Writing it all out

I admit to slacking recently. I never give myself strict dates when it comes to writing. This is a hobby, and being that regimented kind of ruins it. Hobby = fun. Work = not fun, but it pays better.

Still, writing it all down helps keep me focused. Here's an idea of what I want to accomplish before Fall.

  • Write 1.5 more short stories. I have half of one, and another idea to get to.
  • Write the promo article for the book of short stories.
  • Keep moving forward on outlining, and keep the Camp Research blog idea moving.
  • Actual research to fuel my outlines.
  • Edit The Playground. Whip it into beta reading shape.
  • Organize the short stories into book format.
  • Edit the short stories into shape for beta readers.
  • Beg for beta readers for the novel and the book of shorts. (When the time comes.)
  • Choose one outline to become my next novel. Write an absurd blog post about it.
  • Work on the winning outline, while saving the rest for later.
  • Various promotional things as they come up.

I've been trying to read more. This isn't a bad thing for writers. I've even been reading outside my genre, which I do on occasion. I look at this like an ongoing goal.


I also took on another beta reading project. I might be able to help someone, but I learn from the process too. As long as we all play nice, we both win.


It seems like a lot, but it isn't. I could finish the writing part on the short stories in two hard days. Organizing them could take some time. It's like putting the songs in order for a good concert. Thank God for copy and paste.


Editing will take some time, but my critique group is working through the early chapters of The Playground right now.


Research involves enough “stuff” to get the story moving. Additional research is always required after the draft starts. I hope to start my novel by Winter time.


How regimented are the rest of you writers? I don't have specific dates, and there will be more camping in my future too. The world won't end if I don't get everything finished on a tight schedule. (I'll bet I'm close though.) Do you make lists? Do you have a system to enforce your schedule? I won't even participate in nanowrimo, because I don't like the tight goals.

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Camping Achieved!

We wound up having a great time this weekend. The mission was to test drive everything the camper is supposed to do.

Our first night was kind of a mess. We arrived well after dark, because the actual campgrounds were full. Camp was out in the bush about 40 miles from the main highway. There is a paved road that took us most of the way in, but we took a considerable amount of dirt road before we found a spot. This camp has no WiFi, no cell service, and even the radio and television stations won't reach. (Perfect.)

Our first mission was gasoline. I managed a fast upload when the gas station happened to have WiFi.

Back at camp, we needed to test drive everything. I managed to pigtail the generators together, and make the air conditioner work. Thank God, it was in the low nineties. We tested the microwave too. These two items will not run without two generators in tandem, but it all works.

We bought a new gas can just for generator gas. Apparently it's been a while since I bought a gas can. The stupid nozzle has a safety on it – a safety that doesn't work – at all. I fiddled with it for about an hour, and without a nozzle you can pour gas, but it goes everywhere except where you want it. I looked in my tool kit, but nothing caught my eye. I thought about using my pocketknife.

I managed to pull the nozzle apart with my hands, gutted the internal parts, and got enough of it back together to fill the generators. It's pretty hard to screw up a hollow tube to use as a spout, but a team of engineers managed to invent something new. We'll be looking for a new nozzle.

We sat up our outdoor grill and built a pretty respectable kitchen under the awning. Both of us kicked back and read for a spell. I really enjoyed this part. The temperature dropped, a breeze came up, and the awning provided shade. My wife tested out the sound system. This is another thing I didn't necessarily want in a camper, but if it exists it must be tested.

Outdoor speakers

My wife doesn't mess around either. No mellow notes for her. ACDC provided the soundtrack to our afternoon.

To me, camping is all about getting away from things. I never wanted a microwave or a television, but in modern campers it isn't even an option not to have them. My wife bought a movie, and the plan was for dinner and a movie.

We spent about an hour and a half trying to make the DVD player talk to the television. (It exists, so we must test it out.) It went kind of like this…

“What the hell did you touch now?”

“Nothing! What did you touch?”

We wound up making it work, and watched a pretty fun movie called The Kingsmen. It had a graphic novel feel to it, but we both had a good time. Some of the stylized violence made me laugh out loud. (What can I say, it 's the truth.)

We fixed our dinner and dug in to watch our movie. Food out camping is never health food. In my family it's all about working on your first heart attack.

Homemade baked beans, steak, and campfire potatoes filled out the menu. We loaded our DVD, but you know what always happens. One of the nosy neighbors stops by.

Right out the camper window

Blogging is international in scope. For those elsewhere, this is a doe mule deer, so named for the ears. We have both whitetail deer and mule deer in this area. She stuck around for hours, and didn't really care if we were around or not. She nibbled the weeds and even looked in the door at one point.

This particular deer is pretty young and probably weighs all of ninety pounds. A big buck will go over two hundred pounds.

I got up early and checked for otters, but no more showed up. I was ready with my trusty cell phone too. I kept my phone nearby at all times. We camped in a meadow area instead of the deep timber. My questing bird didn't show up or I would have captured a sound bite.

On the way home we passed this pretty waterfall. We stopped to check it out. I told my wife to give me her best pinup pose. I was allowed to take this picture. She used to be a lot more fun.

It was 108 degrees when we parked the camper at the storage slot. We camped. Everything works, to a degree. We made a list of a few items we still need, but will be going out again.

I didn't outline a darned thing, didn't write a short story, and really don't regret a thing. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend too.


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Gas stop with WiFi

We never got a campsite last night. We're bush whacking it instead. We wound up setting camp in the dark last night. Towing the trailer uses a lot of gas, so we had to make a gas run.

When I woke up, there was an otter splashing around right out my front door. He was about four feet long and cuter than cute. He's a slippery bugger, and I never got a picture.

Here are a few images I took while spinning in a circle. This is today's office.

Have a good weekend everyone. I'll probably check in after we get home.


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I just can’t keep my mouth shut!

There have been a ton of political upheaval events this week. For the most part I have an opinion on most of them, but it isn’t a driving force in my life. If anything, I hope we don’t scrub and rewrite the American Civil War into something it never was. I think it’s important to learn it as history.

I'm so cool up here

It’s been a while!

I’m back on my soapbox about WordPress. Just moments ago, my reader became a rainbow flag, presumably to celebrate the gay marriage victory in Washington. I’m not going to take a position on the decision. Those who want to celebrate or mourn are welcome to their opinion.

WordPress is an international platform. To think of it as exclusively American is an insult. It is also a place where differing opinions can exist, and I like it that way.

By placing this flag on my reader, WordPress is taking an active role, and side, in an issue. WordPress is out of line here. Display either the rainbow flag, or the Confederate flag on your own post. Tell me why it’s there, and I’ll probably read it. I feel the same way about those who want to support or condemn the dissenting opinion of Justice Scalia.

WordPress is now telling me dissenting opinions are not welcome. I kind of like to read all opinions, myself. It’s like a shut-up warning to those who might want to engage in a bit of rhetoric.

This also brings up the international aspect. Americans get a bad rap for not recognizing the rest of the world matters. This isn’t undeserved. WordPress is reinforcing this position. I doubt those who want to write about starving children feel this decision overshadows their important posts.

WordPress should be the safe place where we can all talk – about anything that moves us. This includes dissenters, and those in the third world who don’t give a darn about American politics.

WordPress is overshadowing everyone’s issues today. I don’t believe that’s what blogging is all about. If you want to write about your anniversary, what you’re making for supper, or your karate class it shouldn’t be read with someone else’s political opinion attached.


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Is this really about writing good characters?

I’ve been told I write decent characters. (By more than just my mother.) Part of it has been an evolutionary process about even learning who makes a good character.

In the real world, the hero is usually someone who goes to work every day, puts in a full shift, and takes care of his/her family. This person pays taxes and sometimes even donates to various charities.*

In fiction, this character is boring. Fiction is escapist, even if it is intended to be realistic. We have to get the character out of the cubicle and into something else to create a story.

This usually means showing them on the worst day of their lives. (Until the sequel.) In some cases it is the best day, and good things are happening.

To fully understand this, authors occasionally have to get out of the routine too. We need a different environment, different scenery and sensory stimuli. Sometimes we even have to interact with other humans. This helps us understand the characters we create.

By purest luck, I have the chance to go camping this weekend. I’m taking my iPad with me. I may get to use it; I may not. I may get access to WiFi, maybe not. I usually post Friday through Monday. This weekend it might be different.

The Friday post has been accomplished, no promises beyond this. Have a good weekend everyone.

* I might be talking about myself here.


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Let’s talk customer service

I had one of the longest days at work that I've had in years. Ten and a half hours with no lunch. I gotta tell you, this post is going to be short. I always try to post on Wednesday, so we're going to talk about customer service.

I've been on a little theme about how I use a cork board app to storyboard my novels. I really like an app called Corkulous Pro. I sent them an email years ago and asked them if we might get some pushpins and string. I explained how I use it, and that strings could really help with plants and payoffs.

The people at Corkulous responded immediately, and thought that was an awesome idea. It never happened though.

This app hasn't been updated in a couple of years, so I sent them a fresh new email. It crashes, because it hasn't kept up with the newer iOS updates. I waited a couple of weeks and bumped them with a new email. It's been about a month now, and they've been silent.

I've been searching for a new app without much luck. I was seriously considering what it might take to create my own app and market it. I decided to try one last search using new words. I tried “pin board.”

There is another app, and it's almost perfect. It even has pushpins and strings. What it doesn't have is index cards. Index cards are kind of important to my process. The app is called Pinnic.

I sent an email to their support team and explained what I needed and why. They responded in a few hours, and this is what they said:

“Thanks for contacting us Mr. Boyack,

We are now preparing a major update of Pinnic and we will add those index cards.

If you need any other feature or would like to join the Beta tests do not hesitate to post.”

That's how you respond to a business email. I may have mentioned my blog and the fact that I'm posting about apps… to a bunch of authors. (It might have happened.)

I could probably resize the sticky notes and use them. I like sticky notes for another reason. They may be yanking my chain, but the idea of a pending update sounds promising.

I'm excited, and I'll be patient about this. I can still use Corkulous for now.

That's the news of the day. Now I have an appointment with a quart sized bottle of Belgian sour beer.

Oh, and I have something crazy, interactive, and fun coming soon on the self promotion front. More on this later.


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The end of my weekend

Today is my rotating day off. With it winding down, I thought I'd tally up whatever I might have accomplished over the last three days. I also have a serious question for you. I know I'm rarely serious, but bloggers know stuff and maybe you can help me.

My sister-in-law was here for a few days. I had to work through most of this, but my wife took a day off and got to spend it with her sister. This is great, considering we only get to see her every five to ten years. We went out to a nice dinner one night.

We also had our grandson over the weekend. We took him to the last flag football game and watched him collect his trophy. His parents both had commitments, and I'm glad we could help out.

I managed to deadhead my roses. This makes them grow and brings on new flowers. Roses all took a hit here last year, but mine aren't grafted so they all came back true. We had a terrible cold snap in November and it caught them all by surprise.

I poisoned the lawn for clover, crabgrass, and dandelions. I know some people are against that, but they won't let me buy napalm anymore. I don't mind a certain amount of invasion in the lawn, but there's more clover than grass right now.

Research on potential novels turned into reading. I'm so hooked on the book that I'm reading the whole thing. I actually have about five books by this guy, and some of the data I wanted is in another volume somewhere. I cleaned and filled fountain pens and managed a page of notes that deserve deeper research.

The competing outlines got a few more index cards. One is starting to show signs of an act one, and the others aren't far behind. I'm struggling to find the right bad guys for the science fiction piece though. The story I have in mind would have the readers cheering for the bad guy.

I started reading another novel at the same time, and am over a quarter of the way through. I'm really enjoying it, and looking forward to getting back to it.

I finished one short story, but it needs some work, wrote a cool micro fiction, and started another short story. The new short is coming up flat though. Maybe going to work for four days will bring some clarity.

I prepared a couple of guest posts and sent them off. One is going to be a blog swap so that will be fun. I explored an autumn promotional opportunity with a friend, and it has a lot of potential.

I also exchanged a pretty fun bunch of emails with a cover artist for the book of short stories. The cover is looking incredible, but we're going to let it stew for a month or so. I don't want to release it until school starts up again. We have time to play around and tweak a few things. (It's so awesome though!)

Back to outlining and that question I have. I wrote a sequence of posts a few weeks back about how I storyboard my outlines. I also mentioned a specific app I use, but that's it was getting tired on iOS 8. It hasn't been updated since about iOS 6. It likes to open, crash once, then work.

I sent an email to the company asking if they were planning an update. The fellow immediately forwarded it to the person in charge. Everything went silent since then. I sent a follow up email two weeks later that was never acknowledged at all.

I've searched for a cork board app that would do the same things this app does and there is no such thing. Therefore; does anyone know how difficult it is to create an app and get it on the Apple Store? The research I've done usually says to hire someone to make it for you. I'm not opposed to that idea if it seemed profitable, but how do you find these people and what might it cost? It seems like many people are creating apps these days, so why not me?

I know someone out there in blog land has some of these answers. Let me hear from you.


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