Monday, July 13, 2015

Oh look, a post for July

The blog has been quiet, but I haven't forgotten you. July has been full of doing things!

Our exchange student has been keeping us busy. Or we're keeping her busy. Or both. We spent a long weekend up by Sleeping Bear Dunes, burning our feet on hot sand, catching a little sun (I'd rather forgotten what sitting under that large burning orb felt like), and hiking around South Manitou Island (aka, dodging mosquitos and snakes). We've played local tourist in our own town and others nearby. We've eaten far more ice cream than necessary (yes, there is a necessary amount). And we've done a lot of driving (just 575 miles in the past few days). With only two weeks left, we're trying to pack in as much fun as we can.

Editing. The last couple chapters of A Broken Race are proving to be challenging and my tired brain isn't cooperating. Deadlines are looming.

And now we've come to the part of the post where I can announce my happy news. My short stories Mother and Giving Chase have been accepted into Caffeinated Press's second Brewed Awakenings anthology. Look for it out in print and e-book this fall.

And, of course, I can't close out this post without a dose of Author's Answer. This week: Sex. How do you write it?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer is here. Sanity is somewhere over there.

It's June, and that means its lovely outside in my little corner of Michigan. Am I out enjoying every minute of it? Sadly, no.

Why? I'm neck deep in edits of A Broken Race. 102 suggested points from the editors to conquer. Most aren't all that significant in terms of big changes, others add require diving deeper into backstory groundwork while dancing on the delicate tightrope that stretches across the valley of info dump. I have about a week left to finish up.

 We have to take four more small trees out to finally get our business drive put in at the end of the month (yes, also a week away). This means that our towering brush pile mountain from all the other small and dead trees that have come down over the past couple years here, had to be reduced before it turned into a brush mountain range. We burned for three straight days and got it down to a more manageable 'pile' designation...until those four trees come down.

 Then there was the deck fiasco. Let's sum it up by saying I have a deck now. It wasn't built by the original contractor we hired and it was weeks late. It doesn't currently have a railing because the home improvement store ordered the wrong one and now we have to wait three more weeks for the right one. We can't get the deck approved without the railing, which means we can't use it as getting all the stuff out of the garage that is meant to go on the deck so that I might be able to finally park inside. I spent way too much time returning wrong and extra stuff, ordering the right stuff, and on the phone trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

 Work on the outside of the house continues. In this month's installment, I'm working on the rock areas. This means I'm getting a workout, hefting 80lb bags of mortar and hauling buckets of said substance up ladders to slap it on the metal lath we installed last month. Next up: rocks.

A conversation with a friend led to something I've been wanting to try and now we have room for. We're hsting an exchange student for a month. So I spent some time cleaning up ou spare room, buying a bed and all that goes with it and making functional room in the closet I'd intended to use for storage. Since we're supposed to show her around our area, this gave me the nudge I needed to plan our family vacation. Cabin reserved, sights to see have been noted and arrangements for pets have been made.

And yes, that means she'll be arriving in a week and then we'll be busy showing her around.

In between the rocks, trees, and railing projects... Which means I better get back to those edits.

I'll leave you with the latest Author's Answer, where we discuss the writing process.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I'm watching

With life as busy as it has been the past year and some, time together as a couple has pretty much become spending the last waking hour or so each night watching television on the same couch. When we break this cycle, the dogs become angry. We don't want to anger the dogs, who love this quiet snuggle time. And, you know, as a couple, we appreciate quiet snuggle time too.

I'd intended to keep better track of what was before my eyes over the past several months, but I'm just going to come out and admit that I didn't. Why? After a long busy day, I'm busy trying to stay awake to watch the end of whatever we started when I was wide awake.

We'll go down the list until my memory gives out.

Game of Thrones: I'm up to date on this series, and while it still makes me blurt out, "Hey, that wasn't like that in the book!" on occasion, I do appreciate that even though I've read the books, I don't exactly know what's going to happen next, or at the very least, the details of how it's going to get from one important point to the next. This whole season has been my favorite since the red wedding episode. This is a series I have no problem staying awake though each episode.

Wayward Pines: We're having a great time trying to guess what the hell is going on. Speculating has become an off the couch, wandering throughout our day, tossing out theories kind of sport. There's generally enough going on with this show to keep me awake.

Arrested Development Season 5: After binge-watching the first four seasons, we awaited the fifth with anticipation. Then were too busy to watch it. We started to watch it recently, and I honestly haven't stayed awake for a single half hour episode. I can't tell you what happened. I can't even remember enough to guess. However, if I ever have a night of insomnia, I know the cure.

Last Man on Earth: The show started off as amusing, but now that the season has ended, the novelty has worn off.

Quick Draw: If you loved Brisco County Jr (as I do), this show is probably for you. There are some terrific one-liners and the humor is quite adult. So far nothing has topped the episode that made laugh until I cried as the town dealt with the death of Honey's cousin aunt.

Bosch: The first episode of this gritty cop detective series nearly lost me due to the cliches and stiff acting, but it got better and the season ended on a satisfying note so I'll be watching for the next one.

Mad Men: The series wrapped up fairly well. I can't say that I was disappointed nor did I expect detailed happily ever afters or where are they nows from a show that spend the last few seasons with all of it's characters in the chaos of their self-made craptastic lives. I was left fulfilled, which is more than I can say for most series endings.

Walking Dead: I stay awake for survivors outliving zombies and the living who are far worse threats than the dead. I didn't know what to make of this past season at first, but it ended with a satisfied smile.

Jurassic Park: When we heard there was going to be a new movie, we resurrected the first one and made our kids watch it too. Family time! It was just as good as I remembered it.

Jurassic Park 2: Mostly as I remembered it, but the plot seemed much thinner now that the novelty of 'OMG there are dinosaurs!' has worn off.

Jurassic Park 3: I didn't know this existed until we heard there was a forth on the way and looked up the old movies. In summary: People are idiots. Oh, and Pterodactyls!

Project Almanac: Time travel. High school kids. Interesting idea, but meh.

What We Do in the Shadows: I had high hopes. I loved Flight of the Conchords, and for the most part, I like vampires (as long as they don't sparkle). Alas, my love with this vampire mockumentary movie was not meant to be.

Ex Machina: AIs, a very weird programming genius living off the grid and the nerdy guy who thinks he knows what was best. Though it dragged a little in the middle, the end was worth it.

The Maze Runner: Boys with amnesia who are stuck in the middle of a giant ominous maze. They run through it. In the end, they find the way out and there are people who pick them up and take them somewhere. Yep, that's it. Tune in to the next movie to find out why, and if these people are good or bad. Maybe. But probably not until the end of the trilogy. I wouldn't watch the next one. This ending pissed me off.

John Wick: If you wished The Matrix had dropped the plot entirely and was a movie about Keanu Reeves playing a guy who kills people left and right with guns and his fists, your wish has been granted. Me, I'll go for something with a plot, thanks.

Interstellar: Despite staring Matthew McConaughey, which just didn't work for me in a science fiction movie, I quite enjoyed this one. The earth is kicking the human's off by destroying their means of growing food. Who and how many can be saved and where do they go?

Welcome To Me: Would you like to take a nap? Do you have laundry to fold or toilet to clean? You should do that rather than watching this movie unless you are utterly exhausted to a point you can not get off the couch (in which case, that nap is still the better option).

Big Hero 6: Cute and tolerable for a movie aimed at kids. Our teens enjoyed it.

Chappie: Holy Expletive! While I have no issue with the occasional use of profanity, the language in this movie was grating. Robots, AIs, rubber chickens, cops and lots of bullets fired. Entertaining, but would have been much better with less carpet F-bombing.

Outlander: I kept seeing this show all over Facebook, usually accompanied by giddy squeals of delight. The series had good ratings so we figured we better check it out. Portal time travel romance with a highlander? Sign me up. I was not disappointed. This shows was watching a romance novel as it should be done. The season even ended on a satisfying (albeit, predicable if you've read a handful of romance novels) note. I'll be watching for the next season.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Guest Blogger: Nick Wilford

Thanks for hosting me on the final day of my tour, Jean. Today, in contrary fashion, I’m going back to the beginning to bring your readers the opening from my novella, A Change of Mind.

“Hey Reuben, my main man, pass me that stapler, will you?”

The loud, abrasive voice of Guy Borderman jackknifed into me as I blew on my hot milky tea, causing me to spill some on my trousers. I cursed silently, not wanting to bring further attention to myself, and rested the mug on my desk before picking up the stapler and making the journey to Borderman’s desk as nonchalantly as I could.

As it was getting on towards five o’clock, I had hoped Borderman would give me a break today. No such luck. It wasn’t so much the humiliation, but the hit to my pocket that really grated.

I dropped the stapler on Borderman’s desk, not looking the hulking brute in the eyes, and quickly turned to leave, praying the next part would be left out.

“Got any plans tonight, Rubes?” barked that faux-jovial voice as I was halfway back to my desk. I turned, looked at Borderman’s self-satisfied grin, and raised my shoulders slightly in a shrug that felt more like a gesture of surrender. I wasn’t sure why Borderman still made the effort. Everyone already knew I was a massive loser, and most barely looked up from their work.

It was too late today, but tomorrow I would have to request a new stapler, essential for my work, at a cost of £4.99, consuming both my time and money. And at some point, this new item would be “borrowed” by Borderman before disappearing forever into a black hole. This had happened nearly every day I was at work for the past two years.

At five o’clock, I put on my jacket, checking the pockets to find that thankfully there was no glue or other unsavoury items today, and left the office to walk to the bus stop. It started to rain in a torrential downpour that felt like some sort of water-based apocalypse. The bus approached, headlights like hazy red suns glimpsed through the rain. Then I noticed the “Full” sign.

Rather than wait half an hour and take a chance on the next bus having a seat, I started to squelch in my sodden shoes towards home. On the way I passed the Rose and Crown, as I had many times before, always wondering what it was like inside. Rather than continue wading through what felt like a sea with holes in it, I decided this might be an appropriate time to find out.

After all, it was my birthday.

* * *

Title: A Change of Mind and Other Stories
Page/word count: 107 pages, approx. 32,000 words
Publisher: Superstar Peanut Publishing
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: Speculative fiction
Format: Ebook only
Release date: 25th May 2015

A Change of Mind and Other Stories consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece. This collection puts the extremes of human behaviour under the microscope with the help of lashings of dark humour, and includes four pieces previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine.

In A Change of Mind, Reuben is an office worker so meek and mild he puts up with daily bullying from his boorish male colleagues as if it’s just a normal part of his day. But when a stranger points him in the direction of a surgeon offering a revolutionary new procedure, he can’t pass up the chance to turn his life around.

But this isn’t your average surgeon. For a start, he operates alone in a small room above a mechanic’s. And he promises to alter his patients’ personality so they can be anything they want to be…

In Marissa, a man who is determined to find evidence of his girlfriend’s infidelity ends up wondering if he should have left well alone.

The Dog God finds a chink in the armour of a man with a megalomaniacal desire to take over the world.

In The Insomniac, a man who leads an obsessively regimented lifestyle on one hour’s sleep a night finds a disruption to his routine doesn’t work for him.

Hole In One sees a dedicated golfer achieving a lifelong ambition.

The Loner ends the collection on a note of hope as two family members try to rebuild their lives after they are torn apart by jealousy.

Meet the author:

Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. Visit him at his blog or connect with him on Twitter or Goodreads.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What better way to spend a long weekend

...than reading! It's been quite awhile, but I finally managed most of three days of downtime to read. This wasn't for lack of other things I should have been doing, but fate decided to smack me upside the sinuses with a major cold, thereby giving me a valid pass to hang out on the couch. And hang out I did. I can't remember the last time I sat in one place for so long.

My congested head required lite reading, so I went for my usual (lately, it seems) romance-related fare. In three days I devoured Sherrilyn Kenyon's Born of Fire and Bad Moon Rising. Got to love a writer that really knows how to put her characters through hell, literally and figuratively.

That's over 1000 pages between critiquing a short for a friend, spending half a day moving the last of our stuff from the garage and shed of our previous home, and several hours at two home improvement stores ordering everything we need for the deck that needs to be built in order to finish out our building permit.

Good thing I had to go that other stuff or I probably wouldn't have picked up my head from a third book long enough to spend time with the rest of my sick (we all got the cold) family. I was even a good little citizen and attended our local memorial day parade...because I had to transport my son there to play in the school band. Several people I've run into since have commented on seeing me there, but not stopping over to say hi "because it looked like you were really into reading your book." I did put it down once the parade started, honest. I was doing them a favor, warding them away from my cold germs.  

Now, with my sci-fi and were-creature fixes sated, I can get back to trying to figure out this short I've been fighting with. Yes, that means I still don't have that darn thing finished and I'm running out of time.