Monday, December 7, 2015

Finally made up with my Muse ;-)

Sweet Josephine in the Pumpkin Patch, my Muse has returned! Whooo Hooo! ;-)

Not sure where she was vacationing, but I am soooo glad she's back; tan, rested and eager to crack the literary whip!

I've been stalled on 'Walk with Me' for weeks, unable to go forward or backwards. Between work, family, holidays, bills, house work, etc, etc, etc, I've just had no steam at all to write. I write software for the health care industry and it takes my full attention all day. We've had some heavy projects lately that required lots of overtime and work at home after work at work. You get the idea, I'm sure you have the same issues.

I guess I can't blame her for taking a vacation, I was pretty much ignoring her. Sorry, Ma'am. Family and work always come first. When I retire, then you and me will share cold mugs of Fat Tire on the patio, all day long. Until then, or until my Angel Book Agent shows up, I give you all the time I can spare.

So, for no reason I can fathom, she's back! Maybe she missed me? Probably not.

Anyway, I've got a real bead on where I go from here and I'm back on the 'write/hmm nope not right/rewrite/ahh that's better' merry-go-round.

I like that ride, by the way; it's just how I write. When the merry-go-round stops it means that I'm done. If I'm going round and round, it means I'm making progress. Perfectly logical, eh? ;-)

With luck and a little time off for the holidays, I'm hoping to publish 'Walk with Me' next month. Then it's on the next great American novel!

Treat your Muse to a day off once in a while, she/he will return refreshed and ready to kick butt!

Be Cool!

Just Be!


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

I give thanks to all my family and writing friends around the world!

You are all so awesome and supportive, it warms my soul and puts a big smile on my face. ;-)

I send you warm wishes to you all for a happy and joyous day.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Slow progress on 'Walk with Me'... arrggghhhh

I am not a patient man. I work daily on staying focused on things I can do 'now' versus things that will just have to wait. T'aint easy, McGee, t'aint easy. At work, I have 2 or 3 things going at all times. If my brain is not engaged I fall asleep. I would rather be weird than bored.

So the fact that I haven't nailed my latest novel, 'Walk with Me', is driving me bonkers. I would be working on it right now but I'm squeezing my Muse for some better material. It's never a good idea to force your imagination to produce. My Muse is a very fickle lady and right now she's either on vacation somewhere in the Milky Way or tired of hearing me whine. I'm going with the former, it puts me in a better light.

So. What to do?

I'm thinking of setting 'Walk with Me' aside and reviving an old project or starting a new one. I have several stories that are 'this close' to being 'real good'. It would be excellent to have them polished and pub'd.

On the other hand I have several shiny new projects that I'm itching to start on.

I have to do something! I can't sit a home at night and NOT write. It's become so ingrained that I think about plots based on TV commercials, for crying out loud. ;-)

OK. So, I'll just pick one and run with it.

Time to rummage through my outlines and pick a winner!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Just finished 'Revolver' by H.P. Oliver, check out the review!

Check out my review of H.P. Oliver's 'Revolver'. It's another winner from an author I admire and love to read.

H.P. writes in easy, flowing paragraphs, steering you around the streets of Hollywood and cities all around 1930's California. His style is immersive and vivid, getting you into Johnny's head so you can see the evidence and the story as it unfolds.

That's what this post is about, aside from getting you to check out 'Revolver'.

Immersion.

Like H.P. I believe the best stories draw the reader into the lives of characters immediately and hold that interest throughout the plot. You don't have to know which deodorant Johnny, or Jake, my character in the 'Arlo and Jake' series,  uses in the morning. But knowing his favorite beer or car lets you get some subtle 'warm fuzzy' that you understand what motivates the character.

What kind of women is he drawn to? How does he react to rejection? Is he easy to anger or a simmering pot? What does he do when the day is over and it's time to unwind.

It probably means nothing to the plot, but knowing these details immerses the reader into the characters soul, even if it's just a tiny detail like the kind of hat he wears.

H.P. is teaching me that little details matter. They are the pickles on the hamburger. They add flavor.

Go! Pick up your copy of 'Revolver'.

Be Cool.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Almost there.... or not ;-)

My latest short story, 'Walk with Me', was done. Fini. Finito. In the bag! Check my post on 12 July. I just KNEW I was going to get it done 'soon'. And I did. But...

I gave it to my editors (my wife and my daughter ;-) and waited for the rave reviews. I feel it's another step up the writing ladder in my quest to be a good writer. It has some mysticism in it, but it's primarily a love story about a couple at the end of their lives and how they handle the inevitable.

It has good dialogue, descriptive scenes and some well thought out characters. These are things my editors have harped on, I mean encouraged me to improve upon. I've really been trying to take my time and let more of what's in my mind come through to the page. Less movie script description and more scene development.

Sigh.

The verdict was that it was better and very intriguing. But it's too short.

It's 13,000 words. A short story. So it's OK to be short. Right?

Now to be clear, both my editors read in several book clubs and consume more books than I do. My daughter is an English Major and tutors at the local high school. My wife can read a paragraph and tell you every place it could be improved. I pay attention to their thoughts and criticisms whenever I'm not absolutely sure I want things my way for some reason.

In this case, they are right. Damn!

The 'problem' is that it IS a good story and I DON'T give the reader enough. I short-cut several small plot lines only because I didn't want to put the effort into them. And the book obviously suffers for it. The reader will wonder why the characters feel or act the way they do because I have not guided the reader through those arcs. I tried to do the movie script scene description cheat again. It doesn't work.

The reader deserves to walk in the shoes of my characters and share the reasons for their pain or joy. I should not just describe their feelings, I should take the reader's hand and show them. Get them inside the souls and minds of these people and let them share those feelings.

So.

I'm going to take my time and make a 'full' story. It might still be technically a short story ( < 20,000 words) but it will be a complete story. More likely it will be in the 40,000 to 60,000 words range. I'm not sure at this point. I try not to worry about word length anyway.

It will be worth savoring. The reader will enjoy the ebb and flow and feel complete when the end is reached.

I am an impatient man. I must learn to be a patient writer.

I hope you, my readers and fellow writers, will be satisfied with the effort.

Be cool, my friends.




Thursday, September 3, 2015

Writing for fame, fortune or fun...

Talking to friends during a recent vacation to Colorado brought this subject up again. 'Why do you write if you're not a professional writer?"

It takes a ton of time to outline, to research, to push a story forward. You're constantly going back and rewriting, fretting about a sentence or just dumping whole chapters because they're not right.

I could be playing video games, watching movies, reading or playing my guitar. Why spend so much karma on something that won't even break even in the long run.

It's hard to explain, actually. It's not logical, it's emotional. It's not concrete, it's mostly abstract. Once you release your imagination, you don't want to restrain it anymore. Writing gives your imagination an infinite number of Universes in which to roam. Free and wild. The wind in it's hair and the throttle open wide!

So basically it's fun. Right? You bet it is.

No one tells you how to write. These are your heroes and heroines in trouble. Your vicious villains and do-badders.  Your back water mining camps or Space Cowboy shoot outs. You can make the plot funny, dramatic, serious, outrageous (my favorite), mellow, chaotic... whatever you damn well want.

And the more you practice, the better you get. Honest. I'm nowhere near where I want to be but I'm getting better with every book.

For me, so far, it's just for fun. I cannot describe the feeling of reading a cool passage I just wrote. Launching a book is awesome, trust me. The journey to get it launched is billion times more fun.

You got an itch to write. Scratch it, people! Dive in feet first and enjoy it!

Go. Write!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Another Johnny Spicer caper...

I love spreading the word about indie authors I enjoy, and H.P. Oliver is on my list of 'Coolest Writing Dudes and Dudettes'.

I just finished 'Pacifica' by Mr. Oliver. His main character, Johnny Spicer, is an LA gumshoe (google it, kids ;-) with attitude, a nose for adventure and the moxie to back it up. Check out my review under the 'Reviews' page.

I think H.P.'s writing strikes a note with me because the scenes seems to form with no effort on my part. Johnny's office popped out of the page smelling like old newspaper with a faint whiff of whiskey. Classy. The Golden Gate International Exposition on 1939's Treasure Island came to life with all its Art Deco facades, Chinese pavilions, the 'Dog Lady' and more.

It's easy to follow along with Mr. Oliver's story and characters. There are twists and turns to keep you guessing. There are bad guys you can boo at and guys who don't want to be heroes but nevertheless are. Real people. They act like you and I might if we were put in their situations. At least we like to think we would.

Of course, no one knows how they will act when confronted with harrowing dilemmas and life or death decisions, but H.P.'s characters seem to act like 'real' humans would. They make the right decisions most of the time, but very, very wrong decisions other times. That pulls you into Mr. Oliver's characters and makes them approachable. That kind of writing is not an easy.

Take your time with this story, don't rush it. Enjoy going back to a 'simpler' time that really wasn't all that simple to it's occupants.

My advice? Go find an author, and I recommend H.P. Oliver, that you haven't tried. Scan the promo and if it's a story that peaks your interest, buy it and enjoy a new perspective on storytelling.

Oh, yeah. I'd recommend a large pizza with the works and a couple of cold Shiner Bocks for this yarn. Clear your afternoon calendar, hit the patio, settle back into your wicker chair, put your feet up on the ottoman and dive into Johnny Spicer's latest caper.

Be Cool, my friends!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

New challenges and opportunities

It's the middle of July in North Texas and it's finally getting HOT! ;-) The flood waters are starting to recede and the lakes are inching their way down from record overflow levels. My lawn looks super and we even finished the pergola patio with the swing! Whoo Hoo!

The last few months have both flashed and crawled by, depending on what I was doing at the time. The older I get, the more I think about time and the less I have of it. God has a strange sense of humor. It's another thing she and I will discuss when I get to the pearly gates and ask for an audience. I'm sure she'll see me, if for no other reason than to replay all the stupid things I've done here on Earth. She's probably getting a big chuckle out of my optimism right now.

I finally finished and launched book three of my SciFi series 'Arlo and Jake', called 'Lost Partner'. From the reviews I've gotten, I think I finally have the pacing and dialog down and I'm doing a better job of letting my characters do the 'showing' instead of just telling the reader what's happening. I still struggle with my screenplay vs novel writing.

You see, 'Genome' was originally a screenplay back in 2006. When I failed to get any attention for it in Hollywood (surprise, surprise!) I decided to convert it to a novel. Even now I rework it occasionally, trying to make it less of a director's script and more of a true novel. (NOTE: Hey Hollywood, I'm still up for a movie deal! ;-)

I also launched my first novelette or stand alone short story, 'Etchings'. It's available on Kindle and Smashwords if you're interested (please! ;-). Instead of hopping right onto book four of the Arlo and Jake series I decided to try finishing and publishing a few of short stories. 'Etchings' created a little buzz for me and I'm hoping it will catch on and introduce readers to my other books.

My next short is 'Walk with Me'. It's about half finished. I expect to publish it in a month or two. Then it's back to Arlo and Jake or maybe improve Genome or maybe a kid's spin off from Genome I have in mind.

So.

I have lots of new writing opportunities just waiting for my attention. So do you. Just sit down and work out the top story that is nagging for you attention and go do it. If other ideas come to you, great! Write down a quick synopsis and add them to your list of Todos. Then go back and work on that top story. Finish it. Love it. Pamper it. But don't let go of it until it's birthed.

Be Cool.
Be Happy.
Just Be.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

'Etchings', a Colorado ghost story...

I've been working on this short story, off and on, for several years. I'd play with it and then set it to the side; it never really seemed to flow right and I didn't have a good ending.

Last weekend I was looking through my 'To Do' writing list for something I could complete while stuck in the house. I have several short stories and a few 'what if' outlines that I'm always tweaking and playing with.

I read and reread what I had so far in 'Etchings', looking for a good ending. While staring out the back patio, it came to me. It was like I was standing in that tiny deserted mountain town, next to the neglected graves. I saw how Alan and Lizzie were caught up in the brewing storm and how they resolved the mystery.

I spent half a day writing and rewriting the conclusion and then going back through the story several times, tying up some loose ends and fixing my tenses again. ;-)

I'm happy with the results and I hope you get a chance to enjoy it as well.

Bring a rain coat. ;-)

'Etchings' a ghost story  <--------

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hard Core Military SciFi 'Mission Veritas' by John Murphy

Check my review of John Murphy's military adventure 'Mission Veritas' on Amazon and here on my 'Reviews' page.

I'm a big fan of Johns writing now. I read 'Mission Veritas' in two sittings. Took two because of silly work requirements ;-)

John's style is brisk and solid hard scifi adventure. The story hooks you with great characters and a solid intro and then flings you into the maelstrom without time for a breath.

I love this kind of 'I ain't no hero, but I'll do what has to be done or die trying' story. There are characters that step up to the challenge and those that either can't or won't. So. Real people put into extraordinary circumstances with unpredictable results.

Buy this book and then grab a half dozen of your favorite cold brew and a huge plate of nachos, you're going to be busy for a few hours.

Talk/blog to John here:
Twitter: @ArmOnToast ('Armageddeon on Toast')
Blog: http://www.armageddonontoast.com/


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Another day on the patio lost in the works of a fine author, Pete Carter

Curse you, Pete Carter! ;-)

I just spent another fine Texas afternoon, turning pages in his latest thriller, 'The Legacy Trust'.

It took me two blond and sweet mugs of hot coffee, a breakfast plate of over-easy eggs, bacon and toast and assorted snacks to finish. OK, fine, I also had an ice cold Fat Tire, LATE in the afternoon. (around 12:07 I think ;-)

Pete's a favorite author I found while Tweeting, blogging and making a nuisance of myself in the CyberSphere. We've traded reviews, talked about writing and most of all had a lot of fun throwing ideas around.

Pete and I both enjoy writing AI characters. Try his 'The Fence' for a great example. It's pretty cool how his AI character, 'Jay', and mine ,'PIP,' grow from tiny little sparks of imagination to full blow viable characters. Fun.

In this adventure though, Pete shows his expertise with a different plot angle. Time Travel. And again, Pete, does not use that old saw as a crutch but rather as a tool to pull you along in the story. And, as in all of his works, Pete, gives you great characters, who can stand on their own.

I was rooting for Andrew Knight from the get go. As the story unfolded, I was cringing when he screwed up and cheering when he figured something out. There is a lot of cringing, BTW.

This is a page turner.

It's a damn fun story.

Thanks again, Pete!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

'Arlo and Jake Lost Partner' has launched!

That's right, Buckaroos, the highly anticipated third book in the SciFi series 'Arlo and Jake' has left the launch pad and is rocketing into Cyber Space!

Our brave compadres have embarked on another spine-tingling adventure that's fraught with danger in every corner of the Galaxy.

They battle new EUAPs (evil ugly alien predators). What has three legs, three arms, and a tri-faceted face only it's mother could love and we're not sure about her?

There are more dazzling space battles with lasers, particle beams and kitchen sinks being thrown at high speed against overwhelming odds. Has the FTG Triumph met it's match? Why is Jake spinning like a top OUTSIDE the battleship?

Hmmm. Arlo meets the gorgeous eight-legged Tia. Does Arlo's outdated sense of chivalry keep him focused on the love of his life, Tizzy, or....

They encounter weird new AIs (Artificial Intelligence) that may or may not be sane. How can you tell with an AI? Can AIs have siblings? Who or what the heck is 'FrankenBot'?

There are hopeless conundrums, brave acts of daring-do, strange worlds where small partners must survive and as always lots of just plain FUN!

Join my heroes and their shipmates on the space battleship FTG Triumph as we dive into another adventure with 'Arlo and Jake Lost Partner'.

Amazon: Arlo and Jake Lost Partner
Barnes and Noble: Arlo and Jake Lost Partner








Monday, May 4, 2015

Hours away from the launch of 'Arlo and Jake Lost Partner'!! Whoo Hooo!

Yep, it's finally time to shove book #3 of the 'Arlo and Jake' SciFi series out of the launching bay and send it rocketing into fame and glory. ;-)

Hollywood, your next Mega fun Space Adventure has arrived!

A rash of design flaws, character redefinition, plot FUBARs, countless rewrites and a general issue with 'vita intercessiones' (real life interference) have delayed 'Lost Partner' well past my self-imposed deadline.

I am truly sorry to my loyal fan, uh, I mean fans, for having to wait so long. As a consolation, I believe 'Lost Partner' is the best in the series so far! More good guys, more villains, more tension, deeper plot and just more fun.

Tonight I'll load up the covers, fill in the book spec's and push the 'Publish' button on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I haven't decided on Smashwords yet. It doesn't seem to be a viable publishing avenue for me yet but who knows?

Then I'm going to break out a cold Fat Tire or two, a plate of hot wings and celebrate!

I'll post again when it's launched.

Arlo says, "'bout time, you lazy Tadpole!"

Be cool.

Friday, April 10, 2015

My first Goggle Hangout with Paul Levinson

(Sorry about being out of sequence. Somehow this post had a strange embedded something and refused to show up with the red background.)

I spent some time last night talking to the marvelous Paul Levinson (@PaulLev) about his novella 'Loose Ends'. (link to Amazon)Check out the event here:
 https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/crjhbdmsjooj07lpfmudgs6qd5g

As Mr. Levinson puts it: 'Time travel has always been my first passion as a reader and then writer of science fiction.'

We discussed some of the Universal fascinations that all of humanity seems to possess, regardless of culture or geography. Time Travel, Religion, Immortality, Flight (without machinery), Telepathy, Magic in all it's forms, etc.

Time Travel seems to be one of the human desires that sparks endless debates and speculations from virtually everyone. Sometimes in jest, other times very seriously.

Why is that?

Is it because we're 'aware' of time's passing? We can change so many things about our environment but not change what has already happened. Yet because we're aware that there is a yesterday, we seem to gravitate to it, seek it out like a lost love one. 'If only I could do that over...'

So check out the event and Mr. L's books. I'll be posting a review this weekend.

Unless of course there is Time Travel. In which case my future self will come back and write it now.... ;-)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Bring it home!

Sweet Josephine in the pumpkin patch, this has been a grueling slog!

This book, 'Arlo and Jake Lost Partner', has been a wicked tough roller coaster. Great emotional highs and 'when will it end' lows.

I've had an absolute blast creating new creatures and personalities for my Universe. I've tried very hard to up the quality and depth of this story. I want you to enjoy this one more than the other two.

I've explored more AI possibilities this time. I dive deeper into the unknown pool of 'what if' and I'm very proud of what I've created. I think you'll enjoy all the cast and crew of this cool boat of mine.

The lows are mostly not delivering on time. Write. Rewrite. Redo. Start over here. Extend there. Better descriptions here and there. Better dialog. Better background stories.

It all takes a huge amount of time. But, of course, it's worth it. It pushes me to be better. The harder I work, the more I like the results.

Book #3 is in final editing. Now to make the cover and wait a few more days.

Be cool, everyone. 

Enjoy the moments.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The support of friends

Friends

Because I have the support of friends:
- I can write stories and not worry how good or bad they are because my friends will enjoy them.
- I can stop for a beer at the 'Drunken Donkey' and just enjoy being alive. The hot wings help.
- I can show up at work and feel like I'm a part of the team. Sometimes I help. Sometimes I get help.
- I can player poker once a month with a bunch of old farts like myself and feel 30 years younger for a couple of hours.
- I can reminisce about the good ole' days of shooting the breeze over the chain on ole' Blue, even through none of them really know what 'over the chain' means.
- I can share sad moments, so that I don't feel like they only happen to me.
- I can share happy moments, so I can make others happy too.
- I get to share in their lives. They allow me to be a part of something bigger than myself

I am so blessed that my best friend is my wife of 44 years.

You've got friends.
Share with them.
Tell them how cool they are over a platter of nachos and a beer or glass of sweet tea.

Family and friends are the pallet of paints you use to color your world.

Use the brush generously.

Monday, January 12, 2015

It feels so GOOD!!!!!!!

'Arlo and Jake Lost Partner' is draft complete! Yippeeee!

OK, not complete, I grant you. So no fireworks yet, But. My editor is pouring over the draft and filling the pages with red ink. A sure sign she likes it! ;-)

If I can keep up a head of steam now, I'll be heading for port in a few weeks!

Draft complete, for me, means the plot arc works and I've got all chapters 'done'. I can read the story, front to back, and it makes sense.

I've got:
- complete story with no holes that I know of
- characters are flushed out. new ones have good background stories. old ones mesh well in the story
- new environments are believable (it's SciFi, but the reader still needs to feel 'ok' with everything) and interesting
- dialog is interesting, funny in places and keeps the reader drawn into the story
- it holds together with the first two story lines
- it provides good impetus for the next book

Considering all the chaos I've had the last part of 2014, I'm feeling pretty good that I've accomplished this, even though I'm really late.

Persevere, my friends.

Be cool. Be happy. Be tenacious.