Archives for October 2016

Spining pet fur

I did a little cleaning today and it reminded me of a story about turning dog fur into mittens.

As the stay at home parent I consider cleaning to be my responsibility. The thing is, I don’t like it. I don’t mind doing laundry, washing dishes or organizing things, but sweeping, dusting and vacuuming just don’t motivate me. Today, there were seedlings growing in the dust/topsoil (kidding!) and tumble weeds of dog fur blowing through the kitchen so I didn’t have much choice.

After several dust pans full of dog fur I was wondering if there was something I could do with it other than throw it in the trash. In the spring I throw it outside and the birds take it and use it in their nests (at least that’s what I tell myself).  In the fall it just gets mixed in with the leaves and then I mow it up and have to pull it out of the bagger when it gets wound around things.

Finally I remembered hearing about people who spin their pet fur into yarn and then knit scarves, sweaters and mittens out of it. I guess it makes sense, but this is not for me. I know they wash it and everything and I’m sure that if I brushed the dog every day and collected the fur in a bag it would feel more like wool, but still no.

For a moment I considered doing it with the cat fur (we have 3 cats) but that’s still a no. I kind of like the idea of a character in a cozy mystery who makes and wears clothes made out of pet fur. They would be smart, pragmatic, resourceful but just a little off. Perfect for solving some wacky small town crimes.

What about you, would you wear a sweater made from your pets fur?

 

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Epic fails and overthinking

Consecutive days blogging ~ 1 of 365
Handstand Push-up’s – Nothing!
Dinner with friends – 0 of 12
Words of Fiction written – 1104


Blogging everyday for a year was an epic fail in the first week because I was overthinking it.

This past weekend my daughter filled in for one of the teams in her basketball club. They faced some talented and athletic teams and wound up going 0-4 for the weekend. As we drove home Lily was upset that she didn’t play as well as she could have and wondered why she struggled in the games when she has been performing well at practice.

I try and be a supportive realist when it comes to my kids sports. I ALWAYS tell them what they did well and how proud I am about their commitment and effort. If they ask (Lily always asks) what they could do better I’m honest with them. In this case she was overthinking the game and trying too hard. She was pushing so hard to do everything perfect that she lost sight of having fun and just getting the job done.

As we discussed this on the 90 minute drive home I realized that was the exact problem I was having with blogging. I’m overthinking it way too much.

A blog is just a weblog, an online record of activity. It doesn’t have to be witty or brilliant or award winning, just regularly updated. So I asked myself, why am I trying to blog at all?

The simple answer is so that readers can get to know me and see what is influencing my thinking and my writing, and to show aspiring authors what I’m doing every day. I love the format of Dean Wesley Smith ‘s blog but I also love the idea of sharing some of the cool stuff I find while doing research. I’m not going to worry about “10 Killer headlines to grow your readership” or “5 Things every blogger must do right now” I’m just going to record stuff that’s going on.

So I’m going to retrench and start over. My first try was an epic fail, but I was working too hard.

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Bite-sized stories

365 Days Blogging – 6 of 365
Handstand Push-up’s – Nothing!
Dinner with friends – 0 of 12
Words of Fiction written – 0


Have you discovered Bite-sized stories? Short, but complete stories you can start and finish while you wait just about anywhere.

With kids in grades 6, 7 and 8 I often feel like I am not a stay at home dad as much as an in the car dad. I do a lot of chauffeuring and that means I also do a lot of waiting. If you have kids you know the kind of waiting I’m talking about, it can range anywhere from them standing outside indignantly and jumping in the car before I’m even at a full stop to having to text them 3 times over fifteen minutes that I’m out front waiting for them. As a result I have found myself reading on my phone, a lot.

When you’re waiting and reading on your phone it can be tough. If you are involved in a great story and the kids come out you want to finish the chapter before you start driving. The other parents waiting behind you are in the same boat as you and would prefer that you finish reading somewhere else. You drive off feeling interrupted and incomplete.

The solution? Bite-sized Stories: A Multi-Genre Flash Fiction Anthology.  This anthology offers 33 stories from a variety of authors across several genres. When you have a stolen moment, it allows you to read something quick and potentially discover a new favorite author. Best of all, it’s FREE. Click on the cover and download your copy today.

 

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Replacing a door

365 Days Blogging – 5 of 365
Handstand Push-up’s – Replaced a (heavy) exterior door
Dinner with friends – 0 of 12
Words of Fiction written – 290


I spent most of today replacing an exterior door. The door is on the shady side of the house and is perpetually damp. The bottom and weather seal rotted and eventually fell off. I bought a new steel door and planned for about a 5 hour job.

Five and a half hours later I had the old door removed and the new one in place. I did not have the time to install the trim or do any finish work.

Our house was built in the 1880’s and renovated in the 1990’s by a previous owner. The renovation was good but there aren’t many straight walls or square openings. Getting the new door installed and opening right required lots of dry fitting, shimming, trimming and adjusting. It was a trial of patience more than grueling physical labor.

Tomorrow I’ll tackle most of the finish work and probably paint next week.

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What I’m working on 10/5/2016

365 Days Blogging – 4 of 365
Handstand Push-up’s – Worked on 5 Tibetans (got to 13 reps)
Dinner with friends – 0 of 12
Words of Fiction written – 659


Hopefully some of you are here to find out more about my books. Summer was a little rough in terms of creating new content, but I did get some things written and you should start seeing new books soon.

As far as what I’m writing right now, that words of fiction counter up top reflects new words in the 6th Dylan Cold novel, titled Frayed Shorts. The 659 words today pushed the manuscript past the 10,000 word mark and things are really starting to flow.

In Frayed Shorts, Dylan has left the Brookford Police Department and is trying to make a go of things farming with Abbey. Unfortunately his good friend Betty, from the police station, gets herself in serious trouble trying to help her nephew Luke. The young man was working on a charter boat in the Caribbean when he overheard some clients talking about stock market transaction. He overplayed his hand and while the men manipulating the securities can survive without the millions they cannot afford the scrutiny Luke has brought to their business practices.

This story is getting Dylan out of New Hampshire and expanding the world where his skills are needed.  There will be some jetsetting and plenty of action to keep the pages turning.

The release of Book 4 of the Dylan Cold series, Exotic Husbandry, is getting closer everyday. I’m trying to learn more while I go through the feedback from my editor. Every time I send her a manuscript I think it’s perfect, but when it comes back there are corrections on almost every page.

If you’re ever interested in beta reading or having me talk to you or your book club about my stories please let me know. I love talking about my stories and my writing process.

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Opinions are okay

365 Days Blogging – 3 of 365
Handstand Push-up’s – Worked on 5 Tibetans + physical therapy
Dinner with friends – 0 of 12
Words of Fiction written – 0


During this political season it’s tough to avoid opinions. For someone like me who is highly averse to conflict this can be tricky.

I used to think that all opinions were valid and people were entitled to their own ideas. As I watch the news, comedians and the candidates themselves manipulate data and statistics it becomes clear that not all opinions are valid. Forming an opinion based on flawed or even misleading data points creates an invalid opinion.

The sad truth is that people smarter than me (Politifact, Snopes and Factcheck.org) are working to expose the misinformation but it’s facts be damned for many people with strong opinions. This can make for some difficult and awkward conversations/arguments for those of us with a live and let live attitude.

What I’ve come to believe is that if I don’t share my opinions, when asked, I don’t have enough conviction in my thought process. As a result of this lack of conviction, a conversation may help me strengthen my understanding of a topic. In other words, refusing to form and discuss an opinion is as ignorant as forming one based on bad data.

I’m not going to jump directly into politics, but I want to share a few opinions that I’ve spent some time thinking about.

  • Our national approach to schooling is broken ~ From Kindergarten through Undergraduate degree our education system is generally outdated. There are amazing teachers and individuals who interact with students everyday, but they are constrained by a system focuses on conformity.
  • Term limits for politicians (with emeritus status for one extra term) ~ Career politicians are a bad thing. No one person should hold office for more than 10 years. I see some value in an emeritus position for a powerful organizer to teach the next term of lawmakers how to get things done but that’s not a career either.
  • Climate change is real ~ Calling it global warming was a colossal PR mistake. Weather patterns are changing and whenever it’s cooler than we are accustomed, critics use short term data to debunk a long term issue. I think we can address climate change as a species, but it’s a global issue and we’ll face more consequences before anything happens.
  • There are other intelligent creatures in the universe ~ I don’t like precious snowflake theories. The size of the universe is beyond my comprehension and I think the conditions for life had to have occurred more than once.

These are some of my opinions. I open to discussing them rationally and even willing to change them, but not just because you shout louder than me.

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