Thursday, January 31, 2008

An email meme

Adam Huckeby sent this email meme to me this evening, and since I've done NOTHING except work and come home and nap and then sleep, I thought I'd share it with you. Please feel free to use it on your blog, too.

1. What is your occupation? I'm the office manager of a small insurance agency.
2. What color are your socks right now? White.
3. What are you listening to right now? The Tonight Show.
4. What was the last thing that you ate? Toast and orange juice.
5. Can you drive a stick shift? Yes, but I don't enjoy it.
6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Striped.
7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? My sister.
8. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Yes.
9. How old are you today? 12 with occasional bouts of 15.
10. Favorite drink? Water or root beer or Sunkist.
11. What is your favorite sport to watch? Football.
12. Have you ever dyed your hair? Yes. Frequently.
13. Pets? Fish.
14. Favorite food? Hmm. Tacos. Or maybe roasted turkey breast with brown gravy.
15. Last movie you watched? Die Hard 4.
16. Favorite Day of the year? Christmas or whatever day around then that my family gathers.
17. What do you do to vent anger? Kill people and eat their livers. Just kidding. Mostly.
18. What was your favorite toy as a child? Microscope and BB gun.
19. What is your favorite season? Summer. SUMMER!
20. Hugs or kisses? It depends on who it is that is attempting to hug or kiss me. And depending on the person, I like both.
21. Cherry or Blueberry? Cherry.
22. When was the last time you cried? When my uncle passed away.
23. What is on the floor of your closet? Shoes and some storage boxes.
24. Who is the friend you have had the longest? Crystal, I think. We've known each other since the fifth grade.
25. Favorite smells? A grilling steak and apple pie.
26. Who inspires you? People who pursue their dreams. But not those dreams about being naked in public.
27. What are you afraid of? I don't like spiders.
28. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? I rarely eat hamburgers, but when I do, they're plain.
29. Favorite car? Hybrids or electrics. I don't have either, but I'd like to.
30. Favorite cat breed? Uh, well, white ones, I guess. And they have to be alive. I don't like dead cats despite what my neighbors say.
31. Number of keys on your key ring? 8.
32. How many years at your current job? 15, God help me.
33. Favorite day of the week? Saturdays and Sundays.
34. How many states have you lived in? 1.
35. Do you think you're funny? Sometimes.

There are more questions, but I'm out of answers. Have a good night!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tuesday turnaround

Hard day at work yesterday. It was busy, and my get-up-and-go got up and went a few days ago. I came home, flopped into my easy chair, and stayed put the rest of the night until bedtime. It will take a few days until I'm firing on all cylinders.

And I don't feel well this morning. I took some Advil and my diabetes meds so I'm hoping a turnaround is in order in the next few minutes. I'd like to crawl back in bed and sleep a few more hours. Well, I can do that this evening.

It's time to get ready for work. I hope you have a good day. Talk to you later, I hope.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


My house is a pit. I haven't felt able to clean it for two weeks. I wonder if I could just gather a few belongings and move somewhere else. Surely the new owners would dig out the clutter.

Still not well, but much better. I'm looking forward to work tomorrow -- not because I've fallen back in love with my job, but because I will be out in the world instead of huddled in this house.

Will spring ever come? I'm ready for sun and lots of it.

I sure appreciated everyone's prayers and comments of concern. They lifted my spirits during some particularly uncomfortable days. Thank you.

I added a new blog to the Blogs of Interest: Kristen's Now Or Never. Kristen is into yoga, tofu, libraries, Sudoku, marching bands, and many, many other nifty things. In other words, she's very cool. Check out her blog.

And now I'm going to go to bed. But here is an excerpt from Darkness, Oklahoma.

From Darkness, Oklahoma

What August Wicker hadn't told the others was that the man had said that the vampire would kill the Bone Queen. The man had said that Substance had Chosen August Wicker. Chosen?! A vampire?!

Even as injured as he had been, August had tried to argue. But the man insisted. "Substance Chose you for this task, and you will accomplish it," the man said before giving August other bag of healing blood. The man left soon after, leaving August with only a blurred impression of a tall man and the scent of a human.

But this was one time that Substance would be disappointed, August vowed silently. The Queen was a major power. She was stronger, faster, and more powerful than a vampire could ever be. In the ancient battle, she had been one of Void's mightiest warriors. She would crush August easily.

August sighed and shook his head. He would miss Darkness. This small Oklahoma town had given him a good life, but all things end. Nothing lasts forever.

And perhaps that also applied to vampires? August paused in his packing. How long did he intend to live? When would the years hang so heavy on his shoulders that he would be crushed? If he still believed he was young, why had he chosen the persona of August Wicker, an elderly librarian? He had told himself that he would attract less attention, but was that real reason?

In his long life, he had killed and tortured men and women. As a sup to his conscience, he had never killed children, but hadn't he left many as orphans? And in centuries past, that was often a death sentence. He could claim no great mercies in his life. He was what he was. He had chosen this life when confronted by death and passed over beyond death's domain. As long as he was wise.

So now he would run. Run into the shadows of another city or a new country. Carve a new territory, perhaps by displacing another vampire in a bloody war. He didn't want to do it, but he wasn't going to die. He would not pass into judgment. Darkness, Oklahoma was doomed, its inhabitants already dead. What did he care? In a hundred years, he would not remember their names.

Yet he sat on his bed for a long time, watching the shadows lengthen as regret curled around his bitter heart.

Copyright 2008 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


I'm better. Not well, but much better. Still coughing, but able to keep food and liquid down on my own. And my temp has been normal all day. So I think I've finally turned the corner. I'm going to try to go to work Monday. Things are looking up.

Being sick has sort of blown my Murder by the Acre schedule to pieces. But I can still put it out this year, probably close to when I wanted to. I'm not going to stress out about time lost. Things happen. All you can do is pick yourself up and forge on forward. And that's what I'm going to do.

And now I'm going to call it a night and go to bed. Yeah, I haven't done anything, but I'm still tired. Go figure. I hope that you're well and that life is treating you like it should. Hope to talk to you tomorrow. Night!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Update 2

Still sick. Doctors say that I'm doing as well as can be expected and that I have accept that it will take a while to recover. Still burning cough, temps down some but not normal, unrelenting nausea, lost 22 pounds since last Tuesday, hard way to do it. I have kept down food today so I'm hopeful. My stomach has shrunk, though. I'm still missing work. Not able to write or do much of anything. Anyway, that's it. Just have to endure until I beat this.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Still very sick. Doctors throw drugs at me. I'm grateful for the drugs that knock me out. I can't remember ever being this sick. Days of unrelenting temps over 100. Aching all over. No sleep for three days due to the burning cough. My doctor told me that he was concerned. Like I'm not. Got a new drug yesterday day that finally lets me sleep. Actually it puts me out in about five minutes. I'm hoping that with rest, I will finally turn the corner on this. I appreciate the comments and prayers. Please keep the prayers coming.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


My cough is the flu. Really sick. High temp, lots of ugly body fluids. Won't be back here for a while. Take care.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Been busy

      Sorry I've been away from the blog. I've been busy with Murder by the Acre. This weekend I finally made the horrible decision to discard almost all of the old material as written. That means I have to write about 40,000 words between now and March 30. I kinda feel sick about it. The old material will function as background and plot, but I don't think I will be able to fit in more than a couple thousand words.
      This is terribly depressing, but it had to be done. As I wrote the new material, I kept pushing the old material further away. I think I've known for a while that it wouldn't work, but I kept hoping that somehow I could plug it in and make it work. Well, it won't. Not and be a book I could be proud of. Not and be better than Murder by Dewey Decimal, which is what I'm angling for.
      I wrote Murder by Dewey Decimal almost 20 years ago. The book flowed out of me in a one long stream of plot and characters. When I updated it last year, it require almost no rewriting beyond some obvious errors and some rearranging to enhance the flow of the plot. MBTA was written soon after MBDD, but with MBTA, it was the first book that I had attempted to outline and plot. I didn't do such a good job with it. I spent pages of dialogue and exposition on Bernard and Lisa's relationship. I meandered around Ryton, describing the town and its inhabitants. The murders were like an afterthought instead of being front and center, and having two murderers muddied the plot until even I had trouble figuring out who did what and to who.
      Well, there it is. I have to rewrite MBTA. I'm going to write 40,000 words before March 30. That will be hard, but doable. The new material is "in the flow," and it's smarter, clearer, funnier, and sharper than the old. The old material has given me a firm background on which to base the book. So while I regret this -- to the point of feeling sick -- it's the best decision. And I can do it. NaNoWriMo taught me that.
      Anyway, that's what's going on with me. What's happening with you?

Friday, January 11, 2008

The cosmic question

      Over at Erudite Redneck's blog, an atheist wandered by and engaged the group in a discussion. After a hundred or so comments, I was inclined to join it. Here is what I wrote.
      Like a bear drawn out of his den, I will finally comment on this debate. I was lured out by the mention of physics, which as y'all know, I love the way some people love chocolate.
      However, this debate, to my disappointment, has no physics in it. Sigh. Since I'm already awake, I'll throw in and hope that if I can't inject clarity, I will at least not increase the muddiness of the water. I won't promise to reply to any comments, but I might, although if my past behavior is a good indicator of my future behavior, I won't.
      As I understand it, (the atheist) is asking Christians to prove there is a God of some sort. That question cuts both ways: (the atheist) could be asked to prove there isn't one. Either way, the answer is the same. You cannot prove the existence or non-existence of God in a concrete, scientific fashion. Many intangibles fall into this category. And since they can't be proved, it is certainly within rational limits to decide for yourself that they don't exist. I don't agree with that decision, but I can understand the reasoning behind it.
      Let's not fault science in this. Science isn't meant to prove or disprove matters of faith. This recent incursion into the religious arena is only because religion decided to insert itself into science. The scientists have responded in depressingly like fashion to the attacks that zealots have inflicted on their ranks. This is not to say that science is blameless. Many scientists' obvious contempt for religion only infuriates their opponents. I well remember my college biology profession telling my entire class that "Evolution proves there is no God." Why, no, that's not what evolution proves. That's not what it was meant to prove. You can use it in that way, but it demeans the science involved. Science is supposed to be about facts, not beliefs. But science is done by people, and every person carries a burden of beliefs. Those beliefs influence science. Science, however, tries to be -- and mostly is -- a self-correcting process. New knowledge informs previous theories, and the theories are adjusted. Sometimes this adjustment takes years because scientists like to hold on to cherished beliefs as much as the next person, but the process is unrelenting, unforgiving, and uncaring in its progress. Eventually a new, better theory results.
      Frankly, the battle between science and religion is a poor use of time for both sides. People will believe what they choose to believe and then find the reasons to justify that belief, despite all evidence to the contrary. Humans have always been that way, and I don't see us changing any time soon. All that really happens when science and religion clash is that a lot of rhetoric is generated; both sides get to score dubious points; the worst among us insult people of differing beliefs; etc. That doesn't mean that people can't or shouldn't share how they view the world, but as soon as voices are raised and potshots are hurled, it's simply not productive. There are people who make it their hobby to generate noise and fury. I generally find them to be a waste of breath and often think their bodies should be painfully recycled into the earth.
      As most of you know, I love science and the church equally. I am a cantankerous Christian, a Southern Baptist with Pentecostal roots with a toe in Buddhism. I am also a rational Christian, if you can fit your mind around that concept. How this translates into behavior is as follows: To pray for healing and to use doctors. To believe God created the heavens and to accept the latest findings about how the cosmos formed. To acknowledge the limits of faith as well the boundaries of science. To remain grateful for the gift of intellect and the gift of life in which to use it. To believe that life is too precious to waste since we will be dead infinitely longer than we will be alive, and while we know there is an afterlife, we also know that we won't be here on earth to help those around us.
      I am quite sure this all sounds too depressingly adult. It's much more fun to wave our arms around wildly and claim the earth is 6,000 years old or that the dinosaurs were killed by the Flood or that string theory proves the nonexistence -- or existence -- of God or that God is merely a higher dimensional being (as per Flatland) or that cargo cults are a good analogy for all religious behavior, and so on and so on.
      For me, it comes down to this: I know that God exists. He loves me. He sent His Son to die for me. Amazingly and wonderfully, He found me worthy of such a sacrifice. I wish and pray more people had that belief. I think they would be happier if they did. But they have the right not to, and I will not gainsay that. I only require that they grant me the same indulgence as I grant them.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

MBTA update

      Another 1,000 words for Murder by the Acre today. This is all new material. That's the good news. The bad news is that more of the old material isn't going to fit now. I'm going to have to write another 25,000 or so new words to accommodate the changes in the plot. Sigh. But that's okay. I'm excited and pleased by the changes; they greatly improve the novel. So I'm still on track.
      I haven't forgotten the seven people who posted reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble of Murder by Dewey Decimal. I promised them the first chapter of MBTA. I haven't sent it yet because of all the changes the rewrite is making throughout the book. When the first chapter is in a final or close to final form, I'll be mailing it.
      I was surprised to recently learn that my little self-published book has earned me more royalties than the traditional published book of a friend of mine. And she has over 20 books published. Don't get excited: I'm not J.K. Rowling yet. I'm not even Bubba Rowling, her poor backwoods cousin. I won't be quitting my job any time soon.
      And my friend has made a lot more money from her books than I have because she received advances from her traditional publisher. (Her last advance was $30,000 dollars, of which her agent received 15 percent.) So why are her royalties so small? First, before she receives royalties, she has to "earn" back her advance. Second, most of her older books are no longer available, but they can't be reprinted unless the publisher chooses to do so. (This is one advantage that MBDD and MBTA will have over traditionally published books. I can keep them available to sell for as long as I like.) And third ... no, wait, there isn't a third reason. Yes, there is. Third, writers' royalty percentages are poor. My friend told me that she's looking at acquiring the rights for some of her earlier books so that she would have the option to self-publish them if she chose.
      Speaking of MBTA, I wrote a new character into the book this evening. He came out of the ether and added a wonderful complexity to the mystery. This is when writing is fun, when it surprises me, too.
      That's all the time I have tonight. Hope things are going well for you. Oh, I'm also posting on the Great Slimdown. Stop by there and join us in our pursuit of health and weight loss.
      Good night!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Still alive

      Yes, I'm still alive, Roen. I've been very busy with Murder by the Acre. If you've been watching the progress meter to the left, you can see that I've added 5,000 words to the total over the past few days. That's old and new material. I intend to have MBTA at least at the 50 percent point by the end of January. That's 34,225 words total before the end of the month. I have over 20,000 now. I think I will be able to do it. Then I will have February and March to produce the last half and to polish like mad. At least that's the plan.
      Anyway, I haven't had much time to do anything else. And won't until I get MBTA published. I also have to work on the January family newsletter sometime in here. Not enough hours in the day, you know.
      Hope you're doing well. Will try to be back tomorrow. Maybe with an excerpt. Good night.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

A change in plans

      We had a great surprise this weekend: Mikey came to visit. We didn't know he was going to join us until Saturday afternoon. I had spent the morning doing a lot of housework and filing, expecting to spend the evening working on Murder by the Acre. Instead, I spent it with the marvelous Mikey. We had a good time. He's a wonderful little boy.
      This put me a bit behind on my schedule, but I don't regret it. Mikey will always take priority over the projects. Right now, he needs me. Someday he'll be a teenager, and then I'll be lucky if he will even acknowledge me! Or maybe not. He's fairly attached to me, thank God. And me to him.
      I've been using the recumbent bike regularly. Sort of overdid it yesterday and paid for it with soreness today, but I'll be more careful in the future. I like using the bike. Well, not as much as I like being lazy, but I can tolerate it much better than the treadmill. So I feel somewhat more confident about my weight loss goals.
      I've been surprised by the number of people who are hostile to New Year's Resolutions. I think they must approach it differently than me. Apparently when they stumble, they give up. When I stumble, I get up and then keep going. The thing is, if we never start, there is no chance at all that we will ever get to where we want to go. So we have to start. And keep going when we stumble. Yes, I will probably not achieve all the goals set by my Resolutions. I might not achieve any of them. But if I don't try, I can guarantee that I never will.
      I hope your first weekend in 2008 went well. How are you doing? Most everyone isn't posting much on their blogs so the news is sparse. I will be attempting to post daily, but no promises. I have to finish work on MBTA each day before I can post. Anyway, have a great week!

Friday, January 04, 2008

I resolve

      Ordinarily I'd post my New Year's resolutions on January 1, but I've been busy and didn't have a clear picture on what I wanted to resolve. Anyway, here they are, some with comments.
      1. Write and publish Murder by the Acre. Of course, you knew that. If you check the sidebar, you'll be able to track my progress as I edit old material and write new material. I lost about a third of the book when I decided to split one murderer off to create the plot for another book. So far, the new plot is going along well, and I'm going to be able to use a fair amount of what I had already written with some minor changes. I will need to write about 20,000 words of new material to finish the book and bring it to the length of Murder by Dewey Decimal.
      I am on track to finish it by the end of March. In April, it will go to my proofreaders: ETC, Frenzied Feline, Jean, Crystal, and a couple of other people that I intend to rope into reading it. May will be for rewriting, corrections, formatting, and copy-editing. June will be proof copies and publishing on Lulu. The process has changed, and it's now more complicated to get the book to the online retailers, but I hope it will be at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., sometime in November. At least, that's the plan. We'll see how it goes.
      Other writing sub-resolutions are:
      I. Edit and publish Floozy & Other Stories. (My collection of humor pieces.)
      II. Edit and publish Unending. (My almost complete collection of poems. I don't own the rights to some of my poems published by various magazines, but I own most of them.)
      III. Finish Darkness, Oklahoma and get it off to an agent and/or publisher.
      IV. Finish Dragons Gather and get it off to an agent and/or publisher.
      V. Continue to publish and impove the monthly family newsletter.
      VI. Continue to publish and improve 51313 Harbor Street.
      VII. Finish the plays Figments and Queen of the Boardroom, and get them produced somewhere, and then sent off to a publisher.
      If I get even half of these done this year, it will be a good year.
      2. Lose weight. This has to be done. To that end, I purchased a recumbent bike Wednesday. I used it Thursday night, after my roomie put it together (thanks, ETC) and this morning. My legs feel ... terrible. Sigh. And I didn't do that much. I'm going to try to use the bike at least twice a day. I just realized that losing weight also deserves its own sub-resolutions. They are:
      A. Ride my recumbent bike twice a day.
      B. Eat more salads and low calorie meals.
      C. Control portion size.
Smaller, smaller, smaller.
      D. Drink more water. Lots more.
      E. Limit sweets of any sort. This will definitely help my diabetes.
      F. Eat more veggies. Lots more.
      G. Cook more and eat out less.
      H. Get more sleep. Lack of sleep has been shown to increase weight gain as well as cause other health problems.
      I. Understand that it will take at least a couple of years (or more) for me to lose this weight. It's not going to be easy to lose weight, but when I do, the rewards will be great.
      J. Remember that I've not failed until I give up, and be kind to myself when I slip up.
      Probably there will be others, but those will do for now.
      3. Continue my debt reduction plan. I have an annoucement concerning that: I officially paid off another credit card today! I called, and my payment had processed and my balance is zero. I feel a great sense of accomplishment on that. Now I have only one card left to pay off, and I should -- God willing -- pay it off by September or October of this year. Of course, there's still the first and second mortgage on my house, but they are decreasing each month, and I plan to pay off the second mortgage in late 2009. Slowly but surely, I'm getting there.
      I owe a lot of this to Dave Ramsey. His books and website gave me the belief that I could actually get out debt. So far, so good.
      4. To feed the spiritual side of me. Peace of mind and comfort and security in my beliefs have always been hard for me. I'm a worrier. I fret. I've spent a lifetime doing this. Time to change. To dance more. To laugh more. To pray more. To care more. To love more. To be more.
      Well, these should mean I'll have a very busy year. I'm looking forward to it. Have a great day.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New cover for MBTA

      Due to substantial changes in Murder by the Acre, the front cover had to change. Here's the current one. I can't say for sure that it might not change again, but I don't think it will.

      The "noose" cover, by the way, will be used, but for the third book in the series. I think.
      MBTA is my main focus now and will be for the next three months (at least). I'll be posting more excerpts as I put the book in order.
      Hope things are going well for you. Talk with you tomorrow. Good night!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2nd MBTA excerpt

Excerpt from Murder by the Acre

       Although DeMatt Real Estate and Auction closed at six, light still shone through the windows. Mrs. Roberta DeMatt had gone home, but found her house too quiet and too empty after the events of the day. As she always did when she was upset, she went down to her the office and tried to make a dent in the ever-present pile of paperwork on her desk.
      Alex used to say that the paperwork bred at night, she remembered. She resolutely turned from that memory. Her husband had been dead for five years, but thinking of him could still bring a sorrow crushing down on her. He wouldn’t want that, she thought. Alex would want me to go on with my life.
      And she had tried hard to do that, attending every civic club she could fit in her schedule, teaching a Sunday school class of teenagers, working to make DeMatt Real Estate the number one real estate in Ryton. And we’re close, Alex, she thought. I wish you were here to see it all. It’s not worth it without you. None of it is.
      She closed her eyes, but the tears came anyway. It was going to be a lonely night. She gave fleeting consideration to calling a couple of friends, but she knew they were getting tired of her sorrow after five years.
      And who can blame them, she thought. I know I’m tired of it. Everyone told her that she just needed time, but how much time was enough, she wondered. When do I get to stop hurting? When does my life go on? When do I get to be happy again?
      Wearily, she laid her head down on her desk. She knew she should go home and get some rest. It had been such a terrible day. Poor Danny Nelson. And the horrible way she had acted to Lisa and Bernard. She had called the library to apologize to Bernard, but the girl who answered told her that Bernard would not be back until tomorrow. I’ve probably lost that sale, she thought. I’ll send them both a letter of apology first thing in the morning. And call them, too. Maybe they’ll understand.
      She had been on edge for days. Ever since she found those papers. She grimaced. What was she going to do? She knew what she should do, but so many families would be affected. And they would blame the one who brought the whole thing down. Could she live with ignoring the whole matter? She had already pulled her listings, but was that enough? And when it all fell apart -- as it eventually would -- wouldn't that indicate that she had known?
      Oh, how she wished she had never gone there. Why did this have to fall on her? She longed for Alex. He would have known what to do. He had always known the wisest thing to do.
      Suddenly the hairs on the back of her neck rose. Her heart pounded painfully as she realized someone was in her office. Someone was standing at the door. She didn’t want to move; if she didn’t look, maybe no one would be there.
      Slowly she raised her head. She registered the barrel of a shotgun, and she thought fleetingly of her precious husband before the thunder roared.

Copyright 2007 Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

See the previous Murder by the Acre excerpt here.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!