Thursday, February 25, 2016

Three more chapters--unless I stray from my outline again.

I’m in the final stretch folks.  I have three more chapters to write in Downgrade (working title) until I’m officially done with my draft!

Three more chaptersThen comes the hard part.

I have had to force myself to stop going back into the previous chapters to edit and revise things.  I realized that was subconscious procrastination. I would open up Scrivener with the intention to write a chapter or scene, but instead, I’d go back and proofread an earlier chapter.

Now I’m close.

I’m a little short on my target word count and may go back and actually (gasp) add some details!

I am certain my editor will be cutting out chunks of text that aren’t relevant and I wouldn’t want him or her to be bored!money-stacks

Here’s what’s coming:

  1. Complete draft (Almost there!)

  2. Choose an editor and send my draft to him or her.

  3. Wait impatiently for the draft to be returned. (Do I start Book 2 or wait?)

  4. Make tons of revisions and corrections. This will take several days at least.

  5. Send the revised draft to be proofread.

  6. Wait nervously for it to be returned. (I need to finalize my publication strategy!)

  7. Make some revisions and corrections.

So it comes back to my previous post. Publish now, Wait or Serialize?

I’m probably not going to serialize book one. Though the sequel would fit the model. However, I’m not interested in mixing the publication styles between two books in the same series.

Either way, I think you’re going to really like this action-packed story!


(with my first draft)


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I think I might be more of a pantser.

The industry (writing) calls people who sit down and write, with little to no plan, pantser; as in, by the seat of their pants.

The second one.

The second one.



I thought I might be more of a plotter. I mean, I have chapters “outlined”

well in advance as I write the story. I know what’s coming and I write my way there, following the outline pretty closely.

Tonight, I’m writing about an event in the book and following my outline, like a good boy.

Then I realize I inadvertently set the main character up for a twist! I had no idea it was coming.


My new wallpaper

The foreshadowing I wrote and the dialog I wrote led me to do it, though in hindsight I think it might’ve been evil-pantser-angel.good vs. evil

I’m wondering where the sweet, plotting-angel went.

I have managed to write myself into a new outline; for the next few chapters, at least. The outline and notes I had before simply won’t work now that the main character has done this thing I can’t tell you about.

What I will say is, if it shocked me, and I’m writing it… well, I wish I could see the look on your face when you read it.

Oh and do not ever Google image search “good devil”. Wow.

Read about The Pros and Cons of Plotters and Pantsers over on The Magic Violinist’s blog.





Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Don't tell me what to do Grammerly!

This doesn’t even count the words I type into Scrivener for the novel!2016-02-22 16_06_22-Calendar

2016-02-22 16_06_06-Calendar

Grammerly is telling me I am often missing commas in my compound sentences… Well, the joke’s on you Grammerly, because, I am not even trying to write, a compound sentence, nor am I trying, to splice commas… oh, and I’ll tell you when… an ellipsis is unnecessary! Stop being so bossy.




I'd love to hire an editor to work on commission or royalty

Do editors work on commission?

No. Not usually.

Why not? I think it would definitely encourage the editor to do an outstanding job editing and it would allow for the novice writer to get out there and make a little money without as much personal risk.

I’m not proposing that a writer just drafts something and sends it off to be finished by the editor. But, if a writer, myself perhaps, could do the initial editing himself then send something off to an editor that just needs minor line edits and proofreading, it seems reasonable that the writer and editor share the profits.

I’d love to find an editor willing to work with me for a commission.

  1. Writer: create the first draft of a novel.

  2. Writer: takes the time to carefully do his best to edit and proof the writing.

  3. Writer: sends the revised draft to the editor.

  4. Editor: Edits and proofs novel.

  5. Writer: Publishes said novel.

  6. Writer and Editor split royalties on pre-arranged schedule.

Perhaps I’m just dreaming, but, a writer is putting a lot of effort into something that may sell anywhere from zero to a million copies. There is no way to know ahead of time, however, a competent editor will have a good idea of what will and won’t sell and will do his best to ensure that the text is readable and marketable.

Are you an editor who has previously worked on commission?

Have you hired an editor to work on royalties or commission?

I’d like to hear from you.



Monday, February 22, 2016

Looks like the IRS called to tell me they're filing a lawsuit against me!

Apparently the IRS is so overworked that they are now using a prerecorded message to inform people that they are being sued.

I thought it’d be fun to learn more about which of my dastardly deeds I was in trouble for so I decided to give the number a call.


That isn’t even an IRS office number and they would surely have the courtesy of using a toll-free number if they did want me to call them, right?



IRS Officer in his best Indian-sounding accent: GarbledJumble-dee-gook.

103108958-GettyImages-471197539.530x298Me: “Who is this?”





Well, son of a bitch. I’ll be damned if the IRS is going to hang up on me! Don’t they know who I am?




…. and so on until *Fast-Busy*


Oh no! I hope I’m not too late!




Less Indian-Sounding Mark: “IRS Department, Officer Mark speaking.”

Me: “hahahahahahha good one.”

Sorry, the name he chose threw me into a laughing fit. I had to hang up.


Damn it. I had recorded my call but didn’t turn on the microphone.

Basically it went like this:

Richard Wilsone: “Hello, IRS Department.”

Me: “Yes, I’m calling about filing a lawsuit against you.”fonejacker

RW: Laughing

Me: “What’s funny? This is serious business!”

RW: “Yes, that is the first time I have heard you are to be suing me!”

Me: Laughing, “yeah, I figured I’d be first. Tell me, how does this work?”

RW: “I do not be knowing what you mean?”

Me: “Come on, if I call and say, I received a call from the IRS about a lawsuit, what do you do first? How can I make it go away?”

RW: “Ok sir, well you take a rope and you go to the nearest house and you hang from it.”

Me: “Ok, and should I be touching myself when I do this?”

RW: “No…? What does this mean?”

Me: “Nevermind… so, I take a rope, hang myself.  This will make my IRS problems disappear?”

RW: “Oh yes, because you will already be in hell.”

Me: Laughing.

RW: Laughing. “Ok really, so where are you from?”

Me: “India. My name is Suresh Gupta.”

RW: “I think you are having fun with me. What is that place?”

Me: “You’ve never heard of the country India?”

RW: “No, this is the first time I hear of such a place.”

Me: “…”

RW: “…”

We talked, we laughed… I think we might be dating now. Look, it’s complicated.


He wanted me to talk to him more because he liked me.  I think I was the first person he could screw around with on the phone who wasn’t calling in crying or worried about being sued. I don’t know what predicament Richard Wilson is in that he must take these calls and convince people to give him money but I hope he gets out of it soon.





Writing: Algorithmic Approach - You won't believe what happens next!

I hate clickbait.

Writing programs… does this relate to writing fiction?

The things I write on this blog are my observations and things I learn. I am not telling you how to write well; I don’t know how to write well. But, I’m trying, and I’m sharing those experiences with you. Writing is the hard.

I’m a programmer at heart. I love shaping code and forcing the computer to do my bidding. I realized, very early in life, that everything is a program. Some of them, more complex than others.

Science has known that everything behaves within certain rule-sets for years. They may study genetic algorithms, behavioral, and so on.

How your dog behaves is nothing more than a complex program. X happens, dog does Y. The more complex the animal or situation, the more complex the program so let’s scale it back to something

Simple Ant Behavior

A simple diagram depicting typical, basic ant behavior.

easier to understand, like ants.


I’ve watched ants for extended periods of time. I’m a nerd; I like to know things. Anyway, I watch these little critters at work as they move around, following invisible chemical trails left by their comrades. One becomes injured, not my doing, I assure you, and the rest stop to investigate but ultimately they decide it’s too much trouble and they abandon the injured coworker.

Their programming is to go from Point A to Point B and gather food and return it to Point A. If they encounter an obstacle, such as an injured ant, they might secrete some of their alarm chemicals so other ants avoid that spot and they reroute the project. It is a relatively simple program. Plants have a program also, they are programmed to pull certain things in through the roots, other things from the air, grow and multiply.

Plants have a program also, they are programmed to pull certain things in through the roots, other things from the air, grow and multiply.

Sharks are programmed to swim around, looking mean, and occasionally eat a fish.



Writing can be looked at similarly. Here is an example of what is, in my mind, the most basic of algorithms.


Writing Algorithm

A basic flowchart for writing.

Let’s look at this more closely. I write something. Does it fit/work/belong? Yes? Great, go write another thing. No? Get it out of there, then go write something that does.


Now, if I follow this flowchart, I should be able to crank out pages of content that further my story along. If that was all there was to it, we’d probably all be writers.




But wait_thumb[5]


After cranking out a draft of a chapter, I have to go back and read it. I need to check for consistency, grammar, punctuation, tension, flow, pacing, etc.

The simple flowchart suddenly becomes a lot more complicated.

Adding to all of that, I have to write the next chapter!

That is the flow of my writing style. The actual algorithms are much more complex.

If A then B else C or D and E unless B and C then G with H or I but not J because K was U until X became P so A needs to G before the end of R.

Something like that. This is why notes are crucial to me. It’s also why I had to kill Mr. Annoying because I couldn’t keep his character straight in my head. Life is easier without him anyway. That jerk.

What if there was a formula I could apply to writing a paragraph? Well, there are several actually. If I adhere to writing using a single template then reading my work would become a dull, textbook-like experience: X, Y, Z then A, B, C then X, Y, Z…

I don’t think having a template is the ideal solution, but, good paragraph structure is paramount to writing well.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

New iON Cameras. Installed, tested, reviewed.

iON Cameras: Yay or Nay?

(the answer is YAY for those who don’t want to read)

Buy an iON Speed Pro:

Buy an iON HD Sport WiFi:

I bought two iON Cameras to replace my My GoPro camera which stopped functioning properly after just over a year. Hell, it wasn’t working right before then but I never sent it in to be fixed.

I didn’t want to buy another $400 camera so I started looking for alternatives.  Sure I could’ve gone with one of the knock-off GoPro but to be honest, I think the square form-factor is a little ridiculous considering I want to use these while going fast and especially on a helmet, I don’t want the extra drag.

New iON Cameras installed on my Kawasaki Ninja 650

I used the included hande-bar mounts which I found to be of good quality. One of them has a quick release clip and the other a ball similar to a RAM(c) Mount.




took these photos of the rear mounted camera using the iON Speed Pro.

 iON HD Sports WiFi mounted on the rear



It’s there, left handle bar.


Wow, fish-eye is bad for photos.


See it?

Here you can see where I mounted the front camera.  These photos were taken with the iON HD Sport WiFi.

iON Speed Pro mounted on front handlebars.

Buy an iON Speed Pro:

Buy an iON HD Sport WiFi:

I’m happy with the video quality and the mounts reduce or eliminate video shake/vibration as well.

They are simple to use. You clip it on and you flip the switch forward and it’s recording. There is a nice cell-phone-like vibration to indicate that the unit is on.

You flip the switch off and it goes into standby mode. You have to hold the single shot/power button down for a few minutes to turn it off.


The Lid clips on back. – Min shooting distance is about 6″


Trying to show you the top slider and button…


Back lid clipped on


RAM Style Mount


Lots of inputs – Camera fails at close shots







The software that comes with the camera leaves  a lot to be desired.  It looks like someone 2016-02-21 17_53_50-ionspent about 15 minutes whipping it together. 2016-02-21 17_53_39-ion 2016-02-21 17_53_27-ion


If it opens correctly; I’ve found that the world’s shortest 3″ USB that came with the iON HD Sport is unreliable.2016-02-21 17_48_05-D__

And the iON Cloud where you can sync your video and seamlessly transfer your video to youtube, doesn’t exist from what I’ve been able to find.

2016-02-21 ? Nope. Nope... Nope…




10 Gigs Free

10 Gigs Free

However, I was able to track down by looking at the tiny print on one of the iON Cloud cards included in both camera packages.  That site is still up but apparently the 10 gig plan is FREE anyway and not just the promised 8 gigs from iON Cameras USA.

This is like selling a product and saying, “Oh, hey, and you get a free email address from!” Well no shit… no thanks to you iON Cameras USA.


Bottom line?  Buy them.  Buy them all.

Buy an iON Speed Pro:

Buy an iON HD Sport WiFi:


New iON Cameras. Installed, tested, reviewed.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sun Strike - Revised Chapter 1

This is an old draft.  For the latest go here.

Back to Work
September 27th, 2018, 2030 hours
Lights started flashing in her rear-view mirror. Gina cursed as she pulled to the side of the road.
“Good Evening, Captain Regina Phillips?” said a tall, skinny and young military police officer as he checked his clipboard.
Gina nodded and the man continued, “Ma’am you’re ordered to report to your duty station.”
“What’s this about officer?” asked Gina.
Suddenly, Gina heard blaring base alarms coming from the towers spread throughout the base. The alarms sounded like an old ambulance if you were standing next to it. As the sirens belted out their song, red lights mounted on each of the telephone poles began flashing at a slow and steady pace.  
“…Ma’am, …ease report …arty… station,” repeated the young MP loudly, but his voice couldn’t overcome the cacophonous base alert horns with their endless high-low screams. 
The young policeman returned to his car and sped off into the distance.
Damn it.
Gina quickly rolled up her window to dampen the horrible wailing sirens. She grabbed her phone and dialed her husband of thirteen years.
Russ Phillips answered, “Phillips’ residence”. 
“Hey dear. How’s your day?” Gina asked, playfully as she circled back toward her office. 
Russ replied in a sarcastically loud tone, “Oh! Gosh! Pretty well so far Gina. I was just out mowing." He raised his voice further for emphasis, "When my ears started ringing and I started going deaf because we live under one of those god-awful base alert horns!” 
Gina laughed and replied, “Yeah… So… I’m going to be home late tonight. If I get off before the exchange closes I’ll grab some chicken we can grill tomorrow night.”
Russ responded, “Could you bring home some bottled water you people haven’t put mind-control drugs into yet?” 
Gina giggled at Russ and told him, “I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
All the base’s traffic lights were now blinking yellow.
Russ worked as an on-line independent blog writer concocting a slew of conspiracy theories for his followers and she knew he didn’t believe any of the fiction he wrote.
Gina sped through an intersection and said, “sure dear”. 
“If you’re out late, I’ll entertain myself. Have fun saving the world,” was Russ’s playful response.
“Oh, I always do. Be home when I can,” she told him and hung up her phone.
Why the hell did they send MP’s after me?
Several other cars began swarming around like bees fleeing from a broken hive. Gina saw organized chaos everywhere.
United States Army. A well-oiled and precise machine of military prowess.
She grinned.
Well, let’s not get carried away, it’s the US government after all.
The five male and two female trained combat soldiers she commanded worked in Sanitation, and, they were good at pushing paper but only Specialist Tina Pollard had been in combat.
We go where needed.
Retracing her route, Gina could hear the high-pitched whine of turbine helicopters spooling up. 
Surprised anything is louder than these damn sirens.
She drove by the front gate and peered out at ominous steel cylinders rising from the concrete.
“Shit!” she yelled and stomped on the brake pedal with both feet, narrowly missing a group of soldiers jogging across the street. A man stood inches away from the front of her car signaling the universal gesture to “stop” with his outstretched arm and white-gloved palm.
Gina watched the last man step off the street. Two traffic monitors stood to attention. They saluted the cars waiting and ran to catch their unit.
Watch the road Captain, she silently ordered.
She saw men standing near the gate's steel barriers, cradling rifles across their chests. Several of them were turning back cars at the gate on both sides while others photographed each car and its occupants. 
Unofficial cars are refused entry and, no car would be permitted to leave until the nature of the alert had been communicated.
A car honk from behind Gina reminded her to move. She hit the gas, lurching forward on her way. These dry-runs happened monthly and were a part of military life, but they had one as recently as two weeks ago. 
Why are we on alert again so soon?
Gina approached her office and saw the shoddy and pothole-filled parking lot was full of cars. She had previously made multiple requests to have the potholes in the lot filled in, however, it seemed to Gina, the Army cared more about tanks than the Sanitation parking lot. 
Good, the squad is already on station awaiting inspection. This alert will be short.
She pulled into the bumpy lot and noticed a green jeep with military police designations. She pulled into her reserved spot by the front door. 
Walking the few steps to the front door, Gina saw the MP’s in the jeep looking at her suspiciously. She looked back at them, equally suspiciously. Two of the men swiveled their heads away to peer intently at nothing to the front of the jeep. Gina smiled, then the third officer must have had a sudden urge to check something at his feet because he disappeared down here Gina couldn’t see him. 
She turned her back on them and walked across a few feet of the sorry excuse for a parking lot and felt the MPs gazes return. Used to the occasional checking of her posterior, Gina was, after all, a fit, young and attractive officer. 
Gina reached out for the handle on the steel door. The door swung open making a horrible racket. 
This door would be more at home on a deserted shed in a dark Louisiana bayou instead of on the front door of a military facility. 
Gina walked into the climate controlled air of her unit’s headquarters and allowed the front door to slam noisily shut on its huge, creaking, spring-loaded hinges.
The door muffled the sound of the base sirens. Inside Gina’s office was a tumultuous frenzy of seemingly random actions. When combined with the military police out-front and the helicopters screeching away into the distance, was enough to shred her remaining confidence. Her stomach dropped and the blood drained from her face.
The severity of the situation had revealed itself.
This is no drill.
Second Lieutenant Benjamin Schaffer bumped into her, and mumbled “Sorry Ma'am.” 
Gina wondered why Ben called her Ma’am; they weren’t usually formal around the office. 
Ben shouted, “Attention!” 
Gina heard the men all smack their heels together as they stood up, rigid as boards, and stared straight ahead, no matter where they had been facing. One man, Corporal Bruce Kilner, had come to attention to the snack machine. 
Gina called out “At ease!”
Everyone resumed what they had been doing. Bruce turned around and met Gina’s gaze. He rolled his eyes, grinned nervously and walked back to his desk.
Captain Gina Phillips’ men were throwing everything from on top of their desks into filing cabinets and powered down their computers. A man Gina didn’t recognize methodically walked to each computer, pulled out the hard drive and dropped them unceremoniously into a large metal box.
Odd, he isn’t making any notes anywhere to track those drives.
Whatever was going on, it didn’t appear, to Gina, life would be back to normal anytime soon.
“Ben! What the hell is going on?” She asked loudly across the room. 
Ben, face shaved smooth and professional-looking in his crisp officer’s uniform, looked up and tipped his head back, pointing his chin at Gina’s closed office door. She took the hint and walked quickly to her office.
Whoever is in my office has some explaining to do.
Collecting her thoughts for a moment before entering, she felt nervous and still a little mentally off-balance. Someone she didn’t see slipped a bottle of cold water in her hand. She rubbed the cold bottle against her pale and clammy face.
Something isn’t right.
Walking into her office, she was startled by a gruff time-wizened voice, even though she was expecting someone. 
The man’s voice ordered her, “Shut the door, Captain.” 
She looked over at her bookcase where she displayed various plaques, awards, and the occasional book and saw a U.S. Navy Captain.
She immediately came to attention to the senior officer, by several pay grades. 
The man said, “at ease, Captain Phillips.” 
Gina, knowing a Navy Captain equaled an Army full-bird Colonel, realized this alert had just reached a whole new level of scary. Gina felt like she might become ill.
The man introduced himself, “I am Captain Ronald Greene. I have orders for your unit.”
Gina, having a hard time speaking through her tight jaw muscles and tumbling stomach, asked before thinking, “why not just send them the usual way?”
He motioned for Gina to have a seat and told her “you may want to sit down for this Captain Phillips.” 
“Thank you, sir, I’ll stand,” she replied, trying to look strong and competent. 
Captain Greene looked into her eyes, nodded.
“I am hand delivering your orders, and those of many other units, because we can no longer rely on electronic communications. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, specifically the Space Weather Prediction Center, told us about some unusual solar activity which started yesterday morning.
“To be candid, we’d foolishly stopped doing much if anything about these notices because NOAA gives us three or four of them each year.
Gina nodded, she suddenly felt dizzy with shock. 
I should have taken a seat when he offered it. 
Captain Greene continued, “Yesterday there were a couple of small disruptions and extra static on the radio waves. Also, as you may have heard, some of the more sensitive scientific computers and most networks are offline or only sporadically available.”
“Okay Captain Greene, so you need bodies out there making people feel safe?” Gina asked, trying to appear normal.
“Yes and no Captain Phillips, I’m here because we’re going cross-branch to get these orders in the hands of our officers. We can’t rely on comms because we don’t know when they’re going to fail us. We can’t have any misunderstandings right now. This may be the last new information we receive for a couple of days. 
“Captain, what I’m going to tell you is for military ears only. NOAA tried to measure the magnitude of the blast with their ACE satellite, but they have been… unable to locate it. 
“NOAA had contacted NASA to examine the issue. NASA tried to reach the ACE satellite and discovered that ACE wasn’t off course or offline, it was gone. The only thing NASA found was a small debris field and a large coronal mass ejection heading straight for Earth.
Gina looked over at her wastebasket as it sat calmly next to her desk.
Good. I’m going to need that soon.
Gina casually walked over toward her desk and, she was sure, her future vomit container as the Captain continued.
“Late this afternoon NOAA told the government the outages we’ve experienced so far are nothing when compared to the epic hell coming sometime tomorrow. Our experience with this storm so far is just a small preview of the main blast that NASA observed.”
Her mouth felt tight as her throat constricted, preparing her body to expel her stomach contents. 
Here it comes.
“We’ve lost contact with most of Asia already, Captain. Civilians have noticed and they are asking questions. Our last reports from the East were of widespread panic and riots which had decimated the major cities in Russia, China and most of Europe.
Oh my God.
“Even if they could obtain measurements from their satellites, NOAA has nothing to compare this storm to, however, they have reassured the government the Earth’s atmosphere should dampen the radiation levels, preventing them from being lethal, but… the inevitable electromagnetic burst has the potential to destroy every single electronic device man has ever created.”
Gina felt cold and faint. She fell heavily backward, thankfully landing on one of the soft guest chairs.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Here's another taste.

The first chapter is a little lame and I might insert something with more action before that one to get the reader's attention.
--- I redid the first chapter, see the next post.