Sunday, February 07, 2016 7 comments

T + One Month…

…and counting.

Hm… am I hungry yet? It’s been six minutes…

It’s been a rough one on the wife and me, too. Mostly her, but I’ve had my share of sleep deprivation as of late.

Given his profound lack of pre-natal care, it might be best to think of Charles as a preemie even if he was carried to term. During that first week and a half, the pediatrician clucked at his inability to gain weight. She encouraged us to encourage him to eat more, and not let him sleep a whole long time in between.

An aside: I was a preemie, a month early and under five pounds. And I had a hernia that made me howl like a banshee. The docs said I had to get over six pounds before they could operate on me… and so, every time I opened my mouth my parents stuck a bottle in it. With the hernia fixed, I started sleeping through the night. DD was also a preemie, and was very much a “hold me close” baby. And so is Charles, most of the time. I’ve found recently that if I prop him up on some pillows, he’ll contemplate the universe for a little while before deciding he needs some more personal attention.

Anyway, Charles doesn't have a hernia. But we started encouraging him to eat more… and about the time he got a “gained six ounces!” report, he really took it to heart. And hasn’t stopped. One night last week, he inhaled three ounces of formula before I realized (he typically gets an ounce at a time, then gets burped). Lucky for us both, he didn’t live up to his nickname (Chuck) and give it right back.

Unfortunately, he does have some issues with gas cramps/colic. Not to mention the typical baby trick of rockin' and rollin' all night long while everyone else is trying to get some sleep. This last week has been particularly hard on us ol' farts. We’ve started taking shifts. So last night, I got up at 4:30am and staggered into the living room. “Shift change,” I said. Wife made him some formula, but also prepped a second bottle with a tea she makes for his cramping. “Give him some of this,” she said, and somehow managed to get to the bed before falling down. So I let him suck down an ounce of tea and settled back in the recliner. Sometimes, he’ll zorch out on my chest… the trick is to not zorch out myself, then see if he’ll lay in the Pack&Play. I got him down, went to bed, and heard him squawking ten minutes later.

Grumbling some things I’m glad Mason didn’t hear, I went back out, got him, and gave him another ounce of tea. Fifteen minutes later, he was out cold again. I put him back down, but this time just laid on the couch. I wasn’t comfortable in bed for some reason. But then I slept until 7am, when Mason got up. Charles slept until 9. Wife was still zorched when I left for church; she supposedly got up around 11. He had a very wet atomic diaper, and his outfit was moistened as well. Like DD, he doesn’t like to be uncovered much (unless he’s being held, then he’ll tolerate it). So I’m hoping we’ll get a break through the night really soon.

Splat and BB have started making more of an effort to see him, lately. I took him down to Big V’s today; she has griped mightily that we have him and not her, but she admitted she couldn’t take care of him anyway. Splat, BB, and a bunch of BB’s family came to see Charles as well, and BB even changed his diaper. I don’t know if that means they’re going to make a serious effort to get him back when the 45 days are up (a little over 2 weeks from now), but I hope they at least are getting the idea he’s worth the effort of making some serious lifestyle changes.

And with that, the workweek begins anew tomorrow. With the X-Files back on the air, I have a reason to look forward to Mondays. And to watch at least a little TV.

Monday, January 11, 2016 9 comments

Our Newest Inmate [UPDATEx2]

I have been sort of quiet about this, but the wife… well…

Already sleeping (and snoring) in my sling
I’m joking. This is Charles, the offspring of Cousin Splat and his wife (let’s call her Badger Boobs, for the pawprint tats that show up when she wears something low-cut). The tale of his arrival at FAR Manor is definitely an exercise in the weirdness that reigns in the free-range insane asylum.

So. Charles was born Friday. BB (not to be confused with DD, as the latter would hurt you for that) is not exactly the most stable isotope on the periodic table. As Cousin Splat is Big V’s offspring, I guess he was comfortable with that. One problem with BB is that there was some question about whether the baby was Cousin Splat’s… but one look at him dispelled all doubts. The other problem is BB is on probation for drug issues, and may not have exactly stayed squeaky-clean during her pregnancy. So there was a test.

Now here’s where stories diverge. BB claims the only stuff they found in her system were what they gave her at the hospital. Other claims were that the baby tested positive for meth, and yet another that his bloodwork was “fine.” Howe’er it was, DFACS asked Cousin Splat if he had any relatives who could provide a “safe house” for the kid. He gave them the wife’s name. They called Saturday, paid a visit Sunday, and Charles came home with the wife from the hospital today. [UPDATE #2: The pediatrician says they found amphetamines in his system, not meth. Bad enough, but not horrid.]

You can’t hear it, but he’s snoring in my sling right now. BB thinks the sling is an awesome idea. I like it too, because I can have both hands free to type.

According to the agreement, he could be here “up to 45 days,” although the case workers said that could run a lot longer. I expect an immediate return to the old 3am feeding/diaper change runs.

UPDATE: I forgot the funniest part of the story. We spent much of the weekend preparing for the new arrival, which included digging out a bunch of stuff from when Mason was a baby. Hearing the noise in the living room, he went to see Daughter Dearest and Fizzle setting up the Pack&Play. “I know what that is,” he said, and came back to me. “I’m gonna have to cover my ears. Aunt DD’s gonna have a baby.” Of course, I explained the situation to him, and he was fine with that. He can’t wait for Charles to get old enough to play with.

Saturday, December 12, 2015 5 comments

Just Add Light

It’s unusually warm for the bottom of the year on Planet Georgia. Our high today was around 72°F, a good 20 degrees above normal. So, when I announced I was heading to the grocery store, Fizzle suggested I grill some fish for supper.

Good idea, thinks I, and added salmon to my list. As it turned out, the wife had a few things she wanted to get, and Christmas presents was part of it. So we got about 90% of the presents this morning.

But we neglected not the grocery run. My feet were well sore by the time we were done, as I just came off a gout flareup (the only one this year that was more than mild) this week. There were a few other things to do this afternoon, and they got done.

This time of year, it’s pretty much dark by grilling time… but I made do.

Bring on the food!

Work lights are really useful for all sorts of things. Oh, and it’s not just Planet Georgia. Not by a long shot:



May your days be merry and warm—even if they’re not bright!

Monday, December 07, 2015 4 comments

December Sunsets

Easing back into this blogging thing with a shot off the deck a few evenings ago. December’s sunsets can be just as pretty as June’s.

Cold comfort
There was definitely more color in the sky than in the leaves this year.

Monday, November 23, 2015 No comments

Guest post: Roy Huff, "The Fall of Brackenbone"

I know what it’s like to have a long-running fantasy series that won’t let go. Today, I turn the blog over to Roy Huff so he can talk about his own ball and chain, Everville. (It turns out we share a birthday… cool!)

So let me shut up―take it away, Roy!




Not writing it was unthinkable, yet the process taunted me. At times, the anticipation burned at my insides and tore at the fabric of my soul. That was the reality when creating The Fall of Brackenbone, the latest book in the Everville series.

The process was not of the actual writing, but forcing myself to sit down and write. It’s not that I didn’t want to. There were so many distractions, problems, and at the end of the day, excuses that kept me from setting aside my other semi-productive pursuits to ink the most recent book in the series.

I found myself in the middle of a firing squad, and I was the main target. One crises after another gave me ample reason to delay and postpone, and before I was ready to begin I had to confront each one of my demons and excuses head on. I brought out the brass knuckles and took them on in a street brawl of epic proportions that would make Rocky Balboa proud.

I focused my attention on an action plan for myself, one which I went into great length to discuss in a recent post on how I lost 40 lbs in 40 weeks. Succeeding at most of the items on that list gave me the added health and mental focus to plod through the daily challenges of my life and embrace my self imposed destiny.

Success came in April when I finished the rough draft and went through the final process of gathering feedback from hundreds beta readers, editors, reviewers and then marketing for a May 1st launch.

The process has continued, feedback has been positive, and thanks to my literary agent, Peter Miller, I have been fortunate enough to garner the praise of Brian Herbert, writer, collaborator, and son of Frank Herbert, of the famed Dune series.

I am happy to announce that Everville: The Fall of Brackenbone will be free on Kindle from 11/22/15 through 11/26/15 (my 39th birthday). Read it as a stand alone novel, and then catch up on the first three books in the series in the newly available boxed set, which will have a coinciding 99 cent Kindle Countdown Deal in the US and UK 11/22/15 through 11/28/15.

The process has been rewarding, and I hope to see you there. Mention the promotion and earn free entry in my $225 Amazon Gift Card blowout Rafflecopter giveaway contest on my homepage. I hope to see you there.







I do know what it’s like to try getting a book written when the universe seems to be trying to keep you distracted. But like Roy says, you just have to keep pushing until the thing gets done. So go check out Everville, and enter the contest. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the one to win!

Monday, October 05, 2015 2 comments

New Blink adventure!

Blink is starting his latest adventure, My Dad, the Supervillain! at WriteOn. Go to writeon.amazon.com, click the drop-down, and start with Part 3. Or start at the top if you need a refresher. 

Updates go live every Monday until it’s done… then we’ll see about Part 4…

Friday, September 25, 2015 4 comments

Stealth and High Explosives (#FridayFlash)

Hey look, a #FridayFlash! I woke up Tuesday morning with the phrase “stealth and high explosives” in my head, so here’s how two opposites work together…



I could imagine the calm-faced bodyguards: Sir, we need to get you to shelter this second. I adjusted my tie and hefted my briefcase.

The side entrance slammed open, and a torrent of bureaucrats and office drones poured out, babbling to be heard over the alarm buzzers. Some were poking at their phones, half an eye on the foot traffic crowded around them. Some might be texting I’m OK to family members, others sharing the excitement on Twitter, it didn’t matter either way. After the initial crush, the traffic tapered off and I slipped inside.

Swimming against the current, I did get the occasional “what the hell?” I didn’t blame them; they were low-level government workers, and running into a bombed building wasn’t in their job descriptions. I was ready for them, though, with a fake badge they wouldn’t take the time to scan. “Security. Please remain calm and evacuate the building,” I said, and they would comply.

Even if I hadn’t memorized the layout of the building, I could have found the stairwell by following the people leaving it. It smelled in there, too many worried bodies in too small a space. Flashing my badge again, I got the crowd of evacuees to make a lane for me along the wall. I took the steps two at a time, in both show and need of haste. I had to get them to clear a lane at each landing, so it was slower going than I liked. But I’d crunched the numbers. If I didn’t get completely blocked, I’d have just enough time.

“Excuse me!” a young woman called. “Are we in any danger?”

“Not at the moment,” I assured her. “The incident occurred at the lobby. But you need to exit quickly, and move away from the building, in case they have more surprises. Tell anyone you see standing near the exits.” I passed her as I said the last. Attractive, especially for a government drone. She must be new; the work had not yet begun to wear on her. Give it a couple years.

Third floor. I had to wave my badge and repeat the magic words several times before I could get enough space to squeeze through the door and into the hallway. There were still a few people lined up, looking anxious. “Plenty of time,” I told those, waving my badge one last time. “Just keep moving away from the building when you exit.”

Past the stairwell door, the third floor was nearly deserted. One or two guys were still at their desks, looking like they were trying to squeeze in one last thing before bolting. Probably looking to prove they were Promotion Material. I was so glad I wasn’t part of that rat-race anymore. But it did remind me of the other potential snag in my plan: someone might still be in Dr. Wackjob’s office suite. He wasn’t the kind to order office assistants to stay at their desks in a crisis, so said his profile. Actually, he was a decent type to work for—which said nothing of how he treated those he worked on.

Dr. Wackjob’s other quirk was that he was ultra-paranoid. None of his work ever touched a computer. That’s why I was here. And—better than I’d dared to hope—the suite was empty, and the doctor’s office door was open. His bodyguards didn’t let him lock up behind. I added a minute to the time I had to work.

His desk had someone’s file on it. Nobody I knew or needed to know, so I went to the file cabinets lining one wall—fireproof, and built like tanks. If we had dropped the whole building, the files would have survived. Dial M for Mayhem, I thought, and opened that drawer. Zachary Malovio’s file was near the front, and I pulled the folder. It was thick with paper, and I knew I had no time to go through the whole thing, but what I needed most was on the front page: facility name, room, attendants, the works. I stuck the whole thing in my briefcase and left.

There were still a few stragglers in the stairwell, and I joined them. We all made haste, although I knew there would be another bottleneck at the exit. I was about the last one out, and joined the throng heading for the transit station.

I hoped for an open table at one of the cafes and bistros lining the street, but all the other evacuees had filled them. Not everything went perfectly, after all, and I was three-fourths done. I stopped and scanned the street, looking for possible tails, but saw neither potential sanctuary nor potential enemies. Three fire trucks blasted by, making a godawful racket, and I ducked onto a quieter side street. There was a coffee shop, a little downscale for how I was dressed, but there were plenty of open tables. I took off my jacket, loosened my tie, and took a chair.

“Everybody okay up there?” the barista asked, checking his phone.

“I think it was mostly the lobby. Can I get a medium with cream, no sugar, to go? And your wifi password?”

“Oh, yeah, no prob.” He rattled off the wifi password as he poured up my order, and I punched it into my phone. “You know they can sniff the traffic, right?”

“I have VPN,” I assured him, and set up a connection. “Just needed to send one item I couldn’t before they chased us out.” I worked from memory, then cleared and shut down the phone. I’d leave it on the train later. Zach would be discharged tomorrow and spirited away, and all would be well. I left a five on the table for the barista and hit the streets.

Stealth and high explosives might not sound like they go together, but sometimes that’s what you need to get the job done.

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