Tag Archives: chores

Sad

It was a simple enough plan for this weekend. Write as much as I could before returning back to the work week. It’s the weekend between paychecks, so we try not to do anything that costs money, or gasoline.

I got started on Mari’s story, but it’s another transition phase. Those always take me longer. When the sun came up completely, I went outside to water the hanging baskets and potted plants.

That’s when the heartbreak announced itself. I’m afraid my peach tree is no more. It was going to be a good crop this year, too.

The main part of the tree snapped in the night and is laying across my lawn. The bits that are left hang over the fences, but there’s nothing to recover that would form up on my own property.

We’ve been talking about it, and it’s going to take a huge trip to the dump and require a hard day in the sun. Temperatures have been over 100 degrees for weeks. I’m not looking forward to this. With the next payday, I might even hire someone who has the proper tools and a trailer that can handle the volume.

I mention this, because it’s going to require ladders and lines to make sure the highest pieces fall in my yard and not the neighbors. Somewhere over the years, I started having a hard time with ladders. Add in a chainsaw and it’s kind of a risky proposition.

I’ll stop here. It’s kind of hard to be creative with my current mindset, and I don’t expect much tomorrow either. I should probably be happy it didn’t take out the patio cover or the fences.

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Just checking in

I haven’t updated in a while, because so much of my life is fairly routine. It isn’t like we have date night every weekend these days. There are some things folks might relate to.

Today is a day of chores. This found me crawling around on my hands and knees in the mud, but the sprinkler system is up and running now. Then I had to climb a couple of ladders to change lightbulbs in the garage. After that, I lugged some photos and paintings up to the attic. These were permanent fixtures at my office. Since we’re getting a new location we were told to bring everything home and expect limited room at the new place. I’m afraid a stark barren cubicle is in my future.

Old What’s Her Face and I decided to put out the patio furniture while we were at it. She also learned that some old vinyl records are valuable and had me look through our attic box. Turns out some of the more valuable ones we have twice. An artifact of getting married and each having a copy.

This doesn’t mean that we’re going to do whatever version of eBay exists for old records. They’ll probably stay in the attic since we no longer own a turntable.

As for writing, I started a new project. Yesterday’s word count came to over 1700. This will be a stand alone, and I shared my start with some friends who seem to like it.

I have most of a storyboard for this one, but it’s nice to be able to drift a bit during the process. One odd thing kind of surprised me. I needed a name for my main character. I outlined her as kind of a scrawny blonde of some kind. The kind who’s strong, but not muscular.

When it came down to it, she became a Cuban-American girl. Since this is somewhat post-apocalyptic, I don’t need to bleed a lot of Cuban culture into it. She’s a formerly American girl with an Hispanic look to her.

I’m glad my friends liked the start, because it will probably come out a bit darker and grittier than my usual fare. I’ve already killed two innocents in the first 1700 words.

I am a firm believer in light moments, and have a couple of animal characters I’m counting on to bring a bit of charm. Also, to make it one of my stories, I’m going to include a little magic. Since the setting is the former American South, it will be a bit of Voodoo.

This also marks a return to first person point of view for me. I love it for Will O’ the Wisp, and I’ve used it for several short stories, most notably about Jason Fogg. I think this will come across better as first person since much of the time Mari will be alone.

I have a tile I really like, because it pays homage to an old film favorite. I also have a mental block against it, because Once Upon a Time, seems to indicate something from the past. Granted it will be from Mari White’s past, and not necessarily our past. (Mariposa Rivas-White)

The working title is Once Upon a Time in the Swamp. I’d love to know what you guys think about this. I know titles don’t seem all that important during the drafting phase, but they really help me while writing.

I’m the guy who still needs a title for my space trilogy, and have two more volumes to figure that out. If you happen to be online today or tomorrow, I’d like to know what you think of my working title.

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Content with progress

Today is my flex day, and it’s nice when they tie into the weekends. I’ll start on my long change when I return to the office tomorrow. Since I work ten-hour shifts, four in a row gets kind of brutal. It’s my back mostly. Not a lot of nice recliners at the office.

During my vacation I had three goals, but only accomplished one and a half. This weekend I finished up that other half, then did a complete read-through of Midnight Rambler. I had a few things to fix, but it’s a fun story.

The hat has to face one of his enemies, and Lizzie finds a boyfriend of sorts. It all goes down during a major storm event that becomes almost a character in its own right.

Those who read all the stories will get hints of something that plays into my next project, but I’m still not abandoning the idea that each story stands alone.

My next move will be to send an email for a cover, internal graphics, and a couple of Lisa Burton posters. I just need to figure out what those might involve.

There were errands and such, too. We went from freezing to 86º in three days. I uncovered the air conditioner and got it running. I still haven’t set up the sprinkler system, but it’s been raining.

I also had to take my truck in for service. That cost me Saturday afternoon, since nothing is just around the corner here.

Old What’s Her Face signed up for a service called Peacock. It’s the NBC version of a streaming thing. I discovered one of my all-time favorite series on there and have been binge watching it. Crime Story is set in 1963. There’s a lot of neon, chrome, old cars, and a wonderful playlist involved. There’s also lots of murders and hits, the rise of a Mafioso, and the cop who’s trying to stop him. Who knows, maybe the Muse will bring me some fresh inspiration from all this.

Hope all of you enjoyed your weekends.

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An errand day

Today was the day to pick up my new glasses and get the frames fitted. I was probably more excited than I should have been, but it’s been a long boring stretch for the last eight months or so. It’s also been a long time since any of our flex spending account went to my needs.

I’ve got to say my driving glasses are wonderful. I’m one of those who needs tri-focals these days, but I don’t wear them. I used to have one pair with computer length focus and another for driving. Each one had a reading bifocal installed.

On my last go around, the doctor talked me into progressives for my work station. It took me forever to get used to them, and I was determined to go back to the old way. The doctor talked me into trying it again. Something about a new company with a wider field of view, etc.

To be honest, they do have a wider field of view, but I still hate them. I only took the risk because there was a guarantee that I could get different lenses if I didn’t like them. I hate them this time.

For some reason, letters are smaller to my vision and fuzzy. They also are trying to force me into a walleyed vision in order to see out of them. The biggest disappointment is in myself. I don’t know why I listen to people, but I try to accept the fact that technology marches on, there could be new things, all that jazz.

I’m writing this while wearing my old glasses. The ones I was supposed to be replacing. If this were my first go at progressives I’d give it more time, but it isn’t. Love my driving glasses, love these frames, but I hate the progressive lenses.

I spent some time working through my last batch of critiques. That was a chore with the new glasses and the reason I backed up to the old pair. No new words today, but I might manage some tomorrow.

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It’s a staycation

One of the things I enjoy is writing. It makes sense that I would do some of it for relaxation. I worked on a lot of projects, but none of them involve drafting new material.

Yesterday I bought a ladder. Exciting, right? I have a nice six-footer, but have to stand on the top to change the lightbulbs in the living room. (You know that label that says never do this? I’ve been that guy.) Ten years ago that was fine, and I’ve been doing it all this time. Pushing sixty, I’m just not willing to do that any longer. (Plus 2020 doesn’t feel like the year to gamble.) I bought a nice eight-footer, and it’s a simple matter to change the bulbs without risking life and limb.

I collected all my critiques for Mrs. Molony and made changes based upon that input. After that, I sent out the next chapter. There isn’t much left to send out, and after that I’m sure my critique group will appreciate the break.

The short story got to the point where I’m changing things, then changing them back. That’s usually a sign that it’s time to set it free. I emailed it in to the publisher.

I’ll be dealing with Mrs. Molony, either going out or coming back, as it happens. I won’t touch Lanternfish until I get Mrs. Molony to that point.

It’s been months since I looked at the first chapters of Lanternfish, so I could start reading it. I’d love to get it out in a couple of weeks, so I don’t have to kill myself to get Mrs. Molony out for Halloween. Doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Halloween season is kind of a stick-pin, so the sooner the better for Lanternfish.

I also committed to hosting a friend. She sent me all the pieces, and I need to assemble it. That will probably be top priority tomorrow. I might even try some of it at the Toyota dealership. I have to take my truck for service early, but they have WiFi.

I also picked up a book I started months ago and read a chapter. Something is lost by doing it that way, but I admit to having a sneak peek at it before it was published. More reading is on my list during my break.

I don’t have to return to work until Monday, so other things on my list could happen. I need to start a storyboard for the final Lanternfish book. The next book about Lizzie and the hat could benefit from one, too.

Honestly, I still love my stand-alone titles, and I have I couple of nearly complete boards for two. I’m going to have to park on those because I’ve committed to series work for now. Halloween will be a stick-pin for one, and I want to conclude Lanternfish in 2021 as well.

I think I can accomplish more before I have to return to the office. Eventually, I’ll be down to storyboards and reading. That’s going to be nice, and will clear some room to get Lanternfish out the door.

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My side project

This year, I started dabbling with the idea of two projects at a time. I always thought I couldn’t do it, but it’s made me more productive in the long run.

My only explanation is that when I get stumped in my main project, I can pick up the other one and move ahead. Usually by doing this, it unwinds the issue I had in the main project.

With Viral Blues and Serang out the door, I can concentrate on new fiction once more. The main goal is HMS Lanternfish, but it’s been “at anchor” since September. My side project is close to completion, so I’m focusing more on it right now.

Old What’s Her Face was off all weekend, and that prevents new fiction from happening. It’s one thing to write a blog post, or exchange a few emails with various hosts, but new fiction requires concentration.

We decided to rearrange the garage yesterday, and that was a more productive use of time. We threw some things out, swept up, moved the shelving around, then brought in the patio furniture for the winter. It was a good day, and the weather was perfect.

She took over the television, so we had Hallmark Christmas while I gnashed my teeth and prayed for a national emergency or something to interrupt. After that it was some red carpet event followed by an awards show. I’d moved on to bourbon by then, so it didn’t matter.

Today is a different matter. She has to work today, and my time is my own. The side project is called Grinders. This one is a niche bit of science fiction called cyber -punk.

Grinders are a group of people who implant technology into their own bodies, or those of friends, in the hopes of becoming more than human. This goes on today, so I ran with it.

Cyber-punk usually doesn’t have deep plots. It’s more about exploring this futuristic world, and all the fantastic new things it holds. I kept my plot pretty basic, but there is one – just in case.

It is science fiction, so I made sure to poke a stick at some of our modern issues and push them to extremes in the future. It’s small stuff, but kind of what science fiction is good at. You’ll see advertising pushed to the extreme, helicopter moms, safe spaces, plastic contamination, and global warming, but not in a preachy way.

I added about 2000 new words to it today, and moved from end-game to denouement. There are a couple of threads to sew up, so this section is longer than I usually do. It all works, so I’m not worried about it.

I’ve decided to write my first epilog, too. I know those are out of vogue, but there are a couple of animals who get abandoned about 3/4 of the way in, and I want to wrap their story. They no longer influence the plot, but a couple of paragraphs aren’t really a deal killer. Might even finish it next weekend.

Yesterday, I shared the Pinterest Board for Serang. A few people seemed to enjoy it, so I’m going to share the one for Grinders. You’ll see some cityscapes, character studies, and even a maze of pipe for a rat. Here’s the Pinterest Board.

One of the cool things about Pinterest is the boards stick around. If you want to write something about China, or your own cyber-punk story, you can snipe from these to start your own board. Just cruising them might give you a brand new idea.

Sean Harrington is sharing Lisa’s catfish poster on his DeviantArt site. Sean and I have a long history, and he might appreciate a bit of traffic. Here is the link if you’d like to visit him.

I’m still watching for reviews. Serang is too new to have anything, but Viral Blues is ripe for some fresh reviews. If you enjoyed this story, it’s a huge help to say something on Amazon. It doesn’t take much, just a line or two and it counts as much as those who write paragraphs of commentary.

When I finish Grinders, I’m going to take Lanternfish back up. I probably won’t start a side project for a while, but once I add about 30K words to that story, It’s likely I will start another one… on the side.

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The fetal position

This weekend was one of those that makes me curl up and chew my nails. My original intention was to publish Serang, then start thinking of tour posts to let the world know about it.

Yesterday was a chore day. This involved two appointments at nearly the same time. Old What’s Her Face had an appointment to get her brakes worked on. This meant I had to put Otto and Frankie in my truck, pick her up at the dealership, then take Otto for his vaccinations.

After that, she needed to stop by the pet store, and that led to Otto wanting to meet everyone in town. Things take longer when he’s around. It’s like hanging out with a rock star… “Just one more picture.”

Another leg of the plan was to come home, load up some garbage the sanitation guys won’t pick up, then visit the dump on the way to get the other car. Didn’t work out.

We managed date night at a new restaurant, and while it was decent, it didn’t blow me away for the expense.

Today, our grandson came over and bagged leaves. This was all prearranged because he wanted to make some money. It’s actually kind of nice, because I didn’t have to do it, and he was excited about it.

I ran Serang through the Amazon Mill, and am waiting now. Again, I’m biting my lip to see what happens. I had slow Internet this morning, and the previewer was sketchy at best. I decided, since it does not have the fun graphics, like the hat stories, the formatting was probably great.

It also never flagged any spelling errors, and it should have. This is a fantasy, and even words like “Serang” ought to draw attention. Locations like Di Guo Quishi should have also been questioned. (WordPress just questioned it.)

I’m going on blind faith with Serang. Hope it really does look great, and that it is spelling error free. I might have to buy my own copy to find out how the formatting came across.

Right now, Old What’s Her Face is having a Hallmark Christmas. You know the ones where the blossoming business woman dumps her boyfriend who is an up-and-comer and has a future, because she went to a small town and met a guy in flannel who owns his own apple press.

Mr. Rock-Star is snoring on the floor beside my feet.

I expect to hear from Amazon tomorrow, and we have to make that trip to the dump. The truck is all loaded in the garage, and they aren’t open today. Tomorrow is my flex day, so email will tell me what to work on before my wife gets home. It could be tour posts, or it could be new words on my side project, Grinders.

After all that, I consider it a good weekend. We got a lot done, and I got to do some of my projects among the mix. Hope all of you had a great weekend, too.

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Vacation time trickles out…

I have everything I need to publish Serang today, but I procrastinated. People aren’t hurting for something fresh from me, so I have time.

  • Side note, still time to read Viral Blues for Halloween.

I’d like to publish this before the year runs out, and next weekend is a fair option. I need to devote some time to the blurb for this one. Because it’s a supporting story for Lanternfish, it takes place in a mildly fantasy setting. It isn’t quite as big as Lanternfish, but there is a dragon of sorts, (Maybe two or three depending on how you count) and I don’t want to mislead anyone.

Serang is a coming of age tale, so I need to communicate that. It takes place in a time of great political upheaval, so that has to get in there. I don’t want people to be upset because there are fantasy elements, or disappointed that it isn’t epic fantasy. A bit more thought might help when writing this blurb. By next weekend I might have it all sorted out.

What did I do with my spare time? I spent some time supporting the Something Wicked blog tour, along with some of my older posts. Today there is a blog push from the paid promo I did, and I already saw one sale from that. Fingers crossed for more.

I’ve also been staying up late for the World Series. So far the home team hasn’t won a single game. That’s never happened before, and it’s been a great series. Game seven is tonight, so I’ll be tired at work tomorrow. A nap seems like a good idea so I’m not too flat in the morning.

We had a chore day, so we got the camper put away for winter, and managed a date night out of the deal. Halloween is the only beer tour I participate in these days, and got my glow in the dark tee-shirt. I’m wearing it right now.

I spent a couple of days adding thousands of words to my side project. This one is a cyberpunk tale set in a futuristic version of San Francisco. It challenged me to use science fiction to exaggerate some issues we see in current society, and it challenged my world-building skills, too.

I’m very happy with a piece I wrote yesterday that went down during the Chinese New Year parade. A cyberpunk version of that parade. If the stars align, I can publish it on actual Chinese New Year for a bit of extra luck. I’m year of the rat, next year is rat. Maybe I’m due for some luck. There are rats in the story…

The story is called Grinders, and I’m at 71,000 words right now. Getting it done this year shouldn’t be too tough, and if I can afford the artwork, publishing on Chinese New Year seems realistic.

I didn’t do anything particularly exciting, and it felt great. I did what I wanted, when I wanted to do it. I was mildly productive and I wasn’t at the office. Sometimes it’s good to have a break from the workaday world, and that’s what I did.

Hope everyone has a Happy Halloween, and finds a way to take a small break on occasion.

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Life goes on

While I was touring my book around, the world didn’t stop spinning around here. I worked, and we had some unusual visitors at the office. This little guy was photographed from my office window.

He didn’t stay long, but it was fun having him stop by. We also had this visitor, and it’s appropriate for the season.

My iPhone makes it tough to photograph something so tiny, but you can make out his little bat ears at the bottom of the image. He’s only about the size of a walnut, but it was cool seeing him.

In other news, I got the sprinkler system blown out. Old What’s Her Face is on her way home, and we have an appointment to get the camper winterized tomorrow. It seems like winter is determined to show up, so we need to get ready.

I finished reading a book and posted a review. I try to review whatever I read. I look at it like a karma kind of thing. Authors need reviews, so I ought to post them, too. I’ll probably start reading another one before my vacation ends.

New fiction is still taking a back seat. I haven’t written a new word in a month. I’m struggling with the production vs the promotion cycle. I love creating new stories, but hate the promotion part. Honestly, I don’t like getting promotion stuff either, so I assume many people are like me. (Maybe you aren’t, but that’s my mindset right now.)

The questions I’m struggling with are:

  • Should I just bury some of the stories I write? Publish the series work, and keep the stand alone things for myself.
  • What about blog only? I know some who’ve done this, but have no idea what kind of reception it gets. Is it appropriate to release a few chapters over a period of months, then publish, thereby, skipping any blog tour and such? Does this piss people off more?
  • Should I publish them with zero promotion? I know how that works out, but workmanlike promo for every other story could still draw attention.
  • I’ve learned how to write an incredible amount of new fiction. Should I go back to my old ways and produce less?
  • Would it be worthwhile to hold stories, then do a multiple book release with mutual promotion?

I’m interested in what you guys think, so speak up. Do you have any experience with these methods?

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My off day

Today was kind of a surprise, but has been known since the weekend. My wife is off, and that makes writing impossible. I moved one big chore to today so I could recover tomorrow as a writing day.

I spent quite a bit of my morning on various social media sites, because there was no good reason not to. I find myself avoiding Twitter on my off days, and this held true today. I put most of my Twitter effort into supporting others, so I tweeted out those blogs I read. I’ll get back to tweeting out your pinned tweets later this week.

I waited until about ten o’clock to head for the dump. First I salvaged the few high peaches the birds didn’t get to, and put my ladder away. The season is over, but these late peaches are the best ones I’ve ever grown. I’ve been snacking on them morning noon and night. I’ll miss them until next year.

The dump has evolved since I was a kid. In my hometown you could go to the dump whenever you wanted and it didn’t cost a thing. This included the middle of the night if that’s the time you had available. Today they have business hours and they charge.

There is the pay booth, then you have to stop again for some kind of traffic director guy. He had a problem because I had branches and grass. They want to mulch the branches, but can’t do it if there is grass worked in. I finally convinced him it was one single bag of grass and I could easily place it aside. He directed me to unload my branches, but I had to put the bag of clippings in a different place. (Dude, I’m sorry I didn’t bring two trucks so one included only a single bag of clippings.)

Finally, he handed me a green safety vest and let me in. (I’d already paid, so I didn’t think he would send me home for a second truck.) Since when do we have to wear a safety fest to unload garbage???

The load was nasty and slimy, because the remaining peach parts were rotting now. I got wet, I got slimed, and there is some kind of ooze in my truck bed now. However, it’s done. I don’t have to deal with it tomorrow, and there are no clouds on my Wednesday horizon.

I did make some baby steps on the formatting front for Viral Blues. These involved an exchange of emails to address some minor issues. It had to get done, and this kept it off my Wednesday schedule, so bonus.

Many of you were interested in my zucchini grown in a pot. This old pot has grown petunias out front for over ten years. When the idea occurred to me, I dumped the tired remaining soil in the flower bed and raked it smooth. I bought a big bag of potting soil, cleaned some doggie debris from the back yard for the bottom of the pot, then added the potting soil. When the roots reach the bottom, they’ll get a dose of high-powered fertilizer when they likely need it.

The pot is on the back patio now. I selected a bush variety to avoid vines going everywhere. Most of those don’t produce as much, but let’s face it, zucchini tend to produce more than you want anyway.

The whole project is about four feet tall now, and may get a little bigger as summer goes on. My wife is talking about some stuffed squash blossoms for supper very soon.

Attempting to write tomorrow, then it’s back to work for the rest of the week.

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