Friday, December 12, 2008

Writing Update: December 2008

Now that we're knee-deep in the holidays, my free time tends to extend more to family matters than to matters of the pen. The good news is that I finished the second draft of Stranger On A Quiet Street and have put it aside to gel. Well, at least I thought I had. Lori wants to read it but, since she's nauseous (we're expecting our second child in April), she never really feels like getting around to it. So I've taken to reading it to her, one chapter a night. I actually found myself nervous when I started but now I look forward to reading it to her every night and to her feedback.

Each day at lunch, I polish another chapter in Fairlight #2, Hope For Tomorrow, for the Blademaster Press edition. There are very few fixes. It was always a pretty clean manuscript. It's a good story with believable characters. I'm enjoying reading it again almost 8 years after its original publication.

I've also started research on my next novel, which I'm wisely (I think) waiting until after the holidays to start plotting. The idea is to make a trilogy out of this concept so I'll be committing to it for several years once I start it. But it occupies a lot of my thoughts and it feels like the right one to do next. So that's the direction I'm going.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Photoshop Class 2: Photoshop in New Media

My second Photoshop class did well yesterday. A lot of good feedback and comments. My favorite response so far was that several people loved my comment, in trying to explain resolution, that a Lite Bright is about 4 dpi.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Photoshop Class Update

So the first class on Photoshop that I'm teaching at The Designory is tomorrow. It's just a basics class. Really, I'll probably only answer this question: "What the heck is Photoshop?" I only have an hour, after all. I'm going to try to make it humorous. Most of the people coming are non-creatives who are just curious about what the program can do (although there are a couple of ADs and even a Sr. Creative Director attending).

Of course, the program can't do anything without a talented individual operating it. Leave it on the computer overnight and it won't do anything someone hasn't told it to do (read: Actions).

There will be two more classes that I'm teaching. The next one (currently set for Dec. 2) will be a demonstration class about how the Interactive team uses Photoshop in-house. And the last (not-yet-scheduled) will be more of an expert-level Tips & Tricks Forum where Art Directors, ACDs and Creative Directors can share the different things they've learned.

I asked Lori to pick up some AAA batteries for my laser pointer today. I hope she can get around to it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Writing Update: October 2008

A couple weeks ago, I completed the first draft of "Stranger On A Quiet Street" which is what I hope will be the first in a new series called "Worlds Collide." Since then, I've been vigorously editing the first draft and I'll probably have all my notes down by the end of this week. Next week, I'll get the edits into the manuscript and I'll have a pretty clean second draft that I can put aside for awhile.

Already, I've started considering what I'm going to write next. My mind continues to circle a concept that I discussed with a friend of mine (Doug Coning) years ago. The kernel of the idea was his so I didn't want to pursue it without at least chatting with him again and getting his blessing to go ahead with it and develop it to my satisfaction.

Last week, I wrote to him and he gave me the go-ahead. There are a lot of research aspects to the world-building that I will need to do and it sounds as if Doug is very interested in bouncing ideas around with me on the subject. So I'm looking forward to that. I'm sure Lori will have some input too and I'll be referring to some of her late father's related documents as well. That's all I'm going to say for now! I don't want to spoil the fun nor do I want to let the concept for the story to slip just yet.

In the meantime, and before I really get the ball rolling on the new story, I'm going to have to keep my editorial hat on for a few more weeks because I owe my publisher a new draft of "Hope For Tomorrow" (Fairlight #2) soon. I might as well get it out of the way so I don't have to interrupt the new story with it. So that will be next, once I finish the second draft of SOAQS.

So that's the update. "Chance For The Future" is still supposedly shooting for a February 2009 release in hard cover. Mass market paperback to follow after. I hope the schedule doesn't shift again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Teaching Photoshop

Just a quick note to sorta toot my own horn. It appears that I've been selected to teach a class or two on Photoshop here at The Designory (my day job). Details are scant at this time, but it's something I know very well and it's a nice opportunity to get back into the speaking game.

Plus, I guess I get some extra vacation time for doing it. Never a bad thing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Blogging Fool

So, in addition to this blog that Lori and I contribute to together and the recently launched weekly Zooming Thru Life blog that I put together to bring my Zooming Thru Life articles to the Internet and promote the Zooming Thru Life series of books, Lori and I have launched another blog that is related to our worship and Bible-study ministry, Launch Pad.

So check out Launch Pad: The Blog. Each month, we'll post the teaching from our meeting and we'll probably have other Faith-related articles as well every once in awhile. I'm hoping for a once-a-week posting, so we'll see.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Celebrate The Milestone!

This week, I completed the first draft of my latest novel: "A Stranger on a Quiet Street" which is the first in what I hope will be a series called Worlds Collide.

It's been a bumpy road for this novel. It was started when my dad was still alive and we were living in Colorado. Since then, we've moved several times and the book has had many starts and stops.

Of course, as Ernest Hemingway said, "The first draft of anything is sh*t." So now the editing begins. Thankfully, despite the interruptions, I had an outline for the novel from the outset and never lost sight of it. I'm pretty sure it will still hold together nicely, even though I have since re-read portions of it that I don't even remember writing!

I'm pretty sure my publisher wants to see it when I have a polished draft, so all the more reason to get crackin.

So even though I'm celebrating the milestone of finishing the first draft, I'm not spending much time in the celebration. There's always more to do.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chance for the Future Release Moved

In an earlier post, I was lamenting my publishing delays. Well, I thought I'd post a little update.

My editor contacted me today, apologized for being behind schedule (I think all publishers are perpetually behind schedule) and informed me that we're looking at a probable February 2009 release date for "Chance for the Future" in hard cover.

So I'm told the cover will come back shortly and I'll get to see it when it comes in. And galleys should come to me sometime in October for me to review.

The other book schedules will probably also shift but he also tells me he'll get me a new schedule over the weekend.

So good news comes to those who wait!

September 11

Well, here it is. Seven years since the attacks on the World Trade Center, The Pentagon and what would have presumably been the White House (or some other part of Washington DC), if not for some brave Americans.

I wanted to say something of note but, over the years, I think most of what I would have said has been said.

The only addition I would make is that we should not forget, especially during this time of election, what kind of world it is out there. We have our cushy jobs and our happy homes but many of us rarely leave the enclave of our immediate neighborhood. But the world beyond is not safe and it is possible that it can and will intrude on our charmed lives.

Do not forget the events of September 11, 2001. Do not forget that there are still those out there who wish to do Americans harm for no other reason than because of their nationality.

And do not forget that making the world a better place starts at home. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your neighbor as yourself. Give and it shall be given.

As for more words concerning 9/11, I got nuthin.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Stressy Stress Stressington

So I was telling Lori last night that I don't think I've ever experienced the level of stress in as many simultaneous places as I'm experiencing right now. I know it's been awhile since I've posted much of consequence regarding what's going on with us. Most of my recent posts have been about writing updates. It's been somewhat superficial or it hasn't been there are all. And Lori's posts have been even fewer and farther between.

I want to make it clear that I am not writing this post to air the family dirty laundry either. I'm going to be vague where I can but I need to get some things off my chest and out of my mind. So here are just a few areas of my life that are giving me stress.

On The Work Front
Basically it comes down to the increase in gas prices, but we've had a few layoffs at work. I was going to say "minor" layoffs but I'm sure the folks getting the axe wouldn't consider them minor. My heart goes out for them at the same time I breathe my own sigh of relief. Morale isn't that great but at least they're telling us they're done "trimming the fat." A lot of people have left on their own as well in the past year or so. In fact, there are only a handful of folks left who were here when I started. I'm sure I could get more elsewhere with my talent/skills/experience. But I sorta like being downtown. I walk to work these days so I save gas, wear-and-tear on the Mustang, I lose weight and I read while I walk. I get home at a decent time and that means I have time to accomplish some of the other things we want to do. It's a pretty nice lifestyle and I don't really want to trade it for a two hour a day (or more) commute.

The Expanding Family
Lori and I have now told our respective families so I think it's fair to announce that we are expecting another child. A momentous occasion, to be sure. We're praying for a boy since we've already got our little Melody and we probably won't try for another. Already, the nausea has started. Lori's been calling around for a doctor and we're now remembering all the things we hate about the medical profession/industry. But, at least God is giving us a new little blessing!

The Big Investment
This section was gonna be a lot bigger and longer because it really is the source of most of my current stress. However, I realized after I wrote it that I was sharing far more information than I should on a public blog. Not only might I regret it later, Lori would probably give me all kinds of guff about finances and privacy. So, suffice it to say: Our housing situation isn't what we thought it was going to be going into it. The market has gone down considerably. Our options are limited. We're exploring them and praying for a positive outcome. Plenty enough info to explain why it's giving me stress.

A Chip Off The Old Block
Naturally, there's still stuff we want to do to the house. Unfortunately, we have to focus on the things that don't cost money because we don't have any. So our attention has shifted to what Lori calls the "Back 40" (I call it Death Valley because it's like a desert out there). It's the area out back behind the garage where we were originally going to build a unit. That plan has been scrapped, however. Right now it's nothing but dirt but we discovered that about a foot underneath a lot of the dirt is cement. So we've taken to clearing the dirt and exposing the cement. Sounds easy, huh? Well, it's not something you can just do with a shovel. Apparently, the previous owners used to drive over this dirt on the way out the back of the property (we've since put a fence in to cut off alley access). So it requires a pretty hefty pick axe and me doing my best John Henry impersonation to break the dirt up enough to shovel it into a wheel barrow and cart it off to an area of the yard that needs to be more level. Last night we finally finished clearing the first section but that took a good month and there's a lot more to go. The idea is to clear the cement, move our patio furniture back there (currently it's in front of our garage) and then we can park our cars side-by-side instead of stacking them. Lori wants to sod the remaining dirt areas but we'll probably have to settle for planting grass (since we don't have money). In the end, we'll probably have a nice little park in the back where Melody can run or maybe we can even put a dog if we can ever afford one.

This Little Girl
Speaking of our little princess: Her behavior is getting out of control. She's been moved around so much, including having her very own pink bedroom taken away from her, that she just fights us at every turn. The only times her behavior has been better was when she attended preschool for that short time in Los Alamitos and when she was in her various dance classes. So we think she's bored and she needs to be engaged by other children and with a firm authority figure in charge. She should probably be in preschool, but alas we can't afford to send her. "Free" preschools abound in our area but, even though I pay the taxes to fund them, apparently our one-income family makes too much money to actually have our daughter attend one. I'm sure there are plenty of children attending these preschools whose parents don't pay any taxes (or aren't even in this country legally) but I digress. So we're exploring our options. Hopefully, we can at least get her into some more Parks and Rec classes. Regardless, she's going to end up sharing the room she's in sooner than later since we're currently renting to room that was intended for her.

Re-Launching Launch Pad
If you read this blog at all (and I don't think anyone actually does), you'll have seen posts, mostly by Lori, about something we call Launch Pad. One of the things we did this summer to relieve some of our stress was break away from the church where we were leading worship. In place of that, we've turned our attention back to the ministry we felt God had called us to several years ago. Basically, it means getting away from a lot of the formal trappings of church and into something that more resembles the early church as seen in the book of Acts. What we envision is something one Saturday night of the month that is very much worship-centric with teaching on the side. Ultimately, we would like it to have its own building and maybe go to a weekly format. The idea at that point would basically be a sort of worship night club where freedom is the order of the day and worshiping God would be the primary purpose. For now, we've cleaned up our basement, moved our worship gear down and set up a few chairs. We're hoping to start it as a sort of worship-centric Bible study and see where it goes from there. We've even written some original material that I think we're both fairly proud of. I would hold it up lyrically, musically and melodically to anything being done in modern worship. But we need a band. Ideally, we want a drummer and a guitar player. We want our band to be good. Tight. Able to improvise. We don't have to be rock stars and we don't need guitar heroes or drumstick wizards necessarily either. But we need to have a tight band that sounds good if we want to glorify God with music. So we're praying and seeking for band-mates who will share the Launch Pad vision.

Books, Books Everywhere But Not A One To Read
When I was a single Art Director in Colorado, I chose to publish my own works because I knew I could do as good a job as the "professionals." Now that I'm married with a kid and another on the way, I don't want to spend what little time I have for my writing on cover design and typesetting. That's why I was excited when Blademaster Press chose to pick up my three (existing) Fairlight novels (I'd still like to write more), "One of the Girls" and my first nonfiction book, "Zooming Thru Life." Blademaster is a very small press out of Las Vegas, Nevada. I know the primary guy has suffered some setbacks over the past year and believe me, I can sympathize. Unfortunately, the scheduling has also suffered for a variety of reasons. CFTF was supposed to see hard cover release this month. It will not. To be honest, I never really cared if these books came out in hard cover. In my opinion, they're really just fun, adventuresome quick-reads that are best suited to mass market paperbacks. But I'm happy for them to see publication in whatever format my publisher sees fit. I still believe Blademaster will publish my work. But since I haven't received an updated scheudle, the question seems to be "When?" I'm sure I'll hear from them soon.

The Write Stuff
Still, I continue to peck away at the latest novel. I'll probably be finishing up Chapter 22 tonight. I think I figured it to be 29 or 30 chapters. So I'm closing in on the finale. Once that's done, I'm going to go back through it with a red pen and sharpen it up some. The story was started in 2004 and it's now 2008. Normally, even with work and all of the other diversions, I can complete a novel in about a year. But with all our moves and life events over the past four years... well, this novel has been started, stopped and re-started so many times, I've lost count. So I want to take a little extra time and make sure the spark of life is in there.

On The Run Again
As always, I'm still working on losing weight. Lori had really come down before I went and got her pregnant so she's in great shape going into this. Me? I still need some work, so, in addition to walking a mile each way to and from work, I'm running two miles a night, four nights a week until I can work my way back up to three miles. It's my goal to be down close to where I want to be by the time our little boy pops onto the scene.

So, as you can see, the stress is building as we close out summer and head into the holidays. All of this, and I still haven't had a chance to see "The Dark Knight." Oh well, at least I got to see "Indiana Jones" and, despite what a lot of online geeks are saying, I loved it!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Zooming Thru Life: The Blog

So I started a new blog where I can post my Zooming Thru Life On-The-Go Lifestyle articles on a weekly basis.

The original idea was to publish these articles in local newspapers or magazines and help build up visibility for my upcoming book. Unfortunately, it seems that most smaller print publications are doing all they can to merely survive these days and there's not a lot of room for new columnists to break in. And, let's be honest, I'm not big enough to break into the larger publications. So, as I've often done in the past, I've decided to take control once again of my distribution and publish the articles myself via blog.

Please visit often (at least once a week) and tell your friends. I think you'll find the information valuable and hopefully we'll have a small army of folks clamoring for the Zooming Thru Life book when it becomes available next August.

Visit now: Zooming Thru Life Blog

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Look

Well, it seems the old template that we were using for our blog has gone away so I've gone through the templates and chose something that I think Lori will like. So, although the look of the blog is slightly different, it's got all the same content as always.

I'm hoping to start the updates again soon and am even contemplating a new blog that would compliment my upcoming Zooming Thru Life nonfiction book.

More on that later.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Are you Zooming Thru Life?

I'm a little late in sharing this news, but I thought I'd go ahead and also announce that my first nonfiction book, "Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle," has also been picked up by Blademaster Press. It's nice to have a publishing home that is interested in the different kinds of things I write.

The book will come out in only one print format, trade paperback, as well as an e-book format (Amazon Kindle and/or PDF, not sure if both). The tentative release is set for sometime in August, 2009.

I'm very excited for this book to finally see print. I've spent a good number of years perfecting it and one of the things that I've realized is that, because it draws so deeply from my life experiences, it's never really done. Because of this reality, and in hopes of helping to promote the book, I've started a series of "Zooming Thru Life" articles (I've already written eleven of them and outlined ten more). The plan is to begin pitching them as a column to local weekly newspapers and magazines. If the response is good, I hope to expand the market nationally.

I've already got several sequels to the book in mind. One would be a traditional sequel to the first but incorporating more family-friendly tips (most of the first book was written when I was single). I've already started listing them. I've also started outlining a Disneyland-based entry that will compile my tips and experience navigating through Walt Disney's original magic kingdom in Anaheim, California (I do not profess to be an expert at all on the East Coast Disney parks). I think that one will have a built-in audience if I can make them aware of it. A third will feature "Zooming Thru Your Move" which is mostly written and will incorporate all of the knowledge about moving that Lori and I have gleaned over the past decade and a half. It will probably not be as long as the other books so I may include a lot of the articles from the column to flesh it out. I've also got one in the very early stages that would focus solely on marriage from a male (my) perspective that is tentatively titled, "Zooming Thru Wife." So I'm viewing the whole "Zooming" and "On-the go Lifestyle" thing as a brand for, at least the first phase, of my nonfiction writing. Naturally, for these sequels to see print, the first book will have to do relatively well when it is released next year.

So please, when "Zooming Thru Life" comes out, pick up a copy for yourself and a few more as gifts.

Check this blog for book signing opportunities as well as for more information regarding the future of the "Zooming Thru Life" column.

"Chance for the Future" Release Update

Although there was a slight publishing delay for "Chance for the Future," it is still scheduled for release this year.

It should be available in a new hard cover edition on or around September 9, 2008.

The Amazon Kindle version is slated for availability on August 1, 2008 (whether or not it will also be available as a PDF-style eBook is not yet clear to me).

The mass-market paperback edition is set for a November 4, 2008 release.

All editions, I believe, will include the brand new Chance short story, "Power to the People."

I'm very much looking forward to having this novel available in a format and price-point that I think is fair and affordable.

Release dates for the other two existing Fairlight novels, "Hope for Tomorrow" and "Faith in the Past," were not affected by the delay and should not differ from my previous post.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Hairy Situation

Unless you like long, thin black hairs baked into the cheese on your pizza, don't order from Papa John's on 4th Street in Long Beach.

Not only did we discover said DNA in our dinner, when I called them to report it, they were less than professional about it. First they suggested that I drive the pizzas back over and they'd make new ones for us. We had it delivered! The last thing I wanted was to go get new ones.

Then they said their driver would bring us new ones (if we give the driver the hair-infested ones to bring back) so I asked "How do I know there won't be hair in these ones?" I thought it was a fair question. He said, "I'll have someone who's bald make them." Hardly the response of someone taking me seriously. So I replied, "I hope his eyebrows don't shed while he's doing it."

I waited almost another half hour for the new pizzas to arrive. By then, Melody was extremely hungry and Lori was making her a sandwich. Finally I called them back and told them not to bother and dumped the pizzas into the outside garbage can.

So basically we paid for two pizzas tonight that Papa Johns never made good on (and the guy got a tip too).

Needless to say, we won't frequent there again. I'm encouraging you to go elsewhere as well. In fact, give Tony's on 7th and Long Beach Blvd. a try. Their hours are somewhat odd sometimes (which was why we tried Papa Johns to begin with), but for the money, they've got the best pizza in town.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Power To The People

No. The title of this post is not in reference to the historic election madness that's sweeping the nation.

"Power To The People" is the name of the new Chance short story that I delivered to my editor last week.

As is my custom, I tested it with Lori before I sent it along. While she generally liked the piece, she did think that part of it was somewhat, well I'll use her word: "gross."

Which was intended. There's usually an "ick" factor to a Chance story. I delight in dumping my character into trash, sludge, grime and (in the case of torture scenes) his own bodily fluids. This time, I put him in touch with a substance I've never used before.

So I was okay with her response.

When I heard back from my editor regarding the story, I wasn't sure what to expect. You see, I happen to know that my editor is going through some tough times in his personal life right now. I was actually a little suprised to hear back as soon as I did.

"So what did you think of it?" I asked. "Is it too gross?"

He replied, "I laughed. Hard!" He then went on to explain, "I needed to laugh too."

The intended response! A ringing endorsement! I couldn't have asked for a better reply.

"Power To The People" will only be available in the upcoming Blademaster Press edition of Chance for the Future, available in hardcover this summer from your favorite book store.

Make sure you pick up a copy and let me know what you think.

Friday, February 08, 2008

"One of the Girls" Also Picked Up!

My Young Adult superhero novel that had previously only seen print in a short-run self-published paperback edition (and wasn't even available through has also been picked up by Blademaster Press. My understanding is that the hardcover edition should be available in January of 2009 with a mass-market paperback edition to follow.

If it does well, I might get to write a sequel!

So buy it when it comes out!