Saturday, December 29, 2012

Martinus Publishing on the Web

Well, it's not much to look at, but the official website for Martinus Publishing is now online.  Give it a quick look.

This is a prime example of "anyone can do it."  My web design is limited to a basic understanding of html code, though it serves me well enough.  Maybe someday I'll be able to afford a webmaster, but right now I'm pouring enough money into the company setup that I'll be lucky if I ever break even on this venture.

I'm not feeling so good right now, but I don't want to depress anyone at this joyous time of year with my petty emotional issues.  Just keep me in your thoughts and prayers, and think well of me.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas Bonus

I'd like to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas.  We all have our own definition of what that entails, so I leave it up to the eye of the beholder.  Hopefully, you will all find some happiness this December 25th.

In the spirit of giving, I'd like to offer you the best offer I can (without bankrupting myself).  For Christmas, I'll let anyone who wants to order print copies of my books a super discount: my actual cost.  Not a cent of mark-up!  If you want one book or multiple books, I will let you have them for nothing more than what I paid for them.  It's not much, but it's what I've got.  This offer is good through the end of the week, December 29, 2012.  Go to my AuthorStore page, and submit the form, telling me which books you want to buy.

Every person who accepts this offer will not only receive a gift, but be giving me one in return.  I'll have the pleasure of sharing my fantastic stories with more readers, while you get quality books for the minimum expense.  I know, a lot of people are hard-strapped these days, but most folks can afford a few bucks for the chance to enjoy the adventures I have laid out in my many novels.  Let's celebrate the season together in this minor way.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Mystery of Eliza Jane Dillon

As winter begins to sink in again, I've resumed research into my ancestry, picking away at the many threads of my bloodline.  Although I have mapped out a fairly extensive list in many regards, there is still much to do, and lingering lines that will forever remain lost in the fog of time.  I was looking at one dead-end in particular not so long ago, that of my great-great-great grandmother, Eliza Jane Dillon (or Denny).

Her maiden name, itself, is sometimes disputed. Depending on which descendant researcher you run across, some say her last name was Dillon, and others list it as Denny.  She was born 17 April 1836 in Zanesville, Ohio.  On 1 January 1852, she married Frederick Stark, a German immigrant almost 10 years her senior.  They moved out to Indiana, then later to Illinois, and together they had 3 children, Henry Irving Stark, James Franklin Stark, and my great-great grandmother, Mary-Etta Stark, the future wife of Charles W. Bailey.  Fred Stark died in 1867, and Eliza remarried twice (Sampson Cantrell in 1868, and Josiah S. Fletcher in 1893).

Eliza died on 19 August 1914 in Fort Scott, Kansas.

Mary-Etta Stark, daughter of
Eliza Jane Dillon/Denny
Trying to find Eliza's parents has been an arduous process, and I have made little progress.  To my knowledge, nobody alive currently knows who her parents were, and census data isn't that helpful, either.  Their alleged birthplace varies with each census Eliza took.  In 1880, they were from Virginia and Ohio.  In 1900, they were from France, and in 1910 they were from Maine.  I've confirmed beyond a doubt that all of these census reports are for the same woman, yet she clearly didn't feed the census takers the same information each time they came around (or whoever was answering for her didn't know and/or made stuff up).  This has led me to wonder if the truth about her parents might even be different than any of these claims.

In my continuing quest to unlock the secret of Eliza's origins, I came across an interesting 1850 census form for Zanesville, Ohio (actually two, since the household started at the bottom of one page and continued on another).  This census report was for the household of Moses & Mary Dillon.  They had 4 children listed, and two other individuals living with them:  Mary A. McCormack and Elizabeth Denny.  I find this to be a very compelling coincidence, indeed.  Since Eliza is known by both names, Dillon and Denny, it could be that she was born Denny, and was "adopted" by the Dillons.  The 1850 census didn't ask for all that much information, and didn't even list a person's relation to the head of household, so it is unclear if this Elizabeth Denny was an adopted daughter or not.

Another curiosity with this record is Elizabeth Denny's birthplace.  On this form, it's listed as Germany, and this gives us more circumstantial evidence to consider.  We know that Frederick Stark was from Germany, and it is possible that his wife had her origins there, as well.  She may have come over very young, or perhaps she truly was born in Zanesville, Ohio, as is consistently reported.  She may have been born to German parents shortly after their arrival, giving some people the impression that she was also "from" Germany.  Either way, it seems logical that Eliza may have had a similar origin/background as that of the man she wed at the tender young age of 15.

The truth of Eliza's parents may never come to light, though I continue my pursuit.  New possibilities continue to emerge, leaving renewed hope that the answers are out there to be found, eventually.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Maybe a Bad Idea

I made a questionable decision yesterday morning.  My wife and second daughter Kathryn both had dentist appointments in Eastport, a 15 mile drive approximately.  The previous day had seen a very wet and nasty snowstorm, which had knocked out power for hours, and left things a slushy mess.  The driving conditions on the main road were decent, but the application of salt is a nasty thing for cars.  So, it might give some people a heart attack to hear that I took my 1956 Ford Fairlane out into such a mess.

Yes, it was a questionable decision, and there are reasons to question it.  To bathe such a nice old car in an evil salt bath is something you wouldn't want to have happen to your flashy show car, though as I've said before, this Fairlane is hardly a prize-winner.  It is a nice, old driver with numerous cosmetic flaws, though it's mechanically solid.  Still, driving in winter weather in Maine isn't something to do often with any real car.  The modern mechanical boxes they call cars these days are not "real" by my definition.

The decision before me was multi-faceted.  I had 4 people to transport (Jenna, Kathryn, Lois, and myself).  The Ford Ranger pickup I have will hold that many, though it is a tight fit, and the thing has poor traction on snow and ice.  Rather than risk hitting something slick with the modern piece of junk truck, I decided to venture out in the rugged Fairlane, which has very good traction.  On the way down to the dentist, I ran into a few places where ice lurked on the road, but the car hardly noticed.  It doesn't even have snow tires, and it handles better than your average half ton pickup on snow and ice.  I can only imagine what a '56 Fairlane with 4-wheel drive could do—alas, they never made them in 4WD.  But, as I said, the two wheel drive version works nicely.

The Fairlane made its masterful voyage through the evil road sludge without incident, and assured that everyone got home alive.  The temperature was above freezing when I got back, so a quick hosing helped to eliminate the wicked salt.  Special attention must be paid to the underside whenever washing the car, and it would be nice to have a proper car steam-cleaning unit.  That must go onto the "if the West of the Warlock tv series is ever made and I make a million bucks, I'll buy it" list.

I don't believe the short term exposure will cause too much damage to the Fairlane.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: It isn't a show car!  Yes, if I wanted to pour $10,000 into it, then it could very well be such a vehicle, but then I'd never be able to drive it, for fear of damaging perfection.  The Fairlane is the best thing I've ever driven, and I'd much rather be able to get around in style, rather than hoard a trophy-catcher in an air-conditioned garage.  I'm sure even Jerry Seinfeld has a few "imperfect" models to beat around in for fun.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Curse of Selwood –Early Release

Yes, it's true.  After much work and waiting, the Curse of Selwood is finally ready for store shelves.  The final formatting has been completed, and the book is now available to order from, in both print and kindle formats!  Those who have a kindle can begin reading it immediately, though the print copies will take a few weeks to produce.

Print Edition
Kindle Version
For those of you who put in a pre-order, please be patient.  While the book is now "released," it will be several weeks before the print copies are available.  Also, for various reasons, I won't be ordering stock until January 1st, so it may be a couple of weeks after that before I can sign and send these special editions.

There are still a few signed and numbered editions available, and I'm still offering the Pre-order for The Curse of Selwood.  If you're interested in buying a signed and numbered copy, go to my AuthorStore and click on the submission form.  For $11.00, you can't beat the value!

In other news, formatting has been completed on the 2nd print of West of the Warlock, and it will be coming out sometime next.  At present, Amazon still has the first edition available for sale, so if you're still eager to get a copy of the first printing, you'd best do it soon.  I can't say how much longer the book will be available.  You may want to hold out for the Martinus edition, though there will be obvious collector value to the original release.

The Temporal Element still needs submissions, though I expect to see quite a few stories after the Holiday season.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Slowdown Season

Things are progressing well for Martinus Publishing.  The formatting for The Curse of Selwood is almost complete, and we might just see the book release at the end of the year, ahead of schedule.  Preparations have also begun on the 2nd edition of West of the Warlock, which will include a new foreword as well as the original Dwarf at High Noon short story.  Now readers will be able to read the complete origins of this Fantasy Western series in one convenient volume.

Work on the Temporal Element has come to a crawl, as the past week has seen no new submissions.  There were quite a few directly after the 1st of December, though most of them weren't what this anthology needed.  There are still several stories waiting on revisions, and several authors who have said they intend to submit but haven't done so yet.  I'm confident that enough stories will come through by the new deadline of January 31, 2013, though it would be nice to see more variety right now.  Time travel stories aren't that hard to write, are they?

Cold weather has stymied my non-writing projects, so work on Unforsaken is commencing again.  The 4th book in the West of the Warlock series is about half written now, and based on what else preoccupies my time, it could be several months before the finished draft is on hand.  Whether the book will go to Martinus Publishing or venture forth into the larger marketplace, I cannot say yet.  It would be nice to find a larger press to handle the release, though it is difficult to find that right editor at the right time.  I guess I've gotten to the point where I'm sick of having the door shut in my face time and time again.

Well, before I start feeling sorry for myself or say something condescending or arrogant, I'll bid you all a good day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The 1954 Chevy Bel-Air

Yes, it's finally time to reveal my latest project.  A few months ago, I picked up a 1954 Chevrolet Bel-Air from Arizona, and took on the arduous job of restoring it.  Here's a picture of what it looked like when I first bought it:

The picture gives it a slightly better look than the naked eye would reveal, but it was a solid car from the start.  Having lived its entire life in the arid Southwest, it was nearly rust-free, which is why I purchased it.  I hate rust, and Maine is the land of rusty cars.  This beauty won't need new floorboards or anything of that nature.  The desert sun did rot some of the plastic components, though.  The tail light lenses, the parking light lenses, and the hood and trunk emblems were either deteriorated or gone entirely.  It was also missing the hood ornament, but overall it was mostly complete.

The first thing I had to do was get it running.  The original 235 engine had had work done to it years ago, but someone had taken the carburetor off to rebuild it at some point and never put it back (and failed to do any rebuilding).  That, and someone snatched the master cylinder out of it, so it didn't have brakes.  These failings were divulged prior to my purchase, so I knew what I was getting into.  The carb was sitting on the front seat, so at least I had it.

To get the engine started, my father supplied an old carburetor he had kicking around, which would suffice until I got a rebuild kit.  With the temporary carburetor in place, we put a fresh 6-volt battery in it and turned the key.  It wouldn't turn at first, and after a quick check we found that the water pump was seized.  We took the belt off, and the engine turned, and started!  Of course, we didn't run it long with the cooling system disconnected (as well as the generator, which runs on the same belt), but it ran for a few minutes, long enough to determine that it really is a good engine.

After the initial run, I started the long process of restoration.  I didn't have a lot of time in September, but I poked around with a few minor things.  I cleaned the trunk, which had about half an inch of desert dust coating it.  Amazingly, there was paint under all that dirt.  A little surface rust was in the spare tire well, but hardly anything to fret about.

After moving it into the garage, the car was jacked up and put on 4 stacks of concrete blocks with 2" wooden spacers between each layer, putting this thing up in the air over 2 feet, so it would be possible to work on it.  One of these days, it would be nice to have a lift, but right now I must make do with what I've got.

Since late October, I've been doing quite a bit of work on this thing.  The carburetor was rebuilt, and a replacement water pump installed.  I replaced the passenger side windows that were busted (both front and rear door, plus the vent window).  I took the passenger side doors off, stripped them down and painted them, cleaned dirt out of the chrome moldings, and reassembled them.  I dismantled the front sheet metal (hood, fenders, grill, splash pans) stripped and repainted them.  Fortunately, we had a very mild November, so I got quite a few pieces done.  The new color I'm using is a metallic teal, which isn't original, but it looks sharp.  The rusty copper color was a repaint, as well, the original color being Turquoise with an India Ivory top.  I'll be putting a Vanilla Cream top on this when I'm done.

Rear passenger-side door with trim removed prior to stripping.

Door refinished and reassembled.

Here's another great thing about the car.  It had factory undercoating, most of which is still in good condition.  There are a few places where it has separated, and as I've been painting pieces I've scraped and sanded the undersides, and then given them a quick coat of paint, but left the solid undercoating in place.  Wherever the loose pieces have come off, I've found glossy black factory paint underneath, so there's no sense in ripping that old stuff off.  It'll protect the car, just as it has for the last 58 years.

One front fender, stripped and polished.
Both fenders refinished.
Getting the brakes working was a slow process.  Getting a new, rebuilt master cylinder was the easy part.  Finding the parts to hook it up was another thing.  Whoever snatched the master cylinder out of the car also took the lever that connects the pedal to the cylinder.  Also, the rebuilt MC I bought lacked any of the attaching hardware.  Eventually, I found everything I needed, and got it together.  I bled the brakes, and got 3 wheels to work, but one was stubborn.  I dismantled the wheel cylinder and cleaned it out, but found the real problem to be the brake hose going to that wheel. It was clogged with crud, so I had to blow it out with air.  After that, the brakes worked fine in all 4 wheels.

On Monday, I spent 10 hours putting the front metal back together, hooked up the lights, and got it ready to run.  On Tuesday, I filled the radiator and hooked up a temporary tank for gas (before using the regular tank, I need to drain the old, stale gas out of it).  With the car still on blocks, I cranked it over and the engine fired right up.  It runs like a car should, without any unforeseen trouble.  I'll need to take it out for a short drive to see how everything behaves, but there's not much that can go wrong with this kind of vehicle.  It's all straightforward and reliable.

Front of car with sheet metal removed.

After painting and some reassembly

Mostly reassembled with new accessory headlight visors.
Today, I completed work on the trunk compartment.  As I said, I cleaned it out a while ago and added a coat of paint.  It was warm enough today to glue the carpet and padding down, so I spent a few hours using spray adhesive to stick things into place.  The carpet kit I purchased claimed to be "cut to fit, no trimming required," but of course it wasn't (nothing is ever perfect when you are dealing with these old cars, I've found).  So, I had to do a little trimming around the edges here and there, and figure out how to fit it all together.  In the end, it came out pretty nice, I think.  You be the judge.
Trunk at time of sale

After cleaning and painting

A quality, carpeted trunk
I still have a lot of work to do on this car, but I have most of the parts either on hand or on order (no cheap feat, I'll tell you).  This winter and next spring, I'll be putting some serious time into the vehicle.  It still needs the driver's side doors painted, as well as the roof and rear fenders.  The car needs a complete interior installed (headliner, carpet, door panels, the works).  As I said, the materials are on order.  Installing the headliner will be an interesting experience, though the factory shop manual shows you how to do it.  I'll just have to be careful.

Once this car is completed, I might just put it on the market.  It won't be a $50,000 show car, but if someone wants to put a little more work into it after me, it could be.  I'd want to get $15k for it.  That way, I'd get my money back and be able to buy another project car.  If that's too much, then I'll keep it and have a really nice Bel-Air of my own to drive around.  Either way, it'll be a good investment.

Almost road-ready!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Curse of Selwood Cover Reveal & Pre-Order

Things are already coming together for Martinus Publishing, and I'm pleased to announce that The Curse of Selwood will be released in January 2013.  The specific date is not yet decided, though it will undoubtedly be before that month is over.  I have the manuscript already formatted for the printers, and thanks to Hall Brothers Entertainment, I have the cover!

Without further delay, here is the fantastic front cover to The Curse of Selwood:

As you can see, we settled on a format that remains similar to the first book in the series, and I'm hoping to carry this theme on to the third book in the series when it's time for that to be released.  In addition to the exceptional story, the book will also contain a bonus extra; a rare look into the creative process and how we (the Hall Brothers and myself) decided upon this design over other possibilities.

With everything set into motion, it's time to give everyone the chance to reserve their copies.  Yes, I'm offering a pre-order special for my loyal readers.  For the discounted price of $11.00, you can reserve yourself a signed copy of this book, but that's not all.  The first 13 pre-orders will receive one of the famed Lucky Thirteen numbered editions.

Also, anyone who pre-orders (not just the first 13) will receive an extra bonus while supplies last.  When I was writing The Curse of Selwood, there were times where I let the keyboard remain silent and took to pen and paper.  I have dozens of pages of hand-written notes and story, and each person who is kind enough to order their print copy early will also receive one of these pages, penned by yours truly!  You never know; it may be worth something someday.  At the very least, you'll get a fascinating look into my rough draft, assuming you can decipher my handwriting.

The pre-order price includes shipping to the USA.  Foreign sales will cost more, and therefore require a postage fee, but I'll do what I can to keep it as affordable as possible, and I will ship worldwide.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

That Switch Sucks

A nuisance thing happened to me the other day.  I hopped into my 1956 Ford Fairlane and went to start it, only to find the ignition switch was inoperable.  Oh, it would turn to the "on" position, and the oil/gen light would glow, but it wouldn't engage the starter.  This was not a good thing, as I needed to get somewhere.

I have the car in perfect running condition, but it wouldn't start all of a sudden.  This would certainly be a problem with a more modern vehicle.  With all the sensors and circuits in new cars, you can't do anything outside of a professional shop.  Fortunately, my retro-technology allows for simple solutions in short order.

Here is a pictorial step by step illustration of my immediate solution, and one that could be utilized by anyone who happens to have a faulty switch.  Do try this at home, but only on your own car (jumping someone else's vehicle, especially mine, could result in you being shot; you have been warned).

1: Turning key to "on" position.

2: Fashioning the high-tech bypass tool.

3:  Jumping that relay.  It's alive!

4.  Give her a little gas to keep the ice-cold engine from stalling.  After a few seconds, it has no trouble idling on its own.

5:  Let her warm up for a couple of minutes, and you're ready to go.

There, problem solved.  But now for the more permanent solution. After going over the simple troubleshooting instructions found in the shop manual, I was able to determine that something was wrong with the wire going from the switch to the relay.  When I went to replace the wire, however, I suddenly found that the car would start with a turn of the key!  It turned out that the connection on the back of the switch had just the slightest film of corrosion.  When coupled with the cold weather, it was enough to diminish the power going through the wire and keep it from reaching the starter.  After I cracked the nut and retightened it, everything worked again.  It only took me a couple of hours to trace down the problem.  No need for new wires, no need for a new starter switch.  Aren't I lucky?

This has been a quick car minute.  I hope it has been helpful.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A New Beginning!

This has been a hard year for my writing career on many levels.  With the economy in decline, sales have been stagnant on most titles (West of the Warlock being the only major seller), and the marketing of new works has been surprisingly difficult.  It seems there are fewer and fewer markets that are interested in publishing the sort of stories I write, and even the stuff I read.

At the same time, during different writing exercises and contests, I have uncovered a lot of really good writers who aren't getting published much, even though their stuff is way better than a lot of the stuff that is being pushed by the bigger commercial markets.  I don't know if it's just my personal tastes which are out of whack with the mainstream, but there is clearly a growing niche of sci-fi and fantasy that is underrepresented in the marketplace.  It's about time I did something about that.

The closure of Hall Brothers Entertainment was just the final straw.  That tragic loss has finally given me the impetus to move forward with something I have been considering for years.  That is the formation of my own publishing company.  Without further ado, I hereby announce the birth of Martinus Publishing!

While still in the "conceptual phase," I foresee Martinus Publishing as a viable small press, seeking to publish an eclectic selection of Science Fiction & Fantasy works, both single-author novels and multi-author anthologies.  I am also considering a line of historical novels, though let's not get ahead of ourselves.  It's important to start out small, and see what happens.  No sense over-extending myself, right?

The first book that I'll be releasing will be The Curse of Selwood.  It is all ready to go (thank you, HBE), and I should have an official release date soon.  In addition, I'll be re-releasing West of the Warlock about the same time, with a fresh postscript.  In the meantime, I have put up fresh "sample" pages at my website:

Speaking of websites, that is something I will have to handle, as well.  I will have to set up a separate site for Martinus Publishing.  It's a fairly simple thing to do.  Give me a hundred bucks and I'll put something together.  It may not be big and flashy, but it'll work.

After West of the Warlock & The Curse of Selwood, the next release will have to be The Temporal Element, which is still open for submissions at this time.  This first anthology will establish Martinus Publishing as a genuine small press, and not just a shill company for publishing my own work.  The first artwork I'll have to commission is a cover for this anthology, since I'd like to have something nice and professional.

Once these outstanding projects are released, then I will move forward, and start seeking some new talent.  I expect to handle a couple of novels each year, and possibly a couple of anthologies as well.  With any luck, this will be the start of a long-lasting endeavor, which will bring fantastic fiction to life and hopefully produce enough of a profit to keep itself afloat without eating away at my limited revenues (yes, wishful thinking, I know).

So, let us begin!

Friday, November 30, 2012

NaNoWriMo Win #3

So, here we are, 30 November 2012.  It's the last day of National Novel Writing Month, and once again I have pulled it off by writing over 50,000 words in 30 days.  Bully for me!  Third try, third win.  Cue applause.

Of the three years I have participated in NaNoWriMo, this has been my slowest.  The first year, I finished a day early.  Last year, I blew right through it and was done a week early.  This year, however, my writing pace was beleaguered.  I just had too many things going on, and different roadblocks that kept getting thrown up in my face.  That, and I was writing a novel that I had to keep researching on and off in the middle of the process.  That slowed me down.  Then, there was the whole shutdown of Hall Brothers Entertainment this week that could have put me in a pit of depression and been a good excuse to give up and fall short, but I didn't.  I rallied toward the end and marched across the finish line on this, the final day of the competition.

So, where do I go from here?  To be fair, winning NaNoWriMo is only the beginning, and "Unforsaken" is nowhere near complete.  This book is looking to be more of a 100k novel than the 50k I currently have, so writing will continue this winter.  There are some other things that are going to slow my pace now that I'm not under pressure to reach a specific goal in a short amount of time.  Since this is the 4th book in a series which still hasn't seen the second book released yet, there is no rush to complete it.  If I have it done in a few months, I'll be happy.

Here's to another fruitful year.  Check this blog tomorrow for some exciting news!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Horrible News

I have some sad news to report.  Hall Brothers Entertainment, the publisher of West of the Warlock, its forthcoming sequel, The Curse of Selwood, and my upcoming anthology, The Temporal Element, have closed down.  Time and financial constraints forced them to make the hard decision.  Therefore, we place another tombstone on a small press, and must find a way to move on.

First off, I'd like to assure those of you who have submitted stories to The Temporal Element that I am not shutting down.  I will press forward with this anthology, and seek to find another publisher for it.  I have a few industry contacts, and I'll figure something out.  Those of you who have been accepted, you're still in, though I'll have to work up a new contract for your stories (since the HBE contract is now null and void).  Those of you who are still thinking of submitting, please do so.  The anthology submission period is still open until January 31.

Now, what are we going to do about West of the Warlock?  Undisputedly, this has been my most popular work to date, but in a few short weeks it will no longer be available.  Finding another publisher for it may be a precarious proposition, as few publishers are interested in "reprints" these days.  This is something I will have to sleep on before making any rash decisions.

The Curse of Selwood is going to be less of a problem for various reasons.  First, it was never published, so it can still be marketed as "new."  However, as a sequel, publishers will again be less inclined to pick it up, especially if the first book in the series is out of print.  I'll have to figure out what to do with West of the Warlock before moving forward with a full-scale marketing campaign for the other books in the series.

The third book in the series, The Man Who Shot Thomas Edison, never had the chance to reach any sort of production stage.  I was hoping to have HBE release it in 2013.  Maybe luck will give me the chance to get it out by then, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

This really sucks, damn it.  Seeing the demise of Hall Brothers Entertainment is like having a good friend die—it leaves you with a lot of tumultuous emotions and can cause a lot of troubles.  Plans and dreams often die in this manner, and going forward is easier said than done.  Yet, we must press on.

I have a lot of work to do...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Submissions Flowing & a note on payments

I'm pleased to say that both the quality and quantity of submissions to "The Temporal Element" anthology have increased this past week.  While I hadn't gotten anything the previous two weeks, things have started to come in again, and I have several very qualified stories that are due to get acceptance letters soon.  Right now, I'm pretty busy with NaNoWriMo and another big non-writing project, so the acceptance letters may not get sent out until the first week of December.  I always like to be thorough and read each story twice before making a final decision.

Now, some of you who have had stories accepted to the anthology may be wondering about the payment I've offered.  Yes, the Mercury Dime & Buffalo nickel pay will be forthcoming for each accepted story from authors living in the USA.  However, I plan to send them all out at once, after the final stories have been accepted and the anthology is on its way to the publisher.  This won't happen until February or March.  I know, some of you may be impatient, but rest assured your 15 cents will be sent.  I'm also planning to make some kind of "letter of authenticity," denoting what the payment is for.  It may be suitable for framing, but that'll be up to you.

While the coins may not ship until the last stories are accepted, I have been paying the international authors their $5 right away via paypal.  There have only been a few of them thus far, and it seemed simple enough to get it out of the way.

That's about it for this update.  I've got to get back to work on "Unforsaken," and continue to tinker with my other project.  I may put up an exposé on my non-writing endeavor later this week.  You might find it interesting.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NaNoWriMo Week 1 & Other Updates

It has been a slow and steady week of writing, as I venture forth with a new novel for this year's National Novel Writing Month challenge.  As day 7 comes to a close, I've managed to put down just over 12,000 words.  Not nearly the most prolific week I've ever had, but it's a good start.  I have set down a solid premise, and started to flesh out some of the characters in this latest installment in the West of the Warlock saga.  Old favorites and new faces are cropping up to make this a serious piece of fiction.

It's too early to tell, but I have the feeling this book is going to be longer than the previous books in the series.  There is more sub-plot to this one, and a lot of side stories exposing the thoughts and feelings of the various characters.  It is shaping up to be more like the books I used to write years ago, some of which are currently in-print and others that remain sadly unpublished.  I certainly hope this book falls into the former category when all is said and done.

Speaking of publication, I'd like to give everyone a quick update about my forthcoming novel, The Curse of Selwood, the 2nd book in the West of the Warlock saga.  It was due to be released last month, but technical issues have pushed its release to later this month.  I have assurances that it will be out by the end of the month, so get ready!  If you haven't checked it out already, you can read the first six chapters for free at Hall Brothers Entertainment.  Then, continue the story by purchasing the full novel in either print or ebook format when it finally comes out.  Remember, books also make great Christmas presents, so think about picking up an extra copy or two for friends and family.

Submissions for The Temporal Element anthology have come to a stop.  I haven't received a single submission since November 1st, and I suspect this may reflect the impact that NaNoWriMo has upon the writing world.  Hundreds of thousands of writers drop everything to write a novel this month, and that means they aren't getting their short stories out to smaller markets like mine.  At present, I have about a third of the stories I need for the collection, and seeing how we're liable to lose the month of November, I've decided to extend the submissions deadline to January 31, 2013.  This new date is reflected in the submission guidelines, and a notice has been sent to to update their listing.  I expect this new deadline will allow for a higher volume of submissions, and among those I will find the true gems to complete this fantastic collection.

So, that's what's happening in my writing world at the moment.  There are a few other things going on in my life at the moment, but those are to be the subject of future blog posts.  Hang in there, and remember to be your own Santa Claus!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

My 1956 Ford Fairlane

At long last, I'm ready to unveil this beauty to the world.  This is something I picked up in July, and I've been working on it my spare time, trying to get it finished, ever since.  It is a 1956 Ford Fairlane, something I have dreamed of having for many years.  Ever since I was a kid, I've wanted a car from the fifties, and at long last, this car came into my life.

Here's what it looked like when it first arrived:

Of course, it's no show car.  Not only is that sort of vehicle beyond my means, but it isn't what I'm after.  I don't want a car that would have to be in a climate-controlled garage and taken out only on rare occasions for parades and exhibitions.  I wanted something that I could drive around, and not have to worry about using.  This one had factory undercoating, which helped to stave off the sort of rust rot that has claimed so many classic cars over the years.  It has some rust spots in hidden places, but it's very solid.

What's under the hood?  The original 292 V8 with an aftermarket 4-barrel Edelbrock carburetor.  I don't know if the engine has been rebuilt or not, but it runs like a charm and has less than 55,000 miles on the odometer.  Based on the condition of the vehicle, I wouldn't be surprised if that is the original mileage (as opposed to a roll-over of 155,000).

The previous owner(s) did a lot of work to the car, but it still needed quite a few things when I got it.  It was cleaned up and sealed with white primer, but it needed a finished paint job.  The tail light lenses were wrong (they stuck a pair of 1965 Falcon lenses on the thing and attached them with sheet metal screws), so I had to order some New Old Stock replacements.  The wipers didn't work, and there were numerous vacuum leaks to run down.  The front driver's side window was busted (see my Boycott Downeast Glass post for details on getting that fixed).  The brake lights only worked intermittently, and the rear license plate light didn't work at all.  The hood latch was removed, and replaced by a pair of hot rod hold-down studs which were poorly welded.  On top of that, it just had a pair of side-pipes for an exhaust, which just doesn't cut it.
Original rear-view with wrong tail lights.

So, in my spare time, I have worked on this thing, doing whatever I could to finish it.  Most of the problems were simple to fix, and the only thing I couldn't do myself was the exhaust, simply because I don't have a lift and crawling around under the car is difficult without one.  The wiper motor was the biggest installation project I undertook personally.  After trying to get the vacuum motor to work, I finally gave up and bought an aftermarket electric set.  It was a real pain to install (especially when the installation instructions were inaccurate), but I finally got the thing up and running.  Smaller things, like the brake lights, turned out to be quick and easy.  The brake lights just needed the sensor wire nut squeezed a little to give it a better contact.  The license plate light needed a bulb, and the socket has to be scrubbed with a wire brush, since rust had attacked it (I doubt there'd been a bulb in there for decades).

I also installed seat belts.  They were an option in 1956, though the belts I used are not all period.  I want the car set up so I can transport my wife and 4 kids all at once, so it has six lap belts to hold everyone down securely.  I know, some car guys would scoff at such a concept, but I like the belts.  It beats sliding around when you take a sharp curve, or going through the windshield when you get into a wreck... not that I expect to get into a wreck.

The paint job was a major undertaking, and I'd never painted a car before, but I figured I'd muddle through it.  I had a spray gun that hooked to an air compressor, and I went out of my way to purchase the original factory colors, so the car would look like it did when it was new.  Of course, finding the time to paint it was tricky.  It has been a particularly wet year around here, and with fall closing in my window of opportunity was shrinking.  It was the Sunday before Lois was born (September 16), and I resolved to get it done.  I went out about 6AM and started taping the car.  Everything I didn't want painted (trim, windows, lights, etc...) had to be covered before I started.

It was almost noon before I finally had it ready for the Colonial White.  I let that sit for a few hours, and then started taping over the newly painted sections, so I could do the roof and lower sections in Meadow Mist Green.

I sprayed the car quickly, a bit too quickly as it turned out.  I had a few runs, so I'll need to do a touch-up job in the spring (it might also be wise to use some reducer, as I have recently learned).  I think it looks pretty good as is, but see for yourself:

Wyatt inspects the car, as my father moves in the background.

Seven the cat pays the car a visit.

A much improved rear view!

One fine looking car!
Getting the exhaust installed was the last thing I had to do before I could get an inspection sticker on it, and it was a lengthy process.  I bought the complete dual exhaust system months ago, but finding a good mechanic to do the job around here can be difficult.  The best of them are generally booked up, so it can be like pulling teeth getting an appointment.  Delay after delay kept pushing my installation back.  From an electrical failure at the shop to medical emergencies, it seemed like God, Himself, was working against my car's completion.  It felt like it would never be finished.  When the installation time finally came, it turned out that it had 2 left side tail pipes, so modification had to be done to make them work.  It was either that, or order another set of pipes, and that would've taken who knows how long.

One of the last things I bought for the car was a new hood latch.  After much digging and waiting, I found a complete set, top and bottom, for $90 delivered.  It was used, but in really good shape, even galvanized.  I think I'll still keep the hotrod hold-downs, as well, as emergency catches in case of latch failure.  I'll just need to give them a fresh welding.

The rear brakes were in need of adjustment a few weeks ago, and while I was at work one day my father was nice enough to do them for me.  The springs and adjusters are showing their age, so I've ordered new everything (shoes, springs, adjusters, wheel cylinders), though the ones on the car are still functional, and will last quite a while before they need to be swapped out.  I figure I'll change it all next year just to be safe, as I now have the parts on the shelf to do it.

The timing was another minor hassle, but it was highly necessary.  The engine ran, but it never sounded quite right, and after throwing a timing light on it, the answer seemed apparent.  The thing was overly-advanced by about 25 degrees.  Turning the distributor was a hassle, as the lock nut needs an off-set wrench that I don't have.  My father made one out of an old half inch wrench (with the acetylene torch), and we managed to loosen things enough to set the timing.  It seemed to run smoothly at the time, but after we let it cool off we could barely get it running again.  It was a stupid oversight on my part.  The vacuum advance has two lines going to it, and I missed one of them.  The advance was throwing our reading off!  With a little help from Nelson Brooks, we got the timing squared away.  Now the engine runs more smoothly and quietly than most modern cars.  It is a pleasure to drive.

Getting this car on the road was one of the most excruciatingly bothersome things I've ever done, and at the same time one of the most rewarding.  I don't regret taking on this challenge; I just wish a few things could have gone more smoothly.

So, what's next for my mechanical adventures?  Just wait and see.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Doing it Again: NaNoWriMo 2012!

It's that time of year again: Another November, another National Novel Writing Month challenge!  For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept, it's an exercise where thousands of writers around the world each attempt to put down 50,000 words to a new novel in 30 days (the month of November).  I have participated in this for the last two years and succeeded at each attempt.  This will be my third try, and this year's novel is going to be another sequel.

After great deliberation, I've decided to write "Unforsaken," the 4th book in my "Fantasy Western" series, though rather than a direct sequel, this will be a departure from the first 3 books.  This one will send us forward, into the Roaring Twenties, giving us a new perspective on how this parallel universe shall progress.

Here's a quick synopsis of the proposed work:

45 years have passed since Joella Talus lost the love of her life.  All those long years, she has fought through adversity, challenged her status in the world by leading suffragette movements and living independently.  Yet, now, as an aging elvish lady, she pursues the only thing that truly matters to her; the man that she lost all those years ago.  To save him, she will have to recruit an eclectic array of allies, from the human grandson of the dwarf Boron Grimes, to the half-witted sheriff of the ghost town of Selwood, and the descendants of her would be suitor, the scandalous Solen Lucca.

As Joella moves ever closer to her goal, of rescuing the man of her dreams, dark forces conspire against her.  Devil worshipping witches, haughty Warlock Guild operatives, bootlegging mobsters, even an undead US Senator; they all will stop at nothing to thwart her.  Yet, can the forces of evil truly stand strong enough to overcome the driving force behind Joella's grand design?

This is something I was planning to write earlier.  I came up with the initial idea for this book last winter, shortly after completing the 3rd book in the series.  However, other projects got in the way, and all I ever got done was some plotting, and a "chapter," which is more of a prologue.  This is something I really need to write, as the 3rd book ends as something of a cliffhanger.  It would be unfair for me to write something else at this time, and leave the series unfulfilled.

In 2011, I finished NaNoWriMo a week early, and I hope to do as well this year, but with everything going on in my life there's no telling.  I will strive to do my best again, and refuse to accept defeat, or dehands for that matter!  I know, that pun really doesn't work.  Back to the drawing board...

Keep track of my NaNoWriMo progress here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Submissions Round-Up: Week 2

It's been another week, and submissions for The Temporal Element are still trickling in.  I'm pleased to say that I sent out the first acceptance letters over the weekend, and now have 5 confirmed stories for the anthology, with a few more pending.

If you've submitted and haven't heard from me yet, don't worry.  There are still several stories that are waiting for a second read-through.  I like to be thorough, and go over everything before giving a definite decision either way.

The only rejection I have sent out thus far was actually a request for a rewrite.  The story's plot was really good, but I felt the execution was off.  It needed more than I could give it as editor, but if the author wants to rework it, the tale could end up being the best of the bunch.

There's still plenty of room, so if you have a time-travel related story written, feel free to send it along.  Refer to the Submission Guidelines for details.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Submissions: The First Week

The submission period for The Temporal Element hits the 1-week point today, and I'd like to take a moment to reflect upon the process and current subs.

The initial story submissions have been trickling in, though word is still getting out there (and we haven't even been listed on duotrope yet; expect that to come any day now).  I will say the initial story submissions are well written, and many are likely to find their way into the anthology.  However, it will be a week or two before I start sending out acceptance letters.

The theme of the stories I'm getting seem pretty uniform in their time-setting, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, though I hope to see more variety when the flow of submissions increases.  The current basis of most stories sent in thus far deal with future travelers seeking to change or save their time by changing something in the present (their past), with a few stories involving people making short trips into their own past to fix something (or they try and fail to fix things).  These are all well and good, but if the current trend continues, there will be a glut of stories that take place in the present era vying for acceptance.

While there is still plenty of room for time travel stories that take place "close to home," I'm also interested in some stories about people exploring the past and future.  My initial thought for the anthology was a balanced selection of stories taking place in the past, present, & future.  It is still too early to know what will shake out, so if you are working on a story that takes place in the present, don't give up on it now.  Heck, now I'll probably get a slew of past and future stories, and fall short on tales taking place in the present.

In summation, ignore everything I just said.  Write whatever time-travel story you have in mind, and submit it.  The best will win out in the end.  Remember to review the Complete Submission Guidelines, and get those stories to me.