Sunday, February 25, 2024

My Shop

The last couple of months I've been working on getting my shop back in order. I moved some stuff out of it and got it better sorted on the garage shelves, where it really belongs. My new shop table that I built last year I've been keeping clear, and I've sorted out a few projects that needed sorting. At this point, my guitar workbench needs to be cleared off, and reorganized (because there are some things that do belong on it - just not many) and then I need to either finish or box up for later the carburetor project on my work bench so I can reclaim that space as well. 

Hoping to have that all done in another week or so. THEN I can go finish up the guitar I started last year, and once that's done I'm hoping I can start on building my own guitar bodies. The hardest part for that will be getting some good wood, but I'll probably start out with some 'cheaper' stuff until I got it down.

Then of course will be building necks. I've been seriously considering the old 'Leo Fender' method of just using what's basically a 1x4 piece of wood. Most necks aren't thick, except for down at the body and you can double up your piece by gluing two together. For the head, you just make an angled cut, flip the end around, and now you've got that nice angle that everyone uses (most guitar heads are glued on).

Making the fret board will be a pain, so will putting in the frets. But I'd like to get to the point where I'm making the necks and bodies and only buying the tuners, the heads, and the capacitors, input jacks, and wire. I do know how to wind my own pickups, but I don't know if I ever want to do that. But I'd like to try and get back to making guitars and do it without buying the necks and the bodies. The kits out of China are fun and a good way to 'cheat' but the hardware sucks and you end up replacing it. Surprisingly a lot of the wood, which is cheap wood, is pretty good tone wood. Some of the cheaper woods are, oddly enough. 

Buying stuff from Warmouth can get you great quality bodies and necks, but that stuff is expensive. You can't sell those guitars and make any kind of profit and I'm NOT looking to sell at all. I'll probably just give these away. That's why I want to make most of it myself, so I'm not really into any of them for more than say a hundred bucks. 

I'd also like to try making a bass or two from scratch and at some point I'd still like to make a copy of the old 'Bass 6'. You've all heard one, you just didn't know it. Until they started making them again a couple of years ago, they hadn't been made for like 20+ years. For what's probably the rarest bass out there quite a few hit singles, including one by Aerosmith, had the lead guitarist playing on one.

But again, we'll see. I have a few hobbies that in the last two years I haven't been able to really do. This year I hope I can get back to them. I'm sure everyone loves listening to me swear about stains, sealers, spray guns, and stencils! :-)

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Taking Ground is NOT a 'novella'. It's a bit long for that! :-D

 Okay, this is a first. Someone's review of Taking Ground is that it's 'too short it's a Novella'.

Now, a Novella is typically defined as 17.5K words to 39.999K words.

Taking Ground is just a bit shy of 100K words. 

So depending on where on the scale you want to pick that means Taking Ground has somewhere between Five or Two and a half Novella's in it. Novels start at 40K words btw.

I can only blame the new math. Or maybe myself? Maybe I just write that well that people don't realize just how long the book really is?

Hmmm, maybe that was a compliment? 


My Old Dog

 I have an old dog. In three months, he'll be thirteen. To a lot of folks out there, that doesn't sound old, but for a German Shepherd, a large old-style square back (not one of those slope back ones) that's old. Most don't make it past twelve. We're talking a dog that was probably 110~120 in his prime. Not a fat dog either.

In the last year he has lost a lot of weight. I suspect he's 80`90 pounds now. His appetite has decreased significantly. He has trouble getting up and walking at times, especially in the evenings and early morning. His hindquarters don't work as well as they used to (and NO it's NOT dysplasia this is normal, all quadrapeds have issues with their hips when they get old - just like humans do).

And of course, being a GSD he's both an actor and an attention whore. So you never know if he's hurting sometimes, or just trying to get attention. As he's -MY- dog (GSD's are one person dogs) I'm the one who he will play these games on if he feels he's not getting enough attention, and seeing as he can't do all the things he used to, guess what he wants more of? 

Also sometimes he really does need to get up at 3AM and go outside. These days I deal with a very irregular sleep schedule. It's not fun. This is my typical night now: Sometime between 2AM and 4AM he'll wake me up by whining softly. I get up. I get dressed. I put my shoes on - if that doesn't start getting him up, I get my coat and come back to the bedroom and put it on. If he's been sleeping on his bed, (which he's used more in the last 4 months than the prior 12 years) it's hard for him to get off of it, and last night he needed help. 

It's not made easier by our other GSD (who is a lot younger) running around all excited because we're going outside. Getting him up, and getting him to go slowly until he can get his hindquarters working, can be a chore sometimes. So can getting outside. Ten to fifteen minutes later we're back inside. He usually doesn't make it past the kitchen. I have area rugs on ALL of the tiled areas in the house now (we bought a bunch months ago just for this - went through this with the last GSD when he got old, though he didn't hang on this long - so I know what to expect). 

So I've been up almost a half hour at this point, and it's not done. Or maybe it is. When I go back to bed he might start complaining because he wants me to come and 'protect' him from the other dog so he can get up, and make his way to the bedroom (the other dog, when sleeping at night will growl at him if he goes by - he's an idiot). I'll go through all of this again at 7AM. If I don't get him in the bedroom when I first go to bed, at sometime an hour or two later I'll be woken up because, again, he wants me to 'protect' him from the murder muppet who will growl at him as he goes by.

This happens every night. It is incredibly rare now for me to not be woken up. I don't know if he really needs to go out or not, but it's the only thing that will settle him back down, otherwise I will be up for hours (literally).

Feeding is also a lot more involved now, because sometimes you all but have to force him to eat. He's definitely gotten a lot pickier. I also suspect at times he's just a touch senile. So his care has gotten a lot more complicated. He doesn't see as well as he used to, and sometimes he doesn't hear all to well either. But at least he's still happy.

At night, especially when it's cold out (being as we're still in winter) I have to go outside with him, because I don't want him to get into trouble. Tonight I took him out and he decided to walk a quarter of the fence line until I aimed him back at the house. Walking the perimeter is something he used to do every night (we've got 2 acres fenced). He fell over twice and I had to help him back up. Twice he had to stop for a short rest break and I had to help him up then too. Now he's passed out on the floor next to me, and I'll probably crash on the couch and go to bed later tonight when he's got the energy to head to the bedroom.

I honestly have no idea how bad he'll get, if he'll die in his sleep (like our last GSD), or if it'll be something worse. But he's happy now, even when he is all but dragging himself because he can't get his hind legs under him and I have to help him get up and calm him down (the mail lady knows his name and calls him when she goes by if she has to deliver something so he wants to go say hello). He can't race the cars anymore, though honestly it's been over a year since he could really do that at all. Yet there are times he still tries.

So yeah, it's rough. Being old myself, it makes it rougher. I won't be replacing him, this is my last pet. I've outlived too many of them, and I don't feel like having one outlive me. The spouse will keep getting dogs, now they can have two instead of one, but it isn't going to be 'mine'. Which will make it easier on me. (And no, I can NOT take him to the vet. He wants to kill the vet. Any vet. All vets. I won't put him through that stress).

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Wolfhounds Book 2 - Taking Ground is now Live on Amazon!

 Taking Ground


With the Battle of Portlandia behind him, Chase is a hero now and the rank and file truly believes that he's the prince the Command Team claims he is. For his part, Chase has made his choice and now he's committed. As the face of the revolution he's 'in it to win it' because anything else will lead to his death. The twenty-five million-credit bounty on his head will see to that.

The problem he faces now is convincing Fleet Captain Witner, and his Command Team to trust him, when Chase still doesn't trust them enough to tell them who he truly is. Chase had been betrayed too many times in his past to come clean easily, and for all that he's doing everything they ask of him, until the Captain and his team gives him a seat at the table, he's not about to start trusting any of them.

So he's content to let them continue believing he's a fraud of their own creation to justify the search for a 'real' heir.

 Still, he now has Claire on his side, and he can't think of anyone else he'd rather have there. She's as driven as he is, and at least as crazy. He's never met a better fighter and probably never will. As a duchess she's been teaching him valuable lessons about how to act and what to say. As a friend and lover, she's giving him something that he never thought he'd have - a reason to win.

See it on Amazon - Taking Ground 

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

The Whole 'Imposter' Thing

One of the things I really don't understand is 'imposter syndrome' (as people call it). I honestly just don't. Never have. I don't even understand how people can feel like an 'imposter' at a job they're doing. An imposter is someone practicing deception.

So if you are doing the job you're not an imposter now, are you?

In a lot of trades, a -lot- of trades, there is a process you go through:

  • Apprentice,
  • Journeyman,
  • Master.

While the names aren't always the same, you get the idea.

  • You start off as someone new to a craft and you learn it. Some learn faster or slower than others, but it's a process.
  • Once you -understand- the craft you begin to practice it on your own and learn the finer details as you grow in skill and understanding. You're a Journeyman - you're on your 'journey' of learning.
  • Then at some point you become a Master at your craft. You've learned the lessons and paid your dues and you are definitely on your own.

So I don't get where the whole 'imposter' bit comes from. No, you're an apprentice. You're learning. You're uncomfortable because you're learning. It's not uncommon for an apprentice to throw up their hands and go 'I don't know what I'm doing'.

The journeyman looks at something and while he knows how to do it, may decide to try something different so that they can learn something new, something more.

The Master already knows what works and what doesn't, and knows what and how they're going to take on a job.

As an engineer, I went through these levels of understanding.

And as a writer I have most definitely gone through them.

When I look back on things I've written, and how well I've done so far on my path in this career, I have never once said or thought 'I'm an imposter!' How could I? I've been doing the work and learning the trade. I very much remember my 'apprentice' years and I also understand when I graduated to the next stage of being a 'journeyman' in it.

As for whether or not I'm a 'Master' at it? Maybe one day I'll feel that I am, or maybe one day someone will tell me that I'm 'there'. For me, while I've learned my style and my 'method' I guess you would say, of writing and storytelling, I do feel that there is still more to learn. Though now, for me, most of that learning comes from doing, then looking at the finished product and seeing how it is received.

So stop with the whole 'imposter' nonsense. You're either an apprentice on the road to becoming a journeyman, or you've just set your foot on the Journeyman's path. Having concerns is natural. Now, ignore those fears and get to work.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Methane, Swampgas, or why do I have all of these flies? PSA

This is just one of those things that people don't tell you about and almost nobody talks about, because they don't know about it. I learned about this back when I was doing Y2K work on a major natural gas pipeline that stretches a couple thousand miles.

It starts off with this: How do you locate a leak in a natural gas pipeline? You look for the pile of dead flies.

Why is this? It's because Methane gas is what decomposition and rotting gives off. This attracts flies because they're looking for food. Natural gas is Methane gas, (which came from decomposition deep in the Earth) and it's all methane is methane as far as a fly is concerned. So they all flock to it. BUT because there's no oxygen in the area of the leak they're all clustering around, they suffocate. Hence the pile of dead flies.

Now, under every sink, shower, and tub, and built into every toilet, you have a 'u-joint'. The purpose of this is to keep from venting your cesspool/septic system/sewer/whatever into your house. Mostly because it smells bad, but also because it draws flies (third point is that it cuts down on the spread of disease, countries that don't use these - *china*cough*cough* - have disease and pandemic issues).

How does this apply to you? Well, do you have a sink or a tub you never (or rarely) use? Have you noticed an increase in flies in that room? Maybe you have a bar sink in the house or out on the back patio? 

If you don't use it periodically, the water in the u-joint will evaporate and 'swamp gas' or methane is going to come up out of the pipes. It'll stink, and it'll draw flies. I once owned a house that had a caretakers apartment built into the barn. It was always packed with flies and dead flies. Turns out the idiot who put in the shower didn't put a u-joint under it, so I had to tear out the concrete and install one. Oh, and clean up ten years worth of dead flies in the insulation :-6 

So, to avoid these problems in those 'unused' facilities, a couple of times a year, run the water in that shower or tub or sink. Flush that toilet. You'll cut down on flies and on stink, and yes, even disease.

This has been a public service announcement from the people who don't like flies, stink, or disease!

(Oh, and your house will have vents into the system via your drainage pipes that come out the roof - don't cover those, or you'll have all sorts of other unenjoyable issues!)

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Summer's End is now out in Mass Market Paperback!

Hey everyone!

The Mass Market Paperback edition of Summer's End is now available on Amazon (and will soon be at bookstores if not already there!). The price is less than the trade paperback (obviously) but it also means that the Kindle / ebook price has dropped as well!

So if you'd been holding off before, because the price was out of your budget, or if you simply forgot, now's the time to go check it out!



Thursday, November 09, 2023

The Joys of Well... I don't know... (and some upcoming book info at the bottom)

 I guess home-ownership, especially out in the country. We have these things out here called 'septic-systems'. I grew up with cesspools myself and they lasted a good long time. Septic systems need to be pumped out like every three (?) years. Got it done when we bought the house. Guy told me that with only two people we could go four years easy. That was last year and I called 'em to come pump, they never did, I forgot to follow up, etc.

So the other day I was like 'I smell swamp gas'. But best I could tell it wasn't us (it was late at night). But yesterday I called for a pump out, they had an opening for that day and I took it. Yeah, five and a half years was just on the edge of too long. Both of the first two tanks were full and I do mean, to the top. 

Now the tank (or 'vault' as I guess they call it) is about 12 years old now. These things last, I don't know 20 years? Maybe longer? Then you have to get them pulled out and replaced? What the hell? If making them out of concrete is bad, why not make them out of something else? I do understand that waste is corrosive and all that. But still. A good cesspool in the right soil can last 40 to 50 years easy. Something that's getting pumped out every 3 or so years, you'd expect to last at least as long.

The drain cover on the shower broke. So far, no body makes that size anymore. This house was built in '11 and I can't get parts? WTH? I can only guess that all of the plumbing people have switched over to china since then and that, as with everything else, the Chinese make shit. We've probably spent over $50 at this point on stuff that's 'supposed to fit' but doesn't even come close.

Bark scorpions. Been killing about one of them a week now, INSIDE the house. No idea how the little buggers are getting in, but this is obviously the year of the Scorpion. First year here it was Ants. Then Crickets. Then millipedes, then wolf spiders, now we're on scorpions. It looks like next year is shaping up to be the year of the gecko. 

I'm holding out for the year of hot housemaids, or good cooks. 

The rainy season is upon us in Texas after 3 years of drought. (2.5 really, but this is a round up kinda thing). Almost all of the cracks are gone. Some of these I could stick my arm in up to my shoulder. They were wide, deep, and long. They'd go away in the winter, just barely, but we were getting so little rain that they kept coming back worse and worse. The first storm of the season this year dumped 5 inches. We got over 10 inches that week. But now I need to get the driveways repaired. That ain't gonna be cheap either. Sadly this house was laid out with two instead of one. No, I have no idea why.

The new heat and AC we had put in early in the year has been working like a champ. So that makes me happy. The solar power system, while expensive, has made a significant dent in the electric bill, and they just raised the price by twenty percent on everyone. So, definitely picked the right time.

I still haven't replaced the Ford Flex that got destroyed in June when I got hit. Still waiting for used car prices to regain some semblance of sanity. Then again, with the way our economy is going, that's probably not going to happen unit we get somebody who doesn't hate us and this country running things. I probably should raise my prices, but I really don't like doing that to people. I know a lot of others have and are charging a dollar or two more than me, but I just don't like doing that.

Stand Alone did very well and I've just started on the sequel. Ghost Warrior hasn't done as well. Which saddens me. But I promised Podium three books in that series, so it's gonna go at least that far. Hopefully it'll pick up.

I have another Valens Heritage book to write here soon, and I'll be doing another POI around February I think. I've honestly got too many simultaneous series going on suddenly, but part of that was I thought the Wolfhounds would go to a publisher and I'd only have to write a book every 4 months or so for them. Where now I need to write one probably every other month until it's done.

Yeah, screwed up my work schedule with that one! 

The sequel to Summer's End goes out to my publisher at midnight. I finished it last week (a week late) and I'm waiting on feedback from my beta readers and such. I told them they had until the end of today to get it to me. Hopefully my publisher won't be mad at me for being late and hopefully they'll like it.

*fingers crossed*

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

New Book out! Serendipity, Book one of Ghost Warrior goes Live Thursday!

 Yes, I have another book coming out, it's on preorder until tomorrow. This one is a sort of Cyberpunk/Shadowrun mix up. It takes place in the world of the 'Days of Future Past' trilogy, several decades later.

Serendipity, Ghost Warrior Book 1

And the all important blurb!!

Nash has got a pretty good thing going on. A hot girl friend, who always takes him back, money whenever he needs it, the respect - no matter how grudgingly given - of his peers, and a safe place to lay his head each night when he goes to sleep. For one of the 'animal people' working the underground of the recently rebuilt Vegas, what more could he want?

Sure his memory is sketchy and he hasn't a clue of where he came from or how he came to be. But living in a world of awakened gods, magic users, high tech gadgets, monsters and all sorts of mythical creatures, well that's just par for the course! As a freelance runner, Nash has got a solid rep, even if it is small time. But as long as he's getting fed, having fun, and getting laid, what else is there in life?

Well, maybe that contract for picking up some gamer nerd. If he could score that one, well that would definitely move him up.

Now if only Coyote hadn't taken an interest in him...

Thursday, October 12, 2023

On DNA Testing, or why you really haven't thought this through - But I sure as hell DID.

Now I've seen more than a few people claim that the lack of DNA testing of everyone in the ENTIRE EMPIRE is a major plot loop hole, or flaw. Yup, not testing a couple Trillion people is just such an obvious oversight.


Okay, let's break this down. How many of you reading this have actually had your DNA tested, and sequenced and put up in a database? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller? 

Okay, I have had that done. So I know what it involves. I got it done back when companies were doing it for very little cost to the consumer because of research grants and all of that kinda stuff. *Oh! FUN FACT: Did you know that for a period of YEARS the Obama Administration BANNED the ability for people to see their own DNA?* Yup! They DID! No idea why. It was eventually repealed. Keep THAT in mind too! That a modern day government banned people being able to see their own DNA for YEARS!!!

So, again, I've had MY DNA done. Have you had yours? If the answer is no and you've been claiming this is a plot hole, go stand in the time-out corner. Because you obviously haven't thought this through. If you have, well, maybe you need to stop and remember what was involved. Not the getting the test kit, or the spitting in the tube. Or the sending it off. No, think about the time it took to get the results.

Also, think about what kind of machines they had to use.

Then look around your immediate vicinity, say everyone within a hundred miles of where you live. How many people around you do you think have had this done? Ten? Twenty? Unless you live in a major urban center, I can tell you right now it's less than 20. People just don't get this done. But let's get back to the story.

DNA testing takes TIME. It also takes MONEY, and last of all, it takes COMPUTERS. Which in this world, if you've been paying attention are controlled by AI which are controlled by the Nobles, or the very people you're apparently looking for.

Now how much time would it take to test the EIGHT BILLION people on Cor Imperii? How many testing centers would you have to build? How many computers? How many nobles? And WHY, tell me WHY would you do that? The Nobles already KNOW who is and who isn't one of them. 

So one: It's way too much money to find something they already know.

two: Do you think the nobles want the people who don't have interfaces to know who does? 

three: they call them bastards for a reason - nobody wants them or wants to know about them. In many societies bastards are actually hunted down and killed. Especially if they're Royal bastards.

So again, let's look at this: The nobles are the only ones who can do DNA testing and why would they want to? Remember the war that resulted from their creation? Remember all those nasty problems hinted at back when they were doing the DNA modifications on people? Things that the Nobles and especially the Emperor, don't want anyone messing with because it's a threat to their power now. Oh that last part wasn't stated outright, it's a read between the lines kind of thing. Though who knows, maybe in a later book it will be discussed, as Chase learns more about just how he got to where he is.

Have an example: A blood test to determine your blood type takes about a minute and costs maybe a dollar and ANYBODY can do it. 

Now, how many people in your country know their blood type, or have even had it tested? Less than half, I can guarantee you. More likely it's less than 10 percent. And the government doesn't test for it. NOBODY does, unless it's important. And that's a cheap and easy test.

So no, the lack of DNA testing isn't some plot hole or flaw in the story. It just means -I- thought this through and you did not.

Now, for those of you who read the book and remember everything in it, remember when Captain Witner asked Artemis just 'how many bastards are there on the asteroid'? And Artemis gave him a number? How did that happen? Especially when no one is going around doing pointless DNA tests. 

Just How Did Artemis know?

Why, the same way Artemis knew about Chase! When you go into cold sleep or suspend, or whatever you want to call it, they put a halo like device on your head (or rather the chamber does it automatically) to help monitor your vitals and it also does certain things that are part of the process. ALL of these units have the AI interface built in. So everyone who goes through cold sleep is automatically tested for an AI interface. As only the people in the military (or certain other government/imperial/nobles) have access to this device, this means the people who will most benefit from this knowledge have it. Or rather the AI's have it. 

But unless there is an emergency or a very good reason (like you just got accepted into mech pilot school) the AI's don't tell. In fact you have to be a high enough rank to even ask. Like say a Fleet Captain. Why? Because exposing imperial bastards will piss off the emperor and you'll be shortened. By about a head. Exposing bastards of the other nobles, will also most probably end up with you equally (but perhaps more messily) dead. This is how it has worked in a fair deal of human history so far. I don't think it's going to change anytime soon. Nobles almost always know when they have a bastard child out there. Whether or not they will acknowledge it, is something that they will do on their own terms - not anyone else's, and trying to force them is often fatal. 

Remember it was mentioned that there was a big hullabaloo when the Emperor acknowledged Prince Lance? Big enough that people who hadn't even been born at the time remembered it?

AND ON TOP OF THAT!!! Prince Lance SPECIFICALLY threatened Chase's mother about what would happen if she told anybody!! That was clearly spelled out. Which also makes it very clear that they knew that no DNA test would ever be involved. That there would never be an 'accidental' reveal in day to day life.

I mean seriously people! If an author doesn't tell you about something, odds are there's a good reason for it. And when a Best Selling author doesn't tell you about something, an author who has been very successful and who is known for creating worlds that are both flawless and highly interesting, maybe you should stop and engage brain before engaging mouth. 

I would think the number of words I've written above should make it clear that I thought about this, in great detail. Give me some fucking credit already. Stop thinking you know more about my world than I do! These are major friggin' plot points and people a whole lot smarter than you (And even me!) beta read this. They could even see the writing between the lines. It's all there. It's just not spelled out explicitly because I prefer for people to have that 'ah-ha' moment when I spring shit on them two or three books down the line! Have some faith!

Friday, October 06, 2023

This one's kind of funny...

 So I got a review that is pretty positive, but the last line, was pretty funny.

They posted: Finally, the whole "empire is good, communism is rape and murder" can become a bit off-putting at times for us non-Americans.

And I honestly LAUGHED. The DPRS is NOT a communist government!

So -I'm- not the one making the connection between rape & murder and communism. That would be the reviewer.

I also (personally) don't think that 'Empire is Good'. I actually believe it's bad. But that's not what the story is about. A lot of things I write don't reflect my personal beliefs, preferences, or desires. I'm a story teller, I tell stories. I try to entertain people and I think I've been fairly successful at it. At least I hope so!

Oh, for the record, the DPRS is loosely based on the French Revolution. LOOSELY. I didn't want to get into the Jacobians, and all the insanity that came afterwards. So I kinda just cut to the authoritarian government with a dictator running it.