Saturday, March 29, 2014

Big Block Sing Song is Magic

One of the cool things about having a little one who's almost 2 is that you get permission to watch stuff like this. I like all the Big Block Sing Song bits, but I saw this one for the first time today and it quickly became a favorite.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My current musical obsession

I am completely obsessed with this song right now. I listen to it a few times a day. I can't explain why. Maybe it's the recording. The subtle instrumentation. The fact that it gives me a reason to subtle instrumentation in total seriousness.

I will confess to being in the middle of a Waylon phase, so that's probably part of it. The tune is by Bob Dylan, but this is easily the best version of the song I've ever heard. Part of it is Waylon's voice here, I think. It just seems to be the perfect fit for this breakup song. So, here you go. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right.

Here's a bonus Waylon track, Wurlitzer Prize. It's easily my favorite song of his. And, again, it's a breakup song. Well, not exactly. This is a lost love song. Still, it's heartbreak.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February writing goals

First day of February. I'm two weeks into looking for a new job. Well, a little more than two weeks, but I'm rounding. Things feel promising in that regard. I've had conversations with a few people. I'm getting a little freelance work so money is still coming in. Trying to also increase the amount of fiction I complete since I have just a bit more free time. And I'm not being sarcastic there. My main job now is playing with Ellie during the day then trying to find  day job while she's napping. Still I have a few more minutes to focus on fiction. And that's the point of this post. Just getting my goals for the month out in the public. Maybe encourage some accountability. So, here's what I want to get done this month.

Finish edits on Reunion and Scouts. I'm almost done editing Reunion. I've identified some places I can fix a few things and some places that I can turn up the crazy a little. It's going to mean writing a couple more scenes and tweaking a couple others. Still haven't started on Scouts. That one will take a little more work. It's got a couple scenes that will need some major reworking, and I want to add a couple more scenes.

Like I said in a previous post, I've got new titles and new covers for these stories. I'm excited to get them loaded and see if they can find a little traction. I still think they are good and worth reading. I also think this series is going some fun places and want to write more in it.

Finish writing my pirates story. No, not traditional pirates. Sci fi pirates. Not space pirates exactly. It's kind of a combination. About 3,500 words into it now. Probably will end up between 8,000 and 10,000 words. It has a parallel structure that I like a lot, but it's causing some structure problems that I'll need to work out in the editing. It's a good story. though, that I think people will like.

Start edits on Filthy Lucre Book 2. I finished the first draft at the start of January. I was giving myself some time away from it. Feels like it's been long enough. Time to get cracking on the edits. Working title, by the way, is Finding Faded Light.

That's it. Modest goals, I think. All hittable. Now to do it. Happy February, folks.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

How do you make a living as a freelancer?

I'm looking for work again. Details of why aren't important necessarily. I don't really have a lot of them other than that my previous employer felt like we were no longer a good fit. So, now I'm out looking for a new job. One of the things I'm considering after seeing what a good freelance writer can bring in is going that route. There are hassles that come along with it -- no insurance or other benefits, taxes are up to you, etc... . But if you're good at it and well-connected it can be pretty lucrative. And I know that those hassles I mentioned can be easily overcome with a little research and some help from the right professionals.

I thought for a brief moment about freelancing when I was looking for work a couple of years ago, but I didn't have the contacts I needed to do it right. I don't necessarily feel that way anymore. I feel like my two years in marketing have let me meet some great writers and some great people. That would make building a freelance career a little easier. Still it's a little scary when thinking that I wouldn't have a paycheck that's steady and regular. We like budgets in this house, call us crazy. Having months where you make $100 and other months where you bring in $10,000 make budgeting nearly impossible. I know that's something that can be overcome with a little planning and some steady, regular work.

I am taking on some freelance projects now while I continue to look for a new full-time gig. But I'm hoping that some of you might be able to help with tips or advice on how to make a freelance career work. So, if you've gone this route, how did you do it? How do you make it work?

Friday, December 6, 2013

New covers and new titles

This self-publishing thing -- or author publishing as some people prefer -- is a lot of work. I've got
some thoughts on that I'd like to put into a longer post sooner or later. Not today, though. Today, I need some thoughts from all of you. Seems like I ask for your thoughts, a lot, right? Clearly, I value your opinions.

Today, I'm wanting thoughts on two things. I believe I've mentioned before that I'm going to rework the Jackson Cane stories some. That's starting with the titles and the covers. I have two new covers that I like. But I don't always trust my opinion. I've liked the last two covers each of the stories has had, and those didn't help them sell anything at all. Like nothing.

So here are the new covers. What used to be Reunion is now Lincoln Lady. Or will be when these books relaunch. What used to be Scouts is changing to Three Dog Night.

Now, let me have it. Good titles? Good covers? These stories are part of an ongoing series. That's
why the covers look very similar.

OK, enough blabbing about it. What do you think? Let me have it.

P.S. One other thing. Had a good month for me in November. Sold 5 books. That pushes my total of ebooks sold to a round 200. Not much in comparison to others in the self-pubbing world, but it was nice to see things bounce back even for one month. Hoping to see more in December. None yet, but if I can have even another 5 that'll be great.

So, if you know someone who likes sci fi stories or crime stories let them know about Chasing Filthy Lucre.

Monday, November 11, 2013

New Cover for Chasing Filthy Lucre

A quick update. I worked with James over at GoOnWrite on a new cover for Chasing Filthy Lucre.
Sales have been stagnant. One of the issues -- at least I'm guessing it was an issue -- was that the cover wasn't doing it for people. It was time for a change.

James has premade covers. This was one of them, but I thought it fit the look and feel of Chasing Filthy Lucre perfectly. I've already told him that we are going to have to work together when it's time for Book 2 to come out. And, yes, Book 2 is going to come out. Hopefully some time early in the new year. I've plotted it as an 8 part book, and I'm nearing the end of writing Part 6. Everything in the story is downhill from here, so it should all go fast.

But this post is about the new cover. I'd love to know what you all think.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Breaking Bad, Marty Robbins, and other songs you should know

I never watched The Sopranos. Didn't watch Breaking Bad either. I don't have anything against either show, they just never made it to my list of must-watch TV. Maybe I'll catch up on Netflix. They do have something in common, however. Each of the series finales featured a song by one of my favorite bands/singers of all time. For The Sopranos it was Journey. For Breaking Bad it was Marty Robbins.

Robbins was one of my grandfather's favorite artists, so I was exposed to him as a kid. I'm familiar with his catalog. But if Sunday's Breaking Bad finale was your first time hearing Marty Robbins, he's got a long list of songs that are just as good as El Paso. Here are three I think you need to check out, keeping in mind that these are all going to sound a little dated. But in my book that makes them better.

This is maybe my favorite song of his, and it's mostly for the swing break in the middle featuring what sounds to me like an over-modulated bass guitar.

My favorite of Marty Robbin's gunfighter ballads, the same set of songs that El Paso came from. That's a fine song, also a favorite. But I'm a sucker for tight harmonies, and Cool Water is full of them.

I like harmonies, and I like an organ. This song has the organ break right in the middle that I like a lot. Plus the whole thing feels like one big grove to me. I like that too.

I couldn't include all the songs I wanted to here. I limited myself to three songs, and these were the three I came up with tonight. The mix might be different tomorrow. So, if any of these songs did anything for you, it's worth digging up other Marty Robbins stuff. It's classic country and early rock and roll, and almost all of it's good.

POST 500
This is the 500th post here at the blog. I debated doing something more with it, but just a normal post seemed appropriate. Plus, I got to share a bit about a guy my Papa loved to listen to. So that's cool enough for me.

Starting Friday and running through the weekend, Reunion will be free at Amazon. Maybe you've been hesitant to try the Jackson Cane series. If so, grab a copy this weekend and take that series for a test spin. I like it. I think it's fun. It just needs to find its audience. I'm sure it's out there. Maybe this little freebie period will help them find the book. Please, tell anyone you think might be interested about Reunion. Boiled down, it's cops and monsters. Thanks in advance for your help.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where were you on September 11?

I wrote this as a comment on Patrick Hester's blog about where he was on September 11, but it wouldn't post for some reason. I'd played with writing a post on this anyway, so, instead of wasting the words, I'm putting them here and adding a few more.

It's hard to believe it's been 12 years since the towers came down. Gina teaches sixth grade. The kids she's teaching this year were born after September 11. It's weird. I don't know why, but it is. I guess it's just the passage of time. It seems to have gone so quickly.

Twelve years ago today, I was at home. I was working in newspapers at the time. I was on the production side, and my work day didn't start until 3 p.m. Didn't end until after midnight, so I was asleep. Mom called to tell me that something was going on in New York. I got up and turned on the TV in time to see the second plane crash into the towers.

I watched stunned until about noon when it dawned on me that I was probably needed at the office. I made a call and went in shortly after. The rest of the day is a blur of news and newspapering.

I don't always think I have the same emotional memories of that day that others have. My day wasn't spent watching the coverage and talking to friends and relatives about what was happening, but watching the news wires and working with editors to put out a special edition in the early afternoon then three more regular editions that night.

Once I did get home, though, I didn't go to bed even though I was exhausted. I turned on the TV and watched the overnight coverage. It was mostly just people in New York walking around the dark streets. Still, I couldn't turn it off.

So where were you? What were you doing? What are you memories?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ira Glass on the creative process

I've seen this before, but just came across it again after a long time. It's worth sharing here in case you haven't seen it. Watch it. Take it to heart.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Your most valuable running advice

I don't think I've ever shared this here before, and I'm not sharing it now for sympathy. I'm doing it to explain some of the motivations for what I want to ask about.

I'm a Type 2 diabetic. I know I'm not alone, and I know that a large part of the responsibility for my situation sits squarely on my shoulders. I was dealt a pretty lousy hand by nature -- all the things that help lead to Diabetes run in my family. But I also did myself no favors by eating lousy food at late hours. And a lot of it.

For years I worked in the newspaper industry. That meant late nights at the office and late night stops at the drive thru. And when I ordered at those drive thrus I didn't just order a couple things. No, I ordered another full dinner. Burritos and cheeseburgers at midnight or later do your body no favors. That combined with a sedentary lifestyle led my weight to balloon. I was close to, if not over, 300 pounds for a while.

I don't have any proof, but I suspect that those years of eating four big meals a day -- including one as late as I was eating it -- and gaining a lot of weight accelerated my path down this course. My body became insulin resistant quicker. I got to my diagnoses of diabetic faster than I should have.

But that's where I am now. I have lost a lot of weight over the past few years, thanks in large part to Gina. Still, I take a lot of pills in the mornings. I don't want to take them anymore. So I've been trying to eat like they say I should and also trying to exercise. The food I feel pretty comfortable with. The exercise not as much.

I've chosen to start running. I'm actually enjoying it when I do it, something that's never happened to me before when it comes to running.

Thing is, I don't know anything about form or breathing or any of those things that would make me a better runner. I can search for the answer to those questions. Where you come in, though, I want to know from you runners all of the things that you wish'd you'd known before you started running What's something that someone should have told you? Help me out here.