We now return to your regularly scheduled program, for a day

I finally got a writing day today. I earned it by staying up late last night doing my critiques for tomorrow’s meeting.

I wasn’t overly productive and started my day washing the copper fountain pen I use at the paycheck job. I’ll fill it after it drys. Then I reviewed some cover sketches and put down a deposit. Fingers crossed to have The Cock of the South out by the end of September.

There are some pending reviews for my other works floating around out there. Private communications are that they’re going to be good. (Yay) If some of them show up, I’ve formulated a plan. I could give away a book per day leading up to The Cock of the South. I could do it anyway, but a stack of happy reviews makes it all look more enticing. I won’t do another long giveaway, but maybe one story per day (with a bit of promotion) would catch someone’s eye. That way they can choose the genre that most suits them and grab a freebie. (It’s all speculative fiction, folks. Some of it just speculates a little more than others.)

The only flaw in this plan is shoppers won’t have time to read them before The Cock of the South is available to purchase. It might lead to sales down the trail, but not necessarily on release day.

What do you readers and writers think? I haven’t done much promotion this summer and getting something new out there feels about like the right time. Would you do it if you were me?

My wife and I are leaving town Friday and taking some time for ourselves. If we see cool things I’m sure they’ll wind up getting blogged about. I may not catch every day this weekend, but U. S. readers should be out doing something else anyway. For my international audience you could…, I don’t know,… maybe read one of my books if you really miss me.

I downloaded another Harry Dresden novel to take with me. There won’t be much reading time, but some is inevitable. I’ve been reading a lot of indie authors this year. (I’m no hypocrite) I always liked Harry, and this doesn’t mean I can’t have the best of both worlds.

My writing today involved introducing my heroine. I spent more time on description and setting than I usually do. (According to my sources, this is a good thing for me.) I feel like I can take time here, because there are already stress points from the villain, the antihero thug, and the victim. Part of this section involves a spooky old house and it needs some description to really sell it. The next chance I have, someone’s going to die and that always keeps pages turning. (Someone died today too, but it was pretty peaceful.)

I’m sure it’s full of telling and typos. It’s impossible to fix something that doesn’t exist. My attitude is to get it on the page and go back through it after a day or two. As of right now, I’m at 10,098 words. That makes 2644 on the day; not horrible.

Let me know what you think about the promotion idea.

13 Comments

Filed under Writing

You call this a Blog?

I’m completely slacking off today. I tried to catch up with everyone’s blogs, but I’m sure I missed someone. I’ll try to catch up completely in the next day or two.

I set the recorder for the Dr. Who premier and watched it. I had a hard time hearing it all. It was like the dramatic music drowned out the dialog at some points. There’s probably a writing lesson in there somewhere about not letting the setting overwhelm the story, but I’m too lazy to be brilliant right now. Watching a dinosaur cough up the Tardis was pretty cool.

I printed out all the critique stuff I need to read, but haven’t worked on them yet. We meet Thursday, so I need to get on with it.

Tonight I really should edit another chapter of The Cock of the South. I have an artist working up some cover sketches and I’m watching for the Paypal invoice. Things are looking promising so far.

It looks like being gone wounded my stats. Nobody unfollowed, and I actually gained one. Instead of forty views per day I was at around ten. It makes sense, I didn’t post most of the weekend. Next weekend will be more of the same, but I might squeeze one post in.

Now I’m drinking an Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout. I also downloaded Dead Man’s Party and am rocking out to Oingo Boingo. (I promise not to dance for you.) Maybe I’m feeling the approach of Halloween.

Perhaps my Muse is telling me to take a night off. I’m off to a Dead Man’s Party with my big beer.

16 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

My High Desert Trip

I just got back from the high deserts of Northern Nevada. I was going to brush this off without a post, because it’s a controversial topic to some people. My mother drew a buck antelope permit in the lottery system, and I wanted to help her get one. This is a uniquely American animal, and is not one of the true antelopes found in other parts of the world.

I won’t post images of dead animals, like so many other people would. I want to talk about this a bit, and it’s my blog after all. There is a subtle writing lesson in here if you pay attention.

My parents told me where they were going to camp and since I grew up in this area, I decided to meet them in the field. When I got there, they were already out hunting. I had about four hours to myself with no wifi or phone service, and two locked campers. I found hundreds of mushrooms including one of the deadly amanitas. There were tons of nice looking boletes, but I only eat mushrooms I can positively identify. I took these photos to give you an idea of what it looks like.

imageimage

This was the view from our camp. August is traditionally the hottest month there, but it never got hot. We had to scrape ice off the windshields every morning. We even got pasted by a hailstorm, complete with lightning and thunder. The water in places was up to the top of our tires. It passed just as quickly as it arrived and we headed back to camp empty handed.

They’d hunted up in the mountains with no luck. I suggested an out of the way spot with rolling sagebrush hills. I still have faith in the area, but everything runs for cover when the hailstorm strikes. They wanted to try the most obvious spot next, and I warned them about competitors. There were plenty of antelope and plenty of competitors. It was a pretty drive though and we even saw a buck mule deer still in velvet. Mom stalked a herd of does and fawns with my brother, but a suitable buck wasn’t with them.

We grilled steaks over the fire and had a few cold beers. My brother wanted to go to the next obvious spot, and I suggested some more out of the way places. My plan prevailed.

Saturday morning we drove past several herds of antelope on the way to our next place. They were on private property and we respect the landowner’s wishes. We saw a pair of bald eagles along the lakeshore along the way. My brother spotted a lone antelope in an available place. We drove to a low spot, out of the antelope’s sight, to discuss strategy. I had no idea whether it was a buck or a doe, but there was only one way to find out.

Mom and I snuck toward a patch of big sagebrush for a closer look. (There are several kinds of sagebrush, but this is the only one I know by name. It’s actually called big sagebrush.) The antelope turned out to be a respectable buck, and he was looking right at us. This usually means the end of the hunt. Antelope have eyes like eagles.

I motioned for my brother and dad to drive the trucks on down the road. This really shouldn’t have worked, but the antelope fell for it. While he watched the trucks drive away, we snuck to the next patch of big sagebrush. The other brush was about eight inches tall, so imagine islands of six foot tall brush among a sea of the shorter variety. There was too much brush in the way for a fair shot.

The next move was to get even closer and avoid being seen. I hung my white cowboy hat on the last big sagebrush and we crawled the last fifty yards. The antelope bedded down for the day.

We crawled through sagebrush, flint, mud, and several cowpies. Keep in mind that mom is in her mid seventies now. She was really out of breath when we got as far as we were going to get. I told her to take her time, because the antelope was bedded down. When she was ready she placed one perfect shot with her .30-06, and harvested her antelope.

We spent the rest of the morning breaking down the meat and getting it iced in coolers. Then we had a midday breakfast that included Mom’s home made chokecherry syrup. I grew up doing all of this stuff, and chokecherry syrup was a staple in our house. My brother stayed at camp today to pick fresh chokecherries which are everywhere this year.

Our supper consisted of antelope liver and onions along with the heart. We don’t waste much when we collect an animal. We also cooked up a rack of antelope ribs for one person who doesn’t eat liver. The evening was rounded off with Sam Adams Octoberfest beer, a roaring bonfire and watching the bats flitter overhead.

image

Me in my natural habitat

The camera adds about fifty pounds. This was the first time in about thirteen years I got to do this with my family. It almost had a taste of attending a reunion, but the stuff I hadn’t seen in years consisted of bats, antelope, chokecherries, and mule deer.

When I write about such things, I have a real basis of knowledge. There are guns in my stories, and I know what I’m talking about when it comes to the right way to use them. I know how to make a pot of beans or a Dutch oven full of sage grouse. I can make preserves, including chokecherry syrup. This is important when someone recommends writing about what you know.

This doesn’t mean writing about camping or hunting. It means to make the story elements genuine when you write. If one of my characters is a dressmaker someday, I may have to take a class. If she catches her own fish, I already have that knowledge.

The world around us is changing rapidly. Pursuits, like hunting, may go away entirely someday. I’m glad I got to experience it all, and I can feel my ancestors watching when opportunities like this come along. Some readers may take offense to this post. I can assure you that isn’t my intent, and everything we did is perfectly legal. My family might be the ones to know when the zombie appocolypse comes along.

I’m sure I missed some of your posts, and I’ll do my best to catch up. I also need to check the comments over at Ali Isaac’s place. She did a wonderful post about my writing and I want to participate in the comments. I have another work week ahead of me, plus my critique group, then my wife and I are off on another weekend trip.

18 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Friday Fiction featuring Craig Boyack

coldhandboyack:

I just walked in from my field trip and found this. Thank you Ali. This is very generous of you. I’ll try to check in and participate in the comments.

Originally posted on aliisaacstoryteller:

Boyack photo (2)

“Ever since I was old enough to read I’ve loved escapist fiction,” says author Craig Boyack. “There’s just something about travelling to a magical realm or distant planet that appeals to me. Some of the stories I grew up with are considered pulp fiction.

“My goal is to offer readers that same experience. I want to take them on a journey to places that are both unsafe and wonderful at the same time. To introduce them to characters who have a choice in how the story turns out. To let them experience both success and failure.

“I call my blog Entertaining Stories, because that’s the goal, to entertain. There aren’t going to be a lot of morals and thought changing events in my stories. I want readers to escape from lives where they have little control and have to worry about whether their retirement funds will still be…

View original 1,759 more words

3 Comments

August 21, 2014 · 6:24 PM

Winds of Change

Everyone seems to be making trips right now. I see bloggers apologizing all over the place. Summer is winding down, school is looming for many. Why the heck should I be any different?

I’m going to miss a post here and there over the next two weeks. I’ll make some and miss others. My paycheck job is sending me away this week, so Wednesday’s gone. I have to help my parents with a project out in the sagebrush this weekend. My blogging goal is to reblog one special post on Friday.

I’m leaving here on Friday, and I’ll try to get it done. Otherwise, no wifi and no cell service until Sunday. You guys might have to reblog it for me. I have faith in you.

On the other hand, I get to use my four wheel drive and wear one of my cowboy hats for a weekend. I’ll pick up the slack when I get home, then I’m gone the following weekend too. Old What’s Her Face* and I are going off by ourselves for a few days.

The idea is, I’ll post, but not at my usual pace. I’m sure my stats will reflect this, but it will all recover.

* Not my wife’s real name

6 Comments

Filed under Blogging

Writing the first draft

I love writing first drafts. You don’t have to worry about every little detail, just get some words on the page. I’m one that edits as I go, and don’t heed the popular advice. Sometimes I come up with something further down the page, and have to go back and modify the manuscript. It works for me. You do what works for you.

I didn’t think I was going to be able to write today. I watched the movie Sin City again last night, for research purposes. I decided I wanted to watch Pulp Fiction again for the same reason, but don’t own a copy. Old What’s Her Face* offered to go to Target for me, and I caved. It’s better than Bed Bath & Beyond, but not by much. I suddenly found myself alone.

I sent a quick text to Lisa** and headed for the writing cabin. The coffee was ready by the time I got there. I fired up my computer and did a quick review of what I’d already written for The Playground. Rachel Carrera asked to see the first few pages and offered me some really good advice. I made those changes, and fixed a few typos I’d found. If you don’t know Rachel, you’re missing out. Click on the link and check out her blog. (Thanks Rachel.)

I sipped my coffee and added a couple lines to the story. Then I went back and changed a roasting pan into a foil roaster. “Hey Lisa! Do we have any foil roasters in the kitchen?”

She came clacking down the hall in her polka dot dress and heels. Her hair was up in victory rolls again. “There’s one left. Bento*** used some of them when he was here over my vacation. What are you going to do with it?”

“Smother you.”

“Nice try, but I don’t actually breathe. It’s all programed motion to look like breathing.”

“That’s the beauty of it. It won’t actually hurt you, and you can still talk to me through your speakers.”

“It’ll mess up my hair.”

“I have pictures of bunnies from the fair. Don’t you want to see the bunnies?”

“What do I have to do?”

“Just have a seat while I fold the roaster around your head. I’m going to pinch your nostrils shut and you tell me if they stay that way.”

I wrapped the roaster around her face and folded it back over her head. Then I pinched her nostrils shut by bending the foil. Her chest kept rising and falling.

“It worked really well,” she said. “My nostrils are staying shut. I could open my mouth if I wanted, but I don’t think a human could. Can I take it off now?”

“Sure. That really helps, thanks.”

“I’ll just throw it away.”

“Nope. It’s a story element now. Put it in the basement in case we need it later.”

“Got it, then I’m going to fix my hair and makeup.”

“What’s the worry, it’s just me.”

“I like to look nice on working days. Besides, sometimes people show up.”

I kept writing. There are several story lines and I made them cross in minor ways. I think it’s cool today, but may change it later. I pulled a guy’s teeth and removed some body jewelry the hard way.

I emailed the bunny photos to Lisa and searched for some lunch. I decided I was finished for the day. My word count is at 7454, giving 3801 words for the day. It’s time to introduce the other story line and I want to start fresh on that one.

Time to watch Pulp Fiction again. I like the way these stories blend one tale into the other to make an overarching story. That’s what I’m going for here.

* Not my wife’s actual name.

** Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She’s a robot and helps me around the writing cabin these days.

*** Bento is a supporting character from Panama. He filled in for Lisa while she was gone.

27 Comments

Filed under Muse, Writing

Off to the Fair

Sometimes you just have to walk away from the keyboard. My imagination is a pretty fun place, but it needs fertilizer to keep growing. (No manure jokes. Yeah you in the back row, I see you.)

Old What’s Her Face* and I went to the Western Idaho Fair today. It used to be the Idaho State Fair, but commercialism killed that romantic title. The carnival folks and vendors find it more profitable to have multiple fairs all over the state. I concede that Idaho is huge, and someone from the Wyoming or Canadian border isn’t likely to drive to Boise for a Saturday at the fair. Therefore; several fairs in various locations.

I like the idea of someone growing the biggest pumpkin in the state. It’s fun to compete for something that is the best in the state, but those days are gone.

We started our day here. The home of deep fried foods, beer, and sweets.

image

A quarter mile of sugar, cholesterol, and alcohol

We both grabbed a prickly pear lemon aid. This is fresh squeezed with a shot of syrup from the cactus fruit. It’s on our must list every year.

My wife started off with one of her favorites, a Navajo taco. It wasn’t made the right way and she threw it away. These things are awesome, but they don’t lend themselves to commercial shortcuts. If you don’t use a yeast raised fried scone to start with, you might as well give up. She replaced it with a Greek chicken pita, and said it was wonderful.

I opted for a standard Greek gyro, and a Basque chorizo. Mine was wonderful too, and the restauranteur who runs the Greek cart can expect a visit from us to his downtown place very soon. Basque chorizos are one of my favorites, they’re also hard to screw up. The Basque community is large in the part of Nevada where I grew up and these things are a staple. Fortunately for me there is a large Basque community in Boise.

We stopped at a wild animal display. There were quite a few wild cats like tigers and servals. As a western boy, I liked the bobcat. This place charges money for portraits with a select few of the animals. We watched as someone tried to get a picture with a lion cub. The cub was naughty and they finally gave up. He was so busy they couldn’t get him posed. They opted for a very busy skunk instead, and it was easier to hand the skunk something shiny and he held still for a split second.

They indicated they were an animal rescue organization and all the money raised went into the care of animals in need. You never really know, but the lion cub and skunk were pretty happy.

We checked out the standard exhibits. I loved an action photo of a great horned owl. It won second place to another owl photo that I didn’t think was as good. The biggest pumpkin was 206 pounds. This is kind of disappointing since they get near 1000 pounds elsewhere. I chock it up to too many fairs. A competition of five is less intense than one with fifty entrants.

I won a photo ribbon myself once, in Nevada. This was back when cameras used something called film.

It was cool that they have a brewing competition these days. There were dozens and dozens of entrants. Home brewing has really taken off. It doesn’t make for much of a display, since it’s a rack of brown bottles with ribbons on some.

Someone had a large display of carnivorous plants that made me jealous. My last one died this summer.

My wife thinks I’m an idiot, but I like to walk through the small animal barn. This is where young farmers get their start. I just like the animals and took a few pictures for the blog.

imageimage

I took the bunny photos for Lisa**. She would appreciate them, since she has one called Bunny.

I always like the poultry. There weren’t any turkeys today, but some of the ducks were pretty. The chickens always steal the show and so I took some pictures for you.

image

This huge black rooster was pretty friendly

imageimage

I think a yard full of these would be pretty fun to watch while enjoying a cup of tea and a book. There were tons of rabbits and chickens. Many of them were in covered cages and photos weren’t possible.

We didn’t pay to see the giant hog or the tiny horse. We’d visited them in previous years. We stopped off to watch some lady loggers from Maine. They threw axes and chopped logs. It was fun watching them run on a floating log. Then it was one more mediocre brown ale and time to go home.

It’s another statement of the times when Idaho has to import loggers to put on a show. I’ll leave it there and avoid a political tantrum.

The fair is spread over several weeks. They bring in free concerts and there is a huge carnival. Some years the concerts are pretty good. I asked my wife if she wanted to come back to see The Doobie Brothers. She said, “No. Do you want to see The Doobie Brothers?”

I said, “Already have, in 1979. Paid eight bucks. It was a pretty good show.”

* This isn’t my wife’s real name.

** Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She lives at the writing cabin these days and helps me around the place. She’s a robot and has her own pet rabbit.

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized