Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Quarterly Reading Update - 2nd Quarter, 2009

In the second quarter of 2009, I read 37 novels for a total of 12,202 pages. That's an average of 134 pages per day.

That is a huge surprise to me. Now granted, I read 14 children's books, which have larger fonts and less wordage per page as a general rule, but that still impressed me since I also wrote my first novel in that quarter and worked a lot on editing and proofreading my wife's as well. No wonder my lawn was so long the other day, apparently I spend all my time reading!

Here's the list:

– Spider Legs by Piers Anthony and Clifford Pickover

– Killer Heat (An Alex Cooper Novel) by Linda Fairstein

– Sea Change by James Powlik

– Pipsqueak by Brian M. Wiprud

– The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn by John Bellairs

– A Series of Unfortunate Events Book 1 - The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snickett

– A Series of Unfortunate Events Book 2 - The Reptile Room by Lemony Snickett

– The Woods by Harlan Coben

– Fresh Disasters by Stuart Woods

– Bad Boy Brawly Brown by Walter Mosley

– The Freakshow by Bryan Smith

– Higher Authority by Stephen White

– The Bancroft Strategy by Robert Ludlum

– Series of Unfortunate Events Book 3 - The Wide Window by Lemony Snickett

– Bullet Blues by Bob Burton

– Manhattan Is My Beat by Jeffery Deaver

– Floodland by Marcus Sedgwick
– Beach Road by James Patterson & Peter De Jonge

– The Dark Secret Of Weatherend By John Bellairs

– A Series Of Unfortunate Events Book 4 – The Miserable Mill By Lemony Snicket

– Gun Shy By Ben Rehder

– The Last Oracle By James Rollins

– The Bell, The Book and The Spellbinder By Brad Strickland

– Shockwave By Clive Cussler

– Unspeakable By Sandra Brown

– Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man By Wendelin Van Draanen

– The Book Of Lies By Brad Meltzer

– A Series Of Unfortunate Events Book 6 - The Austere Academy By Lemony Snickett

– The Beasts Of Clawstone Castle By Eva Ibbotson

– Shadow Of Power By Steve Martini

– The Mansion In The Mist By John Bellairs The Attorney By Steve Martini

– Silent Prey By John Sanford

– Dark Harbor By David Hosp

– Sea Legs By Alex Shearer

– The Spell Of The Sorcerer's Skull By John Bellairs
– Flipping Out By Marshall Karp

Some great books here and some not so great. The Series of Unfortunate Events continues to underwhelm seriously, my Bellairs obsession continues unabated, I found a few new authors that I enjoyed, like Steve Martini and David Hosp. The always stupendous Marshall Karp came out with a new one, which is currently fighting with Bad Boy Brawly Brown as my favorite book of the year so far.

On a separate note, my manuscript was officially delivered to the offices of Random House in New York. Someday soon someone that isn't family or close friends may be deciding whether I can write... Crap.

Monday, June 29, 2009

June 29, 2009 - Hi, I'm Billy Mays!

Wow... I can't believe it's almost July.

Nothing too exciting going on here... My manuscript should be in New York right now.... and I finally got my lawn mowed.

Hard to believe all of the celeb death lately. Jackson's is tawdry and while I respect and enjoy the contributions he gave to music, I think the whole circus will get old fast. That said, I would SO read an insider's guide to his private life and the Neverland Ranch. I cannot resist.

Billy Mays was someone who had always gotten old fast for me, they have his voice on a constant loop at work in our As Seen On TV section, but at the same time he always seemed hilariously excited. Like the Richard Simmons of the crappy gadget. The way he died was kind of sad too... could happen to anyone.

And Farrah Fawcett.... I was kind of young for her whole thing, but she always seemed to have a pretty good sense of humor.

I need a day off. Blogging about celebs... what in the hell am I thinking?? Need to get out of the house and and do something fun....

Friday, June 26, 2009

June 26, 2009 - Take that, New York!

Life -

Not much goin' on... Still haven't mowed the other half of my lawn, I'm starting to wish that I'd done the front 1/4 and the back 1/4 so that it looked like a mohawk now...

Lindsay is officially on the same graves rotation as me, so that's gonna be nice, once we become accustomed to the sleeping arrangements.

Going to Mama Inez and the thrift store for cheap books again today. Viva La Friday!

Writing -

On April 26th, I started writing The Whispering Ferns. As of today, exactly two months later and 49,500 words later, it is on its way to New York to be judged. A little nerve wracking, but also pretty damn fulfilling. Now, I just have to write the Zombie Novel, re-write a few sections on Whispering Ferns that I didn't have time to obsess over before, start plotting book two, finish the illustrations for book one and find some time to breathe.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Book Review - Son of Recent Reads

By Brad Strickland

2001, 149 pages

This was the first book by Brad Strickland, who took over John Bellairs' characters after he died. I enjoyed it quite a lot, Strickland seemed to have a good grasp on the characters and locations, and the story was a typical over-the-top romp. Pretty Fun.


By Clive Cussler

1996, 567 pages

An international diamond company is using a revolutionary new mining procedure, in addition to slave labor to unearth massive amounts of of the hard stone, as part of an elaborate plan to destroy the diamond and gemstone industry and make the owner, Arthur Dorsett a very rich and powerful man. Unfortunately for him, his new technique is killing people and animals every time it's used and Dirk Pitt gets wind of it. Better watch out, Dorsett, cause we all know Dirk Pitt and Co. never fail.

Shock Wave was a typical Cussler book, that is, fun, kind of silly and exciting. He added himself into the story again for some annoying reason, but other than that, I liked it.


By Sandra Brown

1998, 486 pages

Bleah. Overly dramatic and cheesy, I was very unimpressed with this book. Struggled to finish it.


By Wendelin Van Draanen

1998, 172 pages

How fun! A sassy, feisty little lady sleuth. Written from Sammy's POV and full of fun characters, I really enjoyed this book! Gonna have to find more of 'em, though the authors name is kind of difficult to remember...


By Brad Meltzer

2009, 464 pages

I dug this book. The ending seemed a little goofy, and I know some people had issues with the logic, but seriously, anyone that doesn't take a book with a conspiracy involving the creators of superman and the weapon that killed Abel with a grain of salt is far too stuffy.


By Lemony Snickett

2000, 240 pages

Better than book 4, the Lowly Lumberjacks, or whatever, but still the kids foiling a transparent plot by Count Olaf. They did throw in a different set of orphans and started hinting a bit at a greater conspiracy, which would be nice. The overly aggressive and excessively strong-pinchered crabs annoy.


By Eva Ibbotson

2007, 256 pages

Loved this kids book. A couple of kids recruit some ghosts to work in their castle, scaring tourists so that they can help their family support some rare white cattle that exist exclusively in their little field in England. It was a little simple, clearly focused more for a bit younger age than John Bellairs and the like, but a lot of fun. I dug that the kids just took for granted the existence of ghosts, and it was written with a very lighthearted and British style.


By Steve Martini

2008, 464 pages

This was the first book I've read by Martini, a writer of legal thrillers. It seemed to flow pretty smoothly, and I liked the premise, though the later chapters got a little over the top with world reactions. Really to give much more of the plot than "Lawyer defends racist bellboy who may or may not have killed an author who just wrote an incendiary racially themed book" would give it away, but I thought the story was pretty engrossing and satisfactory.


June 19-21, 2009 - This, That & the Other Thing

Some company, hanging out on the couch.

Life -

Not a whole lot on this front. Started mowing the lawn, called it on account of rain. Started painting our vanity, called on account of the paint running out. Started dishes, finished that. Started some art, got bored.

I've been sleeping an incredibly erratic schedule lately. Linz has been working graves (Audit in the hotel verbage) and my daily schedule has been to sleep from around 5:30am to 7:30 when she gets home, then go back to sleep until around 9am. Then I take a nap around 3 until 5:30 or so... Shockingly, I don't really feel like I'm suffering from lack of sleep, but I have felt kind of....squiggy.
Yet another reason I'm glad Strontium doesn't have carpet - 2 very wet dogs.

Writing -

Continued on editing, just a couple of chapters left before I'm ready to send this puppy off.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Quest - Close To Home

When we last left our intrepid wannabe Motel owners (us), we had been working with our local Realtor, looking around Pocatello, with an eye towards opening a bed and breakfast in town. Previously, we had looked into a small motel in Washington and a large hotel in Pendleton, both ending decisively against our favor. (Note that some of this may have been covered in previous posts a bit...)

We thought about it a lot and decided that Pocatello needed a Bed and Breakfast, the only other lodging in town are larger chain motels and the Black Swan, so we asked Jared, our Realtor extraordinaire to look into some potentials.

Most of the houses we looked into I failed to take any photos of or I did and they've wandered off onto some stray media somewhere, but I thought it was time to dive back into the story of our thus far failed attempts to break in to the hospitality industry.

September 22, 2008 -

We met up with Jared, who had arranged for a pretty full morning of looking at houses, duplexes and other potential buildings. We looked at a larger apartment complex by the library that felt a lot like an old western hotel that someone had turned into apartments. I liked the feel, and it had an attic room that intrigued Lindsay since we couldn't get in to see it, but overall, it was too expensive and would have been a lot of work to convert back into a motel, undoing the work the current owners had done. Since looking at the place, the property has been sold and is still apartments.

The next stop was the Pink House, another apartment building about a block from the college campus. It was an older building, stuccoed in a salmon pink. At first glance, it seemed to be pretty trashy, but when you looked again, you realized that it was primarily because of the color and the unkempt appearance of the grounds. The building itself had a lot of possibilities and good lines. We wanders around most of the apartments, chatting with the college students that lived there, fascinated by the creepy warren of rooms and tunnels in the basement and the gorgeous upstairs rooms, all long and unique with odd storage spaces. Eventually, we decided that this too was beyond our means. I belive this building sold, but it's been a while since I've been by it.

The Yellow house was next. This was a single family home off of Center street, one of our major interstate outlet roads. Set a few houses back from the road, it was an older house whose decor had a unique style. Shag carpeting, multiple fireplaces, bizarre wallpaper, walls of mirrors... I loved the place. It also had a huge garage/shop and a good chunk of parking in the rear of the property. We could have created 3 guest rooms and a dining room from the upper floors and lived in the basement. This house stayed on our list until we eventually gave up on the Pocatello Bed and Breakfast idea. It sold fairly recently and I can only hope that the new owners leave the metallic wallpaper in the bedroom intact.

After that, we moved on to view The Frat house, a building that remains on my shortlist of places I secretly still want to own.

Located on 4th ave by the cemetery, the Frat house is perfectly located for an easy to get to Bed and Breakfast. Back in the day, it was an actual frat house, though I never researched to find out what fraternity. From the outside, it's pretty unique looking, it has a large square frame and the front of the house is paneled in dark wood, while the rest of the house is white shingles. It's not a traditional look for a B&B, but it would have been pretty striking.

Walking in, I was instantly in love with the front room/dining area. Still floored in the original wood, the entry is wide, friendly and has tall ceilings. I could imagine it decorated for Christmas or reading a book in front of the fireplace. It connects to a pretty nicely spaced kitchen with a pass through bar area that would be great for serving breakfast to guests in the mornings.

Downstairs, there is two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a laundry area. My favorite detail, the one bathroom that still boasts two toilets and three showers from its frat days.

Upstairs there are three bedrooms and a master bed that had its own bathroom, bonus room and entrance.

Overall, the place would have been great. Unfortunately, we couldn't sell our house and we ultimately discovered that doing a lease to own on a private residence that we would then turn into a business was unlikely, as the owners would have to cover the increased insurance premiums. After we looked at it, the owners took the house off of the market and recently placed it back again as a for sale by owner. As of two days ago, that sign was gone, so I assume it has finally sold. Sigh.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

June 17-18, 2009 - Welcome Signs

Life -

Lindsay and I took the dogs up hiking to Scout Mountain on Wednesday. We were actually supposed to go camping by Lava for a few days, but between having to call for jury duty every day and still catching up from my downtime with my ankle, we decided to put it off.

One of the nice things about living in Pocatello is the nearby nature areas, it's always great to be able to drive 15 minutes and be in the forest. Scout Mountain was always one of the common stomping grounds for locals and clearly still is, though on an extremely rainy Wednesday afternoon, the mountain was pretty much deserted, apart from some rather annoying forest service crews doing something with saws and a backhoe.

We'd planned to pay for a picnic site and eat some Kowloons Express that we picked up in town, but it was raining pretty heavily and for some asinine reason, they've raised their prices this year to $10 for the picnic sites, which seems excessive, especially when that's the same price that they charge for overnight camping.

So instead, we ate in Strontium parked at the lookout, which was pretty pleasant. Then we took the Scout Mountain Nature Trail, a roughly mile long loop through the forest that I hadn't been on since I was a kid. Apparently neither had anyone else. The trail used to be nice and wide and had little wooden poles that corresponded to a pamphlet about each little feature along the way. Now, the trail was more of a runoff ditch and the pamphlet box had been empty for some time. There were fallen trees all over and someone had stolen #12 on the path. Its still a nice little loop though, and it was great to get out and walk in the rain.

The next day, we hung our mask collection in the front room, just a little step that's made the house feel more like home again.


Designed a "Welcome Sign" for the eventual logo for my separate Moonstone Bay Blog, which will be a place that I can post chapter previews, artwork, character bios, etc. I'll still post most of my writing updates here, it will be more of a place I can send someone that is interested in that particular book series.

Also continued editing my MS, with an eye towards finishing it ASAP, mostly ferreting out repetitive phrases, which is something I do a lot. Something I do a lot is repeat phrases as I type, so I've been trying to find all of those and fix them, as well as reading it aloud to see how it sounds. I need to work on my Aunt Grace voice.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

June 12-16, 2009 - Back In The Saddle Again

Life -

So... apparently, I forgot about the Internet for a while. I know, hard to believe, but there ya go.

Life for the last few days has essentially been work with a bit of gardening and housework in between. I did buy some nice new dishes, making the switch from our old stoneware ones we got for our wedding to a set of corelle dishes that were on sale at Shop-Ko. What's so exciting about that, you ask? I live in a house with 2 mischievous cats, 2 incredibly large and clumsy dogs and myself, who exceeds their clumsiness in every way. Our old dishes, while a pretty color of blue, broke fairly easily, even the simple process of stacking them cracked one of the bowls, let alone being knocked off of counters and tables by cats, dogs wrestling, etc. I think it's safe to say that about the only reason we had any left at all is that they each weighed an average of 16 pounds a piece, and were too heavy to knock off of counters. Our new dishes are made of a lightweight glass that shatter proof and scratch resistant and they weigh around 1/16 of the old dishes weight, which is much more of a noticeable pleasure than I would have expected.

Yes, for those that are wondering, I did just write an entire paragraph about the wonders of a dish brand that I had as a kid and paid $35 for like it was the best new item ever. My only excuse is that my life recently has been pretty boring.

Writing -

A little less boring on that front. I finished revising my final three chapters and my new draft currently stands proudly at 49,235 words, which seems like a nice solid number.

I really think the manuscript could use a third and fourth run, but I don't have the time. I have enough days to run a final quick technical edit before The Whispering Ferns has to be printed and mailed in order to reach New York by the contest deadline. I'm not sure how I feel about that. In a way, I'm obviously annoyed that I can't nit-pick it until I'm happy with every sentence and punctuation, but it's also kind a necessary thing to seal it up and send it off. I kind of find myself obsessing over things like whether a sentence should have odd little 3 letter words and trying to find endless alternatives to the word "Said".

Instead, this morning, I forced myself to sit down and read the book out loud, rather than reading it silently, looking for errors. I think that helped, I found a few really awkward sentences, and one section that I was obsessing over actually sounds really smooth out loud. My only concern with this route is whether that will help me when it is being read by an editor for the first time.

Ugh. Pathos!

I don't know, for some reason, I've reached this point where I still love my story, but I don't want to send it in anymore. My real spot of contention is that I keep thinking it needs to be rewritten from a different point of view, but then I start debating on whether that should be first person or omniscient.

I like The Whispering Ferns' current POV, but I think some of the later books might be better served from a different format as the cast of characters expands. I'm thinking changing that would be a bad idea for the future, but I haven't the foggiest.

Meh. I shall continue to struggle onward.

Friday, June 12, 2009

June 11, 2009 - Michelle Obama Still Owes Me An Apology!

Life -

Last night, I had the nit picky customer call again, to check and see if I had changed the Stationary sign to Stationery. I snarkily responded that "Ironically, it hadn't changed" I don't think she got the joke. I wanted to ask her if she ever got her apology from Michelle Obama, but I figured I'd pushed it enough. (Amusingly, I just saw that if you type in "Michelle Obama Owes Me An Apology" in google, this blog is the first thing to show up after a few links to Ann Coulter.... I'm not sure if that's good or not.)

Another fun night at work last night, had a mentally unstable customer that has hated me inexplicably since the day she met me come in and every time she sees that it's me managing, she causes problems, makes messes, then refuses to let me ring her up. Instead, she asks me to bag the stuff so that she can buy it later. Ugh. Luckily, my hatred is stemmed by how much I pity her.

I also had a guy that in his own words was "Falling down $#itfaced drunk and just got done at the titty bar!" He claimed to be a famous author who had written a book whose title he could not recall, yet was shocked that I'd never heard of it. He was also unable to tell me his name... Not sure how I'll find it, but I totally want to read his book now! The famous author also offended my clerk by calling her "Woman" paid for an $.89 cigar with 3 quarters and lit up in the vestibule. He wanted me to call his agent in Colorado, but I figured that regardless of the truth in his delusions, no one wanted to be called at 3am, so I got him a cab instead. By the time the cab had gotten there, the fella was across the street harassing the road crew. Funny guy. Linz, who had just gotten off work and D, my night clerk were kind of freaked out by him, but he definitely had the "Harmless old drunk" vibe going, so I got a kick out of him. I guess I've gotten a pretty good Drunk-dar after working at Chevron and on Graves for so many years.

We bought a slightly spendy Humidifying fan setup at Home Depot yesterday, all sorts of pumped about the idea of cool, moist air filtering through our bedroom in the afternoons while we sleep, filled the reservoir only to have it start spewing from a huge crack in the lining... back to Home Depot it goes... Shoddy Workmanship. We'll probably pass on a second try too, I hate to bring it home just to have the next one faulty as well.

Overworked my ankle last night, I figured out a pretty efficient way of wearing my brace and a shoe that gives me some support and protection (And keeps my sock cleaner) but it apparently makes me cocky. I did a few things last night that turned into a bit of pain. That said, I was significantly more functional than I've been in weeks now.

Writing -

Finished the revision on my second to last chapter, just have the epilogue to re-write before a final edit and mailing it off.... Eeee!

Also read about a certain disease that could add a bit of vague plausibility to my zombie novel that is an approach that I haven't seen before to the best of my knowledge, so that's cool. And lets face it, for a zombie story, you really don't need any plausible causes, so its just an added plus!

The Last Sentence -
It seemed like she always got the crazies when she worked a double, regardless of whether it was the night shift or the overnight shift.

From Graves

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June 09, 2009 - Where was I?

Apparently, if I don't update this every day, my memory gets foggy and the days blend together...

Not a lot to report the last few days, we worked in our yard a bit, planting a couple of squash and some petunias, we tore out one of the dividing fences in a start on our private garden/entertaining area that we plan to assemble in the next few months (Ideally before my Brother In Law's wedding, just in case) It's been raining a lot, which I love.

It seems like there was something else that I'd planned on writing about, but it's slipped my mind now.

Typically, on my last day off before beginning my rotation on graves, I go to bed around midnight, sleep until around 2 am, just a kind of nap/re-energizer, then stay up the entire night until I go to bed the next afternoon. That way, I'm back in the groove, and my transition from human to night dweller goes much smoother. Unfortunately, Monday night, I somehow turned off my alarm when it went off, and I slept until almost 7 am. This made for a very difficult sleep yesterday and a rough night at work last night. I got around 3 hours of sleep total, and right now, I'm pretty loopy. Clearly, next week I'll have to use a louder or more jarring alarm. That's what I get for using Lindsay's phone with her super dorky, yet subtly cool Hedwig's Theme ringtone.

On the plus side, I worked the entire 11 hour shift and unloaded a truck at the end without using any wheelchairs or crutches, and only goofed off in a chair for a semi-large portion of the night! Perhaps this is a sign that my ankle is on the mend!

Writing -

Almost finished with my revisions on The Whispering Ferns, I still have the last chapter, and then I need to re-write and dramatically expand the epilogue/new last chapter. I also started thumbnailing my chapter heading sketches, which have proven both simple and difficult. I could crank out all 14 of them in a relatively short amount of time, but I want to draw the art with a different style than usual, and it's taking me a while to find my sea legs with it. (Of course, sleeping through my prime drawing time the other night didn't help...

Today's the 10th, I have 20 days before my finished manuscript, cover letter and possibly accompanying artwork needs to be in New York to meet the deadline. Allowing for shipping time, it's going to be tight. On the plus side, that allows no time for nerves and second guessing to eat at me!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

June 06, 2009 - Sticky Four

Life -

The '4' button on my keyboard has suddenly decided to stick when I use it, yet none of the surrounding buttons seem affected. Why, 4, Why??

It rained all day yesterday. I love that.

Took my first walk around the block with the dogs since spraining my ankle. It's still swollen and pretty tender, but for the most part, I can walk normally and my flexibility is getting better.

Listening to the new Eels album right now, GREAT stuff.

We made Meatloaf for dinner, tried a few things that made for a much tighter loaf, this puppy wouldn't crumble at all, and it sliced very easily. I have no idea what caused it though...

Had a headache most of the day again. Damn headaches.

Writing -

I added about 1500 new words to my second draft of The Whispering Ferns, things are sounding good... I just hope I can keep it below the maximum page count for the contest now...

Speaking of which, if you were one of the people interested in reading the first chapter, I'll probably email that out today, let me know what you think!

I also edited a good chunk on Lindsay's book and downloaded a bunch of soundtracks to load into my Writing Playlist on iTunes...

I love writing in the garage while it pours outside, though the roof has apparently developed a few drips that make me feel like I'm sitting in a little shanty or something.

The Last Sentence -

He's certainly not one of your children!

From - The Whispering Ferns

June 05, 2009 - Ether

I'm not really sure what I did most of the day... I know I read a few chapters in the four books that I've somehow started reading all at the same time, something I don't normally do and we... I dunno, it seems like we left the house at one point to do something... Oh yeah, we mailed a package and ate at the far less impressive than it used to be Red Hot Roasters.

Man, what a boring day. I did get some editing on Lindsay's book and we made gumbo.

I've had a headache the last couple days, just a little annoying thing above my left eye that never becomes debilitating, but is obnoxious enough that I don't feel like doing anything.

Friday, June 5, 2009

June 04, 2009 - Foggy Conditions

Life -

Today was a pretty fine day. Lindsay and I were both off, and we started the morning early, heading to Butterburrs for breakfast with the In-Laws and my Sis-In-Law, who was leaving that afternoon to meet her biological mother in California. Both of Lindsay's siblings are adopted, which I think is great. We don't plan on having kids, but if we ever decided to, we've discussed it a lot and would like to adopt, it's a good thing.

I'm more torn about the finding your biological parents aspect. While I can easily see the benefits, seeing where you came from, any hidden medical history, etc... I don't think I ever would. Of course, I think it's safe to say that my opinion is colored; I was raised by my mother with only a very small amount of input from my father, who then left us completely when I was 2. He has made a few half hearted attempts to contact me in the past, and frankly, I have no need to add those kinds of complications to my life. I appreciate that he wants to be a part of my life, but he wasn't there when we really needed him, so why should I go out of my way now, when I don't need him? Unless of course, he's got $70,000 he could loan us for a motel....

It's a completely different circumstance than finding your biological mother, but I'm pretty sure that it's why I have a hard time understanding why you would want to.

All the same, Marissa's BioMom sounds pretty cool. Laid back and a bit crazy, like Marissa and I hope her the best of luck on her quest. Not just because she's going to Southern California. Bleah.

After that, we hit the pet store and bought Ludo a new collar for his birthday. Our little boy is 3 years old! Which really means he should stop acting like a puppy... eventually.

He seemed to enjoy his birthday treats!
As did freckle-faced Pooka, who likes to have his brother soften the chewies up first, then steal them..

Apart from that, I spent some time editing wedding photos, in the hopes of having a CD of 'em for Marissa when she comes back through town in a week, and I worked on some ...

Writing -

During which, my wife made it clear to me why writing a dream sequence while in pain, suffering from cabin fever and hopped up on pain pills while it rains outside is a bad idea....

You write entire pages describing fog....

This time, he found himself on the same stump with three trees growing from it that he saw in one of his earlier dreams. He was standing on the stump, wearing his winter coat and new boots, with a faint breeze drifting through the trees. All around him, the undergrowth seemed over sized, with some of the ferns so large that they looked like they would tower over him if he was on the spongy forest floor instead of on the stump. There was fog too, drifting through the trees and plants, almost like a living thing. It rolled and twisted, sliding up over leaves, then slithering back down the stems like misty, insubstantial snakes. Thousands of them, too. The entire forest looked like it was being invaded by these sinuous gently gliding snakes of fog. As he stood on the stump, watching the fog roll below his feet, he was afraid to get off of the stump. What if the fog sensed him in it, wrapped around him and drug him down?

I go on like that for a full page and a half...

I have roughly 3 weeks to finish editing, revise the manuscript, do a second edit and revision and get it in the mail... it is gonna be tight.

The Last Sentence -

"The heat so hot that things seemed to shimmer in it and jungles so wet that your clothes could rot off of you."

From The Whispering Ferns

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June 03, 2009 - Slow N' Steady.

I started writing this post last night and fell asleep, waking to find the field filled with "L"s.. so be forewarned, this post is clearly Ultra Exciting!

Life -

I'm slowly working on my ankle. The swelling has gone down quite a bit and I've started a series of stretches to try and regain some mobility. We went out in the morning to run a few errands and I made it a point to wear some supportive shoes and tried to walk pretty normally rather than limping or favoring it.

Hit the library, where I managed to return one of my books a day late... can't avoid a fine there it seems. We got there around 11, and I was shocked at the number of cars in the lot. Until we got inside, naturally we came during the summer kids reading program... Found a few books that fit the genre that I'm writing and I think most are better reads than the last pile. We'll see.

Then we swung by my mom's where I tried another thing with the Hot Water Heater From Hell, but it doesn't look like it worked either. Grr.

By this point, my ankle was starting to give me problems, but we still headed to the greenhouse and bought a couple of wave petunias for our front flower garden area. They also had their veggies on sale and we hadn't bought any of ours yet this season, so we snagged a couple of different kinds of tomatoes, 2 butternut squash plants, a spaghetti squash and a pumpkin. I'm debating on whether I should post photos of my gardening, considering what a fiasco that usually is...

Speaking of gardening, here's a couple of photos of Rich and Sue mowing my lawn that Lindsay took last week. Nice boots for working in the yard, Sue!

After the greenhouse, we stopped briefly in at the used bookstore in town, Circle C Books. Its a little place, housed in a little building and has been there as long as I can remember. I like the store, apart from a couple little quirks. They obviously cater to romance readers, 3/4 of the shelf space is filled with romance novels, so the books I read are given short shrift. All of the Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror books are 'Trade Only', which means you can't buy them outright, you have to bring in enough books to get enough credit to trade for them. As someone who hangs on to virtually all of his books, this is especially annoying to me. However, the worst part about the store is the owner. She has absolutely no people skills. She gets visibly annoyed if you browse, rather than asking her for a specific title, and acts put out that you're even there. I've been to a LOT of used book stores, and to be fair, most of the owners are an eccentric bunch, but she's probably the second worst, after the owner of one in Salt Lake City that smoked around the books, stunk pretty bad and was openly hostile to customers.

Then we hit up the Taco Wagon for lunch, made a crock pot and spent the rest of the day with my foot up either reading or working on writing.

Recipes -

Here's a couple of crockery cooking recipes that we've made recently, both of which are easy, cheap and quite tasty!


12 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of chopped onion
1 T olive oil
1 8 or 9 oz package frozen artichoke hearts or 1 can of hearts
1 red sweet bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 t quick cooking tapioca
2 t crushed dried rosemary
1 t black pepper
1 1/2 pounds of boneless chicken breast
4 cups cooked rice

- Saute garlic and onion in small skillet in the hot oil.
-Combine with all but chicken and rice.
-Add chicken, spooning some of the mixture over the chicken
-Cook i9n slow cooker for 6-7 hours on low heat
-Serve over rice

This is from the Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book, and they suggest a full tablespoon of tapioca and some lemon peel. We cut the tapioca back because they have a tendency to add too much, using it as a thickener, and we prefer our sauces a bit thinner. We didn't have any lemon peel so we substituted some lemon pepper and cut on the other pepper. This meal was quick and really easy, and all told cost about 4 bucks to make.


1/2 cup chopped onion
1 T minced garlic
2 t butter
2 12oz cans of evaporated milk
2 cans of condensed cream of potato soup, undiluted
2 cans of condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 can of corn, drained
1 t creole seasoning
1/2 t garlic powder
1 3 oz package of cream cheese, cubed
2 pounds of cooked chicken, loosely cubed

-In small skillet, saute onion and garlic in butter
-Combine onion, garlic, milk, soups, corn and seasonings in 5 qt slow cooker.
-Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.
-Stir in chicken and cream cheese, cook an additional hour on low.

We love this meal. It's pretty quick to prep, you can keep most of the ingredients on hand all the time, and it makes a lot of leftovers that re-heat well after being frozen. You can also substitute Cooked Turkey or Shrimp, and we've thought that a mushroom one, with sliced mushrooms and cream of mushroom soup instead of the cream of chicken would be good too. The Creole seasoning it vital, it adds a huge flavor and brings out some of the others.

Writing -

I Worked on revisions, doing physical editing on the first 69 pages and making notes as I went, and worked a bit on copy editing Lindsay's book as well.

Her help has been invaluable, pointing out a couple of technical issues that I'd missed and helping me guide a couple of scenes in dramatically better ways. She also pointed out that my last chapter/epilogue needed a significant expansion... not sure that I'm grateful for that note....

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Book Review - Recent Reads... again!

As prep work for my MG (Mid-Grade) novel, I hit up the library and checked out a passel of young adult and children's novels, mostly just picking randomly based off of covers, essentially the way I figure kids choose books. A couple I never read, just dismissed 'em out of hand after a few chapter... Apparently Teen Fantasy is clearly geared towards teenage girls and Teen Horror is geared towards.... I dunno, repressed teen boys, maybe. The books I snagged of those types were really unimpressive. Anyway, on to the ones I did read!

by Marcus Sedgwick

2000, 148 pages

I checked this book out because I had been intrigued by the author's new release, but wanted to read his earlier work first. The story is about a girl living in a world where the icecaps are melting and the land is being swallowed up. After being accidentally left by her parents, she stumbles across a boat and uses it to try and find her folks. She ends up on a Lord Of The Flies style island with a bunch of uncouth youths.

I enjoyed the book, thought the writing was good and the idea, while pretty obvious was well executed, but the ending stuck in my craw. It was over in a matter of pages and was incredibly shoved full of coincidences.


by James Patterson & Peter De Jonge

2006, 383 pages

I'd read a few Patterson novels before, though he seems to be one of those authors where I recognize the name, but not why I know it. This novel got a lot of ink about its twist ending, which I saw coming pretty early on in the second half, but it was an enjoyable read about a murder, conspiracy, small town politics and rich folk. It was written in an odd series of short chapters, most around 4 pages long, each from a different point of view. At first this kind of bugged me and after a while, I started liking the way it flowed, enough that I may consider writing something in that format.


By John Bellairs

1984 182 pages

A guilty pleasure and inspiration, I'll probably read a Bellairs novel every time I do an update, they're fun, quick, spooky, goofy, scary and creative; pretty much everything you want a book to be. And they have great Edward Gorey artwork.


By Lemony Snicket

2000 197 pages

I really want to like these books, I really do! I love the idea, the tone, the author's writing style and attitude, his author's bio cracks me up every time! Yet each of these books has left me feeling unsatisfied. Book four was my least favorite so far, it had virtually no plot and what was there seemed... wrong somehow... Grr. On to book Five, with fingers crossed.


By Ben Rehder

2007 369 pages

I love Rehder's books. They all star John Marlin, a Blanco County Texas Game Warden with a great head, sense of humor and taste in women, and a motley cast of residents in the county he patrols. Sometimes, things get a little over the top wacky, but they're always a fun read. Gun Shy concerns a NRA-style group, a couple of murders, lots of whiskey, a country music star that's a fraud and politics in a way that only Rehder could write.


By James Rollins

2008, 480 pages

I had never heard of James Rollins until a year or so ago when a co-worker loaned me one of his books. Rollins writes big, sprawling adventure stories, usually involving some science and some craziness. I really like his books, they're a perfect summer read, though his most recent books have all focused on the Sigma Force, a top secret military group that solves vaguely Da-Vinci Code style mysteries (Though I like Rollins' books better) His Sigma books are great, but I long for a return to his stand-alone novels with monsters, secret worlds and whatnot. Which is one reason I'm intrigued by the ad in the back of The Last Oracle... Seems Rollins has written a Mid Grade children's adventure novel... Hmm... gonna have to check that out!