Wednesday, April 30, 2008

News of life

      Thanks to Frenzied Feline for mentioning that Word had document compare. I didn't even know that it did and had never used it before, but it saved me hours in correcting my mistakes. Thanks, FF.
      Did you listen to the second Harbor Street podcast yet and enter the first Murder by the Acre contest yet? You could win an MBTA t-shirt. Listen and enter! Here's the link: Harbor Street Podcast 2
      Summer is close. I can't wait until this chilly April weather is over. Also, my allergies would sure appreciate getting past this first bloom of spring.
      The writing is going slowly on Murder by the Acre. From 1,500 words a day, I've dropped back to 1,000 words a day. I'm putting the pieces together and making sure the clues fit and the story reaches a logical -- but surprising -- conclusion. Crystal has already proof-read the first three chapters and is now working on the next three chapters. She's doing a great job. So things are getting done, but not as fast as I had hoped. I'm still planning on meeting the June 30 publication date, but some of that will depend on Lulu, too, which has changed some of its procedures. If we don't make June, we will make July, but I'm hoping for June.
      Do you like the group Coldplay? For just this week, you can download a new song from them for free? Here's the clink: Coldplay. I'm not a huge Coldplay fan, but I have liked several of their songs and liked this one, too.
      We had a wonderful time with Mikey this past weekend. He's such a joy. He's also growing up. He could barely fit into the seat of his electric Jeep. When he grows a couple of more inches taller, he won't be able to.
      I have to get ready for work now. Have a great day!

Monday, April 28, 2008

2nd Harbor Street Podcast

       Click the below link to listen to the second Harbor Street podcast.

Harbor Street Podcast 2

      In this show, I talk about
            1. Murder by the Acre
            2. Endless
            3. Poetry in general
            4. Read a poem from Endless
            5. Announce the first MBTA contest in which you could win a t-shirt
            6. Shamelessly plug my MBTA Cafepress store and my books.
      Talk to you later. (And privately to C. Kent in Metropolis, yes, I think you should tell Lois. She deserves to know. And keep B. Wayne away from her. He's batty about her.)

Good and bad

      Howdy! Sorry I've been away from the blog. The past few days, I've had some interesting things happen, both good and bad, and I've been occupied.
      Good things first: Mikey came to visit this weekend. We had a wonderful time. We watched Justice League and played football, baseball, and golf. Mikey drove his electric Jeep around as well as his push scooter and his bicycle. (He's still in training wheels, but he's getting there.) We ate pizza, cereal, and grilled cheese sandwiches. We played computer games and video games. It was a wonderful visit. I'll post some photos of him playing football soon.
      Those were the good things, and they basically overshadow the bad things. Which were:
      1) My IBD continued to give me trouble. That got old really quick. I'm wondering if my ACTOS is somehow involved in that. I just seem to get sickest soon after I take it. I'll have to ask my doctor.
      2) I worked on Endless, my collection of poetry, and got it sent to Lulu. That's actually good news. It still needs a different cover, and I know I have some formatting errors that I'm going to fix as soon as I get the proof copy, which should be here in a week or so. The bad news is that Lulu has raised their cost in producing both soft cover and hard cover books. It's going to be priced higher than I had hoped on Lulu. And if you add the retail markup for Barnes & Noble and Amazon, it basically doubles. I'm very disappointed in this. I'm probably not going to buy a distribution package. It will be available only through and at my book signings. At least, that's what I think at present.
      3) I made two huge blunders on Murder by the Acre, and instead of getting new words, I was correcting my mistakes. My first mistake was opening an old version of my book and then typing new words on it. That wasn't too hard to fix as I simply cut and pasted the new words into the correct version. The second mistake was in entering in the corrections that Crystal gave me -- nearly 50 in all -- in the old version. I also found some mistakes of my own that I corrected before I realized that it was the old version, but I didn't realize it until I came upon a clue in Chapter Three that I had eliminated completely. Sigh. I have to spend tonight reentering the corrections and comparing the old version to the correct version to find all the corrections I did myself. Whee.
      4) Speaking of Murder by the Acre, the same price per book problem is deviling it. It looks like B&N and Amazon will price it at or over $20. Not good. Even worse: I make even less money per book than I did on the first one. For Murder by the Mile, I'm going to have to look around and see if I can find another publishing company that has better prices. (Has anyone out there used BookSurge? I'm curious how they are.)
      5) I didn't get the second podcast up yet. I was uploading it onto my own personal webspace when I discovered that I didn't have room to do so. I'm going to have to find a hosting service (free, I hope) to host it. Sigh.
      Anyway, I have plenty to do over the next few days. I'd sure like a day off in which to accomplish a few things, but that isn't going to happen any time soon. Time to get ready for work. I hope things are going well for you. Have a great day.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A few things of interest

      I woke up ill this morning. It feels like -- God help me -- the beginnings of an IBD flare. I took my meds, and I'm hoping that they will keep the flare from becoming full-blown. I have too much to do to be sick today! Of course, IBD doesn't care one way or another what my schedule is. Fortunately I'm off this afternoon so I'll be at home, which is where I need to be to do the things I'd like to get done and also where I can take care of myself best.
      Anyway, not much to tell you. I've been writing on Murder by the Acre, of course. The writing is going well, but I think I'm going to go over 68,500 for this book. I hope not too much over, but it looks like it's heading that way.
      Crystal has started proofreading for me. She has an incredible eye for that. I appreciate her taking the time to do it. After she has finished, it will be sent to my other proofreaders -- you know who you are -- for their input. The more eyes that see it before it's published, the better the published book will be.
      I've also been working on my collection of poems. It will come out in August. It's tentatively titled Endless, but that's the fourth title I've put on it so we'll see if that sticks. In collecting my poems, I've become uncomfortably aware that most of them follow a common theme: sex and/or love, but mostly sex. Death, divorce, and religion are minor themes. Sometimes I combine all four. I'm beginning to think I might just possibly be the littlest bit ... twisted. Ahem. There are some "nice" poems in there, too, so I might be redeemable with a lot of therapy. And the love of a good woman. A good, rich woman. A good, rich, lusty woman. Or maybe I'm doomed.
      I must get ready for work now. Have a great day. Oh, did you listen to my podcast? We'll have another one Saturday in which I'll read a poem and announce the first MBTA contest! Talk to you later.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Review: The Ruby Key

      Last night I finished The Ruby Key, the new book by Holly Lisle. What a great book, perfect for any young person -- or adult -- looking for a good fantasy. Genna's world is a place that I hope Holly Lisle will return to time after time.
      Here's the basic plot: The world is divided into day and night, day ruled by humans, night by the nightlings. Genna and her brother Dan discover that their "uncle" has made a horrendous deal with the lord of the nightlings: He has traded the lives of the people of their village for immortality. Genna and Dan make their own deal with the evil nightling lord and start off on an impossible quest to locate a child and return him to the nightlings. Along with them travel an annoying cat -- which is both more than and less than a cat -- and a young, bright nightling.
      But naturally things aren't what they seem. Genna soon learns that the world is different than she had always been told and that her quest has far-reaching consequences. There are monsters and moonroads (you'll have to read the book to discover what those are) and villains and heroes. You will be both surprised and pleased at how it all turns out.
      I mentioned in comments yesterday that The Ruby Key reminded me of the best of Andre Norton, and it truly does. Genna has resources and bravery that she doesn't even know she does, and this book is the beginning of her journey. I'm looking forward to the next book.
      By the way, the book itself is gorgeous with a wonderful cover and neat flourishes throughout, a handsome addition to any library. Add it to your library today.
      You can purchase The Ruby Key at:
Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Blame Holly Lisle

      I'm exhausted today, and it's all Holly Lisle's fault. The woman is ruthless and doesn't care what havoc she wreaks on her readers' lives.
      Let me explain. Over the past few weeks, I've been building a pile of books that I'm going to read as soon as Murder by the Acre is finished. It's my reward for all these weeks of writing. In that pile was The Ruby Key, Holly Lisle's new children's fantasy novel. I confess right here and now that I mostly bought it to support Holly rather than any desire to read a children's fantasy novel.
      Last night, at 11:00, I got ready for bed and then thought I'd read -- just a little -- to put me to sleep. I picked up The Ruby Key. I thought that I would just read a chapter or two, and then I could put it down. At 1:30 a.m. I looked up and realized that I had to put it down and go to sleep if I wanted to function today at all. But I laid awake another thirty minutes thinking about Genna and Dan's quest. And that cat who accompanies them.
      I tell you now that it's a very good book. I'll do a review when I'm finished -- which will probably be tonight, Lord help me. How could Holly do this to me? Why would she write such an enthralling fantasy if she had any concern for our schedules? I can hear her laughing as her reader slaves bring her grapes and chocolate meltaways. She's holding a Staff of Power! I can see her! Or I could be having sleep deprived hallucinations.
      Either way, I recommend you go and buy The Ruby Key immediately. Why should I be the only one not getting his rest?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The first Harbor Street podcast!

       Click the below link to listen to the first Harbor Street podcast. I hope you enjoy it.

Harbor Street Podcast 1

       Erudite Redneck asked about larger sizes on the Murder by the Acre t-shirts. Here are some of the sizes available.

MBTA Light T-shirt: Small to 3X
MBTA Value T-shirt: Small to 4X
MBTA White T-shirt: Small to 4X
MBTA Organic T-shirt: Small to 2X
MBTA Yellow T-shirt: Small to 2X
MBTA Golf Shirt: Small to 2X

       The writing hasn't gone well this weekend. I haven't got the words I wanted so I've got to get back to it. Take care. Have a great week. I'm outta here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

MBTA store opens!

      The Murder by the Acre store is now officially open! You'll find a wide assortment of t-shirts, mugs, boxes, calendars, tote bags, note cards, etc., and I'll be adding more items each week, including plus sized clothing for women. The t-shirts, by the way, come in lots of sizes (some up to 4x) and colors. You'll find more merchandise than the Murder by Dewey Decimal store, which will be updated over the next few weeks when I get the time. (My thanks to Adam who suggested opening another store for MBTA rather than closing the MBDD store.)
      Here are photos are photos of some of the items available.

The organic cotton t-shirt

A 10 pack of magnets

The MBTA Jr. Ringer t-shirt in gold/yellow. Also available in mint/avocado

The MBTA tote bag

The MBTA Value T-shirt, only $10.99 (plus shipping & handling)

The MBTA (root) beer stein

The MBTA Jr. women's spaghetti tank, also available in white and lemon

The MBTA cap

Thursday, April 17, 2008


      Writing a book is hard. Don't let anyone ever tell you different. Oh, plenty of books will help you with plot, character, and structure. You can find writing courses and teachers galore. You can find support from writing groups and fellow writers. The web has hundreds of sites devoted to helping you write.
      And the ideas aren't hard. If you want to be a writer, you probably already have scenes and characters rambling around in your head. They're screaming to be placed on paper. You have plots and plot twists, themes and sub-themes, and major and minor characters jumping at the chance to star in your novel.
      The hard part is sitting down and actually writing. Actually putting in the time night after night, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, and so on until they find you slumped over your keyboard.
      I tell you right now that I think I might have been a happier person, a wealthier person, a more contented person if I had never wanted this dream to be real. If I had left it like so many, many, many other people do -- "I'm going to write a book someday " -- and never had the audacity to think, to believe, to know that I could write a book.
      I'm talking about this now because last night I had a hard time getting the words. I was tired, worn out from work and worrying about bills, feeling overwhelmed by my health problems and by trying to figure out how to pay for my medications. I did not want to sit down at my computer and write after having spent the day in front of my work computer attempting to help customers who ranged from rude to angry. (What I wouldn't give to hear a 'thank you' just once from some of them.)
      I think that if I hadn't told so many people about my schedule for the book -- that Murder by the Acre will be published in June, and June isn't far away -- I would have watched TV or read or done anything other than wrestle with the book. But that's what I did.
      I planted my sorry butt in the chair and typed and jumped back into the world of Ryton. I wrestled with Bernard and Lisa's complicated relationship, threw a few more clues toward the chief and Sims, and spent time making sure that everyone was hitting their marks and saying the right lines to keep the story moving, heading everyone toward that deadly confrontation with the dangerous psycho(s) who intends to kill anyone and everyone who might reveal his/her/their identity.
      I finished my words, watched Leno, Last of the Summer Wine, and crawled gratefully into bed. Today I will do it all again.
      And that's the life of a writer. My life. And for all this complaining, I don't think I'd trade with the richest man in the world.
      Although … perhaps it would be better if he didn't offer.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


      If you've been paying attention, you know that Murder by the Acre is over 53,000 words now, which makes it 77 percent done. That is if 68,500 turns to be the final length. I chose 68,500 as the target word goal because that was the length of Murder by Dewey Decimal, and I thought that length worked well for MBDD. I also already have the format for that wordage.

We interrupt this post to say: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CRYSTAL! Repeat, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CRYSTAL! This was the Emergency Birthday Broadcasting System. We now return you to your regularly scheduled post.

      So I thought it would be good if MBTA's length also was about the same as MBDD. However, I am prepared to go longer if the story requires it. At this point, I'm not sure how it will go. The subplots and subthemes and main plot and theme all seem to be converging a bit slower than I expected. I'm prepared to go as high as 75,000 words, but if it tries to go over, then I'll have to rethink some things. I think 75,000 is about the limit for a cozy to keep a reader's interest. At least, it's my limit.
       But it may come in at 68,500. I've noticed that whatever length I've primed myself for, that's usually what I end up writing. So we'll just stay fluid and see what the story needs.

We interrupt this post to say: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CRYSTAL! Repeat, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CRYSTAL! This was the Emergency Birthday Broadcasting System. We now return you to your regularly scheduled post.

      In other news, there isn't any. I've been spending almost all my time writing. That's it. And when I'm done writing, I like to get up and get away from my computer for a while.
      By the way, Murder by the Acre merchandise is now available at Cafepress. You'll find t-shirts, caps, tote bags, magnets, boxes, etc. More is coming as I have time.
      And now I need to close and get to work. Have a great day!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saturday photos

      My roomie went down to Mikey's Little League game Saturday. He had a great visit and bought back some photos that I thought I'd share.

Here's a photo of Jor, Mikey's little brother.

Here's a photo of Jor and Mikey, wonderful little boys.

Here's a photo of Mikey at his Little League Game. He's quite a hitter.

      Mikey's team, by the way, won. He got two runs. He's already a fierce competitor. What a kid!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thank you!

      Thank you, Kelley and Frenzied Feline, for signing the "Stop the BookSurge Monopoly" petition on iPetition. I appreciate you standing up for the POD publishers. I don't know if Amazon will pay any attention to us, but at least we let them know that it's not acceptable to try to force out the little guy. If you haven't signed up, please do so. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Cool things

      I receive a Google Alert when my name or Murder by Dewey Decimal is mentioned on a site on the web, a sort of online clipping service. Today I received this link via email.
      The cool thing is I don't know how this library learned of my book, but there it is. My book in another library. More opportunities for the Measurements of Murder™ series to build an audience. This brings the total to four libraries that I know have MBDD. Does your library? Ask them to get it if they don't have it. It won't cost you a cent, but gives MBDD more chances to find an audience. I would greatly appreciate it.
       Yesterday I told you about how Amazon is attempting to strangle the self-publishing world. This is a petition that opposes Amazon's actions. If you'd sign it, that would be great. I don't know if it will help, but it couldn't hurt. I'm Signature 986. (By the way, after you sign the petition, it pops up a window asking for a donation. You can sign and not donate to the iPetition folks, although I'm sure they would appreciate it.)
      The words are still coming on Murder by the Acre. If you've been keeping track of the wordage, I'm over 70 percent on this 'final' rewrite. Getting the words is sometimes grinding, but I can feel my writing muscles growing. Very cool.
      And now I'm going to call it a night. I hope things are going well for you. Let me know how you're doing. Night!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Upsetting news

Media & Marketing: Amazon Tightens Grip on Printing
By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg
The Wall Street Journal
March 28, 2008 Inc., flexing its muscles as a major book retailer, notified publishers who print books on demand that they will have to use its on-demand printing facilities if they want their books directly sold on Amazon's Web site.

The move signals that Amazon is intent on using its position as the premier online bookseller to strengthen its presence in other phases of bookselling and manufacturing. Amazon is one of the biggest booksellers in the U.S., with a market share publishing experts estimate to be about 15%. Amazon doesn't comment on sales.

Read the rest of the story here.

      What does this mean? Well, it means that Murder by the Acre might not be available on Lulu, my publisher, has yet to announce their approach to this. It may be that Lulu will absorb the cost of this (unlikely) or may charge its authors who want their books on Amazon (more likely) or may not have its books on Amazon at all, except through third party vendors (most likely).
      About a third of my sales of Murder by Dewey Decimal have come from and Barnes & Noble. In fact, MBDD is still selling slowly but steadily on both. I don't have an exact breakdown on sales because they're not available, but I think Amazon is accounting for 2/3 of my online sales.
      I investigated BookSurge, Amazon's print-on-demand company, and was dismayed by what they charge. Lulu, as you know, charges nothing to print books. They make all their money off your sales. However, Amazon's lowest price to print a book is over $400, and that's for a book and features not as nice as Lulu's.
      I'm hoping that Lulu will work something out, but if not, it will still be on Barnes & Noble and other online retailers. And you will still be able to order it from your local bookstore.
      So far, Murder by Dewey Decimal is still available from and still eligible for free shipping. I'll let you know if that changes. If you wanted to order MBDD from Amazon, I'd order soon since it might not be there much longer, at least not with the free shipping option.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The truth is out there ... or maybe over there

       Do you ever think that the fact that aliens haven't contacted Earth is the result of their superior intelligence? I considered that the other night when I was watching UFO Hunters on the History Channel.
       If you’ve never seen UFO Hunters, the program always follows a simple format. The UFO investigators interview various people who say something like this: “Yeah, me and Mabeline was walking down a country road hunting for our prize pig Baby Doll Elvis when suddenly a bright light appeared and swept us away and it was big-headed aliens who did horrible things to us and then destroyed the earth then remade it exactly as it was except Mabeline don’t look like Daisy Duke no more and I lost all my tooths and my IQ is lower than a possum’s bottom.”
       Then the investigators show the evidence that supports Billy Bob Joe’s story, such as marks on the side of the road that look like cow hooves but are really the footprints of the aliens, and photos that show what looks like a tin pie pan but is really a hyper-galactic craft capable of reaching speeds faster than a Democrat can spend money.
       That’s the first 45 minutes of the program. The next 15 minutes is filled with doctors and scientists who not only refute every aspect of Billy Bob Joe’s story, but say that he should be fitted with a new white coat with those newfangled sleeves that fasten in the back and/or shot before he and Mabeline reproduce.
       The show always ends with the announcer saying something like this: “There are the facts: Overwhelming evidence against Billy Bob Joe and Mabeline Hoffsteader’s story on one hand and unsubstantiated stories from self-admitted Republicans on the other hand. What really happened that fateful night? We may never know.”
       Sometimes they show videos on UFO Hunters. The videos are shaky and unclear. In fact, they look like they were filmed by someone experiencing a grand mal seizure. The videos show a smudge that moves across the sky. It could be a bird, a plane, a hot air balloon, the Flying Nun, or an alien spacecraft. It’s impossible to tell, even though they show the video to you several times, first at normal speed, then at slow speed, then super slow, super super slow, freeze-frame, one-by-one, glacial, etc. Eventually it approaches the length of the entire The Lord of the Rings and is just as fantastic, but not as entertaining.
       Of course, there’s nothing wrong with believing in UFO’s. People believe in all sorts of strange and unreal things, such as Congressional balanced budgets, Obama’s candidacy, Rush Limbaugh, etc. If people want to believe that advanced civilizations travel unimaginably vast distances to snatch them up and probe their nether regions, then fine. The only scary part is that some of these people are probably registered voters.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday stats

      Here are few statistics on Murder by the Acre so far:

Pages: 117 (The book isn't formatted for the book size yet. This is regular 8.5 x 11 pages.)
Words: 45,056 (We're on pace to finish this 'final' rewrite the first week of May.)
Characters (without spaces): 204,390 characters
Characters (with spaces): 249,083
Paragraphs: 1,713
Lines: 3,622
Passive sentences: 1%
Flesch Readability Score: 84.0
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 3.8
Tech's Insanity Level: 78% and rising

      Hope your weekend went well. Talk to you tomorrow! Night!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Busy & productive Saturday

      A busy and productive day. Housework, family newsletter, and writing on Murder by the Acre took up my day. It was a shame to not be outside more today, though. It was a bit chilly, but the sun shone and the sky had those white fluffy clouds that I think are so pretty. I walked around a bit outside and could feel spring everywhere.
      Speaking MBTA, I've been working on the promotional items for the book: t-shirts, caps, tote bags, clocks, buttons, etc. I haven't put them on my Cafe Press store yet, but I will as the book release draws closer. They will replace the Murder by Dewey Decimal items. I could have have more items if I paid for my store, but the free store only allows one type of item per store.
      My taxes are done. In fact, I already got my refund from the federal: $1. Think I can stimulate the economy much with a dollar? A friend suggested I buy a lottery ticket with it, but I don't like playing stupidity taxes, even if it's a small amount. From the state, I'll get back $40. I just don't have enough deductions. Oh well, I don't notice refunds changing anyone's lives.
      Well, it's late so I'm going to close now. You'll have a good Sunday tomorrow, okay? Okay. Night!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

What I've been doin'

      Sorry I haven't been posting. I've been writing a lot on Murder by the Acre and just don't have the desire to sit at my computer for longer than I have to. At the present rate of word input, the "final" polish rewrite for MBTA should be finished by mid-May, then to the proofreaders, then another "final" edit and polish, then to Lulu to be published, then a proof copy from Lulu, then another "final" edit if any errors are found (God forbid), then back to Lulu, then another proof, then if that proof is okay, back to Lulu for publication of both the softcover and the hardcover, then two weeks later, it will go on sale on Two or three months after that, it will go on sale on the online retailers. And of course, in that time frame, I will be promoting MBTA mercilessly with giveaways, book signings, and so on.Whew. Makes me both tired and excited. I think that's how I live my life.
      Last night, TL, Melissa, Kyra, Eric, and I went to Applebees to eat. I'd like to say that I was a good diabetic when I was there, but I wasn't. I was a bad boy. A sated, happy boy, but bad nonetheless. I had a nine ounce steak topped with mushrooms, a baked potato with butter, a garden salad with ranch dressing, a cherry limeade, a chocolate dessert shooter, fried shrimp (from the lovely Melissa's plate) ... Should I go on? Let's not. I feel ashamed. But full. Sated even. But so ashamed. And happy. Content, even. But ashamed, I tell you, ashamed. Somewhat.
      Anyway, it was sort of a dinner celebrating that I had passed the 60% mark on MBTA. I say sort of because my dinner companions seemed less thrilled about it than I had hoped. Oh, they congratulated me and I appreciate their support immensely, but I suspect only another writer knows how hard it is to sit down and write where there are so many other things in the world that you might pursue. But that's life, you know. We have everything but enough time.
      Tonight I went to a local Mexican restaurant with Eric and his son Todd. I tried to be good and avoid the cheese and sour cream and succeeded in that, but did have beef fajitas instead of chicken. Oh, well, one step at a time.
      The weather here stayed cloudy, chilly, and foggy most of the day. We got some rain a few minutes ago, but no severe weather this time. We've had enough high winds and hail, thank you very much. Tomorrow is supposed to be dry, but windy and still chilly. Keep coming, Mr. Summer. You'll get here eventually.
      I've also been doing a bit of research for MBTA. I've had to learn about Catholic funerals and library circulation computer programs. Both turned out to be different that I had imagined/wrote. So I corrected the mistakes -- I hope -- and MBTA gained from it. I appreciate Kyra, Nancy, and Roxanne for helping with the Catholic knowledge and Charlotte for her help with library programs.
      It's time for bed. I didn't get the words I wanted this evening, but I'm off work tomorrow afternoon so I should have a chance to get caught up and even get ahead of schedule. I'd like to get ahead so that I have a word cushion should something unexpected happen. Anyway, I'm going to call it a night. Take care and have a great weekend.