Returning to normal…

Finally…the first morning coffee enjoyed without watching for the contractor to arrive and create dust, noise, and mayhem in the bathroom (located right next door to the home office in which I make a living).

Virtually everything was disrupted for the past two weeks, including my ability to sit in a quiet place and work on writing. Looking forward to the weekend, when normalcy reigns again, and I can write!

All that remains is a deep cleaning through the entire house (sanding dust gets everywhere!) and then my wife can select the new accessories to put into place, and then it will truly be complete.

But….the quiet, the calm, and above all else, the long, hot shower are golden!

Transition

Last night, I did…sleep well!

 

Hectic…

I’ve learned that I don’t really give “routine” its due. This past week, the house has been turned upside down with a full bathroom makeover, 10 yard dumpster in the driveway, dust everywhere, oh and… best hope Nature calls and you get to take care of business before the work begins!

Still, the bathroom is going to be awesome when it’s finished, and it’s long overdue, so…

With all this going on, I wasn’t able to dig deep into the book. I did do some peripheral work, adding a great new outlining program to the lineup, getting the web site up to date, scribbled down a new idea or two to develop later, and also assembled a “line in the sand” project.

I’ve assembled all the stories I’ve done so far in a Word file, and prepped it for printing. I also created a PDF of it as a backup, complete with a working table of contents. I had no real reason to do it, but it was a great exercise in formatting a manuscript in Word for printing, and it will also serve as a marker. This is what I’ve done up to now, let’s stamp it and move on. It’ll allow me to mark my own progress, to see how my writing matured (hopefully) as the stories kept coming out. A chance to read and see why some things work and others don’t, so I can apply those lessons going forward.

Dreams Cover

The bathroom should be done this coming week, so we’re hoping things get back to normal soon.

I want my routine back.

Vacation Beckons…

Both figuratively and literally, as it happens. I am on vacation from my “day job” this week, and then as I lay sleeping tonight, Stephen King’s new novel “The Outsider” will magically appear in the library on my Kindle.

Once that happens, I’ll be on vacation from writing too, as I slip happily into the world that he creates so well… but for the moment, I am working on my book.

I finished the new short story yesterday, and have been working on the book this morning. Thanks to Scrivener, I can jump into whatever part occurs to me, and put everything into proper sequence after the fact, so I don’t need to work in a linear fashion.

(Very helpful when you haven’t done that outline you were supposed to do!)

Yes, Muse… you’re right. I have not done it yet, mea culpa. But I will get to it, probably when the light bulb goes off and I see all the elements laid out clearly in my mind’s eye, I’ll scribble them down like mad and capture them to use as my road map.

In the meantime, I’ll put down the scenes and events as they occur to me, just as I do with my short stories, so they’ll be ready to step into place in that shiny new outline.

I have the foreword (yes, there will be a foreword to stage the story) complete, and it works very well, if I do say so myself.

(OK, fine, it does work well. You’re welcome, by the way.)

Thank you, Muse. Take a bow, won’t you?

Muse

Lunch is finished, dog’s business attended to, and the car has been moved to where it belongs. Time to get back to it.

Sleep well…

 

 

 

Wait, what?

You just never know where the next story idea will come from.

My wife and I have become very friendly with a lady who works at the restaurant we’ve adopted as our “hangout”. As we were shooting the breeze with her last Monday evening, she told us about her husband, a veteran corrections officer who enjoys doing taxidermy as a hobby.

The bells and buzzers in my head went off immediately, ideas flowing like water from a busted hose. That combination just begs to be the basis for a story!

Needless to say, “Model Prisoner” is my current work in progress… I had the first scene completed in my head before I was half way through my dinner that night!

In other news, I just updated the web site this morning, adding a full page blurb for a forthcoming release of my collection, “What If?” I have it staged and ready for widespread eBook distribution, slated for Halloween, 2018. Whether it will also be available in print is undecided as yet.

I have it in the hands of a few beta readers right now, so they have ample time to get back to me with thoughts, opinions, any errors they might uncover, and so on before I pull the trigger to schedule the release.

FullCover

On a sad note, Dennis Serra has announced that he won’t be continuing the Evil Podcast any longer, due to other obligations. I’ll miss his narration, and hope he’ll enjoy the new path he’ll be taking from here on out.

Changing times, changing landscapes, but the writing goes on, as well it should.

Sleep well…

Mission : Possible

Phil Athans is that rare exception to the rule…he can, he does, and he also teaches. I’ve had the pleasure of taking a couple of Phil’s classes at the Writer’s Digest University, and I’ve also read his new book, “Completely Broken”. If you can read this work without a strong emotional response, you should probably be on a watch list somewhere, or at the very least, a perfect bunk mate for Hannibal Lecter.

Phil is that good.

In a recent blog, Phil expressed his strong dislike for vampire stories, because they’re generally the same old things rehashed over and over again, and he is right. Stoker set the bar high with “Dracula”, and it’s really difficult to tell as powerful a story without revisiting Stoker’s work.

Drac Cellar

Oh, and no. “Sparkling” has no place here, never has, and never will. Nope.

I decided to take Phil’s challenge to heart, where he asks authors to try and put a unique twist on the classic vampire tale, and wrote the story “Test Case”, where I’ve tried to put an entirely different character into an untenable situation and then express his take on it.

Just this morning, I received an email from Steph Ellis at the Horror Tree with a contract, stating that she and Stuart Conover, publisher, both loved the story, and would like to use it in their Trembling With Fear section. Needless to say, it was signed and returned with a note of thanks and a smile.

I’ll be sure to post here when it’s released, and then everyone can judge for themselves how I did with my new angle on the timeless vampire tale. Until then…

Sleep well…

Preparations Underway…

Funny, how a self professed pantser is so focused on planning and preparing today, but shit happens, right?

When I write, I start with a very rough sketch, an overview at best, of an idea and start banging on the keys. Most times, the story takes over on its own and I follow along, capturing the words as they arrive. That works for me, at least with my short tales, and that’s what pantsing means. Writing by the seat of one’s pants.

As to the planning and preparing, I’m giving myself a deadline of October 31, 2018…more than enough time for those stories that are now out for submission to have been decided upon by the publishers to whom they’ve been sent, and I’m not submitting any others at this time (except for those offered to the good folks at The Horror Tree and Evil Podcast). As I wait for responses, I’m preparing my manuscript, my collection of short stories for publication. Self publication, that is.

I’m a realist. I know that a self published collection of short stories by an unknown author isn’t going to break through the walls of the best seller lists, and that’s perfectly OK by me.

I enjoy the luxury of writing what I like, when I like, because I do it for the sheer joy of writing it, not to put food on the table or a roof overhead. I have the proverbial day job to handle those obligations.

But I believe in these stories, and I think there are like minded readers out there who will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them, and I want them to be available to those folks, so one way or another, they will be hitting the shelves on Halloween (my favorite day) of this year.

FullCover

I’ve made a lot of progress in preparing the manuscript for both epub and mobi formats, to cover the ebook markets, and the latest batch of proof copies of the physical book that are in look really good. I’m learning more each day about how to prepare a manuscript to yield a good finished copy.

I’ll update the progress between now and then, and I am convinced that this work will be readily available by my deadline.

Update – I posted in a Stephen King Reader’s group in Facebook and found two volunteers to read the anthology and give their opinions on it. I provided them links to download in the format of their choice, and now the wait begins. I am looking forward to the opinions of complete strangers who are Stephen King fans!

Sleep well…

The Filling Station…

We call them gas stations now, and we pull in to top off the gas tank so we can continue on our way without giving it much thought, right? We might get a snack, a drink, even a quick trip to the bathroom, but it’s no more than a pit stop along the way.

Sometimes, the Muse needs a refill too, a chance to sit back and relax while we pour in gallons of fresh fuel for them to feast on and kick the engine of imagination into high gear once again.

The time has come for me to stop at a special filling station, and I am prepared. No, I’m not driving a credit card at high speed into my head and then drinking from a fuel hose (although that might be an interesting story idea someday). I’m simply going to enjoy the two hardcover books that arrived in the mail yesterday…

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I’ll have seventeen days to relax and enjoy this trip down memory lane before Stephen King’s new novel “The Outsider” releases on May 22nd. Those who know me well know that I will have that book in my hands on release day, and the world around me will come to a screeching halt as I enter the world Stephen King has created once more.

Once I come out at the other end, it’ll be very interesting to see what my Muse makes of all the fresh input it’s feasted on. All I need do to prepare is to keep an open mind and a blank page ready to go.

Sleep well…

Monday…

Monday is deservedly the “suck” day of the week, that jarring reality slap for those of us who are the wage slaves trying to keep our path steady and trouble free.

But now and then, we get an unexpected treat on a Monday, like the one I just saw at lunch.

J.D. Graves, the publisher of EconoClash Review released a sneak preview of the cover for issue #2, which is due out in Fall of 2018…

ECR2

This issue will include my story “Trappe’s Rest”, about a wiseguy on the run who makes the wrong choice when he needs to stop on the road and rest.

He should have chosen that other place, the one that nice young man named Norman runs for his mother. It would have been a better choice…

Ah well, back to the grind for me.

Sleep well…

 

Saturday morning…

Weekends are the best time for me to write. The house is quiet, breakfast is finished, and I can dig into what I’m writing, immerse myself in it, and hang on when it takes over.

Love it!

Today, I’m working on the new short story first, with plans to make some progress on the book later on. This story is fun, as it’s in response to my self issued challenge to come up with a different twist on a vampire story, and it’s progressing nicely.

And then, there’s yesterday’s inclusion into a cell block, courtesy of T.G. Campbell…

Bow Street Society Writer’s Wing

OK, let’s get back to it…

He leaned forward in his chair, emphasizing his point.

“I’ll tell ya what you came to ask about. I’m a friggin’ vampire now. No idea how or when or why, but somehow I wound up dead and hungry. I got my first hint when I woke up after dark one day and the heart rate monitor on my watch showed two dashes where the numbers used to be. The rest of it, I’m figuring out as I go.”

My quiet nod of understanding seemed to calm him as he sat back and sighed, settling down again.

“Problem is, there’s no instructions, and there ain’t no teachers. Can I turn into a bat or a wolf or mist? Hell, I dunno, but if I can, I don’t know how. You’re the writer, did you ever see a ‘Dracula for Dummies’ book? The feeding, that’s easy. You get close to someone, you can hear their blood rushing and heart pumping and the dinner bell starts clanging, believe me. The feeding takes over all by itself.”

Hmm…I’m going to have to check on Amazon and see if they have that book, now that I think of it. Might be some interesting reading!

Sleep well…

Having fun, making progress…

Nice to be able to do both! On the writing side, I’d challenged myself to come up with a vampire story, but it had to have a new twist, something unique that I hadn’t seen done before, rather than simply retelling Stoker’s tale one more time.

I have a solid first draft, it goes to a place I’ve never seen visited before, and has a nice (hopefully unpredictable) twist to it. I’ll continue working with that when I’m not BURIED at work! Given that my poor wife is stuck working this weekend, I’ll have plenty of time to work on this story (and get some progress done on the book too, I hope!)

On the fun side, I was looking at my cover design for “What If?”, my collection of short stories and it occurred to me that would be a great template to build a business card design from, so it was Photoshop Play Time in the dungeon!

PS Play

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself! The slightly over sized black canvas provides a “safe zone” for the trim down to standard 3.5 by 2 inch card size, as well as a backdrop for the highly distressed background. The vintage typewriter says it all, insofar as what a business card for G.A. Miller should represent.

Damn…lunch is just about over, back to the salt mines for me.

Sleep well…