Tag Archives: Pets

Today’s Office

It was supposed to be a lovely post. A photo of my campsite in the ponderosa pines with an undergrowth of blueberry bushes. Then there was the mule deer doe that hangs around the edges of the campground. However, I’m down to a cellular hotspot with only two bars of service. I spent two hours trying to get the photos included, but no bueno. In fact, I have my doubts whether this text only post will upload, so here goes nothing.

It was hot yesterday. Somewhere in the nineties. This is tough on bulldogs, but we have power here, so the AC helped a bunch. They were restless most of the night. Otto decided to get up somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00 this morning. It’s either listen to him pace and whine with no hope of going back to sleep, or get up. My MO is to get up. When it’s time for breakfast, it’s time for breakfast.

Frankie rarely eats when we go out like this. Otto was content to clean his bowl, then hers. I picked it up before he got a double breakfast. Old What’s Her Face got to sleep in a little, then she gave them some hamburger and an egg, so Frankie isn’t starving.

I plopped down under the awning while it was still dark. The first order of business was to deal with the final critiques for Lanternfish. I don’t need wifi for that, and it’s all resident on my iPad. It can save to the cloud when I get home. Good suggestions, and it’s in the fermenter for a couple of weeks. Then I have to read it from start to finish, because there are always things that get missed.

Next order of business was to send out a chapter for Mrs. Molony. For some reason, while slow, that went off without a problem.

I’m still going to add a couple of paragraphs to this story. They aren’t needed, but there is a minor theme that could be addressed. I’ll let my critique group decide when they see the final chapter.

That left me the short story with Jason Fogg. It’s time for it to come out of the fermenter and get the last reading. Only I found two boneheaded errors. I fixed those, then put it back in the fermenter. I’m on vacation all week, so during the staycation part, I’ll make sure it gets submitted.

We took a drive today and saw quite a few deer. I only took the one picture and it didn’t upload anyway. I hoped for an eagle here on the lakeshore, but he never showed up.

There are still quite a few mushrooms in the darker parts of the forest. I hoped to do a snoop for a good one to add to my breakfast, but the mosquitos were pretty bad. I’d sprayed myself with repellent, but my wife was having none of it.

I did see one I’ve never seen before called Dead Man’s Fingers. It was a pitiful example, and looked more like a bunch of thin black spikes. I have a hunch it wasn’t mature yet. This thing looks like zombie fingers poking from the earth if you find a good one. I fully intended to look for one, because I wanted a photo. But Old What’s Her Face insisted we leave.

Tonight we dined on grilled lobster tails and some kabob vegetables. I’m washing it down with a bottle of stout right now. We’re having a good time, but the post would look better with pictures.

 

Update: The guy camped across the street from us is a piece of work. He is there with a girl of about thirteen and a son at about four, if I had to guess. Then grandma is with them. He’s one of those guys who is on his phone all the time. He tries to sound like a big deal, and has that wheeler-dealer mentality. He called his boss and is going to miss work on Monday. I couldn’t help but overhear. Something about the ex-wife and how he had to hire a babysitter one night because he had some function to attend. Then he was contacted by Central District Health. There is a trail of Covid-19 exposure going through the alleged babysitter. He said he has to take Monday off to get his entire family tested, but none of them are showing any symptoms.

I’m not totally freaked out, and they are about fifty feet from us. He’s been down at the dock fishing with the post-toddler. The dock is swarming with people. He’s also been in the neighboring camp telling them about his fishing prowess. Not one mask in sight.

If I’m not mistaken, the rules are to stay home until you get the all-clear. Not to go camping and mingle with other people, because you might not have Covid. The teen had the little one and was pointing into our camp. “Look at the puppies.”

No. Don’t look at the fucking puppies and keep on your side of the god damned street.

He’s a tent camper, too, so that means they’ll all be using the restroom facilities.

Between you and me, I think the guy was lying to his boss. He’s that kind of bullshitter. I’m not willing to take that chance, and if Otto misses out on making one friend he’ll get over it. We have social distancing on our side, and we’re outdoors to boot. I’m not letting any of them near my stuff, or allowing them to pet the dogs.

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Something fun

Old What’s Her face received a box of items because she works at the hospital. It’s a good box of fresh produce and even included a small ham. All of the workers got one. It includes a bag of peaches, one of apples, potatoes, onions. Good stuff.

You might imagine it isn’t perfect. She also got a few yams. It isn’t even a bag it’s more like a half bag. We talked all morning about what to do with them. Neither of us likes the old-school candied yams like people serve on Thanksgiving.

Maybe one of the television chefs had some kind of recipe for them. We spent some time checking those out. In despair, she said we weren’t going to be able to use them.

It was then I had a different idea. “Who wants a new toy?”

The dogs were apprehensive to say the least. Otto eventually took one and walked off polite, but obviously disappointed.

Old What’s Her Face asked if they were safe for dogs. I had to admit, that hadn’t even crossed my mind. She said she would Google it.

I decided to take them away, but Otto was having none of that. He trotted away, then headed for his favorite obstacle course – under the table. Frankie was excited because she could make hers roll across the hard surface flooring.

Turns out, yams are considered a nutritious treat for dogs. They noted that some are sold as dog treats and some dog food brands include them.

About that time, Otto decided to bite down a bit harder on his. He thoroughly enjoyed chewing his up, and wound up eating quite a bit of it.

It took Frankie a bit longer to come around. She was busy rolling hers across the floor. When she saw Otto eating something she had to check it out. Then she returned to hers and gave it a try.

Tomorrow, we’ll probably have a nice Denver omelette including some green peppers and the ham that came from the box. We have a few more dog toys left as well. (Don’t tell the root monsters.)

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And then Rusty showed up

I already posted about my 3500 words on Friday. I’m on the downhill slide of Lanternfish, and it’s getting fun to move toward the big event that ends book two.

Old What’s Her Face has to work all four days I’m off, so getting to the conclusion is a real possibility. I added 2500 more words on Saturday morning. This included the creation of another new creature called a snubhorn, who is basically a beast of burden.

I needed to think the next bit through, and turned to my short story. Normally, I would jump to Mrs. Molony, but the short story has a deadline. I wound up finishing it, but it needs a little something. It’s going to be a bit short for the desired word count, but I don’t want to lengthen it only for that.

Then Rusty showed up. My daughter decided to drop in for a visit, but she brought Rusty with her. This is the leftover from a litter of Rottweiler puppies her roommate had bred. Since nobody wanted him, she decided to keep him.

I’m here to liven up your life.

I love seeing my daughter, but Rusty is a handful. He’s a perpetual motion machine, and licks everything. As he walks he licks the couch, the footstool, the chair, my shoe, the wall, whatever is within reach. It’s cute, but weird. He also get’s Frankie pretty fired up, to the point of angry sometimes.

He’s also gangly. He slid across the dining room floor, into the kitchen with all four paws in the air. He impacted the pantry doors and I had to put them back on track.

I worry, because he’s an intact male Rottweiler. Otto is also intact, and I would like to see Rusty start staying in Sun Valley when our daughter visits. He’s twice as big as he was when he came in April, and while he’s cute, Otto doesn’t need that shit. I’ve been around a lot of dogs, and Rusty is going to be huge when he grows up.

My daughter took him to town for a few hours this morning, and I added another 1500 words to Lanternfish. It isn’t a lot, but it’s better than nothing. It’s important stuff, too, so that helps. Then she came home and gave me a haircut.

As I’m writing this, Old What’s Her Face took our daughter to the store. There was some talk about buying something for dinner, so I have a hunch Rusty will impact my Monday writing plans, too.

All told, there isn’t a downside. I get to visit with my daughter, got a haircut, and honestly get a kick out of this gigantic weird puppy. I just wouldn’t want a steady diet of him.

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A glorious writing day

This had to be the longest work week in history. It added to my back problems, because I had to spend the entire day yesterday in an uncomfortable chair to attend a Zoom meeting.

I doubted my ability to even get out of bed this morning, but I made it around 7:00. I think the Woodford Reserve helped last night, because I slept like a baby.

Frankie was a little shit most of the morning. She’s really smart and calculates things. She wanted Otto to play outside with her, but he’s figured out her nonsense. She spots an imaginary squirrel, then paws the door with urgency. She runs out all excited, but he watches from the doorway.

Now she’s added me to her game. It was cold, but I’d let her out enough times that I left the door open so she could come and go. She started coming to me in a lather. She stomps her front feet back and forth, makes a Chewbacca noise, then runs to the door… but the door is open.

I decided that maybe someone threw a ball over the fence or something and she wanted me to see it, so I stepped outside and played right into her evil plan. Otto always goes outside if I do. As soon as he stepped onto the patio, she jumped him. I was just a device to get Otto to go outside. I really wanted to write, but you’ve gotta stop and laugh at that.

The Lanternfish crew was in the wake of a large sea battle that introduced some new elements into the story. Today was about what’s known as a sequel. If you haven’t been reading Staci Troilo’s excellent series over at Story Empire, you’re missing out. Here’s a link to the first one.

Stories have a kind of ebb and flow that I’ve always thought of as waves. The crest of the wave is all cannons, fire, and action. The valley between waves is about recovery, regrouping, then forging ahead to the next crest. They’re more properly called Scenes and Sequels. I think the naming is unfortunate, and prefer my wave analogy.

The crew completed their primary mission as privateers. They delivered their goods to the Admiralty. From this point on, everything changes. It’s more dangerous, riskier, and I hope I can pull it off.

One of the weird things I love is an outfit upgrade, and I wrote two into this chapter. One involves passing Yoshiko off as a princess to Western minds. She is a princess, but it isn’t that big of a deal in the East. The hope is the Westerners will fall all over her.

The other involves General Serang. You guys remember Serang. She’s come a long way since her origin story, and her appearance in Voyage of the Lanternfish. Just to refresh your memory, here is Lisa Burton posing as Serang.

Lisa Burton

I really like her makeover, and as she steps to the dock ahead of her army, everything is different. The only things she kept are her weapon, and that rockin’ hat. Sadly, she just marched out of this story. At nearly 96,000 words, the final chapters are all about James and the Lanternfish crew. She has a big role to play in the final book of the trilogy.

Makeovers are a great way to announce a change has happened. There’s something new here. If you like superhero movies you’ll see them used all the time. Two characters, two visions, one of grace and loveliness, the other of power and strength.

Anyway, I’m pretty happy with it, but it may need some fine tuning. Today’s word count comes to about 3200. A very good kickoff to my four day weekend.

If you’d like to check out Serang, you can find her origin story or Voyage of the Lanternfish on my Amazon Page.

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Kind of crotchety today

Today was my flex day. This gave me a chance to write, and I did, but I don’t feel like it’s anything to note here. In both stories, I’m in one of those places.

Author visitors will understand what I’m talking about. Sometimes you just have to move the pieces around the board. You can’t get to the next big scene without putting the smaller bits in motion. That’s the kind of stuff I’ve been writing. It’s good to get accomplished, because then I can do some crazy things coming up.

It feels like the middle slog, and for the story about Lizzie and The Hat, it could be. I have no idea what it’s like for the Lanternfish trilogy. Technically, the whole second book is the middle slog, but it’s not going to read that way. There is some crazy stuff happening in this story.

Some of my attitude is just the general state of things in the world right now. I keep trying to focus on nice things, and do what I can here. I’ve posted cute dogs, ducks, and such. I even did a free day for Yak guy. (Still watching for a few reviews.) Today it’s another tree.

Frankie has a hard time avoiding cameras. The peach tree is finished for the year. This old crabapple is in the middle of its spring display. So is the Asian pear around the side of the house. It just doesn’t have the pleasing shape of this tree. It makes me happy, so it might help you, too.

In other news, we had one of my favorites tonight. It’s chicken and cheesy grits, drizzled with a bit of honey and hot sauce. I’m not selling it very well, so check out this bowl.

I’m working tomorrow, but there may be some cool leftovers for lunch. Might get some writing time this weekend, too. Hang in there everyone. Stimulus checks are coming, and this won’t last forever.

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Trying for fun

While the world is in exile, it’s important to enjoy the little things. I snapped his photo when I got up this morning.

I think the dogs are trying to tell me something, but their penmanship is horrible.

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A blogging kind of weekend

I didn’t even try to write new fiction this weekend. I only get two days, and Old What’s Her Face was off for both of them. I decided to dedicate my time to blogging.

Most of this is the slow promotion of Grinders. I wrote a post that should go live tomorrow, and I’ll try to find time to share it here. I was also invited to do an interview for an old friend, and that will post next week sometime. My promo is all set through this week.

I’m enjoying this promo tour a lot more than past ones. I can manage two a week, and it’s far superior to multiple posts per day for one week. There could be something to keeping the book in the public eye for a longer period of time.

I also wrote and scheduled my next post for Story Empire. I’m working my way through the Character Archetypes over there, and most of them have been pretty fun. This post was work. The Trickster is an odd character to write about, and there are nearly as many opinions about it as there are writing blogs. I have it ready to post later this month, and there is time to tweak it here and there.

Aside from that, welcome to Daylight Savings Time. There is a bill running through the Idaho Legislature to pick one and stay with it all year. Of course it didn’t happen in time to prevent us from changing today. I really don’t care, but know it bothers a lot of people. I need to call my parents this morning, but I’m dragging my feet. Mom probably won’t adopt DST until she gets up this morning.

We managed date night last night, since it was payday. We went to Old Chicago for beer and pizza. I’m halfway toward earning my St. Patrick’s Day tee shirt. We can go back the next payday and complete it. After that we stopped off for tennis balls and Nylabones. It’s not like the dogs are neglected, and sometimes we ought to remember the marketing is designed to hook people.

I’d like to do some reading, but between feisty dogs with new toys, and Old What’s Her Face, it might not happen.

I noticed that I haven’t had a lot of images here lately. All blog posts are better with graphics, and I know that. So here’s a picture of Otto, trying to talk Mom into taking him for coffee. He likes the ride, the baristas all pet him, and he gets one called a pupaccino.

Mom, it’s time to go.

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Sometimes you just have to update

It’s Wednesday, and there isn’t anything real sexy to talk about. I’ve been working, and trying to read a chapter of Grinders here and there. This phase always convinces me what a hack I am.

I know some other authors who feel the same way, so it isn’t just me. It was all so cool when I was creating this world, and now I’m questioning everything. This isn’t my first book, and I won’t let it stop me.

I got my W-2, so yay for the Internal Revenue Service.

Otto is a mess right now. Nothing too Earth shattering with him, just a lot of little things. The fold on his face is inflamed, and we’re putting cream on it. That usually clears everything up. He’s also had an ear problem. We have drops for that, and it usually clears that issue up.

His feet are driving him crazy, and this time the little wipies aren’t doing anything for him. Today, when Old What’s Her Face came home from work, there was blood all over the place.

The blood is from his tail, and there’s a big welt there. Otto’s never had a tail problem before, but his sister has. We have some stuff we can try. It looks more like a wound than something that got infected. There is a hell of a welt there, though. Something might have bit him while we were at work. (Looks at Frankie.)

I decided it was time for an Epsom Salts soak, at least for his feet. While I kept his feet soaking, my wife used a rag and soaked his little tail.

There really doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with him, and he played ball like a madman tonight. When everything dries, we have a steroid powder they gave us when Frankie had a tail infection. We’ll add some of that before bed time.

Still a good boy

In book news, I’m going to miss my first deadline of the year. I really wanted to release Grinders sometime around Chinese New Year. It probably won’t matter to the book buying public, but I’m year of the rat. This year will be year of the rat. Also there is a scene in the book that involves the parade in San Francisco, where it is also year of the rat. Aside from that, there are rats who play a pivotal role in the story.

All sounded good, except the new year doesn’t start in February this time. It’s next weekend. Those darned lunar calendars.

I still have to finish my final pass, get the MS to my formatter, and I don’t have my Lisa Burton posters yet. I did get a cover just the other day. It looks like I can salvage a cover-reveal kind of post for Chinese New Year. I can talk about the story a bit, and some friends offered to host me if I take it that far.

As the work week ends, we’ll be keeping an eye on Otto. He may have to go see the vet this time. I’ll work on my final pass for Grinders, and probably write something for the cover-reveal. There ought to be enough time to add a few words to HMS Lanternfish, too.

At least that’s how I’m approaching the weekend. Sometimes the best laid plans of rats and men oft go astray. Bring on the weekend.

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Some weekends are like that…

This is my short weekend based upon the flex schedule at work. Because of that, I made limited plans and seemed to have accomplished those.

My only real goal was to tune up a section of HMS Lanternfish, and it needed some serious tuning. It was full of autocorrect and “it’s” kind of mistakes. My group looked it over, and I found some additional ones while I was working on their suggestions.

I just get typing along and these things happen. My big problem is that I can’t see them in my own work. I must have gone over this three times before I shared it. The work is much tighter now, and vastly improved.

That is the only thing I had planned. Tomorrow is the day I call my parents and I usually veg a bit on Sundays.

Next weekend, my flex schedule plays to my advantage. I wind up with a four day weekend, and ought to get some new words then.

I need to finish reading a book I started a long time ago, then I really ought to start word searches and the final read through on Grinders. Sean will deliver the cover art in no time now.

We managed a nice date night at a new place in Eagle. This is only about ten highway miles from town, and it was pretty good.

In other news, Otto and Frankie got new tennis balls. There’s been a whole lot of ball playing going on around here.

Otto

We buy him the oversized ones, because his mouth is so damned big. Frankie gets ones that are smaller than tennis players use.

My daughter texted while we were at supper. She is pretty highly ranked at the airport, and graduated from beauty school several years ago. The fire department is going to pay her to do some theatrical makeup simulating a plane crash at the airport. This is a training exercise and she’s pretty jazzed about it. She never said if she was participating in the exercise, but she’s going to do all of their makeup. I think that’s pretty cool.

There you have it. Not a lot going on for me personally, but it accomplishes a blog update.

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2020 Business Plan

I just recapped 2019 (Link) and consider it a success. It wasn’t exactly profitable, but I learned some things and was able to publish three titles last year.

One of the main things is that I can write more than one story at a time. I call the secondary one my side project and chip away at it when my main project bogs down. I’ve been known to park my brain for weeks dwelling on a plot issue, then hit the keyboard after I’ve worked it all out. It’s worse while working on my trilogy.

By having a side project, those lost weeks are pointed elsewhere, and somehow the main problem works itself out anyway. My side project jumps ahead, and when it’s time for it to emerge from its cocoon as the main project, I may be 50K words into it.

It’s kind of like how I keep multiple storyboards going. I always have something ready to start.

I intend to keep doing this in 2020. I don’t have a side project right now, but once HMS Lanternfish hits somewhere around 50K words, I’m going to start another one.

I finally wrote that cyberpunk story I’ve been bringing up for years. It needs a cover, a final read through, and formatting, but it’s very close. I enjoyed taking modern problems and poking them with a stick to see how our world might look in a hundred years. It’s called Grinders, and will be coming your way in early 2020.

With an incredible stroke of luck, I could release it for Chinese New Year. This is the Year of the Rat, a big part of the story goes down at the parade in San Francisco, where it is also the Year of the Rat, and a couple of rats play an important role in the story. Yours Truly is also Year of the Rat. That’s some serious juju right there, and I’d like to publish it then.

I don’t think it’s a deal killer if I don’t hit that target, the best laid plans of rats and men, etc.

Grinders is my stand-alone title for 2020. Sequels will eat up the rest of the time. I can’t seem to give up stand-alone work, and it’s something I really enjoy.

As far as sequels are concerned, I need to produce the next Lanternfish tale in 2020. I’m working diligently on it, and would love to have it available before the schools get out. My track record at that deadline is horrible. I don’t seem to have any luck with summer releases, so I dream of having it ready before then.

Another loose target is the Halloween season. I have this earmarked for the next story about Lizzie and The Hat. They are finally going to face actual vampires. This won’t be anything like you’ve seen before, and will take place mostly in the country music environment. They’re going to have to stalk their enemy across rodeo dances, county fairs, and such. There are some fun scenes already planned out, and Lizzie is going to tire quickly of this kind of music.

There is also a new character that I can’t wait to bring into the tale. I see him as a possible recurring character. If you’re old enough, you remember how James Garner always seemed to have that one smarmy guy show up in his work. My new character will fill that role, and could fit into future stories. Besides, he has a speech impediment that The Hat will make fun of. That brings out Lizzie’s “social justice warrior” and adds a few fun interactions.

This story will be the side project once I nudge Lanternfish along a bit. After it moves into the main slot, I might start another side project. This one would be a post-apocalyptic story with many earmarks of a western. I will also return to first person POV in this one.

This is an ambitious year, but I think I can make it happen. I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve after last year. First is that Grinders is already written, much like the first Lanternfish book was. Second is that stories about Lizzie and The Hat are generally short novels. If it works, the post-apocalyptic thing could be ready prior to 2021.

I have one problem that I’m trying to sort out. Maybe you can help me with that. I’m convinced that my best promotional effort is to publish the next book. Being a self publisher is a numbers game. I’ve been around long enough to see people fade after a book or two. I’m not one of those people.

Readers could take authors more seriously with a number of titles under their belt. That’s pure theory, and they would have to be good stories. I feel like I’ve reached that level, and could attract new readers by having a decent catalog of titles.

The problem arises in timing of those releases. I ran into a problem of releasing two books sixty days apart. Viral Blues did well enough, but I think Serang suffered because of this. This is a complex problem, but here are some of the factors to consider.

• I have a personal phobia of the summer months for a new release. I’ve never done well during summer, but that limits me to the nine other months. That becomes a book every three months during the sweet spot.

• Promotional fatigue is a real thing. It hits my blog followers, online circle, and it hits me, too. I will need to identify many more sites to promote my work. I don’t want to wear out my regular group of hosts. I like my hosts and regulars. I want to balance being a friend, offering my space to them, and being able to promote my own projects on occasion.

• Lanternfish is a trilogy. I don’t expect much fanfare for the second book other than from those who loved the first one. In my imagination, book two may sell better after the trilogy concludes. With this thought, could a summer release for book two serve just as well? That would help spread things out around the year. Am I selling the second book of a trilogy short?

• Could a blog tour with two or more books on the same tour have any benefit? This would cut down the number of promo posts, but each title would have to share stops along the tour. Is there a way to use pre-release sales in this scheme? You can have one book right now, and the other will be delivered in 60 days?

• Does the crack dealer method still work? Meaning does a giveaway for book one help move sales for book two or three? It used to work, but has that also changed?

Personally, I don’t like the idea of giving my work away. If $2.99 is going to break someone’s budget, they’d be better of paying the power bill. I have to admit, there might be a strategic advantage to some freebies. There used to be one, but things change so fast I don’t know anymore.

As far as titles that could serve as the gateway drug to my writing, The Playground kind of leads to Viral Blues. The Hat leads to Viral Blues and any other book in the series. Serang and Voyage of the Lanternfish could serve the same purpose for the Lanternfish trilogy. Honestly, 2020 might be too soon for this concept, but I’m open to suggestions if you have them.

I want to keep blogging two to three times per week. Yeah, it’s a place to talk about my work, but it serves its own purpose, too. I like chatting with you guys. I’m not afraid to talk about my writing efforts, but sometimes you get bulldogs, sourdough bread, camping trips and other things that add a bit of quality to life.

Otto is helping Dad today.

Story Empire has been a good thing for me, too. It challenges me to come up with appropriate topics, and while I don’t always pull it off, I come fairly close to the mark. I don’t know how much more I have to share there, but there are always new writers coming along, so revamping some things might be possible. That usually takes me a couple of times per month, so I’ll be seeing many of you over there during 2020.

These are ambitious goals, but they are within reach. I might not hit all of them, but I intend to give it my best effort. I hope you guys will come along for the ride. Do you ever make a business plan for the year?

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