Tag Archives: fiction

Trying to shift gears

I’ve been realistically away from the keyboard since April. I managed to dabble here and there, but really haven’t gotten any quality time since then.

Last night I ordered all the interior graphics for the next book in The Hat Series. I’m having to financially parse this stuff out, but can’t release one of those without the little cartoons. They’re part of the shtick, and some of them lead to some fun gags. The series wouldn’t be the same without them. Which brings us to today.

I always try to have two books in progress at any given time. The one I dabbled at seemed to move ahead in fits and starts, and has a healthy start considering everything else I was doing. Today, I decided to look in on Percy the Space Chimp.

When I left this one, I only had half a chapter written. It’s the second book in a planned trilogy, so this part was dedicated to reminding readers who the characters are, and what they’re supposed to be doing. Might not be completely necessary, but I feel better doing some of that.

I wound up finishing the chapter, but it only came to eight pages. I try to get my chapters to be around ten, but it isn’t a hard rule. Some are longer or shorter as the story demands.

Book two is always challenging, because it’s where the bad guys win, or at least make massive progress on their agenda. My characters aren’t front-line soldiers by any means, and are kind of goofballs. They operate in the backwaters of the galaxy, but with more of a spy kind of mission.

There’s going to be a problem with them not personally witnessing the devastation that’s about to happen in the civilized portions of the galaxy. I’m really struggling with this. I feel like I’ve written myself into a corner in some ways. They can turn on the news or something, but it could be a structural problem with them not being present.

I keep telling myself they will make a difference by doing what they’ve been assigned. (Frodo never took part in the huge battles, but played an important role.) Death in a fighter isn’t the only way to serve, and their mission is important.

Their personal struggles are carrying me along right now. Two are disabled veterans, and have massive skills as warriors. They struggle with the viewpoint of what they are doing being somehow less. They’re older now, disabled, and probably wouldn’t be accepted back in the fleet anyway. This kind of thing is interesting, and some readers like those personal demons.

I managed to get through half of chapter two. It feels unworthy to me somehow. Old What’s Her Face has to work this weekend and it’s the first time I’ve had the house to myself in a long time. I should have accomplished more. Still, maybe that’s what it takes to get back in the swing of things.

I think I’ll have a coffee break then take another stab at it. If it isn’t working, I’ll look in on the other story for a while.


Filed under Writing

Post Apocalyptic #newbook

Time for another post about “Once Upon a Time in the Swamp.” This time I want to give you some insight into the Post Apocalyptic part of this story. This is a peek behind the scenes of this tale.

At the time I started writing this one, America was in the process of tearing herself to shreds. People were protesting everything from vaccines to elections. We tore down public monuments and went on a tirade of rewriting history. Entire sections of some cities were occupied by those who would defund the police. It was a grim time and it hasn’t improved all that much.

Obviously, this had some influence on me, and I took it out on this story. I projected what was happening into the future, and amped it up a little. It all started as special interest groups throwing tantrums. This accelerated to a point of police involvement, followed shortly by National Guard involvement. Groups paired up until we had dozens of small armies fighting each other all over the continent.

I was kind of happy with one section where a character talks about other countries sending “advisors” to America. This is a thinly veiled concept of getting military boots on the ground, and we pioneered it here. It was fun to look at other countries doing the same thing to us.

Ultimately, this led to global warfare and damned near destroyed us all. As readers you will get glimpses of this from comments the elderly make along Mari’s journey. Mari wasn’t born when all this went down.

Mari’s world is one of foraging, scrounging for things to sell, and I even came up with an odd form of currency to use. Weapons are expensive, and she doesn’t have anything suitable for her task. When she finally finds one, it’s what she can afford and nothing like a modern assault weapon.

I hope you’re all enjoying this look behind the scenes, and I think those who take a chance on the book are going to have a good time. I welcome any social media sharing, reblogs, or word of mouth you can pass along on my behalf.

Blurb: Mari and her husband opted for a simple life as farmers. It’s been decades since the world tore itself apart, pitting neighbor against neighbor and family against each other. They were happy in this re-emerging world, until disaster struck.

Mari sets out on a solo quest to avenge the deaths of her family and loss of everything she holds dear. She’s ill equipped for the task, but seems to have time on her hands. Time alone in the wilderness to deal with her personal demons along the way.

She is helped by a few sympathetic elders and a couple of animal companions with lessons Mari can use if she pays attention. Can Mari find justice for her family?

Set in a post apocalyptic, Gulf Coast world, this is a story for fans of the old Spaghetti Westerns.

Get your copy right here https://mybook.to/OnceUponTimeSwamp


Filed under Writing

Why First Person? #newbook

Hi, gang. It’s time for another promo for my newest book, “Once Upon a Time in the Swamp.” I’m trying to give everyone some behind the scenes looks at the creation of the story. I think those make better posts than the old cover and blurb only. It also gains me a few comments and I love interacting with you guys. Today’s topic is first person point of view.

One of the first things an author has to decide is how to present the story to readers. I’ve used about every method you can imagine, even second person for some of the entries in “The Enhanced League.” I always really liked first person, but it has a couple of annoying things we all have to accept. Writing this way leads to a lot of repetition of the words “I, me, my, mine, etc.” Once you wrap your mind around that, the story just flows.

This is Mari’s story, and she spends a lot of her time completely alone. That was the deciding factor for me. First person allows me to get inside her head and stay there. It isn’t the only option, I could have gone for third person with a lot of internal dialog and it might have worked. I like the first person POV and it’s not the first time I’ve used it.

Writing this way allows Mari to relay her story directly to the reader. It’s a little more intimate. I’m not big on excerpts, but here is an example I liked from the story. For context, Mari has just been injured and is taking it out on her ox.


“You son-of-a-bitch! What were you thinking? I saw it, too. It was a bobcat. A bobcat! What? Was he going to eat you? You take a bigger shit than that.” I went around the stopper trees to yell at him some more.

He let out the most mournful bawl I’d ever heard an animal make. That’s when it hit me. Dirt was what’s known as the “off” ox. Sunshine decided when to eat, roll in the grass, when to go to water, and when to be frightened. I wasn’t the only one who’d lost everything that day.

He stared at me down the length of his nose with his eyes flashing white. I tentatively ducked under those horns, then hugged him around the neck. “It’s okay, amigo,” I whispered. “We’ll have to look out for each other. I’m here for you now.”

He leaned into me and nearly crushed me between his horn and shoulder. When I managed to slip out, I saw blood for the first time.


I enjoyed Mari’s little epiphany with the oxen. He lost his entire family, too. Readers get to be in the moment a bit more with this point of view. Having Mari talk to a dumb animal feels completely natural, and I talk to animals just like she does.

If you’ve been tempted to check this story out, I’ll put all the important information down below. I’d appreciate any help you can offer in spreading the word. Social media posts, reblogs, word of mouth, even just a mention on your own sites.

Blurb: Mari and her husband opted for a simple life as farmers. It’s been decades since the world tore itself apart, pitting neighbor against neighbor and family against each other. They were happy in this re-emerging world, until disaster struck.

Mari sets out on a solo quest to avenge the deaths of her family and loss of everything she holds dear. She’s ill equipped for the task, but seems to have time on her hands. Time alone in the wilderness to deal with her personal demons along the way.

She is helped by a few sympathetic elders and a couple of animal companions with lessons Mari can use if she pays attention. Can Mari find justice for her family?

Set in a post apocalyptic, Gulf Coast world, this is a story for fans of the old Spaghetti Westerns.

Get your copy right here https://mybook.to/OnceUponTimeSwamp


Filed under Writing

A different angle on editing

I’m down to the final reading of each manuscript. This is something I always do, but since I have three, there might be an option.

Today, I started out reading one chapter, then switching stories to do the same thing. Right now, I’m up to about seven on each story.

I did this, because when I get into the tale, I start enjoying it, then I miss things. I have no illusions about missing something. There’s always some stupid thing that gets published.

It honestly feels like it’s working better to do it this way. Doubt I’ll ever have three finished stories at the same time again, but this one time it feels right.

I’ve also decided I still have to do a final final reading only concentrate on one entire book. Maybe I made more work for myself, but if the product is some small degree better, it will be worth it.

I started watching The Last of Us on HBO last night. Pedro still has to impress me after that dismal Wonder Woman movie. Honestly, it doesn’t look like much goes into being The Mandalorian. That’s about my favorite thing of the last few years, but he’s a guy in a suit 99.9% of the time.

The girl from Game of Thrones is fun, but the one who died early on was, too. I am enjoying the settings. I can recognize some of the fungi that went into making them, like shelf mushrooms and slime molds.

I actually wrote slime molds into the SF book I’m editing right now. These things are cool, because they move, have a certain amount of memory, and a few other amazing things. I’m not creating zombies out of them, but modifying their genes to have them perform useful tasks, like identifying minefields.

The show makers seem to have done their research into fungi. They shouldn’t be completely bound by facts, and they aren’t, but it’s nice to see some of the small inclusions. Things like “root” systems that can cover miles. Some fungi could be the largest things on Earth if you consider acreage over weight.

Things otherwise are kind of boring. Work has been extreme and home feels like a food and sleep station around the office. Things seem to cycle like that, and I’m looking forward to a week where things dial back a little.

I might get another lap of editing this evening. Right now, I need the break, and might not return to it until Sunday.

Hope all of you are having a great weekend.


Filed under Writing

Vacation’s over

This is it for my big vacation. Back to the office tomorrow to see how far behind I am. At least it was during the holidays, so it might not be so bad.

One of the things I really enjoyed was being a more frequent blogger. I like chatting with you guys and it’s a shame the workaday world changed my schedule so dramatically. I’ll probably be back to a weekly post in no time.

I added a ton of words to my remaining WIP. Today, Mari finally made it home to discover squatters on her farm. I’m this close to finishing this project, but it will have to wait until a weekend or two.

I scheduled my next Story Empire post for later this month. I managed to milk three posts from this topic and I hope you check out my Creature Feature posts.

I also hacked out and scheduled my 2023 business plan post. That one should go live sometime on Wednesday. I’ll handle comments before the commute, but won’t get back around to them until after work.

There are three books of edits, rereads, and modifications ahead of me now. Once this tale is finished, it might be months before I tackle a new draft.

I accomplished a lot during my time off. I managed a short but wonderful visit with my daughter. I took a brief nap nearly every day. We binge watched some good stuff on the streaming channels, and it’s hard to stop at this point.

Still, the actual paycheck covers the bills and it’s time to return to that world.


Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

2022. That’s a wrap.

It’s that time of year once more. This is the post nobody is looking for, but it always gets a lot of reaction. The 2022 wrap up leads into the 2023 business plan, which I generally hold until after all the New Year’s Resolutions quiet down.

I was surprised when I reviewed my 2022 business plan. Based upon the interferences with daily life, I determined to limit myself to two publications, both in The Hat Series. I vowed to take more time for myself and work on some things that weren’t in that series.

It appears I met my goals, but it doesn’t feel like it. I published the two stories. I worked on other materials, but not to the degree I intended to. I have that stand alone book getting close, and wrote another one in The Hat Series. It needs some sprucing up, and I’ll probably hold it back until I can release the solo title.

I haven’t produced another volume in the space trilogy, and frankly need a few more ideas than I have. Those usually come once I read through the first volume again. The second volume is where the villains make major moves and progress. They’re generally fun to write and read.

Right now, the stand-alone book is all I’m working on. I’m usually better with two at once, and one of those is usually part of my other series.

Right before my 2021 wrap up, my father passed away. Nothing like that this year, thank God. Still, life keeps throwing hard curves. I’m monitoring a health problem, and more. We had to have the roof replaced.

One of my 2022 goals was to take life as it came. To relax a bit more. Life came in the form of a failed roof and struggles in the workplace. Where was the relax part???

Story Empire remains very important to me. I covered all my posts and they seemed to have reasonable performance. I want to keep doing this, but am struggling with topics. After years of sharing over there I wonder how much more I have to offer. One of my colleagues suggested a kind of creature feature and I’m giving that some deep consideration. I have a post about witchcraft in mind, but debated sharing it on this site as part of some book promotion. Don’t have to worry about it for a couple of months.

As far as the author world goes, I met my goals. The last few years were kind of crappy all around, but I met my goals. I’ll have to set some for next year, but I’m still going to keep them realistic.


Filed under Writing

Too many windows

I generally only have one or two windows open at a time. Recently, it’s gotten kind of crazy. I’m working on two manuscripts at once, so when I find something interesting or informative, I currently leave that window open. Beats adding a bunch of bookmarks when I only need them temporarily.

Let’s take a look at them, just for a laugh.

Entertaining Stories – you are here.

Facts about Potassium Iodide – used for radiation poisoning

Google window -for saltwater taffy

Recipe – for saltwater taffy – vehicle for Potassium Iodide

Google translate – for English to Spanish

Biography site – about a lady named Madeleine Mellinger. I was looking for a cool name, but I like the history, too. Probably just call mine Mad Mellinger. She could be a little mad.

Google Window – how to make kombucha

Site – what is a SCOBY

Google window – culturing beer yeast

Biology site – toad trilling sounds

Site – yeast ranching

Google window – mother of vinegar

Site – Eastern diamondback rattlesnake

As I use data from these sites, I will close the windows. At that point, I usually add notes to my cast of characters, that way I will have a smaller, more pertinent, line or two about the subject.

It’s too many windows, but I intend to close a few of them over the upcoming holiday weekend.

It might surprise some of you to find that speculative authors also do a ton of research. I reserve the right to change some of it up, but want to know the basics before I do.

How many windows do you currently have open?


Filed under Writing

Not according to plan, but I’ll take it

Today might be my last flex day ever. I really wanted to make the pixels fly, and earmarked this time for Lizzie and the hat.

All I needed to do first was go back through Mari’s story for some quick changes. I wanted to add a few southernisms and some Spanish to my dialog. Little things like Miss Kililah, as opposed to just Kililah.

I wound up getting into the story as I edited, and added 3500 words to it. I got through a tropical storm, and the Voodoo scene I’ve been looking forward to. I did some research here, and think I stayed fairly true, but also made it work for the story.

Papa Legba is an entity who can speak every language. Extinct languages and even those that haven’t been created yet. He serves as a kind of broker between us and the Gods because we can’t speak their language. His favorite number is three. I used three old fashioned keys to a really cool effect. He loves black and red, so I covered an altar with deadly coral snakes. He also loves dogs, more on that in a couple of paragraphs.

It may seem like a neat thing, or even a handy tool for Mari, but it’s actually a major upgrade. We see a lot of heroes who can fly, are bulletproof, stretchy and bendy. This story doesn’t lend itself to that. How many heroes have you ever seen with an enhanced olfactory sense?

To expand on this, Mari rescued a black & tan coonhound. She’ll have to rescue her one more time, but I didn’t get that far. Here’s Mari, having lost her family, and suffered through a brutal gang rape. I gave her something adorable to grab onto. The fact that it’s a hound with a superior olfactory sense works wonders for me. It gives me some better bonding opportunities to work with as Mari learns her way around this unique skill.

I stopped right there and moved over to Lizzie’s story. I want to read what I have so far, and will focus on that before adding any new words. I still have hopes to move Goodbye Old Paint ahead before the weekend wraps up.

If I get anything done tomorrow, I’ll check in again.


Filed under Writing

Reporting in today

Plans didn’t change, but nature dictates what I can do.

I actually wrote that one into The Midnight Rambler, and got the cover ordered. I plan on releasing this one for the Halloween reading season. It’s a hat story, and I’m excited to share it with everyone. I wasn’t going to talk about it today, but this song is invading my head right now.

While Lizzie and the hat are chasing the Midnight Rambler, there is a major flood event happening. Naturally, the band drifts into songs about rain.

It was raining when I woke up. It rained all day. We have a first-rate thunderstorm brewing out there right now. Safe to say, spraying my trees wasn’t on the agenda today.

I wound up starting with Mari, back in the swamp country. This involves a big portion of world building in a town called Columbia. This is based upon a nuclear submarine that washed miles inland during the big war. The reason this is a post apocalyptic world.

The end of the war involved nuclear weapons and the subsequent wave brought it to rest. The town built up around it, and some wise person used the reactor to provide electricity to the town. They boast it’s the only town with electric lights in the whole world.

This next section is going to be hard to write. I need some time to think it out, because Mari is going to get herself in trouble.

I switched back to Goodbye Old Paint. Lizzie is dealing with the FBI and the file they have on her activity. I have some real problems in store for her, too. I need to get things moving and this always takes a bit of dabbling. Lizzie’s problems will be more humorous, while Mari’s are pretty serious.

Lizzie is sorting things out from the end of Midnight Rambler, like FEMA benefits. I swear this will still work as a stand alone.

I need to get her to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to see her problem first-hand. It’s going to be something she and the hat are ill equipped to handle. (Still coming up with things the hat can call this agency that are incorrect.)

Still, I added words to both stories. I’ll probably stick with Lizzie and the hat tomorrow. Assuming it’s still going to be raining. If the weather breaks, I may actually spray my trees.


Filed under Writing

Assessing my promo

I’ve done an Amazon free day many times over the years. They used to work pretty well, then stopped being productive.

Back in the day, when Panama was a fairly new publication, I managed to hand out over 400 copies. After that, they seemed to taper off. Future attempts even had me paying for a bit of advertising and boosting posts on Facebook to help things along. Those netted me numbers around 40 – not 400.

I gave up on free days because of this. Any I held after that were more in support of something else I had going on. Meaning if I had a Halloween tour happening, I might have a free-day for The Playground, something along those lines.

I’ve been pretty “In your face” about my interview on Blog Talk Radio this week. I decided to set up my free days based upon my historic experience. Something to reward those who tuned in, maybe give away a dozen books. I never did a lick of promo other than a mention on this site.

I was kind of blown away by the result this time. I chose to have free days for Grinders, because I think it’s one of my best and deserved a bit more love. I also went with Serang. It’s a good story, and it’s also a stepping stone into The Lanternfish Trilogy. This idea stemmed from the idea that the final Lanternfish book will come out this year.

Now that it’s all over, I want to share the results with you. Maybe this is an anomaly, and maybe things have changed on the promo front. If you have deeper knowledge of this, I’d like to hear from you. Any readers might be interested in your comments, too.

The promo ran for three days. This was to take advantage of Fresh Ink Group’s advance promotion of the show, and to gather those who might have tuned-in the day after.

I managed to give away 1,646 books. Now that’s two titles combined, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. If I had sold that many it would cover the mortgage and Old What’s Her Face’s car payment this month.

The dream with freebies is that people will read them. I’ve found that comes to about 10% or even less. Even so, 165 readers can do nothing but help me. Of those I might net a dozen reviews. The other dream is that people enjoyed the stories and take a chance on additional titles.

Keep in mind that Amazon has a bestseller list for free titles. It probably doesn’t mean as much as the paid lists, but it always feels good to see your name on there. Serang peaked at #2 on two different lists.

Grinders actually hit number one for a while yesterday. Here’s the proof.

Okay, Urban Fiction is an odd place to put it. It hit #2 in cyberpunk. Still, we authors tend to work alone and haunt these sites looking for good news. Some days, even I get lucky.

You can still read them for free with Amazon Prime.

Rumor is, this kind of thing will spill over into sales. That remains to be seen. The giveaway ended a few hours ago, but I’ve already sold three copies of Grinders. (One of which immediately returned it for a refund.) I have no idea how to take that one.

Still, I’m happy. I failed to do anything productive yesterday and just allowed myself to enjoy it. I’m also motivated to keep going, and maybe one day I’ll see one of my titles take the top slot on the paid lists.

I’m a firm believer that the indie author group should share. I’ve shared results from almost everything I’ve done on the promo front. That includes some less successful pushes. Maybe someone out there can strike while the iron is hot. Maybe one of you holds some great secret you can share in the comments. We’d all like to know, and maybe we can all benefit.


Filed under Writing