Friday, July 24, 2009

Let's Play Catch Up

Since we lost Lyric back on New Year's Eve, a lot of things have sorta shifted around. Lori and I have had many discussions about priorities and where our various creative and other endeavors will fall over the next year or so.

There's quite a bit to ingest, so I'm gonna lay it all out here in hopes that I can both share it with you, the (hopefully) interested reader as well as wrap my own head around it all.

Show Me The Money!
So it seems as if, after many false starts and time lags, that we finally have an agreement with our lender that everyone is happy with. Lori and I are very pleased with the results in the monthly payment department and I was just waiting on a few more details regarding the loan terms before we put pen to paper and lock this sucker down. That was before my phone just rang. Now we're ready to go! Both Lori and I see the results of this process as an answer to prayer. Especially, since we had previously been offered an agreement that wasn't as beneficial to us. So it's time to thank God this weekend and that's how I'm going into the weekend. With a thankful heart and a good attitude!

This new agreement will give us some breathing room and maybe even some travel money down the line. So stay tuned for where Lori and I have been discussing going.

Pooling Around
It's been extremely hot out this summer and Lori has tried multiple times to have a pool in the back for Melody to play in. The neighbors have a really large pool set up and Melody sometimes goes there to play. But Melody has never had swimming lessons so we don't like to let her go over without one of us being right there. The first inflatable pool Lori bought was quite large and rectangular. It lasted about a day before the neighborhood cats, I guess thinking they had found the mother lode of thirst quenchers, destroyed it with their claws (climbing up to get a drink?). Lori tried to replace it but all additional pools of like design had disappeared off the shelves. So she got this other inflatable one that sprays water out of a giraffe head. The downside though is it's really a small pool, despite the multiple 10-year olds playing in it on the box. I'd call that false advertising, but maybe that's just me. So we've been really good about emptying it and removing it to the garage whenever Melody gets out so the neighborhood cats won't get their claws on (or in) it. But lately, it's been so hot that even Lori and her mom were thinking it would be nice to get in the pool. So the two of them together conspired to get this other, much larger pool. In fact, its probably as large as our neighbor's pool, although not as deep or as high up. So now we have this pool. The top ring inflates and as its filled with water, the top rises, making the pool deeper. Kind of ingenious if you ask me. It also has a water pump that's supposed to clean the water but I have yet to hook that up (it looks like it might be missing some pieces, but maybe I can make it work). So that's the girls' summer fun for you. Maybe I'll get in it this weekend after I mow a lawn or two. Whatever the case, it's too big to take down every day so I've sprayed dog and cat repellent all around it and on the rim. Twice. So far it's fared well over two nights. I guess we'll see.

Rock Around The House
In the meantime, I've been on sort of a household improvement and repair kick. A few weeks ago, I repainted most of the front porch. It's all the same colors as before but just giving it a refreshing. I've also gone around and retouched the house wherever there were any chips in the olive paint. So the place is looking a little spiffier. The driveway gate is getting a little wobbly so I'm going to try to secure that this weekend. Plus probably try to set up the pool's water pump and a few other minor projects around the house. The key is to make the list and prioritize the projects and not try to do them all at once. Otherwise, I won't enjoy my weekend at all. The idea is to push some of them to another weekend. The list is merely there so I don't forget anything.

The Sound Of Music
For awhile now, Lori and I have felt called to have a worship gathering/Bible study for the neighborhood in our basement. When we stepped down from leading worship at The Connection, one of the projects we felt led to was writing our own music. Between Lori and I, we've written a lot of stuff over the past year. And I gotta say, it's all pretty good. I'm really proud of it. Both Lori and I sing the songs. Lori plays keys and I play bass and I think we have a pretty unique sound. Recently, we added to that sound with Ed Che playing guitar and Lou Diaz on drums. The result is Launch Pad: the band. I must say, it is so satisfying to hear the music come together with the full band. But this band isn't just about turning it up to eleven and rockin out. We see the band as the front-end of a missionary movement. Yes, we've written some songs that those who go to church would call "worship" songs. But we've also written other songs that eschew Christianese and just tell it the way it is. We want to be real. We don't want to be churchy. We've got a lot to say and we're saying most of it through music. So, we're going to be rehearsing a lot over the next couple months and then we'll be playing out around town. I hope you can check us out. More info as it comes.

The Write Stuff
In addition to all of the musical mayhem going on, I've been steadily writing as well. Unfortunately, probably mostly due to the economic downturn, my publisher was starting to let some key production dates on Chance for the Future slide. So we had a chat and he released me from my contracts at my request. So, the downside is I'm back without a publishing deal. The upside is, I'm not locked into a deal that isn't going anywhere. As for my backlist, I'm currently working out a publishing schedule for bringing these all back out on my own. They'll require new covers and I'll have to do my own book layout, but it's a minor inconvenience.

That said, "Zooming Thru Life" is pretty much ready to go. It needs a cover but I'll use the logo from the articles/blog. "One of the Girls" will probably get a new edition very soon as well (so it'll have a wider availability, especially online) but I'll probably keep the Kris Cartwright artwork in one way or another. "Chance For The Future" was delivered to the publisher with the new short story, so that's a clean edit that I just need a new cover for. Hope For Tomorrow has had the manuscript marked-up and only needs the edits to be implemented (and a new cover). Faith In The Past will be the next one to get the manuscript polish and also needs a new cover. I just finished the first round of edits on the newly again re-titled "A Stranger On Bay Street" (it'll probably get another couple passes before it's published, but the title shouldn't change again). I must say I'm quite pleased with how that story came out. As with "One of the Girls," I look forward to writing sequels in this world. And progress continues on "Plunge Into Eden," the first book in my sci-fi alternate-universe trilogy. I finished Chapter 23 the other night our of an expected 28 (and an epilogue). So that one nears completion. I'm so very glad to be working on this stuff again on a regular basis.

Meet Melody's New Friend
Another thing that has kept me busy, especially on the weekend, is the dog-escape-proofing of our yard. Because we now have a puppy. Her name is Harmony. She's supposedly half-Golden Retriever (and maybe half shepherd? Dunno). She's short haired and very playful. She's going to be a very big dog when she grows up though so she's an outside dog. I'm actually hoping she'll scare the cats away from our pool. She has a big bed on the back porch that might be nicer than mine and all sorts of chew toys because she's teething and if I don't provide said toys, she will chew the paint off my house and chew through the back porch wood supports like beaver. I've already had to spray stuff I don't want her to chew with this "bitter chew" stuff they had at PetSmart. We'll see if it works. She seems to be pretty smart though. She's already very good at bringing the slobbery tennis ball back when I throw it. But she lived next door for a couple weeks so she still tries to get back over there now and again. So I put up chicken wire along the picket fence (she could squeeze through!) and I've extended the height of our fence in a couple places (and painted the extensions to match the fence for camouflage's sake. Melody really loves "her doggy." The first thing she wants to do every morning is "play with Harmony," even though that dog could bowl her over without thinking about it twice.

Graduation and Pre-K
Which brings me to Melody. She graduated from preschool late last month and started a Pre-K class immediately thereafter. She really enjoys school but I wonder if this new class is taxing her in different ways. Whatever the case, it's probably good for her. The preschool class she was in was lax in a lot of ways. This new class seems to be more structured. I guess she has it for one more week. Overlapping that, starting next week is Melody's swimming class. So, yes, with all this pool talk, we're actually getting Melody some lessons. I'm sure she'll love it. After that, she'll start up at Stevenson (named after author Robert Louis Stevenson... I couldn't be more pleased... ha!) in a year-round schedule, which both Lori and I actually like.

Today would have been my dad's 70th birthday had he not passed away a few years ago. Working around the house so much these days, I can't help but recall helping him work around his house when I was a kid. It seemed like he always knew exactly what to do to fix anything. I don't have anywhere near that kind of knowledge. But then I realize that it probably seems to Melody that I know exactly what to do too. Is it all such a sham? I don't know. But I do know that if my dad was still alive, I'd be hitting him up for advice on how to fix this or that around the house. And he would probably be coming over to explain it to me just so he could play with his little granddaughter. He was very close with Melody's cousin, Violet. But he only held Melody a handful of times as he started getting sick right around the time she was born. I know if he were around, he would be proud of everything she can do these days. I know I am. She's getting so big. She's not a baby anymore. She's a little girl. And she's my little girl. I guess that will never really change.

I'm sure there's other stuff going on, but that's gonna have to be it for this update.

Well, it's Friday and Lori's picking me up after work so I can start the weekend off right with my girls (sans Harmony). We're going to celebrate everything God's doing in our lives and just enjoy being together. What else can I ask for? I'm Looking forward to it!

What I'm Reading - Revised

Well, I had a dentist appointment a couple weeks ago and I must have been so addled by it (nothing wrong, by the way, it was merely a teeth cleaning and the dentist said everything looked great) that I have misplaced my Last Days of Krypton book. I can't find it. I was roughly halfway through it and now, unless I pick up another copy somewhere, I guess I'll never finish it. Bummer.

Worse though: For years I've had this hard cover that slips on to mass-market size paperback books. I don't think you can even get them anymore. Anyway, it was on the aforementioned missing book. So now I have no paperback protection! I've looked online for a new cover but I'm not enamored with any of the newer designs.

I checked with the dentist and they haven't found it there. I don't know where I put it. Maybe I'll run across it someday. In the meantime, I'm reading Hopscotch by the same author (Kevin J. Anderson). I figured if I wasn't going to finish his Superman history, I might as well finish something else by him. As for Hopscotch, it's an interesting read so far. I can tell he's setting up a lot of things. How it will all connect and converge will be something to discover.

Anyway, I still hope to find the other book and cover in the next couple weeks... It would be nice if I could find them around the time I wrap up this book. But we'll see.