Monday, June 30, 2008

My weekend of writing ... yikes

      Well, what can I say? Murder by the Acre is done! Let's take a moment to celebrate that.
      Okay, that's enough. I reread the dang thing Sunday, and frankly, it's a mess. Not the story itself; it's sound and -- if I do say so myself and I do -- clever. The dialogue sounds true and is funny for the most part. And there are several nice bits of characterization.
      Errors abound. They do more than bound, they leap, they twirl, they jump over tall buildings. I still have over 150 errors to correct. I also have to remove some words I overuse. Crystal, who did the first proof, says I have a fixation on "that," but it's NOTHING compared to my overuse of "and then," "just," and "really." I use one of those words on nearly every page, and sometimes I use all three. Nearly all of them have to go.
      My errors include: left out words (I do this one a lot), misspelled names (not only misspelled, but occasionally I give new names and new descriptions to the same people), etc. I also have this lovely scene that I'm going to have to cut completely. When I originally wrote it, I thought I knew who the murderer(s) was/were, but I was wrong. So the scene wanders off and doesn't even introduce any good red herrings for the reader. It has to be completely replaced.
      What I'd like to do is put MBTA aside for a week so I could come back fresh to it. But I can't. To have it be published in July, I can't afford a week.
      Anyway, tonight is no computer and no MBTA night. I won't even be opening the file. It's a one-night break from all things electronic. Then I hope to approach MBTA with a fresh(er) outlook.
      In positive news, I finally finished the June family newsletter and should mail it out today. And I did finally finish MBTA as well as do a lot of housework and cleaning. Oh, and my aboveground pool arrived Sunday. The backyard needs work done before it will fit, but I'm one step closer to being able to exercise in water, something my doctor recommends because my weight puts excessive strain on my joints.
      So we're moving forward. What moves forward have you made lately? Share and let us rejoice in your victories! One step at a time, you know, one step at a time.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Formatting blues

      Well, I didn't get the hardcover Murder by Dewey Decimal reformatting done last night. I thought I had and even ordered a proof, but when I looked at the PDF file more closely this morning, I found many places where the formatting was messed up. Sigh. So I'll work on it again tonight and this weekend.
      The retail markup on the hardcover MBDD raised the price to $28.50. It had been $26.95. It would have been even higher -- $32.95 -- but I reformatted the book for single spacing between the lines instead of a space and a half, and that cut the pages down to around 200. I also have provided a larger biography in the book and added chapter headings.
      The chapters in MBDD originally had headings, but I removed them because I read an article in Writers Digest that said headings were old-fashioned and useless these days. But I like them so I put them back in this "deluxe" edition of MBDD.
      I also corrected several errors that were found after the softcover MBDD was in print and added a bit of explanation for a question that TL had asked after he read the book. The back cover is changed slightly -- justified text for a more polished appearance. In fact, the entire book is text justified now instead of ragged right. Although ragged right is supposed to be easier to read, I had several people ask me why the test didn't look like a "real" book. Well, in the deluxe edition it does.
      I may also include an excerpt from Murder by the Acre in this edition. I have to see how many pages that will add, but I think it won't add more than five.
      I thought about adding my photo to the biography. I played around with several photos, but I couldn't get a black and white one that looked decent in the PDF. I also thought about adding a color photo of me to the back cover, but there isn't space now that the barcode box has been added. I haven't totally given up on the idea, but it would take a lot of changes in the back cover. We'll see how my time goes.
      I decided I won't be putting the hardcover version of EndlesS on the distribution package. The retail markup would make the price around $22. I just don't think it will sell at that price, and I don’t want to take the time to do the necessary reformatting. It will remain on Lulu for those who want to buy one.
      Anyway, enough of that. This weekend, I hope to finish the hardcover reformatting of MBDD, finish and mail the June family newsletter -- just loaded with items about me, me, me -- and finish … wait for it … finish Murder by the Acre! Yes, that's right. That's how close I am to calling MBTA a book.
      I only have to write four more scenes, revise six other scenes, type in over 275 corrections, finish designing the back cover, update the bio, format it for publication, etc., etc., … sigh. I need a staff. I really do.
      Anyway, that's what's happenin' in my neck of the woods. What's shakin' in yours?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Good news!

      You may recall that EndlesS was not going to be on sale except at because the distribution package (which would allow it be sold at, Barnes &, BooksAMillion, etc.) was too expensive for a book that I didn't expect to sell more than a few copies. This was wise as it turned out because I've only sold 14. Poetry is not a must-have item.
      However, proved once again how cool a publishing company it is by offering their worldwide distribution package for FREE! That's right, for a limited time, their Published by Lulu distribution package costs nothing.
      So for the past two days, I've done nothing except prepare EndlesS, the hardcover version of Murder by Dewey Decimal, and the softcover version of Murder by the Acre for the distributation package. There were minor formatting changes that had to be made in the first two. EndlesS is almost ready. As soon as I receive my proof copy and approve it, it will be released for distribution, and in 60 to 90 days, it will be at all the online retailers. I'm going to finish the hardcover update of MBDD tonight and hope to order the proof then also. It will join EndlesS and eventually be on sale at the retailers, also.
      The only bad news is the retail markup on EndlesS pushed the price up to $11.95. However, you can still get the $9.99 price from me at my book signings (while supplies last -- because I purchased 50). EndlesS might still be cheaper at Amazon and B&N than at Lulul if it qualifies for free shipping.
      I don't know the price on the hardcover of Murder by Dewey Decimal. I'm excited about having it finally out there. I'm worried about how much it will cost, but there's not much I can do about that. One cool thing is that the hardcover version has some corrections and a few additions that the softcover lacks. Nothing major, of course, but I'm pleased to have it out there.
      Tomorrow night I intend to finish the hardcover version of EndlesS and get it ready to ship, too. At that point I will have saved $400 (EndlesS, hardcover EndlesS, hardcover MBDD, and MBTA). Very cool.
      By the way, for about 20 minutes last night you could have purchased MBTA. This rough error-filled version was available for sale that long due to the distribution process before I closed it back down. Luckily no one bought one during that time period. I would have been majorly embarrassed if they had.
      Anyway, that's what I've been up to. What about you?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Happy (belated) birthday to Kirsten!

Happy (belated) birthday to you!
Happy (belated) birthday to you!
Happy (belated) birthday dear Kirsten!
Happy (belated) birthday to you!

      I just learned Kristen concealed her birthday last week so that she couldn't be honored/humiliated by all her friends. Tsk, tsk! I immediately knew I should address this oversight with a Happy Birthday song. No need to thank me, Kirsten. Your doubtless overwhelming appreciation is enough for me. :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday 12/12: Last post of the day

       And this is it. The 12th and last post of the day. It was a good day overall. The IBD has settled down somewhat, and while my stomach isn't normal, at least it's not in constant pain, either. I sure enjoyed seeing Mikey and Jay today. Such sweet loving boys. And so full of energy and go. They wore me out quickly. I'd like to have their energy again.
      I did play some World of Warcraft. Well, not much, but I had left all three of my characters dead, and now they're alive and safely tucked away in various inns. What more could they ask?
      I continued to work on corrections and rewrites on Murder by the Acre. It's amazing -- and depressing -- how many corrections I've having to input. That's the problem with writing fast: You don't write accurately.
      I'm about to call it a night now. I hope things are going well for you. I really do. In fact, these 12 posts were so you'd know I appreciate all my readers and want y'all to have a good time at 51313 Harbor Street. Having readers is a responsibility I take seriously -- despite what it looks like some times.
      Anyway, time to close. I hope you have a great week. Be talking to you tomorrow, I hope. Good night and take care.

Sunday 11/12: Bad movie, bad!

      1,000,000 B.C. is not the worse movie I've ever watched. In fact, it's not the worst movie ever on SciFi. But it is a bad movie. I always wonder why. Obviously they had enough budget to make the movie. Is it that much harder to write decent dialogue? To utilize the special effects you can afford in a realistic fashion? To actually have a character who acts the way a person really would?
      And by the way, an AK-47 would shoot a lot of holes in dinosaurs. The bullets wouldn't just bounce off. Poachers use them to kill elephants and rhinos all the time. Dinos would die just as easy. Or hard.
      So why are the movies on SciFi, or for that matter, any channel so bad? Surely they don't look at the movies and think they're good? Or do they have such contempt for us that they don't care?
      I understand the actors being in the movie. They need to make a living. And the techs? The same. But if I were the writer or the director, I wouldn't put my name on something I couldn't be proud of. 1,000,000 B.C. is not a movie someone could feel pride about. I wouldn't want it on my resume, that's for sure.
      Now we have to wonder why I watched it in the first place. The answer is either I'm eternally optimistic or I'm not that smart. I hope the former, but I suspect the latter.
      I'll be back in a bit for our final post of the day. See you then.

Sunday 10/12: I see you

      Trixie asked in a comment earlier how I track my visitors to this site. I use I use a free account, but they offer a lot more with a paid account. My free account has always worked well for me.
      When I originally started 51313 Harbor Street, I was very concerned about my visitor count. As the years have passed, not so much. In fact, before I wrote this, I had to look up my visitor count. I hadn't looked in months.
      My hit counter is around 94,000. My unique visitor count is at 6,534, which means some people only visited once and never again, and others have visited many times. I appreciate my frequent visitors muchly and hope you drop in many more times. Particularly today as we head into into the end stretch of our 12 posts on a Sunday.
      I'll be back later. 1,000,000 B.C. is on the SciFi channel tonight, and I wanted to see it. I'm a sucker for movies with dinosaurs in them. If only it was Godzilla ...

Sunday 9/12: Grad photo

      Remember a few weeks back I went up to see my lovely niece J. graduate? Here she is receiving her diploma. Isn't she lovely? I'm so proud of her.

      Be back in a bit!

Sunday 8/12: A song I like

       I particularly like this song from Coldplay. Hope you enjoy it.

      I'm not sure the video is all that good, but the song is. Be back in a flash.

Sunday 7/12: More than I can chew

      Posting 12 times in a single day is proving harder than I expected. Not much as occurred lately, other than me being sick, and thus I am lacking in material. But we will soldier on. This is, after all, the halfway point. It's downhill from here.
      We'll talk about my debt reduction plan. So far, we're still on pace. I expect to pay off my last large credit card January 2010. Then I will have only my first and second mortgage left. I will focus on the second mortgage then, and I hope to have it completely paid off my January 2011. Baring sickness, unforeseen circumstances, acts of God, etc., that's the plan. Debt-free living is still a few years away for me, but I can see that I will eventually achieve it. And if I receive any windfalls in there -- sell a book or three -- all the better.
      If I have any wisdom to share, it's this: Don't ever get a credit card. Don't ever go into debt. Don't make my mistakes. Credit cards are a terrible gift. Be wise and refuse them. I bit off more than I could chew nearly 10 years ago, and I'm still having to dine on it. Make it easy on yourself. Don't fill up your plate with debt.
      And now, having ran that metaphor into the ground, we'll close.

Sunday 6/12: A commercial mesage

      We interrupt our posts -- and make a post, too -- to remind you that EndlesS and Murder by Dewey Decimal are still on sale.
      EndlesS, of course, is my first collection of poetry and is available exclusively on
      Murder by Dewey Decimal is the first novel in the Measurements of Murder Mystery series. In it, Bernard, Lisa, and the chief attempt to solve the baffling murder of a librarian in the small western Oklahoma town of Ryton. It's available on,, Barnes &,, and other on-line retailers. It can also be ordered at your local bookstore. The sequel to MBDD is Murder by the Acre, which will -- God willing -- available this summer. Or that's the rumor I heard.
      You can also buy MBDD merchandise here and MBTA merchandise here. You'll find t-shirts, tote bags, clocks, notecards, caps, mugs, etc. By the way, the new keepsake box is very nice.
      We will now return you to our regularly scheduled posts.

Sunday 5/12: A joke

      One of my customers witnessed another one of my customers being unpleasant. So after the unpleasant customer left, he told me this joke.
      A man was selling vacuums door to door, and he had an unbeatable sales gimmick. He carried a bucket of mud and garbage with him. When a prospective customer was being difficult, he'd empty the box on their floor and declare, "What the vacuum doesn't clean up, I'll eat!" He sold a hundreds of vacuums that way.
      One day he came to a house and knocked on the door. A lady opened the door and said, "Not interested." She started to close the door, but he put his foot in.
      "No, wait," he said. "This vacuum is amazing."
      "Go away," she said. "I have no money."
      "It's very affordable," he said.
      "Not interested," she said. "I have no money. Go away."
      He put his shoulder to the door and opened it, and in the same motion, he emptied the bucket on her floor. "What my vacuum doesn't clean up, I'll eat!" he said.
      The woman turned and walked away.
      "Where are you going?" the salesman asked.
      "To get you a fork," she said. "My electricity was shut off three days ago!"

Sunday 4/12: Mikey & Jay photos

      Yesterday Mikey and his little brother Jay had a joint birthday party at the park. Here's a couple of photos from their party. They are wonderful boys! Jay thinks the world of Mikey, and he loves his little brother. That's the way it should be.

Mikey and one of his gifts.

Jay and one of his toys

      Aren't they handsome boys!
      By the way, if you joined us late, I'm posting twelve times today. Keep stopping by to see the latest update. Talk to you later.

Sunday 3/12: Surprise visit & WoW complaint

      I meant to have posted more before now, but around 1:00, I got a call from my roomie letting me know that Mikey and his family were in town at a local restaurant. So I hurried over to see them and then took Mikey out to see his papa at church. His family joined us there. We had a good visit. Mikey's little brother J. let me hold him a little. He's such a sweet boy. And Mikey was his usual wonderful self.
      Anyway, I just got home. Now I'm behind in my schedule, but we'll try to catch up over the next few hours.
      I wanted to talk about World of Warcraft a bit. It's a good game. I can see why people would get addicted to it. I just have one complaint. Too much running! The WoW world is huge, and you mostly run from one place to another. At least half of the game time is spent in running/traveling. And the journeys aren't that interesting. Oh, you'll get attacked a few times by mindless creatures, usually in some particularly stupid way, but that's more frustrating than interesting. Thistle bears (big hungry bears) and nightstalker runts (big hungry cats) seem to take particular delight in attacking me from behind. And while I can kill them easily now, I resent the time it takes to do so. You can't even run away without them chasing you and sometimes killing you if you take too much damage before you pull away from them.
      I've read that WoW struggles with keeping players active. They have to provide enough challenges to satisfy the experienced players, but keep the game accessible for the newbies. Here's a suggestion: Put in some/more teleport portals. Let players have access to horses or other mounts sooner. Give the WoW world some trains, carriages, taxis, any form of public transportation. In other words, cut down on the boring, mind-numbing running!
      Enough said about that. Talk to you in a bit.

Sunday 2/12: MBTA status

      I confess to being frustrated with Murder by the Acre. It was supposed to be finished by now and at the publisher. Instead, I'm slogging through another rewrite. I would be completely discouraged, but each rewrite is making MBTA into a better book. I can see progress as it becomes the book I originally imagined. Progress is good, but I'm ready to be finished with it. I want it done. I want to be able to stop worrying about it.
      Of course, once it's written and published, then I have to get busy with the publicity and sales. This writing business is never-ending apparently. Oh well, it's better than digging ditches.
      I think.
      No, no, it is.
      Here's a nice moment between the chief and his wife from Murder by the Acre.

Excerpt from Murder by the Acre. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

      After his talk with Regina, the chief had gone home for a late lunch with Maggie. He had intended to ask Sims to come along, but to his surprise, the lieutenant wasn't around the station for once. Of course, the lieutenant had enough comp time saved up to be gone for months. As the chief thought about it, he realized Sims hadn't been there a lot lately. In times past, the young man had lived down at that station. The chief was glad to see Sims had finally learned to take some time for himself.
      At the dinner table, he bought Maggie up to date on all he had learned. She listened intently, only asking a few questions to clarify things she didn't understand or that he hadn't explained clearly.
       “I keep feelin’ like all the pieces are there, but I can’t make them fit,” the chief said.
      Suddenly Maggie laughed.
      The chief looked at her.
      She colored. “I was just remembering something Drew did when he was little. What you said made me think of it.”
      “What?” the chief asked.
      “Remember when I got him one of those wooden Noah’s Ark puzzles?" Maggie asked. "He couldn't have been more than four or five."
      "I remember," the chief said, picturing his son with that little frown the boy always had when he was concentrating intently. He smiled at her. He knew what story she was going to tell.
      "Well, he was working it one morning, and I was helping him," Maggie said. "He was trying to put a piece into the wrong place, and I told him it wouldn’t fit. He looked at me, and then he went to his bedroom. Naturally I asked him what he was doing. He came back out with his red toy hammer and said, ‘I’ll make it fit.’”
      They both laughed even though he and Maggie had shared that story a hundred times before. It was how they kept Drew alive. The chief reached over and took her hand in his. She smiled at him, her eyes bright. He knew how she felt; the loss of Drew still could draw tears after all these years, but life went on anyway regardless of how anyone felt.
      "You know, Drew might have had the right idea," the chief said. "I think it’s time I started hammering on some pieces."
      Maggie smiled at him. “It’s about time.”

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

      See you later.

Sunday 1/12: Why I haven't been here

      I've been away from the blog if you've noticed and even if you haven't. I'd like to say I had been busy with Murder by the Acre or working on my family newsletter or any of the other projects I have in the planning stages. It would be nice if not industrious to tell you that I've been playing World of Warcraft. But, no, instead I've just been sick. My IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) decided to punish me the past week. I've been sick, sick, sick. The IBD exacerbated the diabetes so it's been an exciting time here ... if you define exciting as gut-wrenching sick ... which I hope you don't. Basically when I wasn't throwing up or doing other revolting things, I was attempting to sleep.
      Anyway, that's what I've been doing. What have you been doing? You haven't been visiting my blog. The number of visitors have dropped of drastically, for which I blame no one. There hasn't been anything here to read and enjoy. I'm going to try to make up for that today. We're going to have 12 posts today. This is the first one.
      I can't promise they will be especially exciting, but I do promise they will each be different. Drop by throughout the day and see what happens.
      That's it for this post. I think we'll talk about Murder by the Acre in the next one and give you an update. See you then.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

For Crystal

(Crystal called this evening and left a message on my answering machine saying, "Post something." So now I have. It seems a bit odd to me, but if it makes her happy, then okay. I did fancy up the 'something' a bit. It seemed bare with just the word. I'm hoping that doesn't diminish her enjoyment of the posting. Anyway, Crystal, this post is for you. Enjoy!)

( EDITED TO ADD: The release date of Murder by the Acre has been officially pushed back to July 30. Which is also my birthday. What a cool present to myself that will be!)

( ANOTHER EDIT TO ADD: On World of Warcraft, I now have a 21 level warrior, 10 level mage, and a 9th level shaman. I'm spending too much time on WoW so Thursday will be a "No WoW Day." I have a lot of things to get done. I hope I'm strong enough to resist the lure of killing things ... uh ... playing the game.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Another tease -- uh, excerpt, I mean

(On any of these excerpts, if you see any mistakes, please let me know in comments, and I'll correct them both here and in the book itself.)

Excerpt from Murder by the Acre. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

      Not talking about Danny didn’t leave much for Lisa and Janice to talk about. After a few exchanges about their former schoolmates and who married whom and who divorced whom, the conversation faltered. Lisa looked around Pete’s Café, her gaze drawn to the hundreds of coffee labels that Pete used to wallpaper the walls. She wondered if Bernard would come by. He often got a coffee to go from Pete's in the afternoon if he could get away from the library.
      After a few moment of silence, Janice placed her coffee cup on the table and sighed. “I guess I’ve made a mess of things.”
      Since it didn’t seem polite or comforting to agree, Lisa took a different angle. “Well, no one can accuse you of having a dull life, that’s for sure.”
      Janice smiled briefly. “No, say what you will, it hasn’t been dull.” Her smile faded. “I don’t know how it turned out like this. My mother is being wonderful about all this, but I know this is hard on her. To have her daughter talked about all over town. I probably deserve it, but I wish she didn’t have to go through it.”
      “You’re the latest news,” Lisa said. “Give it another month or so, and someone else will be the target. That’s how gossip works.”
      “Oh, they may not talk about me as much,” Janice said. “They’ll remember, though. I’ve already had several appointments either cancel or simply not show up.”
      “I’m sorry,” Lisa said. “But it’ll be better after this all blows over.” Unless you’re in jail, of course, Lisa thought, and then your real estate business won’t matter anyway.
      Janice shook her head. “Ryton’s a tough town. People don’t forget. You have to be born here and stay here or they won’t let you be a success. You have to know your place. I didn’t know my place. I left town for the big city. If I had come back all broken up, then everyone would have pitied me, but I came back bold as a brass butt. They won’t forget it.”
      There didn’t seem much to add to that, so Lisa searched around for a subject change. “This coffee is good.”
      Janice didn’t reply.
      Okay, not a good subject change, but Lisa couldn’t think of much else to talk about. Except maybe one thing. She put her cup down. “Janice, is there any way that Oakleaf could be some sort of scam or fraud?”
      Janice’s eyebrows traveled up. “What are you talking about?”
      “It just seems everything revolves around Aventura,” Lisa said. “Danny was a member of the Aventura investor group. Mrs. DeMatt sold houses at Oakleaf, which is owned by Aventura. Gladys Nelson was also a member. Michael Hyatt, another investor, is saying Aventura is guilty of a sort of reverse discrimination.”
      “Oh, that,” Janice said. “Michael only cares about it because he hates the Nelsons.”
      “Didn’t you know?” Janice asked. “Danny Nelson had an affair with Dolores, Michael’s wife.”
      “Good Lord,” Lisa said. "I had no idea."
      "I only found out last night," Janice said. "Dolores called to tell me that she knew how I felt and that she was thinking of me." Her face twisted. "I know she was trying to be kind, but all she did was make me feel worse."
      "Is there anyone Danny didn’t sleep with?” Lisa asked.
      “Interesting question, Ms. Trent,” Gill Armstrong said from behind Lisa.
      She turned in her chair. He stepped over to join them.
      “I hope Danny’s indiscretions won’t make the paper,” he said. “I think Melissa and Graham have suffered enough. Of course, you might feel differently. I’ve noticed that the media has an overwhelming appetite for dirt.” He looked at Janice. “I hope you’re being careful. I don’t think you need any more bad press, either.”
      "Eavesdrop much?" Lisa asked.
      "It's a public place, Ms. Trent," he said. "I was picking up a couple of coffees. I have a right to be here. At least when I overhear something, there's no chance that it will end up on the front page."
      “What is your problem, Mr. Armstrong?” Lisa snapped. “Do you hate all reporters or is it only me?”
      “I hate to see anyone exploited,” Gill said.
      “It didn’t seem to bother you when Danny was using me,” Janice said.
      “Janice, you’re not a child,” Gill said. “You knew what you were doing.”
      “I loved him!” Janice said.
      “Then that was your mistake,” Gill said. “I doubt Danny told you he loved you. And even if he did, how could you believe him? The only person he ever really loved was himself.”
      “Pretty harsh for someone who was supposedly his best friend,” Lisa said.
      Gill nodded. “You’re right. I shouldn’t have said anything. You know what they say about speaking ill of the dead.”
      “That it’s fun?” Janice said with a smirk.
      “No,” Armstrong said. “That it’s impolite at best and cowardly at worse. After all, Danny can’t defend himself.”
      Janice made a sound of disgust. “I’m going to the restroom.” She stalked away from the table. Gill Armstrong watched her go.
      “She’s a beautiful woman,” Gill said. “Too bad it’s only on the outside.”
      “I don’t think you know Janice well enough to say that,” Lisa said.
      Gill shrugged. “I know the type. In years past, they’d call her a gold-digger. What’s the current slang?”
      “I wouldn’t know,” Lisa said. “But don’t you think this is a case of the kettle calling the pot black?”
      “Oh, a cliché,” Gill said. “How novel. But I don’t understand how it applies.”
      “Aren’t you dating Melissa Nelson now?” Lisa asked.
      Gill’s face turned red. “How dare you!”
      “You know us media types,” Lisa said. “We’ll exploit any situation.”
      “That sounds dangerously like libel,” Gill said.
      “No, it’s slander right now,” Lisa said. “It’s libel if we print it.” Suddenly she felt tired. “Oh, grow up. No one cares if you date Melissa or if you don’t. The only thing that anyone cares about is who killed Danny and shot poor Mrs. Dematt.”
      Gill stood there silently for a moment. “How is Roberta?”
      “She’s still in a coma,” Lisa said. She looked at him. “I guess you know her from Aventura?”
      “No,” Gill said. “I used to do her taxes before I moved to the city.” He sighed. “She’s a good woman, and I always liked her husband. He was a good businessman.” He paused again. “I’m sorry if I’ve stepped out of line. I’m just trying to protect Melissa and Graham. I think Danny would want me to.”
       “I’m just trying to do my job,” Lisa said. “And help the chief as much as I can.”
      “Is he close to catching whoever it is?” Gill asked.
      “I don’t know,” Lisa said. “But he won’t stop until he does.”
      "Good," Gill said. "I don't think Melissa can move on until he does." He smiled suddenly, and Lisa realized Gill was actually quite attractive. "We gold-diggers don't need the past hanging over us."
      Lisa reluctantly smiled. Behind him, Lisa saw Otis Brunson rush into the café. He looked around, saw the two, and headed toward them, not quite running but close.
      "Gill, I need to speak to you," Brunson said. His face was flushed. "I just talked to Hyatt. How could you?"
      "I've not done anything, Otis," Gill said. "Michael made an offer, that's all." He glanced at Lisa. "This isn't the place to discuss it. Come on." He nodded at Lisa and led Brunson outside.
      What I wouldn't give to know what they talking about, Lisa thought.
      Janice rejoined her at the table. Her reddened eyes looked bleakly around.
      "I'm glad he's gone," Janice said. "He was always trying to get Danny to break up with me."
      "How did he even know about you two?" Lisa asked. "Wasn't it a secret?"
      "Danny liked to brag. Men are like that." Janice opened her purse and pulled out a compact. She looked at her face in its mirror and frowned. "But he's right about one thing. I'm not a child. I knew what I was doing."
      "I still don't understand why," Lisa said.
      Janice raised an eyebrow. Her mouth twisted in a half smile. "Because it was fun."
      Lisa looked at her and realized she didn't know this woman anymore. Janice had changed, and not for the better. Lisa wondered if Janice saw her the same way. Did she think Lisa had changed into a stranger?
      They finished their coffees and left Pete's. Both of them had parked in the public lot across the street.
      "Thank you for listening," Janice said as they reached Lisa's car. "I know it's --" Her eyes widened.
      Someone grabbed Lisa's shoulder hard and jerked her around.
      "What are you doing with her?" Ethan Hasting demanded.
      Lisa could smell the liquor on his breath. "Let go of me!"
      "Ethan, stop it!" Janice shouted, grabbing at his arm.
      Lisa pulled free and slapped Ethan. The young man staggered. Janice pulled on him. He pushed Janice away. She fell. He lunged at Lisa, his hands reaching for her throat.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Excerpt from Murder by the Acre

Excerpt from the infamous Chapter Eight of Murder by the Acre. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

      "The thing about Aventura is that it's a mess," Lawrence Mattall told the chief. The two sat in Mattall's office in the Blake building off Broadway. "And it's strictly personalities."
      Mattall had been willing to meet with the chief early this morning. He seemed open and eager to talk about Aventura, a stark contrast to the other investors who either claimed to know little about the day-to-day dealings, referring to the chief to Hastings who had already made it clear the chief would need a court order to pry any more information loose, or they were openly evasive, once again reffering the chief to Hastings.
      "Lots of chiefs, no braves," Mattall continued. "Everyone wants to rule the world, so to speak. It's a nasty business. Lots of angry words and insults, imagined and real. Some of our investors don't speak to each other unless they're shouting."
       "Any particular fights recently?" the chief asked.
      "None that I would think would lead to murder," Mattall said. "If that was what you were driving to."
      "Still, I'd like hear what those fights were," the chief said.
      Mattall shrugged. "Mostly between Michael Hyatt and the Nelsons. Hyatt wants to take Henri's place. He has this whole idea about making Oakleaf into an exclusive gated community. He thinks Oakleaf can attract some of the movers and shakers of Oklahoma City who want to retire from the city life, but remain within easy driving distance. Gladys didn't want that to happen. She wanted Oakleaf to be for Ryton residents. Danny just wanted to make an easy buck and didn't want to take the time that a gated community development would need. The others lined up on one side or another." He frowned. "Hyatt wanted to use the money from Aventura's other investments to fund his dream. Since a lot of the investors count on those checks, it generated a lot of controversy."
      "I was told the corporation didn't do that much other than Oakleaf," the chief said.
      Mattall snorted. "And I can guess who told you that. They all act like we're involved in corporate espionage here, but they seem to forget we're filed with the Corporation Commission and pay taxes just like every other company. Anyone who really wants to know just has to dig a little."
      "So Aventura has other investments?" the chief asked.
      "Yes," Mattall said. "Besides Oakleaf, we hold several oil and gas leases. We're also invested in FNBLend. That's the loan company arm of First National Bank. Then, of course, Aventura owns several buildings downtown and some land scattered around Ryton."
      "I had no idea," the chief said, mentally making a list of everyone who had lied to him about Aventura or at least misled him.
      "Most people don't," Mattall said. "If Aventura had continued, it would have owned most of Ryton by now."
      "Why didn't it?" the chief asked.
      "Old man Nelson died," Mattall said. "It's as simple as that. Did you know him?"
      "No," the chief said. "I'd see him around town, but we didn't run in the same circles."
      "Henri was a circle unto himself," Mattall said. "He had an overwhelming personality. Aventura was his show from beginning to end. When he was alive, it was going and growing. Now ..." He shook his head. "I'm sure the other investors told you Oakleaf was our only project because it's the only one that's still active, and that's mostly because land prices have continued to rise around Ryton. It's certainly not because of good leadership."
      "How much money is actually tied up in Oakleaf?" the chief asked.
      "Well, originally it was going to be a fifty-six lot development," Mattall said. "About a couple of million in today's dollars, a good return on land Henri bought for pocket change. However, with Danny's land, Oakleaf is going to be worth a lot more. Probably ten or twenty million if things go smoothly and the economy doesn't go to pot."
      The chief whistled. Mattall smiled.
      "That's small money compared to the developments in Oklahoma City or Dallas," Mattall said.
      "Big enough for here," the chief said. "But what's this about Danny's land?"
      Mattall looked uncomfortable for a moment. "I guess it doesn't matter now that the deal is set. Danny inherited three hundred acres of land when Henri died that's adjacent to Oakleaf. He was going to sell it to some investors out of OKC, but now his wife is going to sell it to Aventura. Oakleaf is going to grow in a major way. It will be a money producer for many years to come if things go as planned."
      "And if people keep their mouths shut," Harold Hastings said from the doorway. "I thought you were aware, Lawrence, of the importance of keeping business dealings confidential."
      "Harold, come in, come in," Mattall said. "Don't wait to be invited. Just stick your nose in any private conversation you wish. My life is your life." He paused and stared at the attorney. "Apparently."
      Hastings flushed angrily. "Your wife said there would be no problem with me coming on back."
      "She probably figured you'd knock," Mattall said. "Deborah often thinks people have more manners than they do."
      Hastings's face tightened. "I have some papers for you to sign." He stepped into the office and handed an manila envelope to Mattall. He turned to leave, but stopped to look at the chief. "Aventura would appreciate your discretion about the Nelson land. Nothing has been approved by the zoning commission. We haven't even started on the necessary paperwork."
      "He's worried the people in that area won't like having a housing development in their backyards," Mattall said. "Not to mention that the city is going to have to annex portions of the land, and our local taxpayers might not want to pay for roads, water, and sewer out there when Ryton has so many crumbling streets in town."
      Hastings glared at Mattall. If looks could kill, Mattall would already be diced, sliced, and slabbed.
      "I'm only interested in solving the murders," the chief told Hastings. "Otherwise, y'all can just play Monopoly to your heart's content."
      "Thank you, Chief." Hastings stiffly nodded to Mattall. "Lawrence, we'll be speaking later."
      "I can't wait," Mattall said.
      After Hasting left, the chief said, "Hastings isn't known for being forgiving. As much as I enjoyed that, I'm afraid you may have made some trouble for yourself."
      "He don't worry me none. I know where all the bodies are buried." Mattall grinned. "Figuratively speaking, of course."

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 13, 2008


      Found this test, and since we'd been talking about him, decided to post it. I don't know how accurate it is, but I do see some of my traits there.

Your Score: Odysseus

66% Extroversion, 13% Intuition, 100% Emotiveness, 23% Perceptiveness

You are a generous entertainer, an observer of tradition, and you are an enthusiastic leader. You are most like Odysseus. You meet transgressions with swift retribution but you are, in the end, just and fair. You're also pretty astute -- it's hard to pull one over on you.

You're a very detail oriented person, you take your responsibilities very seriously, and you're highly dependable. You aren't particularly idealistic, and are more apt to practice a kind of situational morality, albeit a pragmatic one that you ensure is amenable to the situation at hand. Your externally defined morality also means that you have a lot of regard for law, tradition, and social structure.

Because you're a sense-oriented person, you may lack the ability to weigh your externally defined morality on a theoretical basis. This can be harmful if you aren't versed enough in the ways of the world to compare the value-system you were raised in against some of the other social and ethical systems in practice around the world. On the other hand, if you were nurtured in a non-sociopathic setting, you will find that you can be a very fair and just leader. Because your ethical code is so contingent upon your upbringing, you may find yourself in staunch and violent opposition to other Odysseus types, as well as the more analytical personalities (such as Hermes, Prometheus and the Oracle).

Leadership and tact are your strongpoints. You are adept in exploiting these to such an extent that, when you make a strategic or ethical error (as the Odysseus type is prone to do from time to time), you can recover and regain your footing in short order. This makes you a natural head of state or military brass.

Famous people like you: Bill Clinton, George Washington
Similar Personality Types: Atlas, Apollo, Pan
Personalities to Avoid: Prometheus, The Oracle, Hermes

Link: The Greek Mythology Personality Test written by Aleph_Nine on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ulysses and other news

      You may be more familiar with the poem "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson than you might think. Ulysses or Odysseus is the Greek hero who, after the Trojan war, spends 20 years trying to get home, as detailed in The Odyssey. Tennyson picks up Ulysses's story many years later as the aged king begins to long for one more adventure, one more golden hurrah before death claims him. He gathers his old adventuring friends together and sets forth.
      Read this poem aloud. You'll be amazed at the power that Tennyson gives this poem. As I grow older and sometimes wonder if the best is already behind me, this poem gives me courage and strength.
      The reason you might be more familiar with this poem that you might think is that a popular long-running TV sit-com quoted the end of the poem in its series finale. Do you know which one?

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle–
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me–
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads–you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

       Frasier used the last six lines in its series finale. Kelsey Grammer did a great reading.
       Changing the subject, you may notice the word count on Murder by the Acre didn't go up this morning. That's because I spent yesterday entering in corrections and working on the Ryton Atlas. To speak of the last first, the Atlas is a Who's Who and What's What for Ryton, Oklahoma, where the Measurements of Murder™ series is set. I had a very rough one that I used for Murder by Dewey Decimal, but it was totally inadequate for MBTA. Several errors in the book were caused by me losing track. So I'm doing in the last place what I should have been doing in the first place: compiling a Ryton Atlas. I will also need to do this for Darkness, Oklahoma and Dragons Gather. Sigh. Anyone want a very demanding, stressful, non-paying job as a compiler? Thought not.
      Crystal found a lot of corrections for me that I'm busy entering into the book. Some of which are simply my style, but most are errors. I type fast when the story wants to be told so I leave out words, misspell, etc. It's amazing to me sometimes how much I miss. I also received several corrections on a few chapters from Nancy C. I appreciate their help in getting MBTA ready to go.
      In other news: I continue to kill a few things in World of Warcraft. I have been assured that the game is better as soon as you hit level 20. I'm 18th rank now. Since I'm not devoting hours to the game -- I come in and play for a few minutes, usually until I'm killed -- it may take longer than my free trial to reach 20th.
       The gloom continues to lift. I think all the sunshine is helping. I love summer, despite its heat. Or maybe because of it.
       And now I need to get to work. More later. Have a great day.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Moving again

      If you've been talking attention to the word count on Murder by the Acre, you might have noticed that it hasn't gone up in a while. That's because of my funk. However, if you look it now, you will see that words have been added. We are moving forward again, my friends. A bit creaky and slow, but we are moving. Not enough that I'm willing to post a schedule, but enough that I think we will have words most every day now. Thank the good Lord. It's been a long, hard dry spell.
      I appreciate the people who purchased EndlesS, all of whom are my friends and family. I've had several people tell me how they didn't like poetry so they weren't going to buy EndlesS. I'm saddened that poetry is such a turnoff to so many people. There is wonderful poetry out there, poetry that can change a person's life. But in this era of reality TV, gory movies, and violent video games, can truth and beauty stand a chance? Poetry isn't always easily accessible, but if you make the effort to read Keats, cummings, MacLeish, Tennyson, Dickinson, Whitman, even Shakespeare, I promise you will discover a whole new wondrous country to explore and enjoy. In the spirit of bringing poetry to everyone, I'll be posting a few excerpts from poems I love over the next few days.
      And now I'm going to bed. Talk to you later.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Another poem not in Endless


We slip beneath the waves
Black water closes over
cold comfort to life's pain
Numb can be a blessing

How deep can we sink
before light fades completely?
How soon will our vision
fail totally and give us peace?

Above a forever storm rages
Life's cruel fury without regard
to those below who grasp
grimly onto the remaining debris.

But here it is calm as the currents
take us into the dark depths
A struggle for breath mercifully brief
The waters flood in -- wait!

I think
I see

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Wow! (And I don't mean the game)

       Wow! Kirsten over at Now Or Never awarded me the Arte y pico award, for “those who are creative or have a penchant for art.” Very cool and the first award my blog has ever won. Thank you, Kirsten! You're awesome!
      Kirsten also received the award, and she certainly deserves it. Her interesting and frequently funny stories of libraries, yoga and life, and her awesome photography make Now Or Never a nice stop in my day.

      Now here are the bloggers I'm awarding:

      Michelle, Soul Patches. Her photography is simply totally amazing. I'm looking forward to the day when she can pursue it fulltime. She truly has the eyes of an artist.
      Adam Huckeby, Miscellaneous thoughts and other interesting particulars... Adam writes well and has also produced some interesting designs for his blog. He says he's finished with the design changes, but I hope that's not true as I've always enjoyed seeing what he comes up with next.
      Holly Lisle, Pocket Full of Words. If you read my blog much, you had to know this one was coming. Holly is one of the most creative writers out there. Her novels, writing courses, newsletters, blog, and website are testaments to her skill as well as her willingness to help other writers achieve their dreams. She will probably never know I gave this award to her, but by golly Miss Molly, she deserves it and more.
      Trixie, Trixie's Home. Trixie doesn't blog as much as I'd like -- hint, hint -- but when she does, she has produced some amazing posts. She has the ability to capture the essense of her subject. Her tributes to various family members (particularly those about her brother) and friends will bring tears to the eyes of the most jaded reader.
       Anny, NarcissusWorks. Stunning photography, painting and poetry on a blog truly devoted to creativity. A couple of times a month, I visit her blog and enjoy all the new poets she features. Well worth your time.
      And here are the official award acceptance rules:

      1. Pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language.
      2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog.
      3. Each award winner (upon acceptance) should show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award.
      4. Show the link of Arte y pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.
      5. Show these rules.

      Thanks again to Kristen for the award. Y'all have a great day!

A poem not in EndlesS

High Maintenance

If I could somehow offer you
my heart on the proverbial silver tray
garnished with gold truffles
topped with a sprinkle of diamonds,
would it finally be enough?

Or perhaps I steal for you
the sweet hymn of heaven,
which only the archangels
have gloriously sung,
would you be satisfied?

Maybe even wrestle time itself
and plunder from its secret vault
the elixir of eternal youth
so age never touches your lush body,
could you be content then?

But the more important question may be
if I could do these wondrous things
if such miracles I could bring forth
as easy as buttering your bread,
why oh why would I waste them on you?

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

My powers increase ... sort of

      You do remember that I've been playing World of Warcraft to escape life, right? Yes, instead of being a productive member of society, I've been wandering around an online game world and getting killed. Getting killed a lot. In fact, I might possibly be the worse WoW player in the history of the game. Let me tell you how bad I am.
      I'm a low rank character, which means I face off against low rack monsters. They kill me, I resurrect, they kill me again, I resurrect, they kill me again, and so on until I give up in frustration. I blamed my rapid death rate on my inexperience and incredible bad luck with anything involving chance. But no, I'm beginning to understand I actually project a powerful aura of ineptitude. Besides getting me killed frequently, this aura can actually kill other players who attempt to help me.
      Case in point: Last night, Roen's character RiceKrispy adventured with me for a while. RK is rank 65. She has tons of spells and thousands of life points. She is a one-person army, capable of killing scads of monsters at one time and frequently does so. She could beat up Xena, Hercules, and Superman without working up much of sweat. So understand this: she died three times while adventuring with me. The first time, I was shocked and puzzled. Had to be fluke. Likewise the second time. These things happen. But the third time, I realized something sinister was going on. Was it possible that she was dying just because she was near me?
      On reflection, this makes perfect sense. If you watch GhostHunters -- and we know you do, Crystal -- you know that living beings have an aura. Sometimes this aura lingers after we die, which gives rise to ghosts, ghouls, IRS employees, and other scary beings. Apparently my online character has an aura of defeat that directly affects other online characters. Even rank 65 characters are unable to resist it. (You might think this is fanciful, but look carefully at the presidential candidates fielded by the Democrats this year, and then ask yourself if they aren't evidence of an aura of defeat.)
      In fact, it's possible that, before I showed up, the World of Warcraft was a calm, peaceful place where people advanced in rank by learning how to fish or how to bake delicious pastries. What little killing took place was only to provide meat for the cooking pots and leather for clothes. Orcs, humans, trolls, and elves lived together in peace and harmony, occasionally getting together for barn raisings and square dances. But I show up, and immediately everything falls apart so fast that you'd think Congress was involved, but no, it's just little old me.
      Now, all I have to do is learn how to focus it so that it affects whom I wish. With my Power of Utter Defeat, Despair, and Lethal Entropy (AKA PUDDLE), I could conquer the online world! Only one thing stops me from pursuing this nefarious goal: What would I do with the online world after I conquered it? There doesn't seem to be much point to it all.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

A spider ate my brain

      Been in a funk. Had the wind kicked out of me, both personally and writerly, and so I considered ending the blog and walking away from writing in general. Fortunately, a friend of mine gave me World of Warcraft, and I've been busy killing things ever since. And being killed by things, too. Particularly spiders.
      I am not a particularly good player. In fact, I am a spectacularly bad player. I've been killed by: young nightsabers, thistle boars, webspinner spiders, sprites, fell off the island -- twice, rabid thistle boars, sabers, giant spiders, harpies, owls, car salesmen, IRS agents, giant crabs, water lizards, a splendid variety of the undead, and so on and so on. In fact, the creatures of WoW consider me a delicacy. Nightstalkers and spiders will go out of their way to have a bite of delicious me. I am finger -- uh, claw, digit or tentacle lickin' good.
      I've spent a lot of my time as a spirit soaring around looking for my body. (WoWers understand this. If you're not one, just take it on faith.) In fact, after having died five times in a row, I soared around the island just looking at things because it was more fun than playing. (My friend Roen rescued me. She plays a terribly powerful character who is the equivalent of a nuke. But alas, she has a group of terribly powerful characters that she normally plays with -- they're on some quest involving a ring and some little folk -- and thus isn't often available to pull my tasty bacon out of the ever-hungry fire.)
      That's one of the not-much-talked-about-but-true advantages to not writing for a living. Unlike Holly Lisle, I can take a break and still have food on my table. Holly has to work hard -- and seriously, I know of no writer who works as hard, as creatively, and as productively as she does -- and she can't let up. She has a family to support. If she has a funk, she has to write her way through it.
      Always keep moving, I guess. That's the only way to deal with something. Go through it and out the other side. Got to remember -- however hard it is -- that every tunnel ends, that every cave (even those infested with vile sprites) can be mapped, and someday, eventually, if you keep moving, you'll make it back into the sunshine. Where a giant webwood spider will promptly eat you. Sigh.
      But after you get your spirit back into your body and turn that spider into goo -- not me; I resurrected and got out of there -- then you can keep moving forward. So that's what I'm doing. Moving forward again. Oh, I'm going to kill a few more creatures on WoW and vice versa, but it's time to pay bills, do laundry, clean house, write, and be me again.
      And if you're a member of WoW, stop by and say hi. My character is a night elf warrior known as Reevemer. He'll be the one with a spider eating his brain.