Sunday, September 6, 2020

September has started off much cooler!

 August zipped by like a shot! It was so hot most days I couldn't have lasted outside for long even if Covid wasn't forcing me to stay inside! 

We usually take a 1 mile walk in the mornings so we've missed that chance to get the blood flowing and get some fresh air. But in this heat it's not worth it. Walking around the block in the heat and humidity would have done us in for the whole day! ;-)

The recent rain storms rumbling through our area of North Texas have been so wonderful! I've taken a few pictures and movies to post to show my friends out of state that Texas actually does have that 'water from the sky' stuff occasionally.

I came across this image somewhere and it brought back so many memories from my childhood in Levelland, Texas, a tiny town 30 miles west of Lubbock. Brought memories of run around all summer long in 105 degree weather.

Hot, dusty, hot, eye-burning, hot and did I say 'hot'!? We looked like coffee beans by the time summer was over. Tasting the cold well-water coming straight from the hose seemed sweet as honey. After a deep gulp we would drench each other with spray fights. I can feel the goose-bumps rising even now.

Then it was off to build corn-stalk forts in the field between our house and the house of my only childhood friend, Brett. We lived about a mile outside of town in a line of house on the east side of the highway. The tiny field between our houses was always used by Brett's Dad to grow a little summer corn. After the corn was stripped the stalks were left standing. Brett and I would find a patch where we could cut out walls and a roof and spend weeks playing games.

We had pop-guns with those curled up strips of tiny powder dots that would explode as you pulled the trigger. I had a Roy Rogers two gun and holster set! God, I wish I had kept that toy. You might notice that I did not turn out to be a gun-toting maniac. ;-)

One good thing in this isolation is I have plenty of time for writing. I've almost finished book 5 of my SciFi series 'Arlo and Jake' and have written several short stories. Looking forward to hopping on several magazine stories and more short stories to publish.

Have a great week and stay safe!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Is it August already???

I CANNOT believe it's the middle of Summer! Where the heck did June and July go?

I think the Pandemic has triggered a TWC, a Time Warp Conundrum, causing my sense of time and space to fracture and sizzle like an egg dropped on a hot Texas sidewalk!

I've been doing a lot of writing on the latest book in my 'Arlo and Jake' SciFi series and mulling over other stories that are waiting in the wings. It seems that the closer I get to finishing this story the more 'cool' ideas pop up and try to tear me away. It's like having a room full of puppies yipping around my ankles while I try to walk my dog.

One of the things I've been doing is collecting pix online related to my US Navy experiences. Some people remember their time in college doing crazy stuff and wondering how they survived. I served on nuclear subs in the 70s so I remember doing crazy stuff and wondering how I survived. ;-)

Here's a cool pix that gives me 'fond' memories. Before an extended run we would load as much food and coffee as possible. The Navy runs on coffee, trust me. What you see here is one of the crew's quarters lined with food/coffee cans on the deck. As the stuff was consumed we finally got to see/walk on the actual deck! ;-)

Those curtains hide our 'racks', our beds. Under the thin mattress is a 'bed pan' about 12 inched deep. That's where you store all your clothes, personal items and gedunks you bring with you. Gedunks are things like beef jerky, chocolate and for some guys cigarettes. The racks are stacked 3, 4 and in some places 5 high. Chiefs and Officers have their own areas that are not quite so cramped. 

I've also been collecting pix from the early 60/70s, including my high school years in Boulder, Colorado.

This is a shot of 28th street in Boulder around 1968, looking south. The Volvo is turning in off Walnut Street I think.

The Texaco on the east (left in the pix) side is my father's station, where I worked during High School at the old Fairview HS on Cherryvale Road.

On the west side is a King's restaurant. Great place! You sat down in a booth that had a little music juke box and a telephone on the wall. You 'phoned' in your order. You plopped a quarter into the juke and listen to some music until they called you back to pick up your order at the counter in the back. Grub-Hub before there was Grub-Hub!!

This is what a coke machine looked like in the 50/60s, except that the first one I remember at my Dad's station cost 5 cents not 10 cents. Everyone was appalled when the price of a coke went up to 25 cents! Outrageous! ;-)

You dropped in your coin and pushed down on the handle. That rotated the big vertical drum inside and lined up one of the bottles so you could pull it out. 

Best tasting Cokes on the planet. Really cold and of course the original recipe made your throat burn as it went down. On a hot Texas Panhandle day it was liquid heaven!

Stay safe and wear the mask, friends. 

When the pandemic is over we can a huge party to celebrate!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Writing in isolation

I'm fortunate to have a 'man cave' den in my house, where I can read, write and just think. This desk is over 25 years old, something I bought in Longmont, CO WAY back when I was just starting to play round with writing.

I can close the door to my den, tell Alexa to play some smooth jazz and lose myself in my writing. Or lean back in my chair and get lost in Naval History books (just finished Samuel Eliot Morison's 'The Two Ocean war'), sipping a tumbler of bourbon and snacking on some cookies.

You can't tell from the picture, but I also collect SciFi and Fantasy Art books like the 'Spectrum' series. Some days I just scan through the amazing artwork and let my imagination take a trip. I get ideas from stories sometimes as I lose myself in the images.

I AM a lucky Dude and I know it. But it wasn't always like this. I've 'worked' on software projects, hardware projects, balsa models and writing inside spare closets, on the couch and the kitchen table. It doesn't really matter, as I'm sure my fellow writers know. Once you dive into a story the world seems to reconfigure around you, your characters and environment swirl around you, blocking out the real world.

I've found my writing has blossomed in this imposed isolation. I put my head down in the story line and then hours later look up, amazed at how fast time has flow. With fewer commitments there is more time to play with my heroes and villains.

I hope you've had good luck with your writing as well. I'm looking forward to hearing from my current writing friends and some new authors.

Keep writing!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Finishing a story...

This is from a post I did on a friends writing blog back in 2016.

I hope it motivates you to ...


This post is about finishing. Finishing is harder, by far, than starting. Yeah, it seems like an obvious statement up front, but please don’t leave me yet! ;-)
Starting is hard, sure, and I don't minimize its place in any endeavor. To start writing, be it a poem, a short story or an epic novel series, takes guts and confidence. I think you’re lucky if you’re one of those writers that can just ignore your doubts and go for it, mindfully dismissing your fears. Yeah, that’s so not me.
If you’ve finished a project it’s easier, because you know you can do it. You know what’s ahead. You’re ready to begin a new adventure. You can look forward to stretching the boundaries of your imagination. It’s damn exciting to look at a blank sheet of paper, envision your dreams sketched upon it and KNOW that you’ve done this before.
In contrast, to finish a story takes stern will and dogged determination. It takes sacrifices of time, energy and soul.
I don’t like missing out on my nachos or leisure time. I look forward to patio time all day during the Texas spring, summer and fall. Winter evenings are best spent indoors, in front of the fireplace, with a nice big mug of hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps. Hmm. But, I digress.
When you want to watch a movie or just chill out on the patio with a glass of Texas Red and some nachos, you’ll have to force yourself to write a chapter first. Moreover, by the time you’ve written that chapter, it will probably be too late for the treats.
Finishing means that you care more about this story and these characters than you do your personal life. You will spend endless hours exploring plot arc possibilities. You’ll consider when and how to introduce new characters. Is this the right place to bring in a sidekick? Maybe I should do some foreshadowing earlier, let the reader get a taste of what’s to come. Does this paragraph push the story forward or is it just sparkling fluff?
‘Finishing’ is everything that happens after the euphoria of the opening moments of your piece ebbs. After the moment when you realize this story is going to be very, very hard to get right. Sigh. ‘Honey, could you make me another hot chocolate?’
Finishing means a daily grind of rewrite, rewrite and more rewrite. Then your paranoid Muse pipes up, whispering questions in your ear, fueling self-doubt. “Am I rewriting too much? Should I leave this passage alone? Did I give the hero a good enough reason to go on this quest? Will the reader understand what I mean here or is it too esoteric? Will I ever finish this chapter?” Shut up, you soulless, nagging harpy!
‘Finishing’ means more than anything else, not giving up. It’s not looking for an excuse to stop here and ‘put it aside for awhile’. It’s grabbing a bagel and a cup of coffee and sitting your butt back in the chair, instead of hitting the ‘close’ key for the night.
If you have more than a couple of ‘to be continued’ stories on your hard drive, you know how difficult it can be to finish. I have a few myself, and I’m working overtime to get them off the bit-box and into a publisher. They do no one any good sitting there rotting away, bit by bit.
‘Finishing’ is what makes you a writer, an honest to God ‘author’.

Go finish that story.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

People are amazing...

We've been staying in and shunning much social contact like most people with any common sense. Being an ex-submariner it's not a huge stretch for me to be isolated as the cartoon below shows. ;-)

We also got some very cool contact from a neighbor, someone who only moved next door a couple of months ago.

This young family contacted us via a neighborhood web site. They wanted to make sure that we were OK and did we need anything at the store.

We barely know them yet they were genuinely concerned about how we were getting along. It made me smile and I was almost in tears. (I'm a weeper, just to be truthful.) They have contacted us several time in the last weeks to see if we needed anything at the store and that we were doing OK.

Since that contact we've had several other neighbors check on us. It's incredibly heart-warming. We've also contacted a few neighbors to check up on them. Everyone around is doing well.

I hope you'll follow this example and check on those around you, especially the elderly. Even if they are OK it will be a huge moral boost to know you care about them.

On a writing note, I'm getting some great work on my WIP, book 5 of the 'Arlo and Jake' series. Now that I have nothing else to do I'm trying to put all my effort into completing the story ASAP.

Keep safe and wash your hands!