Insect Invasion

It all started in late January. Things warmed up, and we were giddy with excitement. Idaho can be a cold place for a few months each year, but this year was going to be different. Then the bugs showed up.

They are tiny little black flies of some kind. Some people are calling them fruit flies. I call them black gnats. They were charming at first, kind of like the first robin of Spring. That was short lived. They’re everywhere now. This includes a glass of water, my beard, a cold beer, the air we breathe.

I originally blamed Old What’s Her Face’s* pointsetta. I’ve seen similar insects show up with the arrival of a new plant. Christmas ended and so did the giant pointsetta. The flies remained.

They are attracted to Tituba, my sourdough starter. At first, I had to pick one or two off the top with a spoon. Kind of gross, but cutting and feeding her involves throwing most of it away and just keeping a drop or two for the next batch. Then I opened the crock one day and a swarm flew out. I swear I heard Barry White music inside.

Saran Wrap doesn’t stick to crockery. Guess how I learned this. Tinfoil seems to do the job, but the little buggers still found a way inside. I was faced with possibly freezing the whole crock solid to kill them, or spraying the whole thing with Raid. Niether option sounded good to me. Sourdough starter freezes well, and comes back to life just fine. The freezer space is premium real estate at the Boyack house. Raid, well, just no.

Oh the indignity

Tituba, and her cute crock are safely nestled in a giant ziplock bag. She never complains, and is working hard to keep us in sourdough bread this winter. I have no idea how I’ll dry some to save for next year. Exposing it to open air will probably bring back the swarm. Maybe I could dry smaller portions out in the refrigerator.

She isn’t stylish right now, but there are no bugs.

As an experiment, I sucked all the air from the baggie. It’s probably a good thing I did, because it inflated like a balloon. Yeast fermentation gives off carbon dioxide. If that were added to the existing air in the bag, I’m sure it would explode.

I had my daughter cut my hair this morning. We got a nice visit out of the deal. Three different students complimented me on my beard. Don’t tell me it’s just professional curiosity. I’m convinced that it’s awesome. I left my daughter a $20 tip, because she needs it.

In other news, the cover reveal for Will O’ the Wisp is scheduled for next Tuesday. I also made landing pages for both versions and added the copyright notice to the North American version.

Then I opened a blank page and created ending data for every book I have out. Now all I have to do is add the purchase link for Wisp, and it’s a simple copy and paste to get the “also by this author” data in each book.

I also used an online service to update my sidebar with these tricky links that direct people to the correct Amazon store. Now I’m not begging people to initiate a special search so they can buy one of my books from their store as opposed to Amazon.com. If one of my international followers would test any cover and report back, I’d appreciate it.

Since this post is mostly food oriented, I scored some baby bay scallops at Whole Foods. I’ll sauté them in garlic butter, and Old What’s Her Face is making us some Ceasar Salads for dinner – baby bay scallop Ceasar Salads. (Heck with that chicken Ceasar stuff.) Fresh ground black pepper — yes please, it cammoflages the black gnats.

Tonight I’ll probably tackle another post for my blog tour. I’d prefer writing them all before I book it.

* Entertaining Stories; protecting my wife’s online identity since 2013.

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Now that would be awesome!

I’ve heard the phrase, burning the candle at both ends, all my life. It indicates that everyone needs a little down time now and then. A period of time to recharge and reflect.

Right about now, I’d love to burn the candle at both ends. Recently I’ve been using my pitchfork to scoop piles of candles into the forges of hell. Work was a zoo today, and has been for weeks. There are projects that keep getting further behind. I can’t put out the fires fast enough.

I’ve been driving myself hard on the writing front too. I have a lot to get done, and I’m pressuring myself to do it. There is no particular reason, it’s just how I’m wired. It is possible, in theory, to choose two projects per weekend, and stop once they are accomplished. I just can’t live that way.

On a positive note, Sleepy Hollow is over for the season. Maybe I can pre-write one or two of those blog posts in my spare time. I’ll have to hurry, SHIELD is coming back.

There aren’t going to be any guest posts this week. I never got any invites, or requests to appear here. This isn’t a bad thing, but I’d like to keep the goodwill going. I’ve enjoyed the various lessons my guests have provided.

I’d still like to get a romance author in here to share a few tricks. How do you build that heat, and maintain it for a few chapters before delivering the payoff? I have some ideas, but if there is a recipe you’d like to share, we could all benefit from it.

I also got a request for a dialog lesson. I’ve posted about this before, and maybe someone else would like to take a crack at it. Sometimes hearing from a new person helps us learn.

Anyone who appears here is welcome to promote their newest book, or coming soon, or editing service. It’s part of the deal, and is expected.

I was asked by a couple of people how I manage to write in multiple genres. I’m willing to write this out, but if someone would like to make it a blog swap it would be more fun. I can also give a moderate guns tutorial. Guns appear in many genres and it’s always nice to know a little something about them.

Several bloggers have dropped me a line, then never sent me anything. You’re still welcome, and I’d love to host you.

If anyone would like to set up a blog swap, or just wants to appear here, please let me know. I’d love to hear about your new project, and get a few writing tips along the way. I usually have Tuesdays and Thursdays available.

That way, my followers get fresh content, you get new exposure, and I get to burn a few less candles. What’s not to like? Drop me a line at Coldhand (dot) Boyack (at) gmail (dot) com. Lisa Burton is standing by to field all inquiries.

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Sometimes you just run out of weekend

I started my day with the weekly call to my parents. I don't care what else is beconning, this is a Sunday must. We spent an hour or thereabouts discussing everything under the sun.

I pre-wrote some blog posts to use when Will O' the Wisp comes out. I still have a bunch of them to write, but I want to be ahead of the game. I also finished my “final” read through. It's good, I'm very happy with it.

I got some comments I never expected via email, and the advice was spot on. I opened the document again and made some small changes.

I still have to make a title page for each version, and add all the links in the back of the book. That might be a project for Wednesday, which I have off. I have a haircut roughed out for Wednesday too, so we'll see how productive I am.

I exchanged email with my cover artist, and she's going to post the Will O' the Wisp cover on her blog first. I think this is only appropriate, since her talents brought it to life. Expect that to happen this week sometime.

I also got some good feedback on my short story, but ran out of time to tend to it.

My blog friends are the best. I've relied upon them to beta read, some asked for ARCs, and one made my cover. I'm enjoying writing and blogging more than ever before. It's the interaction that keeps it fun.

Still in the works:

  • Write more blog tour posts for the queue.
  • Make the landing and editing data for Will O' the Wisp.
  • Publish two versions of Will O' the Wisp. Considering two different days to avoid the main one being held up by Amazon.
  • Update the ending data for every other book after Wisp is published to include purchase links.
  • Update the blog tour posts to include purchase links.
  • Fulfill other terms of my copyright license upon publishing Wisp.
  • Hire the blog tour company.
  • Participate in the cover reveal for Wisp and blog the crap out of it.
  • Add the cover to my sidebar in some kind of coming soon format.
  • Touch base with ARC readers. This involves individual emails, because I don't share addresses without permission.
  • Anticipate a fight with Amazon, because I'm putting two versions of Wisp out.
  • Update my “About Me” page.
  • Update my sidebar. Figure out how to show two different purchase links.
  • Update my Gravitar data to include Wisp.
  • Figure out how to get my new baby on Goodreads. Open for advice here involving two slightly different versions.

It isn't like today was unproductive at all. There's just a lot to do. Some of these projects will take minutes, some will take hours, but they all have to get done. I really want to give Will O' the Wisp a good start. It's a good book and deserves a little more effort on my part.

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Filed under Writing

Saturday writing, scheming, and musing

I thought my daughter was home this morning, so I spent my time reading blogs. I fully expected her to come talk to me any minute. Turns out she helped a girlfriend with her hair last night and stayed over there. I figured it all out when her car wasn’t out front.

I worked on a short story and finished it at 4569 words. This one involves Lisa Burton in a story tentatively named Bombshell Squad. I don’t love the name, and the story still needs a little something. Do short story writers work on draft after draft, because this is where I’m at with it? Part of writing about the robot girl is she needs to be more than human to come across well. I have to put my thinking cap on here and let it ferment. Still, it’s a fun story.

I’m not going to run these on my blog. I have it in mind to bundle them up with some Macabre Macaroni micro fiction and publish it.

I went back to my final (maybe, fingers crossed) pass through Will O’ the Wisp. It’s nearly ready, and re-reading it got me really excited. I have to send out some emails to the readers and make sure they are ready at launch time. Some have weighed in, some have not.

I also made contact with a blog tour company. I don’t have a lot of young adult contacts, and Wisp is a young adult novel. I don’t know whether to beg the blog world, or use a company to help me spread the word. My theory is this company has a broader reach than I do. Of course, I still have to write all the posts. Maybe I can do a bit of that this afternoon.

I jumped ahead with my critique group and sent them an important section of Wisp. I really want their input on this section, and won’t send them Wisp chapters after it’s published.

I also managed about three paragraphs in my current novel. I’m still chopping my way through the middle and had to abandon a scene that wasn’t working. I don’t feel any pressure here, and getting it right is more important than speed.

I’m also trying something new in my marketing approach. I’ve tried the Kindle Countdown and the free days. Every time, I moved a bunch of books, but with no real purpose or benefit that I can see. There have been a few folks who expressed interest in one story or another. I’ve been offering them copies via email. Maybe giving select copies away is more like casting bread upon the water. I haven’t asked anything in return, and don’t intend to. Maybe I can change my Karma somehow.

In other news, I began a regimen of pumpkin seeds (raw) and saw palmetto tablets. The pharmaceutical to reduce my prostate has some side effects that I’d rather avoid, and it is a treatment for life. Since prostate issues are slow going, I figure my next PSA blood test will let me know if these work. If they don’t, I can start medication at that time. In a perfect world it would all just go away, or there would be a one time treatment. Since that isn’t the case, I’m exploring all my options.

Questions for the day: Hit up the blogging world or hire a tour company? (This book is worth it.) Should I allow a gap of a few months and do both? Am I in the right ballpark for a short story word count? Would anyone like to read it and offer an opinion?

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Oh WordPress, what’s next?

I give WordPress credit for improving the comments bar. I still prefer the old idea where I could go to a page of nothing but comments, follows, likes, awards, etc. this new version at least gives me a filter to look at only comments. 

I have a new problem though, plus the return of an old problem. It’s probably an iOS issue, but it exists. If I want to like a comment, the icon registers and immediately unregisters my action. I have no idea whether my idea registered at the other end.

Whenever I respond to a comment, the wheel thingie just keeps spinning. It used to make one cycle and my reply was posted. Now, I have no idea. I have to visit that specific site and check comments to see if it worked. I always respond to comments, even if it’s just to like them. I’m embarrassed to think I might have missed someone.

The reboot issue has returned with a vengeance too. If I read a post, I have to log back in every single time to read the next one. Does WordPress have any idea how frustrating it is to go through 12 hours of posts like this?

WordPress is hell bent on changing things up. They aren’t going to be dissuaded by their users. I believe they owe it to us to make something that actually works. 

If you’ve commented, and I failed to respond in some fashion, I’m sorry. I attempt to respond to everyone. It makes me angry that WordPress is making me look bad. 

Get it together, WordPress. 

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Alton Brown Live

Old What’s Her Face* and I had date night last night. We bought tickets nearly a year ago to see Alton Brown Live. For those who don’t know, Brown is a celebrity chef. He’s hosted Iron Chef America for years and years, and his own program, Good Eats, helped put Food Network on the map. This was before all cable chanels became reality TV and game show networks. In the early era, this was a good channel.

Brown taught me a lot of interesting things with his humorous style that seemed to combine Mr. Science and Monty Python. Today, he is relegated to hosting various competition shows. Think; you have 72 seconds to cook something using Fruit Loops, escargot, and rubber cement – go. (Who cares.)

Brown’s talents are wasted in these endeavors, but he has to keep making a living. I get it. He came up with the idea of a live show that wasn’t a typical cooking presentation. I have to say it was a fantastic show. It involved some standup comedy, a few humorous songs, and some food preparation that involved sensational props.

In similar style to other shows I’ve attended, there is film running before the show starts. This is my horrible attempt to capture yeast puppets burping and farting as they do what yeast does. (Maybe my sourdough starter would have enjoyed the show.)



Yeah, I know it’s awful photography. I never claimed to be a photographer.

This was a long show, roughly two seventy minute segments with a twenty minute intermission. I was sad when it ended. Brown is a genius of presentation. His song, Airport Shrimp Cocktail, is worth the price of admission.

There was food preparation too. He made a gallon of chocolate ice cream in ten seconds using a fire extinguisher and some jet propulsion techniques that were way over my head. He also made two pizzas using a super sized Easy Bake Oven. The oven was about ten feet tall and powered by theatrical lights.

His engaging stories cemented something in my mind. He used suspense to make the punch line all the sweeter. His story elements all tie together in the show too. Yeast from the film is a central player in a dough mishap he shared with us. (And it was hillarious.) As a writer, I really appreciate all the technique and polishing that must have gone into this show.

If you ever have the chance to see Alton Brown Live, do it. Even if you aren’t a cook you’ll have a great time. Oh, and never eat airport shrimp cocktail.

*Not my date’s actual name.

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Researching a Fantasy Story, and How Mythology Helps by Guest Author Craig Boyack

coldhandboyack:

Busy day for me today. Ali asked me to write about the kinds of research that go into a fantasy novel. You have to go to her blog to read all about it. Please do.

Originally posted on aliisaacstoryteller:

cots3


If there are two things you have learned about me from following this blog, it’s 1. I love mythology, and 2. I love researching mythology! It seems I am not alone; fellow author and blogger, Craig Boyack, has dropped by to tell us how mythology helped pave the way for grounding one of his recent novels, Cock of the South, which I recently reviewed on this blog, and which featured on The Friday Fiction. So without further ado, here’s Craig…


Ali asked me to visit today with the topic of researching a fantasy. Many people think there is no research involved in fantasy, and that authors make it all up. This isn’t true, and we must ground our readers in some kind of reality they can relate to. This is more than having air and gravity. Readers have expectations and it’s important to consider those.

The Cock of…

View original 825 more words

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February 24, 2015 · 9:19 PM