The Five Hundred and Fourth Post: The One Where You Should Have Picked Under in the Over/Under Writer’s Betting Pool…

Sorry for the late update, but I have been working twelve-hour days at my dreaded day job. I’m sneaking this on after hours at work, but I can proudly say I am still on schedule.

Now – you’re going to want to mark this day on your calendars. It si a high-water mark for me, and the chances of it happening again are going to be astronomical.

Ready?

I have to pad my novel.

I know! I’m just as shocked as everyone else is. You see, for those of you who might not know, I have no problem exceeding a word count by thousands of words…and not wanting to cut a single syllable. You want a 50K novel? I’ll write 65K. I can’t help it. I get dragged down side stories and lost in the thickets of description and before I know it, I have to trim everything down.

Not this time. This time I’m writing Catastrophic Christmas Party and I’ve hit all the major plot points – even threw in the beginning of a love interest for giggles. I was so sure I was going to run off at the mouth and have to cut down a couple of scenes.

Total word count? 30K roughly. Novel was supposed to be 50K. I very, very badly undershot it.

Padding is going to be not that nig of a problem, I’m just miffed that I have to do that. I can throw in a couple of scenes with Evan dealing with Christmas shoppers and his whammy. I can even include a scene with his parents and give a little bit of a back story with him. Maybe even a chance encounter with the love interest. Like I said, it’s not a problem of padding, I’m just flabbergasted that I have to do it.

Speaking of padding – I am out of Nanowrimo this year. As it ends up, overtime at work started and that always cuts into my writing time, especially since I like to get big checks so I spend at least 12 hours here at work. I’ve been noodling and outlining another novel in the meantime, but I’m not pounding the keyboard like I should. Something-something-eight hours of sleep…I don’t know. Next year – next year I’ll have a better idea of time management and maybe skip the overtime. I’ve won it once, I know I can do it again if I focus.

Well – that’s all I have time for right now. There’s not much else going on other than I got my flash, so my camera kit is pretty much complete, now all I need is to take some time and start photographing again before it gets too cold. I might even hit up a couple of friends and see if they would be willing to model for me in an ad for Valentina’s Feast.

So – take care, I’ll see you next week.

The Five Hundred and Third Post — The One Where I Feed My Other Obsession!

During my vacation, I decided to go to a fountain pen show up in Columbus. I didn’t even know there was such a thing, much less one that was close enough to me to consider driving. So – me and the wife bundled into the car and drive three hours with money burning a hole in my pocket. I found out some interesting things during my trip:

  1. Rest stops are determined by the smallest bladder.
  2. They’re not apparently speed limits, but suggestions.
  3. Everything tastes better at 80 mph, except boxed apple pies. Those things are nasty at any speed.
  4. Drink enough Monster energy drinks and you’ll achieve Bullet-Time.

I got to the pen show (no tickets!) and spend a few minutes trying to find a way inside, I stumbled up to the reception table and put down my ten dollars. I was not prepared for what would happen next.

There were so many tables! Not just fountain pens! Bottles of ink by the score! Notebooks! Sealing wax and other paraphernalia! My mere $700 was not enough! I walked around in a bit of a daze. Not only were there so many tables – I expected ten or fifteen, but there were at least thirty in the ball room and seven right outside. There were small time companies there, individual collectors selling and buying.

There were so many people! It was a little crowded as far as I was concerned. Again, I had small notions, but each aisle was crowded to the point where I had to excuse myself in passing in between two people. I was shocked that there were other people that were as excited about fountain pens as I am. Nancy kept pace with me as I looked around.

The first person I talked to had this gorgeous pen that looked like it was crafted from a single block of rose quartz. It was love at first sight. It had a very fine nib – the only kind I like to use. This is no mere shopping list pen. This is an instrument to put down my deepest thoughts. This is the crowning piece in my collection.

“How much is it?”

“Six hundred dollars.”

I’ll find others.

I moved on. I found so many wonderful pieces, but I came here with a shopping list:

  1. Pilot Vanishing Point in Very Fine: the novelty of this pen is that the tip retracts. Don’t look at the price. Numbers mean nothing against quality.
  2. A bottle of shimmering black ink: I’ve got a sample of it at home, and I liked it. I was hoping to find a bottle here and add it to the second pen I was going to buy.
  3. Second pen: because buying one pen is absolutely ludicrous. Very fine nib and must look good.
  4. Notebook: because I don’t have a problem, Nancy.
  5. Holder for said pens: I can’t leave them out to the elements, can I?

The second person I asked about the Vanishing Point, sent me down to the right table: Crazy Al’s Pen Emporium. I am not making up this name. His table stretched down the length of the ball room. Stacks upon stacks of pens and pen boxes fought for my attention. Inks in every color conceived by the eye of man (except shimmering black) were arranged in neat rows.

I would have swooned, but Nancy has said repeatedly she will not catch me.

I approached the man in the red t-shirt. He looked up at me and held out his hand. I figured that this was the aforementioned Crazy Al, but he didn’t accuse the cats of stealing his thoughts, or try to explain how the lizard people really run things, so I think he was more Decently Medicated Al. I shook his hand and he asked how he could help.

“I’m looking for a Vanishing Point in a very fine nib. Do you have one?”

“Sure.” He picked up a box with a blue and chrome pen inside and handed it to me. My heart fluttered. The body matched a bottle of blue ink I had a home, waiting to be used. This was a match made in Heaven.

“How much?”

“$140 and you get a free notebook.”

I don’t know what Nancy thinks when I shell out this kind of money for a pen. She’s more of a ‘whatever works’. I have standards.

I count out the money and hand it to him with the glee of a four-year-old getting a present for Christmas. I get the box and the notebook of my choice (the yellow Rhodia) in a very nice bag. I saw the notebooks and made a beeline for them. They have the one notebook maker that I love and in the style and color I like. I drop more money and stuff the book in my bag. I’m getting the stuff on my list one after the other. Nancy comes up to me and shows me a plastic bag with a ballpoint pen. She shows me the Pilot erasable ink pen. It’s not my style, so I let her have it. I am still focused on getting pen number two and a carrying case.

As I walk down the aisles, I’m struck by the different types of people here. It’s not just old white guys. There are women, young men walking along with me. They’re pouring over ink bottles and asking about particular pens. I’m just poking along when I see the sparkles.

I must know more.

I make my way to the table at the end. Behind it is a nervous looking man in glasses and a light grey t-shirt. On the table in front of him are sparkly pens in white, purple, green and grey. They all call to me. I must heed them.

The guy begins his spiel about the pens (“made from Venetian glass.”) and the pen holder he’s selling with them. I kind of listen to him just to be polite, but the majority of my attention is on the pens. They wink, tease and whisper to me. I pick one up and turn it over in my hands. Yes, my little one – I will save you.

“How much for this one and do you have and extra fine nib?”

“Sure.” He takes it out of my hand and starts to put on the tip. “You want a carrying case for $30?”

Shut up and take my money. All $250. All that I’m missing now is the ink and a nicer carrying case. With a troubling amount of endorphins bubbling in my head, I head down the aisles to look for the last two things on my mental list.

I wonder what Nancy things of all this. I just dropped half a house payment on two pens. I’m hoping it’s along the lines of ‘it’s his money’ or at the very least ‘at least it isn’t drugs’. Although I think drugs would be cheaper at this point.

I come to another long table where there is ink, pens and pen cases. I start looking through the inks. I came down here for shimmering black, but so far, I’ve come up distressingly empty. Nancy sidles up next to me and asks what I’m looking for.

“Shimmering black ink.” I see a nice orange, but it’s not what I want right now.

Nancy – being the wonderfully efficient wife – corners one of the guys behind the table and whips out the old country charm. “Do you have any shimmering black ink?” This is what I love about her. She’s so out there, willing to talk to people where I am not. The guys look from one to another and tell her that they think they have any shimmering black, but if they did it would be in this try here.

As I walk over to the try, my eye is caught by this wonderful little case. Holds two pens, but all I really need is a case for the Vanishing Point pen and another with the color du jour. I pick it up and turn it over in my hands. It looks nice. Something I can put in my pocket. “How much for this?”

“$120, but I can let it go for $100.”

Yikes. You see, Nancy’s birthday was only a few days away and I hadn’t gotten her a gift yet. If I got this case and a bottle of ink, then I would have less than $100 to get a gift, card and cake. I’m not concerned about the card and cake, but I need to nail the gift. Okay – new plan. Look for a cheaper case and call it a day.

“Sugar, I see some ink over there. I’m gonna got see if they got yours.” She is delightfully tenacious. I wander behind her and look at a pile of leather cases. I pick up one that looks like it could hold three pens and fit in my pocket. I open it up.

It’s someone’s eyeglasses. Whoops. I put it back down and hope no one saw me. I might just go back and see about that other case. It looked nice and felt good. If I got it, I would have enough to get Nancy a nice gift and a decent cake and card. Instead of running over and taking the case, I decide to walk around a little bit more.

Nancy is still darting from table to table like a hyper-focused hummingbird while I mosey about and look at the inks on display. They’re nice, and there are a couple of shades of read that look good, but I’ve got four bottles at home.

I continue to walk down the aisles, looking at the leather cases and getting prices. Looks like I’m going to be spending about hundred either way. I might go back and get the first one. It looked nice.

“Sugar, I think I found someone who might have the ink you’re looking for.” Nancy gently grabs my arm and guides me to a table. Two ladies are behind the table, sipping on cans of soda. One of them looks up at us and hurriedly slips her mask back up. In Columbus, the mask mandates are still in effect.

“Hi,” I smile and remind myself that it’s all right to talk to people. “I was wondering if you had any shimmering black ink?”

They look at each other and shake their heads. “Have you tried that table?” She points down the aisle. “Or have you tried Crazy Al?”

“I did both of them, ma’am. Came up empty.” I may not really like talking to people, but I will be polite as the situation requires.

“I’m so sorry, sir.” The other one says to me. I just shrug and thank them for their time.

“I’m going to go get the case I saw earlier. Weaving through the crowds (I swear there are more people here than when I first came in), I make it back to the table. With one hand, I fish for my wallet and with the other, I grab the case. “I’ve decided to get this case.”

True to his word, he let it go for $100. Practically out of money, I relax a little bit. I didn’t get everything on my list, but the ink was a long shot anyways. I turn to my ever-present wife and say, “Let’s just look around a little bit.” With no pressure of cash on me, I can walk about and just scope things out. One guy was selling a glass and wood chess set. Someone else was selling wax sealers and supplies (I should have held out!). Ink wells, books about antique pens and more supplies. One guy had just a pile of old pens he was selling for parts. I should have brought my broken pen here and see if I could find the part I needed. Next time.

Coasting down from the post-shopping high, we both realized it was time to go. On the way out, Nancy stumbled onto a ball point pen on the ground. It looked good, like it was taken out of the package and set on the ground as a sacrifice. Nancy smiled and put it in her pocket. That’s my wife in a nutshell: refuge for the lost, neglected and forsaken.

The trip back was uneventful – with Nancy telling me that security would not be patient with us running amok through the empty King’s Island park (“I know how to operate the rides, though.” “No.”) and running through the tolls (“Kentucky – we get you coming and going.”).

Sorry if this post was longer or more boring than usual, but once I got going, it seemed I had to throw everything in. Just a reminder: my latest novel Valentina’s Feast is in Amazon and all other digital platforms, so give it a gander.

I promise next week will be shorter. Thanks for hanging in there.

What $600 gets you at a pen show in Columbus, OH

The Five Hundred and Second Post: The One Where I Admit My Addiction to KDP!

The book and the Kindle pre-orders have been out for a few days, and I do have some pre-orders waiting – thank you, very much! I’m a touch disheartened that no one’s snatched at the book yet. I know it’s steep, and there is very little I can do about that. If I price it any lower, I’m not going to get as much profit from it. Yes – this is still a business and I need to make some sort of income from this. As much as I like the notion of being an indie author…I do have to admit that having someone else taking care of the marketing would be nice. I’m not really the ‘slap hands, kiss babies’ sort of person.

Maybe I’ll try submitting a novel and deal with the rejections.

I’m trying my best to not look at KDP’s reports on sales. It’s addictive hitting that site to see if you have any sales. It’s also maddening when you click on the site and see nothing there.

As my wife points out: “You’re a good writer, we just need to get your name out”. Which in this day and age is easier said than done.

But enough of that – there is a link to the books on the right, as well as links to all the others.

I can’t remember if I’ve said this or not, but I am going back to The Marvelous and Malefic Doomsday Medicine Show. I can get that finished up sooner than starting a brand-new project – Catastrophic Christmas Party is going to be my Nanowrimo project, so I can get halfway to four books before July. I really, really want that pen.

Other than all of that, there is nothing more to say. I’m stopping overtime for the next couple of weeks, and honestly, I don’t think it’s going to go on much longer. I’ll be happy to get that morning writing period back and maybe quit napping during afternoon lunch. As I told Nancy: “I am not addicted to caffeine. I can quit whenever I want with no ill effects.” Then we both have a good laugh and I go back to snorting Pepsi Max syrup.

With the rumbling of the thunderstorm overhead, I probably should wrap this up before the power goes out. Like I said check out the books on the right and maybe click on a link to purchase one of them. I’ll talk to y’all in the next one.

The Five Hundredth and First Post: The One Where I Throw My Hands Up In the Air And Declare Victory!

Well, I finally did it. It’s as good as it’s going to get. I put “Valentina’s Feast” up for pre-orders on Kindle for a Hallowe’en release (am I the only one that puts the apostrophe in between the two e’s?). It’s set up right now, and you can follow this link to pre-order. It’s done. That’s it. I am officially abandoning it and getting the paperback put together for a same day release. By the time you read this (it’s Sunday here and I put it up Saturday afternoon), the preorder will be ready. If you don’t like graphic horror or sex – let someone who does know about it. I’m also going to put it up on the other platforms closer to the day so that I can have a simultaneous release across as many platforms as possible.

Anyways, “Valentina’s Repast” is not chugging along and it’s my fault. I’ve been taking up overtime at work, and when I get to lunch, I’m so tired all I can do is eat my sandwich and take a nap. I’m not writing in the morning because I’m trying to get out the door earlier. I don’t want to quit the overtime because this is money that’s going to cover the holidays – thank God we decided to not do anything major this Christmas. I’m frustrated about things is all. I might do this for another couple of weeks, try to get at least two good paychecks out of it, and then stop.

On to better news, I finally joined the crowd and watched “Squid Games” and I have to admit it’s really good. Apparently, they ended it to make way for a second season. I really do recommend it to anyone who wants to see something a little different in the “dystopian captive” genre. I think next I’m going to watch the movie “Parasite”. It’s been on my to-watch list for a while.

I guess I’ve put off laundry enough, so I’ll wrap things up here. Please, give my horror novel a chance or to someone who would be willing to do so. I promise I’m coming back to Evan’s poor world come November and probably rush this one out for a Christmas release. Also, please check out the books to the right if horror is not your bag. Hope you all have a good day.

The Five Hundredth Post!

It’s coming down to the wire for me as far as getting Valentina’s Feast ready. This Saturday, I’m going to lock myself in the study and finish trying to trim down 2,000 words. Looking back through it, I don’t really think I can – it’s pretty tight as it is. My editor said I could take out some of the step-by-step stuff (wish she’d been a little more specific) and trim it down. So far, I’ve only taken out maybe a hundred words and I’m in chapter two. I can’t wait for this to be finished.

As far as what I am doing next — *sigh* I’m not sure anymore. I’ve been getting a lot of good feed back about The Marvelous and Malefic Doomsday Medicine Show from my writer’s group, and I am committed to getting Valentina’s Repast finished. Might as well surrender and try doing both. Just bounce between the two when I get writer’s block…which I’ve had for the past couple of days. Valentina had her first bloody dream, and the aftermath of that is not coming to me. So, I might try to write another chapter of Medicine Show and see if I can get some sort of momentum back with it.

I can write four books before next July and still make time for the vacation plans. Might not get the reward pen until afterwards, but I will get it. I just got to anchor myself down and get to work.

Of course, as I say this – I’m getting into overtime at work and getting into eleven hours of work. I have barely any time to do anything after I get home than make dinner, do dishes and get ready for the morning. I haven’t written in the morning since three weeks ago. It’s hard being a part time writer. There are those that can handle this, and I frankly don’t know how. I know when I get home from the gym, I should at least sit down for an hour and eek out something. I’m just so tired when I get home, all I want to do is sleep.

I have Saturdays – well, every other Saturday. I can do some work, but it doesn’t feel like it’s enough. I just feel like I’m not writing unless I’m doing something every day.

Maybe I need more coffee.

Well, that’s all for now, as my lunch is winding down. Feel free to meander through the books on the right and donate some coffee so I can write in the evening. Until next week – take care!

The Three Hundred and Ninety-ninth Post: The One Where I Mutiny Against Captain Obvious!

I like it when I learn new things about self-publishing. It’s on-the-job training that you don’t really get anywhere else.

I just learned more details about Amazon’s self-publishing program. I always knew about pre-orders, but I never realized how useful it can be. For example – you can put in a part of a book, and when you’re finished (as long as it’s before the deadline. More on that in a minute), you can update the file with the full book. You can post the link in the back of a Kindle book, and they can pre-order it. I know, I know – yeah…duh…. I jut never considered that. I always wanted to have the book ready to be uploaded and sent out directly to Amazon.

The other thing I learned is this: You have up to a year.

A whole year. Can you write a book in a year? I know I can.

I can put in a placeholder file for Valentina’s Repast and work on it, get it finished by…say…Hallowe’en next year and put in a pre-order link. I can use that as a way of seeing whether or not the first book was popular. If I get a lot of pre-orders, I know the book series is going to be a winner. If I don’t get a lot – maybe this is something I should set aside.

The problem – because there are always problems – is that if I put up a pre-order, I have to follow through. Not only because I made a promise to my readers, but if I don’t, Amazon will cancel the sale and I don’t get the money from the pre-orders. The money is secondary, but the promise is real. This is the reason why I didn’t take advantage of pre-orders. Now that I know how it works, I will use it as much as I can.

In fact, I plan on using it at the end of this week. I’m going to finish up trimming down Valentina’s Feast (2K words! I can do it!) and put it up for sale on Hallowe’en. After that, I will put up a place holder file for Repast and put in the pre-order link and refresh Feast’s file. After that, I let people know about Feast and hopefully get some sales.

Oh, did I mention that I have a concrete day for Valentina’s Feast? Yep. 10/31/21 is the date is it coming out ready or not. I’ve been hemming and hawing long enough. This Sunday, I will lock myself away and cut it down to 90K words or less. After that, I get everything together and start hawking it. Wish me luck.

Speaking up books – you know the drill. Books to the right, give cash for some coffee and buy Valentina’s Feast when it hits the virtual shelves on Amazon or wherever you buy e-books.

Have fun and stay safe.

The Three Hundred and Ninety-eighth Post: The One Where I Think I’m Going Merrily Crazy!

I apologize for missing last week. It was a weird week for me, and by the time I realized I hadn’t put in an entry, it was Sunday, and I was up to my hips in laundry. I’m back now, and we’ll see what happens for this week. Just remember the old kender saying: If it’s been in a house for longer than two weeks, it’s an heirloom.

I also haven’t been doing much writing, sad to say – it’s been a weird week. However, when I did resume…I think I hit a moment when the character managed to sit down and have a little chat with me as the author. It was a moment of reflection for Valentina when she was getting ready to go out and hunt some more. She came to the realization that she didn’t eat to love, she loved to eat.

Serial killers, as I’ve found out through research, end up giving themselves little permissions to escalate their actions. John Wayne Gacy is a good example of this. He built up to his homosexuality, then built up to his murderous impulses bit by bit. Now, whether that’s for the sake of maintaining the dopamine flow in his brain, or he just got more and more comfortable with his actions, is not clear to me. Valentina does the same thing, but we’re watching her transition from being a romantic cannibal to a more lust-driven cannibal. If we were to equate this to just sex – this is Valentina going from someone who was highly monogamous to someone who plays the field vigorously.

There’s another phrase to describe this: the berserker phase. Gacy had it. Bundy had it. Valentina’s dipping her toes into it as she gets more comfortable.

This is not how I envisioned Valentina in the beginning, but it’s how she’s turning out. I’ve always maintained that the characters in my head have a small spark of autonomy. Whether this is something that other authors have had happen to them, or I’ve crossed that threshold and I’m ready for the starch white love-me coats – I have no idea. But I am excited about this and I can’t wait to see how it ends for Valentina by the close of the second book and how this impacts the third.

I love times like this because it keeps me interested in writing the book. I want to see how everything turns out because sometimes, I really don’t know. I’m just a chronicler of this very twisted woman’s life. I take that back – she’s going to end up on Death Row, but how she gets from here with hacking up prostitutes to sitting on Old Sparky saying ‘I don’t even know why I’m here’ is a bit of a mystery to me.

Man, I love this job.

As my battery is getting low, I will let you all go. Feel free to drop a line or check out the books I sell on the right hand side.

Have a good day.

The Three Hundred and Ninety-seventh Post: The One Where I Channel my Inner Neo and Dodge Multiple Bullets!

I heard back from my editor! She’s still alive and reading the second draft. There might be a third draft, as I think about it and there are some things I want to change now that I’m thinking about it. The more I noodle around with the manuscript, the more I’m reminded of the say: art is never completed, only abandoned. I know that I am going to stress, fret and worry myself over this until I tell myself stop. So, I am going to say that when I get the manuscript back, and I fix the little things I want to fix – it’s done. I am going to stick to my deadline of pre-orders in October…even if I have to upload the editor’s suggestions after publication.

The changes I make aren’t very big, and I’m just doing them to make sure that everything between book one and two line up correctly – the whole process versus product killer thing. The meaning behind the birthday party incident and other things. Once this is done and up, I am going to be so happy. I am so ready for this book to be up and out. At the same time, I am not confident in what I have. As much as I’ve loved the idea, and all the work I have and will put into it…I don’t think this is going to be any better or worse that The Dreaded Day Job or The Quietest Heart. I loved the idea, but I can’t help but think I’ve failed in the execution.

Too late now.

As you can also tell – I am through my technical issues. Apparently, something re-mapped my keyboard…or there was a mechanical or electrical issue with my keyboard. I was worried that I was going to have to buy a new laptop and I have some stickers on them (from penpals and others) that I don’t want to lose. I tried to check the inside of the keyboard, but I couldn’t get to all the screws. After I re-screwed it back up, I did a repair reset to Windows…which both fixed the keyboard but didn’t go all the way through so I didn’t lose any programs this time. It has made me realize I should have some ‘emergency laptop’ funds at the ready. I really dodged a bullet with this one, and eventually, my luck is going to run out.

Well – all in all, it hasn’t been a bad week. A couple of scrapes that I survived with my vices intact, and what’s been a traditionally bad day for me and my mental health I got with the help of friends and writing. I hope everything is better for you, and that your laptops continue to work and you get your books right on the second time around.

Until next week!