Friday, July 12, 2019

Your time may not be now / Happenings In The Outhouse 12-July-2019

A number of years ago, I used to submit stories to the Writers of the Future contest--check the contest out, if you're able to submit to it.  It's well worth it.

Unfortunately, I stopped submitting.

The reason: what if I won?

Now, this may seem like a stupid reason because of course one wants to win.  But at the same time, there are a lot of perks that go along with being a finalist in the contest.  The biggest is a week-long intensive workshop with a number of authors in the science fiction / fantasy genre, and the knowledge gained is priceless.

Unfortunately, given my wife's health, I stopped submitting.  I cannot be away from her and our kids for a week--this would be in California and I live in Minnesota.  For two weekends in November, I go deer hunting about an hour and a half away from our home.  Even this is a feat, because I may have to return on a moment's notice--and I have, more than once.

At my full-time job, there is an industry experience program that allows 3-4 individuals to learn about various aspects of the electronics business.  This goes for 7-8 weeks, with a full week at the end for travel.  Again, I cannot do this but would love to experience other aspects of the industry.

I am fine with all this.  Despite these obstacles, there are plenty of things I can do.  I may not enter the WOTF contest, but I do continue to write on an almost daily basis.  I also publish.  And I support the contest by purchasing the books.

On a final note, I didn't write this for any sort of sympathy.  I love my family and will do anything for them.  They are the reason I write (and publish) in the first place.

Friday, July 5, 2019

My next five / Happenings In The Outhouse 05-July-2019

The second quarter of 2019 has come and gone.

And what a wild ride it was.

As you may (or may not) know, I have a list of "to do" each quarter that I call "My Next Five."  I list out five major things I want to accomplish in a given quarter.  This list is personal (no, I won't share it here) and I do give myself the freedom to revise it as the quarter comes.

For example, my original plan for 2019 was to complete an epic fantasy novel.  By early April, I had the first (of four) parts complete.  By the time I was well into part two, I decided to halt the project and work on a few others.

One thing that derailed "my next five" for the second quarter 2019 was health-related.  My wife's health took a severe turn for the worst.  Although she is recovering nicely, she still needs some much-needed TLC.

My next five for the third quarter consists of completing my current project and writing another one, along with brainstorming ideas for future projects.  I also hope to get a newsletter out by the end of July, so if you haven't signed up, please to do here on this link.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Knowing that you're going down the wrong path (and you still keep going) / Happenings In The Outhouse 28-June-2019

A few weeks ago, I had to halt my current work-in-progress as I had no way of knowing where it was going.

Some stories I've written completely in the dark, with little to no roadmap as to where it was going.  I love those stories as they seemingly wrote themselves.

My current work-in-progress was like driving through a gigantic forest of dense brush . . . and there was no letting up.  I've ran across obstacles (no, I will not call it writer's block!) where I slogged my way through the story until I finally found the way clear.  Remember driving through the dense brush I mentioned moments ago?  The clear path was right on the other side.  All I had to do was keep going.

Not this time.  I had to reverse . . . then, when I found what was causing the mix-up, I turned in the right direction.

My current work-in-progress now has a much clearer path.  I know where it's going . . .

If you ever find yourself struggling with your story, stop and examine where you are.  Could you be going down the wrong path?  If it is, go back through your story and find the new direction.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Stop dwelling; move on / Happenings In The Outhouse 21-June-2019

What's in the past cannot be changed.

So why are you dwelling on your past mistakes?

Stop dwelling.

And move on.

Think back to your New Year's resolutions.  Let's keep it simple and say you had a personal goal to go to the gym four days a week.  Doable, right?  Then, after a few months, you decide to take a short break.  You don't go to the gym for a week.  Then two.  Realizing what's going on, do you cram in a bunch of times to "catch up"?

No.  Start over.  Hit the reset button.

For roughly a month, I've been dealing with some weird medical issues with my wife.  It has caused me a lot of stress, and in turn my writing has been dealt with one heck of a blow.  What am I doing about it?  First, prioritizing my life.  Family is and always will be first.  Without my wife and kids, nothing else matters.  Alongside that is my health.  After that is my writing.

Writing will always be there.  Even if life happens and I don't get to the laptop for months, the stories will always be there.

I must stress that no matter what happens, take time for yourself, don't dwell on what you haven't been able to do, and just hit the reset button.  Move on.  It's okay to go slow.

I am currently at the 5,000 word mark on a new story.  Will it be done by the end of June?  Nope.  Shooting for July.

And if I don't do that, it's okay.  It will be published.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Can you do better? / Happenings In The Outhouse 14-June-2019

Better is a fine line between perfection and just slapping something together with duct tape.

But is it really a fine line, as if one was balancing on a high wire?  I would argue that it isn't.  Better is a wide chasm, where you should have your sights set on the other side.

You should also resign to the fact that you will never achieve perfection.

What is perfection when it comes to art?  This may be in books, movies, paintings, sculptures, houses, well . . . virtually anything that can be created.  The deer stand that I sit in each hunting season may not be perfect, but it's better than sitting my butt on the cold, frozen ground.

How many movies have you seen where you enjoyed it and everyone else criticizes it to no end?  Or books?  TV series?

Strive to do better.  If you really want to see this in action, look at your favorite artist, be it musician, author, painter, singer, etc., comparing from their early works to those decades later.  Those who persist over time will be more refined and far along the "better" line than those just starting out.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Write to your readers, not writers / Happenings In The Outhouse 07-June-2019

I watched an interview, by a famous CEO, who said one of the biggest problems companies make is that they focus too much on their competition.

Who should they be focusing on?


This makes complete sense.  I follow a number of authors on social media and I chuckle how much they seem to focus on other writers, comparing themselves to be better than other writers.  In fact, they take great pains in critiquing other writers, only to build themselves up.

I have not watched the last season of Game of Thrones, as I do not have HBO and I only watch the shows on DVD.  But I have seen many criticize how the last season was done.  Again, I sit back and chuckle to myself, thinking, "If you think you can do better, do it!"

Honestly, that is what I should have titled this post, and I may expand on that notion next week.

So, to my fellow writers out there, quit focusing on other writers and delight your readers.  Take them on a journey.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Writing as therapy / Happenings In The Outhouse 31-May-2019

For me, writing is therapy.  No need to lay on a couch and talk with a shrink.  Writing, like reading fiction or Scriptures, is the best therapy for me.

If you have been following my blog for a considerable time, you'll know that my wife was diagnosed with leukemia back in 2011.  Eight . . . long . . . years ago.  She's still cancer free, but a variety of illnesses bring her down from time to time, not including she gets tired very easily.

Which brings me to May 19th, just a few weeks ago by this point.  My wife hadn't been feeling well for several months, despite going to frequent doctor appointments, with a distinct yellowing in her skin.  On this fateful day, she grew rapidly disorientated.  By the next morning, with the help of my in-laws (her parents), we brought her to the doctor, who advised us to admit her to the ER ASAP.  What they discovered was an elevated level of ammonia.  Her kidneys and liver were failing, due to an infection (UTI), but it could be reversed.  She spent most of that week in the hospital, where she received the best medical care.  She had no memory of the events of the 19th and 20th, where she exhibited her odd behavior.

What does this have to do with writing?  Doesn't this sound a bit selfish for me to think about my writing when my wife was severely ill?

Not at all.  Her needs came first.  At the same time, however, I had to take care of myself.  With a severe lack of sleep, my stress level was probably off the charts.  I rested when I could.  Then, I set out to heal myself.

Enter: writing.

I am currently writing a new story.  Originally, I planned on punching this story out in about two weeks.  Well, it may be a little longer.  Not much, but I delegate what I need to delegate (at home) and I'm setting aside more time for my writing--ahem, I mean therapy.

Friday, May 24, 2019

New short story / Happenings In The Outhouse 24-May-2019

I have a new short story that I just published: The Will of Mr. Rickenhauser.

Here's the blurb:
A billionaire is murdered.
Drug deal gone bad?  Or sophisticated murder plot by heirs to cash in on their fortune?

Here's a link for your favorite ebook retailer.

Friday, May 17, 2019

New stories in the pipeline / Happenings In The Outhouse 17-May-2019

By next week, I'll have a new short story published.

Then, I have another shorter novel I'm going to write.  It has a true crime and time travel twist, and I'm looking forward to writing it.

After that, I have a YA novel that's been sitting on the backburner for quite some time that I plan on writing.  It's a softball-themed book inspired by my oldest daughter Mariah when we used to practice in the yard years ago.  She doesn't play anymore nor do we practice catch, but the story has always struck me as fascinating.

It should be an interesting summer.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Daily bites / Happenings In The Outhouse 10-May-2019

Back in college, when I wrote my first novel (a 1,000-page behemoth of a horror novel) I set a daily goal of writing one page a day.  In fact, one of my first posts ever did I talk about this.  Here's a fun read from August 2010.

Fast forward to today.  As much of a struggle as it is, I am finding myself wanting to go back to this goal.  A much easier goal to hit, depending on the day.  Earlier this week, our kitchen sink has had a leak and needs replacing.  Not being very mechanical--well, I can do something if I need to, but I don't have all the right tools--my father-in-law and our son helped with this task.

This may not seem like much, but to clean areas where my grandparents' piano will go, and do everything else on top of it, my writing time seems to have gone down to nil.

Again, I'm not complaining as I feel blessed with all that God has given me.  The stress this (and a whole lot more that I'm not going to explain) has caused makes me realize that I also need some time for myself to decompress.

If you find yourself overwhelmed, take your bigger goal and break it up into small daily chunks.  Is writing one page a day too much?  Write for five minutes.  Maybe ten.  Do something that works for you.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Changing it up (again) / Happenings In The Outhouse 03-May-2019

I came to a realization earlier this week.  At the rate I was going, I may not publish anything in 2019.

Don't get me wrong.  I write pretty much everyday.  Some days, more than others.  But the pace at which I was going, my current WIP (work in progress), an epic fantasy novel, may not see publication until December 2019.  And with that, I'm being generous in the timeline.  It's currently around the 34,000 word mark and I'm estimating it will be close to 200,000 words by the time it's done.  In reality, it may not be finished until . . well, a year from now.  If not later.

Right now, I have a lot riding on my shoulders--trust me, I'm not complaining, so sympathy is neither needed nor requested.  This has to do with my family life.  A lot of things are piled on at once each night and before I know it, I'm exhausted and the best thing for me to do is go to bed.  My writing time consists of the morning, after I drop my kids off at school and before I get ready for work.  Roughly, an hour tops.  Maybe 30-60 minutes each night, if possible--with a strong emphasis on the IF.

I have a lot of writing projects vying for my attention.  Then, the other night, I asked myself if I should slow down on my epic fantasy and work to publish other writings.  *ding!*  That was all I needed.

Lately, during breaks and lunches at work, I've been sketching out (yes, one may call it outlining) future projects.  Some I will tackle right away.

Stay tuned . . .

Friday, April 26, 2019

The power of a first (single) draft / Happenings In The Outhouse 26-Apr-2019

I realized something the other day.  I write the majority of my blog posts in a single sitting.  Meaning, after one draft.

Even several of the stories I've published lately have only seen one draft.

Let me explain the process, which is stupidly simple.  I do what is called cycling (here's a blog post I did a while back that explains it).  I actually do a modified version of this.  Depending on the size of the project, I will go back and do a casual read, as if I was a reader and not a writer, correcting any errors that I may come across.  For short stories, novelettes, and novellas, I will typically read it through from beginning to end, mostly in a single sitting, making a few corrections here and there.

For my current project, which I know is in four parts, I will read each part in its entirety once I get to the end of it.  After that, I won't read it again until the book is done.  Then, I will do one more casual read, just in case something happens at the end that may affect something in the beginning.  But I do not do the heavy editing like I did before I started publishing.  I shake my head at how many years I wasted doing this--and I still come across several writers who feel the need to edit heavy-handedly over and over and over and over again.

This is essential Heinlein's five rules of writing.  Don't trust yourself?  Do it once and then test the waters.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Legacy Of Hats

We celebrated my grandfather's 96th birthday this past Easter weekend.

My sister, her husband, and her two boys were there.  Also, all of my aunts and uncles were in attendance, along with several cousins, their spouses and kids.  It was a joyous event, to say the least.  There were only five cousins and their families who were not able to come, but of those who did, we had a lot of laughs and heartfelt reminiscence.

As usual, my grandfather loves (yes, loves, I can't emphasize that enough) black licorice.  We gave him an assortment of black licorice from a small candy store in town.

The weekend was also bittersweet as my grandfather has recently moved into an assisted living home and is in the process of cleaning out the house so it can be sold.  For me, there were four-plus decades worth of memories in this home.  There were items from the home my grandfather put people's names on, from his own children, their spouses, and then the grandchildren.  I was given a piano, which had been a centerpiece for many Christmases when I was young as my grandmother (she passed away over 15 years ago) played it with skillful finesse.  There were also many items one could just take.  My grandfather had such an assortment of tools, they filled many tables in the basement and garage.

There were also bigger items for purchase.  Another centerpiece was the dining room table.  One of my cousins purchased it as he has a larger dining room and the table he owned was rather small.  Many memories were spent there, and it will be the centerpiece for many more in its new home.

In the den was a writing desk.  The price was reasonable--honestly, everything with prices were reasonable and none of us thought about the money as it was going to help with my grandfather's living expenses.  I kept going back and back to the writing desk.  It spoke to me, in a way.  I put my name on it.

In a few weeks, it will be moved down (along with the piano and a corner couch) to my home.

One highlight of the day was what I'll call the legacy of hats.  My grandfather and grandmother had quite an assortment of hats.  Everyone picked through them and put one on.  We had so much fun putting these on.  One of my cousin's husband and myself each chose a fur-lined Cossack hat.

The legacy of hats filtered down to virtually everyone in attendance.  My uncle Rod told me that my wife needed one.  He chose one that he thought would work, then sifted through what was left, over and over again, always coming back to his original choice.  It was fun to watch him choose just the right one for my wife.  He truly looked like a kid in a candy store.  He ended up with the original.  It fit her well.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Alienating your audience / Happenings In The Outhouse 19-Apr-2019

A month ago, I posted a blog about two events, one of which involved two true crime podcasts.  Here's a link if you wish to refresh your memory (the podcast event was at the end of the post).

Well, there has been a new development.  Again, I apologize for doing so without naming names.  But there's a reason for it, a lesson for all of us to learn without any names--besides, I don't want to be the target of any backlash so better safe than sorry.

The true crime podcast who did the shaming of the other has tackled some large cases in depth, one involving a young man who was charged and found guilty of murdering a fellow high school girl.  Other podcasts have done deep dives into this case, including a recent HBO documentary, and I have clear opinions on the case--my opinions I'm keeping to myself.

However, last weekend, the podcast's host took to Twitter and ranted on and on, alienating many people as racist, etc. if they didn't take the host's point of view.  There were even people who responded to the host, stating they are of the same political affiliation, and took the host's view as hypocritical.  Unfortunately, that didn't stop the host's tirade.

In the end, not only did I unsubscribe from the podcast, I deleted all of the episodes I hadn't gotten to yet--which is pretty much everything after season one, about the case I indicated above.  I will never listen to another episode of this podcast.

Authors, actors, and other creative types have also done this time and again--especially in today's age, with our current POTUS, social media is ripe with this kind of crap.  I have also blacklisted them.

Beware of what you say or post online, for you may be alienating your audience.  You may not care.  That's fine, if that is the risk you want to take.  Here's the approach I would take: focus on your art, your creation.  That is what the fans want to see, not your personal views on controversial topics.

Friday, April 12, 2019

What are you doing today to better your tomorrow? / Happenings In The Outhouse 12-Apr-2019

What are you doing today to better your tomorrow?

This is a question I asked my team at work, and it also applies to one's own life at home.  One should always be improving, even if it's to do one thing that wasn't done before.

First, I suggest looking at what you do everyday and eliminate what you can.  Years ago, I was on the church council for my church, which was a three year commitment.  I foresaw the construction of an addition from the brainstorm planning on the first year to the actual construction by the third.  But the time I spent was time away from my family.  So I made a commitment not to be on the church council again until our last child was graduated from high school.  Every January, I am asked if I would consider it and I kindly decline.  I appreciate them asking, but not at this time.

Last year, the writers group I was a member of for many, many years, decided to disband.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting every three weeks, discussing not only our writing but our lives as well.  But the time commitment was troublesome when not all members would show up.

It's okay to say no to something.  Even at my day job, I say no to many things because I want to be a better leader for my team.

What is important to you?  Make the time for the important pieces of your life instead of letting others dictate your life and your time.

Then, as you free up your time, ask yourself: what can you do today to better yourself tomorrow?

Friday, April 5, 2019

Part one complete / Happenings In The Outhouse 05-Apr-2019

This week, I completed the first of four parts in my new epic fantasy novel.  It's running a bit over 32,000 words so far, and it's going well.

For the most part.

This winter has been particularly harsh for northern Minnesota--as is other areas of the country, I'm sure--and there were days I didn't do anything.  Balancing that and caring for my wife, I have had to do a bit of reflection on how to best set up my day.  When are the best times to write?  To read?  To play games or watch Netflix/Amazon Prime?

Even to rest.

In the book of Genesis, God created the earth in six days and rested the seventh.  That means one must value their time of rest--and take the time for it.  If you are completely exhausted, and working on your art just isn't cutting it, rest.  It's okay.  You're not being lazy by doing so.

Because even God rested.

Friday, March 29, 2019

"The Beatles should own the rights to their music. And so should Motley Crue!" / Happenings In The Outhouse 29-March-2019

Dovetailing off of last week's post (if you haven't read it, here's a link to it), last weekend was the premiere of the Netflix movie The Dirt, based on the life of the heavy metal band Motley Crue.  One scene in particular made me think about the post and if one is ready for success.

To paraphrase the scene in particular, Nikki Sixx (bassist for the iconic band) was talking with a record executive about the rights to their music.  The executive said something like, "Not even the Beatles own the rights to their music."  Nikki replied that they should.  And so should Motley Crue.

I won't spoil the ending, but this made me think very hard about the rights to my own writing.  As well as your own writing/art.  If you're not ready for success, you may make stupid decisions and sign away all of your rights--not a good thing!

What I would do, to prepare yourself for success, is to read all you can about the business side.  I know, I know, your art is just that.  Art.  Well, if you want someone to take advantage of you and steal what may potentially be tons of money from your pocket, ignore this advice.  But if you want to be smart, learn what you can about the industry.

Kristine Rusch publishes a ton about contracts and rights--this is primarily for the book publishing industry, but much of her posts are applicable to other industries as well.  Here is a link to her posts, which I highly suggest to read.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Are you ready for success? / Happenings In The Outhouse 22-March-2019

As the first quarter of 2019 winds down and the weather starts to get warmer here in northwestern Minnesota, I'm reflecting on my writing goals for the year.

First, I am currently around the 25,000 word mark on my epic fantasy and I'm quite a distance away from completing the first part--there are four parts to the book; the original plan was to write one part per quarter.  That may not happen now.  I'm still writing everyday but the story is taking longer to tell.  Not a bad thing.  The story will get done.  Will it be done by the end of the year?  Who knows . . .

Reviewing my 5 goals for the quarter, I have completed 2 of them.  Yeah!  What they are, that is between me and the Almighty.

I've written before about success and how success is different for each person.  Here's one post from 2011.  It still holds true, in my opinion.

But how ready are for you for success?  What is the huge "pie in the sky" goal was to land on your lap?  Let's say your goal is to have a book made into a movie.  What if a big movie studio not only gave you a fat contract for your book but it also was speeding along to be made right away?  What if, all of a sudden, a book of yours sudden flew off the shelves and you made five and six figures a month?

How ready are you for it?  There's a mindset that needs to be firm in place.  It's a rarity for someone to come into massive amounts of money (there are other metrics to success, but I'm focusing on money as an example) and not have troubles.  Whether it's starting to do drugs and drink, or run around partying, or spending like money has no end, most who come into it aren't ready.  But if you mentally prepare for what you're going to do, it will help guide you.

What are you preparing for today?  What is your success metric?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Perspectives and paradigms / Happenings In The Outhouse 15-March-2019

How do you view the world?  What lens do you look at things around you?  Take an honest look at it.  Take a step back, if you have to.  Are you able to view events from varying perspectives, from another person's shoes?  Or are you narrow in how you view the world, that your way is the only way?

Given the current political climate, those who lean toward the liberal (left) side may view everything that Trump does is bad and should be criticized accordingly AND that everything they view on their side is for the greater good.  One may also say the same thing about the previous Obama administration in regards to conservatives/GOP.

But how much of it is true?

Two events happened last week, one personally on Friday and another more public fiasco on Saturday that spurned this post on perspectives/paradigms and how others view the world.

Friday, I saw a FB post from a science fiction author (no, I will not share who it is) who was criticizing the current President for signing Bibles while visiting the recent havoc caused by tornadoes in Alabama.  Now, my first instinct was to ignore it, hide it, and move on with my life.  But I was curious.  I inquired as to why they saw it as a problem.  In their opinion, people shouldn't be signing books they didn't write.  And since he didn't write the Bible, he shouldn't sign it.

Okay . . .

So, I poked the bear a little more--grin.  A gentle poke, mind you.  Writers may be asked to sign other things, like part of someone's body or their Kindle/iPad.  What did I get back?  The same rehashing, that it was odd he was asked to sign a Bible, clearly a book he didn't write, this author said.

In viewing the other comments, it didn't take a genius to figure out how politically-slated the author's "friends" were, not to mention the pure hatred toward a single member of our society.

Keep in mind, with my gentle poke, I reminded them that if the President handed out copies of his books, signed and all, how would the media portray it?  The response from said SF author?  Same old rehash from before.  The author didn't answer my question at all (I wanted to remind this author of how a certain president with the last name of Obama gave a gift of a iPod with all of his speeches on it, but thought better of it.)

In the end, I just deleted the comment, "snoozed" the author for 30 days, and went on with my life.  This author clearly was too narrow-minded and hypocritical to expand their thinking, even to have a civil dialogue.  Because a civil dialogue was my only intention.

The other event took the true crime podcast community by storm.  Again, I'm not mentioning names, but a popular true crime podcast was removed from a network (a podcast network, not a media network like CNN or Fox; again, no names here) for posting a meme on Twitter.  Looking at it from both sides, I saw people who were clear supporters of the podcast and those who hated it.  There was much blaming on both sides.

I'll end this post quickly, as I see that it's rambling on for quite a length, but the true lesson learned from the true crime podcast fiasco is this: when dealing with something, be it a meme or a post, before responding, take a pause.  Ask yourself: do I want to do this?  What are the consequences, if I do?

Even though our natural response to a stimulus is to quickly respond, take a moment . . . and ask if you really should respond the way you want.
I could go on and on, but this post is long enough.  I may revisit this topic at another time.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Appeal to your niche / Happenings In The Outhouse 08-March-2019

Who is your target audience?

And please do not say the world.  Even though books like Harry Potter seem to be read by most people on planet Earth, it was still written as a young adult book.  That is the intended audience.

Find out who the niche audience is for what you're working on.  Keep it as simple as possible.

Thriller readers that lean toward the political side.

Cozy mysteries with a bit of grit.

Fast-paced fantasies.

Romance with a flair of mystery, intrigue, and thrillers.

Serial killer thrillers.

Hard science fiction with a dash of romance.

Humorous thrillers that ride on the edge of satire.

You may not be able to narrow it down like I listed above.  And (honestly) I just tossed these together in a matter of minutes.

Keep in mind, your niche is also . . . drum roll please . . . anything you write.  Believe it or not, there are those who love what you write, no matter what it is.  I have a handful of authors that I love to read, no matter the genre.

Speaking on genres, even though it is traditionally-minded not to mix them up, if that's your thing, if that's what you love to read . . . do it!  Mix it up!

Friday, March 1, 2019

The (false) cost of stupidity / Happenings In The Outhouse 01-March-2019

"Beware of what you do online, as it may come back to haunt you."

"If I post this, someone may say bad things about me and offend me."

"My life is over because I used to be in pornography."  Or the equivalent: "If I start acting in adult films (porn) everyone from my hometown will know what I'm doing for a living."

Attention.  People crave it--not all, but it seems like a growing number of people do.  I can't prove that it truly is a growing number.  If you're on any social media network or if you watch any of the 24/7 news networks, there are people vying for attention.

Take a certain actor who recently decided to fake an attack on himself.  Why?  He wanted the attention.  He felt he deserved more and wanted to do something drastic about it.

Stupid?  Yup.

Did he get attention?  Unfortunately, yes.  He may end up in jail for a while because of it, but he may have wanted to risk it in order to garner attention.

Now, I'm not saying that one should act like an ever-increasing idiot to garner attention.  Keep in mind, the attention is short-lived by and large--although for some, the attention may last much, much longer.  Remember the childhood bully who tormented you?  Everyone has one.  What if that bully, now grown up, was a new employee where you work or a politician who wants your vote or a new business owner who wants your business.  I don't know about you, but most people would lean toward not welcoming said bully.

"But, Mark, why is attention always bad?"

Sorry, I never said attention was always bad.  The way one does it may be.  Then again, go back to the quoted statements at the top of this post.  Because so many people are garnering for attention, it makes one a very small fish in a large ocean.  The first quote is a warning many older people give to younger people.  If they do something stupid online, will it really haunt them forever?  Chances are, it won't.  The next quote may also be true, but ask yourself this: do you really care?  I've tested the waters on this (not very often, as I don't post very many controversial things) with no comments or repercussions.

And last two statements about the adult film industry is interesting.  I watched an interview of a previous adult film star who had converted their life to Christ, and those two statements were what she said about her life.  I applaud her for making the right choice in her life, but viewing the statements, I lean toward the fact that unless the said adult star actually said something, no one would ever know what they did for a living.

Just saying.

The solution?  Keep working on what you were meant to do.  Treat people with respect.  On your work, keep honing your skills and look to the future.  Where will you be in five years?  Ten years?  Twenty?

Friday, February 22, 2019

Changing things up / Happenings In The Outhouse 22-Feb-2019

A few weeks ago, I was irritated at the slow pace I've been writing my new fantasy epic.  At the rate it's going, and the actual scope of this immense project, I don't feel I'll have it completed before the end of 2019.

Don't get me wrong.  I've been writing quite a bit.  500 words here, 750 there.  And at a fairly steady pace.  But I knew something had to change.

You see, I've been using the previous written pages as an outline.  Well, I had two tabs open on the screen.  One with the new pages, the other with the old.  Going back and forth was getting a bit daunting.

I knew where the story was heading.  So, I sat down with a tablet and read ahead a half-dozen scenes.  I scribbled notes on what I read.
Then, I closed the other tab, set the tablet off to the side, and wrote.  I referred to the notes from time to time, but after a while even the story took on a slightly different direction.  It was better.

It's okay to change things up.  If what you're doing isn't working as efficiently as you'd like, brainstorm on what could be done differently.  Experiment if you have to.

And if one thing doesn't work, try something else.  Find the most efficient way to create.  You'll thank yourself in the end.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Independence / Happenings In The Outhouse 15-Feb-2019

I want to thank all of those who reached out to me to express their gratitude concerning my grandfather.  The heartfelt outpouring has been humbling.

I went to visit with my grandfather Ray on Groundhog Day.  Prior to this visit, I was on the fence about even seeing him.  I was one of a few grandchildren who helped to celebrate his 95th birthday last April, and we always see him when we celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving at my parents' house.  Between my wife and my sister, they convinced me to visit.  And I am both glad and blessed that I did.

Seeing him in such a vulnerable position was difficult to witness.  A hospital bed was situated in the living room, and pictures from his entire family (including his late wife Adelyne, who passed away close to 15 years or so ago) lining the walls.  He slept for a bit, but when he was awake, boy did he love to talk.

At one point, he looked over at me and said something profound.  "Mark, all my life, I've been very independent.  I've always done stuff myself.  This," he said, indicating the current living arrangements, with his children giving him literally 24/7 care (two of his children had come from Lacrosse, Wisconsin, and Bremerton, Washington while the rest live nearby), "I don't like people having to wait on me, hand and foot.  Even the most simple things, I can't do without help."


I cherish my independence and have instilled that notion in my three children.
Being independent is another reason why I have chosen to be an indie author when compared to a traditionally published one.  Bookbub recently published a post about each of these paths.  Very interesting read . . .

Friday, February 8, 2019

If a project doesn't work, do something else / Happenings In The Outhouse 08-Feb-2019

For the latter half of 2018, I struggled to write.  It wasn't that I didn't have something to write--I was working on my second romance novel written under a pen name--but, for whatever reason, I wasn't satisfied with it.  Each word was like walking through a thick pile of sludge.

Looking back on it now, I know where I went wrong.  There were parts of the story that didn't fit.

So, I put it on the back burner and wrote a novella titled Garbage Day.  Then, I decided to work on what I had wanted to work on all along: my epic fantasy novel.  I am currently around the 12,000 word mark and it's going very well.

When you find yourself struggling with your current writing project, stop.  Do something else.  Then, when you finish that "something else" look back at the other project.  It's okay to put it on the back burner and work on another project, one you really want to do.

Friday, February 1, 2019

A life, well-lived / Happenings In The Outhouse 01-Feb-2019

Have you ever read an obituary?

I have--I know, morbid huh?  Most obituaries are nothing more than a cold recitation of facts about one's life, a list of living relatives, and who preceded in death before them.  But every once and a while I come across ones that make me pause.  It could be the same listing of facts, but written in such a way--with a bit of humorous flair, perhaps--that make me smile.  It could also be that their list of accomplishments seem vast when compared to mine.  In fact, those are the times when I feel like such a loser when compared to them.

But I shouldn't though.  Everyone's life is different, no matter what age they leave this earth.

Today's post was originally going to have a different slant on a completely different topic--reviews.  But I will save that for another day.  The reason is my grandfather (my mother's Dad) is on, what my Mom she calls, his final journey in this life.  He is 95 and, up to this point, has been the product of good health.  Sure, he's had some bad spells here and there, but overall he was doing fine.  Lately, however, he has taken a turn for the worse.

Reflecting on his life (at this point, he is still alive and kicking, but all of his children are around him, caring for him 24/7) he is the epitome of a well-lived life.  One does not have to cure cancer or invent some doohickey that changed the world in order to have a well-lived life.  I will obviously be sad once my grandpa passes away.

But at the same time I will rejoice.  Rejoice at his life, well-lived.

Reflect on your own life.  Live a full life, starting at no matter what age.  So many wish for retirement days to be right around the corner, then kick the bucket with nothing to show for it.  Find your purpose.

Find what defines your life, well-lived.  Not a well-lived life.  But life, well-lived.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Please don't write down to readers / Happenings In The Outhouse 25-Jan-2019

Writers, by and large, don't seem to write down to readers.  Movies, on the other hand, seem to do so.  Whether this is the fault of the director, the movie studio, the producers, the screenwriters, or a combination of them all.

Some of the fault may also lie in the movie-goer themselves.  I was listening to a recent podcast where they analyzed Fantastic Beasts 2: Crimes of Grindelwald.  Those on the podcast irritated me to no end.  Not because they completely trashed the movie--hmm, it grossed $650+ million and was one of the top ten movies of 2018--but because they didn't see the big picture.  They wanted all of the mystery spelled out for them--no, I will not share what the podcast is nor share a link, so please do not ask me.

First, let me express my deep distain for reboots of old movies.  I've been noticing a trend the past decade or two that there are very few original movies--okay, there are, but they get overshadowed by reboots.  I am a child of the 1980's, which, in my opinion, is the hallmark of original movies.  Many of the classic movies that topped the charts in those days were original.

Then, in the past few decades, there are reboots upon reboots--Ghostbusters, anyone?

Back to the Fantastic Beasts discussion, what they mostly complained about was the lack of clarity for the future.  They didn't see the mystery behind it.  They also kept comparing it to both the original Harry Potter movies as well as the canon behind it.

I read a lot of various series.  Years ago, I made a study on it, to compare first novels in series.  All seem to do it differently.  Some series are written where one can read any book in the series and not get lost.  Others, you do need to start at book one.  But there seems to be an underlying fact: the writer still leaves an air of mystery by not telling all in the first book.  They also don't dumb down their stories.  One must assume a reader is smart enough to know what you're talking about.  And if they don't, they'll still keep reading until they do understand it.

I think this is a topic I'll tackle more later.  As you can tell from the length of this post, I have much to say on this subject.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Why am I publishing so many old stories? / Happenings In The Outhouse 18-Jan-2019

I've been reflecting on the stories I've published in the past few years and some have noticed a trend.  Whether the trend is good or bad is all in the eye of the beholder.  In the "Afterword" of each story, I comment on the story itself--in much the same way Stephen King does in his books.  Lately, I've noticed where either the story was written a few decades ago or the idea was conceived a few decades ago and I'm just now starting to write them.

Let me address something here.  I have published a fair number of brand new stories.  But when I've looked at the stories I've also written and never published, I noticed they were . . . you guessed it . . . never published.  Hence the reason for the trickle of publishing those stories.  I want them out in the world, I have the freedom to do so, and I want to entertain others as much as they entertain myself.

I am currently around the 6,500 word mark on my new fantasy epic.  I will hold off sharing the title at this point.

Friday, January 11, 2019

I, hypocrite / Happenings In The Outhouse 11-Jan-2019

I realized something the other day.  I'm a hypocrite.

I dislike outlining with a passion--in fact, I consider it a colossal waste of time.  Want proof?  Here's a series of blog posts I have done on the subject.

However, with the epic fantasy novel I'm currently writing, I am using the old manuscript as . . . yes, you guessed it . . . an outline.

Oh, the horror!

Anyway, I do admit I'm a hypocrite in that respect, but keep in mind the original book was written sans outline and I'm taking great liberties with the new project.  I am currently 5,000 words into it and it's going great.

In the meantime, I will be publishing three short stories within the first quarter of 2019.  These short stories have already been written, but never published.

Stay tuned . . .

Friday, January 4, 2019

An epic beginning / Happenings In The Outhouse 04-Jan-2019

Welcome to 2019!

I am in the throws of writing (or, rather, re-writing, using the original manuscript as an outline) the first book in my epic fantasy series.

This book was written close to ten years ago (honestly) and has sat on the proverbial shelf ever since.  It has gone through a few re-writes, but since the original novel was close to 1,000 pages long, this was a daunting task.

One thing I had to consider now was the prologue.  It had one, but was largely written in the telling, not showing vein.  It was written, in part, much like the introduction to Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, with an omniscient narrator.  Looking at it now, I was planning to scrap it.  I will write a shorter novel, documenting how my epic fantasy world came into being, but not now.  Keep in mind, this was my thought a week or so ago.

Then, as I contemplated many of my favorite epic fantasy started, I remembered that many have prologues.  Now, I'm not against prologues, per se.  In fact, I love writing them.  Here's a blog post where I touched on that subject.

So, I put it back in.  I cut it down, starting at a crucial scene, but I'm having a blast with it.  2019 is going to be grand.

As the epic fantasy may take a while to get written and published, I may publish a few short stories in the meantime.

Stay tuned . . .