How did I get here?

Just a couple weeks ago I turned 48. How does that happen?

One day at a time, I suppose. As I navigated my way to middle age  — and I do hope it is the middle, that there are a few years left in the tank — I justified not accomplishing the things I wanted. The biggest justification was that I was busy.  Maintaining the expectations of a father and a husband. Keeping the roof over our head and food in our stomachs. Making ends meet.* But you know, I sure managed to watch a lot of television and movies, and laying about the house not doing.

I don’t think I’m alone in putting off. We all make excuses, and think that we have time keep those promises to ourselves and our family members. But time is an unreliable constant. It marches forward, but the amount of time you have isn’t set. I could keel over as I finish this post. Who knows.

A strange thing happened…

The last few years have been productive in that I’ve helped a great number of writers publish their first stories or first books. Shotgun Honey ushers many new voices into the world, and gives — I hope — young writers the confidence to move forward with their aspirations of being a writer. I have a feeling that we’re going to need a lot of escapism the next four years.

So, my life as a publisher has been interesting, and a little gratifying. Looking back, though, it hasn’t been as productive — I like that word, I want to be that word — because I have had set backs that I’m just now recovering.

About 15 months ago, I had a not heart attack. It was an incident following a home improvement accident — I’m prone to those — a mild electrocution. What followed was an extreme panic attack or my own wiring went wonky. This sent me to the ER, and man, Alice, did I ever fall down a rabbit hole then.  Over the following months, I visited doctors and specialist chasing ailments from heart, pulmonary, to neurology. You see, a pain in my chest could be either heart or pulmonary, and never being a star athlete, I don’t have the best of lungs. The pulmonologist did their tests and determined I might have a blockage — how does this relate to the incident, dunno — so they did CTs, and boy did they find something.

I always said I had brain damage

The CT revealed a possible Chiari malformation, which is kind of like a brain hernia where your cerebellum drops down into the spinal canal and this can cause pressure and swelling.  Unlike other hernias, you can’t just push stuff back up and close the opening. There is a surgery to alleviate the symptoms. Luckily, I have an asymptomatic presentation. I may get headaches, but my balance and motor skills are fine — don’t mention the time I broke my hand drilling a hole — so I get a pass on that for now. But…

To confirm the Chiari malformation, the neurologist had me have an MRI. Turns out I have another brain abnormality. No abnormality jokes, please.

They discovered towards the front left quadrant of my skull a tumor the size of a quarter, roughly. Not in my brain, but outside growing from the membrane sack that surrounds the brain. The technical term is a Meningioma, but I call it Tony. My friend. In my head. Tony is benign, non-cancerous. Whew. Right?

Right, but some day Tony and the Chiari malformation that I’ve been recently calling Carrie — thank you Stephen King for giving me nightmares to name my afflictions — might become issues to cut into my beautiful skull. Scary, but also motivating.

There and back again

About 30 years ago, I took my first college class. I think it was Introduction to Communication. Something that Journalism students take. For about a year I thought I’d go into reporting. My grandfather didn’t approve of the idea of becoming a novelist — don’t let people stand of your dreams, no matter how much you respect them — so for a moment Journalism seemed like a compromise. Eventually, I drifted back into programming, but that’s another story.

Why is that significant? With realization that my predilection to fatalism might have real consequences — hello not heart attack, and friends Tony and Carrie — I made the crazy choice to go back to college. I saw one too many SNHU commercials. I want that blue bus to come to my house and give me a degree, or two. Also, the last few years working with writers made me realize two things. That I like working with writers, and I need to become a writer. I don’t need a degree to be a writer, sure, but I do to teach and help young writers.

The goal is to get my undergrad for English & Creative Writing — surprisingly there isn’t a lot of overlap between Computer Science and Creative Writing — which will take about 3 years, and then see if I want or need to pursue an MFA. I hear Adjunct Professors make mad cash. I see you rolling your eyes.

Am I productive yet?

This year I was at a crux on whether to shut down my publishing efforts, and I said goodbye to One Eye Press, but not publishing. With a partnership with Down & Out Books, run by Eric Campbell and managed by Lance Wright, we created the imprint Shotgun Honey which will continue to dedicate itself to short consumable crime fiction. Our first release under the new imprint is Hardway by Hector Acosta.

On top of the classwork, and editorial work, I plan on updating the blog regularly about my journey forward. So you might see me post writing assignments, book announcements, or information about new projects.

I can’t lie to myself anymore about having time to achieve my goals later. There’s not much later left as I knock on 50 and beyond.

*  Did you know that a lot of folks debate whether the phrase is “make ends meet” or “make ends meat”? Some folks consider the prior to mean making your resources meet until you replenish your resources, ie. paycheck to paycheck. Others believe the phrase is the latter as to make enough to afford just the basic needs, or ends meat which is typically the cheapest cuts or scraps. Which phrase and entomology do you believe?

Losing time with Sam Truman

Just under 11 months ago horror writer and publisher, Ed Kurtz, released the first in a series of novellas featuring a downtrodden and disgraced PI named Sam Truman, who attempts to meek out an existence in an LA-esque city where his only friend is an unfriendly hash slinger named Clu. The framework for any number of stories filled with PI tropes, and in Sam’s case a beeline for the bizarre. You wouldn’t expect a horror writer to present us a straight PI case, would you?

cmksmallKurtz kicked off the chaos with CATCH MY KILLER. Penned by Kurtz himself, the first book sets the tone for the series and introduces us to Sam Truman and Clu the begrudging friend and owner of the hash house, Ralph’s. We learn quickly that Sam is in dept up to his eyeballs and out of cash, and he can’t find a straight gig because of his tarnished name and lost license. His only saving grace is service served with a frown along with a cup putrid coffee and overdone hash compliments of Clu. So when Clu gets held up, Sam tries the make the most of the situation, maybe gain favor of Clu, and save the day. Of course it goes sideways turning into a tale dead women and body snatchers. While things get their worse for Sam and Clu, Sam manages to get by on his wit, a generous portion of luck and a relentlessness to get the job done. And he does.

CATCH MY KILLER is quickly followed up by THE LAST INVASION by Brandon Zuern and SOFT KISS, HARD DEATH by Tobin Elliott. THE LAST INVASION has Sam looking for a lost girl, chasing a serial killer and finding aliens, and not the kind that come from south of the border. Elliott’s SOFT KISS, HARD DEATH Sam suddenly finds himself flush with money only to find himself destined for a deadly date with a creature who’s just trying to figure herself out. Sam has her number and does the figuring himself.

the_last_invasion_cover rsz_soft_kiss_hard_death_cover

The first three are very compatible, Sam cracks wise and manages to get by, even though he rarely has any control he seems confident enough that he can manipulate the situation to his benefit. The fourth novella in the series is somewhat of a departure.

rsz_bound_by_jade_cover_s_1BOUND BY JADE written by Adam Cesare takes Sam out of his comfort zone. Instead of heading into danger of his own choice, he wakes up right in the middle and as the story goes you get a sense he’s been dragged along for the ride just like the reader. Of course there is a purpose to this change in direction as it relates directly towards the mystery at hand, Sam is bound not only by his natural white knight fatalistic tendencies but bound to the artifact he has been asked to protect.

The Sam Truman series evolves and never takes the same turn. That is the strength of a novella series like this, where each is written by a different writer who add both to the mythos and piece of themselves while staying true to what came before it. And with each chapter this series gets stronger.

To be honest, forthright, I have worked with Ed Kurtz in the past, publishing his stories on Shotgun Honey. I’ve enjoyed much of his work and despite knowing him and reading his work, I hadn’t read any of the Sam Truman stories until just over a week ago when I discovered CATCH MY KILLER on my Kindle when I was looking for something different to read. So I did, which prompted me to buy, download and machine gun through the next three books, over two days, roughly 8 hours. I don’t do that. Not anymore, with the reading load I have editing and managing multiple short fiction sites. So if you want to know honest opinion on how I felt about the series? I read one and then I read them all.

I also read THE PALE MAN by Nate Southard, a talented horror writer I first discovered through Brian Keene. Ed was kind enough to send me a copy in advance. I suppose I may have begged for it, maybe? I read it over a lunch and a break, with just a little to finish off while I made dinner.

palemanSouthard’s installment in the Sam Truman Mystery series for me is my favorite. Building on the prior stories, Southard brings back the confident, wisecracking Sam, at least for a little bit. Sam is looking for a missing person who has stolen a family heirloom, and the heirloom must be found at all cost. And all cost, apparently, includes Sam’s sanity and anyone who succumb to power of THE PALE MAN. While the previous stories touched upon the bizarre and paranormal, with a dash of horror, Southard’s THE PALE MAN kicks it up a notch leaning a little more towards horror taking Sam from a confident to a horrified, albeit persistent, man.

From hard-boiled to sci-fi to horror, along with Sam’s deftly delivered wisecracks, any genre fan will read this novella series and find something to enjoy. I like a little mix-mash and trust me, the Goulash is good. I look forward to the next Sam Truman Mystery and wonder which genre and adversary will he defy?

To give you a little more 411, I asked Ed a quick trio of questions. This is what he had to say.

1 – What was the inspiration for Sam Truman and the series?

I’m a longtime fan of “men’s adventure serials” in fiction, the sort of thing wherein a generally macho antihero leaps from adventure to adventure in each volume with nary a scratch on him, and as a horror and crime writer, I wanted to create something that combined all of these elements. Sam Truman is a classic mid-20th century P.I. existing in a supernatural underworld most people don’t know about. Ebooks have made serial fiction something people can really enjoy again, so it’s definitely time for a revival, as we’ve seen with other series like Lee Goldberg’s The Dead Man.

2 – Sam manages to get by on persistence and very little luck, what keeps him going when the world is against him?

Sam is terribly fatalistic and doesn’t give much time to thinking about how the things he sees and investigates could happen, much less why they happen to him. He’s a man of action, always pushing forward to the next thing, barely hanging on by a thread but the thread is enough. It’s possible he might give up if he ever had a chance to catch his breath, but there’s always something else about to menace him right around the corner.

3 – With 5 books in, what do you take away from doing a novella series? And I know this is a cheat, but would you consider doing future series?

It’s been tremendous fun working with so many terrific authors and watching how they take this character and make him their own. Though there aren’t any plans in motion right now for another series apart from Sam Truman, it is certainly a possibility…

Saddle Sores and Wagon Trails

big-badgeI can’t really pinpoint when I first considered the idea of The Big Adios–I think it was sometime around the 1st anniversary of Shotgun Honey. It is safe to say it was somewhere just under 10 months ago. The first granules were formed well before that when I wrote The Greenhorn for a writing challenge put on by Chuck Wendig. It was a simple wordlist challenge, but the words immediately charged me with a story about a US Marshal riding into a lawless town to either free the townsfolk of tyranny or die trying. It was a faux Western, and if you read it you’ll know why. One of the words on that magic list required me to take the story in quite a different direction.

But the idea for US Marshal Brady Hawkes, an Easterner from Charles Town, WV, born to privilege and lineage who shuns it all to become his own man in the Colorado Territory, the idea called to me. There was more to Hawkes and the raucous mining town of Prosperity, CO. There were many more Buck Godot’s for Hawkes to face. So as I jotted down notes, I looked for venues.

gunfightwide

There are a few periodicals, but online was a wasteland. Not one site dedicated to the Western, and only one stood with any prominence to support the genre. David Cranmer’s Beat to a Pulp. He has his own inclinations towards to the genre, but BtaP is great for all kinds of genre bites, both flash and short stories.

So the idea was, Hey, I could put together short fiction site for the Western genre just like Shotgun Honey. How hard could it be? And the idea started solidifying about 6 months ago and loosely announced 3 months ago. The days have whittled and behold, tomorrow is the day of Launch.

Where did the time go?

tba-sneakI do have to ask myself that, because as of Friday I didn’t have a clear or concise idea of how I was going to design the site, how it would be presented? Aged, rustic and western, that’s all I knew for sure. I may have had an idea of the palette? So I fired up photoshop and browsed the web for texture and design ideas. Find things I like, motivators. I needed to get some paint on this blank canvass.

Two days straight, taking a break for food substances and to watch a movie and 3 episodes of Justified. I needed some inspiration, and wouldn’t you know it all started with a badge. Amazingly for the detail of the design–to paraphrase Larry the Cable Guy–I got’r done!

So tomorrow is the big day and we start off with an exception story about Marshals Cash Laramie and Miles Gideon by Edward A. Grainger aka David Cranmer, kicking off 8 weeks of scheduled fiction, some of it firmly in the saddle and others bending the genre, every Tuesday.

It’s up to you as readers and contributors to keep us going.

I hope to see you there: http://www.thebigadios.com

.44 Candles

dirtyharry

I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk? -Harry Callahan

Growing up in a generation where Clint Eastwood epitomized the tough and rugged man, full of machismo, wielding a gun as handily playing a western outlaw and an urban cop, it’s not hard to fathom I would gravitate towards fiction with little redemption and less remorse. My generation has embraced the ambiguity of the bad cop and the good crook.

Clint was three years younger than I am today when Dirty Harry released to limited showing in December 1971, broad showing ’72 with a critical success. He was already a star despite studios not wanting to throw Robert Mitchum money at him for the role. And despite knowing it would be years later that I would actually watch Dirty Harry, I guess I wasn’t much of a fan in my terrible-twos, it seems I grew up watching the movie, grew up watching Eastwood.

I don’t mean to talk of the man in past tense, he hasn’t left us, and when he does I will mourn. It’s more a reflection of a small bit of my past that makes me who I am today, what makes me tick and think the way I do. What makes me me. Clint Eastwood is my favorite actor, whose stoic tough as grit characters who do what’s right despite the immeasurable consequence imbued a sense of guidance, a template of what a man could be.

I’m reading Robert B. Parker’s LULLABY by Ace Atkins. I admire Atkins writing style, his historical crime fiction, his short Nick Travers series, and being a fan of the late Parker’s Spenser series I had to know what Atkins would bring to the character. I have to say it’s like stepping into a pair of old shoes. Comforting. I’m enjoying the book so far. Thinking about others’ opinions on the legacy book, I stumbled onto an interview with Atkins about him doing the book. It was mentioned that Atkins had a personal tie to Spenser, like I do with Eastwood’s on screen characters. He had discovered Robert B. Parker and Spenser during a critical period after losing his father, and he felt Parker’s Spenser not only laid the path for his career but taught him lessons he missed from his own father.

I’m not a gun toting, hard as nails, sitting tall in the saddle guy. I’m rather pudgy around the middle, I slouch more than I’d like to admit and I don’t even know what muscle tone is. I am stoic, soft spoken, I speak my mind only when it’s necessary and if you’re my friend or in need I’ll offer help in spite of myself.

I’m impetuous, sometimes I go in with guns blazing. Let God sort out the rest. You have no idea how many ideas have ignited in my mind this last year, that I’ve managed to snuff out before opening my mouth to someone.

The Big Adios was one of them, and I unleashed that stray thought to a couple people and before I knew it, I had to follow through. We’ve got a big launch on February 5th with a fantastic story from Edward A. Grainger. A new Cash Laramie, so I hope you don’t mind if it exceeds our standard policy. I, of course, leaning on my generation, like to break the rules for the better of my fellow man… um, reader.

We all need more Cash Laramie, right? Plus the following 5 weeks worth of wonderful stories will encourage more submissions. It’s living experiment that I hope will coax more western tales and enthusiast.

One of the bright moments of last year was the release of Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels, With spectacular support from co-editors and some prideful contributions, I was hoping we’d break even by the time I announced open submissions for  Both Barrels: Reloaded. Maybe there will be an uptick in sales over the next 6 weeks. Just saying.

Because it’s my birthday, I often reflect on the year to come, how to make it better than the year before. I guess having a January birthday, the closeness to New Years day and thoughts of resolutions. Aside from a couple bright spots, which mostly has to do with publishing so many good stories and meeting so many emerging writers like myself, it’s not going to be hard to beat 2012, a year of death and debt. My goals are simple though, attainable with a little effort.

I want to be more like Clint Eastwood, empty chair excluded. As well as a myriad of father stand-ins over the years, my grandfather for one who passed last summer. I can’t get taller, but I can get leaner and cleaner, maybe a little meaner. I can share more stories of many talented writers, perhaps a few of my own as well. Work hard, be harder. Seems like a plan.

In advance, thank you to all my friends and acquaintances who made 2012 bearable for the birthday wishes.

Oops…

Have to love waking up in the morning and finding your website is gone. Bamf! Disappeared just like Nightcrawler. I know I looked at it last night? I started to write a story for Flash Fiction Friday. But that was before noon or somewhere around there. So what happened?

A real mystery. The entire file structure was gone?

Wow…

First thing’s first. Create the public folder and install WordPress again. Cross fingers that the database is still intact. It is! Yes.

Reinstalled, but all my plugins and themes are gone. Have a lot backed up local, wasn’t that a bit of luck. Nothing from this week. Joy!

So a couple hours, the majority of the content is back. None of my images. Totally fubar. Lost to the ether. Fuck.

Oh, well. How could this have happened? Did someone hack my site? No, though it probably wouldn’t be hard… What did I do yesterday?

Ah yes, something totally out of my normal behavior. I used the 1-Click function to set up a blog for a future project. Usually I’m a 100% on hands, do it manually. But I was at work, and I can’t access my server’s shell because of the firewall. I’m bored and impatient. So might as well.

Huh? Must have been bored before. I have an installation for a site I’m not currently using. Delete installation? Sure, why not?

Click!

It’s really taking a long time for a site I really didn’t do any work on? Weird?

Oh well, 1-Click install for new mums-the-word project. Hmmm… seems stalled?

Ah, got to get back to work work. I’ll do this later.

This morning. WTF? Where’d my fucking site go? FTP in? No won’t work. Check other websites. Shotgun Honey? There! Flash Fiction Friday? There! Wife’s site? There! Client demos? There! An obvious trend. RonEarl.com? Fubar!

What did I do? How’d my site get deleted? Deleted? I wonder? Oh yeah, I was parking that unused site on RonEarl.com until I had time to work on it. So of course it’d follow the file path redirect and delete everything…

Oops!

A Dash of Style

Tomorrow up on Shotgun Honey we are hosting our fifth story from Jersey native Kieran Shea. It’s called “Going All Shatner.” I have to admit I was sold the moment I saw the title. Quirky titles get me, and I get them. All of the stories we’ve hosted for Kieran have been in what I’ve come to call a “Morse Code” style. Nearly pure dialog, little if any narrative, accentuated with dashes and dots.

Excerpt from “Man Full of Stones” on Shotgun Honey:

-Hey, Morgan.
-Well, well.  Look at what the tide dragged in.  S’up, Mikey?
-That him?
-Who?
-The guy in the corner.  Watching Vlatka on stage.  Bony-looking dude with the glasses.
-Yeah.  That’s him. Guess who gets to take that creep to the airport in an hour?
-You?
-Yup.
-Atlantic City?
-Nope.  Philly.  God, I’m looking forward to that like a punch in the nuts.

-So….
-So what?
-Is it true?  I mean, what they say about him?
-Believe it or not it’s true.
-That’s hilarious.
-But hey, he’s good at what he does and Mr. Donofrio likes him so what do we care if he’s a freak?  To each his own, that’s my motto these days. To each his fuckin’ own.  Throwing some deadbeat clown a beating is one thing but that other nasty stuff?  Do me a favor and leave me the hell out of it.  If Mr. Donofrio wants to contract those grisly details out to some Rain Man-talking sideshow from Boston, he can be my guest.
-Providence.
-Whatever.
-I’m going to go talk to him.
-I wouldn’t do that if I was you, Mikey.
-Why not?  What’s the worst that could happen?

-Come on.  I just want to see what he’s like.  Where’s the harm?

Each line of dialog is marked with a dash. Quotation and attribution are absent. The conversation is a rapid flow of give and take, the conversation carrying the tone and direction of the story. Clustered together and broken up by the pregnant pause of single lined ellipses, building tension with each returned line.

It isn’t often that style is used to build the story. I have seen writers created their own styles, but not to manipulate the reader and not structure the pacing. Of course I may not be as well versed or read as I like.

The first time I saw the use of the dash to signify dialog was with Charlie Huston. I thought it was unique and I like the dialog separate and alone, not depending on exterior events to give weight to the words. The dialog is an event in itself. Especially with how Kieran manages it to flow free, fresh, natural.

Cormac McCarthy is often lauded, and he does tell a hellava story that blends genre into a sprawling literary narrative, but I have to admit I struggled following his dialog, quotes painfully absent. It was something I had to adjust to, but end the end was transparent to the power of the words he had written.

Kieran’s “Morse Code” style is easy to digest, to understand. If it’s not his own, I don’t want to know, because his ability to talk through a story and create tension without descriptors is unique. I read so many stories that struggle with dialog surrounded by well written narrative. I myself have to write dialog multiple times until I think it’s half worth to see the light. Even then…

I’m not asking anyone to adopt this style–Kieran’s Style–I don’t think I could ever accept a story that did. I do encourage people to experiment with their writing, to explore what makes a story from voice to style, narrative to dialog. Creativity is how you manipulate the reader.

Be creative.

Goodbye Grandpa

Today is my Grandpa’s birthday. He would have been 97 and if you had asked me 6 months ago, I would have said he’d live to 107. His illness and passing were relatively quick, though I know he would have preferred to spend his last moments in his recliner in the solemn comfort of his home.

My biggest regret is allowing his stern and reserved notions to prevent me from sharing my passion for writing. He knew about it, but he never pried and I never offered. He was a strong, powerful man who lived with regrets like the rest of us. He could have been so much more and at the same time he was more than he ever imagined.

At the time of his death I spent weeks trying to compose the perfect goodbye, and I felt too much time had passed, so I left it and let it languish in my draft folder. I can’t hold onto it forever.

 

I want to thank my many friends for their condolences and their sympathy on my Grandpa’s death.

My grandpa decided long ago he didn’t want anything made of his passing, so no reception or funeral was held, aside from a gathering of family. So that moment family is given to say a word about the deceased never was, and I never got to tell what he meant to me.

I would like to indulge you a bit more, and my apologies for taking a personal moment.

Genetics aside, the creation of an organism, lineage and ancestry forgotten, without Grandpa I wouldn’t be here. He was important to my current life as the doctor who delivered me, his daughter who birthed me and the specialist who saved my week old life. Without Grandpa I would have been a footnote, a sad end to a failed marriage and a brother to a sister who may never had been. When doctors were ready to let life, and death, take its course my grandpa intervened. He was not a quitter. Never in his life had he given up on anything or anyone — not to say he was never disappointed – and he wasn’t going to give up on his daughter’s first child. Grandpa was a reputable man and through his actions was well respected in the community and the state, and he was able to reach beyond his grasp to achieve his goals. My life was his goal and his friends deep, so after a few calls he had my mother and me in his Buick driving us from Charleston to a specialist in Cincinnati. He watched after me and has his entire life and he has my entire life.

Grandpa taught me that family — despite disappointment — is the most important thing in life because family is life.

With my life or death, my mother and father did end up divorcing and my existence was not the glue that would mend their fractured marriage. The result would be a fatherless childhood, but I was never without a father.

Grandpa would be one of three men who stood in the place of my father, something I wouldn’t realize until years later and I suppose I through a good bit of teenaged angst his way when it wasn’t necessary. Kids are stupid, I was no exception. He taught me responsibility, to accept — not submit — life as it was given to you, and if what you got wasn’t what you wanted to work harder. I was slow to learn that, as with many of life’s lessons.

If I had been a quick study, I would have followed his footsteps and became a lawyer or maybe even a doctor. Grandpa wanted the best for us. Or I would have worked harder at my desire to be a writer, even though he didn’t believe creative arts were a responsible path for an adult to take. He would have been proud either way.

I’m going to take the time spent with Grandpa — now lost — and utilize it to further my goals, to make the choices he made for family count, to focus on family and provide them with everything I can.

When I think of Grandpa, I will remember riding downtown on Saturdays with him, all of 6 years old, as he ran errands to the bank, the grocery store and finally before heading back home to stop at The Diamond department store where he’d have coffee with his friends. I would get a doughnut and a chocolate milk, and if I were especially good we’d go up to the third floor to find me a toy.

Goodbye Grandpa.

Back it Up!

See that computer in the photo? It had a little oopsie, got caught in a little fire. Before you ask, no it’s not my computer. I wish it were my computer though, then I’d have an excuse. Because really, I should know better.

As a programmer–as a WRITER— I should have known better. In my work career, I have been a network administrator, a web host provider, a site designer, programmer and developer. Constantly managing data and storage, and what’s the most important thing about data? You need to back it up.

Typically, I have 2 to 3 copies of a file with various versioning, multiple storage locations. I may lose a part of my work, but rarely all of it. Of course, there’s always that one time.

I had been working on an important story to myself, hopefully when finished others would at least be entertained. I was working from a local copy during my spare time at work. I was revising directly with my draft version. Not what I typically do, a new file for each new draft.

At home, I have the latest version of software, it autosaves as often as I want and to multiple locations. At work, where I don’t work with document files on a daily basis, I have a 12/13 year old version. No autosave, no multiple save locations, and to top it off I wasn’t saving to my DropBox account because of network issues.

I had essentially typed * THE END * on this important story and because I didn’t have network access decided to save the copy to my phone. That’s when it got weird. As soon at the folder from my phone appeared on my desktop, BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH.

Reboot the computer, cursing the probable loss of a couple pages of revision. Went to load up the file. It wouldn’t load. The archaic document program didn’t auto-recover. The story was gone. Finito! The only place this story existed was my mental hard drive, and to be honest most days that needs a reboot.

This was a bit unusual, but since I’m still reeling from my stupidity, I thought I’d share and offer these 5 bits of advice.

1. AutoBackup or AutoRecover – Set your document software to back up automatically every 5 minutes. And if you have an AutoRecover feature, make sure that is selected as well.

2. Save to Multiple Locations – It’s safe to say you won’t be left hanging if you save your file to multiple locations, even on your hard drive.

3. Utilize remote file storage – I use DropBox to pass projects between work and home. It’s a great service and offers 2gb of storage for free. And of course you can purchase a package with more space.

4. Never work on live copy – If you are going to edit, which I hope you will, always save a final draft of each story revision. Not only will this preserve the chain of development, but you may decide that scene you cut out of draft 2 really needs to be in the final draft.

5. Never assume it won’t happen to you – It will.

5-2 Poetry Month, Day 12 – Jenny Brown by Peter Ivey

There once was a man from Nantucket…

Sorry, that’s a limerick, not a poem. I used to know the difference. A long time ago, in the Age of Aquarius or a couple decades after, when I discovered poetry. Naturally, in high school we were tortured and misdirected by all the classics. My teacher Mrs. Smith loved Bobby Burns. She could call him Bobby because they connected on a close personal level. Burns was okay, but I didn’t get it until I read Sylvia Plath and her poem “Cut” and many others since. I connected with Plath, though my own poetic voice is my own, I owe Syl, I can call her that, and Mrs. Smith as my gateway into poetry.

Why am I mentioning this? Because April is National Poetry month, and buddy Gerald So asked if I’d promote his 30 Days of The 5-2, his site featuring precarious poems of crimes and criminals. He also asked if I could focus on one, what a task. One did catch my eye — Jenny Brown by Peter Ivey.

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Covers for Cat (Kitten)

Life’s a funny thing. You make plans that either get delayed or rushed because events happen, rarely–at least for me–do they ever play out as planned.

Since November I’ve been laying out a business plan that would allow me to start a side business in order to enhance my families’ income, prepare us for our daughters education, make much needed upgrades to the home, and try to give us some semblance of stability. My services, web and graphic design. I’ve done both in the past as a contractor for nearly a decade, and the day job is as a web developer for small news media organization.

The plan was to roll out REPO Book Company in April and solicit customers with a shiny new website and a full outline of services. As you can garner from the company name my services are to be offered in general to the book market, specifically authors and small press publishers. Even had the slogan in mind, Reclaim Your Book.

That was the plan, but life had other ideas.

We were given Devlin for Christmas. He’s a bengal cat mix, and the most active, rambunctious kitten I’ve ever owned. Looking at him running around, dragging his toys all over, attacking our other three cats, you’d never guess that he has a life threatening condition, a congenital defect, called pectus excavatum or funnel chest. As he grows because of this condition his heart and lungs can become compressed leading to failure, death. Essentially they run out of room to function. It’s repairable and the surgery is highly successful, unfortunately it’s not a common procedure and will have to be done by specialist or university. Neither of which are available nearby.

I don’t have many outlets for earning extra cash outside my regular skill set, so I’m flipping on the switch for REPO Book Company for a limited time to offer digital cover design starting at $50 + donation. Final cost will vary on a case-by-case basis.

If you are interested please leave a comment and I will respond to your email.