Friday, August 13, 2010

Not a productive week

I blame the heat. We have had a heat index of over 100 (between 105-115) all week. It doesn't even cool off at night. The kids haven't been sleeping in like they should and now it is Friday and I have managed to write about 1300 words all week. I am hoping to double that word count today, if the boy doesn't stop coming in and telling me what to do.

Sometimes life really does get in the way.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


This post may start a half dozen times, I don't know for sure and I apologize in advance.

First off, in the shameless self promotion part of the blog, my story The Ghosts of Cheyenne Trail is featured in the Library of the Living Dead Anthology, The Zombist, Undead Western Tales. I have to say, and I am probably prejudiced, but I love this story. I was only introduced to what zombie fiction could be last year and I have tried to make the most of it without making it a cliche that almost all creature horror seems to have become. I believe it is also available on Kindle if you have one. Just look up Zombist.

In other news, my wife picked me up a copy of Cujo by Stephen King earlier this year. It is one of the few early King books that I hadn't already read. I am beginning to think there is a reason for this. It is not that it is a bad story, but the way he put it together is a far cry from what he has put out in the past. I don't know if he turned off his internal editor and decided to leave in a bunch of information that doesn't seem relevant to the story just so he could make pages and not have a novella or if he is going somewhere with all of this extra stuff, to put it lightly.  Maybe it is just me and I am being a little picky at the moment. I just got done reading Michael Crichton's last book (the one they found in his files after he died) Pirate Latitudes. It was not the polished storytelling that I was used to from Crichton. Again, it wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't quite done I felt. The paragraphs seemed choppy and the characters undeveloped. I have a feeling it was in his files for a reason and he died before his vision for the story completed itself. I have the same feeling for King's story. Something is off in it and I can't quite put my finger on it yet. I will know more when I finish.

Lastly, on the whole Leisure books ebook/POD thing. I know that bookmakers need to make themselves more profitable. The old paperback waste was just that, a waste. I can understand that they have to do something with unbought paperbacks and the way they do returns on them is to tear the front cover off and send that back to the publisher and destroy the remaining pages. It is horribly inefficient but more cost effective than actually returning the books. Something needed to be done with this. I would have been for marking the books down myself, but they didn't see it that way. I don't know what the answer is but I have a feeling the turbulent times in publishing are far from over.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Man, this Monday thing rolls around quick anymore

I spent the weekend in the company of family, rodeo clowns and large animals that didn't want the riders on them in the least. It was a good time and of course that means that it was the annual rodeo trip for my family, much to the chagrin of my wife, who was not raised around the rodeo and only suffers through it because the kids like it. It is a lot like Star Wars and electronic stores for her. She does a good job at humoring me, bless her heart.

This also meant that I got absolutely no writing done and I am at a loss for words this morning. Maybe that second cup of coffee will infuse me with ideas. Have a great Monday.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hemp Diapers

So, I had my root canal yesterday. It wasn't bad at all. I had a good endontist do the work. I didn't feel a thing and during the procedure we had an interesting conversation going on. Full story and it has nothing to do with writing, I just wanted to share. 

Each of the rooms had a little television hooked up to satellite. It was tuned into the today show, which is fine but the program was drawing to a close and I had no desire to watch whatever was after that (Regis and Kelley or The View, I don't know but I didn't want to watch it). They asked if I wanted to watch anything else. While the urge to watch cartoons was great I resisted and told them to switch to channel 269 (The History channel for those of you without Directv). there was a documentary on called Killing Pablo about the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escebar. It was interesting and kinda violent but what little I watched (Most of the time I had my eyes closed as two people worked with their hands in my mouth for 3 hours) it was pretty interesting.

Because it did take three hours and I missed out on the first hour of the documentary they started in on a second documentary. This one was also drug related but it was about the spiral of drugs in the United States from legal status to illegality. Again, it was fascinating. the surgeon had a good laugh about the marijuana stamp act of 1937, which simply states that you needed a stamp (tax) to have pot, but you needed the pot to obtain the stamp. Since you didn't have the stamp before you obtained the pot it was illegal and you were in violation of the law. A real catch 22. This got his assistant talking about the diapers that she is using on her son. They are made of hemp fiber which her mother was worried that because hemp is weed that the drug would leech into his system and he would be the happiest baby in the world. She said it took her quite a while to convince her mother that this was not the case and this is when the endontist said, "If that was the case Mark (her husband I am assuming) would be wearing them on his head."

I really don't know if that had a point at all. Have a great Wednesday. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wow, I am really bad at this.

There is something about finishing a project that is taking me forever this year. I don't know what it is. I blame the hiccuping butterfly syndrome. I am flitting from one project to another with absolutely no rhyme or reason. Still, while I am not finishing anything I am getting words down and with every word down I feel just a little closer to the end on each one of them. Okay, not all of them. Some of them are going to go on forever I feel. ;)

Now if I can find another ten minutes to cough up another 200 words or so I will feel better today. Seriously. I have lost track of the number of words I have written today because I have wrangled a couple of hundred words in each of about 4  or 5 projects today (seriously, I can't even keep that part straight. I am a freakin' mess). I am going to blame my teeth because they are killing me and I can't have anything overly hot (goodbye coffee) or cold (sorry soda and tea) so my brain is shriveling under the lack of caffeine that I usually inundate it with.  Lucky for me I am having a root canal tomorrow. Yippee!

this is making no sense today, so I will talk to you in an caffeinated state later.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Old Ghosts

I like it when I look at words that I have given order to and realize that I wouldn't change a whole lot about them. I was looking at a story that I haven't looked at in six months (that is how long it has been with an editor) and realized that I really like them. I am changing a little here and there on it. Expanding my characters story, just a little, wondering where the road can lead him, but the bones of the story are still there.

I have been thinking of revisiting some of my longer pieces (And they shall have pages and we shall call them books) and seeing what I would change this time around. I have nothing to lose but time.

Just what I needed, more projects.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


The wife and I took the family to an amusement park yesterday. It was a lot of fun and I think that my wife got it right when she said she hadn't had that much fun since she was little and got to experience much of the same rides the first time. It was a lot of fun, I will admit. There is something about being whipped around until you are dizzy that is satisfying and unnerving at the same time. Before I go any further, I am a roller coaster junkie. I love them, the faster the better. I am proud to say that my seven year old is one as well. She loved being plummeted toward the earth with several G's of force trying to force her from the seat only to be whipped skyward again at the last second, laughing the whole time.

It reminded me a little of writing. You never know where the action will take you and you hope that every failsafe works and you don't go crashing into the ground. At least my writing is like that, I don't know about you. All I know is that I enjoy the ride.

I would post a picture that the park took of my wife and daughter at the bottom of the first big drop, but they would both kill me, so next time you come over for a beer remind me and I will be happy to show you.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Anniversary Date, sort of. . .

My wife and I (it will be 14 years sometime next week of wedded bliss) have celebrated our anniversary in many different ways. We have taken in Broadway musicals, looked for household fixtures (sorry about that one, Ann), worked on the house(Yep, sorry about that one as well), and just gone out for dinner and a movie. Yesterday's will go down in history as perhaps the weirdest Anniversary date of them all. We went to a bodies exhibit.

Yep, you heard me right. A bodies exhibit. Dead bodies  and their parts laid open for the world to see. It was fascinating. Vivid sections of the human anatomy peeled back for a closer view. And apparently there are a lot of people who will pay good money to see this as well as the place was fairly busy with people, old and young, male and female looking at the nerve ending and dissected lung tissue, the male and female sex organs in all their glory (and without skin). If you want to know what I actually saw they have a pretty good web page. Body Exhibit. You know you want to.

What do you expect when a dark fiction writer and a doctorate of Pharmacy get together.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

good read

So, last night I finished reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series from Rick Riordan. Very fun. It has a Harry Potter feel to it. Kid abandoned by father, finds out he is a demi-god and he has powers that mere mortals only dream of. It was a fun ride that took me through 5 books and roughly 1500 pages.

Where HP is told from a 3rd person PoV, PJ is told from the first person. This worked well for this book. Percy could inject his observations and wit into the story and it made for a great read because of it.

Anyway, now I have to dig through my pile of books and figure out what to read next. It is a deep pile, one that apparently has no bottom (mostly because I have no willpower).

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

detail work

I was working in my shop yesterday. It was the little stuff (sanding, fitting pieces)that you don't think should take very long and then, before you know it, the whole afternoon is shot and you are all sweaty and stinky. I think writing is like that. A first draft really does go quickly. It is the detail that can make or break a story that takes all the time. It is the stuff that most readers take for granted.

Have a happy Tuesday!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Beg, Borrow and Steal

I borrow ideas all the time. Mostly recipes. If I don't know a recipe I try to figure it out. One of my favorite pastimes is to go to restaurants to get ideas. I wonder how much we do that when we read. I read in an interview with John Grisham that he isn't much of a reader (I don't know if I would brag about that as a bestselling writer), and that he doesn't read at all when he is working on a book. He doesn't want the other person's story to influence his own style (this I can vaguely understand). I wonder how much we are all inclined to borrow what we see or read.

So last night's borrowed recipe is chocolate Oreo Tallcake. I had to make my own, because Ruby Tuesdays no longer makes it. I have no clue why. We used to go in there specifically for dessert. Here it is. I made a chocolate fudge cake from mix and topped it off with chocolate fudge frosting. I put this in a bowl with some vanilla ice cream and then topped this off with (and in this order) caramel sauce, whipped cream, crushed Oreo cookies and chocolate sauce.

What idea are you going to steal borrow today?

Friday, July 9, 2010

I had a really cool post thought up for today, but I forgot it

I love how we can get so involved in our character's world that we can almost forget they aren't real. I am having that problem with two stories I am working on. One has some serious problems (and they became even more serious this morning. I had no clue they were this bad for him.) and the other has a quandary of the heart that makes me want to go up to him and say, 'no, pick her. the other chick ain't worth it.'

At least it keeps the writing interesting, but it makes it kind of awkward when you start talking about them like they really exist.
'You know, Bob is becoming a real SOB.'
'Who's Bob?'
'He lives up Keiser Hill, is the youth minister for the church, dark hair, built like a Buddha.'
'What the hell are you talking about?'
'Uh, never mind.'

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I really did get some writing done over the last six days. Really. Honest. It was on Friday, but it happened. I think I may have written on Thursday as well. In the meantime I had a good vacation (how can a guy with no job have a vacation?). I finished hanging 70 foot of gutter on my house and mowed the yard, that table top I was talking about months ago is closer to being done and is now perfectly round thanks to a jig I saw on The New Yankee Workshop. I also managed to grill out some delicious meat and ate some tasty sweets and went to the zoo with my family where I met with my sister, her husband and my niece who will turn 2 in a couple of months. It was fun.

Perhaps one of the most exciting things I did this weekend was reclaim my library. It has been used as a baby store room and impromptu toddler closet for the last 3 years. No more. My wife and I did a serious clean up and move around and it is now ours again (insert evil laugh here). I even spent a part of the 4th sitting in there reading in the leather club chairs, with the fireplace in front of me and dark wood surrounding me. A politically incorrect picture of Little Black Sambo on my right, framed and showing the little tyke outwitting the hungry tiger. It was great. I may have to escape to there again today.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June in a Nutshell

This is going to be an easy one. I wrote zero new stories and aside from a hold on one story I didn't hear squat about any of my short stories. I am sensing a trend here.

Here is how my short story numbers look. I have 7 shorts out right now. They have been out for 465, 151, 147, 119, 92, 85, and 57 days. I haven't gotten an acceptance or a rejection since May 4. I would think with that many stories out I should have heard more than I have. I am about to give up on the 465 (and I would if it wasn't such a good market and I didn't already know they had ridiculously long wait times. What was I thinking?) Most of the rest of them I fully expect to hear back from before the end of July.

Of course, that is what I said about them in June. I think the Summer is just a slow time of the year and beer and barbecue grills beckon them more than a fistful of slush. Having read slush in my earlier days I don't blame them. It is hard work and they deserve a summer off as well. I know I have spent more time with my tomatoes and working on my house than I have with my writing this Summer. So be it.

I hope those of us in the States enjoy your Independence Day holiday and to the rest of you enjoy your weekend. I am outta here, unless I hear some spectacular news in the interim. ;)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Need more coffee

This morning marked the first words I have written since Friday. Since it is only Tuesday I don't think that is too bad. I really only missed one day because I don't usually write on weekends anyway. It was fun, then I hit a point where the story just got stuck for me. I know where it is going but I am still unclear the best route to get there so I started on a short story I have been thinking about for the last week. I have no clue how I am going to market this story. None.

I hate it when that happens. I also hate when I don't know how long it is going to be. I am thinking in the 3-4K range but I can see it turning into a 7-8K piece as well. I know it is going to take a lot of editing to get it into publishable shape and then it will take a pretty niche market, but I could be wrong. Let us just say for now that it deals with a portion of the seven deadly sins, a preacher, and the stock market. And no, Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt will not be showing up in this story.

This is only the second short story I have worked on this year. How is this fine summer day treating you?

Friday, June 25, 2010

mixed blessings

The bad news, when your son wakes you at 4:30 in the am is that it is darn early. The good news, when you finally get him back to bed at 5:30 is that it is too late to go back to bed, especially if the dog is sleeping in your spot and he gets very growly if you move him. Since I don't like to be bitten first thing in the morning it was a great morning to write. I managed about a page and a half of new material before the dog came into the office, lay under the desk and started snoring loud enough to shake the windows. I had ten minutes left of good bed time before the alarm went off. I took it. I didn't sleep, but it wasn't for lack of trying.

I managed to get another seven pages written after that. It was great, although the quality of the pages is still suspect, and then the kids woke up and the daily routine started. It was the only real writing I have gotten done all week but it pushed me over the 20K mark.

How was your week? Is it just me or is it hard to believe that this is the last weekend in June?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Doing no wrong

I am beginning to wonder if Pixar can make a bad movie. We took the kids to see Toy Story 3 yesterday and it was great. Quite possibly the best in the series. I was thinking about writers who can do no wrong. The only commercial writer who hasn't disappointed me yet (with more than one book out) is J.K. Rowling. Tom Piccerilli is close, but I thought Shadow Season, while a very good book, read a little slow for the genre it was written in.

Of course, Stephen King, a master in his own right has put out some real stinkers over the years and don't get me started on Dean Koontz and John Saul.

What about you? Are there any writers out there who are bulletproof in your estimation?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Well, they are getting closer

While borders fired a warning shot in the e-reader market with their $149 KOBO reader, Barnes and Noble may have just sunk the ship with the non- 3G Nook for $149 (the 3G version now sells for 199). This gives readers the option of a fully featured reader at a price that will make Sony wince. I wonder who the next player to drop the price will be and by how much. with the still unfortunately named Ipad blowing the market wide open at $499 (but it is so much more than a reader, it is a status symbol) the readers that do less could hardly compete at the $259 level. After all, if you are spending that much, why not spend a little more and get it all.

Now I feel the market is starting to get serious about getting the general public into these devices and once they hit the $99 dollar mark I think they may have a must have device that every reader will have. I will have to admit that at $149 it is very tempting to put off the purchase of the deer gun I have my eyes on to buy one. If my TBR pile was shorter my order would have been in this morning.

So, Who's next?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Last post of the week

I know. It is only Thursday but I have a busy three days coming up. Doctors appointment tomorrow to see if my cholesterol meds are working or if I should give up and start eating bacon and eggs again, and after that I get to go to an antique walk, which is just awesome. They actually fill in an entire town with antiques and you just walk through buying stuff. Good times. On Saturday, my lovely wife and I get to go out, without the kids, and we may even take in a movie. Which leaves Sunday which is Father's day and I will probably end up working around the house.

In the meantime, the children cooperated this morning and gave me enough time to put about 1300 words on paper and push my manuscript over 18K. This made me happy. :)I really have to get a working title on it other than Book, which is how it is listed in my files. Everything else I come up with sounds so generic and book is as good as any of them, so for now Book it is. I have never had so many subplots that are viable to a story to try to fit into a manuscript. It is rather exciting.

Well, so much for the alone time. One child is now up. Sorry to bore you with the minutia of my life. Have a great rest of the week. :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Not enough coffee in the world

I am sitting here at the computer, trying to pour enough caffeine down my gullet to get me awake and actually work on my wip today. I just can't seem to get motivated. I have read the news, the blogs, tripped the light fantastic on facebook and now am sitting here with a bunch of words that appear to be in some semblance of order and I can't add to them. I will- eventually, but it is going to take some time today.

Dang, is that coffee cup empty again? I had better do something about that. Have a great Wednesday.

Monday, June 14, 2010

monday post, again

I am working on a story, book actually, just trying to get the words saved before they are lost in the Swiss cheese that has become my mind. I have been getting away from the norm for me (working in silence, which just doesn't happen in this house anymore) and have been working instead on the fringe (spare moments here and there). It has been an interesting experience. It has been an experience out of necessity than choice and I will take it. If I couldn't adapt then I wouldn't be writing at all.

My still unnamed book is at 16K so far with no work done on it in the last week.

In other news, the grass is growing in the newly renovated part of my yard and if the rain ever lets up I will be able to mow it and take some nice pictures of the work my wife and I have done to it. In the meantime, here a pic from my vacation of me and the kiddo's.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I am back

I know. It has been nine days since my last post. I had no internet for most of the week and so I am just now getting caught up on bloggy things. I haven't been ignoring you, I haven't been around. I have been perusing the museums in Chicago, Illinois while their hockey team won the Stanley cup. I have some pretty good pictures I will try to post later. I got no writing done. I did manage to get some reading done because while I have found out I can't type worth a darn on a netbook size computer I can read in a less than quiet hotel room. I will get back to the writing tomorrow, and wouldn't you know it, I have another story idea to jot down (and remain forever undecipherable) in my idea journal.

Here are some things I learned this week while on vacation with the family. We CAN get along in a single room without good television for five days. My kids are less afraid of standing on a glass deck 1350 feet above the city than most adults. T-Rex's had a very narrow jaw. That is all. I am sure I will come up with more later but that is all for now. Have a good rest of the weekend.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Captain Obvious here and it is Friday

Some weeks seem to blow by and drag at the same time. This was one of those weeks. I have been happily plugging away at my still unnamed manuscript and am dangerously close to 15K. It is going well. That is the part of the week that is going at Indy car speed.

The rest of the week has kind of drug on. My daughter is now out of school and that is going fairly smoothly. We have gotten lots of projects done around the house even though I am still not done with that table top. It is in the shop in pieces next to the porch swing I did get put together. Now I just need to hang the swing.

I am hoping that the rest of June is as productive as this first week. Have a good weekend. :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rotating characters

I think the reason I am liking this newest WiP I am working on is the number of characters in it. It isn't an overwhelming number but they each have their own storylines that link together, for better and worse. I have never tried anything quite like this and I am really enjoying the process. Usually I can have a story rotate around 2 or maybe three characters and call it good. This one is really focused on 4 characters and a cast of many more. I will be curious to see how it all ends up for them and if it will be readable when I am done. I don't even have a good working title for this story yet.

As it stands at the end of this writing day I am up to 12,845 words in this manuscript. Time to go make an Alfredo sauce with shrimp for dinner and separate the children before I give up and let them use knives to settle it for good. I got my bets on the girl. She has longer arms.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I feel like singing Alice Cooper for some reason

Today is the last day of school for my daughter. After this she will be in the second grade and I will be in charge of two kids for all summer. It should be interesting.At least we get to go on vacation next week, take in a few museums. Hopefully we don't end up killing each other being cooped up in a tiny room with each other for a week.

In other news. I still haven't heard from any editors so my standings for May stood at one lonely little rejection way back on the 4th. I really liked that short story. it was a rejection on a re-write request so I felt pretty good to get that far with it. That is pretty impressive considering I have seven stories out right now. and three books. I am sure it will catch up to me in June. Trust me, if anything changes on that front I will let you know.

I only managed a couple of hundred words this weekend and am planning on getting my 1K a day ramped up here in a minute (because this doesn't count). I have several new plot twists and the story stands at about 11K so far. I was slow last week and had a lot going on although I still managed to write every day during the school week. It felt good and I am really liking the characters so far. Some of them are real dirtbags, but they are my dirtbags.

I had better get on it. Enjoy your first day of June. I am going to. :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

yesterday was pretty good, today wasn't bad, tomorrow. . .

So I managed to finish reading the book I said I was going to read yesterday. It was pretty good. I didn't work on the tabletop but I did manage to knock quite a few projects off the list. It is still a long list. I didn't get any writing done other than the blog.

Today I have managed about 900 words. It could be closer to 1000 but I can't quite remember where I started. I have also managed (you know if you leave out the second 'a' it becomes manged?) to make a monster truck out of lego's and it looked pretty darn cool. We have also managed to go for a nice long walk around the acreage and do some laundry and the dishes. Sometimes days are like that. I may hit my goal today, I may not. It was still nice.

Tomorrow, we will see what it brings. I am hoping for less humid weather as I am starting to wilt. I am hoping to hear back from an editor soon. I haven't gotten a rejection since May 4th. My inbox is starting to get lonely. Maybe it is broken.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I still find time to write, somehow

Sometimes it is amazing how the best laid plans can get thrown into the woodchipper like so many mob snitches. I have been plugging away on a new book, 8K in 5 days. Not a record but still respectable. It has gotten in the way of my meager reading time. I was all set and prepared to finish reading The Lightening Thief on Friday or Saturday and here it is Tuesday and I still have another 50 or so pages to go. I need to finish so I can read Barry Napier's newest chapbook.

In the meantime I am chipping away at my massive to do list around the house. Massive is kind of an understatement. I noticed my wife had put her to do list down on a piece of paper and I thought that it looked like a good idea. Visualize the situation. It can't be that bad. How many projects can I have going on around the house? Oh, yeah. It is bad. Many of these projects are quite involved and will take days to finish. This coming from a man who is happy to have an hour of uninterrupted work time.

I may see you all this December, after I get caught up. Who knows, I may have the time to jot a piece of flash fiction down in that time. Maybe. Now, I am going to try to finish reading a book and then I can build a table top for my patio. (seriously).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sorry, been busy

I really have been busy. I have been writing in every free minute I can get my hands on. The only reason I am not writing now is because I find the theme music to Dora the Explorer that is in the background a little distracting. I find the classic tunes from Tom and Jerry to be much better for writing.

Part of the reason I have been writing so much is that I have found a character I can not only relate to a little but I want to see what he will do when I throw adversity at him. I have also re-found my writing spot. I don't know why the stone hard chair in my bedroom at the tiny antique desk is the best spot for me to write. I have a perfectly comfortable chair that swivels and has a cushion and a massive desk next to a large picturesque window that I am at right now that seems just fine, but it doesn't work for me.

I think of On Writing by Mr. King and the tiny closet he tapped away on for years pounding out manuscripts. Maybe we are destined to like dark confined spaces. It seems to breed creativity and corrals our wandering minds.

Friday, May 14, 2010


They say that work productivity declines by as much as 50% on Fridays(I really don't know who they are, but I have seen the studies). Today was not one of those days. The house got cleaned fairly well and I managed about 3,000 words in a story. It felt good. Really good. I don't want to stop good, but I had to because I was starting to reach with the material I had thought up the night before so I gave my brain a breather. It isn't used to so much activity in one day. I hope I can keep it up on Monday. We shall see.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A plan

Since I have finished that novella I have been sitting around twiddling my thumbs. (not really. I have actually been fairly busy since then, just not writing.) Part of that time I have been wondering what project I was going to finish next. I have several books at various stages of their life (or death) and I think I know where I want to go with some of them and which ones aren't worth scraping off the side of the road. Time will tell if I am going to stick with this plan or if it too needs to be scrapped in favor of a different plan, but for now I at least have a plan.

Speaking of plans. How is everyone's writing going? Is it what you expected it to be two years ago? Six months ago? And is that for better or worse? I have to tell you the truth. My writing of late has taken me in far different directions than I would have told you it was going to go three years ago. Maybe not 180 degrees different, but a good twenty to ninety degrees off of where I thought it would go.

Maybe I am not the type of writer I thought I was. I don't know. It doesn't matter. I am still writing.

And now, because I am a huge fan of George Carlin, I give you the seven words I try not to use in most of my writing but sometimes fail at.


Monday, May 10, 2010

getting down to business

The patio is all but done. I ran out of diamond dust on the wheel of my grinder so I had to get a new one so now that I have one I can finish cutting the last half dozen or so bricks to finish out the edge. I believe that when my boy gets up I will do that. I also need to get the tiller out and get some grass seed down before it starts to rain this week. Then that project will be all but done. I just have to spend a little time in the shop and make a table top to cover up the well and I will have a nice place to put my beer.

In other news I finally finished my novella, Beneath These Walls on Friday. It has been 14 months since I started it and I am pretty happy with it. I worked up a query and synopsis and have sent it out to a publisher. We shall see. I believe that the novella form is perfect for the e-book market. I could see a resurgence in the medium, especially as the readers themselves become more inexpensive (Borders is releasing one this summer with a price of around $150. I think this will spark a price war and should bring the price down for more people to pick them up, maybe even me.).

So with a couple of projects down now, and a new week ahead I am debating of which project I should tackle next. I have a couple of ideas and I may have to play with them before I settle into one but at least 2.5 tons of brick is now in its final resting spot. I will post some pictures when I get the chairs around the table I have to build. (my wife spent Saturday painting the chairs and they look great.)

Have a great Monday. Will talk at you all later.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Last week, and earlier this week, I seemed to be all over the place. Getting projects started, feeling overwhelmed. Not right now.

Things are starting to settle down. Granted the ideas are still coming but I seem to have relegated them to the back of my mind and the idea notebook that my wife gave me. The house, while still a mess is getting put back together. The patio is half done at this point. I should be sitting on it this time next week enjoying a lemonade- or something else in a glass or can. I have settled down to working on one writing project instead of trying to work on all of them and I am almost done with it- for now. I may put it aside for awhile again and see how I still like it, try to catch more mistakes. I don't know.

I like the focus. It is nice for now. More craziness will ensue later, I am sure. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

not writing

I am still working on my yard and not writing (hence the title of this post). It is progressing quite nicely. The stepping stones have been set and the sand has been compacted (and then the cats decided they had a giant litterbox. Ugh.) and some of the pavers for the patio have been set. I think I can get half of it done this afternoon after my daughter gets home from school and before her t-ball practice. As of right now I have about 2 tons of pavers yet to put into place. It shouldn't take that long.

In the meantime I am editing a novella that I wrote last year and have put away. It was a good thing to put it away for so long. I have fixed a lot of the plot points that were very weak and some of the grammar that I didn't catch the first time as well. It is also going to be longer than the original 25K, but only by a few K. Who knows when I will have it ready to submit. I am venturing no guesses at this point, but I only have about 1/3 of it left to edit and re-write before I am done with this round.

Sorry, nothing new for WIP Wednesday. Maybe next week. :) and maybe I will have pictures of my yard by next week as well.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I have been flitting around projects lately. Writing a page or two here, editing some there, starting a new one when the whim gets to me. This is dangerous. I now have way too many projects going. I need to sit down and finish one or two and get it into the manageable range of 28 projects at one time. Either that or I need to stop having time to think, because when I think I not only come up with new ideas for old stories but new idea for stories I haven't even started yet. Lately I have been coming up with ideas for things I will probably never get around to. I don't know what is up with that.

Spring is here I guess. The leather bound journal that my wife got me for my birthday is soon going to be filled with my chicken scratches of ideas and notions and I couldn't be happier about it. I hope that next Winter I don't have to go through what I went through this last Winter.

Have a happy Monday, I am going to be busy with everything so don't be surprised if I disappear from the internet for at least a little while. :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday post

Not a lot of writing going on here. I have been feverishly working in my yard trying to get it ready to use. It should be a beautiful patio when we get it done. I think today I will put together an Adirondack chair and handle a shove a little more before I attempt to mow the second half of the yard. I would only have the mowing to do if we hadn't had to get a new well this winter.

Anyway, all of this is cutting into any creative time I may (or may not) have had so writing has been at a minimum. I have been jotting ideas in a journal, trying desperately to remember the really good idea I had the other day while driving home from Omaha but I think I have a couple of other ideas I can flesh out. Horror has taken a back seat and more literary works have come into play. I don't know how my mind works or if it does (my wife would argue for the latter) but I am getting ideas and that makes me a happy writer. I hate it when I have nothing to write about. Kind of like this post. :)

Hope everyone has a productive Thursday and thanks to every one for reading my flash piece up on 52 Stitches. I am glad you enjoyed it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday post

I have actually sat here for five minutes trying to come up with an appropriate title for this post and that is all I have come up with. At least it is honest.

First things first. Time to pimp some stories. The Problem with Gnomes is up on 52 Stitches. It is free and it was a blast to write. Go read it if you haven't already. Fate's Hand in Mortal Affairs is now available as well in book form from Pill Hill Press in their antho, The Four Horsemen. This book was supposed to have illustrations to go with the stories but the illustrator suffered a stroke and was unable to finish so it was published without them. I wish the illustrator a speedy recovery.

In other news. My truck decided that after picking up a trailer full of paving bricks (2.5 tons to be exact) would be a good time to have the fuel pump go out on it. I can't blame the truck. It is 14 years old and has 151,000 miles on it. It probably saw all the bricks being loaded and had the mechanical version of a heart attack. I was thankful there was a very nice car dealer just up the road and from the time I called the tow truck to the time they got me back out the door was just under 3.5 hours. Not too bad considering the pump has to go into the gas tank. I think they took pity on a man with his 3 year old kid who was 2 hours from home.

I am very sore after unloading the bricks, with the help of my wife in just under an hour. My back doesn't like me very much, but it never has so why should it start now. I think I am going to go enjoy some reading at this point rather than expend more energy thinking of my own stories today.

Have a great Tuesday!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

of things past

One good thing about working on many different projects the same time is if you get stuck on one you can move on to another. The problem becomes when you start on one you haven't looked at in 5 months and are trying to get to know the characters again before you change their names inadvertently or turn them blond instead of bald or - well, you get the picture.

Have a great Thursday.

Monday, April 19, 2010


No, the name of the post does not come from the television show it comes from the fact that I had several uninterrupted hours of thinking time yesterday and I didn't have a pen or recording device to write any of it down and now it is all gone.

I had subplots going and some darn fine dialog thought up and this morning it is lost in my subconscious mind. Probably forever.

Let this be a lesson to everyone out there that, while having ideas is great, remembering them is greater. GRRRRR!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

nice day, for a Saturday

So here I sit, trying to figure out where to go with the words. I really don't know. I did some significant re-writing of a story this week and re-subbed it. I think it is a better story for it but time will tell if the editor feels the same. I am done with my picture book, for the time being. It was really fun to write and now I am trying to figure out if I can use the characters anywhere else. It took me a year to come up with the story they are in now so things aren't looking real good for them. I still have a couple of books I could be working on but I seem to be stuck. At least two of them I would really like to find some 4 wheel drive for and get them out of the bog and back onto dry land. So, instead, I sit here, wondering what to write and hoping I have enough time to get it down once I do think of something.

On the bright side it is a beautiful day. It isn't supposed to be too hot or too cold. I don't know about the wind but I need to work on my lawnmowers to get them ready for the jungle that is going to be waiting for them after I get them ready. Have a good Saturday and a great weekend.

Even my fingers aren't working this morning. My pinky is getting a workout on the backspace key.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm still here

The last week has been crazy. I no longer have a 2 year old in my house. He is now 3. My wife took 5 days off of work so we worked in the yard. I have been thinking of story lines and getting little writing done. I am going to change that today. I am sitting my butt in the chair and re-writing a story. It is at the request of a publisher so I am inclined to try. It could still be a rejection but I can live with that. One of these hours today I need to brew a pot of coffee. It is on my to do list.

Sorry if I haven't appeared in the blogs lately. I try to read them all, I just don't have time to respond to all of them this week. It has been crazy. Oh, and it is tax day in the States. If you haven't started yet, you are pretty much out of luck. ;)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

WIP Wednesday, kids edition

I have been thinking of a character for the last year. It started out as an early chapter book, but that didn't work out. I have found this character is much better for the picture book format. It also took me about that long to figure out what to do with him, because good characters are sometimes hampered by the situations you can effectively put them into. Here is the beginning of an almost done picture book.

Harry the dog lived with the Pawson family It was Harry, Mr. Pawson, Mrs, Pawson and baby Pawson. Harry the dog was an escape artist. There was nothing that could keep him in. He had escaped from the house. He had escaped from the yard. He could even escape from his leash.

It was always getting him in trouble.
I would post more but it is very short to begin with. The tenative title is Harry, The Great Houndini. 
This is not my first foray into picture books. It probably won't be my last. I hope to finish it later this week and beta it with some adults (they are the target audience of children's books, believe it or not. If they don't like them, they don't buy them. Pretty simple economics. Why do you think Lego blocks are so big- they are fun for adults to play with as well.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

On a Road to Nowhere

My mind is a whirl of confusion these days. One day I will work on a very dark story. The next day I am working on a children's picture book. Somewhere in there I am jotting down ideas for a cookbook I started 15 years ago. A mess I tell you.
I hope you all get where you need to go this weekend and have a good holiday.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

March in Review

March has been, by far, my most productive month this year. I couldn't tell you how many words I have written but by the stats here we go:

1 acceptance, first of the year. I didn't even know about it until Adam Whitlatch told me we shared a ToC together. Burnt Offering is up at Unheard Magazine if you care to read it. Not horror, just to warn you.

3 rejections. I could actually have more and this is just for the short stories, it doesn't include queries to agents. For some reason my email account thought it would be cool to not get me some of my messages. I am a little concerned about this but there is nothing I can do about it.

1 full read request on my MG book. I was very excited about this. It turned out to be a rejection, but a very nice rejection.

3 partial read requests. Again, all rejections.

1 new story written. More than any other month this year. It is dark, definitely dark, but not horror.

So that is it, my month in review. I hope I can continue on this path in April. We shall see. Hope everyone has a great holiday weekend.

Monday, March 29, 2010

good week, but it early yet

Last week was the best week I have had writing so far this year. Close to 9,000 words down in various projects and I actually liked where they were going. About damn time.

This has been a slow year so far. this week, depending on the boy, will probably not be nearly as productive. I have to visit the dentist and the weather is supposed to be nice enough to work n the yard, and boy does the yard need work. You have no clue how much work it is to keep up on 2.5 acres unless you have 2.5 acres then I am in sympathy with you. I still need to take down my Christmas lights outside (don't laugh, up until last week I didn't have solid ground, that wasn't ice, to put a ladder up).

Well, I had better get going. I have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

And now for something completely different

I haven't written more than a flash fiction piece all year. My short story bone seems to have taken a holiday of sorts and I didn't know how i was going to get it back. I would like to thank R.Thomas Riley and Aaron Polson, two of my favorite writers,  for pointing out the Permuted Press antho coming up about time travel. I had an idea almost immediately and now, this morning, I shall set forth to write it before it slips from my ear and hurts itself on the floor.  With any luck, tomorrow I will have another short story to my name and my first finished first draft all year. By the end of next week I hope to have a polished story, worthy of submission. Time will tell.

And now for your viewing pleasure some helpful hints on how not to be seen. And something completely different

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday morning

For some reason my son thinks that going to bed really late and getting up super early is the thing to do. Darn little insomniac. Yesterday it wasn't an issue. I got several thousand words written throughout the day, installed a new toilet, baked cookies, made shrimp scampi, and even got a little bit of reading in (The Graveyard Book for those of you interested what decision I made on Friday) before he finally went back to bed.

Today will not be nearly as productive. I have stuff to do around the house. Little projects I would like to finish here and there. There are groceries to be gotten and more foodstuffs to prepare for consumption. From the sound of the dog and his paws it would appear that he will be getting a bath today as well.

At least I feel like I am not wasting my days at this point. That counts for something, doesn't it? I believe that the winter blahs are over, at least for me.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Reading List

I just finished my 7th book of the year last night. Hey, for me this is good. I just read the second book in Shroud Publications Hiram Grange saga- Hiram Grange & The Twelve Little Hitlers. Excellent read. I read both books in the Hiram Grange series this week. Both written by different writers and both weird as hell. I look forward to the rest of them coming out.

Now I don't know what to read. I have Stephen King's newest doorstop, Under the Dome sitting on my shelf as well as Neil Gaiman's, The Graveyard Book. I also have a couple of Hard Case Crime books I have yet to sift through and some Tom Piccirrili I haven't read either. I could read Dan Brown's newest book or go the literary route and read a book I got from my wife's cousin for Christmas. Speaking of books as presents I have George Carlin's newest on my shelf, unopened as well. Decisions, decisions.

Anyone have any suggestions? What route would you go?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Time to get philosophical on y'all

I will apologize in advance for this post. You can move on if you want to. I am going to talk amongst myself for a minute or so.

I spent a good chunk of my afternoon in a Zen-like state with my chainsaw. We became one with each other. I had time to think about my current WIP and the state of my yard and came to the conclusion that they are linked, in more than one way actually. My WIP is about a boy who goes to work for his Grandpa for a Summer. More specifically he is putting in a fence around the farm. If anyone has done this they know is it hard work. It is even harder when you are only 13. I think it gets more difficult when you hit 36 as well, but that is a story for another day.

the fence is only part of the story. I was looking around my yard and the flooding that is occurring right now. It is different than previous years. The water is running a different way but it is coming from the same places. What has changed? I put a load of rocks (they sprout like weeds every year in my pasture) in a washout that has caused me problems in the past. Not a big deal. It wasn't even that many rocks. Still, it changed the route the water took. Steered it I guess you could say.

Now I bet I have a good chunk of you wondering how rocks and water and fences and a chainsaw have in common. Not a lot, to be honest. I go to thinking about the rocks and how I change little things in my manuscript and the ramifications it has for the entire story. If something happens to this character or this character doesn't experience this how will it change the greater story? I am still thinking about it and the grander picture of it, but I am glad to have these thoughts out in the open.

Sorry to bore everyone with this little monologue. Carry on.

Monday, March 15, 2010

It is kinda like that

The snow is finally melting around here. The rivers are flooding and the place is generally a mess. It is a wonderful time of the year. I think I may go make some effigies snowmen before it is all gone.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Like ice cubes to Eskimos

In the book writing business I have heard many times over that it isn't what is hot but what is going to be. Don't go chasing trends. Blah, blah, blah.

I am not complaining. Far from it. I wish those writers who started the trends nothing but the finest. J.K. Rowling, R.L. Stine, Lemminy Snicket; they have all created things that have become bigger than the original idea. But in the publishing industry, while it seems they are looking for the next big thing, they really aren't buying right now.

We can blame the economy. It seems to be a popular scapegoat at this juncture. 'No one is buying,' is heard in quite a few circles. 'We only want sure things.' Like that ever happens.

You may wonder why I am writing this. Am I disillusioned? Mad? Crazy? Far from it. I am determined. I have hope that what I write will find a home. I received a kind rejection from an agent this morning. He is looking for the type of Middle grade books that I like to write. He flat out admitted that he hasn't been able to sell any of them at this point, so he is being twice as selective about what he takes on. (My particular writing being realistic adventures for the male child, ages 8-14). It isn't selling. Especially if it isn't funny (sorry, mine isn't).

I can't say as I blame them. We have enough to worry about with the natural disasters we hear about every day and the state of the economy. The last thing that most kids want to read about is realistic fiction. They want to escape. I wonder how many of the classics that we liked yesterday would be published in today's market. I wonder if the Hardy Boys would make it through the slush today. Tom Sawyer almost certainly wouldn't.

I dare say that, in spite of this,  The Diary of Anne Frank would and How to Eat Fried Worms would be another run-away success stories, even in today's market. I think we could potentially throw The Little Prince in this if some of the language were tweaked slightly (It reads a little stilted but is still an incredible story).

I am sorry for the ramblings. I am just looking over my library and the 'Classics' that I have enjoyed over the years and wonder where they fit into today's reading agenda. Move on now. Nothing to see.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Last man standing

Well, so far I am the only one in my house who hasn't gotten this nasty stomach virus that is slowly (it has a 4 day incubation period as far as we can tell) knocking off everyone in the house. I spent the night on the couch trying to avoid it, catching up on bad television and reading until my eyes could no longer stay open. My neck is paying the price for my sleeping arrangements now.

I would have written until the wee hours of the morning, but I have a thing. I really can't write at night. My brain is drained and my body only wants to try to relax. If I can't write by 3 in the afternoon I have serious writers block. I may get some writing done today, if the kids will cooperate and the dog doesn't want out every five minutes. Come to think of it, this counts as writing. Doesn't it? Probably not.

If you are looking for some great reading, head on over to the 52 Stitches website and read Cate Gardener's story. It is a nice little dystopian fantasy with a very Cate ending to it.  I really enjoyed how she built a world in so few words. It left a distinct picture in my head.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Don't know the words

As a fan of Iowa State University (widely known for their academics and not for their sporting teams) we frequently didn't know the words to the school fight song. In spite of this we would sing along at sporting events to the beat with the words, "Don't know the words. Don't know the words. Don't know the words and I don't care!"  It might be one of those, you had to be there moments, but it puts a smile on my face.

Enough of that tangent. I have been battling a sick kid and installing a sump pump this week and in spite of this have written a couple of thousand words. I am pretty happy with myself. They probably suck and will have to be cut later, but they are there for now, another reminder that I tried this week, in spite of myself.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I might be lying to you. . .

The rules are as follows:

1. Thank the person who gave you this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you.
4. Tell up to 6 outrageous lies about yourself and at least 1 outrageous truth.
5. Nominate 3 creative writers who might have fun coming up with outrageous lies.
6. Post links to the 3 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them.

I would like to thank Danielle for giving me the opportunity to have something to post today. So, to be quick about it, here we go-

1. I like to lick electric fences.
2. The last time I was hit by a car was on my birthday.
3. I haven't killed anyone in six years.
4. I saved a dog once by taking my foot off of its head and pulling it out of the toilet.
5. I helped deliver a baby in a freight elevator.
6. Few people know this but I was the youngest of the hostages in the Iran hostage crisis. It put me way behind in school.
7. The current design on the postage stamp was actually my idea. So was Windows 7.

Okay, that was fun and yes, one of those is actually true. I would like to give the opportunity to do this to anyone would like to try (I know, a cop-out, but I am running out of people who haven't been nominated already.)

Now I have to go. My boy is sick and I have things to do today. The fate of the world is in my hands. :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Has it been a week already?

If I am to believe the calendar it has been a full week since my last post. This is not out of lazyness. It is out of a lack of anything to say. I haven't had a story picked up. I haven't finished a story. I haven't started a new one. I have been in a week-long stasis. I have managed a couple of thousand words written. They are good words. I like them anyway.

I hope to have something more to say in the near future, but for now I am going to go back to working on the story I am into. When I am done with that I am going to go back to reading the book I am enjoying immensely.

Until then, later. :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New friends and old

Sometimes I have so much fun I really don't know how I contain myself. Take yesterday for example. I managed to finish getting my snowthrower a tune-up and 'shocked' my brand new well. The tune-up only took as long as changing a spark plug, because everything else had been done the day before. The well on the other hand took hours. Not so long actually putting the bleach in it, but to flush it out of the system was time consuming. I still refuse to wash a load of clothes with any color in them. Then last night while the boy played in the tub I managed to get another 500 words down in a story/book. I don't know where this one is heading. It depends on how many subplots I can throw at it. I think I could throw a lot at it, it is making them stick that is the problem.

I  noticed Aaron describing his linear way of thinking being more conducive to short story writing than novel writing earlier this week. I have the same problem. For 15 years of my writing I never thought past the short story. I didn't have to. I had a story, I told it, I was done with it. Now I want to move on, not completely away from the short story. I like them. They are like childhood friends. You never really want to say goodbye to them.

Sadly, while I was trying to introduce myself to the novel I seem to have lost touch with my old friend the short story. He doesn't stop by to play anymore it seems. What is really pissing me off is that my new friend, the novel, doesn't want to come over to play right now either.

Maybe when it is warmer we can all get together and have a barbecue, have a few beers.

I wonder what poetry is doing this time of the year?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Where does the time go?

It kills me. If this was March, it would be the Ides of March. but in February we are already more than halfway through it. This month is far too short to cram it all in. I mean you have Groundhog day, presidents day, Valentines day, black history month, Ash Wednesday, and what seems like 20 different family birthdays all going on in a very short 28 days. We have even managed to cram in the Winter Olympics this year (are you watching, it is quite a show they are putting on for us).

Still, I seem intent on getting more into my days and out of that I seem to get less out of my time. every little project, just a minute or two is all it will take, turns into hours that I could have been busy doing something productive. Things I didn't intend on doing at all turn into full scale projects with diagrams and notes. Stories that I know I should work on get left in the dust for shinier, newer projects.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Good Spot

I have struggled with short stories of late. Struggle really isn't the correct image. It is more like wrestling short stories and the stories are a grizzly bear with claws and teeth. It hasn't been pretty. I haven't won a single match yet.

Actually, any writing I have done lately hasn't been pretty. I have been getting some writing done. It has been slow and methodical and not necessarily the type of writing I thought I would be doing even two months ago. If you told me two months ago I would be working on a MG/YA type book involving a girl and a messed up prism I would have laughed at you. If you would have told me I would be plugging away on a 2nd grade level early chapter book about a witch with a clothing complex I would have been calling the psych ward to see if they were missing a patient.

Still, I am happy with what I am doing. It may not be the monsters or death that I usually write about and I think I am fine with that for now. Maybe I have most of the monsters out of my system- for now anyway.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Social networking is good

Okay, the title of this post is a bit of a misnomer. I consider most social networking to be a huge time-suck. One that I enjoy, but a time-suck none the less. Sometimes good things can come of it. Like story ideas. Even if that wasn't the topic on hand. Long story coming up. I hope you have time.

When I was in college in the fine arts program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha we were talking about where we wanted our writing careers to go. What direction did we want to take. Most of the people in the class were literary writers or poets. They had aspirations of being published in the finest literary magazines in the land or landing a sweet teaching position at a prestigious university. One girl in my class was working on her musical career and by most standards she has done quite nicely with that having a couple of top 40 hits. She can also boast that she is huge in Japan.

I told the class I would like to write for children. The teacher looked at me like I had the plague or something worse. "Why is that?" she asked.
"Because I really enjoy the current books that are out for children right now," I said. (This was the mid-90's and the current crop of children's books included The Stinky Cheese Man as well as I Lost My Bear.) They were witty books and I truly did enjoy reading them. For the rest of my time in her class whenever I turned a story in (about every other week) she would ask me in front of the class if it was written for children. I always told her no. my class was not full of children and I was writing for them.  Secretly I think she thought I was wasting my time.

Flash forward fifteen years. I still would like to write for children, despite my short stories. I am subbing a middle grade literary adventure book and I have gotten some encouraging responses so far. I was talking with Chris Fletcher (of M-Brane SF) about dreams and remembered something from a nightmare I had when I was a child. I believe I was five at the time. It was about a witch with a patchwork cape. It scared me half to death. I had the dream several more times throughout my childhood and even as an adult once or twice. K.C. mentioned it would make an excellent story (part of an ABC book I believe she said) and it was seconded by a couple of other folks. I thought about it most of the weekend.

Darn you social networking sites. Don't you know I am working on a YA book right now and can't be bothered.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ups and Downs

It is odd how making a shortlist can make you feel great and horrible at the same time. I feel privileged that I made it that far and like crap that I didn't make the final cut. Such is life. It seems that many of the stories they were looking at followed a theme and my story wasn't a part of that. Still, I feel really good because they say they almost never think about stories in the first person, but mine was different in a good way.  I really don't know why I like writing int he first person. I think I can slip into the skin of the character easier that way. Also, when you are reading it is like you are participating somehow. I don't know, maybe it is just me.

Also I have running water in my house (running through the pipes, not on the basement floor) for the first time in two weeks. I felt like a caveman during that time.  A caveman with electricity, internet and telephone. Now that that dilemma is over I can find more time to write. Right after I clean the house. It really needs it, because there is remarkably little cleaning you can do without water.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

you make me feel super happy

Natalie Sin has given me something to blog about today.

Because of this I must now choose two supporters to share this with. They must be strong and able and willing to pass it on. They must have stuck with me through the thick and the thin (and some of my posts are very thin, translucent sometimes). So I will do this through scientific analogy and careful rendering of statistical information- Ink a bink, a bottle of ink, the cap flew off and I choose: 

Cate Gardener and Danielle Ferries. 

I want to thank everyone who reads this blog, because, I know, you really don't have to. 

Now, on to other points of interest. The dam seems to have broken. At least it did yesterday. I had the house to myself for a couple of hours while they started to dig my new well yesterday. I took the opportunity to put on my second pot of coffee for the day, move the computer into my writing desk and pound out 1500 words in Moonbow. I feel so freaking accomplished. I don't know how good those 1500 words are but they sure felt good to get out of the system. I hope I can continue with an 800 word day today. Speaking of that- I had better get started. The house is quiet for now. Have a great day.

Monday, February 1, 2010

One down, eleven to go

January was, if you have read any of my posts through the month you know this already- slow. I managed nothing spectacular.

Writing accomplishments (or lack thereof) in January:
Words written in story form: between 2,000 and 2,500.
Stories written: 1 flash piece posted on my blog.
Stories rejected: 2
Stories accepted: 0

That pretty much covers it. February is going to be much better, if I can get past the weather related problems that seemed to plague me and every other Iowan that I know of. And my little water problem. And that whole, brain and fingers don't want to cooperate thing as well. I just know that things are going to get better. They have to.

Have a great day. :)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Speed reading for the impaired

I will be the first to admit that, while I read everyone's guidelines I submit to, I read them quickly. I take brief, illegible notes and submit based on my chicken scratches. This doesn't always work out for me. I am sure I have messed up formatting, especially those clearly outside of the norm. With agents it is worse. I have been subbing to agents looking for a taker on my MG book. It has a couple of things going against it. It is short (although just right for the standard MG book at 26K) and it contains no supernatural elements. My characters aren't witches or vampires. They don't go hunting zombies or try to save the world. They are kids who have an adventure. Just like any kid could. It is the kind of book I read when I was ten. Just before I found my dad's copy of Robert Bloch's Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper.

My query has gotten some responses. A partial, quite a few flat out rejections and some very nice personal rejections. Yesterday I found out that my speed reading of guidelines got me in a bit of trouble. If I had been the agent I would have given me a Rejection on the spot. I didn't follow the guidelines. I sent my query and I, even after re-reading the guidelines, missed the part about the first ten pages. I was lucky enough that she invited me to re-submit (with emphasis on ACCORDING TO OUR GUIDELINES). I don't know if my query caught her eye or she is a nice agent who believes in second chances. Either way I am thankful for the second chance.

That is all. Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Good News

We found out last night that our well will (hopefully, if the weather holds) be dug next week. At least it is not the month without running water they gave us as a possibility. Oh, the joys of living in the country. Still, while we have changed how we do many things we are getting used to it. Still I look forward to being able to turn on a faucet again.

I was working on my supernatural YA that I have slowly been putting together over the last month and a half. (I still cling to it despite its slow go and tell myself I am choosing my words carefully as opposed to ramrodding it just to finish.) I like the fact that it is told from two different times, one when the character is a child and one when she has just gone out into the world. This way when I get stuck on one part I can work on the other. That was what I did today. I have been working on the child's part of the story since shortly after I started. Today I went back to her turn to adulthood. It was a welcome change. Things had been getting a little weird and I needed to show how she was adjusting to her new found freedom and the recent death of her grandmother. It all ties together. I am just glad I am writing.

Also, my wife and I went on our first date 15 years ago tonight. It was a vivid night of drinking beer (I still remember the brand) and watching Iowa State hockey (we kicked ass). One of the best nights of my life.

Good fight action about a minute in.

Have a great Thursday.

Monday, January 25, 2010

This is getting old in a hurry

I am sorry but this post will have little to do with writing and a lot of gripes involved. Here we go: I have to say this is possibly the worst winter I have ever remembered. The weather has been one miserable storm after another with no breaks in sight. Even our "thaw" we were supposed to have this weekend only caused flooding and when it re-froze caused slick streets. Last night while coming home from my mother-in-laws (where we spent the previous night because, while we finally got power back after several days of staring at candles for entertainment our well has gone bad so we have no water) I saw several people in their cars slide off the road because of black ice. Black ice is ice that just looks like wet road. It is very dangerous because it looks so unsuspecting.

So my daughter doesn't have school again today. I have lost track of how many days they have called it this year on account of the weather. We don't have running water in our house (I am drinking my orange juice this morning from a throw-away cup and would do the same with my cereal if I had paper bowls to put it in.)

the only good news is that I have caught up on some of my reading. I read Sideshow P.I.-The Devil's Garden by Nathanial Lambert and Kevin Sweeney (which was awesome, more about that later) and I am halfway through Gary Pool's recollections of his Vietnam experience as an EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) Xuc May (Never Happen). It is a self-published book and has the grammatical errors of one but it is an interesting book that reads like he is sitting there telling you the stories in person (which he has, because he installed a central air conditioning unit in my last house). (I am going to give him a plug for it now, (no one will ever try to take that address from him) If you ever interested in reading a soldiers recollection of the military life (and maybe some ideas for your own writing, I have come up with several nightmare scenarios I could form a story around) I would recommend looking it up.

It amazes me how much reading you can get done when you have nothing else to do. I can't clean without water, I can't do dishes, wash laundry. Without power there was no internet, no television, no movies, no building things in the shop. I did get a little bit of writing done in my hopefully YA book I am calling Moonbow, at least until the battery died on my laptop. It makes one thankful for all of the modern conveniences that we take for granted every day. It also makes me wish that the sun put in more than half a day a week this year.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

icy editing time

We have had another ice storm (the 2nd one this season and the 4th major storm this season. How lucky are we.) This one did more damage to the trees than the other one, which means when this mess melts I will be having a good time with the chainsaw. it has also set me back on my writing. Mostly because it involves more days off from school for my daughter. I get very little done when she is home. It is not her fault that her and her brother like to argue and fight so much.

So, while I haven't gotten any new writing done I have managed to hit the halfway point of the edits/re-writes in a novella I wrote last year. Beneath These Walls is coming along quite nicely. The overall story isn't nearly as bad as I remember when I wrote it and, while the good characters scenes are going very smoothly, the bad characters scenes are being chopped and rewritten so that they hardly resemble their original scenes.

And now that both children are up they have decided to go at each other like wolves on an elk carcass I have to go.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Katey mentioned the other day on my Thursday blog (which was a substitute for WIP Wednesday) "I don't think it needs to be speculative right off to grab the attention-". She was speaking of the fact that my speculative story that I am working on did start off with a speculative element. In fact it seems perfectly normal to start off with. No hint of where it is going.

Is this a bad thing? should we start with a speculative element to set the mood in a piece and let the reader know that this is going to be odd/different from the norm and that real world principals don't necessarily apply? Or is it okay to bring the reader into it when the writer wants to, as long as it makes sense in the story. I have been trying to remember the beginnings of several of my favorite spec stories and how, and when, we knew that this world the writer was creating was not quite like ours. Harry Potter comes to mind.

On page one of HP we are told that everything was quite normal. then on page 3 we are told of a cat reading a map and Mr. Dudley having to ponder what he just saw. Ms. Rowling seemed to come into the speculative nature of the story fairly quickly.

In Stephen King's book, The Shining, we manage to go through several chapters before we find out anything is truly wrong with the Overlook Hotel. We catch glimpses of it, but it isn't until much later in the book that it is actually spelled out for the reader.

These seem to be the two extremes and good books in their own right. They demonstrate that there is no clear cut way of doing this and that adding a speculative element into a story is an individual choice. I guess the key is to keep the readers attention and, as long as it is foreshadowed well enough, the writer can do about anything they want.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Storm of a different color

“Have you ever seen anything like it?” Oliver asked. He looked out on the horizon then back at his new car from the covered porch.

“Nope,” Al said as he got as close to the porch railing as he dared.

The big green bullfrogs had been raining down for ten minutes already. They smacked against the gutters and got hung up in the trees before they flopped to the ground. Their broken limbs tried to hop but it was more like a strained push than anything else.

“When do you suppose it will stop?” Oliver said.

Al settled into one of the mildew covered plastic chairs and took a long draw on the beer he had started earlier. It was warm but the flies weren't bothering it. “Don't know,” he said after his moment of reflection.

“Do ya think it's doing this in Calaveras county?”

Al smiled. “We could go for a drive and find out.”

Oliver cringed as a particularly large one broke his windshield and slid down the cherry red finish to the ground. He settled into a chair next to Al's. “Maybe later.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thursday the Fourteenth

It doesn't have the ring or sense of awe that Friday the 13th has, but it is an honest assessment of the day. Work continues to drag slowly for the two projects I am working on. A page edited here, a paragraph written there. It is slowly adding up.

Very slowly.

Since I have posted the previous beginning of the story in an earlier post (this is the one about the prism that doesn't seem to work) I have reworked it- a lot. That is now the second section of a longer piece that delves into girl and the grandmother. This is the new beginning, although that could change at any moment.

I visited her every Summer and this summer had been no different. As soon as school let out my parents dove me the 400 miles from Minnesota to Missouri and then drove back without me.
It was three weeks without me and I think they secretly enjoyed it, even if they said they couldn't wait to see me. For me it was time with an old woman I had little in common with in a strange town I knew practically nothing about.

There is little speculative about it from this but it gets there. I promise. Sorry I had to post this on a day other than Wednesday. Have a great Thursday the fourteenth.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First grade reading assignments

My daughter, being in the first grade, is learning to read with some proficiency. she is, as I am told by her teachers, near the top of her class which makes me proud. they are doing reading proficiency tests at school this week and the material they have sent the children home with is atrocious at best. The story doesn't go anywhere. We read one page of what they sent home (they sent 8 pages to study from) I looked at her and said, "That was boring. Let's go get a book from the library to read." We picked out a nice Dr. Seuss and she read the whole thing by herself to me. She even got the cadence and inflection down correctly. :)

It baffles me that they want these kids to have a life long love of reading and then give them crap to read. It doesn't make any sense. Let them read Shel Silverstein (she read me The Giving Tree on Saturday) or some Seuss. Make it fun for them. Dick and Jane don't cut it anymore, although I wonder if it ever did cut it.

I was reading comic books in the first grade. I had a blast. It was fun. I still read. Sorry about the rant.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hello Monday

It is Monday. I can actually say I had a quasi-productive weekend and that things are getting back to normal around here. Now we are only going to be 12 degrees below normal instead of the 30-40 we have been for the last couple of weeks. I have a drift in my front yard that all but buries a 9 ft flowering cherry tree and I won't be able to tell if my mailman has come without actually going out to check.

Still, I managed some quality reading this weekend and a couple of pages of material in my work that I started for the Triangulation antho series but I determined soon after I started that the story was going to be far too long. Even now (and despite the fact that I have been working on this for 3 weeks now) it stands at 4K and I feel it is just getting started. I have to say that it is really weird writing from the point of view of a ten year old girl. I know where the story will end up (approximately) but getting from where she is to where she needs to go is going to be fun and potentially very challenging. I secretly hope it is.

So far I think I have four-thousand words of very good material. Time will tell if I am correct. In case you haven't noticed I am going for quality over quantity in this one and the words are leaking slowly out of me. I am deliberating over every phrase and word and hoping that each one rings true. It is frustrating at times and maddeningly slow, but when I re-read what I have it brings a smile to my face.

The weird part is that it isn't even Horror. It is more of fantasy than anything else. Off to make a pot of coffee and see where today takes me now. Have a good Monday.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Four Horsemen

Pill Hill Press has released the ToC for their Four Horsemen Antho. They are doing some things different with this one. 1. Every story will be illustrated. 2. It will be available as a hardcover as well as the trade paperback.
Opening Story:

* "A Pretty Lucky Day" by Camille Alexa
* "The Chronicles of an Alien Invader" by Jason Toupence
* "The God-King" by Scott M. Sandridge
* "The Gunny" by Megan R. Englehardt
* "Savage Planet" by Alethea Kontis
* "Scorched Earth" by Matthew Dent
* "Beware False Tribute" by Carla Joinson
* "Colorblind" by Jessy Marie Roberts
* "Fire and Stone" by Jonathan Shipley
* "The Battlefield" by Will Morton
* "The Midnight Maiden" by Bill Ward
* "Azieran: The Making of the Skullscron" by Christopher Heath
* "Untitled" by Alva J. Roberts
* "Fate's Hand in Mortal Affairs" by Jamie Eyberg
* "Superstition" by Laura Eno
* "Clay's Fire" by Kat Heckenbach
* "The Ape" by Kelli A. Wilkins
* "Judgment" by A.R. Norris
* "Open Season" by John H. Dromey
* "Valley of the Ravens" by Scott Taylor
* "The Onion Men" by Jacob Henry Orloff
* "Bleeding Sky" by Marie Croke
* "Borrowing Sugar" by Marshall Payne
* "On a Black Horse" by L.E. Erickson
* "Hot" by Nye Joell Hardy

I don't recognize a lot of the names in this one, but the ones I do are spectacular. I am actually shocked I am in such good company. I will post a link when it becomes available.

Hope everyone is having a warmer day than we are. This weather is rotten.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I am a bad writer

Since the beginning of the year (and what are now? 6 days into it) I have written a grand total of 500 words. I blame myself. It has been hectic and not entirely unproductive. I have edited re-written 20 or so pages since then, but new material has only been lingering on my brain with little time to get it down on flash drive.

Part of the reason is life. Life has become incredibly busy and unproductive and this does not make for good writing time. It also doesn't help when every waking minute is spent trying to figure out how your two year old reached the spray bottle of bleach on the back of the counter and where he sprayed the little bit that was left in said bottle. It really has been one calamity after another. By the end of the day I am so beat that all I want to do is fall asleep. Maybe today will be a little better.

Oh, look. It is starting to snow. Just what we needed to go on top of the two feet we already have. The forecast is calling for 6-10 inches and blizzard like conditions tomorrow. This will not help the writing cause as I will be spending hours clearing out my driveway now. ACK! Lucky for me the story I am working on doesn't seem to want to die but the words aren't coming very easily. I don't know if that makes any sense at all.

Have a good Wednesday. Sorry I don't have anything for WIP. Maybe next week.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The first Monday of 2010

I am in an odd minority. It is tax season and I like it. I anxiously await new tax forms to come in the mail or through my e-mail so I can enter them on my forms. I am neurotic like that. It also signals the beginning of a new year. New year, new plans, new adventures. New goals.

I only have two actual goals I would like in 2010. One in my hands and one completely out of my hands. 1. I really liked Aaron's goal of keeping one sub in front of a pro-paying market at all times. I did a pretty good job of it last year and I will continue that tradition now. 2. This one will be out of my hands but I am going to TRY to get a book sold. This one will be harder. I only have one book out in the world. He is a good book and I was relieved and sad to see him go. We waved and he promised me he would keep in touch as I sent him off. So far I haven't heard anything.I am working on getting another book ready for the world and I look forward to shipping it off on that train when the time comes, but not before then.

In other news I have started another blog. This one isn't for commenting or daily posts (although it would be nice). This one is for keeping track of things. I am using it as an out-there-for-the-world-to-see spreadsheet of sorts. I am using it to keep track of sales: in-print, on-line, and forthcoming and the books that I read during the year. It is listed under my things to read column on this blog. It lists all six of my upcoming publications and, as I stated earlier, it won't be updated as frequently but I can dream that it will be.

Have a great day. Mine is starting off with a bang. School is back in session and I forgot my daughters lunch in the mornings chaos (whiny son monopolizing my time) so I have deliveries to make. Have a good one.