Friday, December 30, 2016

Failure, a new book, and the death of a princess / Happenings In The Outhouse 30-Dec-2016

First off, the big news: the death of Carrie Fisher.  AKA Princess Leia.

As a youngster, the picture above was my first vision of Princess Leia from the original Star Wars.  A bad-ass with a gun who had no troubles standing up to Darth Vader, the evil dark lord of the Sith.  Even when her home planet was destroyed by the Death Star, she didn't cry in the corner and whine about her safe place.  She was even more determined to destroy the Galactic Empire once and for all.  And, to top it all off, the final scene in the new Rogue One, which had me in tears (honestly!) skyrocketed her character into a path of hope for the galaxy.

Secondly, also earlier this week, Dean Wesley Smith published a blog post that pretty much sums up my publishing career.  It's called Failure must be an option.  Read it when you get a moment.  So many indie authors bitch and whine when they only sold a few hundred copies of their book in a given month and seem to focus more on selling than writing.  Dean teaches that one should just keep publishing and the sales will work itself out.  No, I will be honest when I say I have never (yet) sold a few hundred copies of a book in a single month, aside from Guest of Honor when it was free.  But sales of my books have gone up over time.  Give Dean's post a good read with an open mind.  If you tell yourself it can't be done, stop yourself and ask yourself . . . what if you did?

Lastly is The Christmas Letters.  The book is complete.

Here is the Amazon link to the ebook.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Accomplishments for 2016 / Happenings In The Outhouse 23-Dec-2016

The other day, I reviewed how many words I've published since 2012.  If my calculations are correct, I will publish more this year than any previous year.

In 2012, I published only 1 for 6,500 words.

In 2013, I published 3 for 105,000 words.

In 2014, I published 3 for 88,000 words.

In 2015, I published 10 (most were short stories) for 86,000 words.

In 2016, I have published (keep in mind, this includes The Christmas Letter, which as of this date still is in the editing phase) 5 for 171,000 words.  This year alone, I have published 3 full-length novels.  Although, if The Christmas Letter doesn't get published until after the new year, it will still be over 2013's total with 119,000 words.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Where am I at for 2017? / Happenings In The Outhouse 16-Dec-2016

In October 2015, I posted a blog in regards to my goals through the end of 2017.
My focus has still remained the same: publishing more.

Seems simple.  But what am I publishing?

In reviewing where I want to be in twelve months, I have enhanced the vision for my publishing empire.  There are three components:

1) Publishing

2) Educating

3) Marketing

First, let's tackle publishing.  In Q1 and possibly Q2, I am going to finish the last two books in the Shadowkill Trilogy.  From there, I want to start on a superhero book or two, a nonfiction book on travelling for type one diabetics, the fifth book in the Central Division thriller series, and even put together a novel that incorporates those involved in my successful novelette Guest Of Honor.

But that isn't all.  I have a number of books I've written and would like to do a complete re-write to bring them to a publishable form.  What do I have?  Two horror novels and a fantasy epic novel.  I do have another horror novel (a deer hunting horror story), but I'm not quite certain about that one.

Okay, on to educating, the second leg to the empire.  And before you ask, no I am not doing the educating.  I am furthering my education.  As I mentioned last week, I am going on a podcast fast.  This will still continue into 2017.  There are a few choice podcasts I will still listen to, but even those will be far and few between.

So, what am I educating myself on?  First is reading fiction.  I find myself late to the party on many great books/series, and will continue to read these.  Not that I haven't read books, but this time I will be taking it to the next level while cutting back on other needless activities.  Next in the education category are web-based training like James Patterson's Masterclass, Dean Wesley Smith's WMG workshops, and David Farland's Story Doctor training.  These are fairly inexpensive ($99 for the Masterclass is the most of the three) due to a limited budget.

The third part of my publishing empire is the marketing leg.  Or the dreaded M-word.  First is to capitalize on the Central Division series by making the first novel free and offering other freebies.  Others include creating better covers, enhancing product descriptions, and even reviewing keywords.  Then, I will be looking into some paid advertising.

As you can tell, I'm still keeping it simple.  Publishing, educating, and marketing.

What are your plans for 2017?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Question everything, asking why, and podcast fasting / Happenings In The Outhouse 09-Dec-2016

As you may (or may not) know, I listen to a fair number of podcasts.  Several I have listed in this blog.

But, from time to time, I find the sheer number of episodes daunting.  Other tasks seem to take a back seat just so I can listen to them--and typically the shorter the episodes the better.

I've cut the number of podcasts/episodes from time to time.  Now, I want to cut it back so much that I literally go on a podcast fast for a month.  It may not be a complete fast, but if there is a podcast episode I want to listen to, it must really be an important one.

Why the fast?  Well, first of all, I listen to most of my podcasts in the car.  And, right now, there are a number of fiction audiobooks I want to listen to--honestly, there are days when I feel like I'm late to the party when it comes to many great books, even some of the classics in science fiction/fantasy--so the podcasts are going on hiatus.  I'm currently listening to Frank Herbert's Dune.  I remember going to the movie as a kid, but never read the book.  Again, late to the party.  And it's about time.  I'm also starting to slowly read Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series.

Lately, I've also been asking myself why I do certain things.  Why listen to this, why watch that show, why read that book, why read this blog . . .

Asking myself why I do things has really opened up new channels of thinking.  I start to question everything.  During the latest political race, I've gotten to the point of questioning everything I read.  Just because a headline or article says something doesn't mean it's the truth.  And, speaking of politics, certain publications are obviously slanted left or right, and especially in those cases I would question the "truth" of what one reads.

Open your mind.  Question the source.  Ask why.

Then, if you answer something with, "because I've always done it this way," stop doing it.  I'm positive I won't miss much from the podcasts I normally listen to.  It's not that I don't like learning--I love learning new things--but one can learn while you work.

Try it.  Stop doing something you normally do "just because."  See what happens.  Pretty sure the sky isn't going to fall.

Friday, December 2, 2016

"The Christmas Letters" cover and blurb

Here, at last, is the cover for my upcoming Christmas-themed novel The Christmas Letters.

Here's the novel description:

What legacy do you want to leave behind?
Meet the Wilkins.  The typical busy American family.

But when Grandma Wilkins passes away, they discover her old Christmas letters in a shoebox.  Molly, the youngest grandchild, soon decides to start where her grandmother's legacy left off, writing about future events, no matter how unrealistic they may seem at the time.

Stats on my first standalone novel / Happenings In The Outhouse 02-Dec-2016

My latest book, a Christmas-themed standalone novel titled The Christmas Letters, was written over 65 days.  First draft.  This doesn't include editing, which I'm still working on.

Will I be able to publish it before Christmas Day December 25th?  Time will tell.  Editing has been going well so far.  I've averaged 2-3 chapters a day.  And with 41 chapters . . .

When I reviewed the stats on The Christmas Letters, I found that during those 65 days, I had written on 48 of them.  That means there were 17 days I did not write a single word.  On average, counting only the days I had written, I had an average of 1,126 words a day.  If I count all of the days, whether I wrote or not, that number dropped to 831.

From here on out, I'm going to document how many words I write each day and how many days it takes each novel to write.  Keep in mind, life happens and that's where the 17 non-writing days come into play.

But still, if I had written on those days, I could've finished The Christmas Letters much, much sooner.

As I updated my writing spreadsheet (where I keep a tally of all my writing projects), I realized that The Christmas Letters is my first novel that is not in any series.  At first, I thought this was a typo.  But it's not.  All of my other novels are between two series: the Central Division thriller series and the Shadowkill trilogy.  Oh, sure, I have other standalone stories, but they're shorter, novellas, novelettes, and such.

Friday, November 25, 2016

At the finish line / Happenings In The Outhouse 25-Nov-2016

On Wednesday this week, I finished the first draft to my Christmas-themed book.  This is my 22nd published work.  Some are even free on my website (yes, I count those).

I am still not sharing the title for another week or so when I have the cover and blurb to also unveil.  It turned out much, much better than I originally thought, and even had a few tears when I was nearing the end.

The book is around 55,000 words.  I started it on September 20th, and finished a little over two months later.  I will breakdown the number of days I wrote and the average words each of those days.  When I looked at those number a few weeks ago, I discovered I didn't write every single day.  But when I didn't, there was a reason behind it (I know, life gets in the way at times), and it seemed to be for multiple days in a row too.

As of now, I am at the finish line.  I have now printed it off, and will start the editing process.

Oh, and happy Black Friday!

Here are my books on Amazon.

Not on Amazon, no problem.  Here is a list on my website and where they can be purchased.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Where Will Your Dreams Lead You? / Happenings In The Outhouse 18-Nov-2016

In the cafeteria of the local high school, the following words are displayed at the front, right above the outside windows:

Where Will
Your Dreams
Lead You?
Surrounding this are various college pendants.
Monday night, as I sat through the football awards night (my son is a senior and thankfully was in his last year of football), I looked up at those words, surrounding by those pendants, and was curious why one's dream always has to go through a college?

So many great minds, innovators, entrepreneurs, artists never got their start in college.  Much of our working class--the ones holding up our economy, from our farmers and mechanics to office workers and waitresses--do not require a piece of paper, hung on a wall, proving that they did what they were told (from two to four or five or more years) while raking up tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

All one needs is a curiosity and a drive to work.

Despite what our media portraits, everyone wants to work, to do something, to make a difference.  Even if it's to put a meal on the table for their family.

Where will your dreams lead you?

Now, I have no problem with education--even education beyond high school.  One should always strive to learn more.  But one can learn so much from watching free videos, taking free courses, or even paying to take a course on a specific topic.  Udemy, Masterclass, and Khan Academy are only three such resources--there are so many more!

So much can be learned from watching a handful of YouTube videos.  Or an online interactive course.

One does not need to spend several thousands of dollars a year, raking up debt that could (and will) hinder one from achieving success.

Again, let me ask you: where will your dreams lead you?  What do you want to achieve?  Where do you see yourself in five, ten, twenty years?

Then, hopefully, alongside the college pendants are the names of YouTube, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, entrepreneurship, www. (enter name) .com, creativity, self-publishing.  The avenues of where your dreams should lead you are infinite.


And achieve.

Friday, November 11, 2016

One historic night / Happenings In The Outhouse 11-Nov-2016

Tuesday night was a historic night.

My latest story--a Christmas-themed novel--is officially a novel.  I surpassed the 40,000 word mark that night.

(You thought I was talking about the other historic events that night, didn't you?)

Four years ago, I wrote a few blog posts in regards to politics.  They seem relevant to post a link to each right here--trust me, no matter your political affiliation, these are for you:

The Election is over.  Get on with your life.

Are you better off four years ago?

Who is your perfect candidate?

No matter how you slice it, Tuesday was historic.  First, for a major political party, we had the first woman running for President.  Second, we had someone who did not go through the "usual" political channels of working their way up the ranks to be President.

Either way you look at it, the night was historic.

But the candidate you should really be looking at . . . is yourself.  Be the best you can be.  World events will happen and, by and large, we have little control over it.

Change your life.

Focus on improving your life.

Make every single day a historic day for you.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Okay, let's be honest, I suck at marketing / Happenings In The Outhouse 04-Nov-2016

I suck at marketing.  Seriously.  Honestly.  Positively.  I suck at marketing.  That is, I suck at marketing my own art.

I have no problem talking about other people's art, promoting them.  But, somehow, when it comes to me, I suck at it.

On occasion, I've had a few people at work inquiring about what I'm working on--I bring a laptop to work, and use it to write during breaks and lunches.  At this point, my stomach churns and my heart races.  What do I tell them?  Should I be specific?

The answers to these largely depends on who's asking.  Are they just interested in what I'm doing?  Most people on breaks and lunches are either chatting or have their nose in their tablets/phones.  A few play card games, but I rarely see anyone else lugging around a laptop.

I have disclosed to a few that I am an indie author, but then I ask what kinds of books they read.  If they don't read, then what's the point of showing them what I write?  Oh, I'm positive they may buy the book, but that's it.  What I'm looking for are readers.  And not just any reader.

Love thrillers?  Click on this link.

Horror?  Got that too on this link.

Suspense?  Check this out.

Military fiction?  Gotcha covered there too.

Can't forget inspirational.  Here you go.

Here's a list of all my books right here.

On my new work-in-progress, I'm currently 35,000 words into it.  I'm shooting to finish this in a month, early December, but at the same time I'm not going to rush it either.  It's fun to write, and I'm even starting to write a little each night too.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Killing off a character / Happenings In The Outhouse 28-Oct-2016

This past Sunday was the season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead.

Normally, I watch The Walking Dead on Netflix, but season 6 ended in such a way that I had to see what character Negan (the newest bad guy) would kill with his trusted baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire.

No, I won't spoil who died.

Was I shocked?

Nope.  Another TV show I watch, Game of Thrones, also kills off several characters--even main characters.  Yes, I've read all of the books so far, and I am eagerly anticipating the next novel to be released.  So the death of a main character isn't shocking to me.

But it must serve a purpose.

And I truly believe the latest deaths in TWD will also serve a purpose.

I'm currently 28,000 words into my newest novel.  It's a stand-alone Christmas-themed drama.  It's been very fun to write.  Then, as I started thinking about the path the book is going to take, I planned on having a character get hurt.  Severely.  Then, I imagined what the story would be like if this particular character died.

Believe it or not, I had tears in my eyes when I thought of it.  I still do, knowing I may have to end this person's life--fictionally, of course, but that doesn't make it any less hurtful.

Will it serve a purpose?

At this point I hate to answer that.  Because I know what my answer may be.

Friday, October 21, 2016

An example of putting yourself out there / Happenings In The Outhouse 21-Oct-2016

Let me take a small moment this Friday to brag about my son.

He's eighteen, a senior in high school, a member of both the football and golf teams, and he's light-years ahead of every single member of his class.  And I truly mean it.  Every single one.


Because he's putting out content.  On his own.  Many people talk about it.  Many of those people even study about doing it.  But they never get around to actually doing it.

My son has.

The other day, I heard rumors from my wife about his YouTube videos.  The rumor was that he had some swearing in them.  I honestly didn't care too much as I had watched the one and only video I thought he had put out there.  The swearing was minimal and done all in the nature of the content he was providing.

Then I went to his YouTube page (by the way, I was his very first subscriber) and was completely shocked to see he had over 170 videos and over 50 subscribers.  Holy cow!  So I watched a few.  Heck, he even had advertising on them, which means he's making some money from it.  A few cents here and there add up over time.

And the swearing?  In the few videos I watched, I didn't hear a single one.

Now, I will not share his YouTube name nor provide a link to it as his audience and mine do not mix.  In looking at a Venn Diagram, our two audience circles, if they were to intersect, would barely touch each other.  If at all aside from yours truly.

My son has done exactly what I told him to do.  And that is exactly what I do with indie publishing.  I'm putting myself out there.  And so is he.  While he puts out daily content, he's also studying what others in the YouTube field are doing.  But he's not just studying the how's, he's putting it into action.  That is what puts him light years above and ahead of all of his classmates.

What content have you created?  If you have, what are you waiting for?  Put it out there.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Writing is fun / Happenings In The Outhouse 14-Oct-2016

Last week, I blogged about how I thought writers block was an excuse for being lazy.

I closed with the notion that writing is fun.

It is.  For me.  If you're not having fun, don't do it.  Do something that you do enjoy.  Woodworking?  Painting?  Working on an old car?  Collecting Star Wars toys?  Volunteering at the local animal shelter?

It's not all about money, but trust me when I say money is nice to have.  Try going without and you appreciate having it.

This is why I love indie publishing.  I can write what I want.  I have four novels in a thriller series, and, instead of working on the fifth book, I published a Halloween-themed novelette titled Grave Secrets and I'm roughly 16,000 words into a Christmas-themed family drama novel.

Afterwards, I'm going to finish the Shadowkill trilogy.  I wrote the first book a few years ago, and I want to close out the series when it appears that the genre is starting to get hot.

In the end, writing is fun.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Writers block is plain laziness / Happenings In The Outhouse 07-Oct-2016

**Forgive the slight profanity in this post here.**

Let me be frank and bold: writers block is a crock of shit.

Was that too bold?  Sorry, but it had to be said.  I was listening to a podcast last week and one of the topics they discussed was writers block.  I agreed with the interviewee, who said there really wasn't such a thing as writers block.  The interview, obviously, disagreed and tried to wallow his way out of the argument, but failed.

In my opinion, writers block is just plain lazy.

Don't agree.  Let's replace writing with . . . oh, let's say exercise.  "I have exercise block," one says.  No, you're just too damn lazy to get your ass out of the chair and walk or jog or lift weights or eat right or any number of things to help lose weight.

I have "eating right" block.  This is the same thing as exercise block, except it deals with food.  One is too damn lazy to NOT pop that pizza in the oven and just open a bag of lettuce.  Oh, hell, grow a few vegetables, if you are so inclined.

I have a crab apple tree in my yard, which has been producing results for the past two years.  I get excited during the late summer, because I can pluck something from a tree in my own yard and eat it.  Now, I agree that it's not cheap and easy to buy fresh veggies and fruit all the time, but then again it's not cheap and easy to get a heart attack and die!

Okay, back to writers block.  I'm currently 12,000 words into a new novel.  It's a Christmas-themed family drama.  It's a far cry from what I normally write, but I've been having loads of fun with it.  Do I write every single day?  No.  I've been keeping track of how much I write each day on a spreadsheet, and so far I've written about 75% of the days.

Some writers have replaced writing with researching.  Sorry, not the same thing.  Write original words.  For me, I re-read the last few pages, just to get a feel of what's going on and then away I go.  I write whatever comes to mind.  No over-analyzing or agonizing.  Just plain writing, hands on the keyboard.

Try it sometime.  Don't overthink it.  Write whatever comes to mind.  There's really no trick to it.  I know, there are tons of books on writing faster.  Sorry, but I think they're all bullshit.  Not a single one has helped me.  They're too gimmicky.

Banish the thought that you ever suffer from writers block.


And, most of all, have fun doing it.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Confusion with newsletter subscribers / Happenings In The Outhouse 30-Sept-2016

A few days ago, I sent out a newsletter regarding my two new releases: Shades Of Darkness (Book 4 in the Central Division Series) and Grave Secrets: A Halloween Mystery Suspense Novelette.

Much to my surprise, I had over 600 subscribers.  For any normal person, this would cause great excitement.  Here's the problem: Mailchimp (the e-mail subscriber I use) sends me an e-mail after each subscription . . . and I know darn well that my number wasn't that high.  I won't disclose how many, but it certainly wasn't that many.

I sent the newsletter without looking at the list.

Then, I started to get unsubscribes and bounce-backs.  Bounce-backs are from e-mails that simply do not exist.

As I looked into each subscriber, many had funky names like 5764g113bn82.  Now, I know no parent would name their child this, let alone well over 550.

I then started deleting these subscribers.  Unfortunately, I think I deleted my entire list--in fact, I know I did.  I can still look over the list I sent on the last newsletter blast, which I'll probably end up doing.

Currently, I working on the first draft of a Christmas-themed novel.  I am roughly 5,500 words into it and it's going well.  I will share more when it gets closer to done, like the title, synopsis, and the cover.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Grave Secrets / Happenings In The Outhouse 23-Sept-2016

In mid-October 2015, I was thinking about writing stories geared towards the holidays, and not only did I come up with one, I came up with two.

Grave Secrets is the first one.  It's a Halloween-themed suspense mystery novelette, and it is currently available at all of your favorite e-retailers.

Here's the synopsis:

Five teenagers. In the woods. At night. On Halloween. What could possibly go wrong?

No one has seen Old Man Cronkite in two weeks. But Tim and his friends go on the Night Ride anyway, hoping the elderly hermit bachelor is planning an elaborate Halloween prank.

But the night doesn’t turn out as planned. Will they be able to keep their deep, dark secret? Will someone discover the truth behind what they did?

Now, I mentioned at the beginning that I had come up with two holiday-themed stories.  I am currently writing the second one, this one centered around Christmas.  This new one will be a departure of the majority of my stories, save for Gabriel's Hope and possibly my short story A.K.A. Anonymous.  I will share my progress, as I do all of my other novels.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Periodically Audit Your Back List / Happenings In The Outhouse 16-Sept-2016

I listened to a podcast the other day and the author talked about how they--meaning, him and his indie publishing team--would regularly audit their back list.

A back list, for those who may not know, is the entire list of your publishing works.  Everything you've written.

What do I mean by audit?

Audit is to review the product.  Is the cover okay?  How about the keywords, the synopsis/book description, and even links, etc. inside the book?  Believe it or not, what you did years ago may not be relevant anymore.  Links you had to a free book may not be the best fit anymore.  And so on.

I've been doing this a bit, from time to time, but now I have a set schedule to look at a few things on a quarterly basis.  This isn't going to require loads of time, but if I can improve a book or two by improving keywords and/or book description, or even the cover, or update links it will help down the road.

On a side note, I've been quite a busy beaver lately.  After I set Shades Of Darkness up on pre-order--the book is out now!--I wrote a Halloween-themed novella called Grave Secrets.  Then, I'm planning on a Christmas-themed novel.  This one will be quite a different story than what I normally write, but it's been in my head for close to a year and I'm itching to get it done before the holiday season.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Shades of Darkness is out today!!

Shades of Darkness, the fourth book in the Central Division Series, is out today!

Here's the synopsis:

A wife murders her husband. The prosecution calls it a slam dunk. A fiery defense attorney demands a speedy trial. So what’s the problem? Minneapolis PD investigators KOLIN RAYNES, SIMON TEMPLETON, and rookie KELLY KING trust their instincts, that not everything is as it seems.

SHADES OF DARKNESS is the fourth novel in the Central Division Series of suspenseful thriller novels. Be sure to check out the previous novels in the series BEHOLDER’S EYE, STRAIGHT RAZOR, and DISCARDED.

Shades Of Darkness is available at all of these fine e-retailing establishments:

Amazon Kindle version


Barnes and Noble Nook store

Apple iBooks

Kobo Books

Google Play

For all others in the Central Division Series, click on this link to visit my website.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Revisiting the perfect swing / Happenings In The Outhouse 09-Sept-2016

Last week, we discussed the perfect swing and how it relates to authors.

I wanted to revisit it again because I find it an interesting topic.  Have you, as a writer, ever sat down to write and completely lost time, where the words flow out of you without little effort?

I'm sure you have.

Yes, there are times when (myself included) I have to pull, push, twist, and shove the words out of my brain and onto the virtual page.  Oddly enough, most of my blog posts are written in a single draft (with very little editing, save for fixing incorrect grammar or adding to something I had written).  Right now, I'm almost done with a Halloween-themed novella.  It's something I got the idea for in mid-October last year.

Just the other day, I brought my laptop to work . . . and the words just flowed without effort.  There were areas where I didn't plan on exploring before, making the story that much more richer.

The more and more you write, the more times you will experience this.  It's a great feeling, getting lost in the words you're putting down.  Don't stop to edit what you had just written.  Just keep writing.

And have fun.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Shades Of Darkness on pre-order for 12-Sept-2016 release

A wife murders her husband. The prosecution calls it a slam dunk. A fiery defense attorney demands a speedy trial. So what’s the problem? Minneapolis PD investigators KOLIN RAYNES, SIMON TEMPLETON, and rookie KELLY KING trust their instincts, that not everything is as it seems.

SHADES OF DARKNESS is the fourth novel in the Central Division Series of suspenseful thriller novels. Be sure to check out the previous novels in the series BEHOLDER’S EYE, STRAIGHT RAZOR, and DISCARDED.

Shades Of Darkness is set up on pre-orders on several e-retailers for a September 12th 2016 release.

Amazon Kindle version


Barnes and Noble Nook store

Apple iBooks

Kobo Books

Google Play

For all others in the Central Division Series, click on this link to visit my website.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The perfect swing / Happenings In The Outhouse 02-Sept-2016

First of all, this is blog post number . . . (drum roll) . . . 700!

Hard to believe this all started in June 2010, just a mere 6 years ago.

One bit of news before we talk about the subject this week.  Shades Of Darkness, the fourth novel in the Central Division Series is complete.  Final edits are taken care of, and as of now it looks like it will be released 12-Sept-2016.  When it's available for preorder, I will provide a link and a separate post.

What is the perfect swing?

I equate this with golf, a sport I am most familiar with, but this could be with any sport (I know, I'm not much of a sports fan, but trust me, I won't take long to get to my point).  I played basketball up until 7th grade and golf throughout my high school career.  There were times when I would toss the ball to the basket and just knew it would go in.  The same with golf.  I knew the hits that just made the ball soar higher, straighter, and farther.

Professional athletes do this more often than amateurs.  Countless hours of practice have given them the muscle memory to do it over and over again, in a variety of situations.

Writers can have the equivalent of a perfect swing too.  And again, professionals experience it more often than amateurs, but what separates the two is plain sit-butt-in-chair-time.  Deliberate time, but time nonetheless.

Have you ever written a paragraph, page, scene, or even chapter and just sat back afterwards, exhilarated at what you had accomplished?  I'm sure most of us had.  These are words that, when it comes to editing, it more than likely is the most clean.

There were a number of scenes and chapters in Shades Of Darkness that were like this.  They were super fun to write, and even more fun to re-read.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Third Group Of Writers' Advice / Happenings In The Outhouse 26-Aug-2016

A few weeks ago, I had a blog post regarding writing advice.  If you missed it, it's worth a read--or a re-read.

Once again, I always seem to find myself late to the party, but a few weekends ago I watched No Country For Old Men on Netflix.  It was a great movie, well put together, and watching it made me think of the author of the book Cormac McCarthy.  Another great movie/book by Cormac was The Road.

Looking at Cormac's publishing history--and many others authors--I saw a sporadic number of books.  In cases, it may be 5-10 years between books.  Yet, somehow these authors make a living writing full-time.  I don't hear much from these authors, however, when it comes to advice.  They mainly talk about their latest books and then . . . that's it.  If they do offer their advice, it may be skewed towards the traditional realm and will completely ignore indie publishing as a flash in the pan.

So, what is a budding writer to do?

Look at it from all angles.  But don't wait too long.  Sometimes you'll spend too much time researching something when you could've written some books, maybe indie published them, and learned more than you would by reading countless resource books on the subject.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pete's Dragon, Then And Now / Happenings In The Outhouse 19-Aug-2016

Pete's Dragon, circa 1977, is the first movie I ever remember seeing in the movie theater.  According to my Mom, this is not the first movie I ever went to.  That one was Where The Red Fern Grows.  I was two when that movie came out, five when Pete's Dragon did.

Last weekend, I brought my two daughters to see the remake of Pete's Dragon.  I loved it.  So did my daughters.  We laughed and cried.  Don't worry, I won't spoil anything.

Which brings me to the subject of remakes.  Yes, Pete's Dragon is a remake . . . in name only.  There is absolutely no comparison to the original.  Treat it like a brand new movie for a brand new generation.

The same goes when books get made into movies.  Treat them as separate works of art.  Critics who feel they should all be the same have, what I call, the "Clear and Present Danger Syndrome."  Please see my blog post from a few years ago where I explain this.

I've also watched the recent movie Suicide Squad and Batman v. Superman, the latter of course on DVD.  I loved both movies--I know, I know, it doesn't take much to make me love something.  I give both movies two thumbs up, five stars all the way.

Despite what the critics say.

When Batman v. Superman came out in the theater, my oldest daughter saw it and said it was great.  I wasn't able to see it in the theaters.  It obviously did well at the box office.  I have a co-worker who also saw it and agreed with the critics.  He hated it.  His basis for criticism seemed to stem from it being like the comics and the canon it presented.  Once again, another victim of the "Clear and Present Danger Syndrome."

Treat each piece of art as a separate piece of art.  Work hard not to compare.  Rarely are books as good as movies, and vice versa.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Who's advice to listen to / Happenings In The Outhouse 12-Aug-2016

I'm noting that I have close to 700 blog posts . . . yes, you heard correct.  700!

So, needless to say, if I duplicate something that I've talked about before, I apologize.  Hence today's subject of who to listen to.  Not sure if I covered this before.

There are two general camps of writers offering tips to newbies--one can divide these down into sub-categories, but for now I'm going to leave it at two.

The two camps are: veteran writers and new writing stars.

I'm noticing a fair amount of veteran writers--who have been in the business for decades, through the various ebbs and flows of the industry--who's advice is simple: write, keep writing, rewrite only to editorial demand, put your writing out into the market, and keep it out until sold.  Now, I completely stole this advice from Robert Heinlein, famed science fiction writer.  Here's a link to what is called Heinlein's Rules on Dean Wesley Smith's site.  In fact, Dean is one of these veteran writers I'm talking about.  David Farland is another one.  Here is Farland's lectures on Heinlein's rules.

And there are more than these two.  But if anything, to start with, follow Dean and David's advice, to gain their perspective of the publishing industry.  Even if you disagree with them, it's okay to gain their knowledge.

Then, in the second camp, there are the new writing stars.  This camp is comprised of writers who write some books, have some success--in some cases massive success that land them in the top spots on Amazon--and then write nonfiction books or put together online courses about the process.  They don't necessarily quit writing the fiction books that gave them success, but they seem to have slowed down and are focusing more on the nonfiction side of their business.

Comparing both camps can cause your head to spin with disbelief and confusion.  The new stars are focused highly on the marketing, not necessarily writing the next book.  This seems short-sighted for me, and one that I find myself at odds against.  As you'll note, I have not provided links to any of these.

So, what is a newbie writer to do?

Depends on what clicks with you.  It also depends on what you want to do.  I want to publish.  I want to write.  Therefore, I find myself taking the advice of the veterans more than the others.  Not that I ignore the new writing stars.  I pick and choose what I want to listen to.

Then, I put my head down . . . and write.

Heinlein's rules, people.  Simple rules to follow.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Entitlement vs. The Cursed Child / Happenings In The Outhouse 05-Aug-2016

J. K. Rowling's eight Harry Potter book has been released into the world.  As of this writing, I am roughly halfway through it and loving it--and yes I knew it was a script book LONG before it came out.

My thirteen-year-old daughter read it in one night, in about six hours.  And she LOVED it!  Here's the proof, if you don't believe me - here's a cute note she wrote to me:

I was disappointed in the reviews I read on Amazon.  One such review said something to the fact that THIS ISN'T THE BOOK ROWLING OWED ME.

Sorry?  J. K. Rowling doesn't owe you at all.  She can do whatever she wants.  All writers can do whatever they want with their art.  Fans are owed nothing.  So what if the new Harry Potter book is a script book.  I agree it was a little difficult to read at first, simply because I don't read that many script books (I can probably count the number of script books on one hand and have enough fingers left to pick my nose and possibly even flip someone the bird).

But I have still enjoyed it.

I clearly remembered when the news broke regarding the new book.  I did read the fine print, which said it was a script book.  I told my daughter--the one who read it in six hours and even read the entire series last summer--and she shrugged.  "So what?  I'll still love it."

And she did.

And so have I.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Know what distracts you / Happenings In The Outhouse 29-July-2016

What distracts you?  What causes your attention to be rammed away from what you're working on?

Today's political race is definitely one of those that distracts many.  No matter what side you're rooting for, the media is great at distracting your attention.

Knowing what draws your attention from your art/project is half the battle.  You acknowledge it.  Now it's to do something about it.

For me, I have a small list of things I want to focus on.  And politics is not one of them.  I have no control over how one feels for one candidate or political party, and I'm not going to waste my time doing so.  One focus for me is my writing.  My books.  That may be obvious, for those who read this blog.

Given that, I'm roughly a fourth of the way through editing Shades of Darkness.  I'm still shooting for a release date near the end of August.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Cover for Shades Of Darkness / Happenings In The Outhouse 22-July-2016

Keeping it short today.  Still editing Shades of Darkness, and I'm roughly 9-10 chapters into it.  Still aiming for a mid-August release, but it may change depending on how long the editing takes me.

In the meantime, here is the cover for Shades of Darkness.  Please let me know what you think:

Friday, July 15, 2016

Shades Of Darkness, Book 4 / Happenings In The Outhouse 15-July-2016

The first draft of Book 4 in the Central Division Series is complete.  I wrote the last words at exactly noon on Saturday, July 9th, 2016--to celebrate I took my youngest daughter to see The BFG.  We both thought it was funny and highly underrated.  If you get a chance to see it, do so.

Anyway, back to Book 4.  It is called Shades of Darkness.

I'm having the cover being worked on, and will share once it's complete.  Right now, I'm looking for a mid-August release.

As of now, I'm currently working on the edits.

Stay tuned . . .

Friday, July 8, 2016

Don't Get Sucked Into The Drama / Happenings In The Outhouse 08-July-2016

Facebook does it.

The 24-hour news stations do it.

Hell, any form of social media does it.

What is this, you may ask?

It's drama.

No, I'm not talking about a drama story or the three-act drama play your child may be in.  I'm talking about the day-to-day events that sucks your life down into rabbit holes.  And, of course, it's even more so whenever there is a major crisis or a US Presidential election.  Which, according to Facebook, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc. there is a BREAKING NEWS crisis every five seconds.

Drama are the stories that gets people's blood boiling, where they rant and rave on Facebook comments, despite the hypocrisy of their stance on many issues.  No one seems to be completely immune to it.

It doesn't even need to be national news.  It can be within your geographic area (i.e. the so-called controversial new logo for the University of North Dakota) or within your own family and friends.

However, you can control it.  Control how much you take in and how it affects you.

Focus on what you need to do.  For me, it's writing.  I have the fourth novel in the Central Division Series that is nearing the end of the first draft.  As of this writing, I am at 53,000 words and will guess I will be adding another 10,000+ before it ends.  I am focusing on a mid-August release, which means editing and cover art creation.

What projects are you working on?  Or would like to work on?

Stay away from the drama.

And get to work.

The universe needs you.  And the universe will thank you for it.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Create a checklist of tasks / Happenings In The Outhouse 01-July-2016

I am roughly 40,000 words into the fourth thriller novel in the Central Division Series.

This week, I published Discarded (the third thriller novel in the Central Division Series) in other online retailers besides the Amazon Kindle store.  Here's a link for your favorite e-retailer.

Which brings me to my latest dilemma.  On the Amazon Kindle store alone, I currently have 17 various stories, all in ebook format (no print or audio at this time).  They are:

4 Fiction Novels
1 Fiction Novella
1 Fiction Novelette
1 Collection of fiction short stories
9 Fiction short stories
1 Non-fiction

With each publication, I find myself going, "Oh, I forgot to do this."  Or "Oh, I forgot all about that."  So I have decided to put together a checklist.

I love lists.  And lists help me keep track of what I should be doing.  Like remembering that GooglePlay's ebook pricing is a little wonky or remembering the right front and back matter in each book.

In the future, I may share this list.  But keep in mind, this list is for my books.  This is what works for me.  It's not necessarily for you.

It's still a work in progress, and one that I will continually add to from time to time.  When I get it finished--as much as it can be--I will share it with you.

In the meantime, today is the beginning of the third quarter.  Have you been keeping up with your goals?  I find it refreshing to review them at least once a quarter.  Again, that's my method.  You may do it monthly or even weekly.

Friday, June 24, 2016

My answer to: what should I work on next? / Happenings In The Outhouse 24-June-2016

No matter where I'm at in a current project, I'm always thinking about the next one and more.

As I've said before, I find it difficult to plan meticulously each and every book for 12 months in advance because not only do my interests change, so does the landscape of the publishing industry.  My plan for the rest of this year is to finish the current work-in-progress, Book 4 of Central Division Series, and then I have two more seasonal stories to write/publish.  One is set around Halloween and the other Christmas.

Those are a priority.  The ticking time bomb is off and running.

Afterwards, I had planned on writing book 5 . . . until I realized I had, two years ago, written the first book in a trilogy: The Shadowkill Trilogy.

So, after the two seasonal stories, my plan is to write the final two stories to finish out the series.

Afterwards, I'm exploring putting the four books in the Central Division Series in a box set.  Pretty sure The Shadowkill Trilogy will go into a box set too.

Ideas, ideas, ideas . . .

Plans, plans, plans . . .

Keep 'em coming.  Because I have other projects waiting in the wings.

(Hint: I even have two superhero series rolling around in my mind - very exciting!)

Friday, June 17, 2016

The tortoise revisited / Happenings In The Outhouse 16-June-2016

Almost four years ago I wrote a blog post titled "Lessons from a tortoise."

I re-read it again recently as I looked at the state of publishing and how everyone (well, not quite everyone) is preaching the gospel of "Write faster!  Write faster!"

I still believe what I wrote.  And it's as applicable today as it was back then.

Each writer is different.  Each writer has various life skills, talents, methods, and external forces that make each writer unique.

To me, the mantra of writing faster is equivalent to acting like the hare in the race.  Now, if it works for you, go for it.  I won't deny one's unique writing style.  But it's not for everyone, and writing fast doesn't necessarily mean you will succeed--and this has nothing to do with all fast writing is crap; I don't believe that for a second.

Being the tortoise means writing steady and consistently.  I don't care how you break down your writing tasks.  Back in college, I used to write X amount of pages in a day.  My first goal was to write one page.  Then I moved it to two . . . and so on.  Whatever you use for your goal is fine for you, as long as you do it consistently.

If you only have twenty minutes to write each day, do it.  Write with all your heart for those twenty minutes.  Over time, those words will add up.

Be the tortoise.  Speeding quickly towards something is not necessarily the key to success.  Keeping at something for a long period of time is your best shot at success (and I'm talking career success, not success on a single book).  Keep your eye on the finish line.  The finish line is your goal.

Because no one can read your book (or books) if it's not finished.

Friday, June 10, 2016

When all else fails, re-read what you have written / Happenings In The Outhouse 10-June-2016

Something happened when I hit the 20,000 word mark on the latest thriller: I stalled.  I didn't write for a few days (life happens, you know?) and then I struggled with where I wanted to go.

The fourth novel in my Central Division Series is going very well, and I know where I want to go from here.

But I need to fill in the gaps.

So, I decided to go back through my book so far, chapter by chapter, and re-read it.  I'm making notes as I go, to see where I had made promises, created clues that I forgot about, and in one instance changed to District Attorney's name and gender.

If you find yourself stalling, wondering what to write next, may I make a suggestion to try this.  It may work for you.  It may not.

But doing something is better than nothing.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Adjusting the summer schedule / Happenings In The Outhouse 03-June-2016

Summer is here.

And so are the kids.

Which means the schedule I keep nine months out of the year has to dramatically change.

Such is life.  When it comes to planning my week, I take into account various appointments I need to be at so I know how much I will be able to accomplish in that time.  It's not easy at times, and even some last-minute events throw everything out of whack.

I still find time to write almost every single day, even if it's a few hundred words.

I'm keeping it short today.  I am roughly 20,000 words into the fourth novel in the Central Division Series.  It's going very well, with the help of my new mode in outlining.  Not sure if that's the key to it all or if it's just that I'm getting better at this.

Could be a combination of both, if you ask me.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Treat your publishing empire like an investment portfolio / Happenings In The Outhouse 27-May-2016

Each story you put out into the world, whether it's through a publishing company or indie published or even free on your website/blog, is like buying stock in a company.

Some stories will do real well, while others may only sell a few copies a year.  Some, unfortunately, may not sell at all (not including the ones that are free, of course, which can pay off indirectly).

Very few titles will be able to carry the weight of your financial success all by itself.  Yes, yes, we've all heard of Andy Weir's The Martian and J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.  Those are anomalies.  The majority of writers will have to write a plethora of books in order to pay off for years to come--including after you are deceased for the duration of the copyright.

If you treat your publishing empire like an investment portfolio, each story can pay off small individually.  Together, you can earn more and more with each subsequent title.  And taking each title into different mediums, whether it's print, digital, audio, film, foreign, each one can be split into even more revenue streams.

This makes me smile when I think of how these stories will pay off in the future--even in the decades to come when my children are out of the house.

Friday, May 20, 2016

New mindset for outlining / Happenings In The Outhouse 20-May-2016

A month ago, I said I was going to try my hand at outlining the fourth thriller book in the Central Division Series.  It went well, brainstorming the beginning, middle, and end, and a lot of pieces in between.

But after two days, I was itching to just start writing the book, because that's the way I roll.

What brought about this urging for me to outline?

I discovered a new podcast a few months ago called the Story Grid Podcast with Shawn Coyne and Tim Grahl.  When I started listening, I knew I had to listen to them all.  And I highly recommend it, if you want a new sense of storytelling and why some stories work and many don't.

Shawn Coyne has been an editor for over twenty-five years and wrote a book called the Story Grid.  Check it out.  It's well worth the investment, no matter what genre you write.

In a number of the podcast episodes, Shawn suggested not necessarily planning out one's day in word count but in writing a specific scene or two.  The scene or two may take up the word count you need for the day, but it's a different mindset to have, looking at it by scene instead of words.

With my new book, I decided to take this approach.  After the day's writing, I would plan out the next scenes.  It's still early in the process, but it seems to be working well.

Friday, May 13, 2016

My love of storytelling / Happenings In The Outhouse 13-May-2016

I've always been drawn to great storytellers.  Back when I was very young, I had several . . . well, books on records.  Yes, those circular vinyl things that spin around and around on a turntable.  Yes, I'm that old.  Then, as technology grew, it became books on cassette tapes.

But I will never forget the awesome storytelling power of Paul Harvey, on the radio, telling us about The Rest Of The Story.

I'd love listening to those Paul Harvey tales whenever I could, trying to guess who he was speaking about.  I could never guess them, and the surprise endings always amazed me.  But what amazed me the most was his ability to tell a great story.

Musicians who tell stories in their songs have also affected me.  Check out the early days of Will Smith as the Fresh Prince in the hit duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince if you don't believe me.  And he's certainly not the only one.  Some of my favorite musical storytellers are John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot.

Not only do I love the sound of a good storyteller.  This even grew from the voiceover works of Don LaFontaine (think of movie trailers that start with "In A World . . ." Yes, this is that guy) and James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader).

I used to work as a dispatcher for the Sheriff's department in my county.  This involved many midnight to eight shifts.  In the wee hours of the morning (we're talking like four and five AM, mind you), when I grew tired of watching movies, I'd flip through the channels for something interesting to watch.  Trust me, there hardly ever was.

One show started to fascinate me.  It was called The Most (on the History Channel) and the host was Mike Rowe.  At the time, I didn't know who this guy was, but his voice was memorable and his storytelling ability was amazing.  Over time, Rowe went on to host/narrate various shows like Deadliest Catch and Dirty Jobs.

Earlier this week, while searching through my Stitcher app I discovered a new podcast by Rowe called The Way I Heard It.  On this podcast, he tells 5-6 minute stories in much the same fashion as Paul Harvey.  As of this posting, there are sixteen episodes, and all are amazing.  This is one podcast you need to listen to, if you loved the stories of Paul Harvey or you even love storytelling in general.  These weekly episodes are for the curious mind and gives the timely history behind many people who may (or may not) have heard of.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Let's talk money / Happenings In The Outhouse 06-May-2016

I read an interesting article the other day by Dean Wesley Smith, where he talked about cash streams.

One paragraph to note: "And I chuckle when someone looks at a few of my book’s sales rankings on Amazon and come to the conclusion I don’t make any money. I have way beyond 300 books on Amazon. Some of my books haven’t sold more than a copy all year, some have sold a lot."  Here's the entire article here:

I read this and smile.  There are some books of his that don't sell more than a few copies a year.  Us writers are small fish in a huge ocean.  Sure, there are bigger fish than others--Rowling, Stephen King, Patterson, Grisham come to mind here--but for hungry readers who have devoured all that these powerhouse authors have published, there are others who need to fill the niche.

So when I review my daily or monthly sales and see only a handful being sold, I don't fret.  Yes, I want to make money doing this.  But I think long-term.  I pray I have as long of a career as Dean Wesley Smith has, with over 300 books to his name--and churning out more all the time.

I keep working.

And so should you.

Don't focus so much on the money.  Money will come.  Focus, instead, on creating your works of art, over and over again.  Keep putting more products out there.


It's where the focus should be.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

$.99 Spring Thriller Sale on Kobo

Starting today, April 30th, through May 7th, there is a $.99 spring sale on the first two thriller novels in the Central Division Series for Kobo.

Book 1 - Minneapolis PD investigator Kolin Raynes may be new to the
job, but that doesn't stop a serial killer from abducting his teenage daughter.

Book 2 - Minneapolis PD investigator Simon Templeton has a problem.
His friends from high school are being murdered.
And he's next on the list.

To get the latest on the Central Division Series, and to find out when the third book will be published on Kobo, please subscribe to my newsletter.

$.99 Spring Thriller Sale on Amazon US and UK stores

Starting today, April 30th, through May 7th, there is a $.99 spring sale on the first three thriller novels in the Central Division Series for the US and UK Amazon stores.

The newest is Discarded, the third novel in the series:

Little does Minneapolis PD investigator Kolin Raynes know that
finding a discarded cell phone would lead him into the
murky world of human sex trafficking.

Book 1 - Minneapolis PD investigator Kolin Raynes may be new to the
job, but that doesn't stop a serial killer from abducting his teenage daughter.

Book 2 - Minneapolis PD investigator Simon Templeton has a problem.
His friends from high school are being murdered.
And he's next on the list.

To get the latest on the Central Division Series, as well as other stories on Amazon, please subscribe to my newsletter.

Friday, April 29, 2016

How to beat Bobby Flay at cooking / Happenings In The Outhouse 29-Apr-2016

I watched an episode of Chopped the other night on the Food Network, and the person who got eliminated had decided to "play it safe."  The judges told this chef NOT to play it safe.

If my goal was to be the best chef in the world, good enough to beat (let alone even compete with) a top-notch chef like Bobby Flay, not only would I work harder than ever before, I would also watch every episode on the Food Network for tips.

And the biggest take-away from all of these is: to win, do NOT play it safe.

The same could be said about Dan Brown.  Even though Angels and Demons is a better book, The Da Vinci Code was an international bestseller simply based on a controversial topic.

When I first started writing Discarded, the third thriller novel in the Central Division Series, I studied the topic of human sex trafficking.  It's scary to think of how widespread this crime is and what people endure.  Millions of people are victims of human sex trafficking.

I took a chance with Discarded to not play it safe.  Delving into the murky waters of human sex trafficking opened my eyes to a whole new world.

And, yet, the media is more concerned about what freaking bathroom we use . . .

Friday, April 22, 2016

Are you reviewing your goals? / Happenings In The Outhouse 22-Apr-2016

Two weeks ago, I went on a whirlwind trip to Kuna, Idaho, with my in-laws--my wife's grandmother of 92 passed away.

While spending 12+ hours a day in the van for four out of the six days we were away from home (two out to Idaho from Minnesota, two in Idaho, and two back), I got caught up on listening to my backlog of podcasts and reading--this is when I wasn't driving, of course.

In the midst of this, I thought about my goals for 2016 and 2017.  In October 2015, I set goals for the rest of 2015 and all of 2016/2017.  Once back home, I reviewed them.  Since setting these goals up, I've created new projects (including one nonfiction piece while traveling) that will take place before a few others.

I have now set a reminder to review my goals on a quarterly basis.  This way, I remind myself what still needs to be done and what can be pushed out for beyond 2017.

Friday, April 15, 2016

If I had to do it all over again / Happenings In The Outhouse 15-Apr-2016

I have been self-publishing (i.e. indie-publishing) since April 2012 with the publishing of my first ebook Debt-free I Do.  In that time, through trial and error numerous times, listening to countless hours of podcasts, and reading about as many blog posts, I have learned a lot.

But my learning is only the tip of the iceberg.  Even when I've been publishing for several decades, I will still be learning.

A question arose the other day when I was listening to a podcast: if I had to do it all over again, starting today, what would I do?

First, even though I've been self-publishing since early 2012, I have been writing and doing all the sorts of things us writers do (sweating over first drafts, writing countless query letters to agents, etc.) for close to two decades.  Yes, you heard right.  Decades.  In fact, I've been writing and dreaming up stories since 2nd or 3rd grade.  In 7th grade, I started writing a trilogy.  I don't consider those years wasted, since I hadn't been published.  I was learning and doing, doing and learning.

Back to the question at hand: what would I do if I hadn't published (or written) a single word and had a burning desire to do it?

I'm a learner (if you hadn't guessed already) and with all the information being thrown at writers, whether new or seasoned or in-between, it can be overwhelming.  Some writers say you need to write fast.  Others you need to write to market.  Others say go only through traditional where others say to only self-publish.  Others raise the mantra of being a hybrid (both self and traditional published).  What would I do?

Or, in other words, what would I instruct others to do?

Do whatever fits your style.  Given that I have a day job (need the constant paycheck), tons of student loan debt, three kids to raise, and a wife I'm a caregiver for, I do not have the luxury of writing for 5-6 hours a day, seven days a week.  I do, however, write when I can and I sacrifice wherever I see fit to sacrifice.

If you're overwhelmed with all the information on what you should or shouldn't do, let me give you a little advice: do whatever your heart desires.  If I wanted to write to market, I'd be cranking out romance books--this is what the market seems to like.

Another piece of advice: write.  You can read tons of books about writing, but your best learning tool is to write.  Keep it simple.  Write.  Read.  Publish (either indie or through a publisher).

Friday, April 8, 2016

Writing to market or not / Happenings In The Outhouse 08-Apr-2016

You may or may not have heard about a number of writers "writing to market."  If you have, here you go: writing to market translates into writing what's hot and popular at the moment.  Although there may be a few outliers who have found short-term success in this arena, long-term this may be the wrong way to go.

First, unless you can churn out a book a month or two, it may be difficult to gauge what is currently hot.  And even then, what may be hot at the moment may not be the next.

I'm not knocking against people who do this.  If it works, do it.

I, however, respectfully disagree.  It all comes down to what one loves to write.

Here's an example from me.

I primarily write fiction, and primarily in the thriller, horror, fantasy, or science fiction genres.  Could I write a nonfiction book?  I have.  It's a wedding ebook titled "Debt Free I Do."  Now, one of the hot genres is romance.  Have I ever thought of writing a romance book?  I have.  But not right now.  I'm in the middle of several projects and quite frankly a romance book is far off my radar for the upcoming year or two.

But one day I will.  It might be under a pseudonym even.

Being an indie author, I write what I feel like writing.  Thrillers are typically always in demand, ebbing and flowing depending on what else is out there, so I'll keep on that track.

Again, if you want to give something a try, by all means do it.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Discarded published - another first draft begins / Happenings In The Outhouse 01-Apr-2016

The FBI estimates that over 100,000 young women and children are victims of human sex trafficking.  Globally, that number is in the millions.

Yes, you heard right.  Millions.

Discarded, the third in my Central Division Series of thriller novels tackles human sex trafficking head-on.  It was published earlier this week.  Here's a link to the Amazon page.  For roughly 90 days, it will be exclusive with Amazon, and then afterwards I will make the determination on when it will be published on the other platforms, like Google Play, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks, etc.

If you have an Amazon Kindle Unlimited account, you can pick up Discarded for free using your monthly subscription.

However . . . unless you're completely dying to read it, I suggest waiting about a month to purchase it.  Huh?  Why?

Because I will be running a promotion on Discarded as well as the other two novels in the Central Division Series: Beholder's Eye and Straight Razor.  Then, you can purchase all three novels for roughly 66% off.

Stay tuned, I will share more specific dates when it comes closer.

Yesterday morning, I started the first draft to the fourth novel in the series.  I spent most of the week outlining the book.  It worked out better than I thought, but let's see how it holds up as I keep writing the first draft.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Fine, I'll try outlining / Happenings In The Outhouse 25-Mar-2016

As of today, the polish edit on Discarded is complete.

"According to the FBI, more than 100,000 young women and children are victims of human sex trafficking in the United States.  Globally, that number is in the millions.

Little does Minneapolis PD Investigator Kolin Raynes know that finding a discarded cell phone would lead him into the murky world of human sex trafficking.  And Kassi Young, a homeless teenage prostitute, isn't the only one to fall into their clutches."

When it's up for sale, I will provide a link to it.

As I wrap up Discarded, I'm planning the fourth novel in the Central Division Series.  Much of it is in my head.  This time around, I'm going to do something I don't normally do: outline.


Before you freak out and run for the hills, let me say right up front that I do a little planning with each novel.  For this next book, I will do a bit more.

I'm always experimenting with refining my writing process and feel the need to give outlining the old college try.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The best time to think of keywords and book descriptions / Happenings In The Outhouse 18-Mar-2016

When I start a new story, whether it's a short story, novella, novelette, or novel, I create three documents, without exception:

1) the story document

2) book description

3) keywords

Although most believe creating the story itself is the hardest part, what's equally difficult are creating the book description and proper keywords.  Through trial and error, I find it easier to think of these as I'm writing the first draft than once everything is polished and ready for publication.


Full of questions, aren't we?  No problem.  One should always ask questions when they do not understand something.

In my former writer life of submitting queries to agents, I found (and I'm not alone) that the elevator pitch portion of the query letter, the 2-3 sentence summary, was difficult.  How to summarize a 500-page novel into 3 sentences?  It can be done.  It just takes practice.  Go onto Amazon and read book descriptions in the same genre as yours to get an idea on what to look for.

Keywords are the same way.  At the bottom of each book's Amazon page are genres and sub-genres.  There are courses by other authors who teach this.  In the limited time here right now, I highly suggest going to Google and search it.  You can even go to Nick Stephenson's Your First 10K Readers site to assist you with this as well.

Bottom line is that it's a good idea to start thinking of keywords and book descriptions while you're writing the book, because you can tweak them along the way.

Update on Discarded, Book 3 in the Central Division Series: the book is complete and the editing changes have been made.  I'm going to do 1-2 polish reads, and then I'll hitting PUBLISH!  For now, I am putting it through Amazon only, at least for the 90-day KDP Unlimited period, and then it will be published elsewhere.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The evils of social media / Happenings In The Outhouse 11-Mar-2016

Time, time, time.

You only have so much of it.  168 hours to be exact, each and every week, each and every one of us.  No exceptions.  People constantly complain they do not have enough time for this, that, and the other thing, yet others create astonishing inventions, fabulous works of art, or build a financial empire on the same amount of time.

I title this piece the evils of social media because social media, whether Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. all seem to suck the time away if you're not aware of it.  I have no problems with social media per se.  I've connected with friends and relatives from way back, and when tragedy strikes one can reach out to offer a prayer of condolence.

But if you are creating something, look at how you spend your time.  At my full-time job, I have two 15-minute breaks and one 30-minute lunch.  That's a total of 60 minutes I can use to create something away from home, whether it's working on a first draft, editing a story, working on the elevator pitch, or even brainstorming a new story idea.  If I take the first five minutes and peruse Facebook for the latest news that isn't relative to me, that's 15 of the 60 minutes.  (And I do write at home too, in case you're wondering).

Do I really care what someone says about Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton, Ted Cruz or "Weekend at Bernie's" Sanders?  Do I have any impact on the legalization of marijuana or gay marriage debate?  Would spending my time commenting on a Facebook post, unless it's directly related to the work I'm creating, be a good management of my precious time?

No.  It's not.  I work hard at only doing tasks that further my writing empire.

Besides my blogs, I do work best through my blogs and e-mail.  If you wish to contact me: - I do answer e-mail, if you ask me a question.  That is the one task I do.  Now, I also subscribe to a number of newsletters.  When I open my e-mail during the day, I take a quick look to see what it is.  Most I save for later.

How much time are you spending on social media, on issues not directly related to your work in progress?  Could that time be better spent creating instead?

It is, for me.  How about you?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Discarded - Book 3 - nearing the finish line / Happenings In The Outhouse 03-March-2016

The third book in the Central Division Series, titled Discarded, is nearing the finish line.  My goal is to publish it by the end of March 2016.

At this point, I'd like to share the prologue.  This is still a work-in-progress, but is getting close to done.  This story deals with the larger issue of human sex trafficking, which is a scary subject in and of itself.  Here is the prologue.  Enjoy!


Kassi Young awakens to darkness, save for the amber streetlights whizzing by overhead.

She’s in the back of a car, lying across the seats.  The stench of musty, old leather and cigarette smoke causes her throat to convulse.  The lump of her cell phone in her front pocket digs into her hip.

She inches her hand down, careful not to make any sound against the leather seats.

“Charlie wants to know the ETA,” the female passenger says.

Kassi knows the driver tonight as Mitch, but doesn’t think that’s his real name.  Last month, she heard someone call him Dave.  And before that it was Matt and even Bob.  She doesn’t know the woman at all.  She’s been a mystery before tonight.

“I’d tell him if I knew where the fuck I am,” Mitch says.  “Goddamned fucking road construction.”

Kassi slips the cell out.  She glances up, just as a streetlight passes by, and luckily sees only the back of the seat.

Her cell is off.  With a limited amount of places to charge it where she lives, she keeps it off until she needs it.  She learned this the hard way when she first started living on the streets.  Her first night out, a girl named Megan saw her using Facebook and told her the web uses up too much juice.  “Trust me, I even suggest shutting off all web stuff.  Limit it to texting.”

Kassi didn’t heed the warning.  Her cell died in the middle of the night.  The only available power outlets were at Rosie’s, the community church, or at the homeless shelter, the latter if she’s lucky to snag a spot for the night.  Which she didn’t.  Rosie’s was closed then and the church outlets had a very long line.

Despite being in vibrate mode now, her cell still makes the usual droid sound when powering up.  Holding her thumb over the speaker along the back, she pushes the power button.  The screen lights up and she immediately presses it against her chest, praying Mitch and the woman don’t see it.

“Do you even know if we’re going the right way?” the woman asks.

“How the fuck am I supposed to know?  Why don’t you check on our passenger.”

Oh, shit!

Kassi closes her eyes as she hears the crinkle of leather in front of her.  She wraps both hands over the cell, concealing it the best she can.

But who is she gonna call?  She can’t call her parents.  Even if they know where she is and what she’s doing--or what she is supposed to be doing, which is earning a few bucks sucking or fucking--they still aren’t able to help.  Not even her two friends, Pink and Lemon, can do anything.

She counts to twenty and peeks open one eye.  A streetlight passes by, illuminating the headrest and nothing more.  She hits the phone icon, careful not to allow very much light from the screen to seep up, and then taps the dialing pad.

“911 emergency,” the dispatcher’s voice says and Kassi immediately presses her thumb over the ear speaker.

“You hear something?” Mitch asks.

“Like what?”

Kassi brings the cell up to her cheek and whispers, “Help me.”


A hand snatches the cell away from her, a long fingernail scratching her cheek.

“Did you even bother to search her?” the woman asks.

“Of course.”

“Then explain this.

“Here, let me see it,” says Mitch.

“What are you gonna do, Russ?”

Russ?  No, it can’t be.

“Shh--how many times . . . shit.  She called the cops.”

The woman peers over the seat.  “You’re gonna pay for this, you fucking cunt!”

A chilly breeze fills the interior.

“There.  Matter solved.”

“But what if the cops trace it?” she asks.

“What the fuck are they gonna find?  There’s nothing that can be linked back to us.”

The window closes, yet the cool air linger on.

Kassi’s only other option for escape is to dig her nails into Mitch’s neck, but that option is cut short as the woman leans back and presses a cloth over her face.  Before she can claw at her arm, a strong, sweet smell overcomes her and everything fades into a swirling pool of black and amber . . .