Tag Archives: chores

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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The day I gave completely up

This may sound kind of spoiled to a few of you, but it’s a slice of the author life. My prime writing time has always been mornings. This applies to all endeavors in life. If you want me at my best, catch me early. This works at the paycheck job and everywhere else.

My tree trimming insists on getting done in the morning. This is a matter of necessity, because of the heat. You can see this shaping up to be a struggle.

I got up early and tackled HMS Lanternfish. It’s now over 11,000 words and growing. Today was never going to be a super productive one, because I talk to my parents every Sunday. After that, I tackled the tree… again.

With my brand new blade on the Sawsall, I sallied forth. Thirty minutes later, I’d managed to cut one branch about the size of a half-dollar. What the hell! My goal was to chunk these up into manageable sizes, removing weight until I reached the break. This way the final cut wouldn’t cause more damage.

I gave up on plan A, and tackled the big cut. This thing was smoking before I finally managed the cut, and there is still one more to do. Some minor branches got broken in the big event, so I got out the ladder and a hand saw. It seemed to work faster than the damned electronic thing did. While I was up there, I salvaged some nice high fruit.

Old What’s Her Face came home from work and helped me load my truck. I was nearly there… until she said, “The dump is closed today. You can just do it tomorrow.” That’s when I lost it. I’ve given up my morning every single day of this vacation for this stupid project. Now I have to give up even more time to finish it.

She reminded me that she’s off Tuesday, which isn’t ideal for my productivity. I wanted to go through the roof, but resisted. Essentially, I lost Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I don’t begrudge her a day off, it’s just the way things happen. I decided the damned residue could sit in my truck until Tuesday, and I’d haul it off then.

If you remember the heat, my garage smells like peach schnapps now, and I don’t care. I’ll deal with it Tuesday, but I’m going to do my thing – for me – tomorrow. (And I’m going to drink tonight. The hard stuff.)

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Some new words, some chores too

Today was my flex day. I was looking forward to getting some new words down, and I managed that to a degree. It feels slightly over 1000 words, so it isn’t much.

This time I worked on Serang. What I wanted to happen was for her to fall in with a gang of thieves. It started out with her master being bitten by a camel spider.

These are hideous beasts with long pointy jaws. They live all over the world, and I even killed one in my home when I lived in Nevada. People there call them air scorpions. Most of them aren’t hairy like this photo, and they’re a disgusting smooth nude color. This was the free-use photo I could find.

A bit of research revealed they are not actually poisonous to humans, but they are believed to be by the common people. I decided since this is a fantasy world, they’ll be venomous if I say so and went with it. They can also be as big or small as I want.

This also led me down a path involving a city at the beginning of a trade route. The country of Di Guo Quishi is a fantasy version of China, so think about the Silk Road here.

The Emperor has taken most of the men for his war. Many of the normal jobs are held by women or even children. How might the goods be exchanged, purchased, stored? How might the money flow? What kind of goods might flow into the west?

Most of these things involve one line or word, but I like to put the thought into them.

After this leg of the journey, they’re going to continue with their little quest by joining a caravan. I needed someone from the western world who will lead them. I decided since Don Velasco (From Lanternfish) was the fourth son in his family, I had one Velasco son to spare. (The eldest inherits the estate, the second gets a military appointment.) Everyone else had to fend for himself. This third Velasco son is the captain of a caravan heading back to his country.

This city has an active thieves market, and young Serang is kind of judgmental about it all. Eventually, if she’s going to become a pirate, she has to make an adjustment.

Unfortunately, I never got to the thievery part. I had chores to do. I have a hunch it’s going to turn into a massacre, but haven’t decided yet.

I ran into town and got my truck sniffed for emissions. It passed, but killed an hour of my day. When I got home, I had just enough time to schedule Lisa Burton Radio for tomorrow. Then I had a deviled ham sandwich.

Please come back tomorrow and check out the Fondant Lion. He’s pretty cute, and I think you’ll like the book he’s in too.

Today, Frankie helped me write. I may have gotten more done without her, but she’s hard to resist.

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