Listen to my Short Story "The Forest Trail"

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Books I Read in 2017

I set out to read more books this year than I did last year, but it was not to be. In 2014 I was shooting for reading 35 books and I ended up reading 42. In 2015 I aimed for reading 50 books and I managed to read 56 books. Last year I thought I could get to 60, but as the year progressed I got really busy and reset my goal to 50 and managed to read 51 books. This year my number was much lower at 25 books, but it's because I spent a lot of my reading time writing my own book! I'm not sad about that, and I still managed to get quite a bit of reading in.

So yeah, hitting 25 books this year all things considered is something I'm happy with. I reread the entire Harry Potter series because my oldest son was. That was fun reading it at the same time as him. I bought him the first book last Christmas and he finished the series before this Christmas. That's a lot of reading! It was so cool to see his love for reading grow this year.

I hope you had a great year of reading! Thanks to the amazing people at Goodreads I have these fun graphics to show off my 2017 reading adventures below. If you're not on Goodreads, why not? It's the best! You can track the books you're reading, have read, and want to read. It's my digital bookshelf for keeping track of all my reading and a great place to read reviews and make lists of books you want to read. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you had a Merry Christmas and will have a Happy New Year. Enjoy.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Writing Goals for 2018

I would like to publish these books in 2018:
  1. "Haunted House Flipper"
  2. "The Case of the Missing Snowman"
  3. "The Case of the Giant Beanstalk"
  4. "Zombie Super Powers"
  5. "We're Moving to Space"
  6. "A Home in the Stars"
Below are my plans to make that happen. I am hoping to blaze through first drafts by using speech to text a lot. I did a little speed test last night and here's what I found. The results are pretty exciting:

So here is how I hope to accomplish this blitz of book publishing:


•  "Haunted House Flipper" clean up and get to Beta Readers
•  "Zombie Super Powers" finish first draft (failed in gray)
•  "The Case of the Missing Snowman" revise from feedback
•  "The Case of the Missing Snowman" work on illustrations

•  "Haunted House Flipper" revise from Beta feedback
•  "Zombie Super Powers" revise for Beta Readers
•  "The Case of the Missing Snowman" get edited
•  "The Case of the Missing Snowman" finish illustrations


•  "Haunted House Flipper" get edited
•  "Haunted House Flipper" publish
•  "Zombie Super Powers" finish first draft
•  "Zombie Super Powers" revise for Beta Readers


•  "The Case of the Missing Snowman" get edited
•  "The Case of the Missing Snowman" finish illustrations
•  "The Case of the Missing Snowman" revise from feedback
•  "The Case of the Missing Snowman" work on illustrations
•  "The Case of the Missing Snowman" publish
•  "Zombie Super Powers" give to Beta Readers
•  "We're Moving to Space" revise from feedback
•  "Zombie Super Powers" revise from feedback
•  "We're Moving to Space" revise from feedback

•  "Zombie Super Powers" get edited
•  "We're Moving to Space" get edited
•  "The Case of the Giant Beanstalk" start first draft

•  "Zombie Super Powers" publish
•  "We're Moving to Space" publish
•  "A Home in the Stars" clean up
•  "The Case of the Giant Beanstalk" finish first draft


•  "The Case of the Giant Beanstalk" revise for Beat Readers
•  "A Home in the Stars" start first draft

•  "The Case of the Giant Beanstalk" give to Beta Readers
•  "A Home in the Stars" finish first draft

•  "The Case of the Giant Beanstalk" revise from feedback
•  "A Home in the Stars" revise for Beta Readers


•  "The Case of the Giant Beanstalk" get edited
•  "A Home in the Stars" give to Beta Readers

•  "A Home in the Stars" revise from Beta feedback
•  "A Home in the Stars" get edited
•  "The Case of the Giant Beanstalk" publish

•  "A Home in the Stars" publish

Book Memes | A Christmas Carol

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Book Memes

While reading the wonderful classic "Black Beauty" I had the idea to create a meme image for it. I think this is something I'm going to start doing for every book I read. It seems like a fun little project, and I can post them all on a new page here on my website called Book Memes. Should be fun!

plural noun: memes
  1. an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.
    • a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

Monday, December 18, 2017

AUTHOR INTERVIEW with Christina Lewis
Author of The Cheese Pirates: Cheddar Island

Hey guys! I have something very special for you this week. It's an interview with Christina Lewis, an incredible author who wrote something very near and dear to my heart - well written exciting fiction for children. When an author does it well and builds an incredible world full of swashbuckling mice with ships full of root beer barrels and fine cheese as golden treasure! 

Get your copy on Amazon:

I asked her a whole bunch of questions. I love her answers. As a writer I found them really valuable, but also as a lover of children's fiction is was awesome to get a little peek behind the curtain of an incredible author who does it right when writing for children. Check it out! I am definitely going to read Black Beauty (Dover Children's Evergreen Classics) after reading her interview!

Q: Christina...what made you become a writer?

A: Black Beauty did, actually. I've always loved great stories, and once I began reading on my own, I voraciously devoured every book I could lay my hands on. When I was seven years old, I was given a copy of Black Beauty — a story that moved me to tears more than once, and thus became very precious to me.

But at first, I thought Black Beauty was the biography of a real horse. I was only seven years old, after all, and the book is written from a first-person — er, first-horse — perspective. After I closed the final page, I discovered the short biography of Anna Sewell, the author of Black Beauty. That was the day I realized that people wrote stories — people just like me. Very shortly afterwards, I wrote my first short story, entitled Rosie the Deer. And then there was no stopping me. I took stacks of paper that had been printed on one side and discarded, and I wrote on the backs of them by hand — usually in pencil or pen — for hours and hours. Primarily I wrote about wild horses and stray cats, or about children who got lost in the woods and encountered something special such as a lost treasure. I never ran out of fresh ideas, a trend which has continued to this day.

Q: What is your typical writing day like?

A: I used to stay up late and write while everyone else was sleeping, often until 4 or 5am. But I was physically wiped out the next day, dragging through the morning and afternoon hours until nightfall, when I could write again. Eventually I discovered that it was a far better and healthier routine if I woke up early, while the world was still quiet, and started my writing days then.

Depending on the story I'm currently working on, I keep a stack of relevant books on my desk. For The Cheese Pirates: Cheddar Island, I had one of my all-time favorites within easy reach: The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks (not knowing that she would later endorse my book). There were a few other books close at hand as well, and I usually read for at least half an hour before I begin to write, because I strongly believe that you must have your inner creative well filled up in order to effectively create.

I'm very, very careful to protect my subconscious. Your mind is more fragile than you realize. Try this experiment: pick a book, any book. Read the first chapter. Usually you will see the characters, whether animal or human, as real living creatures. Then put the book down and spend 15-20 minutes watching a cartoon, such as Looney Tunes, or something animated, such as a Pixar movie. Then pick up the same book and read the second chapter. How do you see the characters in your mind's eye now? How do they move and act differently, as opposed to they moved and acted before you watched the animation?

No matter how hard you try, those characters in your head will remain animated until you watch something that looks real (such as a movie trailer) for at least 5-6 minutes. Similarly, immersing in slapstick comedy when you're trying to write a very serious sequence of events is a terrible idea.

Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?

A: I do outline, very extensively. At first, I start with a rudimentary outline, where I scribble down the beginning and the end of the story. Then I fill in the stepping stones throughout the middle. Before I write, I will have written at least three separate outlines — each more detailed than the last. Occasionally my stories stray from those outlines as the characters drive the plot in unforeseen directions (as willful characters are wont to do), but when the main course is thoroughly mapped out, you won't find yourself hopelessly lost in the deep dark writing woods.

Q: It sounds like you did a lot of research for The Cheese Pirates: Cheddar Island. How did you go about doing that and for how long?

A: Whew. I did two solid years of research for Cheddar Island, beginning with pirates — fictional pirates, historical pirates, and legendary pirates from books, movies, and old tales — and moving through the history and geography of my chosen location, which was Tillamook Bay, Oregon. I looked at piratical influence on governments (and governmental influence on piracy and privateers) and throughout various wars. I also studied common nautical terms and the anatomy of various ships. For the pirate research, I watched a lot of classic movies and cleared the bookshelves of my local library. Along the way, I discovered quite a bit about film lore and old Hollywood, since Errol Flynn became an overnight success for his pirate role in the thrilling 1935 movie, Captain Blood (which was extremely good, especially considering the time period, and I highly recommend it). I read every pirate book I could get my hands on, then found recommendations online for other good pirate books, and I read those as well. During the course of my research, I discovered that typical pirate lingo is an amalgam of accents and slang from countries all over the world, since pirates were generally multicultural outcasts who banded together in search of treasure — either because they were mercenaries or because they were labeled as criminals, justly or unjustly, and forced into a life of piracy to survive.

As for Tillamook Bay, Oregon: I was born and raised in Oregon — first in Southern Oregon, then in Portland, then back again. Several of my earliest family vacations were on the Oregon Coast, so I had a great fondness and familiarity with my literary setting. But there was so much history that I didn't know about Tillamook Bay, specifically, until I began researching the place as a home for my seamice. There are not many available books about Tillamook Bay, so most of my research was done online or by pestering the very friendly and patient ladies at the Tillamook Bay visitor's center. I owe a great deal to them for all of their help. They were my "boots on the ground," so to speak, and they offered a ton of priceless information and directed me to other important sources to help me fill in critical details about local weather, geography, historical events, and even plant and animal life in the area.

Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?

A: Cheddar Island went through more revisions than usual. I typically run through at least three or four revisions before I'm confident that my work is polished enough for publication. Cheddar Island was revised seven times, with one of its final revisions including a brand-new Chapter 17, which was inspired by a thought-provoking comment from Lynne Reid Banks. Chapter 17 exists because of her, and it definitely took the whole story to the next level.

Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?

A: Patience! Early on in my writing career, I received a piece of advice about editing that I follow religiously to this day: put your finished first draft away and start working on the next one. By the time your second manuscript is completed, you can go back to the first project and view it through fresh eyes. I stepped away from Cheddar Island to work on other projects and allow a lapse of time between each and every one of its seven revisions, and that period of time away gave me fresh perspective on the story and its narrative flow.

Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?

A: I never cease to acquire new tricks. Michael Jordan, the legendary NBA basketball player who racked up six national championships, said that he learned something new about basketball every single time he stepped onto the court. He also said that if he ever stopped learning, he would retire from the game of basketball. That comment resonated with me, as a writer, and I feel like my own literary journey is also a continual voyage of discovery. Every single day, I learn something new. Sometimes more than one thing!

One of my best habits is to read my story out loud — to a willing victim, to a devoted pet, or alone in an empty room. When you read through your own narrative aloud, you will catch flaws and "word snarls" that could stand correction, which will smooth out the flow of your whole story.

Also, I love to mimic voices for my different characters. Each character has his or her own personality, and their unique quirks dictate their phraseology and vocabulary tendencies. Before I am finished with a book, I will have spent a ton of time looking through each separate character's eyes at the whole story, which ensures that each of them are seeing and feeling through their own specific "lenses" and reacting accordingly. Heroes, sidekicks, villains, and minions will each see the exact same story from totally different perspectives. Aside from the boost in quality to your book, taking the time to understand each character is a fascinating experience on a very personal level.

Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?

A: As of today, Cheddar Island IS my most recently published novel. In Chapter 7, my hero — Captain Pepper Jack — swaggers through the double doors of the Shark's Mouth Inn, an old seaside tavern packed with rough and jolly seamice. A grasshopper is fiddling merry tunes in the background while a barmouse serves mugs of root beer and plates of cheese curls to his patrons. The atmosphere is so classic that you can almost smell the old wood and ancient root beer flavored with a hint of cheese. A wizened seamouse, Old Salt Gouda, delivers a dire warning about the fabled dangers on the high seas, and a pair of burly seamice twins — the Tough Brothers, former shipmates of Pepper Jack's — provoke Jack and his best friend into a hilarious and destructive fistfight. There were several moments in that exchange when I actually snorted with laughter over their antics. Anytime I write something that makes me laugh or cry, I love it.

Q: What is your current writing project? What's it called?

A: Currently I am working on the sequel to Cheddar Island, entitled The Cheese Pirates: A Thousand Islands. The third Cheese Pirates book is already fully outlined and ready to write! There will be a sister series to Cheese Pirates, which will delve into a chivalrous, medieval-style history of Tillamook Bay in the age of kings and PiRats, knights and mermice.

Other projects that I am looking forward to releasing include a story called Dance of the Wild Horses, which is about a ranch horse who is forced to choose between his cowboy masters and his mustang cousins, and a medieval-style fantasy series set in an original world that I have been building for over a decade. Some of the books in that series will cross over into our world, since I love urban fantasy.

Meanwhile, I am editing and proofreading manuscripts for other clients in numerous fiction and non-fiction genres. As a legal editor, I edit and proofread forensic reports for expert witnesses in such fields as construction, real estate, workplace safety, and insurance. My website is I am also an award-winning jewelry designer, and I create one-of-a-kind gemstone jewelry to sell online at great prices ( This helps to pay the bills.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?

A: Don't give up! Never, ever give up. Take ALL criticism (including vicious criticism) to heart and use it to your advantage.

At age 19, I read The Lord of the Rings. That book changed everything for me, as a writer. To this day, I consider Tolkien to be a literary grandmaster. During my subsequent research of the writer and his works, I was startled to discover the outrageous amount of criticism and adversity that he faced — some of it from his own family, including his wife! Some folks thought that Tolkien was more than a little nuts for inventing fictional languages and speaking conversationally as if his characters and their histories were real. When I read about that, I told myself: if people have a right to criticize Tolkien, then they absolutely have the right to criticize my work.

I will add this caveat: not all criticism is useful. When your emotions are tangled up in a creative work, it can be very difficult to separate good critiques from suggestions that would irreparably damage the very heart of your manuscript. Cheddar Island has received plenty of both. I have carefully considered ALL of the opinions that folks have been gracious enough to offer, even experimenting with the idea of what my manuscript would look like with certain key elements added or removed. How would it change the course of my story? How would my characters be altered?

In the end, I disregarded a handful of critiques, but I implemented several others. The comment that Lynne Reid Banks made stumped me, at first. It was a devastating remark (in large part because I knew that she was right). I left my Seattle apartment and went for a walk in the misty gray rain, as I often did when wrestling with impossible concepts that I couldn't solve, and suddenly — like a lightning strike — the way became clear. My research came in handy that day! I drew inspiration from the classic novel, Captains Courageous, and the legend of historical pirate Black Sam Bellamy, and I mixed it together with a healthy dose of originality. Chapter 17 was the result, and I loved the way that the chapter rounded out one of my key characters. It gave him a strong backstory that he had been missing up to that point. The ripple effects of that change will continue into the Cheese Pirates sequels. There is no way to express how grateful I am to Ms. Banks for that particular piece of criticism.

Christina Lewis is an author, legal editor, proofreader, freelance journalist, and literary consultant. When she isn't writing or correcting the world's grammar errors, she designs award-winning jewelry under the name Stars and Embers, creates unique pieces of art, and trains cats. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Christina now resides in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Her first book, The Cheese Pirates: Cheddar Island, was endorsed by Lynne Reid Banks, legendary author of The Indian in the Cupboard. Due to the popularity of Cheddar Island, Christina is madly working on two sequels in the Cheese Pirates series. She hopes to finish the second book, A Thousand Islands, before the mob of voracious readers catches up with her.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

I'm a 3D & Multimedia Artist

Below is one of first 3D scenes I ever created. It was modeled and rendered in 3ds Max, probably around 2004. I created the textures in Photoshop. It's based off of a great coffee shop called Uptown Espresso. I used to visit in Seattle. My classmates and I would sip coffee and draw in our sketchbooks there. It was within walking distance of my college, The Art Institute of Seattle. I always loved the homey feel in there, which I tried to capture in this render. That atmosphere was probably brought on by the great wood vanity they used as their table for condiments rather than a long rectangular cabinet with a flat countertop. It also had amazing huge windows which looked out to the busy street that they could open if it was a nice day.

Uptown Espresso
I've come a long way as an artist over the last thirteen years or so. Here's a render I made of a kitchen earlier this year. This one is different because I didn't model most of the 3D objects, but placed them from the library in the Chief Architect software I used to create this scene. Below that, though, you'll find a BMW I had the privelage to 3D model. Took me about 40 hours. It was a challenging and rewarding project. Anyways, just thought I'd share a little from another part of my life other than writing. If you'd like to see more of my art you can find an online portfolio here: Absalonson Art.

Thanks for stopping by!

Kitchen Design

BMW i8

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

REPOST: Halloween short story - A Dark Climb

Welcome to episode 14 of Short Stories of Dan Dan The Art Man! This episode is a narrated short story for Halloween about a new kid in town discovering just how real the local ghost story is when he's dared to climb up an old creepy tower that sits behind a mansion. Have a listen and I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by!

Download the .mp3

Music used: "Tempting Fate" and "Beginning" by
Sound effects used were all Public Domain and came from

Now available in eBook formats here:
For Free:

At Amazon for $0.99:

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Cover Update for "Haunted House Flipper"

I updated my cover again. I added a ton of blue to it to give it more of an urban fantasy, supernatural feel. I like it a lot more and I think it will fit better next to book covers of similar books which is what you want. Hopefully I'm only a few busy weeks away from publishing this bad boy!

I'm ALMOST Ready for Beta Readers!

I'm so close to finishing my third pass through my manuscript to clean it up for Beta Readers to give it a go and give me their feedback. As I reread it I'm very happy with the story. I've been laughing out loud and really enjoying it so hopefully that means others will too! I got a little more done this morning after posting this last night so...
I'm actually in chapter 47 now! 
I'm sure this weekend I'll get it all done and by Monday I'll be emailing people to give it a read. I'm also going to make physical paperback advanced reader copies to hand out to people who don't like reading eBooks. So that will be fun! I'll be a sure to post a pic of that when it comes in the mail. Exciting times! I'm so close to publishing my first full length novel!!!!!

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Writing Update and NaNoWriMo

Here's where I'm at:

  1. I wrote a novel.
  2. During the writing process some things changed.
  3. I went back through to revise the story.
  4. Now I'm halfway through one last pass to clean up the manuscript.

Once that's done it's off to Beta Readers! I won't be hitting my goal of having it ready to publish on Halloween, but I will get it up for sale THIS YEAR!

Will I be doing NaNoWriMo? I don't think so. But you should! It's so fun that I hesitate to say I won't, but I really should be finishing my illustrations for the chapter book I wrote called The Case of the Missing Snowman. The book is done, I just need to finish the illustrations. So I'll probably be working on getting that one done in November so it can be available at Christmas time.

That's it for now. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 13, 2017

More Inktober Drawings and a Writing Update

Here's a few more #Inktober drawings. I've been liking ballpoint. Also I finished the second draft of my novel "Haunted House Flipper!" I'm doing one last clean up pass and then it's off to Beta Readers!

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#Inktober Day 7 #Gecko #Lizard #drawing #PostingLate

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017


For the first time I'm doing #Inktober this year. What is Inktober? Kind of like NaNoWriMo is for writers, every October artists all over the world take on the Inktober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month. I've missed a few days lately because I'm finishing up my novel, "Haunted House Flipper," but here's my favorite so far:

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For a more thorough explanation here's video by the creator of Inktober:

So if you're an artist join in! It doesn't matter if you're joining late, it's only the 11th! There's a lot of days left to go - and hey I'm behind too! Much like NaNoWriMo helps writers establish a daily habit of writing, Inktober can help you establish a daily habit of drawing. Go for it!

I finished revising my novel!

One last pass through the manuscript and this bad boy will be ready for beta readers!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Haunted House Flipper Updated Cover

This is the current iteration of the cover of the novel I'm working on. I added a demon behind our hero Ray. He doesn't look too happy that there's a weird human with an angelic blade in his mansion.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

More Hiking and Revising My Novel Through the Smoke

Smoke has covered our town like a blanket. This weekend we went to the Wenatchee area to do a couple hikes over the Labor Day Weekend and get some delicious food in Leavenworth. We had to turn around halfway up toward one of the hikes because the smoke was so bad. We re-routed and found a different hike in the opposite direction away from the smoke and had fun swimming in a lake there. Now back at home our kids can't go outside for recess and I can smell smoke in my cube at work. It's really bad. Man I hope some rain comes soon...

On a lighter note the revising of my novel is coming along. In my last blog post about it I was in chapter 31 and now I'm revising chapter 38! Oops I just realized I haven't been updating the progress meter. Okay, fixed! Only 11 chapters to go and then I can write the last chapter. I didn't write the last chapter yet because when I got to the end of my first draft I changed the mentor character into also being the love interest. So as I've gone through my first revision pass I've been changing the gender of that character and when I get to the last chapter I'm hoping to have a better idea of where their relationship stands. I have everything resolved in the second to last chapter except that. So when I get through chapter 49 I'll be all caught up and I'll be able to write the last chapter. Then the story will be done!

At that point I'll listen through the story one more time on my phone and hopefully catch any last little typos. Then when I hit the last chapter I'll revise that - then it's off to beta readers! I'm so excited about this because this will be the first time I write a novel without having to do rewrites. If it's good enough after I get feedback, it will also be the first full length novel I publish. That is very exciting and I think it will be good enough!

So this is what the process will be for this novel:
  1. Write the rough draft
  2. Go through the finished manuscript and revise it
  3. Do one last pass listening to the book
  4. Hand it off to Beta Readers
  5. Make edits based on their feedback
  6. Hand the polished manuscript off to an editor or two
  7. Make one final polish from their notes
  8. Publication!

All three novels I've written before this needed huge rewrites after I finished them. One of those I have rewritten several times and I still don't think it's good enough to publish. The other two I never touched and they remain trunked in their first draft form. I'm really excited that my planning and outlining has spared me from that on this story. I hope to replicate this with every novel I write moving forward. So, that's what I'm up to. My goal is to get this bad boy published by October so I can sell it around Halloween. It is called "Haunted House Flipper" after all :) Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 25, 2017

We're Back From the Hiking Trip!

We're back from vacation! It was really fun. We hiked over 30 miles last week. My wife is an amazing planner and we saw some beautiful places. So many waterfalls! If you would like to see all of the waterfalls we did, just pop on over to my Instagram and see the beauty for yourself. I put one of my favorite pics below, but you should really check out my Instagram because it was hard to choose. There is so much natural beauty out there, like that opening picture of the lake I took last night. We had a fun last lake day with family and friends yesterday. The kids start school next week! Where has summer gone?!

As for my revising, that's going pretty well. I'm currently revising chapter 31 of 50 and I think when we left on our trip I was revising somewhere in the low twenties. Once I finish my revision pass this book is off to beta readers. I'll get their feedback, make some more changes and then pass the manuscript off to an editor or two, make one last editing pass from their notes and then publish the thing! It will be my first published full length novel. I'm really excited about it. I need to get it for sale by October so it will be ready to go around Halloween. It's called "Haunted House Flipper," so that would be the perfect time to release it! After that I'm hoping to release my fist ever chapter book called "The Case of the Missing Snowman" around Christmas. That's what I've been up to. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 11, 2017

I'm Gone on Another Hiking Trip!

I'll be gone for a week hiking with my family and our friends around the state of Oregon. I'm hoping in the quiet hours of the night as our kids sleep and we rest our weary feet I'll crank out revisions on several more chapters of my latest novel "Haunted House Flipper." I need to get moving on getting that first draft cleaned up for beta readers if I'm going to release it in October before Halloween! You can become a beta reader right now and read along as I post revised chapters at Wattpad. I'll be sure to thank you in the acknowledgements of the book when it's published in paperback and eBook! Feedback would be much appreciated. You can just leave it in the comments at Wattpad.

As far as our hike, we've had to change our plans a bit thanks to a bunch of fires and heavy smoke in the area. We were super excited to hike Crater Lake, but the smoke in that area is really bad right now so my brilliant wife found another great hike for us to do. If you want to see some gorgeous photos from our hikes of nature, rivers, and waterfalls just follow me on instagram. Check out my kids perched on a rock right above a waterfall before it drops down!

Last year my wife planned our first ever week long hiking trip and those days are some of our best family memories ever. I got some amazing photos and man did we have fun hiking to waterfalls and alongside rivers. This year will be cool because another family is coming with us. They've joined us on a lot of hikes this year and they're awesome traveling friends. So I'll see you in a week! Until then follow our journey on Instagram. I've posted a widget below to show some of the photos right here in this blog post:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

It's August! Time to Start Writing Every Day Again!

I've been really struggling to get any momentum going with my writing lately. I have a novel called "Zombie Super Powers" I'm over halfway done writing. You can see the progress bar in the upper right hand corner. As I write this post I'm on chapter 15 of 24 so I'm 62.5% through the novel. I have all the rest of the chapters outlined and ready for me to fill up with prose, I just need to do it. I haven't been doing it because I've been trying to finish revising the novel I finished called "Haunted House Flipper." The first draft of that one is done but I'm not quite halfway through revising it. Once that's done I can: get it to beta readers, make updates from their feedback, get it edited, and then finally publish it! I'd like to publish it in October because it would be a great book to release around Halloween.

The way I finished that book was by writing every day and keeping track of each day I wrote on a calender with a red X. Once you have two days in a row it starts to look like a chain and you don't break the chain. Don't miss a day of writing. So now I'm trying to do that with my novel "Zombie Super Powers." It's the book I work shopped on The Roundtable Podcast years ago and it should have been finished and put up for sale years ago. I'm hoping to finish the first draft this year by writing every day.

Then there's the children's chapter book I finished last year that I still need to do all the illustrations for. That book is just waiting on the illustrations to be done and one last revision pass and it will be ready to publish! It's called "The Case of the Missing Snowman" and I'd like to have it up for sale by December 1st in time for Christmas. For that to happen I need to get my illustrations done! Maybe I should try to start drawing every day too. That could really help my productivity.

That's my update for now. If you're looking for something to read I just released a really exciting short story adventure called "Stiff-Legged Bear!" Check it out for just $0.99 at Amazon, or almost all other online eBook retailers like Smashwords. It would really help me out if you left a review for it. You can also read it for free at Wattpad. You can see the awesome cover for it in the last blog post by scrolling down. Thanks for stopping by! 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Stiff-Legged Bear | Cover Reveal

This is the cover for my new story "Stiff-Legged Bear." It's a story I wrote about a year ago for an anthology. The idea was to write a story about a mythological monster in modern times. I did a little research and found out about the elephant sized man eating bear in Native American mythology called the Stiff-legged Bear. The publisher couldn't get enough submissions so the anthology fell through, but now I'm able to make this awesome story available! I'm excited to finally bring it to readers. You can grab a Kindle copy at Amazon, or pick it up now at Smashwords in any eBook format of your choice. It's in the process of being published at Barnes & Noble, and pretty much all other eBook retailers too! Soon I'll replace this text with a link to the book for purchase there too!

You can also read it for free on Wattpad. It would be really cool if you starred and voted for it there and left a comment!

Here's a bit of the intro:

Most people think it's weird that I go camping in the woods my brother Cody died in, but it's the best way I have of remembering him. He went missing four years ago. We still don't know what happened to him. Sometimes it turns out the wildest stories are the true ones.
Every year around the weekend of his death I camp in those woods to be in the place he loved most. It's where I feel closest to him. His empty grave has never brought me any comfort or closure.
I had just finished my coffee and was going to take a leak when I saw it. The biggest footprint of any kind I had ever seen. It looked like it belonged to a bear, but I thought it was way too big for that. I called my buddy Nick right away. He hunts bears.
"Hello?" Nick said.
"Dude. I think Cody was right man. How big is a normal bear paw print?" I said.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Hiking up to Colchuck Lake

I told you guys I'd let you know how it went hiking up to Colchuck Lake. Well, we made it, but it cost us. That's right, the picture you see above is one I took! As far as how I'm feeling after that hike that happened three days ago? Let's just say I'm still really sore!

It was easily the coolest hike we've ever done, but it was brutal! Usually when you do an out and back hike the way back is much easier. Most of it is downhill and it goes by so much faster than the climb up did. While we did get back down the mountain faster than we got up it, it felt a whole lot longer and more grueling. When you're walking back down from Colchuck Lake you're not just on some trail, you're climbing down creeks, over boulders, around tree roots, and pretty much making sure every single step is not one that will make you trip. I'm not kidding. Check out the photo I took of the "trail" below. It was really cool, but the terrain really took it out of us. We were all beyond done when we still had about two and a half miles to go. There were some tears and the kids weren't the only ones complaining that their feet hurt and they wished we were back to the car.

It's the first hike marked as HARD we've ever done. Before we've stuck to easy or moderate hikes. It was a little too much for us, but we did it and for that I'm really proud of us. Our kids are 6, 7, 8, & 9, so this was one hike were we didn't see many other children and when we did they were usually older. The kids have recovered a lot faster than my wife and I have though. It didn't help that my wife's knee has been bugging her and that I had a double header of two softball games on Sunday in 98 degree heat. That was the day after the hike and it just about killed me. I'm doing a bit better today, but I'd say I'm still maybe at about 60% back to feeling normal. I am exhausted. It sure was an adventure though! I love my family.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Hiking the Colchuck Lake Trail

My wife got us into hiking and we love it! It started when my kids complained while walking 2 blocks to the corner store to get a treat. She was mortified that they couldn't walk two blocks so she decided we would start hiking. 

At first we just did a mile or two and they got better and better. We found that they would complain on a walk around our block but when they were out in the woods on trails they were too busy having fun and being distracted with the beauty all around us to complain much. We now try and hike at least once or twice a week. The longest trail we've ever hiked now is 8.6 miles.

This weekend we are going to do the Colchuck Lake Trail. If you follow that link you'll see it's rated as HARD. We usually stick to moderate trails. This hike is probably going to kick our butts and take us like 10 hours but we're going to do it. I'm going to try and get myself to jump in the alpine lake even though there may be snow on the mountains around me and it's going to be frigid! It's sure to be an adventure! Wish us luck and I'll let you know how it goes in a few days when we're back to civilization and I'm done with church music and softball games on Sunday. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Revising "Haunted House Flipper" Update

So I've been using my writing time to read a friend's first novel. I'm getting close to finishing it. The story keeps getting better and I'm really enjoying being a beta reader for him. He'll be a great resource beta reading for me when I finish revising my novel. A beta reader is someone who reads your book for you before it's published to give you feedback on it. They're a great resource! I'm always looking for more! About that novel of mine and it's revision...

I revised chapter 11 of 50 a few days ago and that's the last time I made progress on it. It was a really busy weekend filled with hiking, playing guitar and singing for 2nd - 6th graders at church on Sunday morning, and a fun Father's Day lunch at the lake. My wife took that sweet photo below. She helped me get the kids up some huge rocks. The view from the top was awesome! It was a fun hike. I really need to get cracking on my revision though so I can pass my book off to beta readers and get feedback on it. That will be really exciting. Handing your story off to people for the first time is always a little nerve racking, but I'm excited about it! You'll never get better if you don't let other people read your stories and learn what they liked or didn't like. Hopefully I'll be reporting back soon that I've revised a ton more chapters and I'm close to finishing the revision.

If all goes well this will be the first full length novel I've written that I will publish. It will be the first novel that I won't have to go back and hack into a whole bunch to fix. Thanks to my outlining process I think the story works well and will not need huge story edits. That's my hope anyway. If people like it and don't have feedback about the story not working I think "Haunted House Flipper" will be my first full length novel that I'll publish.

It's been a long road getting here with 3 other novels written that I'll probably never publish without a full rewrite. With that said - getting my first novel published is really the beginning of this long writing journey I'm on. Once I have 5 to 10 of them published, then I think I'll finally be on my way. I'm still driving toward the freeway hoping I didn't forget to pack anything. I did all I could to prepare though, and I'm ready to start my trip. Let's do this! Okay, I think I ran that metaphor into the ground :) Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

June 2017 Update on Writing Projects

I've been using the bulk of my writing time to read through the manuscript of a friend's first novel. I'm happy to say that I'm really liking it so far and it's been a pleasure to read. It's a long book and I'm glad there's a lot more story to go. I'm over a third of the way through it and I've only found like four typos! He writes clean stuff and/or did a great job editing it before handing it off to me. I'm not giving you his name or the name of the book, but I'll be sure to let you know about it when he gets it published.

With that said, let me tell you about what I've been working on here and there for my own writing. Once I finish my friend's book I'll go back to writing every day on my own stuff. Okay, so I started writing new words on an old manuscript and I'm also revising my newest book "Haunted House Flipper." I'm also still working on the illustrations for a chapter book I finished called "The Case of the Missing Snowman." So here's where all my current projects stand:

Haunted House Flipper

The first draft of this novel is done and I'm about 25% of the way through revising it. Once that's done I'll give it to Beta Readers, make some more revisions with their feedback, and publish it!

Zombie Super Powers

I'm in chapter 15 of 24 so the first draft of this book is well on its way to completion. Then I'll revise that bad boy and get it in the hands of Beta Readers. Hopefully I can publish it this year as well.

The Case of the Missing Snowman

The first draft of this book is done! I'm still working on the illustrations for it though, and waiting to get feedback on it from a classroom of 4th graders who had it read to them in class by their teacher who plays on my softball team :) I'm hoping to get this book published this year as well. I need to get those illustrations finished!

That's about it, although I did write a really fun short story for an anthology about an elephant sized man eating bear. The Anthology is tentatively titled Mythos. I'll let you know more when it's available. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Writing Update | Haunted House Flipper

This cover is a work in progress.
Hi guys. I just wanted to give you all a little update on how my writing is going on my current novel "Haunted House Flipper." Once I started writing every day the first draft was done in a couple of months. Now, however, it's going slower. One reason for this is that I do a lot of the first draft while commuting by talking into my phone.

I use speech to text and so my phone transcribes everything I say. It's a really fast way to work and it allows me to talk to my phone while I drive and spit out a story. Of course, there's a lot of editing in post to fix the funny ways my speech gets transcribed into the wrong words, but it's not that bad. My phone is surprisingly accurate and speech to text gets words on the screen way faster than I can type. The dialog also comes out very naturally and seems a lot easier to do than when writing on a keyboard.

All this to say that I can't really edit my work in the way I need to while driving. If I was doing copy edits then that's pretty easy. I have my phone use text to speech to read my writing to me and if I hear something wrong I stop and use speech to text in a notes app to write down the typo. Then I can go back later and use the Find feature to search right to those typos and correct them. I'm happy to say that most of the story, even on a sentence by sentence level, isn't changing.

The problem is that over halfway through my book I changed the mentor character into also being the love interest. I'm also not sure if they're just going to develop a friendship throughout the book or a romance by the end of it. So those are parts I'm going to need to rewrite or heavily edit. Once I see how that goes I'll get to the end and write the last scene. Then my book will be through the second draft and ready for Beta Readers. If you just can't wait you can also be a beta reader for me now on Wattpad. Just follow along there as I publish the revised chapters until the whole book is up there. I'd really appreciate any feedback you have for me. Thanks! Here's a little preview of the story below if you want to check it out right now without leaving this page. From here it will take you right to the story on Wattpad too!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Write! App | A Review

Write! App
I was approached to try out a new app called Write! and I'm here to share my findings on it after using it. It's a cool app. Simple and sleek yet powerful. They got my attention in their email with the idea that it's a distraction-free writing app. I'm all about that. The app has a bunch of great features too. My preferred app for writing first drafts for years has been Notepad because it's literally just the text on the screen. No squiggly lines when you misspell a word. It's just you and the text and that's what I prefer. By the way, in this Write! app you can go to Tools > Turn Spellchecker Off and you get the notepad-like experience I love. All that editing stuff is for after you finish the first draft. This app can look almost as bare bones as that, and it's a great app for writing in and I really like the user experience after writing with it for a while. Let me tell you what I like about it. 

First off, all my stuff gets saved to the cloud. This is a big one for me, and one of the main reasons I moved from using Notepad to another software that's similar but saves to the cloud automatically. If my hardware dies I don't have to worry about losing any of my work. I love this feature! It gives me peace of mind. It also allows me to get to my documents from anywhere.

One feature I found, while digging around in the settings, is Enable Typing Sounds. I thought this was super cool with headphones on. Every time you hit a key you can hear either Mechanical or Typewriter sounds. Both sounded pretty cool and made me feel a little like I was typing on a typewriter or one of those great old computer keyboards that were a lot louder and required you to push down more on the keys. I still love typing on those old keyboards. Nothing can beat the sound. It brings me back to writing when I was young.

It's easy to have multiple projects open at the same time and switch between them with the tabs. This is really great for me when I'm doing things like glancing at my story outline document while writing the first draft of my novel. Other writing apps don't always make it so easy to switch between projects. The tabs feature is great.

If you want to change your user interface they make it super easy. Hate writing with black text on a white background? Use their "Switch to Dark Theme" feature to change it all to white text on a gray background with the click of a button. I'm used to writing with black text on a white background, but after trying the Dark Theme I couldn't go back to the Light Theme. It almost hurt. The Dark Theme is much easier on your eyes.

Have a deadline? You can set daily goals and track productivity stats. You can publish documents from the app to share with others. There's also a whole bunch of preset text styles to give you the look you're after. I've found that using a font I like while writing actually changes the experience for me so I think this is a cool feature.

Last but not least there's a feature unlike one I've seen before called focus mode. This fades out all the paragraphs except for the one you're working on. Don't knock it until you've tried it. It goes one step further in helping you have a distraction-free writing environment. It almost guides your eyes to the paragraph you're writing and makes the rest of the UI fade out of your attention. It's pretty cool.

Check out this awesome writing app here:

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I Finished My Book!

Well, writing every day in March and April rewarded me with a finished manuscript. The first draft of my novel "Haunted House Flipper" is complete! I wrote this in the last blog post but this is more of a hurrah let's celebrate post because it's done! I'm currently going through it to clean it up and change the mentor character into the mentor/love interest character.

Obviously A Work In Progress :)
Other than that I haven't been changing much. Just a few awkward sentences here and there. A bit more description in a few places, but my changes are pretty minimal! I'm very happy about that and Dean Wesley Smith would say that's a good thing too. He's all about first drafts, a little cleanup - and call it good! I'm even more happy that I don't think I'll have the problem with this book that I've had with every other novel I've written. When I got to the end and reread it or gave it to beta readers I could tell the story was broken. No good structure, flow, plot or pacing.

That's because I was new and didn't really know much about story structure or how to outline. My outline is pretty sparse and mostly consists of story beats that are like tent poles that hold up the major parts of my story and it's up to me to fill in all the gaps between. I figure those out as I go, but I like to try and write what happens next with a few sentences because that helps me write way faster. I learned that trick from the book 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. By the way, if you click on that link and buy the amazing book that really helped me write faster it gives me a little kickback so thanks!

So yeah. It's done! Time to revise it so I can get it to Beta Readers and get some feedback on it! If you would like to be a beta reader just let me know. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Writing Update and Results from Writing Every Day in April

That's me sitting in the pool drinking a Dirty Monkey. Oh man they're good! I've been gone for a week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with my lovely wife celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary! I didn't have a chance to write up any blog posts, but I'm back and it's time for a nice big update. I had some pretty good writing days on our trip, tapping away with my thumbs on my iPhone. On 5/1/17 I wrote 1,960 words on my phone, and on the 3rd I wrote 818, and finally 1,533 words on the fourth. We headed back the next day.

My manuscript is currently at 59,638 words and I'm calling the first draft done even though I still need to write the last chapter. Let me explain. While over halfway through writing the first draft I realized I needed to change the mentor character into the love interest as well. This means changing the character from a dude to a lady and doing a bit of work on their relationship throughout the story. I'm not really sure where it will end up but once I know that I'll know what the last chapter needs to be.

So, I finished the first draft of "Haunted House Flipper!" I plan on going back through it now while it's somewhat fresh to rewrite little bits with those two love birds and their character reactions. I might not end up changing much because as it stands now they're still just friends at the end of the book. It might take some beta readers to let me know if that is a letdown or not. Either way, I will get this book cleaned up and published sometime this year. Once I finish the illustrations for my children's chapter book that one will be ready to publish too! After that I'm over halfway done writing my novel "Zombie Super Powers" and I have a completed Science Fiction novel called "We're Moving to Space" that needs a huge plot overhaul to fix the pacing. So let's see how many books I can publish this year! It will be at least two. Hopefully 3 or 4! I better get on it. Thanks for stopping by, and check out the data from my Writing Every Day in April below in a nice table and graph:

Here's a table showing how I did writing every day in April:
DateDaily Word CountTotal Word CountAverage Word Count

Here's a nice little graph: