Category Archives: About the Books

Writing Expansion

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The last several weeks have been full of me trying out a few new things. I’m nothing if not curious. Amazon has a program called KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) where you can enroll your book(s) for extra intra-Amazon marketing. The catch is you can’t have the book listed anywhere else, such as Smashwords. Since I used both Smashwords and Amazon, I never enrolled in the program. I decided to switch things up and pulled The Monster Within off Smashwords and enrolled it in KDP for 3 months. The results – nada. So it appears that their internal marketing isn’t all that they hype it to be. But I learned some more things about how Amazon works as a result. Win.

Based on the recommendation of another Maine writer, I joined the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. I still have to set up my author page with them and do some other stuff to have my profile listed, but I haven’t had a chance to do any of that yet. They offer some internal and external marketing, but again, no time to sort that out yet. Still, the correspondence I’ve been getting from them thus far has been nice and professional. Pretty sure this one will turn out to be a win too.

I started David Mamet’s Master Class online and have been chipping away at that. It’s been really neat, and I’ve gotten some good nuggets out of the courses I’ve done thus far. I’ve also been re-reading The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne and always come away with something new I either didn’t pick up before or forgot. Yep, win.

I recently read All Systems Red, a scifi novella by Martha Wells. I devoured this book in 3 nights, and it only took me that long because I forced myself to put it down and go to bed. I have since ordered the print version so I can re-read it. This is the first book in The Murderbot Diaries, and I can’t wait for the others coming out later this year. If you like scifi and don’t mind a few f-bombs in your reading, I recommend this one. Great book that will keep on giving.

Bonus round: I went to Boston this weekend for the New England Book Festival to pick up my award for The Monster Within.

So with all these great things there remains a persistent negative looming around the corner. I am STILL working on the house after 8 or 9 months of remodeling and painting. It’s such a time sink it’s obnoxious. I get cranky when I don’t get my usual doses of writing time. The good news I guess is that because I’m so sick of working on the house, I’m super motivated to get the damn thing finished so I can sell it and get it out of my hair that much sooner. Fingers crossed.

Ceiling Finds Go To Historical Society

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After weeks of ripping apart my ceiling and finding some interesting things in there (hospital bill from 1944, 7 day stay, total of just over $21, birth certificates, marriage record, pay stubs from a paper mill in Brewer, various toys, bottle of cough syrup 4% alcohol and for children, and a four-mouse mouse trap), I was able to find these things a new home with the Orrington Historical Society. I originally took them to a big antique store in Brewer to see if they were interested in any of the items, and they passed.

I didn’t want to throw them out, but I also didn’t want to keep them. I popped off an email to the OHS and they gladly accepted. The medicine bottle and the documents will be part of their exhibits. They were also interested in the WW II cancellation stamp on the envelope containing the birth certificates, hospital bill, and marriage record. They wanted to use that in their upcoming Veteran’s Day power point presentation.

Regardless of where they land, I’m happy they went somewhere to be part of a collection. Above is the fb shout out from the OHS for donating the items. Who knew that among all that mouse poop and dust in the ceiling some gems were in there? No wads of cash in the walls, unfortunately, but I am thrilled the salvageable finds went to a good place.

In book news, the 2nd edition of The Monster Within is available as eBook on Amazon. I have approved the print proof of the print version, and that should be loaded to Amazon soon. Once all that is done, I’m going to set up the book for Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Program and see how that goes. I had to pull the ebook off Smashwords to enroll in KDP, but in theory, KDP will auto promote the book within Amazon. So I figured I’d give that a whirl and see what happens. The 2nd edition is also entered in the New England Book Fest for 2017, so I’ll find out next month how it did in that festival. Fingers crossed.

I Need a Hard Hat

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After all the work I’ve done on my house (aka Money Pit) over the last 10 years, it has never occurred to me that I should get a hard hat. How I have missed out on this piece of important safety equipment, I’ll never know. (Thanks, Tom, for the recommendation! I will get one!).

Today’s plan was all house project work, nothing with writing since I was saving that for Sunday. Turned out I ended up doing a bit of book related stuff anyway. More on that in a sec.

I’ve posted before that I love learning new things. I’ll jot a few down for you that I learned today while demolishing one of the rooms in my house down to studs and plywood.

1. I have safety goggles, three pairs of safety glasses, several painters’ masks, a respirator, two sets of hearing protectors, and four pairs of work gloves. I use these things when I do house projects and/or use power equipment. I need to add a hard hat to the menagerie.  (I clearly need two sets of hearing protectors, one for each head ?! Maybe I need two hard hats.)

2. When removing nails from studs, do not put your finger between the pry bar and the wood. This hurts like a mother.

3. Do not lose control of the sucking end of the shop vac. It promptly attaches itself to your neck like a leech. I know this to be a fact.

4. Do not pull on drywall while standing on a ladder. When the drywall breaks free, the odds of you falling off the ladder increase exponentially. Now I know.

5. When pulling up pieces of flooring, do not lift them higher than your head. Pieces will fall off and peg you in the ear. If you have religion, you will certainly lose it after taking the corner of a board in the ear. Yes. Hard hat. I know!

6. When dumping debris from the giant garbage can into the dumpster sitting in your driveway, hold on to the garbage can. Thus far I only had to go dumpster diving once to retrieve my can.

7. I have a busted lip. I don’t even know what, when, or how that happened today. Probably another stealth attack from the shop vac. Sneaky bastard.

8. This is an 80 year old house. Eighty years of mouse poop is the stuff of nightmares.

Today was a good day. I clearly learned many things. I will announce it ahead of time the next time I do demolition so folks can pop popcorn and sit on my deck to watch the shenanigans. It’s a hoot!

Book stuff. The new cover for the first book, The Monster Within, to release it as a second edition is well underway. The editor sent me back his first round of comments on the rewrites that will make up the second edition. I need to get that room remodel a bit more under control before I can dive into his notes, but it’s on the to-do list (still hoping for lots of writing related stuff on Sunday!).

The new, new book, unrelated to the Burnt Mountain series is eyeball deep in the planning stages. I did some early writing on it several weeks ago just to feel things out, and those three chapters are getting scrapped so I can take things in a different, and better, direction. All good stuff.

 

Image from sxc.hu

Nail Gun Success

 

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If you’ve never messed with a nail gun, I recommend it (of course, that’s messing with it in the terms of reading the manual, safety equipment, proper use, and all that jazz). Around 9 this morning I plopped my rumpus in the floor next to the nail gun and the nail compressor with user manuals in hand. It didn’t take me long to (totally lying … took me longer than I want to admit) realize that I was missing an adapter for the air hose.

What should have been a quick jaunt to the hardware store ended up with a wee detour after finding someone’s phone at the end of my driveway. I live in the willywags. The road I live on is paved, but you have to go a bit out of your way to find it. I monkeyed with the phone, made a couple of calls with it, and tracked down the owner. After my side trip to deliver the phone in Hampden, I made it to the store to get my missing part.

I’m not sure what time I actually started working on the hall trim since I had to re-read parts of the manuals and refresh myself on the miter saw. I’m a writer. I type around 100 words per minute. I do that with all 10 digits intact. I intend to keep the aforementioned digits.

I trimmed out three doors and a partial fourth. The last one is going to be a seriously wonky cut because the door is against part of the ceiling so there are all sorts of stupid angles with it being an old house. Instead of a three piece door trim, it’ll be four. Lovely.  I’ll deal with that one later. The above picture is of one of the frames.

Nope, not perfect. BUT, I did not shoot myself with the nail gun. I did not cut any fingers or other body parts off with the saw. I did not blow anything up with the air compressor (though I will mention that it kicked on at one point to re-pressurize as I walked by, and I almost crapped myself). As for the door trim, I can fix the wee gap with caulk and paint.

I also grossly miscalculated how many pieces of trim I’d need to do the entire hall. I am sure I will have many trips back to the store to pick up more lumber. I think I worked on the trim for 2 to 3 hours. I’m sure a skilled carpenter could have done it in 1 hour, but that’s OK. I’m learning this on my own by reading user manuals and making mistakes. 🙂 I don’t mind it taking a while.

In book news, the second edition of The Monster Within is ready for the editor as of yesterday. It will get shipped off once I have the green light to email it from Maine to California to go through a more rigorous meat grinding experience than what I can do with AutoCrit on my own. I’m all for DIY, but I also know when I need reinforcements!

Changing Gears

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Maine may have finally emerged from a very soggy spring to a somewhat drier version. I’m not convinced so celebrations are on hold that mud season is actually over.

For any college softball fans out there, the semi finals for the world series start this afternoon. My team, LSU, was sent packing last night. Oh well. Great games are still to be played. Guess what I’ll be watching?

In other news, as of today, I have finished the first draft of the overhaul of the first book. Just in time for the semis. Coincidence? Hardly.

Next up for writing, I’ll be starting on the new idea in my head and running the draft I just finished through Autocrit’s online editor. Love that program. It’s tedious, time consuming, and not exactly fun. It’s like doing laundry. If you want to go out in public smelling like something the dog would roll in, by all means, never wash your clothes. If you’d rather present yourself around other people and smell a bit less gamey, wash away.

Autocrit works in a similar fashion. It runs your manuscript (I tend to go in manageable chunks of chapter by chapter) through an editing washing machine to find adverbs, redundancies, overuse of words, cliches, and all that kind of crap that clogs up stories. Then I choose what goes, stays, or changes to clean things up. This creates draft #2.

Considering I started the rewrite in Jan and just finished it up, let’s say end of May (close enough), June becomes Autocrit/editing month to get it ready for the editor early August. Always something going on!

The house project, just for giggles, is still in the crazy mix. Hallway floor is still just plywood and the walls are primed. I have everything I need to get cracking on the hallway revamp. I have far more resistance to starting to sling paint on those walls than I do with sitting down to write. If you figure that one out, let me know. Maybe I can paint and listen to softball games. Maybe I can just watch the softball games. The hall isn’t going anywhere. 😉