Friday, December 29, 2017

Exciting times for 2018 and beyond / Happenings In The Outhouse 29-Dec-2017

I am excited to see what the next few years will bring for my writing.

When it comes to goals, some meticulously chart out what stories are being written for any given week or month.

I don't do this.  For the simple fact that new story ideas crop up all the time, and if it feels right I'll go ahead and write it.  2017 was the perfect example of this.  The novelette Bruce, which was originally conceived as a short story, was written pretty much on a whim.  In my list of stories I wanted to publish over these past two years, Bruce wasn't one of them.  But when the idea came to me to finally publish it, I did.

At the moment, I have 27 published works: two are free on my website and the others are found here on my books page.  One of these is a trilogy collection, but I still count it as a published work.

So, it begs the question, what's up for 2018 and beyond . . . ?

First off, I am in the works of completing the edits for Strange Birth, the first in a superhero trilogy.  I will be putting books two and three on hold--don't worry, it's only for a short bit--while I work on an immediate sequel to my thriller Beholder's Eye.  Then, I have a horror novel that was written over twenty years ago, and I am going through it now, mapping out the scenes, and will be completely rewriting it.

After that, I have four major projects--the reason I am putting the last two books in the superhero trilogy on temporary hold--in the works: a semi-cozy mystery series, a vigilante thriller series based on the family in Guest of Honor, a baseball-themed YA book, and a romance book.

Exciting times, to be sure.

Stay tuned . . .

Friday, December 22, 2017

Your health is important / Happenings In The Outhouse 22-Dec-2017

For the past few months, I have been tackling a serious health condition.  It has been a complete lifestyle change, for sure.  Now, before everyone sends me tons of sympathy messages, let me save you the time: don't do it.  Please.  There are others far, far worse off than myself.  Millions suffer from various forms of cancer and other debilitating diseases or conditions they have no control over.  Send messages of encouragement to them and give to charities that do well in those areas.

My wife is the perfect example.  In 2011, she was diagnosed with leukemia.  She recovered and has been cancer-free ever since, but her eyesight is shot.  Even her body is weak.  She does what she can, but has to rest for hours afterwards.

And it is she and my three children that I do what I do when it comes to my writing . . . and my life.

This week, I had a check-up and got some very good news concerning my condition.  My doctor had never seen anyone recover so quickly.  The condition isn't going away, and more than likely one I'll live with the rest of my life, but again it's more a lifestyle change by eating healthier and keeping my weight down.  I'm sorry to be so cryptic on this condition, but that is for a reason.  I am a private person--hell, I even stated once that I'm my own worst marketer.  I even dislike celebrating my birthday, and would rather celebrate others' special day instead.  When it comes to Christmas, all I want is to be with my family.  That's it.  No gifts needed.  But giving to others . . . that's a different story.  I'd rather give.

As a side note, if you need any ebook ideas, check out my list of books on this link.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Strange Birth is complete / Happenings In The Outhouse 15-Dec-2017

Strange Birth, the first book in the Repel Trilogy, is complete.

Right now, I am tentatively setting a February 1st, 2018, release date.  I do have a cover, which I will share later, along with the blurb.  When I have the pre-order links set up, I will share them as well.

Strange Birth has had an interesting history.  First, I was (in my head, at least) not quite a third of the way through the entire story when I realized my word count was nearing novel length (40,000 words, according to SWFA guidelines) and came to the conclusion that this may be a trilogy.  I didn't want to short change anyone, so I tossed around the idea of either chopping it in half or thirds.

The way the entire story arcs are set, a trilogy made sense.  As of this writing, Strange Birth is sitting around 47,000 words.  I am happy with it.

Now, I will plow my way through the re-reading/editing process.

I have also been thinking about my 2018/2019 goals, along with what to write next.  For fans of my Central Division Series and Guest of Honor, I will be writing a shorter piece that takes place immediately after the conclusion of Beholder's Eye, the first in the Central Division Series.  Then, I have a new series based on the characters in Guest of Honor . . . along with someone from the last few books in the Central Division Series.

The next few years is gonna be a lot of fun.  I hope you enjoy the ride I'm creating for you all.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Mindhunter May Be Shifting My Next Project / Happenings In The Outhouse 08-Dec-2017

Strange Birth, the first book in the Repel Trilogy (my first superhero novel), is near completion.
I am speculating a mid-January release date.  Stay tuned.

Then . . . what's next?

I truly want to get this trilogy complete and out into the world, but Mindhunter the new Netflix series has spurred my interest in serial killers once again (honestly, did it ever leave?)

The series is intriguing--enough so that I have watched the entire season twice.  And both times over an entire weekend.  The episodes merge smoothly from one to the next.

Mindhunter has also drawn me back to my Central Division thriller series.  I have an idea for book five as well as . . . at this point, it's a shorter (I think) book that occurs right after the events of book 1: Beholder's Eye.

So I am at a crossroads: do I finish the trilogy or write these others?  Also, there is a horror novel that I am completely rewriting.

Choices . . .

The future is bright, my friend.  There is much work to be done.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Winding Down For 2017 / Happenings In The Outhouse 01-Dec-2017

It's hard to believe that it's December already.

As I wind down 2017, I will not be publishing the first book in the superhero trilogy before the end of the year.  I'm okay with this.  I'm winding down with it, tying up whatever loose ends I created, and then it's time to start the second book.

I am also in the process of re-drafting a novel I had written over twenty years ago.  Yes, you heard correct.  The story still holds true, for the most part, but I will be writing this one completely from scratch, using the old manuscript as an outline.  A rough outline.  I have three others I would like to do this for, that will be put on the goals list for 2018/2019.  The one I am re-drafting is a horror novel.  Two of the three others are also in the horror genre, and then there's an epic fantasy to deal with.

Aside from that, I have tons of other books--some in current or new series and others stand-alone--that need to be written as well.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Irons In The Fire / Happenings In The Outhouse 24-Nov-2017

To say I have many irons in the fire is an understatement.

And that's not including my life outside of writing--although, when I think about it, much of my writing hinges upon my outside life.

That being said, I am nearing the end of the first book in my current superhero trilogy.  On the side, I am also going through a previously written novel--written, no kidding, over twenty years ago--and I am outlining it, chapter by chapter.  I am enjoying this book very much.  Almost to the point where I want to put books two and three of the trilogy on hold to do the re-write.

Nope.  Not gonna do it.

I also have two other previously written novels, one in horror and the other an epic fantasy, that I want to do the same process.  That means I have only one novel left that I had written--twenty-three years ago at this point (trust me, I know the exact year, for it was near the same time I met my wife for the first time)--but that one needs . . . a LOT of work.  No kidding.

On top of all that, I have a cozy mystery series I want to start, a romance novel, a young adult baseball novel, a humorous book . . . and the list goes on.  I even have another thriller series, a spin-off of my Central Division series and based on the vigilante family in Guest of Honor, that is nipping at my heels.

And with me being an indie writer, I can do what I want.  Freedom, baby!

Friday, November 17, 2017

It's Okay To Change / Happenings In The Outhouse 17-Nov-2017

There's the old adage that says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  Well, something needed fixing.  And fast.

The last handful of novels I had written, I had maintained a daily spreadsheet to analyze my word count.  I was curious.  Nothing wrong with that.  Other writers would comment how many words they wrote on a daily basis and even a bestselling author has publically stated he writes 2000 words a day, even on his birthday and Christmas.

For my projects, I would notice that there were a number of days where I had a word count of zero.  My goal with my new current project was to have absolutely no zero writing days.  Even if I wrote one word, it still counted.

Seems good in theory.  And, under normal circumstances, it would work great.  Turns out, it was either horrible timing or not good at all when applied to real life.  At least, my life at this very moment.  My stress level had increased dramatically these past few weeks.  Now, some of this could be due to health reasons.  I get that.  And, on top of it, I chopped my current novel into three parts.  I'm at the very end, where there is an epic battle, and with a variety of superheroes with a wide range of powers, I was getting confused on what was going to happen.  I had to stop and go back, to see who I had written and brainstorm powers.

Enter: zero writing days.  Not just one.  But several.

This past weekend, again while sitting in my deer stand, I came to the conclusion that I had to scrap the spreadsheet.  Immediately, I felt relief wash over me.  I am taking time for myself.

In December 2016, I went on a podcast fast.  I needed that change.  It freed up my time.  Now, within the last month, I am listening to more podcasts than ever before.  But what podcasts I am listening to may surprise you.  While I do still listen to a handful of writing-related podcasts, the majority are of the true crime nature.

True crime?  Really?

Well, to put it simply: I am looking for stories.  I love stories.  Some true life stories are fascinating--I know, listening to the horrible things serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Dennis Rader, Edmund Kemper, Aileen Wournos, and Gary Ridgeway did to their innocent victims are in no way glamorizing or fascinating.  But knowing what makes them tick, and injecting those into the characters into my own stories, is fascinating.

Friday, November 10, 2017

One book turns into a trilogy / Happenings In The Outhouse 10-Nov-2017

Okay, it's official.  I decided to turn my latest superhero tale into . . . a trilogy.  Well, it will be a long series of books but this first tale will be three books instead of one.

While I was sitting in the deer stand this weekend (in Minnesota, the deer hunting season is basically an unofficial holiday), my mind wandered on my conundrum for this book.  Keep it as a single tale, albeit a long one?  Or split it up into three?  I even thought of dividing it up into just two, but it wouldn't work with the flow of the story.

So, I drew a line in the sand and decided a trilogy it would be.

This is exciting as I will be able to get the first book out much, much sooner.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Thanks to a great sales month / Happenings In The Outhouse 03-Nov-2017

First, I want to thank everyone for an excellent sales month.  I won't disclose any sales figures, but this month was by far the best month this year.

One reason was due to my releasing the entire Shadowkill Trilogy.

For a complete list of my books, including the various ebook retailers, click on this link.

I am currently near the 39,000 word mark on my new superhero novel.  And, where it sits, I am at a conundrum.  I have so much of the story left (I know, what a problem to have, right?) that I am contemplating breaking this story up into 2-3 individual novels.  The way I see it, this novel may end up being between 90K-100K before it's complete.

For now, I'll keep plugging away.  It's a fun book to write and I can't wait to share it with the world.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The news that is not being reported (but should) / Happenings In The Outhouse 27-Oct-2017

If you watch the news, you'd think all that ever happens is whatever President Trump tweets, whatever celebrity is skirting the edge of sanity in regards to those tweets, and . . . well, anything related to politics or whatever issue seems to get the leftist media (please don't deny they're mainly slanted this way) all up in arms.

I rarely watch the news, except for the local news stations, and even then I limit my consumption.

Because whenever I see the meltdowns (and, of course, everyone with a smartphone and internet access is a political genius and can solve the world's problems in seconds, right?), I ask myself, "What is going on in the world that is not being reported?"

I do, believe, I have the answer.

Human trafficking.

Modern day slavery, in other words.

I first tackled this issue in the third novel in the Central Division Series: Discarded.

Human trafficking is a pandemic of epic proportions.

And it is largely being ignored.

Lately, we've heard about a variety of Hollywood executives called out for sexual harassment and the like.  Is it all related to human trafficking?


It all deals with people of power undermining people without.  I will tackle this issue again in later blogs.  If you have Netflix, check out the documentary I Am Jane Doe It's only one of many documentaries that examines this issue.  Just go on your favorite web browser and search human trafficking.  You'd be amazed at what you'll find.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Paul Harvey and Mike Rowe walk into a bar / Happenings In The Outhouse 20-Oct-2017

Paul Harvey and Mike Rowe walk into a bar . . .

Probably waiting for the punch line, aren't you?

I was listening to a podcast recently from John Grisham's Book Tour podcast and he was speaking with author Ron Rash about storytelling.  More specifically, oral storytelling.  The kind told after a long day of work, after the supper dishes have been cleared away, and the reminiscence of days gone by flow freely from one's lips.

I reflected on my own life.  I grew up in northern Minnesota.  Now, I don't know if it's a regional thing or a reflection of my Scandinavian upbringing, but there are many stories I have been told over the years, many of them repeatedly.

And I still love to hear them.

This is something I feel I've passed on to my children as well.  Our middle child keeps asking me to tell her about this or that.  These are stories I've told many times.  But she still likes to hear them.

When The Force Awakens came out in the theaters almost two years ago, I took my kids the second weekend.  While we waited patiently in line, there were a group of people behind us--okay, there was one heck of a line behind us, but that wasn't the point.  In the group right behind us was an older lady who had a voice that seemed to carry--we all know people like this, ones who can whisper and they can be heard several feet away.  I honestly can't remember what she was saying, but it was funny, for I said to my kids, "Hey, who needs stand-up comedy.  Just stand in line at the theater."  Our three kids burst out laughing . . . and it's a memory that they carry with them to this day.

I grew up listening to Paul Harvey on the radio.  Even though his bits were only a handful of minutes long, I still loved to hear the stories.  Mike Rowe has a weekly podcast, where he spins a tale in much the same way as Mr. Harvey.  Some days I can guess who he's talking about, others I haven't a clue.

This goes with songs too.  If there is a story behind it, those are my favorites.

I love hearing stories.  Funny, dark, it doesn't matter.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Shadowkill Trilogy is Complete / Happenings In The Outhouse 13-Oct-2017

The Shadowkill Trilogy is complete . . . and published.

All three books are, of course, published separately as well as the complete trilogy in its own box set collection.  Here is the cover for the complete trilogy.

Here is the link for all the ebook retailers for all three separate books as well as the three-volume collection.

Friday, October 6, 2017

I blame Stephen King for my first one million words / Happenings In The Outhouse 06-Oct-2017

In 1978, Stephen King published The Stand.  According to the Wikipedia page, it was 823 pages long, which was his longest book to date at the time (it was his fifth published novel), but it was republished in 1990 as the uncut and complete version.  This one was 1,152 pages.

In 1986, King published It, at a whopping 1,138 pages.  This was almost unheard of, for a horror novel.

My first two novels (both in the horror genre, and both at this time are unpublished) were over 1,000 pages long.  Keep in mind, this was on my Brother word processor, and the average words per page was between 250-350 words.  If my math is correct, that means my first two novels totaled 500K-700K.

Turn back the clocks a bit as these were the days of looking for an agent, praying someone would notice you, and then . . . well, sitting back while the royalty checks came flying in.  Okay, I know that's hardly ever the case.

When I contacted agents, I was proud that I could tell them I had a 1,000 page whopper of a horror novel.  Funny thing was, no one ever said it was too long.  But knowing more about word counts now, the usual horror novel is roughly 65-80K.  These were definitely too long.

But what King did was give us permission to write a horror novel that was longer than others.  I had no idea, at the time, that novels of this length were unusual.  Had he wrote It or The Stand before Carrie, The Shining, or Salem's Lot, chances are they wouldn't be published.

Since I had read the longer novels, that was what my mind worked out.  Did my first two books work?

Sort of.

I will tell you this: both have been pared down, and the second one will see publication around early 2018.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Write until it's done / Happenings In The Outhouse 29-Sept-2017

A few weeks ago, during our tri-weekly writers' group meeting, one of our members shared a piece of writing advice that we all thought was golden.
It's very simple.

And keep writing until it's done.
No more, no less.

With all the writing advice out there, this one goes to the heart of much of most writing.  Some writers try to push a short story idea to something longer just for the sake of making it longer.  Some writers even try to squeeze a longer piece into something shorter.  Again, just for the sake of making it shorter.

One of my recent publications titled Bruce is an example of this.  When the story was originally conceived, it was a short story.  A few thousand words at best.  By the time it was complete, it was just shy of 11,000 words.  Not a short story at all.  A novelette.  But I wrote the story that needed to be told.  I didn't cram anything in that didn't pertain to the story and I didn't leave anything out for the sake of keeping it short.

I wrote.

I wrote until it was done.

Try it.  Write a story without any notion of length.  There are a number of epic fantasy novels, many published a few decades ago, that were bloated just to fit the genre.  Stephen King has even written a few door stops--although we can argue if the door stops worked or not.  People have argued that the last 2-3 Harry Potter books could've been cut down too.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Cycling (in writing) / Happenings In The Outhouse 22-Sept-2017

Ever wonder how many successful writers publish all the time?  No, it's not because writing is all they do--although that may be true as well--but there is a secret to churning out story after story that I didn't discover until this earlier year.
It is called cycling.

Dean Wesley Smith talked about it on one of his blogs this past February.

Bestselling Christian author Jerry B. Jenkins (co-author of the Left Behind series) even talked about it last month on The Creative Penn podcast.

This is something I have also started incorporating in my writing--and it has boosted by overall productivity immensely.

Cycling.  It's not just for bicycles anymore.

In a nutshell, it works like this: write a few hundred words (this amount will vary with each author) until you get to a point where you either feel the need to stop or even after a certain period of time.  Then, take a small break and re-read what you had written.  Once you get to the end, keep writing.  As you re-read, fix what needs fixing, edit what needs editing, but using your creative mind to keep going.

To some, this may seem like a slow process.  Take, for example, NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, which occurs every November.  The goal is to write 50,000 word in a single month, which equates to 1,667 words a day.  Many writers who write their 50,000 words in November for NaNoWriMo will then say the story is crap.  Why?  Using the cycling method--a method that bestselling authors use--may help not make the story crap.

In Smith's post, he states that using this cycling method will keep one in a creative mode.  This will keep the story fresh.  I have also found that it eliminates the needless editing passovers.  Don't get me wrong, stories still need editing, but cycling will boost your productivity and decrease the amount of time "working" on "fixing" your stories.
Give it a try on your next story.  It may take a bit to get your personal rhythm down, but cycling is worth trying out.

Friday, September 15, 2017

A life of its own / Happenings In The Outhouse 15-Sept-2017

Last week, I started writing a new novel in a new series.  This story has been brewing in my mind for the longest time--it's the reason I chose to write it next, after I completed my technothriller series The Shadowkill Trilogy.

This new story is a superhero story.

I've written a few posts where my story ideas look like Morse Code.

Let me briefly explain again: the dots are where this happens and then this happens and so on.  The dashes are scenes where this thing happens.  Together, I write to fill in the spaces.

This new story has been brewing for a long time--and I really mean, a long time.  I'd walk to and from work (the day job), and I'd envision what this superhero would do.

I won't explain the story nor the powers this superhero has (I briefly told the story to my youngest daughter, who watches a lot of superhero shows on Netflix, and she thought it was very cool!) but I will say that once I sat down to write it . . . the story took on a life of its own.  Some of the troubling areas of the story has worked itself out as I write it.

If you're having troubles starting or even continuing a story that you're working on, go back a few hundred words, read, and then write.  Keep the words flowing.

Publication update:
I am currently working on the covers for the final two books in The Shadowkill Trilogy, my nonfiction book centered around traveling with diabetes, and a superhero novelette.  Once these four are completed, I will share links, etc.
I am also working on putting a box set together for The Shadowkill Trilogy too.  Good times!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Gabriel's Hope has a new title

Back in October 2013, I published Gabriel's Hope.  It's a heart-warming tale of a man named Larry Wahl who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and is left with a reflection on how disappointing his life must've been.

Then he meets an angel named Gabriel who takes him on a journey of his life, where he influenced seven people, and that influence will be felt by generations to come.

Gabriel's Hope has now been retitled as Hope From Heaven.

If you haven't read this, please click on this link to check it out at various e-book retailers.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Mundane vs. excitement / Happenings In The Outhouse 08-Sept-2017

I recently started watching Ozark, a crime drama thriller series, on Netflix.

Thirty minutes into the first episode, the main character (played by Jason Bateman), is shown to lead a fairly mundane life.  He's cautious, frugal, checks the reports on consumer products, and the like.  He's someone many of us could relate to, in a way.  Then, in the span of thirty minutes, he's confronted by a major cartel drug dealer, whom his financial partner is stealing from, and also has to deal with the fact that his wife is cheating on him.

He goes from mundane to excitement in moments.

This is how good storytelling works.

Take a recent story I wrote--this will be published shortly, as soon as the cover is completed.  We have a young father, working hard as a car salesman, and dealing with a mundane life.  Enter a new co-worker.  He has some unusual powers.

Many stories are like this.  From Breaking Bad and Star Wars: A New Hope to Harry Potter and pretty much most superhero movie or show that goes into their backstory--the (mostly ill-fated) origin stories.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Decisions on what's next / Happenings In The Outhouse 01-Sept-2017

As the publication date to books 2 and 3 of the Shadowkill Trilogy comes closer, as well as two smaller projects (a nonfiction diabetes travel guide and a fiction novelette), I now have a decision to make: what to do next?

Trust me, there are no lack of stories.  Here's what I have to choose amongst:

A new superhero series (this has the potential to be an ensemble, like The Avengers, The Defenders, and Suicide Squad)

An epic fantasy series

A cozy mystery series

A YA adventure series

A romance story (or a series?)

A variety of short stories in varied genres

Shorter works in the Central Division Series

Future Central Division Series novels

A stand-alone horror novel set on a Minnesota lake (already written, but will use the draft as an outline and will completely rewrite)

A deer hunting horror story (this one is also written, but needs tons of work--so, in other words, will be completely rewritten)

A stand-alone horror novel that may be published in 4 parts (again, this one was written long ago, but will again be completely rewritten)

A spin-off series from the Central Division Series, based on my novelette Guest of Honor

Again, no lack of stories here.  Also, this does NOT include a number of other projects of varying length and potential.  Some I have titles, some have been written (one of these may end up being a novel instead of in its current short story form), and others I have a rough sketch written.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Who's reading this blog? / Happenings In The Outhouse 25-Aug-2017

I have a newsletter sign-up on all my books and my website, but honestly I haven't put out that many newsletters.

One of the main reasons is time.  And since I blog here each week, I figure that's enough as I value everyone's time--I also value mine.  I subscribe to authors and other content creators whom I receive multiple e-mail newsletters in a single day.  Some I look forward to getting, like Seth Godin and Simon Sinek, but others . . . not so much.  I haven't unsubscribed to any of these.


I'm still collecting e-mail addresses from those who subscribe to the newsletter.  That's not going away.  And I will send newsletters.

So why do I keep up with this blog?  Because it's easy for me to communicate my thoughts on here, it doesn't take much time, and I love sharing weekly updates on what I'm working on.  Here's a link to my very first blog post--not much has changed in my approach.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Four new stories being published soon / Happenings In The Outhouse 18-Aug-2017

The last time I published anything was in late December 2016, my novel The Christmas Letters.

Since then, I've been diligently working on books two and three of the Shadowkill Trilogy.

Over the past few weeks, I've put together a new nonfiction books about traveling with type one diabetics--still untitled, but brainstorming some ideas--and a short story, which, as of this date, is technically a novelette.  Top word count on a short story is 7,500 words, according to SFWA, and this one is over 10,000.  Not sure how I'll market it, but I'll figure it out.

When these are up and published--these will be published wide, across all e-book platforms--I will let everyone know.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Spreading two more once-exclusive stories wide / Happenings In The Outhouse 11-Aug-2017

As of todays' date, two more short stories are no longer exclusive with Amazon and their Kindle Unlimited program.  They should be available on as many e-platforms as possible.  Note: the links go to my website, where links to the various e-retailers are located:

Last Requests (a time loop short story)
What would be the most horrifying day to repeat over and over again?
For PETE HARRISON, that day is his final day on Death Row.  Convicted on multiple counts of murder, Pete has little opportunity to change his last day before walking down to the lethal injection chamber.

How often does one get a chance to change someone’s life? MAGGIE SIMMS has never had such an opportunity. That is, until she meets a hitchhiker named CLIFTON BAGGS.

What else is going on?  I have another short story I'm working on.  I finished the first draft on a non-fiction diabetes travel book.  Both of these should be published in roughly a month or so.

Friday, August 4, 2017

All characters have a story / Happenings In The Outhouse 04-Aug-2017

I recently finished all three (current) seasons of the Netflix show The Ranch.

Reflecting on the show--and many others, from Friends and Criminal Minds to How I Met Your Mother and Orange is the New Black, for example--I discovered that the better shows have stories surrounding each character.

For simplicity purposes, let's focus on The Ranch.  I will try not to spoil anything, but some things can't be helped so be warned.

The father Beau is married to a wife who doesn't live at home, and works on a ranch with his two sons.  Throughout the series, his love for his wife shines through, although circumstances arise that end up with divorce.

The mother Maggie owns and runs the local bar.  She constantly deals with her sons, who aren't treated very well by Beau.  In the divorce process, she wants everyone to be happy and wants to give her half of the ranch to her two sons.  Beau, of course, doesn't see it this way and bucks it.

Colt, one of the sons, is a former high school football star who comes back home.  His fame isn't what it once was, and bounces around between ladies, a high school sweetheart and another attractive blond, one of which he gets pregnant--and that drama is drawn out across several episodes.

Rooster is the other son.  He's had to deal with living in his brother's shadow and running the ranch with Beau while Colt was away following his short-lived football career.  He also doesn't feel he gets the respect he deserves and ends up working on another ranch for a much higher pay.

In the end, each character has their own story aside from the overall stories.  The more one can twist and turn these stories, the better.

Friday, July 28, 2017

What's Next? / Happenings In The Outhouse 28-July-2017

I have finished the first round of edits for books two and three of the Shadowkill trilogy.

What's next?

Before I run through the final (I hope, crossing my fingers) edits, there are 2-3 smaller projects I want to tackle: a non-fiction book centered around travelling with type one diabetics, and a few fiction short stories.

I love the freedom of being an indie author.  I can write exactly what my heart desires.  If I want to write a romance or a cozy mystery or another thriller in my Central Division series, I can--and I will.  Those are tentatively scribbled in for 2018, at the very earliest.  For the romance, I'm going back and forth about a pseudonym.  I'm weighing the pros and cons carefully.

On the short story front, I have a few I had written before.  So with those, I want to do one pass-through to get a feeling about it being ready to go or not.  There is another short story I had written the bones of before--meaning, I have written about three pages, just to get the idea out of my head--and I have a strong feeling to write it.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Create A Character List Early On In The First Draft / Happenings In The Outhouse 21-July-2017

I'm in the middle of editing the last two novels in the Shadowkill trilogy, and I've come across something that may be helpful to fiction writers: as early as possible, create a character list as you write.

This may seem like a no-brainer to some and a "oh I don't need that; I'll remember all of my characters" to others, but trust me when I say that for most, you'll thank me later.

No matter how minor a character may seem, it's good to jot their name down and maybe add a note on how they're relevant.  About a third of the way through book 2, I discovered I had a different name for an extremely minor character.  I didn't have a note on this one.

This list doesn't have to be some Wikipedia page or anything.  Just a name and anything relevant to the story.

Friday, July 14, 2017

What Does A Break Look Like To You And Your Art / Happenings In The Outhouse 14-July-2017

Here's the scenario: you've worked on your manuscript for months and months, and have finally finished it.  You lean back, both exhausted and relieved.  You may even be a little apprehensive and scared.  It's your baby.  It's not quite ready for the world, in your mind.  How long do you wait before tackling any rewrites/edits?

Stephen King has advised to put your manuscript away for a minimum of six weeks before looking at it again.  Dean Wesley Smith doesn't rewrite at all (he has a circular writing technique that is very clever and I want to give a shot at on future projects).  In fact, Smith doesn't even look at the manuscript again unless his wife Kris tells him to fix a few things.

Where do you fit in?

Brandon Sanderson, between his enormous epic fantasy novels, writes shorter books.  I think I read once that Stephen King does the same thing with his novels, but don't quote me on that.

What does taking a break look like to you?  In the past, I've read much more than usual.  It's something I call "recharging my batteries," because I feel like I haven't read as much as I should (which is probably not the case) and I love reading new things.

I'm working on the edits for books 2 and 3 of the Shadowkill trilogy.  It's going well, much better than I anticipated.  And, of course, I'm looking to see what I should work on next.

Stay tuned . . . the future is very exciting . . .

Friday, July 7, 2017

Stats On Third Novel In Shadowkill Trilogy / Happenings In The Outhouse 07-July-2017

On July 4th, while many Americans were celebrating our country's Independence Day, I not only celebrated that, I also finished the third (and final?) novel in the Shadowkill trilogy, titled Storming The Hill.

I started it on 3/19/2017
I finished it on 7/4/2017
Total days is 108

The novel came out at 69,916 words, averaging 647 words per day.

Unfortunately, there were 30 zero word days.  Over half could be attributed to our son's graduation and the vacation to Tennessee, even though I still could've found a few minutes here and there to write.  That's something I'll have to revisit down the road.

When I take the actual writing days into account, which were 78, my average words per day rose to 896.

I'm budgeting the next two months to edit the final two books, prepare covers, write the blurbs and product descriptions, research keywords.  I haven't decided if I will do any pre-orders or not.  I also feel I will publish this on all platforms.  I won't make these Amazon exclusive.

So, what's next?

No worries, I'm already brainstorming what to do next.  I have at least three short stories I may publish in the meantime--while I work on books 2 and 3--so there will always be something I'm working on.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Vacation vs. Writing / Happenings In The Outhouse 30-June-2017

For the first two weeks of June, my family, in-laws, and I were out of town, on vacation.  We drove down to the Knoxville, TN area--more specifically, Pigeon Forge, TN.  My in-laws rented a cabin--a very nice three-story, five-bedroom monstrosity--that overlooked the Great Smoky Mountains.

It was truly relaxing.

Wi-Fi at the cabin was spotty at best, which meant I didn't get much writing done--oh, who am I kidding, I didn't write at all.  I did get a lot of reading done, along with visiting relatives and seeing the sites.  Absolutely no regrets.  I feel like relaxing times are needed to recharge the creative batteries.

Now that I've been back for over two weeks, the third novel in the Shadowkill Trilogy is nearing completion.  I have over 63,000 words written so far.  How much is left?  I plan on finishing by next week--crossing my fingers.  I started this third book on March 19th.  The original goal was to finish by May 19th, but with planning for the trip and our son's high school graduation, writing took the back seat a little.  I still wrote up until the day we left, but it was less and less.

Again, no regrets.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fun and Games - 5 Favorite Rock Albums / Happenings In The Outhouse 23-June-2017

Some writers listen to music while they write.  Depending on my mood, I do.  And what I listen to varies.  Honestly though, I don't listen to music.  From my Amazon author page: (my) genre interests are as expansive as his musical tastes--from classics like Mozart and Beethoven to heavy metal like Poison and Metallica.

I grew up listening to country music--honestly, there wasn't much else, so it was a bit forced upon me--but when the 1980's came along and I was in high school, I became a huge fan of heavy metal/hard rock.

I thought of my top five rock albums--sort of a collection of what I would love to have with me if I found myself stranded on a desert island (and either an endless supply of batteries or some unusual power source to boot).  One caveat to this list is that I love all of the songs on these albums.  These are, and in no particular order:

1) Poison - Open Up and Say . . . Ahh!

Note: this was the very first hard rock album I ever bought.

2) Motley Crue - Dr. Feelgood

3) Metallica - Metallica (better known as the Black Album)

4) Skid Row - Skid Row (their first album)

Note: this album has an interesting history for me.  I read a lot of heavy metal magazines, from Hit Parader to Metal Edge, and one band that kept popping up was Skid Row.  Then I finally brought down and bought it at the local Ben Franklin store.  Holy cow!  From the first song, I was hooked!

5) Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction

There are others, of course, but these five are the main ones.  Others added to the list are Def Leppard's Hysteria, Tesla's The Great Radio Controversy, Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet, Aerosmith's Pump, Megadeth's Countdown to Extinction, and so on.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Check Your Attitude / Happenings In The Outhouse 16-June-2017

It disheartens me when I hear people say, "OMG, 2017 absolutely sucks!"  Or, replace 2017 with 2016.  I've heard it all before.  The only thing that changes is the year.

Today's post is about one's attitude and how your attitude affects your life.  One can always find something bad . . . if that's all they're looking for.

Let me tell you right now, 2011 freaking sucked for my family and I.  But there were lessons learned and events that have a profound affect, even to this day.

In January 2011, within two days of each other, our van was taken away for repossession and we received foreclosure papers on our home.  I wasn't even a month into a new leadership position at my job and already things took a turn for the worst.  Fast forward a month, the van was back and the house was no longer in foreclosure land.

But wait!  There's more!

On April 11th, my wife was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).  She spent the bulk of 2011 in Rochester, MN, at the Mayo Clinic.  I took over 20 trips down to visit her.  Around Christmas, a good friend of mine was complaining and being all bah-humbug.  And he had absolutely nothing to complain about!  He didn't go through anything like what our family went through.  Now, I could've acted like this too.

But I didn't.  I was thankful my wife was still around and healing.  Fast forward to today, she's still not 100%.

I came across a YouTube video my sister-in-law put together after a benefit in May 2011.  I watched it numerous times years ago, but it had been a while.  Watching it again, and seeing all of the people present, brought back a host of emotions.

One of those emotions was thankfulness.  I was thankful for all those who helped.  I am also thankful for all that happened in 2011.

Friday, June 9, 2017

What Sacrifices Are You Making To Achieve Your Art? / Happenings In The Outhouse 09-June-2017

In mid-May, Steven Pressfield wrote a rather interesting post titled "Warriors and Mothers."

I highly suggest reading it first before we go on.


Okay, let's go.

In this post, Pressfield talks about what sacrifices mothers make when they're pregnant.  Typically, they may stay more at home while others seem to be out and about all the time--or, at least, they give that perception.

This got me thinking of my college years at Bemidji State University.  I wrote (and finished) my first novel while in college.  There were many nights where I was up until two or three in the morning, hunched over my Brother word processor, cranking out page after page.  Now, this novel (which as yet may or may not see the light of day) was just over 1,000 pages when I was done.  Yes, you heard correctly.  1,000 pages.  And, with roughly 250-350 words on a page, depending the amount of "white space," this horror novel was . . . yes, 250,000 to 350,000 words.  A quarter-million word horror novel.  When I hear that most nowadays are around 75,000, this one was incredibly long.

But I still worked at it.

I learned how to write.

And finish.

I made sacrifices.  When I had friends who were going out to the bars 3-4 nights a week and were involved in multiple activities, I limited my activities outside my little dorm and worked on my art.  But the friends who were truly friends knew what I was doing, and encouraged me to do it.

As a side note, the second novel I ever wrote and finished was also of the horror genre, and I will guess to be close to 400,000 words.  This one may see the light of day in a year or so as I am considering breaking it up into a short series (probably 4-5 books).  But, more on that at a future date and time . . .

Friday, June 2, 2017

Remember To Keep Learning / Happenings In The Outhouse 02-June-2017

Last week, I mentioned that our son graduated from high school.  I also mentioned that his choir teacher had gave him some valuable advice, in front of his classmates, their parents, and other members of our town.

"Remember to keep learning."

One should never stop learning.

Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and their team at WMG Publishing have created a very affordable set of courses for writers.  I'll tell you this right now, I will be starting my way through these courses.

Based on an article Dean did in April, I am also going to try my hand at learning how to do covers myself.

Back in my college years, while I was involved with the Tae Kwon Do school at both Bemidji and on campus, the late Grandmaster Spencer Brandt and his wife Cindy taught a weekend seminar to a small group of students who were interested in running their own school in the future.  I attended this seminar (there was less than 10 students present, if memory serves correctly) although I never did start a school.  One of the instructors was a tax accountant.  I learned more from him than most other "money" books I've read since.

My Mom, since I was a very young age, ran her own business: she was a daycare provider.  And a successful one to boot.  Anyway, around tax time, my parents always got hit with a massive tax bill.  They never talked about money much with me, but I knew this was a strain on their finances.  When I advised them what I had learned from the seminar, they couldn't believe it.

So, they called their accountant.

They discovered there were deductions they could've taken.  All they had to do was tell her (the accountant).

But how can one know what to ask if you didn't know it existed?

Needless to say, my parents got a new accountant, who taught them much more about taxes.  They were flabbergasted at the amount of deductions they could've taken, if only they were taught.

Remember: always keep learning.

It's the way I run my indie writing business: I keep learning.


Friday, May 26, 2017

"What Are You Gonna Be When You Grow Up?" / Happenings In The Outhouse 26-May-2017

Today, our eighteen-year-old son graduates from high school.

We're very proud of him.  There are things he's accomplished at such a young age that, when compared with thousands and thousands of kids his age, he's so far ahead.  Even though he didn't apply for any scholarships and hasn't been gifted with being the most athletic on the planet, he has accomplished far more.

Has it been an easy road with him?  Oh, God, no.  We've battled with him on grades, cleaning his room, and even some "medical" situations that I will not elaborate on.

But we've worked through it.  And he's turned into a better person because of it.

A few weeks ago, at the spring choir concert, the choir teacher lined up all of the seniors and reminisced about how long she's taught each of them and what she remembered most.  Our son was last on her list, and I must say he got the hugest reaction from the entire crowd.  Our son is extremely knowledgeable about current events, including politics and issues plaguing today's society, and has no problem expressing his opinion.  The teacher even said our son is a wealth of knowledge and odd facts, and even though his current plans in the near future doesn't include college, he has found ways of learning new things.  The teacher concluded with, "Just remember to keep learning."  He replied with his typical, "Okay, I will."

And he will too.

He has a YouTube channel and has even created podcasts and movies.  He constantly puts himself out there. And for the critics, he handles them very well.  No kidding.  Very, very well.  In fact, if the critics are harsh enough, he'll make fun of them and create a YouTube video of it.

(Insert smiley face emoticon here)

At tomorrow's graduation reception, there will be many people who will ask about his future plans.  It's the old, standard "What are you gonna be when you grow up?" question that all graduates get.  I hate this question.

A better question is: where do you envision yourself in five, ten, twenty years?

With the Internet, knowledge about a new topic is just a click away.

Where will you be in five, ten, or even twenty years?

Now, ask yourself: how will you get there?
That is the right question to ask.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Busy Times, Yet I Still Have Time To Write / Happenings In The Outhouse 19-May-2017

The past month has been extremely busy.  Two weeks ago, I had a daughter who got confirmed at the Lutheran church were we attend, then another daughter had her first communion the Sunday after, and now, on the 26th of this month, our son graduates from high school.

To top it all off, we are going on a 10-day trip to Tennessee, to visit some of my wife's family, less than a week after graduation.

Yet, even given all this chaos, I still have the time to write.  Most of the time.  Let's us be honest, there have been a few days where I have not written a single word, but other days I've made up for it.  And these events I just listed (from confirmation to graduation) doesn't even count for all of my time.  There are plenty that I am busy with, from yard work, cooking, cleaning, being a Dad and a husband, and . . . the list goes on and on.

Storming The Hill, the third book in the Shadowkill trilogy, is around the 50,000-word mark.  I am slowly nearing the end.  I have been averaging 850 words a day.  Depending on any interruptions, I have cranked out 500 to 700 words in a thirty to forty-five minute stretch.  A few Sundays ago--this was probably the day of our daughter's confirmation--I topped 3,000!  My personal goal is to finish the first draft by graduation.


I will not say that I'm a master at time management, but I do the best I can.  I also know my limitations when it comes to my health.  If I'm utterly exhausted, I'll either take a nap or go to bed.  Even if it's one of those haven't-written-a-word day.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Make A List, Check It Twice / Happenings In The Outhouse 12-May-2017

I messed up.

I have a laundry list of lists: a two or three-year list, an annual list, and even a quarterly list.

But nothing less, like a list for the week or month.  Not sure why?  I typically do, but for whatever reason I have forgotten.

This past Saturday, I changed that.  Boy oh boy, did that make a difference!

Now, my lists have a tendency to ramble on and on, almost like I was clearing the grime away to reveal more that I never saw before, but that's okay.  I then wrote out a weekly list, and immediately went to work.  I have 7-8 items on there, and, as of Wednesday, two are close to be complete.

Some items I list are "pie in the sky", and in a way you need to have some items on your list that will either stretch your abilities or dedicate more of your time.

Don't worry, Netflix will always be there.

I am currently around the 46,000 word mark on Book 3 of the Shadowkill trilogy.  I am nearing what I feel is the third act, where everything is coming to a close.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Yes, it's okay to have a day job (for writers) / Happenings In The Outhouse 05-May-2017

Last month, I celebrated my 20th year with my employer.

Did I ever think, way back in the day, that I'd still be there?  Let me be honest and say probably not.  It has nothing to do with the job itself, which I do enjoy, and has nothing to do with how the employees are treated, which are very well.

I had dreams, back in the day, of being a published author.  You know, as in, signing with Simon and Schuster or Tor or Bantam Doubleday.  I wrote, I submitted.  To literary agents, of course.  And I kept writing.

But to no avail.

My story is not unique.  In fact, roughly ten years ago, I had a countdown in my basement office with my "last day."

Of course, that day has come and gone.

I am not bitter about any of it.  Like I said, the employer treats its employees well, has one of the best health insurance plans in the entire country (no joke!), and I do enjoy what I do.  So it's okay to have this day job while I continue to add to my writing empire.

Will I still be here after another 20 years?  All I can do is shrug and say, "Time will tell."  Yes, I would love to be completely self-employed, but right now I'm okay with having a day job.

Okay, I promote all writers to read Dean Wesley Smith's blogs, and he has a series of blogs he titles The Magic Bakery.  Click on this link to read all of his blogs tagged with the magic bakery.  Dean always opens my eyes to the ever-changing world of indie publishing (actually, publishing and writing in general), so I strongly urge you to read these blog posts.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Story Trumps Facts / Happenings In The Outhouse 28-Apr-2017

Earlier this month, at the constant urging of a few co-workers (grin!), I started watching the TV show Prison Break on Netflix.

Spoilers for Prison Break coming, so be warned.  If you have any inclination of watching the show, do it now.  In fact, much of what I'm about to say is a culmination of the first four episodes (I am currently through season 1 only) so at least watch the first few episodes and then we can still be friends.

Okay, ready now?  Good.

As I watched the first few episodes--this came about even after the first one--I noticed a glaring discrepancy when it comes to writing about those with type one diabetes.  Jodi Foster's movie Panic Room portrays type one diabetes completely wrong.  I won't dissect why here, but on Prison Break the main actor, played by Wentworth Miller, goes to prison.  As he is brought in, he informs them he has type one diabetes.  Now, the show doesn't give a minute-by-minute account of his day, but it is implied that he gets tested once a day and also receives a shot then (once a day) if needed.


I have two children (and a wife) with type one diabetes.  At best, he would need a cell next to the infirmary, because managing diabetes is a constant battle.  But it wouldn't fit the premise of the show, so be it.

The second glaring discrepancy is in Miller's tattoos.  He has the prison map (and then some) all over his body.  Sorry, prisons meticulously document and photograph tattoos of all inmates.  It's possible they wouldn't know what the massive tattoo was, but again they'd have documentation on it.

Okay, this being said, the show is great and well-worth watching.  This is a case where story trumps facts.

In my third book in the Shadowkill trilogy, a team of ex-military infiltrates the White House, using its protective measures against the good guys.  I have definitely taken liberties with the story.  I've never even been to Washington DC, and one can only gain so much information from Google Maps without making someone in the NSA nervous.  But again, story trumps facts.  I make it feel as realistic as possible without dragging one down into the weeds with useless facts.

Does it work?  Time will tell.

Back to Prison Break.  The show is interesting, and even with some minor discrepancies when it comes to life in prison to add on top of it, one sees past it all.

Are there cases where you need the facts first?  Of course.  But don't get caught up in the weeds of research before telling your story.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Expanding On Publish A Lot / Happenings In The Outhouse 21-Apr-2017

Lastly, for the third week in a row, my simple advice for writers:
Read a lot.
Write a lot.
Publish a lot.

Let's dive into the third axiom: publish a lot.

I need to clarify and expand on "publish."  It should really be publish/submit.  If you send a story off to an anthology, a contest, a small or medium press, or one of the big publishing houses--or in any case where you are passing along your story for publishing consideration, then you are moving the story along the path of publication.  That is submitting.

If you decide to indie publish, it's a matter of uploading the document and hitting publish--okay, okay, there's a bit more to it than that, but in a nutshell that's all there is to it.

Where is the editing process?  The cover art?  The formatting?  For now, don't worry about it.  We're keeping it simple.  One can find themselves stuck in the weeds when it comes to writing/publishing advice.  Now, I'm not a major bestselling author (so what do I know, right?), but I have been indie publishing since April 2012.  If you take into accounts the other aspects of publishing, from writing (and finishing) novels/short stories and sending them off to agents, we're talking a timeline of 1994 when I completed my first novel.  I studied query letters and agents, and did that whole ball of wax.

The bottom line is that I kept the stories moving.  Not all of them, mind you.  There are stories that have sat in the virtual trunk, and even novels that hadn't been looked at for decades.  But, by and large, I kept working.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Expanding On Write A Lot / Happenings In The Outhouse 14-Apr-2017

Again, here's my simple advice for writers:
Read a lot.
Write a lot.
Publish a lot.

Let's dive into the second axiom: write a lot.

How much is a lot?  That depends largely on the writer themselves.  Five hundred words for you in a day may be the max, while someone like Brandon Sanderson or Dean Wesley Smith can crank out several thousand.  Even Stephen King had, in his definitive book On Writing, said he wrote two thousand words a day, everyday.

Do you have to write two thousand words?  Can it be less?  Or more?

Again, it depends on you.

My suggestion is to keep track.  Either on a piece of paper or on a spreadsheet, write down the number of words you write in a day.  One can even use a calendar, then at the end of the week add up the total words in the week.

Keep in mind, each writer is different.  Are there days you'll write zero?  Of course.  Will there be days where you'll crank out two . . . three . . . or even four thousand?  Or more?  Yes.  For me, when I'm on a roll, the words gush out like a tidal wave.

The key to all this is to write as much as you can.  I'm a father of three and a husband to a former cancer patient.  A lot is on my shoulders.  But I still carve out a few minutes here and there to write.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Expanding On Read A Lot / Happenings In The Outhouse 07-Apr-2017

First, let's begin with the full text of my simple advice for writers:
Read a lot.
Write a lot.
Publish a lot.

Let's dive into the first axiom: read a lot.

What do I mean by it?

Well, as writers, we must read.  Musicians listen to music and architects study buildings.  Now, I remember listening to a podcast once with Brandon Sanderson, who said that his reading time goes down when he's in the middle of working on a big project, but that doesn't mean that prior to his publishing success that he didn't read.  He read a ton.  Hence his great success.

I'm at a point in my life where I feel like I'm behind the eight ball when it comes to reading certain books, be it classics of science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, etc.  But I read.  I do read a lot.  I sometimes read multiple books at once.  But I'm a slow reader.  I had purchased the five-ebook box set of George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series years ago, and it honestly took me roughly a year and a half to get through it.  Now, I was reading other books between, but it still took me a while.  I also read across various genres and story lengths.

But one could expand the "read a lot" into movies and TV shows as well.  As a writer, I can watch a TV show (or series) and figure out what the story is doing at any given point in time.  I then incorporate it into my own writing.

The point of all this is to simply state that one can absorb the elements of storytelling in ways other than reading (or listening to) a book.  TV shows and movies can also fill this role.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Freedom - A Huge Plus As An Indie Author / Happenings In The Outhouse 31-Mar-2017

The other day, I contemplated how much freedom I had as an indie author.  I could write what I want, when I want.  Everything is self-imposed.  Deadlines are typically what I set for myself, to push myself along.

This can be scary for some, as they navigate the publishing waters.  There is more than enough information to make one's head spin over and over again like Regan from The Exorcist.

Last week, Dean Wesley Smith posted the following two articles, in regards to freedom--as you may note, I commented on the first one.  Now, I can't say that my comment led to his writing the second one, but it wouldn't surprise me.

The Normal Nature of Being Behind In This New World.

Freedom In This New Publishing World

As a side note, if you aren't reading Dean's blog--he blogs daily, and has been for one heck of a long time--you should.

This past weekend, I was messaging with another indie author who was asking for my advice.  She had a completed suspense romance book (cool, huh?) with a summer release, and she had information overload when it came to indie publishing.

I won't dispense what advise I gave her here, because it was a private conversation and the circumstances were largely based on one's personal situation.

My advise to all would be: read a lot, write a lot, publish a lot.  I may expand on these in the future, but this is the axiom that I live by.

The best writing advise--keeping it simple, in other words--can be summed up nicely in what is called Heinlein's rules of writingHere is another link of the same rules, summarized by another author.

Remember, through it all, as indie authors, we have freedom.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Stats on 2nd Book in Shadowkill Trilogy / Happenings In The Outhouse 24-Mar-2017

On Sunday March 19th, 2017, I finished Homeland Defense, the second novel in the Shadowkill trilogy.

Also on March 19th, I started the third book, Storming The Hill.  This will close out the trilogy.  Will there be future books in the universe I had created?  I honestly do not know.  There are so many other books/series I want to write, but one never knows when I get a spark of a new idea that I can use in the Shadowkill universe.

I started writing Homeland Defense on 1/9/2017, which brings the total days I worked on it at 70.  This is just the first draft.  When I finish Storming The Hill, I will go back and edit both at the same time.  I'm still shooting for a summer release of both novels, which will include a box set of all three, so I'll be a busy beaver.

Homeland Defense runs at 59,543 words.  I averaged 851 words a day, but when I factor in the 11 days that had zero writing--I even had a day I wrote only 25 words, but that still counted as a writing day--the average jumps up to 1,009 in the 59 actual writing days.

I am currently around the 5,000 word mark in Storming The Hill.  It's a good click so far, and it's been fun.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Worst Critics Are Writers (AKA What's Wrong With Prim's Goat?) / Happenings In The Outhouse 17-Mar-2017

For a number of years, I've been listening to writing podcasts where other writers would criticize The Hunger Games and the scene often referred to as "Prim's goat."

Last year, my oldest daughter, who was thirteen at the time, read the book and I made a comment about the scene to her.  I was under the impression this scene of Prim's goat was an entire chapter and stuck out like a sore thumb.  She frowned and told me she couldn't even remember that scene.  So she looked it up.  She eventually found it, shrugged, and asked, "And?  What's wrong with it?"

I didn't know.

Recently, I listened to the entire Hunger Games trilogy on audiobook.  When I got to the scene where Katniss talked about Prim's goat . . . I was disappointed that other writers would take it to heart with such vileness.  In audio form, it was not even five minutes--in page form, um, maybe 2-3 pages tops.

What the hell!  I thought the scene was perfect and fit in the story nicely.

The worst critics seem to be, in fact, other writers.  We are taught to write in a certain way and to do things in a certain way, and when other stories fly in the face of it, writers (not all, mind you, but they are vocal) get their panties up in a bunch.

Honestly, I think they're jealous of others' success when theirs isn't as . . . successful.

I am probably the least panty buncher of them all.  It doesn't take much to entertain me--yes, I was a cheap date during my "dating" years (thank God I don't have to deal with that crap now, as I've been married almost nineteen years).  This past weekend, I rented the new Ghostbusters movie from the library--yes, the one that got all the negative reviews from die hard Ghostbusters fans.  Guess what?  I loved it.  Oh, sure, there were spots that I criticized and thought they could've done a better job or if they didn't work at being clever, but by and large it was a good movie.  My youngest daughter, who is ten, laughed all the way through it.

If you have a beta readers, it may be best for them NOT to be a writer.  Not to say that writers can't offer tips on your story, but find someone who loves to read.  You may be surprised at what you'll hear.  Aside from my writers' group, none of my beta readers are writers.  All are avid readers, and do a wonderful job of pointing out any mistakes I make.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Where you can be found - investing in your career - making it easy to find you / Happenings In The Outhouse 10-Mar-2017

Last week, a guy I work with had just returned from vacation.  He knew I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, and asked me if I knew a certain author.  Apparently, while on vacation, he met the family of this particular author.

The name sounded familiar, but, after a while, names tend to blend.  So I did what anyone nowadays would do: I Googled the author.

I didn't find much.  Oh, sure, this author had a Wordpress website (with wordpress in the web address, which means it's the free version--come on, people, if you're gonna do that, just pay for the darn thing; otherwise, just go with a BlogSpot blog).  The author had a Facebook page, which hadn't been updated since 2013.  This author may or may not have even been on Twitter.

I will call the author a "he" since a saw a picture of him.  He had a smattering of short stories, and even had novels published by Tor--okay, I'm impressed by that bit.

Honestly, though, it still wasn't much.  I was surprised.  He had been publishing for quite a number of years.

Google my name: Mark S. R. Peterson.  Since I have a common enough name, you get other hits too, but for the most part it all leads back to me.

And, again, I suck at marketing.

It doesn't take much to start building an online presence.  A blog post here and there, even publishing here and there, it doesn't take much.  And this particular author had been publishing for years.  Much longer than me.

The point is that if you find someone who wants to know more about you or your books, be mindful of what many people will do nowadays.  Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your career.  But if you treat your career like an investment, adding to it bit by bit over time, your presence will grow.

Friday, March 3, 2017

111 months / Happenings In The Outhouse 03-Mar-2017

A few weeks ago, an area newspaper had a front page headline in regards to a young man who was sentenced to 111 months for a string of burglaries.

Then, I thought about the scope of 111 months.  Nine years and four months, to be exact--not including any time served or time off for good behavior, of course.

Imagine how much the world has changed in the last nine-plus years.

Imagine what life will be like after those 111 months.

The future is bright, no matter how you look at it.

What will you do?  Will you wait, procrastinating, eating up time with mindless events, waiting for just the right moment?

Or will you do something, today?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Stress, life happens, and writing / Happenings In The Outhouse 24-Feb-2017

Last week, Dean Wesley Smith wrote an excellent blog post, titled Protecting Choice, where he explored the reasons behind not writing--the good reasons, not the "oh I just don't feel like it" reason.  It's well worth reading it, as well as pretty much everything else he writes.

I am currently at the 35,000 word mark in the second novel in the Shadowkill trilogy.  When I've looked at the past few weeks on my daily word count spreadsheet, I noticed a number of days lately where I wrote nothing.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Nothing.

Last week, my son had a medical emergency, which required me to spend a night in the hospital with him while the doctors figured out what was wrong with him.  He has type one diabetes, but it appeared not to be related to it.

A few weeks before that, I had vehicle problems--both of my vehicles were down, oddly enough with almost the same problem.

A few years ago, if you recall, I had my own personal medical emergency.  I am taking medication, but one of the side effects are . . . well, some I won't mention, for reasons I won't make clear here, but one of the main side effects are mood swings.  Meaning, bad ones.  Quick to anger, and stuff like that.  I recognize when my stress goes through the roof and feel my anger building up, so I work hard at not snapping at my family.  Some times I succeed.  Other times, I hate to say, I do not.

Life happens to us all.  Find ways to get yourself through it.  Find remedies, be it exercise, relaxation, hobbies.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Fight the fear - what's the worst that could happen? / Happenings In The Outhouse 17-Feb-2017

Writers (and most artists/creative types in general) are fickle creatures.  We are fearful.

We have the fear of failure.

The fear of success.

The fear of the "oh, my gosh, look what you did!" reaction from others.

We have a fear of putting our work out there, even when we know in our heart of hearts, that it's not quite perfect.

Fight the fear.  What's the worst that will happen?
My first indie published book was a nonfiction book called Debt Free I Do: 99 Ways Of Having A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget.

When family and friends found out about this, they laughed.  "What in the world do you know about weddings?"

But I didn't care.  I published it anyway.

Now, almost five years later, I have over 20 published works (some for free on my website, even), from short stories to full-length novels.  Who's laughing now?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Write, Don't Preach / Happenings In The Outhouse 10-Feb-2017

I was listening to a webinar a few weeks ago when they were discussing social change through our writing.

The first book that came to mind was The Chamber by John Grisham.  I saw the movie before I read the book, but the one thing that stood out in my mind (in the book version) was that John Grisham didn't preach about capital punishment.

In fact, by the end of the novel, he set the moral implications of capital punishment on a silver platter, as if presenting both sides of the coin.

The novel gave us a choice.  Both sides seemed plausible, no matter what side you stood on.  He didn't preach one side over the other, even if he did hold a certain view.  The reader just never saw that side of him.

I've read books where the authors preached their social views on issues to the absolute extreme.  Whether I believed in the issue or found that side completely absurd, preaching has always grated me the wrong way.  Even if I believed it.

If you have a story, tell it.  If there are issues you want to address, do it through story.  You may actually sway a reader to your side if you tell your story, through the actions of your characters, well enough.  Take as an example: The Hunger Games.  Suzanne Collins did a wonderful job of portraying the grim realities of a post-apocalyptic life and the greed of a totalitarian system.  Not once did she preach that the big bad government was horrible and should be stopped.  She told it through the story--and through the other two novels in the series.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Setting the big rocks in place / Happenings In The Outhouse 03-Feb-2017

A few weeks ago, I finally came up with "the big rocks" to plot out books two and three of the Shadowkill Trilogy.

What do I mean by big rocks?

Think of ideas as various sized rocks.  Big rocks are the main plot points that are the meat of the story.  This would be the equivalent to the Rebel Alliance stealing the plans for the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope.  For example, that is.  There are other big rocks in Star Wars, but for simplicity purposes let's stick with this.

Next to the big rocks are smaller-sized rocks.  Imagine the big rocks being placed in a large bucket.  The remaining space fits the rest of the rocks, and eventually down to sand.  Coming up with the big rocks for the rest of this trilogy has changed the scope of these books--honestly, I know what's going to happen in book three, but didn't figure out how to marry the two.

Now I have.

I am currently around the 21,000 word mark in the second book.  I'm shooting for around 75,000 words, as a guideline, but wherever it ends is fine by me.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The anatomy of a jerk / Happenings In The Outhouse 27-Jan-2017

The harsh title of this post may give some pause, but go with me for a bit.

A few weeks ago, I felt like my entire childhood was torn into shreds.  An actor, who played in prominent role in a series of movies that came out when I was young, came out very publically and trashed someone, even going so far as to call him a "loser."

I apologize ahead of time as I will be very cryptic on who the actor was and who the other person he trashed was.  The point of this piece is simply: don't be a jerk.

I find it distressing when (some) people become more and more popular, they feel like they can spread their message values to everyone, despite whom it may hurt or if it aligns with the values of their fans.  Now, if your entertainment platform has always been of a certain nature, I'm not speaking of them.  For example, for those who like the liberal nature of Ed Schultz or the conservative nature of Rush Limbaugh, Ed and Rush will not change as their entire platform is based on their political views.

Now, some of my favorite authors and actors do hold different values than myself, which I am okay with (not everyone should think alike), but the emergence of social media has made their views more and more public.  Especially the vile comments.

I honestly don't have a solution, except this: no matter how famous or public your life is, remember that not everyone thinks the way you do.  In fact, others may have a different set of values, but still love the work you produce.

In other words, don't be a jerk to them.  Or anyone.  Period.

Okay, rant over.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Two novels written back-to-back / Happenings In The Outhouse 20-Jan-2017

As the headline states, I am writing two novels back-to-back.  These would be books two and three in the Shadowkill Trilogy.

As an aside, I am also working on a nonfiction book--okay, writing three books at once, but the nonfiction book won't take that long to complete and I will work on this in the off-hours.
I am currently around the 10,000 word mark in book 2 (I have the title, but I'm holding off on sharing it for the moment in case it may change).  It's going great.
To prepare myself for these final two books, I re-read book 1: KillzoneIt's a fun read (and I'm not just saying that because I wrote the damn thing), and it was a great landing point to start headlong into the next two books.

Why two books back-to-back, you may ask?  I had written Killzone in 2014 and it has steadily grown in sales month by month.  My original plan was to write more in the Central Division thriller series, but I want to close out the trilogy first and even put together a box set of all three.
Also, there is a new form of fiction out there called LitRPG.  For those who have read Ready Player One, it blends gaming into the fiction writing element.  Now, the Shadowkill trilogy isn't technically LitRPG, but rather a technothriller with a flavor of LitRPG.  Instead of the characters living through an online MMO world, the gamers are powering real-life robotic soldiers through virtual reality (VR) helmets.
Now, back to writing the last two novels back-to-back.  How am I doing this?  Well, instead of finishing one book and then editing it, when I complete book 2, I'm jumping in right with book 3.  When the two books are done, then I'll start the editing process.  The plan is to have them published by summer 2017, and that is a goal I'm positive to hit.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Christmas in January / Happenings In The Outhouse 13-Jan-2017

On December 30th, 2016, I finally published The Christmas Letters.

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.

The Christmas Letters can be found at the following e-retailers:

Friday, January 6, 2017

Why 2016 did NOT suck / Happenings In The Outhouse 06-Jan-2017

I've noticed a trend as 2016 wound down about how the year sucked.  Whenever a celebrity, be it singer or actor or whomever famous, died, people would get enamored by how much the year sucked big time.

If you look at Wikipedia, there is a recent deaths section.  Every single day, someone dies.  It's natural, all part of life.

How one looks at the year, and how one treats it, is based largely on one's attitude--and I have a feeling that the majority of the noisy people who are shouting from the mountaintop that 2016 just sucked, had more to do with the results of the 2016 US election than deaths.

Get over it.

Move on with your life.

Do something to improve your life.

2016 was a spectacular year for me.  I published 3 full-length novels, a short story, and a novelette.  Two were books 3 and 4 in the Central Division Series:

The last novel published was The Christmas Letters: