Category Archives: Short Stories

2018 Writing Plans

2017 is gone; 2018 is here. It’s time to develop writing plans for this new year, and publish them for the world to see. Okay, not the whole world—just the blogosphere. And, I know, not very much of the blogosphere. Alright, just a handful of readers or fellow writers. I’ve thought about this for months. What should I write next?

Will 2018 see a third novel added to this series?
Will 2018 see a third novel added to this series?

First, let me inventory my works-in-progress.

  • Adam Of Jerusalem: I began this a few months ago. It’s the prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant, showing things that went on in Augustus’ family before his involvement with writing the Gospel of Luke. I found the book somewhat more laborious than expected, and haven’t just rushed to my computer to work on it. I don’t know if that means it’s ill-conceived or not.
  • The Gutter Chronicles, Volume 2: The second volume in my workplace humor series, poking fun at my own business, I began this more than a year ago (maybe two years ago), got 25% into it, and put it aside. I picked it back up again in November, and found the writing easy and fast. Holiday activities caused me to lay it aside for a while, but I’m ready to get back to work on it. It will be novella length, maybe 35,000 to 45,000 words, and I’m perhaps 40 percent there already.
  • Stephen Cross of Ipswich: This is a genealogy/family history book. Stephen Cross and my wife’s great-great-whatever-aunt, Elizabeth Cheney, married in 1672 and resided in Ipswich Massachusetts. I did this research as part of broader research on Elizabeth’s father, John Cheney, the immigrant ancestor of the family. Of all of their children, I found the least on Elizabeth. So last year I hit the research hard, and pulled a lot of information and sources together. The full book on John Cheney will have to wait a few years. Meanwhile I thought, since I have all this information on Stephen and Elizabeth, why not publish it as a smaller book? It may not sell much, but, who knows, maybe a few of their descendants will be interested.
  • Thomas Carlyle Chronological Composition Bibliography: I’ve written about this before on the blog. It’s a labor of love for me, partially to serve as my own research aid for Thomas Carlyle. I’ve worked on it off and on for close to three years. I’d say I have another year, maybe more, to go. I imagine I’ll work on it some this year, between other projects, or when the intense research bug flares up, but I don’t anticipate it will be a priority.
  • Carlyle’s Chartism Through The Ages: This book, a study of Carlyle’s short book/pamphlet Chartism, is close to 80 percent done. What’s left is some editing, seeking some copyright permissions, and writing a couple of my own essays to go with it. I could finish this in 2018 if I put my mind to it. Perhaps I’ll at least work on it, but I don’t think it will make the to-do list.
And, perhaps, a fourth to this one?
And, perhaps, a fourth to this one?

Second, I’ll list the works in “gray-cell gestation,” taking up creative space but which haven’t yet found their way to pixels or pen.

  • Documenting America: Constitution Edition: I’d like to write and publish a book in this series each year. This is the one I plan on doing next. So far I’ve done nothing on it, other than to brainstorm.
  • The next Sharon Williams Fonseca short story, tentatively titled “Tango Delta Foxtrot”. This will be only 4,000 or so words. The plot line has come to me—most of it. I should just knuckle down and do it, and perhaps I will.
  • A newly conceived book on life freedoms. This has come to mind from watching my grand-children grow and develop, but has solidified in being a care-giver for my mother-in-law. I’ve noticed that children get these freedoms in stages, and senior citizens lose them in stages. Parents and care-givers should perhaps understand these things. I have no qualifications to write this book, other than being a careful observer of the human condition. Having to qualifications, I should put this out of my mind and find other things to do. But, alas, it keeps tying up gray cells that I should apply to other works. I may find I’ll have to write it just to get it out of my system.
  • Publish one of my Bible studies, though not sure which one. I’ve prepared eight (I think that’s the right number) Bible studies to teach to our adult Life Group at church. I’d like to someday get them published. I don’t that they will sell, but I did a lot of work on them; why not put them in publishable form? Unfortunately, to do so will take a lot of work. I have notes, but not publishable notes. Yes, a lot of work.

These nine items are all candidates for my 2018 writing to-do list. I’d love to put them all on it, but, realistically, I can only accomplish a fraction of this. So, here’s the list in the order I hope to do them.

  • Finish The Gutter Chronicles, Vol. 2. Finish by the end of February; publish by the end of April.
  • Finish Adam Of Jerusalem by the end of the year; publish in 2019.
  • Begin work on Documenting America: Constitution Edition. I hope to be working on this by October.
  • Write “Tango Delta Foxtrot”. At present I’m not going to put a publishing target date on the list.
  • And, one other item, which is really planning for 2019: Decide on which of my Bible studies to publish in 2019.

I’ll revisit this list every quarter, as has become my standard practice, and report any changes on my blog.

Will This One Be The One?

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, was a good day. It was just the three of us this year, as our large, family gathering will be a Christmas, a change from our normal routine. I fixed a turkey dinner, but without all the side dishes. We ate our full and have plenty of leftovers. Yes it was a good day.

"Mom's Letter" was the first in the series. This is the cover my son did for it.
“Mom’s Letter” was the first in the series. This is the cover my son did for it.

But, we couldn’t find much on television that was of interest to us. So Lynda wanted to see the latest episode of The Curse of Oak Island. She couldn’t get it in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. So I fired up the Roku, had to re-set a password (since it had been a while since we’d used it), and found the show. I had seen it, but it was good to watch it again.

We decided “why not watch some back episodes?” I intended to go to last season, which was season 4, and watch some of the later ones. Somehow, though, I went back to Season 1, so I decided to just start with the very first episode. It was almost as if I hadn’t seen it before, it was so long ago.

One thing that struck me was the similarity of the rhetoric. The searchers for treasure were saying the same thing in Season 1 as they are in Season 5. The narrator’s shtick hasn’t changed at all. It’s always one more search will get us there; we’re inches from the treasure; today may be the day; this new find gives us the motivation to keep on going. That much hasn’t changed, so far into the fifth season.

Published in May, 2011, I've sold a whopping 54 copies of this.
Published in May, 2011, I’ve sold a whopping 54 copies of this.

It suddenly occurred to me that that’s exactly how I am with my books: hoping this next one will be the breakthrough book, the book that gets widespread attention and lots of sales. My first publication was the short story “Mom’s Letter”. I had no expectations for it to sell. It was a story I wrote for a contest (that I didn’t win), and I self-published it because I didn’t have anything else quite ready, so I published it to see what the mechanics of self-publishing were like.

 

This was my first book to write, fourth publication. It remains my highest selling book.
This was my first book to write, fourth publication. It remains my highest selling book.

I was intending to publishing my first novel, Doctor Luke’s Assistant, but I didn’t feel like it was ready. So I pulled together my newspaper columns, expanded them, added fifteen new ones, and had Documenting America: Lessons From The United States’ Historical Documents. I didn’t have high hopes for this one either. It sold 30 or so copies in it’s first year.

It wasn’t until the next year, 2012, that I finally published Doctor Luke’s Assistant. It became, and still is, my highest selling book at 128 copies, adding seven to the total so far this year. Now, you’re going to note that 128 is NOT a lot of copies, and if that’s my highest selling book, how low are the others? Good observation. I had high hopes for my next book, The Candy Store Generation, being a political book in a political season. But it sold poorly: 15 copies its first year and a few each year since.

I was very surprised when this one didn't sell.
I was very surprised when this one didn’t sell.

Then came my baseball book, In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People. I thought it was good enough to sell, and would be popular. Alas, not. I sold a few more in 2016, when the Cubs won the pennant, but it still hasn’t sell.

My point is, with each publication (now 26), I’ve thought “this will be the one, the one to breakout.” But each one disappoints. I don’t do a lot of marketing, just Facebook posts. I did one Facebook ad that resulted in no sales. I’ve interviewed authors on this blog, who have sometimes reciprocated. Each of those has resulted in no sales. I did an hour long radio interview, which resulted in no sales. I haven’t done any paid ads yet. Maybe that’s what I need to do. But I’ve thought my publishing should pay for itself, and so far haven’t seen my way clear to buy an ad. Perhaps I’ll change that in 2018.

Even dropping the e-book price to $0.99 has resulted in no sales.
Even dropping the e-book price to $0.99 has resulted in no sales.

So I’m much like the people searching for treasure on Oak Island. Just keep going, sinking costs—in my case the cost of time—into the endeavor a little at a time, hoping for change, for lightning to strike. My recent publication, When Death Changes Life: The Danny Tompkins Stories, is a boxed set of six related short stories, reaching all the way back to “Mom’s Letter”. I set the price of the e-book at $2.99, and the print book at $6.00. I sold zero. I do have three pre-orders of the print book, which will happen next week once my copies arrive.

I have two works-in-progress. One is a prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant, which is more laborious than expected. The other is the sequel to The Gutter Chronicles. I actually have people at work asking for this, so maybe I should turn my attention to it. I could sell 30 copies without difficulty, and might sell 10 to 20 of the first one to people who are new at work.

But will either of these be a breakthrough book? I can hope, I suppose, because without hope there’s no reason to go on. Hope is starting to grow thin, however.

The Dream Is Still Holding On

I changed the final e-book cover some from this. I keep forgetting to upload it from my computer at work.
I changed the final e-book cover some from this. I keep forgetting to upload it from my computer at work.

Not too long ago I posted that I had published my latest book, When Death Changes Life, as an e-book. As always, I have a lag between publishing the e-book, which is relatively simple, and publishing the print book, which is much more involved primarily due to the cover. I uploaded the print book more than a week ago, but kept finding little errors in it: a poem that had a widow on one page; failing to start something on the right hand side; things like that. I ordered a proof copy, but while waiting on it I worked on fixing those errors.

Finally, the proof came yesterday. I had already fixed the errors, uploaded them, and had them approved by CreateSpace. So I pressed the button, and the print book published yesterday. It still hasn’t synced up with the e-book into one listing on Amazon. That typically takes two or three days to happen. Sometimes I have to turn in a manual request for Amazon to make it happen.

What are my hopes for this book? It doesn’t have anything new in it. It’s the six Danny Tompkins stories pulled together as a box set. How well did they sell as individual stories? Here’s my sales numbers, lifetime.

  • Mom’s Letter – 39
  • Too Old To Play – 9
  • Kicking Stones – 10
  • Saturday Haircuts, Tuesday Funeral – 4
  • What Kept Her Alive? – 4
  • Growing Up Too Fast – 0
Zero copies sold of this one. Perhaps the market is speaking to me.
Zero copies sold of this one. Perhaps the market is speaking to me.

Clearly, the series hasn’t caught on. Even the original 39 purchasers didn’t come back to see if there were more stories.

So, will they sell better as a volume? That is the hope. I feel badly for a couple of people who bought four or five of them early in the year. Someone coming in now could buy all six for $2.99, whereas the others paid $0.99. I suppose that’s life. They have sales. Sometimes you get in on it, sometimes you don’t. Still, what happens if I drop the e-book to 99 cents as a promotional and see if anyone bites? (Still no sales of the boxed set.) Same too bad.

But, in talking about it to people, at church and in the office, it seems like the title is catching, the subject is of interest, and a few people have said they would buy a copy from me. Some may even follow through on that. I can think of three or four sure sales.

With each book I publish, I think “This will be the one to catch on, to sell in the hundreds if not the thousands.” Alas, each time I’m lucky to sell in double digits. A few will go to 10 to 25 copies, a couple have sold in the 30s. Only two have hit 50 or more, and only one 100 or more. What makes me think this one will be different? I don’t know that it will be, but I hope.

The dream hasn’t quite died. It’s holding on for dear life, battered by busyness at the office and at home, by a tired brain and a tired body, trounced by hits from every quarter. I’m tired of late, really tired.

Still, I have to hang on to the dream. Otherwise, there would be no point of going on.

“When Death Changes Life” now published

This is the e-book cover.
This is the e-book cover.

Last Saturday afternoon, finding myself with an hour to spare in the evening (or maybe it was early afternoon), I decided to do the work necessary to publish my short story boxed-set, When Death Changes Life: The Danny Tompkins Stories. I’ve blogged about this before. I wrote the six stories to explore the idea of teen-age grief at the loss of a parent.

“Mom’s Letter”, the first in the series, was also the first item I self-published. I wrote it first for a writing contest, which I failed to win a prize in. Later I expanded it to longer than the word limit of the conference. Much later, I thought of and wrote a short story to follow it up, then another, and another, and, after six years I had six stories.

I already had the book formatted for Kindle. All I had to do on Saturday was find the interior and cover files, upload them, and fill out all the details. I did this, and published it to the Amazon Kindle Store Saturday afternoon. Monday I got it up at the Smashwords store. Wednesday I finished layout of the interior for the print book. Thursday I tried to start on the cover, but didn’t have everything I needed. Today I plan on getting started on the cover. Hopefully by Monday I’ll be ready to upload everything to CreateSpace, and soon thereafter be able to publish it as a small paperback.

So, it’s now 26 items published. Not sure how many I’ll get to.

Writing This As I Go

I don’t know if I wrote in this blog before that I’ve been sick of late. Sometime around September 20 I began coming down with a cold. It never hit me hard, and was never a head cold. It was a chest cold. I suppose it could have been bronchitis, but I never seemed to run a fever. While the cold was never deep, it sure lingered. All the coughing I did wore me out. We had the trip to Oklahoma City the last weekend in September to October 1, and the cold seemed better.

The next week, however, it came back again. I lost another day of work, worked some short days, and seemed to be better. However, the weekend of Oct 6-8 I was still coughing hard, and a little too much. I rested that weekend. Didn’t work around the house, didn’t go to church. I read and slept, slept and read, watched television. I did go to Wal-Mart for a grocery and medicine run, but that was about it. I didn’t even write a blog post for last Monday (which I normally do on Sunday), and so missed a blogging day for the first time in a while.

Monday I went to work, coughing much, much less than I had been. I got even better day by day as the week progressed. This past weekend I was able to follow a normal weekend schedule. I’m working on all eight cylinders.

So what am I up to, and what’s on my mind, and what will I do next? Yesterday I finally published When Death Changes Life to Amazon Kindle. Today I’ll try to add it to Smashwords, and tomorrow or Wednesday get the print book up. I’m feeling more confident with both interior formatting (which is 98% done) and cover creation, so I don’t think there will be a big lag with the print book.

Then, I need to work on one of three writing projects: either the prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant, or the second Gutter Chronicles, or the next Sharon Williams stories. I wrote about that recently. Other plans have been running through my brain, and I may be changing up what I do after these three.

I’ve also been thinking about premonitions. I’ve had a fair number of them in my life, and almost all of them have come true. I don’t want to catalogue them here, but some of them have been amazing. One was recently, something concerning our church, which turned out to be almost 100% true. I’ve come to the point of wondering why I get these. Is God alerting me in advance of things that are yet to come? Or is something else going on.

I think I wrote some not to long ago about genealogy discoveries I’ve made recently, specifically finding/confirming who my maternal grandfather was, and making contact with other, previously-unknown family members. That took quite a bit of time in late-August and early-September. It’s still on-going. I’ve made contact with almost all my new half-first cousins. I’m not trying to figure out how we can all keep in contact with each other, and get to know each other better.

And, of course, that leads me to much work to do finding out more about ancestors I previously knew nothing about.

Meanwhile, it’s almost time to begin to prepare for the holidays. The kids will be coming for Christmas this year, not Thanksgiving. So we will have much work to do to get the house in shape and decorated. We’ve actually begun some of that, dealing with piles of clutter.

I have more random thoughts to write, but the workday is upon me. I’ll end this. On my to-do list this week is to develop a list of blog posts to facilitate being on-time and

4th Quarter Writing Plans

I may tweak this cover more, but I think it's close to what I'll use.
I may tweak this cover more, but I think it’s close to what I’ll use.

We are now in the ninth day of the fourth quarter. Time for me to lay out my writing plans for the next three months. Well, writing and publishing plans, that is. Without further introduction, here’s what’s definitely in my plans.

  • Publish When Death Changes Life, the boxed-set of the Danny Tompkins stories. I have the master file completed, the e-book cover completed, and just need to start the actual production. I hope that, one week from today, I can announce that it’s published.
  • Work on The Gutter Chronicles: Volume 2. As I’ve said before, I got through the fourth chapter of this (maybe two years ago), and just stopped to work on other things. This is something to do on my computer at work, in my morning me-time and on the noon hour. I believe I could complete the writing of this before 2017 comes to a close.
  • Work on Adam Of Jerusalem. The prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant, I wrote the first chapter of this a month ago (or maybe more than that), but stopped. This is work to do at home, in the evenings.

These are the three things I will definitely work on during the next three months. However, a few other items are on my radar, and may—I emphasize, may—capture the time of a few of my gray cells and find themselves coming to be in tangible form.

  • The next short story in the Sharon Williams Fonseca CIA agent series. It’s tentatively titled Papa Delta Foxtrot. I have the plot somewhat roughed out. At between 3,000 and 6,000 words, I should be able to fit this in. I need to be a bit more inspired to do so.
  • Continued work on my two interrupted Thomas Carlyle projects. These are affectations for me, as they will never make any money. But, hey, none of my other writing makes any money, so why not work on these? The Chronological Composition Bibliography is something I pull out every now and then and get a little more done on. I’m actually at a point in his career where it would be easy to finish this. I should just do it. The book about his Chartism is also fairly fare along. I think a month of concentrated work would see it to completion. If I get bored or stuck working on other things, I may just spend time on these two.
  • Expand my research notes on the Stephen Cross and Elizabeth Cheney family into a small genealogy book. I actually pulled this out about two weeks ago to make a judgment on how much work this would require. I decided it’s more than I want to tackle right now, so I set it aside. However, if other things don’t pan out, maybe, just maybe, this will capture some of my time.

So that’s my plans as of right now. I have other things in the planning process, but I don’t expect to be working on them any time soon. Perhaps I’ll do a post on them in a week or so.

Book Sales: 1st Quarter 2017

My best 1st quarter so far, one sale better than in 2012
My best 1st quarter so far, one sale better than in 2012

Well, I had my best first quarter ever in terms of book sales. I sold 17, which is one more than the first quarter of 2012. Of course, then I had four items for sale, now I have twenty-four. So it’s a lot fewer sales per title.

Thirteen books came in two batches. An internet friend bought six of my short stories in one shot, and a woman in my office bought seven short stories in one shot. The other four were on-line purchases by people I don’t know. Actually, that’s not true. I’m sure the one person who purchased the newly released Preserve The Revelation is an online writer-friend.

The table below shows how they are distributed among my publications. Note also that this shows a sale in April. So I know the second quarter won’t be a goose egg. You’ll have to click on the chart below to enlarge it enough to read it.

DAT Book Sales 2017 Table on 2017-04-07

 

A Jumbled Weekend

Perhaps I should have spent time cleaning my work area, which is en-route to non-functional.
Perhaps I should have spent time cleaning my work area, which is en-route to non-functional.

Weekends are almost busier for me than weekdays. Sure, on weekdays I have to drive 15.5 miles to the office, work a 40 hour week (plus some), fight evening traffic, and come home mentally exhausted. But somehow that seems more organized, more manageable, than do my weekends.

It started with ducking out of the office a little early Friday afternoon. I thought we needed milk, so I stopped by Braum’s on the way. When I pulled into their parking lot my phone rang. It was the wife, saying she was ordering pizza for supper from Papa John’s, and hoping I hadn’t left the office yet. I had, but Braum’s was less than a mile past Papa John’s, so I said I could easily backtrack a little. She placed the order on-line, something she’s tried a number of times before without success, as her computer always locked up at the last step. This time it worked, so I drove back south, and waited the 25 minutes for the pizza. Thus, I arrived home at my usual time.

Friday night I went to The Dungeon after supper. I had numerous tasks I could work on, from filing, budgeting, book research and publishing, and income taxes. I decided to use my time to fix the cover for the Smashwords edition of Preserve The Revelation. It was only 1340 pixels wide, and the minimum width is 1400 for inclusion in their premium catalog. That was graphics work I could do, so I did it. It’s now awaiting Smashwords’ manual check to see that it’s okay. I hope to get that on Monday. The premium catalog is important, because through that the book is pushed out to Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and other vendors. Without that, it just sits at Smashwords, where nobody buys anything these days.

The Dungeon can be depressing, at times. I really, really, really need to spend time cleaning it.
The Dungeon can be depressing, at times. I really, really, really need to spend time cleaning it.

I was in The Dungeon only an hour. Went upstairs, and for the rest of the evening I divided my time between vegging out, a few minor tasks, and research/organization in Documenting America: Civil War Edition. I had printed the book that week, and so had a good copy of what I’ve done so far. I saw that I was farther along than I thought. I made a table of where each of the thirty chapters stand. That will help me to plan what to work on next.

Saturday, I slept in (till 8:00 a.m.). By 9 I was outside, doing yardwork; specifically, continuing to rake leaves in the back yard. It’s a gravel yard, and getting leaves off it is more difficult than off a lawn. I don’t want to rake the gravel off, so I have to be careful how I rake. I had only the lower, rear portion still to go, a strip about 20 feet wide by the width of the lot, which is 120 to 150 feet. I was able to do only a little more than half. The remainder will be an easy task for next Saturday.

Inside, my next task was helping my wife get on the road to Oklahoma City, where she’s to spend a week plus helping our daughter with the grandchildren during an especially busy time. But first I had to make the weekly Wal-Mart run, for groceries and prescriptions she needed for the trip. This included bringing some boxes of children’s clothes up from the basement and loading them into the van. We store quite a few boxes of those clothes. She got on the road around 4:00 p.m.

At that point I went to The Dungeon, and decided that the income taxes were the next thing I needed to do. I had made a good start a couple of weeks ago, so the work I had left was to fill in a few items from the tax forms we received, finish my writing business profit/loss, and hence Schedule C, and plug that into form 1040. I then moved on to our stock trading business taxes. Surprisingly, that went fast. I had those done by around 6:30 p.m. Well, not exactly done, because I’m not sure about one item. Figuring out whether what I plugged into the spreadsheet is correct or not will take a couple of hours, something I’ll probably do tonight. Then all that’s left are the State taxes, and I’m done for another year. Oh, yeah, and the mother-in-law’s taxes as well.

Saturday night I did some more reading and research for DA-CW Ed, profitable research into source documents, and went to bed at a decent time. It helped that I didn’t have to teach Life Group this Sunday.

Today was Life Group and church. I knew I needed to get some walking in, so after lunch walked about 1.5 miles. I didn’t push it. Although I walk a fair amount, I’m out of shape due to having not walked while I had a cold recently. But I got it in, and wasn’t too worn out afterwards. No more, that is, than a 45 minute nap wouldn’t cure.

So I was finally at my computer, in The Dungeon, for my prime couple of hours of writing work. I spent the time copying source documents into my Word file for DA-CW Ed. That might not sound like much, but I had to look for them on-line, to hopefully save typing them. I was able to do that, as well as find a couple of source documents for the Battle of Gettysburg, documents that had previously eluded me. I also modified the file for my most recent short story, “Growing Up Too Fast”, for Smashwords, and uploaded that. Smashwords accepted it, and it’s now awaiting the manual check for inclusion in the premium catalog.

That brings me to Sunday evening. After some light cleaning that’s been nagging at me, and leftovers for supper, I read in the source documents. The first step is deciding what to excerpt from them to keep in the book. Several of them are long, over 3,000 or even 4,000 words. I’d like the excerpt to be between 700-1200 words, but will go more words when I need to. I made good progress in that. I’m not ready to give a new estimate of how close I am to completion, but definitely got closer to that goal.

So, a busy weekend. With progress. With a fulfilling feeling. Now on to the workweek so I can rest a bit.

Works-In-Progress

Finally, I have a minute, with no other posts pressing on me, to write about what I’m working on in my writing career. I’ve been trying to get to this for several weeks, and another thought for a post keeps popping up and pushing this aside. Not today.

My main work-in-progress is a short story. Titled “Hotel Whiskey Papa”, it’s the fourth in my series about Sharon Williams Fonseca, an unconventional CIA agent. The Agency has another, junior agent who shows great promise, dogging her, for they are concerned that she steps over the line from time to time, doing Agency work in an illegal, or at least unethical, way. In a twist, I’m writing this on manuscript, not on computer in The Dungeon. I sit in my reading chair, with only an end table between me and Lynda, and write on the back of already used papers. I typed what I had last weekend, and some on one other day. On my computer the document stands at about 3,800 words. Since then I’ve written another thousand in manuscript, and am approaching the end of the story. I had in mind that these stories should be 4,000 to 6,000 words, so I’m on track. As soon as it’s finished, proofed, edited, and proofed again, I’ll publish it. I’ll make my own cover for this one.

Then, yesterday I actually wrote a poem, something more than a haiku that is. And I’m not denigrating the haiku form or saying it’s easy, but something longer? I haven’t written one in a couple of years, or maybe even five years. I’ve written some song verses in that time, but no stand-alone poems. This one is for an anthology being put together by the present poet laureate at the on-line writers group  Absolute Write. It will be a themed anthology of contributions by AW members, the theme being a traveling carnival. I told her I would contribute anything I had already written, but that I had no inspiration or energy to write something new. When the theme was announced, I had my poem “Magic”, which sort of fit, so I submitted it. But sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday a phrase and plot came to me that would fit the theme. I quickly forgot the phrase, but it came back yesterday morning. As the morning went on I saw a way to write the poem. During the noon hour I started it, and finished it off and on by mid-afternoon. I quickly posted it to the anthology critique forum before I lost my nerve. I’m not saying it’s good, but it’s done, subject to improvement, of course.

What else? I’m trying to get In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People published in print form. I have the book formatted, and am waiting on the cover. Two different people have given me photos of Wrigley Field to use, and two others have said they would do the cover. Alas, when you’re having people work for free, other things get in the way. Hopefully I can get this done next week some time. I may cobble a cover together myself this weekend.

I’m also improving some e-book covers. Recently I received a notice from Smashwords saying that four of my e-book covers did not meet their minimum standards. These are my older covers, made and posted before they had minimum standards. I guess they are just now getting around to enforcing. that. I completed one of them last weekend, or maybe last week some time, and uploaded it. Yesterday I got the word that it was acceptable, and the book—actually a short story—is back in the premium catalog. Only three to go. I’ll hopefully get one done this weekend.

That’s it as far as writing work. I’ll post something here and elsewhere when HWP is published. And, once things change, I’ll write again. Actually, I just thought of one other thing. I’m working on a Bible study to teach in our adult Life Group. But it deserves a post by itself. Maybe that will be next.

Unfinished Writing Projects

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy intention for today was to write a lengthy post on the status of several writing projects. However, two things intervene. First, I’m in New Orleans on a business trip. I’m not sure I feel like taking time to do a detailed analysis of my writing-in-progress. Second, since around Sunday my gumption for writing has tanked. At present I don’t know that I care much if I write any more or not. The reasons for that are complicated and I won’t go into them here. Suffice to say these are not the days for me to be making bold plans for adding to my published titles.

I will say a few words about my projects. The easiest one should be to publish my last short story, “Sierra Kilo Bravo“, at Smashwords, making it available to Nook, Apple, etc. That means pulling up the file for the Kindle publication, making a few simple changes, and hitting Publish. Along with that I want to republish the other stories in the series to add a link to this one to it. Also fairly simple. But I haven’t felt like doing it, now a month since it went live for Kindle.

Another fairly easy project will be to correct typos in my two baseball novels, In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People and Headshots. I re-read them some time ago on my Nook, found enough typos in each to warrant fixing them. This is a one-day project for each book. So far, I just haven’t felt like it.

SBC book front coverThen, I have some typos to fix and new data to add to my family history book, Seth Boynton Cheney: Mystery Man of the West. This is a little more complicated. It’s a print book, so unless I want to have the cover redone due to pages added I’ll need to add the new data without too much lengthening. The good news is I sort of planned for this, putting a couple of blank pages at the end of the book. So long as the new data doesn’t take up more than them, I should be okay. I have some of these marked, and one of my wife’s cousins also marked some. She didn’t give them to me, but will when I ask her. This should be my priority, I suppose, but so far—you guessed it—I just haven’t felt like it. A related project, some cousins have asked me to publish a color edition of this. That will require rework of the cover, since the page thickness is different when you print in color, but otherwise is a simple thing. I need to do that right after making the corrections to the black & white edition.

So what does that leave as far as w-I-p go? I have three books started:

  • Preserve The Revelation. This is a sequel to my first church history novel, Doctor Luke’s Assistant. A couple of years ago, when in a period of uncertainty as to what my next project should be, I wrote the first chapter of this. Since then ideas for the book continue to find their way into my conscious thinking.
  • Documenting America: Civil War Edition. This would be the next in my Documenting America series. I got well into this last year and early this year. I’d guess it’s 40 percent done. I have pushed this far from my current thoughts.
  • The Gutter Chronicles, Volume 2. The first volume was a reasonable success at the office. I’ve completed three chapters in that, and am well along with the fourth. It’s been over a year since I’ve worked on it, but I’d say I’m about 20 percent done. Ideas for remaining chapters of this have been bubbling up of late.

TCEEA print cover 01That leaves my two Thomas Carlyle projects, wanting to join their brother on my virtual bookshelf. These are the two I’m actively working on. At the office I use my free time to work on Thomas Carlyle Chronological Composition Bibliography. At home I use free time to work on Thomas Carlyle’s “Chartism” Through the Ages. Both are well along, though neither is close to being done. They are perhaps silly things to work on, as neither would be a commercial success. However, at least these two are holding my interest.

Well, this post ran longer than I expected. Still, it’s the short version. I write it not so much as to inform you, my loyal readers, about what’s coming, as to help me bring order to the chaos that’s happening in my head and finding it’s way to paper and pixels. May the order come soon.