trailer going around the web today for Barry Napier's collection, DEBRIS. The book will be coming out sometime in the next month. Also, 52 Stitches is out on Amazon. I look forward to reading all of my favorite stories and reading a few I may have missed as the weeks seemed to fly by this year.

Hopefully it will be a productive weekend and this next week will get more words out that this week has. Until later.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Green grass and all that jazz

So, the story that was rejected (but just barely) on Sunday night was one of those stories when I wrote it I thought, "Meh, it is technically a story. It gets thrown back I won't blame them." We have all written them. Not quite to the best of our ability. This one I hadn't even bothered to file in my 'hasn't yet found a publisher' binder that I keep on my office bookshelf.

I went ahead and read through it, for the first time in nine months, and much to my surprise it was pretty good. Actually, very good. It needed a little more polishing but I think it is a piece that I would be proud to say I wrote (I can't say that with everything I have written, can you?).

It is kind of nice to be surprised. When was the last time your writing surprised you and what became of it?

Monday, September 14, 2009

time to think

Nothing like running a chainsaw for an afternoon to give you time to think. I thought of new plot twists and turns in my current WIP and in some older stories that I still like, but haven't found a home. Still, I managed to get no new writing in and while I got a little reading in, it wasn't near as much as I wanted to get done.

Still, I managed to get rid of about six ton of old trees, junk lumber and old railroad ties. Now my wrist is killing me; the largest log weighed about 400 pounds if you go by the standard for a cubic foot of douglas fir of 40 pounds and it was ten feet long (at least it wasn't oak which is 54 pounds/cubic foot). I couldn't cut it because I didn't want to risk hitting some hidden iron and ruining a good chain saw blade. Still, it was a good job done and one less thing to do this fall.

Now, today I want to go over a manuscript that was rejected this weekend (I was told I just missed the antho. Damn!) and see if I can salvage it for a different market. Something is telling me no, but the theme is used in a lot of different antho's so I may just let it sit and wait. Something will come up.

So, what did you do this weekend?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

In my grubby hands

I got an oversized envelope in the post yesterday that contained my contributor copy of Sand, Issue #5 with my story Play Date in it. I am the last story in the last regular issue of Sand (as they go to a yearly anthology series after this). Better get your order in as it will be a collectible in years to follow (and not for my story, but for the fantastic mark they are going to leave on the dark fantasy and horror world).

Now I get to sit back, do a little reading this morning until my old school (Iowa State University) goes up against their instate rival (the University of Iowa) and I am hoping I have it on my satellite TV package so I can watch it, otherwise I am going to be glued to my radio for about 3.5 hours today. Speaking of Football (sorry, American football for those of you outside of the states) Our local high school team clobbered their opponent last night 78-8 which means in the three games they have played they have managed to outscore their opponents 207-14. We are kicking some serious butt this year. Either that or the other guys really stink. Way to Go CRB (Coon Rapids-Bayard)!

Friday, September 11, 2009

maybe next week

This week has had limited success. I have written very few new words (probably less than 1K). Although I have made a lot of notes in my MG book, no words have been changed on my computer yet. I have done a little reading but nothing to brag about and when I get a free minute this afternoon (if my 2 yr old goes down for a nap) it will be spent mowing the yard. I am hoping to get more work done in between potty training the little guy (having no success at this point, but we will work through it and triumph!) I have faith in the knowledge that he will not go to kindergarten in diapers (I think).

So, like K.C. I need to reorganize my bookshelves, and not because I moved or anything but because I am a certifiable bibliophile. Currently they are organized in the following catagories: history, woodworking, YA, poetry, picture books, series books, Stephen King, hardcover horror, literary, autographed, friends books, reference, magazines, and paperback. I also have an antique section and a big little book section (you may remember them from the 30's. many of them if you flipped the pages they showed a cartoon) I need a better way to organize them as many of them spill over into multiple categories. any suggestions? Just to show you what I am up against here are a few of my bookcases.
The first one shows history, big-litle books, and a few paperbacks. It has actually become a catch-all for anything I can't put somewhere else. This has become my problem area. (note the double shelving of the paperbacks.)


this second one contains all of my autographed, friend, and antique books (and a few reference books) It was built by my dad as a graduation gift and has some stunning glass doors (unfortunately they reflected the flash to badly to show them)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

progress

I have to say I am making progress. It is slow but there. I am going through suggestions and ideas from one of my beta readers (I can't believe I made that many mistakes after going through it so many times) and as you will see below, I have a pond growing in my backyard. Okay, so it isn't in my backyard, literally, but you can get there from here.


And that picture is taken from the deck on my house just to let you know how close things are. You couldn't see it until this afternoon, when they took out all the trees that ran parallel to our fence.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Not Monday, Tuesday

I have to keep telling myself that it is indeed Tuesday, and not Monday as my mind would have me believe. Federal holidays tend to do that to me.

So this has actually been a productive weekend. Not writing wise, but otherwise. My spare guest room is now officially done, so if any of my blog-roll people are ever in the area, and you need a place to crash, let me know. I will see what I can do for you. (BT, I am now ready for your world tour.) I am now ready to start on the last unfinished space in the house and move my pool table in there. I don't think it will take long to put that together; just a couple of walls, some drywall, paint and trim and blammo- instant room.

The pond activity beside my house is still going strong. I am unsure how big this is going to be, I hope it will allow for some good fishing in a couple of years.

At least I know my inbox works. I received a rejection from a pro market. It was expected. I got no writing done this weekend. I did manage to start reading on K.C.'s book and I have to say I am really enjoying it. I think I may forgo the writing again today to continue on Jack's adventure.

Hope everyone had a good weekend. Talk at you later.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday at last

It has been an interesting week. Really. Sometime soon I expect to have a pond by my house. The neighbor had the slew in between our houses surveyed about three years ago and this week I saw the heavy equipment to move some dirt around. Now I am hearing the distinct rumble of a diesel engine and the back-up signal from big trucks just outside of my house. I believe if they are moving dirt I will be getting the boy and some lawnchairs out and go watch when it gets a little warmer,and the boy wakes up. In a couple of years I expect to be able to walk 50 yards and go fishing. I knew we bought this house for a reason.

I have just finished Tom Piccirilli's book The Coldest Mile last night. This is a continuation of Edgar nominated book The Cold Spot, and it was every bit as good, although I was a bit miffed at the cliffhanger ending. Guess I will have to buy another book from him when it comes out.

Today I am going to start on K.C.'s book Jack of All Trades (for which I received a very cool bookmark and stickers for yesterday). I have heard good things about it so far and I can't wait to get to it.

Also in the post yesterday I received my contributer copy of Night to Dawn with my story Coffin Nails in it. It is actually a very good layout and the artwork was very nice and nasty. I am considering getting a subscription for the next year to read Natalie and B.T.'s stories which come out in it next year, spring and fall respectively. You can look it up on lulu as well. It is issue #16. (they have electronic issues for sale as well.)

enough pimping, time to get back to work, my current WIP is standing at 7K since last week and I think I can add another 1K to it today. I am going more for time involved in the project and so far I have managed to put about 45 minutes every time I sit down to it. I haven't worked on it every day and I know I won't get anything done on it this weekend.

Have a good weekend, it is a long one here in the states and I have nothing pressing going on with the house for once. ah- relaxation.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

August is come and gone, already. It seems like summer was just starting last week and now it is already within sight of over. Damn. I must have wasted my time because it doesn't feel like I got anything done. Let us review what did get done.

For the month of August I had one acceptance to Feathertale magazine for a short story, My Birthday Present.

I had two rejections. One from Shimmer and another from The First Line (which I shared with you). It was an encouraging rejection from Shimmer so I reworked a little bit of it and sent it back out to the Mo-Con Antho. Maurice has had it for 29 days now. We will see how that turns out.

Other than that, I finished my edits on Big Chief's Gold (mg book) and sent it off to my beta readers (thanks guys). I am currently working on the query letter for it. It is one of the most difficult things I have ever written. This may call for the Query Ninja.

I have also started a new book last week. It is a thriller, with a little science-fiction thrown in for good measure. I am 30 pages into it and enjoying it so far. We will see how long that lasts.

I read 3 books this month and Cate's Chapbook (does that make 4?) I can't remember what one of them was. I think I am getting old.

I am currently down to 10 submissions that are out. I queried 3 of them last week and heard back from 2 of them. One was the acceptance mentioned earlier, and the other said I had a very good chance of making it in. He was making final decisions and would let me know this week. I don't think I am ever going to hear back from the other editor.

Just too let every one know how slow my inbox has been lately I counted up the rejections V Acceptances I have had since May 1 and it breaks down like this (these are actual numbers, don't attempt to adjust your monitor, your results may vary) Acceptances: 5 Rejections: 7. That is a lot of downtime in the ol' inbox.

Here is hoping September is productive.

Monday, August 31, 2009

I would like to thank Cate for giving me something to post about today

While I wait for the end of the month to roll around Cate Gardener, the writer of the beautifully written chapbook The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon, tagged me. Here is the take:
From the biggest bookcase you have, pick out one book whose author’s last name starts with each letter of your last name. If you have no books by an author whose last name starts with a particular letter, go to the next letter. If you have two of the same letter in your last name, get two separate authors, not two books by the same author. Bonus: If you can, pick the first book you haven’t read off your shelf, unless you’re one of those people who’s read all the books you own.

- Post the first sentence of each book, along with the author and title. Feel free to skip prefaces and such, especially if they’re by a different writer.

I was glad I have a rather large bookcase to choose from because there aren't many books with authors whose last names start with E I found out. G was rather difficult as well. So without further interruption here we go.

E: Beulah by Augusta Jane Evens. A January sun had passed the zenith, and the slanting rays flamed over the window-panes of a large brick building, bearing on its front in golden letters the inscription, "Orphan Asylum." This was a book leftover from one of my college literature classes.

Y: Yeager, an autobiography by Chuck Yeager. I never knew when I might be taking my last ride. Actually a very interesting autobiography. I recommend it.

B: Spiderweb by Robert Bloch. The door was of blonde wood, highly waxed. Admittedly, not the best first line of a book. The rest was much better. Really.

E: Timepiece by Richard Paul Evans. I find myself astonished at mankind's persistent yet vain attempts to escape the certainty of oblivion; expressed in nothing less than the ancient pyramids and by nothing more than a stick in a child's hand, etching a name into a freshly poured sidewalk. My wife and I share the bookshelves and this is one of hers. I have yet to read it.

R: Servant of the Bones by Anne Rice. This is Azriel's tale as he told it to me, as he begged me to bear witness and to record his words. I have never read this book, yet.

G: Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales For Our Life & Times by James Finn Garner. There once was a young person named Red Riding Hood who lived with her mother on the edge of a large wood. His take on the classic stories is well worth the read. Very funny.

I am not going to tag anyone in this post except everyone who wants to do it. It is actually a challenge to find books that represent the letters in your name. Have fun. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Winter Solstice

I know, it is August 29th. I am well aware that this is the end of summer and no where near the Winter Solstice, but my story of that title is up at M-Brane SF, issue #8. It is the fastest I have ever written that many words (it came in at 4800 words and I had it written, first draft, in just over two hours.) It is available as a .pdf, dead tree, or Kindle versions through the website. He has had some great writers in his magazine in the past year including Cat Rambo, Cate Gardener and some other pretty heavy hitters. Mr. Fletcher also does an incredible job with the layout of the magazine. It looks fantastic. The covers alone are worth buying the magazine for.

enough pimping, time to get to writing. Have a great day. My next post will be the end of the month round-up. (sheesh, it is the end of the month already.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Out of my hands, for now

Last night my lovely and talented wife, Ann, finished looking through my manuscript for Big Chief's Gold. This morning I went over her suggestion (and the obvious typing errors, more about that in a minute) and sent it off to my lovely and talented beta-readers. Thanks guys *waves*.

Now a thing I figured out about my word processing program. I had a character named Pat. Pat is a boring name and I needed to change it. I hit the select all button, changed the name (it was supposed to use exact case only) and it changed every word with Pat in it, like PATh, aPAThy. . .not good. I didn't think anything of it. I told it to use exact case, nothing else. I will never do that again, nor will I ever name a character Pat again. I was glad my wife caught it. Although she said it confused her at first to have a proper name in the middle of random letters like aDerrickhy, that made no sense in the context of the sentence. Lucky for me my wife is smarter than I am.

Now I am going to go off and continue writing other things. Happy weekend everyone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It was a dark and stormy morning

it really is kind of dark and it really is stormy here in West Central Iowa right now. Lots of inspiration. I think I will draw the blinds shut and get to typing.

I would also like everyone to meet my old college roommate. Carmen is a copy-editor for a newspaper and also one of the best artists that I know. He has an entire blog devoted to the miniatures that he paints for fun. You know the ones, from the d&d sets that let you set up little battles. He is better than your average miniature painter though. Well, go see for yourself. Carmen's Painty Fun Time is up for your amusement. Tell him I sent you. Who knows, he might just give you a little inspiration.

In other news. I was planning on jotting notes yesterday, but instead found myself with an hour of uninterrupted writing time so I started that book I was telling you about yesterday. I shall see how it goes. I am about 1/30th of the way through it if you use the 60K marker for a novel.

Hope everyone has a good day. talk at you later.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Like a hammer in the back of the head

So I was outside working in my shop last night, painting the last of my trim (most of the trim in my house is stained but we decided for a brighter look in the basement and went with paint). As I was brushing with long strokes to keep it all even and thinking of some short stories that I had started but was having a hard time keeping going. I think the ideas were too big for a short story. It helps that I could incorporate several of them into one longer narrative. This actually got me excited that I might be thinking of another book idea (I am a little mad that it is only months away from NaNo at this point, because I am still doing the dark romance for my NaNo project) I am wondering if I can hash out a first draft of this idea before November starts and if I will be burned out by then.

Am I the only one having a hard time keeping a short narrative in my head?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday :P

So I got in about an hours worth of writing this morning and I think it was all for nothing. I don't think I can use any of it. Garbage in, garbage out.

The good news is that I might have a new angle on the story to work out. I will see how that pans out over the next couple of days.

After I take my wife's suggestions (I have already taken her up on the character's names thing) I would be wondering if any of you would like to beta read a 26K MG story. It is not horror but adventure. If you liked My Side Of the Mountain and just about anything by Gary Paulson then you might be interested. You can e-mail me at jeyberg74@gmail.com. I would be happy to have all the input I can get before I start sending it out to agents and publishers.

I know, a lot of you are already looking at that and going "26K. that is way too short. There is no way you are getting a publisher for a book like that." I beg to differ. Because of Winn-Dixie came in at a very short 110 pages (about 25K) for the same age group. It was a Newbery honor book for 2001. I believe all you need is for the story to be complete. I hope mine is. I believe it is. I would like a second (or 25th) opinion.

hope everyone is having a more productive Monday than I am. Until next time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

WIP Wednesday

I have started a new story for Horsemen of the Apocalypse antho from Pill house press and I have to say I am really enjoying it. I am only about 1K into it so far. I will post a segment of it below. It is a combination of Famine and War (they seem to go together quite nicely in my story, one bringing about the other.)

In other news, I am still editing Chief's Gold. I had a nice discussion with my wife about character names yesterday and she gave me some good ideas (I didn't like the generic names I had given 50% of my characters) For some reason, when I wrote it I switched back and forth between 3rd person and 1st person. I didn't intend to. I guess that is what edits are for. To catch crap like that.

I kind of doubt if I get any writing done today, other than this blog post. My boy is sick with a virus of some sort (it is in the throat and head. I know this because I have the same thing.) and I am dead tired from being up most of the night with him. We did manage to go on a nice drive until 2 in the morning.

Now for a glimpse of unfinished story:
I turned from him, aware of what would happen next. Behind me I could hear him start to convulse, gurgle and paw at the ground with his boots that he had stuffed with the cover of a burned book to replace the worn out sole. I tried not to think of the misery he was going through and if I would go the same way as the sounds shuffled to a stop.
I could hear his corpse leak into the soil. That slow sucking sound of moisture in a parched land that no man should hear. Ashes to ashes as they say.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I love productive weekends

It really was a productive weekend. I finished reading one book, read Cate's chapbook (pure awesomeness!) did some sawing and some hammering, a little bit of painting, some thinking and even managed to go out on a short date with my wife (who else would I go out with?). The only writing that got done was in my head, which worked for me.

I have been plotting my NaNoWriMo story out, trying to figure out my cast of characters and the natural progression of the story. I think it is going to be interesting.It is a story I thought of at the beginning of the year but haven't gotten around to starting yet. I can hold out for a couple more months. I think this one needs the brain time. It isn't going to be a horror either. More of a literary love story. I won't say romance because I believe it deals with more of the inner turmoil of the character, that and the love doesn't go both ways. Not completely.

Anyway, I thought it sounded like fun and the rest of you can pick your jaws off the floor now and move on with your day. Have a good one.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Not a Sour aftertaste at all

I just got done reading Cate's chapbook The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon and I have to say I believe it is the best thing I have ever read by Cate. I am having a hard time figuring out how best to review it without giving the ending away and do the book justice at the same time.

In a small town with set rules that seem just for Olive Lemon she goes forth to break them and find out the reality of it all.

I think that is the best I can do. If you haven't ordered it yet I urge you to do so at Bucket O'Guts Press.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pleasant surprises

Opened the mailbox yesterday and, much to my surprise, I found a copy of Catherine Gardner's chapbook "The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon." Now, I won't get to reading it until next week because I am this close (holding my thumb and forefinger about a quarter inch apart) to finishing reading another book and I can't hold multiple storylines in my head anymore, but I am looking forward to reading it and posting a review of it when I do.

I am now over 60% of the way through my edits in my MG book. (It might be YA, I am really not sure. It is a matter of introspection in the character and I don't know if I have too much for an MG book or too little for a YA book.) Anyone have any insight into this?

I haven't started any short stories this week, but I have gotten a ton of stuff (sorry Aaron) done around the house. I also haven't heard back from any editors this week, save for a couple of proofs. (*Sigh* maybe next week I will hear back from an editor.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Nature of the Con

What do the rest of you do when you have written a story that is obviously for a certain market or anthology and they reject it? Does it get thrown into the dead story file? Does it get changed and sent back out or does it just get sent back out, unchanged?

I have several stories like that right now. Okay, not all of them have been rejected- yet. The story I wrote for The First Line last month was kicked back to me yesterday. It is a flash piece and I had fun writing it, but since crime confessional flash isn't exactly a thriving market I will post it below.

The Nature of the Con

“My life is a sham.”

“What do you mean?” He looked at me with probing eyes and stuffed a cigarette into his mouth. I watched him light it with a match and inhale deeply. He offered me one through the steel bars that separated us.

“Nothing I have done has been real,” I said as he continued to hold out the butt end for me. “Everything is a show. Even this con that got me into here.”

He smiled through the smoke. “I thought that was the nature of the con,” he said.

I took the cigarette from him, he offered me the lit end of his and I breathed deeply as the tobacco started to smolder. “Can I tell you a story?”

The stranger shrugged his shoulders. “You have as captive an audience as you'll ever have.”

I smiled weakly at the joke, exhaled the smog from my lungs and started. “I shouldn't be in here, not for what I am in here for. I should have been in here much earlier if you had asked me. I probably should have been gunned down in some back alley if you ask the right people. Course, no one knows who I am. Even the records they had when they booked me in aren't right. They think I'm Peter Richardson.”

The stranger interrupted and smiled, “So you're telling me you're a dick?”

“Something like that. In Tampa I'm Richard Peterson and in Oklahoma City they only know me as Thomas Gunderman.”

I watched him smash the remnants of his smoke under his heel and pull out another. He offered me another one. I refused this one. I don't really like to smoke, but I hate to refuse hospitality Another con.

“So what should you be in here for?”

“I killed a man. Broke his neck. Not too worried about it. Catfish have probably taken car of the body by now anyway.” I watched and waited for the flash of fear in his eyes that most men had with their own mortality.

He didn't blink. “So, what are you in here for?”

“Stole a piece of a car. Engine block gave out before the cops even radioed for backup.”

“Tough break,” he said and took a long drag.

The metal door at the end of the hall opened with a squeal and we watched them half drag a drunk down the hall. We heard the cell door slam shut and the familiar cough and gag of what too much drink will do, followed by a watery spatter on the concrete floor. We both looked into the hall for a moment but the officer continued to make his way back to the exit. The door shut hard behind him.

“Don't envy his job in the morning,” the man with the cigarettes said to me.

I smiled and continued my story. “I don't like to steal cars, too risky and the profit isn't there. Too many alarms and lo-jack systems. I thought I was doing good. I just needed a ride across town so I borrowed a twenty year old Honda. Easy to wire and good on gas. I thought the owner probably wouldn't miss it for a couple of days and by then another guy would have lifted it. Especially where I was going to leave it.”

Now it was his turn to smile. “I like the way you think.”

“Can I ask what you are in here for?”

He snuffed out the cigarette on the floor under a well worn shoe. “Protection,” he said.

I raised an eyebrow at him.

“I'm undercover.” He raised his shirt and flashed a badge at me. “Guess my life is a sham as well. How much more you want to tell me about the guy you killed. It will clear your conscience.”

I closed my eyes. This was one con I was going to have a hell of a time talking my way out of.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another no writing day

This will probably be the only writing I get done today. Such is the life of a stay at home dad.

With only one week (10 days really) to go before school starts again, we have invited one of my daughters classmates over for. There will be pizza and giggling and the little brother will feel left out. Summer must have a good week going out as far as I am concerned. The local pool will be visited as often as the weather allows.

Unfortunately, this means the writing will suffer. Still, I might be able to get in a couple of pages of edits today, in between lulls in activity (yeah, right).

And now I must be going. Have a good day.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Post

Got a little reading done and a little editing done over the weekend. Managed to order Catherine Gardner's New chapbook "The Sour Taste of Olive Lemon" over the weekend over at the Bucket O'Guts Press for a measly $6.00 American (including shipping, thank you very much). Now I will be waiting patiently by the mailbox for its arrival.

Friday, August 7, 2009

TGIF

it is already Friday and it is supposed to be a real hot one this weekend. Probably the hottest days of the summer so far. At least I won't be working outside in it. I will probably be doing what I have been doing all week. Editing.

I haven't started any new stories this week although I did manage one rejection from Shimmer (my longest rejection time from them yet) I re-worked the story a little and sent it on to the Mo-con antho from Apex. We will see what Mr. Broaddus thinks of it. Probably not what he is looking for either, but we will see.

In the meantime I have looked at a friends book and discovered a new author I really want to read (will be ordering his new book coming out in October I believe) and have been started editing my MG book again. it isn't as bad as I thought it might be and I have certainly been away from it long enough to be objective. I think the third re-write may have been the charm for this book. Still, when I am done I will be taking anyone up on reading it and telling me what is wrong with it. This could be awhile yet. Don't worry, I will let you know when I am ready for that.

I can't believe that summer is drawing to an end and soon my daughter will be starting school again. It will be a change in the writing schedule, again. I am hoping for a good change that will allow me more time at the keyboard or with pen in hand. Summer is not good for my productivity. It is good for the kids. I just wish I could teach my 2 year old the finer points of a good fishing hole but he doesn't have the patience for it like his sister.

Hope everyone has a good weekend. See you on Monday, unless I hear some amazing news in the interim.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Getting closer

Sony launched two new e-readers today. The $299 model with a 6 inch touchscreen and the one I am excited about for $199 with a five inch screen. They are getting closer to where I might actually spend money on one, just another 50-100 dollars to go (I don't know if they will ever get that cheap but a man can dream, can't he?) I am also excited that they plan on actually selling them in stores (you mean I get to see, touch, read them before I buy? What is up with that?)

All of this makes me almost giddy with excitement as it opens up a whole other world of possibilities for publishers and writers alike. What do you think. Are you excited about the new technology?

See, I told you I was going to be a better blogger. Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Read Vs. Write

I don't read enough books. I am sure I have said it before. If I make it through a book a month I consider it to be a good month. Granted I read a lot of material that is not on paper (e-zines, blogs) and I have no good way to quantify that amount of material because it varies. Still, I don't read enough. And what I do read is so often outside of the genre that I write that I don't feel like I can give justice to those that put far more effort into the craft than I do. Still, what I write, while often being in different parts of the spectrum than what I read, benefits from the exposure.

Does this make me a well rounded writer, or a hypocrite?

Monday, August 3, 2009

July in Review

I know it is August 3, already. this last month flew by and I do have some progress to show for. I managed to edit 20 percent of my MG book (although it was all done in one day.) and write several shorts. Here are the stats for the month.

Rejections: 2
Acceptances: 1 (This Candle Won't Last Forever, 215 words for the Letters From the Dead Antho) dang that was long.
new stories written: 4
Monday Morning (2800 words) ghost story
The Bone Munchers (6900 words) creature horror
The Nature of the Con (660 words) crime
This Candle Won't last Forever (215 words) end of days story
Stories out in Sub land: 13
Known shortlist stories: 2


Not a bad month. More productive on the short story front than the rest of the year has been. Maybe I am getting out of that slump. On the bad side, my book writing has taken a nosedive in productivity.

In August I am planning on getting a slew of responses from editors and really getting down to business on that MG manuscript. It will happen. Stop laughing, really I am planning on getting to it.

I am also planning on being a better blogger than I was last week. It was a very busy week and the progress I made on many of my house projects (many of them done) are proof that I wasn't just sitting around.

Until then, have a good and productive day.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sorry, still busy

I have been spending time with the family this week. The wife is on vacation so we managed to go out for our Anniversary on Monday (13 years as a married couple) and go to the zoo yesterday. Saturday I will be taking my daughter to the rodeo and in between we have been going to the pool, working on the house and just hanging out.

I will get back to writing and posting sometime next week when things return to the dull normality that I like to call life.

Later.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Happy Saturday

Why is it, when we have a lot of time to kill we waste more time and get less done? Seriously. I have most of the housework done and the kids are being good. Do you think I could get started on anything today? Heck no. Instead I am watching cartoons, catching up on the news and drinking copious amounts of coffee (New blend, seems to be inundated with caffeine.)

I should be working on edits for my MG book. I still might make it into that desk to work on it (Yes, I work at a different desk to write. It is smaller and not as cluttered and is more atmospheric.) Or I could be working on a new story that I haven't thought of yet, which is always fun.

In the spirit of Cate's meet knew people I would like to introduce you to some new friends I have added to my blogroll of late. The first one is Adam Whitlatch. A fellow writer from Iowa who has a story coming out in Shroud #7 (next issue). His blog is a rant on all things and is quite a hoot. I recommend reading it. The next is Alexis Grant. She recently got back from Africa and is writing a memoir of her travels. Her blog is about her quest to write it down. I think we can all relate to her and what she is going through, even if we haven't traveled to Africa.

I hope you enjoy reading from my new friends and have a great weekend. Hopefully, I will figure out how to make my day more productive.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happy Horny Thursday!

Now that I have your attention (The title of this post only came about because of Cate's response to my Hump Day remark yesterday, (and was my wife's idea) which only means that at Wednesday you are in the middle of the week and on the downward slid to the weekend. Over the hump as it were.)

Creativity seems to be returning. Still having a hard time getting to edits, but I am producing more work this week than I have the rest of the summer. Today's effort was a flash fiction piece that I started last month and mentioned yesterday. I want to thank my beta reader (Thank you Barry!) because my editing skills are obviously lacking today. It wasn't even horror, it was more of a crime confessional. Kinda fun.

In other news, and speaking of my wife, she went to school and is friends with a gal who ended up marrying a guy, Chad Calek, who has a movie coming out. Here is the trailer for American Ghost Hunter and there is harsh language in this trailer, so you have been warned.


So for the rest of the day I need to finish mowing the yard and take the kids swimming, where I will continue to be the whitest person at the pool (I used to get a really good tan, but I was roofing houses back then.)