Monday, December 29, 2014

Get your Netflix fix: Criminal Minds (preview of all 9 seasons so far)

At the time of this post, the TV show Criminal Minds is on Netflix.  I am currently in season 7.  There are 9 seasons on Netflix so far.

I have binge-watched Criminal Minds ever since it came on Netflix a few months ago.  I love watching how each character grows from one season to the next.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to delve into each season, to dissect what works and how Criminal Minds can be set apart from several of the other similar shows--oh, who am I kidding, there really isn't anything else like it (and don't get me started on the one season off-shoot).

I will try be as spoiler free as possible, but I must warn you.  It may be hard.  In fact, I may have to divulge plot points, however I will try keep them across an entire season instead of individual episodes.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Getting ready for 2015 / Happenings In The Outhouse 26-Dec-2014

2014 is fast approaching the memory banks.  2015 is looking to be a good year.

I hope.

No, I know it will.

As I've mentioned before, I've narrowed down my list of goals to accomplish.  They involve two things: publishing and weight loss.

For publishing, Straight Razor is past the 42,000 word mark (out of an estimated 70K).  I also have two more nonfiction ebooks in the wings, in the Mr. Shoestring series, I'm planning.  Those two are still in the infancy stage and I probably won't talk about it until they're ready.

I'm also planning on using some of indie author Nick Stephenson's advice in how to increase the number of e-mail subscribers.  It involves offering a free short ebook to those who subscribe.  Don't worry, I won't forget the early adopters and will make sure you get a copy of it as well.

What are your 2015 goals looking like?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Give yourself permission to take a break

You've worked hard all year.  You're exhausted and just need a break.

Give yourself one.

In fact, periodically give yourself a break from your work.  Play a game.  Read a fun book.  Watch a movie or TV show--or binge watch a season on Netflix.

As long as it doesn't consume your life, it's okay to give yourself a break.

But I must caution you, don't mistake taking a break for being lazy and not doing a thing.  Do the work.  Finish something.

Then take a brief break.

Hence the word brief.

Your mind and body will thank you for it.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Straight Razor officially a novel / Happenings In The Outhouse 19-Dec-2014

Today, the upcoming novel Straight Razor is officially a novel.

But wait?  Wasn't it going to be?

Of course, fellow reader.  But now I can say with certainty, the first draft has surpassed the 40K mark SFWA has outlined as an official novel.

The first draft has been going much better now.  I'm still plugging away on the additional scenes.  They're going beautifully.  I can't wait to share them.

I oh so badly want to put Straight Razor up for pre-order . . . and Amazon will allow it, as long as it can be out in 90 days.  I'm almost certain it can.


But I don't quite dare pull the trigger yet.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Simplistic 2015 Goals / Happenings In The Outhouse

A few months into 2014, I realized I had WAY too many goals.  I won't embarass myself by listing how many, but quickly into the new year I decided to simplify my goals.  I may have still done a dreadful job of completing very many of them, I still published three ebooks, got my website Mark S. R. up and running, paid off our car (we have no car loans whatsoever!), signed up for the Goodreads Author Program, and submitted at least twice to the Writers Of The Future contest.

My three published works this year were:

Killzone: Book 1 of the Shadowkill Trilogy

The Things They Collected (free short story)

If Walls Could Talk: A Terrifying Short Story Collection

I am also not exclusive with any online publishing platform.  My ebooks are found everywhere--and right now, Guest Of Honor, my free novelette, is selling like crazy on the iBooks store.

2014 has been good to me.

And I believe 2015 will be even better.  I have also simplified my goals even more.  For starters, I have two focuses: publishing and weight loss.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

The news that shocked me about Madonna / Happenings In The Outhouse 05-Dec-2014

I was sitting at work yesterday, editing some pages, when I noticed one of the daily advertisement flyers the local radio station delivers for free everywhere.  In the flyer are snippets of news and local events.  One shocked me.

It said that the singer Madonna was the highest grossing singer last year, with over $800 million, and Paul McCartney was behind her at $660 million. (if you don't believe me, here's a link to the article.)

Now, I'm old enough to remember when Madonna first came on the scene, with songs "Like a Virgin" and "Vogue" and so many others.  I will admit though, her music isn't necessarily to my liking--I love hard rock, mostly from the 80's and early 90's.  But when I read her biography on Wikipedia, I was most than impressed.

What does this mean to you and I?

Take a lesson from her (or any of the others on the list) and take control of your destiny.  Do things your way.  Because the more you control, and the more you branch out into your field, the more success you'll achieve.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Chapter excerpt from "Straight Razor" thriller novel

Here is an excerpt of the first chapter of Straight Razor, the second novel in the Central Division Series.


Simon Templeton snaps off his gloves, tosses them in a red medical waste bag set up just outside the door, and says to the Forensics team, “Two bodies in the second floor bedroom.  Top of the stairs, first door on the left.  Murder weapon is in the male’s right hand.  Beretta 9mm, from the looks of it.  Female has two rounds in the chest and the male one, also in the chest.”
His investigations partner, Kolin Raynes, follows him outside.  “Why would he do that?  Kill her, then kill himself.  And why a chest shot?  Why not in the head?  Yeah, I know, I know, I heard the divorce was getting pretty nasty, but it seems to me he was the one making it nasty.  God, I’ll miss hearing her at MECC.  I heard once that she was in line for Eva Rosen’s job when she retires.”
MECC is the Minneapolis Emergency Communications Center, responsible for coordinating emergency calls throughout all of the suburbs in the Twin Cities area.  Eva has been working as a 9-1-1 dispatcher for over forty years, half of that time in a mentor capacity for all trainees.
Grinning, Simon says, “I don’t believe Eva will ever give up her post.  Even when she’s ninety, she’ll still be taking 9-1-1 calls.”  His cell rings.  “Great.  The boss.”  He brings the cell up, plugging the other ear with his thumb.  “Yes, sir.  Yes, murder-suicide, just like we thought.  What was that, sir?  Gary worked for Dope?”
“You’re kidding,” says Kolin.
Dope is the nickname for the Minneapolis PD’s Narcotic Enforcement Unit, housed in the same building as their department: Violent Crime Unit.  Kolin had the unpleasant experience of working with an infamous Dope sergeant Jim Brandt—AKA Dope Jim—six months back when his daughter Claudia was kidnapped by the serial killer Marie Holter.
AKA The Video Slayer.
Simon nods.  “Yes, sir, we’ll contact them.  Not sure how much they’ll tell us.  I’ll keep you informed.”  He disconnects, then rubs his ears.
“Is your hearing ever going to be back to normal?  I mean, I’ve been to a few rock concerts in my day, and I still have near-perfect hearing.”
During Claudia’s rescue, Simon was forced to shoot his way out of his car which had plunged into a river, causing much damage to his hearing.  He’s currently doctoring at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester—the result of a second opinion when the first doctor he consulted said nothing could be done and wanted to fit him for a hearing aid—and has seen tremendous improvement.
They walk out to the car.  “Captain said Gary worked for Dope,” says Simon.  “Been working for them at least a year.”
“Why would the PD promote a drunk like that?”
“Kolin, Gary was good at his job.  You know that.”
“Of course, but after his seventh or eighth DUI, you’d think the department would strip his license.”
Simon sighs.  “Gary was two years away from putting in his twenty.  He’s not the first cop to get arrested for drinking and driving.  Nor the last.  Certain cops just have skills that aren’t easily replaced.  And when that’s the case, the higher-ups have a tendency to look the other way.  It’s not right, but that’s just the way it is.”
“Now what?”
“We talk with someone from Dope.  Just in case this isn’t a murder-suicide.”
“You and I both know this is a murder-suicide.  Hell, the world knows it is.”
“Just need to cover the bases,” says Simon.  “Boss’s orders.”

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Monday, December 1, 2014

The mentality of the first novel

I'm very proud of completing my first novel back in November 1994.  It was a crowning achievement, of which I celebrated by going out to the movie Interview with the Vampire, starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt--honestly I saw the movie four times in the theater; something I had never done with any other movie before or after.  Not even any of the Star Wars movies (although I have probably seen Star Wars: A New Hope close to a hundred times on video).

The day before I completed my first novel, I achieved a total of 1,000 pages (these were Brother word processor pages, where the word count is much less when compared with that of today's Microsoft Word).  I celebrated that by going out to the bar, Bottom's Up, in Bemidji.

I came back early that night, just a little buzzed.  I was alone.  Well, not really.  I had the characters in my head who just wanted me to finish the damn story.  Which I did the following morning.  Then I saw the movie.


Looking back on it now, I couldn't believe how much stuff I put into my first novel--a deer hunting horror story, an homage to my second favorite author, Stephen King (my favorite author is yours truly).

When I calculate the approximate word count nowadays, I come up with between 175,000 to 200,000 words.  *Gulp!*  If it was a fantasy novel, that would be about right.  But this was a horror story.  It was complex.

But a bit too complex.

I threw everything, inlcuding the kitchen sink, into it.

Why?  Because the mentality of the first novel is that everything needs to go into it.  Throughout history, there are authors who have struck gold with one novel.  Harper Lee, J. D. Salinger, and William Peter Blatty come to mind, in that regard.

The best advice on first novels is NOT to throw everything into it.  Hold back.  Only put in what it necessary for the story, and that's all.

Because there are always other books to write.