Progress

An Update on Keillers Park Murder & A Black Widow

Some time ago, I wrote about a true crime murder case in Keillers Park, Gothenburg, in western Sweden. I've just published an update on the case.

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The Threat of Nuclear War, Women's Rights, a Cozy Mystery, & a Lizard

Why is it that at least every couple of years, it looks like nuclear war is imminent?

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True Crime & Real People

Did you know that true crime means real people? It seems obvious, but it's easy to lose sight of...

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A Package From Japan & a Few Updates

It's always a great day when some weird package comes in the mail.

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Arizona Sunset & an Update on El Peuchen of Mapuche Mythology

About two months ago, I tracked down and ordered an old book that supposedly had an entry El Peuchen, a strange flying snake creature from Mapuche mythology in the southern area of South America. The book finally came!

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Foggy Mountains & Taking Breaks While Writing

Whenever I'm writing and get stuck on something, I go for a walk. I'm not sure it's the actual act of walking, but taking breaks every once in a while is necessary.

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A Praying Mantis Outside My Door

Arizona really is full of life. I'm not sure why, but people think the state is a desert wasteland of sand and rattlesnakes. I see something new every day, like this praying mantis outside my door.

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Desk Cats Are the Best Cats

Actually, all cats are the best cats, but desk cats add a fun extra challenge to writing. Cap'n Hammy Pants loves to hang out with me while I'm writing. She sometimes takes naps on the desk, and, like most cats, she loves to lie on the keyboard.

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A House Finch & Vampire Interview

We're in the middle of monsoon season in Arizona, and most of the wildlife is taking shelter anywhere it can.

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120 Decibels & A Colorful Cryptid Lanyard

I bought a super loud whistle, 120 decibels. It's part of my kit that I take with me for nighttime walks around the neighborhood here in the desert.

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A Happy Cat Makes for a Happy Home

You know when you move, and you get unpacked, then realize there are little things here and there that you haven't found a home for, and while you're putting those up, you find a few moving boxes you still haven't opened?

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A Desert Tarantula

New installation of Absolution: Behind the Scenes, a haunted theatre coming up next week, and a desert tarantula.

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Catching Up With a Persistent Cough

Covid has cleared out of my system, and I'm doing a bit of writing catch-up.

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A Magazine Interview With Me

A few months ago, I was interviewed for a magazine.

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Two and a Half Years and It Finally Happened

Two and a half years, and it finally happened. Covid found me.

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Art, Art Everywhere.

You know what I like? Art.

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Insects Are Alive and Well in the Desert

It's an odd thing to move to a different landscape. Moving within a local area, you get pretty much the same, just slightly different views. Moving from Colorado to the Arizona desert, though, everything is different.

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It's Always the Little Things

Moving 900 miles (1,400 km) sounds pretty straightforward, right? You just box up your stuff, hop in a vehicle, and make the drive.

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Are We There Yet?

I'm probably driving or last-minute packing when this goes out.

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One Week To Go

One week to go, and I'll officially be a desert dweller. I can't wait to get to the new place, get settled in, and get back to editing the novel.

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Waiting to Move.

I like to move quickly. Not just with actual, physical moves, but with many things in life.

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Three Weeks and a Short Break.

Selling a house takes time, energy, and hard work. My spouse and I have been at it for three weeks straight. It's like having another full-time and part-time job on top of regular work.

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Still working on the whole move across the country thing.

Still working on the whole move across the country thing. This is the second time in my life I've done it.

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Moving Across the Country Is a Lot of Work.

Moving across the country is a lot of work.

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Sometimes, you can't edit.

I publish my newsletter via email. I post archives on my website, and I select a few from the archives to post on Reddit, Medium, and Vocal. No matter how often I look at an article, check the links, re-read it, etc. I always find something that needs a slight adjustment.

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Dionne Warwick Battled With Oreo on Twitter?

What kind of crazy world are we living in? Tae and I were trying to remember the name of the psychic phone networks advertised on TV back in the '90s, and as we were Googling, my browser autocompleted to "Dionne Warwick vs. Oreo."

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One Weekend at a Cabin

I was typing up part of Absolution: Behind the Scenes and ranted a little bit, and thought I'd place it here in a blog, as it was a bit of a tangent away from the main topic. So, here's some context for you: You know those TV shows, films, and even books that tell you a writer banged out a new great novel over a weekend of booze and sex with strangers?

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The Real Horror in Life: Hatred

I keep seeing news about the shelling in Ukraine by Russia and can't help but think of how much life and legacy are being destroyed. Everything that people worked so hard to create, accomplish, and put into the world—gone in an instant.

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What Exactly Makes an Expert?

An expert has comprehensive and authoritative knowledge on a subject or skill, but how do you know a person is an expert? I don't have a good answer for this. Often, it seems that there's a college degree plus years of experience, but what about things where such schooling doesn't exist?

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We Are More Connected Than Ever Before

The invasion of a sovereign nation should never happen, and my heart goes out to Ukraine and all of the people around the world affected and everyone trying their best to do what they can to help. I've been doing what I can with donations, spreading awareness, and contacting my representatives so they know my opinion. I don't know where all of this will go or where it will end up, but I know that I would like to live in a peaceful world.

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You Can't Hear Apostrophes

While working on the second draft of my novel WIP, I noticed something that I didn't when I wrote the first draft.

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Retelling a Treasure Hunt is a Big Task

Retelling a treasure hunt for the last part of Absolution was a big task. I was initially making a video but decided I'd want ample time to inspect and take in everything if I were viewing it. I played around with several ideas and eventually landed on a mix of lots of photos and narration from Zarina. I think it turned out well. I'm excited to start writing the Behind the Scenes, as there's a lot to show, and I've had years to reflect on the entire thing.

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I love audiobooks but never imagined I'd make one.

I love audiobooks but never imagined I'd make one. Honestly, I never really thought about it.

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What makes a good story?

I think about this on and off whenever I come across a best-selling novel, popular TV show, or movie that I don't like—or when I stumble upon a fantastic gem of a story in any of those. There are plenty of theories about what makes a great story, popular ideas such as conflict, tension, surprise, well-developed themes, engaging plot, memorable characters, and so on. I don't think it's any of those, and I don't think there's a magic combination either.

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I Have Such Talented Friends

I wrote and published a retro creature feature called Night of the Living Cake Monsters a while back. Despite the challenges of marketing a self-published work, the novella has gained a few die-hard fans.

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Reading Other People's Work

I offered to read through someone else's first draft, and I'm about 1/3rd of the way through the story now. It's a unique concept, one I haven't seen before.

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A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.

"A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it." —Samuel Johnson

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Ideas Are Easy. Execution Is Difficult.

Have you ever heard the following? "Ideas are worthless. Execution is everything." – Scott Adams It's a quote used frequently in business startup land.

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On Writing Systems and Fun With Newsletters

I'm a big fan of setting up machines and then just feeding them, so they work. I look at writing with that same eye. What's my goal, and how can I set things up to focus on the fun part? 

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Retro Radio Holiday Gifts For a Few Friends

I made a few gifts for friends and mailed them out in early December. I didn't know how they would go over but suspected they might be well received. Turns out everyone who received one absolutely loved it. All of the stories I write begin with a feeling that I want to convey. Back in the summer, I had a strong urge to write something to trigger a feeling called anemoia.

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eBook Formatting and Indie Author Account Woes

You know, I kind of expected a learning curve with eBook formatting. I set my mind to it and figured it out. No problem; just a bit of time. Setting up indie author accounts on Amazon and Google has been an enormous problem.

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New Highlights Section, Absolution Unveiled, and Into Horror History Launching

A lot is going on, well, all the time. I changed the website: a new highlights section on the home page, Absolution finally unveiled, and I reorganized some pages. Things are coming together nicely, as I'd hoped.

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Night of the Living Cake Monsters Audiobook Coming Soon

I've been working hard on the audiobook for this Christmas-themed short story. Everything has come together nicely, and I'm now trying to figure out how and where I want to publish it. I just finished making the cover for it last night, and I'm pleased with how it turned out. One glance at it, and everyone will know it's a retro creature feature.

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Holiday Gifts and a Steady Marathon of Second Drafting

I've carved out some time from my editing to wrap up a few gifts for Christmas. Once they are sent out and opened by the few recipients, I'll post some pictures up. I've created a set of unique gifts, and only a handful of them exist. As far as the people receiving them, they have no idea what they're getting. So, it'll be interesting to see what they think. 

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Second Draft Sensory Engagement

I've compared my first draft to my second (for chapters where I completed my second draft checklist) and concluded that planning my second draft was a great idea. Everything reads better and is much more engaging. I've given the first chapter or two to test readers, and they've had extremely positive things to say.

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The Second Draft Is Shaping Up To Have So Much More Punch

I've been working through revisions to create the official second draft of the novel. As I read through and compare the first and second drafts, it's apparent that the second one has so much more punch. This is precisely what I wanted. You can see so much in the first draft, but it's the revisions where the work truly begins to shine.

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On the Words "Newsletter" and "Mailing List"

I don't know—there's just something spammy feeling about both of those words to me. After extensive research, I've discovered sites out there allow people to join a list and receive regular emails, like zen habits, but don't use the typical terminology. Newsletter certainly sounds less spammy, though. So, I've decided to join the movement and do that. I've officially launched my not-yet-named email thing and put up the short story audiobook of Inching Along After the Apocalypse.

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Newsletter or Mailing List?

Depending on who you talk to or where you research, the terms mean something very different. For example, a newsletter seems to be a regular, expected email. A mailing list, though, maybe more sporadic. What do I want? I think a newsletter, probably monthly. But, I want to provide real value to readers, so I'm going to put some thought into how I might accomplish that.

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The Longest and Final Step of my Second Draft To-Do

After careful evaluation, I've paired my twelve-step to-do down to eleven steps. I have a new and shiny editing checklist, and I'm going through each chapter with it. Some chapters need more work than others. It's fascinating to see how far my writing has progressed since I started. The first chapter reads as if someone entirely different wrote it. In a sense, that's true. I've put in well over 1,000 hours, so the difference between zero and 1000+ hours on a story is stunning.

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Step Eleven of My Twelve-Step To-Do

I finally finished my edits of the remaining chapters using my shortlist. I've also completely read through Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing and found it helpful. Interestingly, the first two-thirds of Intuitive Editing seems to be a different take on Randy Ingermanson's The Snowflake Method. Still, I went through everything in great detail, just to be sure.

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Five Chapters Left to Edit With My Shortlist

As I've been going through my editing shortlist, I've been able to easily tell which chapters I wrote when tired. My choice of wording on those came across as more passive, less descriptive, and a bit clunky. Paragraphs are broken in odd places as well. They're simple fixes to make, though, so I'm glad I wrote every single day instead of just when I "felt" like it.

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Editing Out Overused Words

As I wrote, I noticed patterns in my own writing and corrected them as I went. Fortunately, it means that a considerable portion of my story doesn't need as much attention on certain things as earlier parts.

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Second Draft Rewrites

A few of the chapters near the end needed some structural attention, so I'm tackling those before moving on with my complete second draft plan.

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Second Draft Editing Plan

I took time this past week to create a plan of action for editing. It's about one full page of bullet points. Some of them are much bigger than others, but they have captured my second draft ideas.

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First Draft Completed—127,500 Words

I had a writing frenzy last week and pushed my first draft to completion. It's a strange feeling, having it complete after so many months of working on it every single day. It's hard to say precisely how much time I've put into it so far.

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One Hundred Twenty-One Thousand Words and Final Scenes

I've been writing a novel for about four months now. If you take into account the planning time, then it's been about five months. I'm almost done with the first draft. That's a lot of words I've written this year. It's a lot of time I've spent working on it. Now that I'm nearing the end of the first draft, it feels surreal. Everything has come together in a magical sort of way—it hasn't been easy.

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One Hundred Nine Thousand Words

So I've been writing this novel. It's strange to look back and see how far I've come from just a loose idea. The story has layers upon layers, meanings that were either planned or somehow ended up in there. The characters are deep enough to psychologically analyze and speculate about their history and things that are never said or even hinted at in the book. Deep enough to feel so real that my Alpha Readers think of them as actual people and draw parallels to people they've known in their own lives.

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Achievement Unlocked: One Hundred Thousand Words

I hit 100,000 words yesterday—kind of a Big Deal™. I believe I have around 40,000 left to go to complete my first draft.

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Planning, Hard Work, and Serendipity

So, what does it take to write a novel? You might think I'm talking about an outline, character sheets, backgrounds, a timeline of events, etc. That's not it, though. While those things can certainly be helpful, there's a piece that seems often overlooked when reading about the craft of writing.

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One Hundred Days, Seventy-Five Thousand Words, and Halfway to First Draft Completion

I don't remember precisely when I started to write this novel, but I think it's been about 100 days. I just set a reminder to work on it at night, and so I have. I've only missed a handful of days, so few that I can count them on the fingers of one hand. It certainly feels surreal.

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Seventy-Thousand Words and a Title

I've heard of many ways in which book titles become a thing. Some authors begin with only a title and then develop a story from there. Others hit a magic moment during writing that reveals a title, perhaps a clever turn of phrase, or an unexpected snippet of dialog from a character. There are many methods, all of which are equally valid and interesting.

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Plans are useful, but never perfect.

Plans are useful. Before I began writing, you know, actual words for my novel, I made a plan. I've done a significant amount of reading about writing, particularly novels, and found a model that's been helpful to me on a few different occasions for storytelling. But plans aren't perfect.

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Sixty-Thousand Words and Counting

What's in a goal? And, what's new since last week? Check-in on the journey to completing my first novel.

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Reflections on Writing Every Day for 90 Days

Earlier this year, I decided to write every day. Let's take a look at what has happened in those 90 days.

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My Brand New Website

A novel, short stories, random observations, and more. So I decided to create a website to link them all together.

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