Thursday, March 20, 2014

My First Review!

Royal Pines Estates got its first review on! Four stars, and the reviewer said it was a "fun somewhat eerie story." And it sure is that. Go read the review. And then buy the story and find out for yourself.

And here's a little more shameless self-promotion; a link to the story:

Next story should be coming pretty soon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Moving Forward

Considering that I have a lot of family projects to work on today, I've already been quite productive. I've written about 500 words of my interactive book, The Big Old House, and I wrote the first verse to the song Perfect Little Robot. I managed to add about 300 words to The Cave Guardian, my next short story, last night after a family birthday party.

And the day isn't over. I have a lot of publishing, business, educational, and home-building tasks (did I mention I live in an unfinished house?) to work on today, but I seem to be finding the time to write as well.

If I can make most days work that way, I'll have a better shot at making my goal a reality.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Two With One Blow

Here are my two new songs, finished and posted on the same day. Song number seven:

I Jump turned out to be very interesting, and it makes me want to be a better musician. Which, by something that is merely coincidence, I am attempting to do by taking a new Coursera course from the Berklee School of Music, Developing Your Musicianship. Berklee has done well by me so far, so I have high hopes.

And here, more within my musical skills, is the eighth song of the Challenge:

Although I don't think this lyric is as well-crafted as Bad New Always Comes In the Mail, I think it contains a lot of important ideas for the times we're living in. That sounds pretentious, and I don't mean it to be. But I like the fact that I've put some of these things out there in a way that relates to what most of us are experiencing right now.

The songs that are coming up, unless some other song sparks my imagination and jumps ahead as these did, are both comments on life, but from two very different angles. Should be interesting.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Upcoming Uploads

Now that the giveaway period for Royal Pines Estates is nearly over (what, you missed it? You should have followed me on Twitter), I can concentrate on the two songs that are nearly ready to upload. Actually, Nickeled and Dimed is ready to go, but I'm waiting until I Jump is done. I recorded vocals for it, with a bongo track (you'll see), and now I'm adding synth guitar and piano tracks, maybe a little strings.

So tomorrow, I think, I'll be uploading two more songs.

Got a lot of work to do on all the other aspects of the Challenge, but the songs at least are pretty close to the schedule. Hoping for a kick in the seat of the pants with the warmer weather to come, which I desperately need now that there are fewer than 200 days left to go.

I never liked those scenes in the movies where the bomb ticks down to literally the last second before it's disarmed. I just hope I don't end of living that scene in real life.

Or the other one. The one where the bomb goes off.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Snow Joke

My wife left late for work today; it's just the way her schedule goes. My kids came home early from school because of predicted blizzard conditions for the afternoon. So I didn't get any recording done today.

It's hard to record with other people in the house. I'm a budding songwriter, not a professional musician, and I do not have a sound-proof space in my house. So I have to wait until I get some relatively noise-free time to do any recording.

The thing that kills me, though, is that the blizzard didn't arrive. The kids could have been in school until well into the afternoon, and I could have recorded Nickeled and Dimed, which now has a tune, and probably done the vocal track for I Jump, and then started working on the arrangement, of which much will be done with virtual instruments in GarageBand.

With my luck, at least as far as this Winter goes, the blizzard will still arrive, overnight, and the kids will have the entire day off tomorrow. I'll have to find them something quiet to do.

Having two songs that are basically ready to record has me champing at the bit. Hmm. Champing At the Bit. That has a nice ring. I wonder if anyone else has done a song with that title. Oh yeah, Every Time I Die did one. Oh well, I have enough ideas to work on without taking someone else's title.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Collecting Lyrics

I finished the lyric for Nickeled and Dimed today while I was on the treadmill; I'd rather have been taking a walk, but the walkways around here are covered in ice. Some of my best writing comes when I'm not trying to write, though that's mostly true when I've done a lot of thinking and prep ahead of time, as I had with this song.

Neither this song nor I Jump is musically complete yet, but I'm homing in on it. I might have some time to work on it in the next couple of days since we're going to be snowed in. Or, I won't have any time at all because we're going to be snowed in. It's all a matter of timing, and when I need to shovel snow and how much school my kids miss.

Meanwhile, I'm moving on to new lyrics, for the song Living As If It Matters, if I can get a handle on it, and a song I thought up while I was working in probably the most boring job I've had since I got married. That song is called Perfect Little Robot. Like Wake Up Call and Disconnected, it's a little out of my musical comfort zone, which is something I try to do from time to time to keep my work from all sounding the same.

I'm also jamming on the next short story, The Cave Guardian. I've taken it in a completely different direction than the one I started with over 30 years ago. I like to think I've become a much better writer since then.

On the other hand, I'm beating myself up because I can't seem to get rolling on the video front. I have lots of ideas that are really hard to shoot in the Winter, especially this Winter. But I should be able to dream up some fun things that can be done on a tabletop or in front of my green screen. I just can't seem to make that happen. Right now, anyway.

But I'm determined. This can be done.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bamboozled By Five—Just a Little

I did a scratch vocal recording of I Jump last night. Nothing I can use, because there was too much background noise and my voice was tired. But my brain wasn't doing too badly. I have managed to get a handle on this 5/4 time signature and actually sing the song straight through.

But the song is much too short, and it needs some filling in on the instrumental side (and a new drum track). That's where I'll be spending some time with GarageBand this week, getting some good 5/4 instrumental fills in so that the song is longer than, say, 1:05.

It won't be anything earth-shattering on the arrangement end, but it need that kind of fleshing out to maintain a sense of pace and separation between the sections. Wish me luck. Especially because I don't want anything to sound as if I had just stolen it from Mission Impossible or Take Five (even though the influence will no doubt be inescapable).

Meanwhile, I am just a verse away from having all the lyrics for Nickeled and Dimed, and since that is a straight guitar-and-vocal kind of song, it might hit SoundCloud ahead of I Jump.

It's really funny how these things work out.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Day Late

Well, more like half a day. CreateSpace approved my files around 7:00 last night, which would have given me time to approve the proof and move on to the Kindle publishing realm.

But as I was in the process of making four pizza for my family (we cook at home a  lot), our range stopped working. It's something that's happened before, and I know that it can be fixed (and I spent night cursing digital controls for something as simple as a stove and oven). And we actually have a second range available in our currently-vacant basement apartment, so I was able to make the pizzas, eventually.

But I didn't get back to my publishing duties until this morning. The printed version of Royal Pines Estates is immediately available at CreateSpace, and will shortly be available on But if I were you I'd wait until this afternoon for the much cheaper Kindle version.

And if you're really cheap, as I am, you'll wait for the free promotional days later this week, which I will announce on my Twitter feed. So don't you think it's time you followed me on Twitter?

Today is a housework day, though I am going to try to slip in the vocal track for I Jump and see if I can do some writing on Nickeled and Dimed. And I'm editing a video that I made with my son William about his first cake-baking experience. Finally, the eighth video is coming.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Almost There

Had a couple of minor mistakes to correct on the proof of Royal Pines Estates; I just submitted the final file for print. As soon as it's reviewed and I approved it, I'll move on to uploading the Kindle version. If all goes well, the story will be available for sale in both formats by the end of the day.

How did I get the proof so fast? Well, CreateSpace offers a virtual proof, and online version that gives you all the formatting and text on the computer screen. For long books, or inexperienced publishers, I don't recommend it; it's better to have a physical book that you can mark up, dog-ear, and hand off to other readers to help you spot problems.

You can actually print the online proof as well, but on longer books I just go ahead and order it; much easier to pass around. But for this short work, the online proof works just as well, and it gets me to press—literally and virtually—much faster.

Friday, March 7, 2014

First Short Work For the Challenge

I finally have finished my short story Royal Pines Estates, and am now just waiting for the uploaded files to be approved for print before I send the electronic versions to Kindle.

Wait a minute, did I just say "print"? Yes, I know, and if I wanted to make my life easier, I could count this as the first book of the Challenge instead of the first short. But sending the book to print is just something I do whenever the formatted page count is at least 24 pages. There are some people who just don't like reading e-books, and there are other advantages to print. For more on my opinions about that, see this blog entry.

But at roughly 4000 words, this is definitely a short story. I'll post the link and the description, and also announce the time window when you can pick up a Kindle copy for free, as soon as the e-book is approved.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Still haven't recorded I Jump. Can't blame the kids today, and although my wife was home and we spent time away from home, I can't blame here either. It all comes down to discovering that when you write a song in an odd time signature, you really discover the limits of your skills as a vocalist.

I'm having trouble staying with the metronome, the bongo beat, the piano riff. I keep missing the downbeat because it's not where my limited musical experience expects it to be. But then, how many people have experience singing in 5/4?

I'm thinking that I need some kind of visual cue to help me out, but lacking a conductor, I think I might just have to muddle through.

I will try again tomorrow. And again and again. Until I get it right. Or at least as right as I am able.

And then sometime down the line, if I still like the song, I will arrange with a vocalist with much more skill than I have to record the song.