Sunday, May 26, 2019

Natural?

We were at the grocery store today, and, on the canned vegetable aisle, we ran into this product:


It's corn on the cob, but you don't have to refrigerate it or anything. It was just sitting on the shelf in some kind of vacuum sealed bag. If this corn can survive in those conditions, then I can't imagine that "So Natural" could possibly be a proper name for the stuff. Some witchcraft must be at play here.

Edit: You know, it just occurred to me that it was possibly in the wrong place. Maybe somebody picked it up at the produce section from a refrigerated area, then decided they wanted canned corn instead, and dropped it there like a douche that doesn't care if he ruins things. If that's the case, then I take back my witchcraft accusation. No trial need take place. Let's call off the burning at the stake. Though, you should probably skip it either way. Corn's not particularly good for you in the first place--a lot of carbs that would be better off not eaten--but if they're some kind of witchcraft involved to make it never deteriorate like it should, then I'm sure it's doubly bad for you.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

In A Hurry

I saw this at the local Walmart the other day, and it made me chuckle.


I guess the person labeling the clearance items was in a bit of a hurry.

The Mayflower?

I think I'm past due for another writing update. You might think that I'd given up on it, considering that it's been two weeks since the last update, but I haven't. I'm still going. I could probably kick it up a notch...



But I haven't quit, and when we're talking about me, that's saying something.

I'm going to skip the day by day round-up, mostly because it's been long enough that I don't really remember what was going on from day to day anymore. I do have my chart, and I'll post that here.


You'll notice a couple of red days with big zeros in that word count column. Those are going to happen.

The first one was last Saturday, when my son had his first swim meet. My wife has been looking for some kind of sport for him to participate. He's done soccer, and hated it. He's done basketball, and hated it. This year, she heard that all of his school friends are on the local swim team, so she signed him up for that. I was all for it, until I found out what kind of time commitment swim team insists upon. Parents have to volunteer a bunch of times over the course of the season. So, last Saturday, I was up at 6:00 AM to get to the pool by 6:45 and get my son registered for his events, and then help run the snack bar all morning. The swim meet took all day too. We got home at 2:00 PM. I was so worn out that I spent the rest of the day in a kind of a stupor, and went to bed at the end of the night without having writing once cross my mind.

It wasn't until the next morning that I even realized that I hadn't written. Not to worry, I just picked up as though nothing had happened. I think that is the real key. Writing every day is the goal, but it's not a streak or anything. It's not like I have to have thousands of unbroken days, never messing up once. If you think like that, then the first time you mess up is the last time you'll bother doing it. And you're bound to mess up sooner or later. It's guaranteed. So, if you think that way, it's a guaranteed failure.

I went back to writing the next day, and didn't miss another day until yesterday. I decided, for some reason, to see if I could get caught up on my personal blog. I send it out to family so that they can know what's going on with us. My family is pretty big, and as time goes on, we get further and further dispersed around the continent. That goes doubly for me, now that we live several states away from our closest relatives. I'm pretty notorious for letting the posts pile up for weeks, then writing them all at once, which totally defeats the purpose of trying to help our distant family members keep up with the goings on of our local family. But I had allowed that to happen again.

So, yesterday, instead of writing on my treatment for The Gauntlet, I wrote a bunch of backlogged family blog posts. I figured I'd write on the gauntlet when I got home at night. However, I totally forgot to do anything of the sort when I got home at night. Instead, I went to bed, and wrote nary a word.

It's okay though, because today, I wrote again. It is not the end. The streak doesn't have to remain perfectly unbroken. It just has to continue despite any setbacks.

I have to admit that I do find it challenging. I feel like I should pump it up a bit. Writing should be my number one priority. Back in 2017, I made it to the point that I was writing at least 1,000 words a day, and I wrote about 30,000 words a month for two months in a row. I finished writing an entire novel in that time, and wrote deep into its sequel as well.

If I want to be a writer, that should be something I should be aspiring for. But there are other things going on as well. Of course, I have a full-time job, and that always has to be a top priority, or I will end up getting fired from it. I have a family, and they have to be THE top priority. I have a podcast, and I need to keep that as a relatively high priority. I have a YouTube channel that I've been running for the last few months, and I want to keep that as a high priority too. I have my health problems that I've been dealing with since I was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago (jeez has it been three years?) and I need to keep those as a high priority too. I've been considering a YouTube channel in which I document my struggles to get my health back as well. How do I keep all these balls in the air, all these plates spinning, without letting one of them fall to the ground and shatter? That's what I need to figure out.

But the writing is the top priority of all those secondary things, you know after the job and the family. The podcast, the YouTube Channels and so forth are supposed to work synergistically with the writing goal. The other things help bring attention to my writing, help bring fans that might want to read my writing. So, if I don't keep the writing going at full steam, then the rest is for naught.

I did get really excited the other day when I was talking with Rish on the phone on my drive to work. It takes me 45 minutes more or less to get to work each day. Another 45 minutes to get home. That's an hour and a half of my day. I was lamenting not being able to make good use of that time for writing. I've tried recording myself as I try to plan out stories, which is how I worked out a lot of the details of The Gauntlet, but going back and listening to those recordings and trying to transcribe them is very tedious. I've tried using my iPhone's text-to-speech function to have it transcribe what I say, but it has a very short time span that it will do that. I want to say a minute is as long as it will go before timing out. I would have to continually look at my phone while driving to restart the transcription, and that just isn't safe.

I decided to put the question out to the writers that are my Facebook friends, and got several responses. It looks like Dragon Anywhere is probably my best bet. It transcribes, has no time limit, and steadily improves its ability to understand you the more you use it. The downside, is that it has a subscription fee of $15 a month, but if it works as described, it will probably be totally worth it to me. The app has a free trial period, so I'm going to try it out and see how it goes. As well as check out a couple of other options that were suggested to me. I'll report back to y'all when I'm done. I'm pretty excited about the prospect.

Anyway, that's my writing update for the past few weeks. I'll be back again eventually to let you know how it's going, and I promise that I will keep it up.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

The End of April Powers


I was doing a post more or less every day about my writing adventure, but I got a little behind, and I let it pile up. Now it's been more than a week, and I have a lot to catch up on. First of all, April came to an end several days ago. How did I do? Let's see.

Previously on April Powere: I was having trouble figuring out what to write when I last posted. That was all the way back on April 23rd. I'd finished my Christmas story, and it was time to move on to something else. I flailed about for a project to jump into. I wasn't ready to go back to Sunny & Gray book 2 just yet. I hadn't re-familiarized myself with it. It's been two years since I wrote a word on it after all. So, I decided to write on the prologue for The Gauntlet, because I knew I had a good plan for that, and I could write it as is. I did that, but the 23rd was the day that I finished it.

Usually, I don't count outlining or pre-production as writing. To me it doesn't feel like it should count, because it's not words that count toward a final product. But I decided that I probably need to change that. So, on Wednesday the 24th, I started trying to get some planning done for The Gauntlet. After all, I came up with the idea years ago. If I'd written back when I first came up with it, it'd probably be getting its own movie by now starring...well, starring Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, so I guess it would be in the same place as it is now after all.

I struggled with the outlining, however. I couldn't get really into it, so I scribbled down some half-hearted words.

Words Wednesday: 331
Words Total: 13780


I continued to struggle for several days. I decided that I would just tell as much of the story that I knew, including background, world-building, odds and ends, anything like that. Thursday was actually pretty good. I got 566.

Words Thursday: 566
Words Total: 14346


But that was my best day. My heart just wasn't in it. I would open up the file each day, and then peck out a couple of words and quit early. If I even did that. A lot of times, I didn't even write on my lunch break like I had been doing all month, and then I had to squeeze it in when I got home late at night. That's what I did on Friday. I got 230.

Words Friday: 230
Words Total: 14576


Saturday was even worse, but it almost always is. The weekend seems to be the hardest for me to work. Maybe that's why people don't traditionally work on the weekend. It just sucks. I only got 156 words on Saturday. That's not even a paragraph, I don't think.

Words Saturday: 156
Words Total: 14732


Sunday, I tried a little harder to get some actual stuff down. I told some of the background stuff that may or may not ever matter in the actual book itself, but I can totally feel all J.K. Rowling-like by saying stuff that I know about the characters that never made it in the book, and I'll convince people that I'm smart because of it. I'm not at all, but It would be neat if somebody thought I was smart.

Words Sunday: 792
Words Total: 15524


The cool thing was that I made it over the 15,000 mark for words in the month. That's a kind of a milestone. And now there was only two days left in the month. I'd written every day for four straight weeks. Things weren't exactly rolling, but I was tenaciously holding on at least.

Then came Monday. I didn't even think about writing my words at lunch. How had I blown my habit so bad already? I was going to have to do them that night at home. I had a prior engagement, however. Avengers: Endgame had come out over the weekend, and we were podcasting about it on Monday night. I realized, as I was setting up my microphone that I still hadn't written. I considered taking a moment and writing a sentence or something, but I didn't have time for it. Renee Chambliss called right at that moment, and we started with the recording. I was going to have to wait until we were done. However, by the time we were done, I'd completely forgotten. My mind was all wrapped up in Avengers and not in The Gauntlet.

I went to bed, and didn't even realize that I'd missed writing until halfway through the next day.

Words Monday: 0
Words Total: 15524


I blew it. There was only two days left in the month, and I blew it. Way to go. I didn't get too down, though. Sure, I missed a day, but it was never about a streak of unbroken days. It was about getting actual writing done, and making a habit. So, I told myself that I needed to get back to it, and that I needed to make sure not to miss at my lunch break anymore. I finished out the month with 218.

Words Tuesday: 218
Words Total: 15742


Not a great total or anything, but I was still going, and that was important. The month was over, and I even think I managed to get more words for the month than Rish did, amazingly enough, considering how lamb-like I finished out the month. Here's my final chart:


I admittedly was still feeling a little uninspired. What I was writing had evolved into a sort of story treatment, as they call it in the film industry. I was going scene by scene, trying to plan out this book. I was struggling with issues in the story, however. I wanted certain characters to do certain things, but there wasn't a good reason for them to happen that way. I kept thinking about those Screen Rant Pitch Session YouTube videos where the producer would ask the writer questions about his inconsistent story, and the writers only response was, "Because I need it to be that way for the story." I didn't want my story to be that way.

I'm pretty sure that it was either Tuesday or Wednesday, when I decided to call Rish on my way to work, and ask his advice on how to get through the issues that were plaguing me with the story. This was a very beneficial conversation for me. Not only did he have some good suggestions for my plotting problem, but he also expressed amazement about just how much of the story I did have worked out in my head.

"I can't believe you know so much about this story...and yet it's not completely written already," he said.

I guess that's a backhanded compliment, but it worked all the same. I realized that I do really know the story well, and should be able to breeze through the problems that I was having pretty quickly. It got me excited about the story for the first time since I started working on it out of desperation for something to move on to back when I finished the Christmas story. Each day, as my lunch break arrived, the story would flow as effortlessly as Easy Cheese from the spigot:




So, on Wednesday, I got 591.

Words Wednesday: 591
Words For May: 591
Words Total: 16333


A new month, and a new invigorated outlook. On Thursday, I got 406. If I'd had the chance, I probably would have kept going, but I couldn't...alas.

Words Thursday: 406
Words For May: 997
Words Total: 16739


Friday, I did good too. I made it to 599. A record high for the month. How long could that record stand?

Words Friday: 599
Words For May: 1596
Words Total: 17338


Saturday, I really got into it. I wrote for extra time, late into the night. I finished the day with 1097 words. I guess the record didn't stand for long. Maybe this one will last a little while more.

Words Saturday: 1097
Words For May: 2693
Words Total: 18435


The treatment is really flowing like that aforementioned Easy Cheese, and I'm excited about it. I'm tempted to set it aside and start writing on the story proper, but I don't think I will. I think I'd like to know the whole plan from beginning to end before I go past that prologue, so that I can drop in hints, allusions, evil foreshadowings, and Easter eggs all along, rather than having to go back and try to stuff them into prose that was written to flow in a certain way. That tends to work like dropping a huge boulder into a stream. The flow always diverts around, and goes in a new direction that I never wanted and that I hate.

So, there's the report. Two weeks worth almost. Too long, really. I don't mind not posting about it every day, because, after all, I'd rather be writing story words than blog words. But I shouldn't wait so much between posts, because it gets a little cumbersome when I do that. So, in other words, I'll see you again soon. Here's my new chart for May so far:


Now I better go and get my words written for Sunday, before I blow it again.

New Toy Show Episode - Cheap Toy Hunting 3

Just put out a new episode. Check it out if you're interested. I detail some more of the good deals I've come across for toys, including a great one on an Obi-Wan Kenobi figure. I also talk very briefly about a story idea that I had that made me want to make a custom toy. Hope you enjoy it.