Thursday, December 30

End of the Year

It's just about time to say "toodles" to 2010. While the year didn't start off all that well, things progressively got better, and I'm hoping the momentum carries over into 2011. A few highlights:

  • Started attending Kaplan University in May. I'm shooting for a Bachelor's of Science in Information Technology with an emphasis on Mobile Computing. I'm 14 years out of High School, so this is a big deal for me.
  • Hit a breakthrough on my writing process, which allowed me to go from being half done with Spiral X in June to completely done in October.
  • Released Spiral X into the world at large.
  • Watched my little boy start going to school. They grow up so fast!
  • My manager finally saw what everyone else was seeing in me, and has sent me to two intermediate level classes for the service management process we use. Always before I felt like I wasn't being appreciated for what I did, and that has changed so much that I feel much more secure going forward, especially with the many changes coming up in the next year.
I'm fairly certain I'm missing more than a few, but those five stick out to me more than others. 2011 is looking up, if only because everything that has happened so far is capable of being built upon. 

Did a slight redesign of the side panels last night. I think I did a fairly good job with it. And my undergrad education is getting some use, since one of the first classes I took was Web Development. Now, of course, people have five different avenues for purchasing Spiral X.

Speaking of Spiral X, the Post-Christmas Sale for it is going along well. We're coupling it with a Facebook Ad that has seen a fair amount of impressions and quite a few clicks as well. It goes straight to the Chapter One tab, so if you're here at this blog from that little campaign, then welcome! Glad to have you. Tomorrow Spiral X will be featured as a Daily Frugal Read over at The Kindle Reader blog, so we have hope that sales will really pick up then. It's all about the Amazon ranking, which has hovered between 15,000 and 30,000 over the last few days. We're hoping enough sales go through to push it into a Top 100 listing, so keep your fingers crossed.

Work on the short story is going well. I'm setting a personal deadline of January 8th, since that's when the sale is going to end for Spiral X. The hope is that the short will entice people enough to give the book a try.

I think that's enough for today. I'll see you guys again for Sample Sunday. In the meantime, have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28

Tuesday Musings

First things first. Spiral X is currently having a $.99 sale. It's only going to last for a limited time, so take advantage of it. Right now I think anyone reading this blog already has a copy, but this is the time when you need to pimp it out to your friends. That Amazon sales ranking won't raise itself!

I didn't post last week because I was on vacation. That ended yesterday when I dragged myself of bed at five in the morning so I could go into work. Back to the day job. Yay.

I finished reading the collection of short stories set in the Dresden Files universe, entitled Side Jobs. Dresden has, for me, filled the void that Anita Blake left when Hamilton decided to venture into the porn industry. The stories filled in small bits and pieces of the overall puzzle that is Dresden and his cohorts. It was a worthy read and good filler until Ghost Story comes out next year. Dresden Files is Urban Fantasy at its finest, dealing within the modern world as well as that of Faerie and otherwise. The characters are strong, everyone has a part to play, and the stories are fast paced and chock full of action. Anyone who has not or is not reading this series, you should start now. There's twelve books and the short story collection. Something else which appeals to me is that there seems to be a definite end coming. A moment where the events which take place from novel to novel will either cease or simply not be worth mentioning anymore. I can live with that. Eddings once said that people always talked to him about writing more stories featuring Belgarion and his troupe of companions, to which he always replied along the lines of, "If thirteen books were good enough for Homer, they're good enough for me."

Christmas was pretty awesome. We took a trip to see my Aunt and Uncle, who live south of Austin, and it was nice to get away from home for a while. My cousin and her fiancĂ©e live on the property, along with their little boy, so it was nice for the kids to have someone to play with. He's only about two-and-a-half, slightly less than a year younger than my daughter, so there were some "twoish" moments to deal with, especially after the wrapping paper came off all their gifts. But for the most part everything went well, my children got to meet some seldom-seen relatives, play with their cousin for a bit, and generally enjoy time away from the city. My son didn't want to leave, but in the end we all had to pack up and head back home. It was nice to get away but it was just as nice to get back.

Work on the short story continued yesterday. It's sitting at close to seven thousand words at the moment, and is likely to venture into novella territory before too long. I'm hoping to get it done before I get back to school next week, but we'll see. I'm currently fighting a sinus infection which has moved into my lungs. It takes several hours for me to get going when I'm feeling well, so right now I resemble little more than a zombie. At least until I've had some meds and some coffee.

Sunday, December 19

Sample Sunday

Hello again and welcome to another Sample Sunday! Today I bring to you a small bit from my current short story. I have to be a little careful, since it is a short, so this will likely be the only sample I ever post, but I did want to give you guys something to chew on while you wait on me to get around to finishing.

In this sample, our protagonist is suffering something of a talking to after she went out looking for trouble without the aid of her trainer.
Mitch, for his part, didn't yell at her. He simply held up the front page of the Buffalo Morning News and pointed at the headline. Three Men Dead in Riverside Mystery. "I don't think I have to ask," he said, "but is this your handiwork?" Erika nodded, then hung her head. "I thought so." Mitch walked in as he folded the paper. "I thought we talked about this," he said, setting it down on the table by the stairs.
"We did," said Erika as she shut the door. She turned to look at Mitch, and almost recoiled at the look of disappointment in his eyes. Anger she could have dealt with, but this was something she had never experienced before. Her parents had always expressed anger at the things she had done. Genuine concern hadn't been a part of their feelings when dealing with their only daughter. A point emphasized by their sudden departure two years ago. After all, why be concerned about someone whom they didn't care about? That Mitch was concerned enough to be disappointed hurt her more than his anger would have. "I'm sorry."
Usual disclaimer: This is a work in progress, blah, blah.

I hope you all enjoyed this little look into my upcoming short story and you all have a wonderful day!


Saturday, December 18

Of Schools and Saturdays

School is done for the year. Not only for myself, but for my son as well. He's happily out back at this moment riding around the patio with his sister and having fun. As for myself, I just finished a grueling three-hour session of putting together my final project for Foundations in Information Technology. It's not so much that I didn't know a lot of this stuff, but the project was asking for a level of detail that I was not familiar with. Ask me to explain what a USB Hub is, and I can. Ask me what happens to the speed and power of the hub as more devices are added to it, and I'll draw a blank. There were twenty such questions, but they are done and I am confident that they are answered well enough to push me to another 4.0 for this quarter.

Next quarter will be interesting. The first course I am taking is on Microsoft Access. I'm familiar with databases but I couldn't make a living on it if that was required. I do know that I am going to be needing such information in the future, and the fact that this is all new information being presented to me means I'll be paying attention. Don't tell anyone, but I've sort of been coasting along with my classes so far. The second course I'm taking is a 200 level communication course labeled Effective Writing for the IT Professional. Yes, it's a writing course. I look forward to the response from my professor when I mention that I'm a published author. It's likely to be underwhelming, because those kinds of things are, but one should always seek to point out accomplishments when they are appropriate. What better venue to say you're an author than in a class about writing?

After those classes I'll have been in school for close to a year. Effectively it'll mean the end of my Freshman year. That's going to feel good. It'll also mean that I'll be able to take a required course on management, something that I think will immensely help me out in regards to the day job. See, while I really do want to write for a living, I'm not there yet by any stretch of the imagination. Which means I need to spend as much time as I can also working on making sure my family is provided for. Some opportunities are going to come up in the next year that I plan on being in position to take advantage of, and one of those is possibly going to be an opening as the manager for my department. It's not a definite, nothing is until it's written in stone, but even if it doesn't materialize, everything I'm doing at school means better opportunities in the future.

As to the writing, because of the end of the quarter I haven't been too focused on getting the short story done. Since I turned in my last project today, that'll change. I'm not going to set a firm date for finishing, because every time I do I end up not making it because of outside circumstances, so it'll get done when it gets done. I'm not far from finishing, but that's just the first draft. More work comes afterwards.

I have big news concerning Spiral X coming the middle of next week. In the meantime, it has reached the coveted 5th review (well, I coveted the 5th, not sure about anyone else) which can be found at Juniper Grove. She calls it a "tragically beautiful must read", a description that leaves me breathless every time I read it.

That's it for today. Make sure and come back tomorrow for Sample Sunday. I'll be posting something from the short story, just to whet your appetite for that piece.

Thursday, December 16

Thursday Musings

I promised two links, but I have to go back on my word and only provide one. It's down at the bottom of the post, so you'll have to listen to me ramble for a bit before you can click on it. Or you could scroll down and click on it, but then you'll miss out on my rambles.

We watched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World last night and it was an excellent movie. The trailers really don't do it justice. One could look at the trailers and think it's an oddball movie about a guy fighting off his girlfriend's seven evil ex-es. That's there, of course, but there's so much to it. In truth I think it's a coming-of-age story, but not so much in the usual vein of a teenager finding his way in the world. We all have that moment where, when you're the age of an adult, when you finally see the light and put away your childish things and see a need to be more responsible (note: I'm still waiting for that moment). That's what this movie is about. The pop-candy wrapping only enhances what's going on, and it's never distracting, though it is frequently funny. Highly recommended.

Living in the DFW metroplex allows me great access to the Big 4 sports world (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL). The big news around here, besides the collapse of the Cowboys' season, is the Texas Rangers' dealings with Cliff Lee. By now, anyone with an ear to the sports world knows that Lee gave up a six year deal with the Rangers so he could sign a five year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. I can't pretend to know Cliff Lee's mind, but I have to imagine his wife and kid played a huge role in accepting that deal. That's a big reason why the Rangers put so much emphasis in making sure the deal they presented was enticing to his family as well as him. In the end, it wasn't enough, but speaking from a sports perspective, if I were a high profile pitcher, and I had a chance to join that pitching lineup, I wouldn't even look for the dotted line, I'd sign the first piece of paper they shoved in front of me. That said, I wish him luck. I also advise any Rangers fans to step away from the ledge. This is a strong organization, from top to bottom, so they'll be fine. Cliff Lee wasn't why they made the playoffs.

I read an article on Yahoo yesterday about a man in Kansas City who has been going around town dressed up with a red cape and fake beard and giving out gifts to strangers in the form of $100 bills, sometimes several. In the world as it stands today, where money is tight and everyone is struggling in some way, it's an inspiration to see this. The world needs more people like him.

Writing of the short story is going well. I'm a little over halfway through and anticipate it will be done well before the end of the year, barring some unforeseen incident. I think it's a very strong addition to the world Cheryl lives in, though I might be biased in that regard.

And now, finally, the link. The wife/marketing agent is always on the lookout for people to review Spiral X, which can be a challenge since there are a lot of people who don't review e-books, as well as those who aren't too keen to self-published works. One of the former is a blog known as DJ's Life in Fiction (mostly because he doesn't have an e-reader), though because of the good reviews Spiral X is getting, he did agree to do an Author Interview. I hope you all enjoy it, and I'll see you around.

Tuesday, December 14

Tuesday Thoughts

I went to bed really late last night. First and foremost among the reasons why is because I wanted to finish The Sorceress of Darshiva. Second, I wanted to see the end result of the Monday Night Football game. Mostly because I had the division title in my Fantasy Football league on the line. I won, by the way. Not very rational things to do, seeing as how I had to get up at 5am for the day job, but there I was, an hour before midnight, dutifully click the next page button on my Kindle. I eventually finished and went to bed. I'm paying for it right now, but I don't care. It was worth it.

In my morning conversation with the wife, I learned that my son, he of not quite five years of age, has taken to reasoning with his sister, she of not quite three and a half years, when he wants something and she does not. The subject this morning was how he wanted to watch Blue's Clues while she wanted to watch Kipper. He was trying to get her to see that they were essentially the same thing since they were both dogs. They ended up watching Kipper, because it's nearly impossible to reason with a three-year-old, but it seems some of our parenting tricks are having an impact on our kids. I eagerly await the day they reason with me about staying up late on a school night.

I wrote some yesterday on the short story set in the world of Spiral X. Actually, I wrote a lot. The current plan is to be done with it soon so that it can get edited and get out the door for people to read. Initial plans are to make it free to download, and I'm toying with the idea of doing these little short stories in between novels so that I eventually have a series set in the world of Spiral X that I can bundle into one package for people to read all at once. We'll see. I'm still getting my feet wet with all of this.

Speaking of Spiral X, I finally put a copy in my father's hands, or at least on his computer. I've been wary to do so because my tastes tend towards my mother's side and I've never been quite sure how well my father would take to the subject matter. Even he admitted my inclusion of vampires in the story didn't lend well to his realm of reading material, which is now a slight prejudice that he has rescinded after diving into the story. Of course, I only gave it to him after he had some reviews to read, and since they all talk about how great the characters are, he focused on that and is giving it a try. His email this morning told me he had a hard time stopping last night, which gives me a warm fuzzy.

I have two links I will be posting this Thursday so I hope you all will come back then to read some more of my thoughts. Later!

Sunday, December 12

Sample Sunday

Welcomed to Sample Sunday! Today I will be presenting you with a sample from what is currently Chapter Twenty-Seven of Knight's Rebellion. The scene is one where our protagonist, Halton, is trying to find where a new friend has disappeared to, and comes across an unnatural occurrence.

Not more than an hour later, and just as the last of the light faded from the land around us, we came across the hard edge of the jungle. And I mean hard. Like there was an invisible wall where the jungle stopped and the clearing began. I hadn't seen anything like it in my entire life. Across the way from us was a stone structure, much like the temple Faybren had taken me to, but smaller.
"This isn't right," I said in a voice barely above a whisper. "Something is preventing the jungle from encroaching on the temple up there."

 And that's today's Sample Sunday. Hope you all have a good day. Go Cowboys!

Saturday, December 11

Random Thoughts

The Steam Store has a huge sale the weekend after Thanksgiving, and it is a great time to pick up any games you might have missed. Even really good games can end up at 75% off. The deals only last 24 hours each, and the next day you will find new deals in place. I managed to pick up Torchlight for $5 and it has been well worth it. Torchlight is a Diablo clone and it is very well done. I can see myself playing it for quite some time, especially for repeat playthroughs with different classes to see what they're all about.

Something else occupying my time has been reading. It's something I fall back on easily these days thanks to the purchase of a Kindle. Every year as part of my company's benefits drive, they offer up a wellness check and if you complete it, they give you a $100 gift certificate to any retailer you can think of. I almost always choose Amazon, simply because there isn't much that I would want that they don't offer. This year, I also had a $25 gift certificate from something else I did to throw into the pot. This made our purchase of the Kindle very light on the wallet. Since we've had it, going on close to a month now, I've read almost a dozen books. I haven't read this much in a while. Current focus is on The Mallorean and I'm almost done.

This is the last full week of my classes for the quarter. For those interested, I am pursuing a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Information Technology with a focus on Mobile Computing. Current classes include Survey of Mathematics and Foundations in Information Technology. These are pretty low level courses and it's been difficult to focus because of everything else going on. Meaning the holidays and my release of Spiral X into the world. It's almost over though. I have a paper due for Math and an exam for IT and that's it. I've done well enough so far, despite my inability to focus, so I hope I finish strong.

As far as the writing goes, I haven't done much. See the above three paragraphs for why. That said, I'm getting the itch again. I have a short story set in the world of Spiral X to do and that one should go quickly since I already know how it's going to play out. I'm a bit into it already so it's just a matter of finishing. I also have a novel that I'm, I guess you could say "rewriting", which won't take long to finish. It's just a matter of sitting down and writing it. It's called Knight's Rebellion and it focuses on a man named Halton who used to be a Royal Knight. Twenty years before the story, the King's brother performed a successful coup, and then subsequently outlawed all the Royal Knights. Halton went underground and decided to live out the rest of his life in blissful anonymity. Then, one night, a stranger shows up on his doorstep holding his old sword. It sort of falls apart from there. I hope to have it ready for people to read early next year.

That's it for today. Tomorrow I will be taking part in a new movement among Indie Authors known as Sample Sunday. In my post I will post a small sample of an upcoming work. So come back tomorrow and see what I post. Later!

Thursday, December 9

Hi to the world!

So, the wife/marketing agent decided a blog would be a good thing to have (and I can't find a reason to disagree) so here we are! I want to thank you for taking time out of your day to come here. I expect as time goes on I will find reasons to come and make posts, especially as I rev up my writing once again. In the meantime, take a look around, read the first chapter of Spiral X, "Like" me on Facebook, and tell your friends about how awesome Spiral X is!

Giveaway sponsored by Tic Toc

Want to win a free copy of Spiral X? Check out this ~ GIVEAWAY ~ from Tic Toc! Just leave a comment about the review and be entered to win 1 of 5 free copies. The drawing is on December 15th!

So much, oh my!

Most of the posts you will be reading will be by JJ and not me. But since I set the blog up I figured I'd claim first post. :) I have my own blog in any case and really wouldn't want to be posting on two. Who has that kind of time!?

I hope you enjoy your visit here and please feel free to leave comments about content, layout, or anything else that strikes your fancy. JJ should be putting some posts up shortly, as well as a blurb in the about us section for himself. Anyone out there throwing themselves at WoW? Just know I am jealous, very jealous.