Monday, January 30, 2012

January Thirtieth, Twenty twelve, Did You Write?

January Thirtieth, Twenty twelve, Did You Write?

While the month is not quite done, another week has passed us by. For those new to these notes, the idea is that you post here each week about what is going on in your life to get you to post every week, and to report how you did in your writing.
The hope is that if you keep posting that you failed to do any writing, the perceived shame will force you to open something during the week just so you can report that you did something. Doing that will become a habit and you will produce something after a period of time. Not all habits are bad. I will say that having to write these notes and say I did not write, really bothered me during a slow period. It is so much nicer to report positively.

How much you write is not important. It cam be one word or tens of thousands of words. When editing, your word count might not change much or even go backwards. While high word counts are nice, they might not be necessary to say you really worked.

As to what is writing, We all know that new writing is writing. Editing is also writing. I generally write by editing anyway. I get something on paper then expand it in many passes until it becomes something worth reading. Editing the work of others also counts as writing. Critiquing is a form of editing and therefore is also writing.
Poetry, technical writing, blogging, writing assignments, synopsis, world or character creation are all forms of writing. E-mails and board posts can be also writing if they are very wordy and pertain to story or writing. The real answer as to what is writing, if you have to ask, the answer is yes.

As for me, I did write. I only have a word count of 1250 for the week on my second Spirit of Vengeance story. I did a lot of editing on what I had. I also blasted out the plotting for my story to give me an idea of what scenes I needed to hit and get a better feeling for what the story is to accomplish.
My original concept for this story was simply the lead up to a big fight. When I wrote out my first story to a publishable level, the first story shifted dramatically. In order to include those changes, this second story had to change. My plotting made an even different shift in the story.
I took the second scene of my plot line and made that my first, where you see this story's bad guy up close. In the first story, I showed scenes from other characters, but this time I will spend more time, showing what is going on behind the scenes.
I have two major goals in this story. One is to have her nearly fail completely, and another is to have her solve some fairly minor problem or solve some mystery. The first one looks nearly impossible for me since my characters seem to walk through the problems untested.

ON the story idea front, My compost pile has 48 story ideas in it. The way this past week has gone, I don't feel like I dug into the pile very deep, but also don't feel like I came up with a whole lot of new ideas. I have a whole lot of good story ideas on the top of the stack to dig into. I would love to have a whole lot more really good ideas on the stack, but I generally come up with as many as I need all the time.
We have a 31 day month and today is the 30th. I already wrote and will post tonight idea 31.I might write idea 32 tomorrow. That would be a good start for the year. I love to have extra in case I run into problems and fall behind a month or two. It has never happened. The few times I was unable to post such as on vacation, I made up for it during the next month.

On the personal front, the dragon carving is finally coming out of the wood. It is different than what I pictured, but I was not sure of how it was within the wood.
I have told people over the years that master wood workers look into the wood and see the shape that was within the wood, and then just removes the wood hiding the form within. In the case of this dragon, There was interference with what I could see. I took out the paint brush and painted how the legs and tail were positioned and that allowed me to remove the wood fast. I was not worried about cutting wrong. The paint will go along with any natural surface.
Ths piece of wood is rather interesting. I had picked up a U shaped slab of wood that I could barely move. I cut it in half so I could handle it. I immediately knew I wanted to carve a dragon out of a piece of that wood. I then saw a bark inclusion in part of the log and there was a branch sticking out on the end of the inclusion. I cut the wood off at the crack and instantly saw the dragon inside the wood.
It is one thing to have a piece of wood that looks something like a dragon, and having something that is a dragon. I was a bit afraid of making the wrong cuts. Adding paint to show here the limbs were helped alot. I could just remove the wood where paint was not. Of course, because of the angle and position of the body, removing the excess wood is not as easy as it looked. This should be a rather interesting carving when done.
I have about six more weeks before I have my art show where I want to display this carving. I intend to give it a generally smooth finish for now, and then add details such as scales some other time after the show when I have a whole lot more time. It is exciting to actually have something that really looks like a dragon now.

As for me,

I can honestly say,



Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tales Of The Vagabond Bards on Youtube!

Yep, those enterprising folks at Pro Se Press have done it again! They made a trailer for my latest book, a novel length, three story anthology. Why don't you come and check it out?

Let me know what you think, OK?

Week 629 Woodworking

Year 12, Week 3, Day One (week 629) (January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.) 01-28-12 Saturday

64 degrees early morning, 76 degrees when I got outside. I forgot to check the temps when I left. The morning sky could be described as pebble puffs, spreading net and sand. The clouds got a bit heavier mid morning and then it mostly cleared up except sporadic patches of puffs more to the west, along with feathers and mesh up high. The breeze was mostly not noticeable, except a short period where it moved some sawdust and papers around. While there was a lot of sun, there was clouds in front of the sun often, though there was not much substantial clouds in the sky. This weather report is brought to you by the city Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.

We went yard sailing. One condo had a yard sail. they have them maybe twice a year. There is always good stuff there. We went in as they opened and I made one walk around the place to see what they had, then picked up a good number of things. A popcorn popper for five bucks, a whole bunch of knitting needles for five bucks, then a bunch of odds and ends for a buck or so.
At another yard sail, I got a game, a basket and some books. On the books, I wanted the herb book and they had three for a buck, or fifty cents each, so I got two other books that I might have a chance of reading I skipped the cooking books entirely otherwise.

knitting needles. Crochet hooks are by scissors.

Popcorn air popper. Chess and checker game

Tupperware bowls and lids Cookie cutters. The one in the upper left rolls

Fish hook sharpening stone. assemble heroes game
would be good for some of my gouges

Ice Cream Scoop. books.

Basket that will have crochet materials in it soon.

I finally got out back. I accidentally scared off the beast of the back yard when I had got out front to load the wagon with tools in the truck and I came out back he spooked when I showed up. He only ate just a little bit.

I had made an owl last week and the head was way too small for the body, and the body was the wrong kind for an owl. I removed the head and then took a piece of wood and turned a new head. this head has him looking more down his chest than my normal bird. I showed it to several people and they liked it.

bird with new head.

Mom had me cut a few branches off a tree. She said that it will grow just by sticking it in the ground. I filled a pot and stuck one branch into it and took it home. I will see how long it takes to kill it.

a piece of the tree mom had me trim. I will see if I can get it to grow.

I painted on the dragon carving where the limbs and tail would go. This gave me an unquestioningly visible clue. I painted one leg with one color, then painted over it with another color to move it to where I like it.

While the paint dried, I started untangling and untwisting some steel wire I picked up. They were cutting from some project or another. I came up with a great way to straighten the wire. It does not get it perfectly straight, but straight enough, and it is very easy.
I opened the jaws of the vise so it is about twice as wide as the wire. I stick the wire in to the first bend and apply pressure to the wire in a straightening direction. When you have multiple bends or even twists, you can shift the wire in and out slightly, and use the front and back jaws to hold the start of the bend to straighten it. I did quite a few before I realized I needed to get back to the dragon.

Painting the limbs and tail on the dragon. the left side view gave me more information on how I wanted the tail to to so I did not paint it on the right side.

My first project was to drill the hole in the center of the loop that the dragoon's tail makes. I used a half inch drill bit I quickly found that tomorrow, I need to do a battery charging marathon. None of my batteries have power. I had enough juice to get three holes drilled.
I used the dremmel to join the holes and expand the space. In my grinding, I found that the bark inclusion was causing problems, so I used the bandsaw to remove a bit of it. I also ground away a lot.
I ground away the wood between the front and rear leg on both sides, but have to do more.

I also drilled a hole above the rear leg and in the space between the body and the tail curling down. I ran out of juice with my battery powered drill (all five batteries) so I dragged out an electric drill to finish the job. I had the angle slightly wrong and nicked the leg, but since the leg will be heading a bit more inside, I will get all the leg thickness I am after. I ground some around the hole before I decided I was done for the day.
Looking at it, The dragon made big headway on coming out. Having made my decisions and committed to them, Wood should disappear quickly now.

Carving around the painted details to give the dragon form.

Tomorrow, I will straighten some more of the wire. I will carve heavily on the dragon to give it more shape and design. My brother is coming up so I might end up doing some metal work after he arrives.

I will see what I actually do tomorrow.

Year 12, Week 3, Day Two (week 629) (January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.) 01-29-12 Sunday

65 degrees early morning, 76 degrees by ten and stayed there. The weathermen had fixed the cloud cover as there was no break in them all day long. The clouds got a bit heavier at a few points in the day to the west, which made us wonder if it might rain, but all the clouds brought was themselves. There was a nice breeze which did gust a few times during the day. Otherwise, the weather was uneventful. This weather report is brought to you by the City of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.

The beast of the back yard was out this morning and I got to pet him while he fed heavily. After I while, I took my wagon out to my truck to get some tools and when I got back, he was gone. I did not see him again during the day. I wish I knew what had spooked him.

I got all my equipment out, and settled down with my dragon. Using my dremmel to grind away wood. I used my drill to open up spaces to be hollowed out, the band saw and hand saw to cut away pieces of wood to save me grinding time.

There are people who are purists when it comes to carving. The master carvers from Austria have certification on their carvings that no power tool was used on it.
I am not a purist. I will use anything to get the job done. for me, removing wood is not the key to carving. Of course, with this dragon, the object is to avoid removing the wrong wood. Hand tools slow the process so it is easier to stop before a big mistake is made. Power tools make mistakes very fast.
The tools I use depends on the size and kind of carving I am doing. My fairies, which would stand twelve inches if they stood straight, is a combination of power and knife carving. My carved vases are all carved with power tools, generally the dremmel. This dragon is all power tools at least until I get near the final surface.
My plan is to give it a fairly glossy finish and leave it at that for the March Art show. After that I may decide to texture the surface to add scales and other things to it. For now, getting a really good looking shape is the aim.
I found out that I started on this back in August. I have pictures of where I made cuts on the original slab of wood to free up the dragon.

Left side view of the dragon

Front view of the dragon

Right side view of the dragon

My brother came and since I did not want to shower him with sawdust. I put my grinding tools away and then while we were talking, he was reading, I took out the little lathe.
I mounted a piece of bamboo into it and machined it down about half the diameter. I was only seeing if it would machine, not make it a particular diameter. I ran a file over it while it was spinning at the end to clean up the final surface.
I can see that I need more types of points for the tail stock. One idea is to have an inside cone with a point sticking out the center. That would keep the material centered and prevent it from splitting out so much as the cone would hold it in. I really need to come up with a live center, a ball bearing type system for the tail stock so the point would spin with the material.

When I got home, I decided to repair a wind-up flash light. I used one of those flashlights during hurricane Wilma were we went without power for about a week. Since I was alone, one crank light was perfect. I could crank it up and it would give me enough light to be able to do whatever I needed to do.
Later I tried to repair one and found it had a little battery in it. The battery was charged up when you cranked it, and then it discharged the power over time.
I found long ago that if I keep my batteries in the freezer, they will stay good for years. Since my crank light has a battery, I have kept it in the freezer door of my fridge.
Over the past few weeks, it somehow has slipped out and hit the floor. The knob of the crank broke off.
I tried to drill out the plastic of the knob. I found out after basically spinning it a while, that a patch on the top of the knob came off and there hid a screw. The handle had a shaft that went into the knob and the screw held it in place.
I found a screw head that was bigger than the hole at the top, just long enough, and a tiny bit smaller than my drill bit I was using. I first drilled a pilot hole with a tapered grinding bit. I was using a mini motor tool. I had gone all the way through with the point of the grinding bit. I then drilled for the screw. I did not go all the way through, but close. After a test start of the screw, I slipped it into the knob and screwed it into place until it was pushing on the plastic on the bottom. I figure I can reinstall the screw and go deeper into fresh plastic if I had to.
It works. I found a better place in the door for it to park. The big reason It was not staying in place was that when that bracket broke, I pulled everything out and got rid of a few things. It never packed together the same again.

Next week, I need to work a whole lot more on the dragon. I also should start on the face vase. For the face vase, I will decide which eyes will go together as the spacing is different all the way around, and then cut down below the eyes to leave a nose in between. I have learned that making a good, visible start on a project makes the whole project seem to go faster.

I will see what I actually do next week.

Friday, January 27, 2012

New Book News For Nancy!!!!

Yeah, it's happened again folks. I have a new book out! This one is an anthology collection of three stories. So here it is:


This is a collection of three previously never released short stories set in the same world as FORTUNE'S PAWN but in a different time and area. If you like rousing adventures in a backdrop of a big fantasy world where magic and faith often collide, then this is the book for you. Available right now on 
Createspace & 

This is something you're not going to want to miss!

And along with this book, I am launching my Pro Se Press imprint HANSEN'S WAY. This is going to help me get into print all those short stories based in the same world as FORTUNE'S PAWN. I have 5 individual series that will be running under that banner, and right now the plan it to release at least two of those per calendar year, along with a full length novel. And you are really getting a bargain too, because those anthologies will all be novel length. Lots of good reading there, and perhaps down the road some guest writers will come play in my world. 

Now if you'd like to know more about the book, you can click this link:  and read about it. And if you'd care to read an interview with Your's Truly, take a peek at this:

I have a lot of fantastic writing things going on right now. 

Not too long ago, I was given a battlefield promotion and am now Assistant Editor for Pro Se Press which you can read about here:  And you should read it, because there is news on there about our one and only Lee Houston Jr. and his new position as well. 

Lots of really awesome news these days! 

Additionally, I just finished my second pass of the book that will be the sequel to FORTUNE'S PAWN today and turned it over to Lee's capable hands for editing. When it comes back, I will make one final read through and send it off. That book will be announced later this year.

And... Lee and I will be on a local radio program for an interview late next month. My understanding is that the show will be taped and archived for a while, and it's available online. So as we get closer to that date, I will have more information up here for you.

Additionally, Lee and I have both been nominated for some PULP ARK AWARDS this year. If you read through the list you will see that both my novel FORTUNE'S PAWN and Lee's book HUGH MONN PRIVATE DETECTIVE have garnered nominations. Additionally, the wonderful Peter Cooper artwork from my short story THE SILVER PENTACLE: TO KINDLE A FIRE was nominated. And Your's Truly somehow got on the ballot for best author, which is a surprise and an honor, looking at the field of talent there with me. 

And I've neglected to mention (because I've been so darn busy) that both Lee and I have signed on to do New Pulp versions of old pulp stories reprinted by Altus Press This new collaboration between Pro Se and Altus is being titled PULP OBSCURA, because we are bringing back to life old pulp characters that never had more than a few stories written about them—with brand new tales in multi-author anthologies. You can read all about that here:

So yeah, 2012 is starting out as a banner year, writing wise. Also a very, very busy one. 


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

We're Not Out Of Farm Fresh Summer Catchup Yet!

Ah yes, summer, and the living was easy. So I have some more random summer pictures from the farm to show you. Most of these are from late July through August. 

My view down the walkway toward the garden, first thing in the morning. It rained overnight.

We had a family of crows that came visiting at some point every day. They were noisy but fun to watch. No problems with them in the garden, they seemed to be most interested in hunting grasshoppers in the field.

My sitting area for midday reading and studying. That white lilac gives ample shade. My little companion dog Ariel often joined me on the glider bench.

I am fascinated with the sky here, because you can see so much of it. At my other house, the lot has a lot of big trees with a thick canopy of leaves.

On a nice summer day, we all feel like singing.

That line of white pines along the highway does screen out a lot of road noise. I'm told they were all dug up as seedlings on the hill above my pond.

Wildflowers are the star of the summer meadows and hedgerows. This is Bladder Campion. It has a pale pink tint.

The garden was well grown by then, even for having been put in late. Not much for weeds inside, but the edges were hard to keep up with. We used a lot of mulch, all grass clipping cut in the fields around the house.

Some Lantana and Million Bells I was late getting in. Surprisingly the Lantana did better sitting in the pots in the shade than it did in a flower box in full sun. I still have one of the Million Bells alive in its flower box along with a dragon wing begonia that is in bloom. They are in the dining room not far from my computer desk.

House sparrows are supposed to be nuisance birds and they are aggressive and quarrelsome. But I find them fun to watch because they are always doing something. They love the mixed seed in the feeder.

A good portion of the field around the garden. The pond is off to the right, buried in the brush. I spend a lot of time walking the perimeter with the dog. I guess you could say that this summer, I was outstanding in my field...

Common grackles. You see them fairly often here. They are a bird of the open land.

The summer squashes to the front right did very well, producing over a long season. The winter squash and pumpkins in the back to the right did too. The melons in the middle produced OK, but had no flavor. It was a rainy August.

The pepper plants are looking ragged, losing their lower leaves to some disease. The bell peppers never did well, nor did the frying peppers or eggplant. Only the hot peppers and some yellow banana peppers at the far end produce much of anything. You win some, you lose some.

The 19 tomato plants were late in ripening fruit and the blight disease killed them early, but they produced plenty and I was able to share. No complaints!

Our cucumber trellis decorated with a male goldfinch. The birds love these high perches in the garden where they can watch for insects and worms. We love to watch them dive in and catch bugs. We were overwhelmed with cucumbers and gave tons of them away.

A bunny on the move. They graze the field quite a bit but gave us very little problems in the garden, unlike the resident woodchuck...

A female house sparrow sitting on one of the tomato stakes.

I am told that a red tailed hawk nested up the hill from the pond. We saw them head up there quite often so that is likely the case. Love to watch them soaring—so graceful!

I think this little male house sparrow is keeping a weather eye on that hawk!

Synchronized feeding.

The tops of those pine trees are another favorite lookout perch.

Eat and poop, eat and poop... What a life!

My little wild corner by the door. No I did not plan that, it's a tough area to mow and the weed whacker was broken. Late summer Queen Anne's Lace, brown seed heads of common dock, wild grasses, goldenrod budding up and in the far background, orange daylilies. Nature likes to plant Her own gardens.

Typical one bowl harvest. The tasty fruits of my labors. I only had two basil plants but they produced amazing amounts of fragrant leaves.

A male house sparrow in an autumn olive bush. That stuff grows wild all over this property and it is quite invasive. It has tons of fall berries that the birds love, so gets replanted prodigiously.

You can't get more peaceful than this.

Basking in those last golden rays, at the end of the day. Robins hunt from sunrise to sunset.

There must be one more bug in here somewhere! Poor little things, they work so hard to feed their ever-hungry brood.

Must be quite a life when you spend half your time expecting something to jump out of the bushes and try to eat you. And we humans think we have stress!

The shadows are long now, the sun is going down. Time to wrap it up. But there's always the possibility of that one last worm or beetle...

Plenty of sunshine still up here, and you can see all over the place. A male redwing blackbird showing off his luscious plumage.

Hey, what's he doing up there? A robin and three starlings.

Dusk finally falls and the sky begins to color up from the setting sun.

Sunsets are often magnificent here. As it sinks below the horizon, the sky glows around it. And you know what that means...


Catch you next time,