Tag Archives: family

A three day weekend

It all started off knowing we had company coming for the weekend. I planned on not writing a single word. My in-laws brought their German Shorthair puppy with them.

Jagger is cute, but he’s not a tiny puppy any more. He’s big, but still thinks he’s a puppy. He never stops moving. He’s up, he’s down, he’s here, he’s there. He jumps up, makes you spill things, and even tries to pull things off the wall.

Call me crazy, but I kind of like him. The place was a madhouse, but if the bulldogs can handle it, so can I.

We went to dinner one night, but it was pretty mediocre compared to most of the places we go. We also watched movies. Friday night, I chose one called “Don’t Look Up.” I loved it. It’s full of dark snarky humor about the world we live in during a natural disaster. It has a top shelf cast, too.

My brother-in-law wanted to watch “The Last Duel,” Saturday night. I suggest you don’t waste your time. It has some moments, but I just didn’t feel it. Some of this has to do with the way the story unfolded. Open en media res, then tell the same story three different times from three points of view to get back to where we opened.

Old What’s Her Face had to go in at midnight last night. My MO on these nights is to stay up so she can sleep as much as possible. I started “The Eternals” before she turned in, then turned the television off after the film ended.

It wasn’t horrible, but I expected more from that cast. It was also hard to get over the “gotta catch ’em all” mentality. It was so inclusive that it felt like Marvel was shoving it down my throat.

After the movie, I had hours left with nothing to do. I opened my space opera and started reviewing. I’d worked myself to a point that I have to describe so some of you will get the problem.

I can’t make this tale into Lanternfish in space. There’s no piracy, and staying away from everyone is part of this spy mission. That means, I’ve milked space travel about as much as I can between the locations. In Lanternfish I could toss in a sea monster or a pirate battle. Space is big and empty.

My crew was at the turning point, but getting them from point to point had be minimized to a degree. I’d been stewing over this for weeks, but finally just wrote it. I like the way it turned out, and they discovered a much bigger problem than their tiny lives would have cared about.

I even moved on to how they’re going to deliver the news about what they discovered, because they invaded enemy territory to find this out. They had to shoot their way out, so it’s really an act of war. Except, they aren’t officially with any government. That won’t stop the bad guys from putting their propaganda department on it and making the good side look like the aggressors.

What I’m liking is all the problems my crew created while trying to do something both good and profitable. They may have to answer for some things now. That’s good tension, and I can use it as I move on. They could even have some enemies among the good guys.

I have a large section ahead where a kind of mentor can give them some focus and possibly put them to more productive work. They have a unique ship like nothing else in the galaxy. It could be used for more covert missions, but it’s in private ownership because of the laws of salvage.

This ship was simply missing for a hundred years, and was a relic of a previous war. My people found it and put it to good use. It’s theirs. My as-yet-to-appear mentor is a different kind of creature, and was present for this ship’s creation. He’s going to have some sympathy for my main characters.

Anything involving answering for crimes, the mentor, and what value their information might have is something for another writing session.

I failed to keep track, but it feels like about 8000 words to me. It was a great session. This particular tale is at 44K words right now. It’s a concern making word count without some things happening between locations, but I’m working on it.

Not too bad for a bonus I didn’t expect. Hope all of you had great weekends, too.

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My 2021 Assessment

This is an annual event here at Entertaining Stories. Before writing this, I read back through the last few years of assessments, along with business plans for coming years. What surprised me is how positive and professional they came across. That isn’t the case this year.

2021 can…

Most of this involves things in my personal life that I really can’t post about. Old What’s Her Face and I each had our own health scares this year. Hers is fine, but mine remains a bit of an unknown. I have a January appointment for follow up that I may, or may not, keep. There have been major changes in the workplace, and my father passed away on December 2nd. Recently, our grandson developed a major problem that isn’t completely solved yet. This stuff hits hard.

Most of this has been a lingering problem for the last two years. It all seemed to merge at once, kind of like one of those gigantic freeway crashes we see on the news every couple of years. There is nothing I can do about most of it, so I have to compartmentalize and deal with it as best I can.

Having said that, this used to be a writing blog, and this is a business assessment. My plan said I would only release two books in 2021, and I hit that goal. Both Lunar Boogie and Wreck of the Lanternfish are available right now. Lanternfish is still in the throes of a more demure blog tour as I write this.

Looks like this year was all about series work. I’m kind of proud of that, and frightened at the same time. I miss my stand-alone stories, and want to try writing another one of those eventually.

Publishing two, instead of three, gave me more time to experiment with other things. This was a 2021 goal and I achieved that, too. First came a summertime experiment involving two stand-alone titles; Grinders and Serang. Confession, Serang ties right into the Lanternfish trilogy.

This all stemmed from an invitation to appear on Fresh Ink Group’s blog talk radio program. I really didn’t do a lot of promo around this, but it worked out fairly well. I gave away a ton of free books, but only Serang seemed to gain reviews after the fact.

This allowed me to fine tune my plan. When October came around, I decided there are four volumes in The Hat Series. There were four weeks in the month, and a new plan got launched. I promoted each volume for a week, and ran free days for two of them. This worked even better.

I moved another ton of free books, but this time there was someplace else for readers to go. To be honest, I’m still seeing sales from the October push. It seems the crack-dealer method still has some life in it. A freebie leads to purchasing additional stories. I also combined my free days with a push by The Fussy Librarian. I can see the difference, and will probably use them again.

One of the other things I did was post more at the outer fringes of my circle. Let’s face it, my inner circle already hosted me when each volume was originally released. Since we tend to follow the same people, blog tours can become like listening to a broken record. (Wow, is that a dated statement these days.)

One of the things I noticed, and my inner circle confirmed, is that Amazon’s Pages Read seem to be where all the action is. It seems to have surpassed my actual sales, but Amazon pays me and the readers are getting to read for free. I don’t know what this means, or how to use it, but it’s an interesting observation. Maybe I can find a way to milk this like a prize cow.

With two book releases, and two month-long promo tours, there was a lot of promo. Every tour post was unique, so I was blogging, but it was all hosted elsewhere.

This final bit of December promo comes with an observation. The release of Wreck of the Lanternfish is showing an equal volume of sales for the previous volumes in the series. Could this signal that trilogies are more of a sweet spot than I anticipated? Are there a larger group that won’t start a series until they know it’s complete?

I managed to keep up with my Story Empire responsibilities, and feel like they were successful posts. Entertaining Stories suffered the most. I love this site, and want to stay in touch with everyone here. With all the life issues (particularly the life issues), combined with the extra promo, something had to give.

To be honest, I want to spend more time at the Writing Cabin and maybe even let the Research Sirens steal me away for a while. Until some things settle down, that isn’t realistic.

I have been less than creative for the last six months, but have dabbled with a side project. I don’t want to push anywhere until my personal life settles down. I’m taking life one day at a time right now.

I could be alone here, but 2020 was a better year for me. I don’t ever want to see another one like 2021.

Talk to me in the comments. I really love you guys and would like to get back to more regular interaction here.

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Checking in

I’m in Nevada this weekend. My daughter and I drove down Friday night.

Dad is on hospice care, so this might actually be the last visit with him. It’s kind of stressful, to say the least. He sleeps a lot, so there are moments to visit with my brother and mother.

Sometime during one of those quiet moments, I hacked out one more blog tour promo post. I have a few to go, and don’t know when I’ll get to write them. I swear, ‘Wreck of the Lanternfish’ will come out in 2021. Watch this space.

Tonight, my brother brought out a bottle of Colonel E. H. Taylor small batch whiskey. It really helps to digest the situation I find myself in.

My daughter got away for an hour and visited her aunt and uncle. They have a new house we’ve never seen, but I stayed here. They also have a German shorthair puppy she said is is uber-cute.

Please forgive my lack of posts. There is a lot going on in my life right now. If I had my druthers, I’d be writing, blogging, and publishing.

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Slow weekend

This was one of my two day weekends. These seem to happen more frequently around holidays, and it is what it is. That didn’t leave much time for author chores.

Our daughter came to visit on Friday. She spent the night and I had a wonderful visit with her on Saturday. No lamenting that time. I really enjoyed our time together, but it didn’t leave much room for anything else.

Still loaded with Asian pears. I tried to send a bag home with my daughter, but she passed. I might have to look up some recipes for them.

I really boogered up the last chapter of Good Liniment I shared with my critique group. I spent the rest of Saturday trying to repair it, and still don’t like it.

I spent this morning talking to my parents. They got to go pick choke cherries, and I’m kind of jealous. It sounds like such a nice day afield. Things like that aren’t in the cards for me right now, so I’ll have to live through their adventures.

This afternoon, I went beyond the crappy chapter, and some of the repairs seemed to work better there. Still don’t feel confident about it. I’ve gone from being excited to worried about this book.

Hopefully, by 2022, I’ll get over it. I have so many ideas for Lizzie and the hat, and this story needs to be one of them in my mind. I even made some notes to improve a story that’s four books down the line.

I spent a little time trying to cobble together something for a bit of October promo. That’s always been my best month, and while I don’t have a new release for the Halloween season, I have plenty of options to draw some interest.

I also wrote back material for Wreck of the Lanternfish. I got a little emotional addressing the eventual readers. I’ve spent a lot of time and effort with these characters over the last few years. It’s nearly ready to go. Once I get paid, I’ll probably contact my formatter. Or, I might read through it once again. Who knows.

That’s it for my author’s time. It might not seem like much, but I moved the pegs a little on several projects. I didn’t write any new words, but there will be other weekends.

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Assessments and Updates

I owe you guys an update. About a month ago, I had an interview on Voice of Indie podcast. Here’s a link if you’d like to check it out after the fact. https://www.blogtalkradio.com/voiceofindie1/2021/07/22/voice-of-indie-episode-051

I scheduled some free days to announce during the show, and watched to see what happened. I gave away personal records of books, and both Serang and Grinders spiked in the best-givers lists. Rumor is they will continue to do well. Let’s take a look at that.

I moved a few actual copies in the subsequent weeks, but that doesn’t seem to be where the business is these days. Almost all of my action has been in “pages read,” by Kindle Unlimited members. I did pretty well over there. That seemed to last for two weeks, then trailed off.

Serang got reviews, but most of them were star-ratings only. Grinders didn’t get anything. I was cheering for Grinders since it’s one of my personal favorites. I moved a lot of copies of it, and got plenty of page reads, just no reviews.

Somewhere along the line, a guy has to stop. I know if I’d kept up on promo, I could have probably kept the train moving. There are just other things that need tending to.

Today, I traded Old What’s Her Face cars, then took her vehicle for service. She took my truck to work. The Toyota place has a great workstation, and I brought my iPad so I could work through critiques I received on Good Liniment. I brought plenty more to do, but a lube and oil only takes so long.

This is my short weekend, and I don’t know what I’ll do next. I’ll call my parents tomorrow, then might add words to my secret project. I’m also thinking toward some October promo and need to figure out what that might look like.

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Not a lot to show for this weekend

I try to stay busy, I always do, but sometimes there isn’t a lot to show for my efforts.

It started off with a visit from our daughter. I’m a firm believer that family comes first, so I never tried to do anything until she went home. We had a nice visit, and she even managed to cut my hair while she was here.

Had to deal with a loss of power to the deep freeze. This involved a stupid GFI switch. We didn’t lose anything, but had some things we had to cook PDQ. I discovered it because my beer mugs didn’t get frosty overnight.

Beyond that, it was all “Stuff.” I worked on something for Teri Polen’s Bad Moon Rising, but it isn’t ready yet. I worked all the way to the end of the Lanternfish story. I feel like I caught most things, but I always miss something. Reading it once more might help. I’d like to publish it sometime in November.

I also dedicated some time to Good Liniment. Nothing too earth shattering, but I reworded a few sections prior to sharing it with my critique group. I included a text thread in this section, because Hat stories include dumb things. It looks like they all came across the right way. One never knows when I text my daughter, photograph the screen, upload it to Apple Pages, then leave Apple to share it in Word format. My daughter and I had fun creating the texts.

Then there were graphics. I’m not a graphics guy, but I took a tip from Harmony Kent, then assembled the rest by hand in a graphics program I have. The end results weren’t too bad, and I might use them one day.

Word count, not so much. Certainly less than a thousand words. I’m not feeling any kind of rush on this project, so I’m not going to lament this. It’s supposed to be a side project, and I’m going to treat it that way.

It’s kind of productive, but not in a way I can demonstrate. I think next weekend will be similar. I’m ahead for a change, so I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Eventually, the side project will cause me to start a main project. Lanternfish will come out, and I’ll have to figure out some promo for it. Maybe early next year I’ll release Good Liniment.

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Of daughters and pirates

I intended to work on my book today, but didn’t intend to hit it hard. I allowed myself to wake up whenever Otto decided he was hungry. It was still 6:30, but it’s two hours later than my alarm goes off.

I took my time. Read some blogs, dealt with email, and enjoyed my coffee. Even managed to pay the bills.

I started by backing up two chapters and made a few more adjustments than I usually do. I’m on the downhill slide here, and the denouement is writing itself pretty well. Since this is a trilogy, I have a lot of characters to cover.

I no sooner started than the phone rang. My daughter wanted to chat. Her premise was her sore feet. The backstory is that she rolled her ankle a couple of times in the last few years. She works on her feet and they get sore.

When she was here a few weeks ago, I showed her my rolley thing that you put on the ground and roll around with your foot. It’s like a short rolling pin, but is lathe turned so it has grooves. After about five minutes her feet felt great. She called to tell me she ordered one from Amazon.

“Okay. Good job. Thanks for calling…”

Nope.

Ninety minutes later we were still on the phone. Budgets, shoes, work, Covid, etc. Mostly nothing special, but it was her. I can’t cut her off, and actually enjoy chatting with her.

Once we finally disconnected it was lunchtime. I decided to make myself a hoagie sandwich and used the stout beer mustard Old What’s Her Face bought me. It was really good.

Then I started writing, but knew I wasn’t going to finish. I brought things up to the point of Serang’s denouement, and on the cusp of the root monsters. I just never made it that far.

I have all weekend and am certain to finish the draft. I’m finding it kind of sad to bring this full circle. I’ve sailed a few seas with these characters, but it’s time to give them their happy endings. If my daughter claimed some of that time it’s fine by me.

My sincerest hope is that everyone’s ending is suitable for my readers. What I have in mind is realistic, and feels like it makes sense for the various characters.

I’ll get another chance tomorrow, and that will be fine by me.

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One for the books

Family time managed to cut into the four days I had available. I’ve already posted about graduation. About all there is to do there is attend for the graduate.

We went to a party at my son’s house to celebrate her accomplishment, and it was anything but small and intimate.

When Sunday came around, my wife had to work. That left my daughter and I to have a long visit. I called my parents while she went for her fancy coffee, then we had several hours to ourselves.

I really enjoyed spending quality father-daughter time. The topics don’t matter very much, it was just the time hanging out that mattered.

This morning, I had the house to myself. I fed the dogs, then started off with a small walk to clear the cobwebs. I’d been suffering for time to work on Lanternfish, and then it only moved ahead by small increments.

That wasn’t what happened today. When I stopped last time, the end of the war was upon us. I started today with the formal surrender.

After that it was time to reoccupy the city, and start reconstruction of several countries. Some of this doesn’t lend itself to fantasy, but I managed to show the cooks with pieces of something I called the river dog. It has huge calamari type tentacles.

I also discovered the bag moth larva on Pinterest. These things cover themselves with twigs and sand, much like a caddis fly, only they are land born. By making mine much larger, I added an interesting scene where one had a pistol woven into its home. It makes a little statement about the litter of war and shows life going on. I called mine the bag weevil.

I could write another novel about the reconstruction and all the political gyrations between allies and enemies, but this is supposed to be the denouement for Lanternfish. I have a lot of characters to get to, and while the main ones will get more attention, some of the minor ones were somebody’s favorites and I need to address them, too.

A lot of planning went into this phase and you can see the value in the 5800 words I wrote today. I could have kept going, but didn’t want to rush things.

Next weekend isn’t looking too favorable, but I might get a few hours. I only had a goal of 2021 for this book. I think I can publish it in the fall and not feel rushed to get it out. That gives me plenty of time in the fermenter, and some decent hours for polishing it up.

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Two days lost, more to come

I took a vacation day on Friday. This was for our granddaughter’s high school graduation. It was held in a huge center, and they were running grads through all day. There was a school prior to ours, and another one after.

If you’ve ever been to a graduation, you know that your presence is more important than anything else. She was all smiles and photos, as one should be. Otherwise it was three hours in an uncomfortable chair, listing to the same speeches people have been making for millennia, and listening to the band play Pomp and Circumstance.

I’m proud of her, but didn’t get any writing done. Our daughter came over for the big event, so I got to spend time with her. Our son and his wife threw her a big party this afternoon, so between having our daughter and going there… nothing accomplished.

I have to call my parents tomorrow, and can usually steal some time after that. No idea when our daughter will go home and I don’t want to miss any visits with her. Tomorrow isn’t looking too promising either.

My flex day is Monday. I should have the house to myself, and have high hopes to get something done.

It feels like I’ve abandoned this blog, but I’ve just been busy elsewhere. If I get lucky, I can end the war in Lanternfish and start toward the denouement phase. If not, I’m not going to fret over lost time. I got to visit with my daughter, and hung out with my son and his family for the first time in a long stretch.

On the plus side, I scored a graduation program. I find these extremely helpful for naming my fictional characters.

I’ve been working on a cool idea for Story Empire, but it requires a second person. I’ve not had any luck in finding that person. I wound up hacking out a different post for my next turn through the rotation. It came out pretty well, but isn’t what I wanted to post. Perhaps I’ll find that other person in a few weeks.

I found an online hypotenuse calculator. I now know for sure whether an upright bass will fit into a specific pickup bed. (It will, even the full sized instrument.) Saved me from digging out my old HP and figuring out where I could find batteries.

I also came up with a couple of cool new characters, but don’t really know what story they might fit into. I’m glad to meet them, but they need some work. It appears I don’t need specific time to exercise my imagination.

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Rambles from the real world

I get a three day weekend once more. This is the end of my fun shift, then I get a short weekend in the middle before it starts all over again. This weekend wasn’t earmarked for writing, but it could still happen. Monday is probably my best chance.

Our daughter came overnight, and I wanted to spend any available time with her. She didn’t get to come on her birthday, so Old What’s Her Face wanted to take her out. Even this wound up being a compromise. She had to go home this afternoon to work Sunday.

When you write a series about a twenty-something female, it’s nice to compare notes with my daughter. She helps with some of Lizzie’s outfits, and knows some things I wouldn’t even think of. I’m good with monsters, freaky things, and even old-school music. When it comes to wrap dresses, nail art, and some of those things I appreciate the help.

We settled for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. We’re both so full, it will serve as dinner and lunch. Still ordered dessert to go, so that will suffice this evening. I had mine early, maybe I won’t have heartburn all night by doing that.

Saw a cool whale-tale Porsche in the mall parking lot. This one had custom paint. It was pink, but so dark it was nearly purple. Doesn’t mean anything, really, I just thought it was cool. It was obviously well loved.

Came home and caught the Derby. There might have been some future book research involved, but not to the extent that I failed to enjoy the event. He never stood a chance, but I liked the name of one horse, Soup & Sandwich. He actually started strong, but finished dead last. He was also a pretty blue roan. Also, lots of pretty girls in hats. That could play into a future story after I give it some thought.

As far as accomplishing anything, after our daughter left, I wrote one blog tour post. This one involves Lisa visiting someone and handing out a poster. I don’t have the poster yet, but feel like I am a step ahead. I don’t even have a blurb yet, so I’ll have to tag that onto any posts I get written after the fact.

We had an awesome thunderstorm this afternoon. Lots of lightning and a downpour the likes of something we haven’t seen in a year. The dogs were hilarious, running out in the rain to bark, then racing inside because it was raining so hard.

Sundays usually aren’t good writing days. I call my parents, mess with bulldogs and other important things. There should be time to pre-write more blog tour posts. That will be my goal.

When it comes to Monday, I’m off, will have the house to myself, might score some quality writing time then.

Hope all of you are having great weekends. I am.

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