Busy, busy, busy . . .

Time for a few updates on where I am right now . . .

Day Job Stuff

When I got back to work from the shutdown, I expected my project deadlines to have been pushed back a bit. Wrong! The project I was working on when everything stopped had an end date of last Wednesday—and that didn’t change. Which meant I had about four days to complete a job that was originally scoped for three weeks. It was a tough few days but, thank goodness, I hit no serious roadblocks (apart from one technical problem, which was quickly sorted out thanks to a colleague who’d been down that same road before). Effort estimates usually include some wiggle room in case of problems, and this one was no different, but everything came together on the last day. It made for a pretty stressful start to the week, but I was able to put that behind me on Thursday.

Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia

The book seems to be doing well. I know I’ve made some sales (I won’t know precisely how many for a while), and I’ve seen a couple of reviews on Amazon (one on the US site, and one from the UK). So far, people are saying good things. And I haven’t even got into any real promotion yet. I’m barely started into arranging some things to get the word out—a blog tour is a strong possibility, as well as a signing or two locally. I’m hoping to get some progress in those directions this afternoon.

Around The World In 80 Days

The short story I wrote for Xchyler Publishing’s Around The World In 80 Days anthology contest is complete, as of a few days ago, and in shape to be submitted, as of about an hour ago (I started an editing pass last night, and finished up this morning). It is good. Without wishing to sound all conceited about it, I have to say it’s definitely one of my better short stories. I just hope it’s good enough—each of Xchyler’s contests seems to get more and better submissions.

Smoke & Mirrors

The next full-length story is coming along apace. This is the one I put to one side in February or March, and now Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia is out there I’ve been able to get back to it. I’ve redone the timeline somewhat, and I’ve been editing the scenes I’d already written, working forward to the point where I’d had to stop. I’ve recovered the momentum, and the voices and personalities of my characters, so when I reach that point (which won’t be long now—I’m almost there), I should be able to carry on and pound through to the end. My plan is to have a first draft no later than the end of November, and get it into shape to submit sometime in December. Fingers crossed.

Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia II

Yes, a sequel is in the works. I have the basics of a storyline, but I’m still thrashing out details. That’s about all I can say at the moment.

That about wraps it up for now. I have my weekly online chat with the family coming up in a few minutes, so I’d better grab a coffee and get settled. Until next time . . .

The Day That Became Steampunk

This is a repost of an article I wrote on my old blog. From September 8, 2012, I bring you . . .

The Day That Became Steampunk

We just had the weirdest day.

We’d set off from home intending to visit Shambhala Mountain, a Buddhist place up near Red Feather Lakes. We never got that far. First, Google Maps gave us a route that was definitely not the most direct. Still, I followed the directions and we were at least heading the right general direction.

As we came to a tiny place called Masonville, Kate started to feel a bit queasy (she sometimes gets motion sickness in the car) so I pulled over so that we could take a break. We looked around this little outdoor museum kind of thing for a few minutes then decided to check out the general store across the street. There’s a picture of the place here. And inside we found a wonder. Right there in the middle of nowhere, Colorado, in a place that looks like it has a two-digit population and that doesn’t even have mobile phone service, the general store sells STEAMPUNK STUFF. Well, not just that; they also have Victorian period style replica clothes and a bunch of other things – but hell, Steampunk things in such an out-of-the-way place?

IMG_20120908_143806Clothes. Jewellery. Hats. Goggles. Monocles. Even bridal wear. The place is way bigger inside than you’d guess from a look at the front.

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(This hat here? I’m ordering one in my size.)

So I took some pictures – which I couldn’t tweet because of aforementioned lack of phone service – and I bought some stuff. (I’m only sorry now that I didn’t take more pics. However we’re planning on going back and I’ll make a point of taking a bunch more.)

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And the lady that runs the place mentioned that quite a few people go there for this stuff, and asked us whether we were planning to go to the Steampunk Convention in Denver that we’d never heard of and is happening in just a few weeks. (I did a search and the only thing I can see for about the right date is MileHiCon; if anyone reading this has better information I’d like to hear it.)

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So it’s all very strange in hindsight. If Google had given me the most direct route, or if Kate hadn’t started feeling odd when she did, or if we hadn’t decided to go and take a look in the store, we might never have known about this place. Weird.

A Status Report

I’m back at work, now that the shutdown is behind us, and I can get back to where I was before the whole thing started—which is turning out to be pretty hard, actually. Two weeks is more than long enough for me to have pretty much forgotten where, precisely, I was with each of the projects I was working on. That, plus a number of distractions as other people have come to me to ask questions—so that they can remember where they were with their work, too—has made today pretty much a wipe as far as actually getting any work done. It’s going to take a couple of days to get back into the routine.

Also, I’ve become completely unused to getting up early. I allowed myself a couple of extra hours this morning, mostly because I wasn’t certain that the office would actually be open at the usual time. Even with that extra time, I feel exhausted already. So I decided to take a few minutes out to write this, and get my mind off the other stuff for a bit.

Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia was released last Saturday, and I know I’ve had a few sales already, and I’ve had one four-star review on Amazon. If you’d like a copy, check out the Fiction page by clicking the tab at the top of this screen—the links are all there. It’s available as an e-book for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. Paperback copies can be ordered from Amazon only as I write this; hopefully Barnes & Noble should be making print copies available soon, too.

Yesterday I finished a new, improved draft of a steampunk short story, which I’ll be submitting to Xchyler Publishing’s Around the World in 80 Days anthology contest at the end of the month. That’s going on the back burner for a week or so, then I’ll give another polish pass before the submissions open.

Next up, I’m getting back to work on Smoke & Mirrors, the full-length steampunk story I put to one side a few months ago to make way for Gunn & Bohemia. The plan is to get that finished in time to submit.

Enough blog for now; time to get back to work. Until next time . . .

Day Trip: Laramie, WY; Big Day Tomorrow

The Day Trip

Since I’m on enforced vacation because of the government shutdown, we decided to take a trip out. Laramie, WY is only a couple hours from here and yet we’d never been there, although we did pass by on our way to Salt Lake City a few weeks ago.

We were a bit delayed, but we finally got away mid-afternoon and headed up highway 287. Weather: fairly bright, occasional clouds, the odd spot of rain. Once out of Fort Collins it’s a pretty flat ride across mostly wilderness. There’s a store and gas station called The Forks (est. 1875), and that’s about it (so if you’re heading up that way I suggest making sure you have a full tank).

Things start to get interesting a few miles south of the Wyoming border. Here’s a panoramic shot I took at Virginia Dale:

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A closer look at that rock formation:

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Virginia Dale has also been hit by the shutdown, it seems:

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And so, on to Laramie. First stop in town was the visitor centre, and it started raining just as we got there. It didn’t bother us. We took a little walk around the Ivinson Mansion—and I do mean around, because it was too late for the guided tour inside. The place is beautiful; this picture doesn’t do it justice (the light could have been better):

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By the time we’d explored a bit it was getting decidedly cold. We took a slow ride around the town, then decided to grab a hot drink and a bite to eat before heading out. And at that moment, sleet and lightning and thunder began. We spotted what we thought was a corner cafe, but when we got inside we found that it was a full-service restaurant. And it was wonderful—great atmosphere, great food, great service. The place was called Jeffrey’s Bistro, and we can’t recommend it too highly. As far as Kate and I are concerned, it’s worth a three-plus-hour round-trip just to go there.

So, that was our (short) day trip. But we’re definitely going back, and the plan is to do it soon before the weather gets too bad (I wouldn’t want to be out in the wilds on highway 287 once the snow sets in). I want to see the inside of the mansion, and see some of the other historic buildings (Laramie has plenty, apparently), and I’m looking forward to another dinner at Jeffrey’s.

Tomorrow: RELEASE DAY!

Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia is unleashed tomorrow, October 12! It’ll be available as eBook and paperback, through various outlets—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords I know about, and there will probably be others. As I mentioned before, we’re having a Facebook party; swing by and check it out, even if you can only spare a few minutes.

Talking of which, I need to get together just a few more trivia questions for the free stuff giveaway. Until then . . .

The Tension is Palpable

So much going on right now. First and foremost, of course, is that Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia is being released this Saturday! We’re having a Facebook release party on the day, and I’ll be there to answer questions and throw a few trivia questions around. Only three days to go! This is my first professionally published book, and I’m very excited. After Saturday can call myself Published Author.

In other news, the government shutdown is biting harder. Last week I was able to work on documents, so long as the work wasn’t related to any of our government projects; this week, I’m on an enforced vacation. I hope this gets sorted out soon.

Still, it has its good side—that being that I’m on vacation during the best possible weather (not too hot, but the snows haven’t started yet), so Kate and I can do some restful, relaxing things. Yesterday we took a ride up to Fort Collins and spent a little while looking around an independent bookstore (Old Firehouse Books on Walnut), went for a walk over by Devil’s Backbone, and treated ourselves to dinner at Golden Corral.

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Devil’s Backbone, Colorado

Interesting thing about Devil’s Backbone: apparently the neighbours are hazardous:

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Where The Hazardous Things Are

Makes you wonder what the hazards are. Active volcanoes? Minefields? Pools of acid? Or are the people like those whackjob doomsday preppers on TV?

Today, we’d planned to drive up to Laramie, Wyoming, for a day trip—it’s only a couple of hours from here, and it looks like a nice place to look round. But that plan went down the toilet. Long story, I won’t go into it here. We might get out there tomorrow. If so, tweets will ensue.

On the writing front, I’ve been focussed on the Steampunk short story for Xchyler Publishing’s Around The World in 80 Days anthology contest. I’ve marked up the ‘script with comment markers to remind myself of the points that need work. Among other things, the pacing’s a bit off—the last couple of scenes seem terribly rushed, and something’s needed in there to slow things down and increase the suspense and tension a bit. I’m leaving it to sit for a few days before I get back on to it.

Enough on the blog for now. I need tea, and I think we’ll be getting out for a walk around the sculpture park while the weather’s good. Until next time . . .

Seven Days and Counting; Shutdown Shenanigans

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Yes, gentle reader: a week today, Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia will be released, woo hoo! This is of course a big thing for me, personally; my first professionally published book. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been worth every moment and I’ve learned a lot along the road.

We’re having a release party on Facebook (sign up by clicking here) – Trivia quiz! Prizes! It’s going to be fun, so come along and join in! I’m working on some trivia quiz questions, and I’ll be there to answer questions about the book and other things I’m working on.

The Shutdown . . .

If you’ve read my bio, you know that my day job involves working for the government (I’m not a fed, though—I work for a commercial company that does work on contract). So, Monday was business as usual, then Tuesday it was all stop. I’ve been able to work on some documents unrelated to the government projects, and that’s all. Starting this Monday, that stops, too—it looks like I have to start burning up my vacation hours until this is all over. Here’s hoping it gets sorted out soon.

Of course, since I’ll be on vacation, that means . . .

Writing!

Two projects are front and centre right now. First is a short story for Xchyler Publishing’s Steampunk anthology contest. I’ve got about 2,500 words down so far, and I’ll be getting back to that after posting this and getting coffee. The plan is to have the first draft finished no later than Monday night, but we’ll see how that goes.

As soon as that’s done, I’ll be getting back to work on Smoke and Mirrors (that’s just the working title), which must, must, must! be finished before December 31 if it’s to be in time for the submission deadline.

So I’d better get on with it. Coffee, come to daddy.

Until next time . . .