Category Archives: About Me
Like many technophiles of the world, I was sucked into the hype around the new iphones. I have had an android phone in the past, but, I prefer Apple. My wife, on the other hand, prefers Microsoft OS phones. That, however is not the point of this post.
I was determined to resist the urge to upgrade my phone early. I still have nine months on my iphone5 contract. I was just going to wait for the iphone7 (or 6s). At first the huge screened iphone plus seemed very unweildly. Then I was in a store with a display and put my phone beside the 6 plus. Bigger isn’t always better, right? Why do we keep having to remind ourselves, then? Still, I resisted. If I truly wanted one come March, I could upgrade on one of my kids lines and pass my phone down through the ranks. This is what everyone does with teenager phones, right? they get last years phones so we adults can stay trendy.
I discussed the situation and the unnatural draw of Apples marketing with my wife. We decided I would wait. We’d leave the option open for when we needed a phone to replace a dead or dropped phone. No, I didn’t ‘Accidently’ drop my phone in the blender or anything. I didn’t slam my phone into a closing car door, not that anyone does that. I resolutely stuck to my guns. No new phone. Period.
And then my wife comes into our room one day and says, “You’re son’s iphone screen stopped working. The picture is there but no touch. He can’t even turn the phone off. I guess you get to order that new phone.” My oldest kid has an iphone4. He would inherit my wife’s iphone4s and my wife would get my iphone5 until we could get her the HTC phone she wants. It took me about ten minutes to have the iphone6 plus ordered.
Then my rational mind kicked in. Not rational enough to try anything like cancel the order, however. I just realized I hadn’t actually tried to fix my son’s phone yet. I went and got it and sure enough, no touch capability. I then remembered you can turn an iphone off by holding the power button and the home button at the same time for a few seconds. When the phone rebooted, it worked fine.
Hey, I followed the agreement. There was a broken phone at the time I ordered the new one.
My wife has killed a phone inside an otter box. Gravity, combined with a closing car door – ’nuff said. To replace that phone, we got an old iphone 4sfrom her friend. Currently her iphone, which might still be her best friend’s iphone on loan, has a shattered backplate. That’s a new thing since it was given/loaned to us. The case will drip glass shards on occassion. So I’m just eliminating an injury risk.
And that’s how I’m rationalizing getting the new iphone.
One of the most difficult things to do when writing stories that take place in the present is to avoid too many pop-culture references. When writing about times in history it adds a little depth to involve people from history. When writing in the present, we can’t do that because people don’t like to have their lives fictionalized without their permission.
We have to be careful how often we reference things that are very popular now, like television shows. They might seem like a way to create a common bond with the reading audience, but sometimes our audience might absolutely hate something in pop culture our characters like and this can turn off a reader’s interest. And readers don’t really like it when they feel something went over their head, so if we do use a pop-culture reference, make sure it’s something the audience will get or miss entirely.
In “Blood Reprisal”, I make a ‘Friends’ pop-reference that is a little oblique. However, I don’t mention the show directly. I like to think I used it like a double-entendre in a kids’ movie – something people who know will get and something people who don’t won’t actually realize they missed something.
Since my vampire stories take place almost entirely during the nighttime hours (duh, it’s vampires) I spend a lot of time with my characters in bars and clubs. So there is a lot of music in the atmosphere. Trying to avoid pop-references means I can’t use a lot of actual band names. I have to come up with new ones. Naming bands is hard. Finding a good name that isn’t already being used by someone is harder. No one wants to make an unintentional pop-culture reference. But, I have three that I’ve come to like: Skeledudes as a Grateful dead cover band, Dire Monotony as a goth rock band and Jalapeno Pop as a band that does instrumental covers of bubblegum pop songs.
And as much as I’d like to mock the teenybopper vampmances out there, I can’t outright disdain the sparkly vampires in my stories. I do gently mock the genre of vampire books that are really just erotica for women in the first chapter of the first book of The Blooddaughter Trilogy. I do this by having two fans of the book talk about a new vampire book. It seems cheesy, talking about vampire writing in my own vampire book, but that particular book in a book (think play in a play) actually is important to parts of the plot of “Second Blood”.
Then there is Pop-History. Taking real history and using popular myths around that real history. All vampire books do this if they mention Vlad Dracula. Elizabeth Bathory is a very major player in The Blooddaughter Trilogy. I also rib on Alex Dumas with my Milady DeWinter character in “Blood Huntress”. No, I did not take every Femme Fatale from history (and historical fiction) and make them into a vampire in my fictional history. Lucrezia Borgia barely makes an appearance in the Trilogy. The only other Historical figures I use are Artemis and Virginia Dare (though I don’t think I ever call that last one by name. Okay, so I name drop a dozen or so more – sometimes making the historical figure a vampire, other times outright mocking the use of historical figures as vampires.
Most avid readers will get the Vlad Dracula and Dumas references. Vampire fans will almost always get the Elizabeth Bathory references and the Lucrezia Borgia ones. Everyone gets the Artemis reference. I try to stick to a historicaly verifiable version of my fictionalized historical characters. Dracula was a bad, evil man. So was Countess Bathory, but she got better. With these guys, I had to try very hard to create characters that would act like readers would expect if they knew the character’s history and/or myth. At the same time, I had to make them unique characters to my stories. Okay, so not so much with Dracula. His part in my books is so minor it’s non-existent. Like pop-references, historical references have to be obvious or so obscure, a reader won’t want to stop and look it up on wikipedia. If they do, if I did my job right, they will see the actual history as just more of the story presented in my books — an added depth to my novel.
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If you happen to be a fan of my writing, either my fiction or blogging, go ‘LIKE’ the facebook page. There, I’ll keep you informed of my progress on ongoing projects and discuss my published stories. Of course, it’s also a great place to learn when I publish something.
I just published “Blood Huntress”, the second book of the Blooddaughter Trilogy. It’s available at Amazon. com right now.
Shauna, Adjusting to life without the Sun and the need to feed, travels to Europe to track down the notorious vampire hunter, Henry the Inquisitor. She finds the night culture there in upheaval as hunters have decimated the vampire populations of France and the surrounding countries. The royalty she meets are not as friendly as she is accustomed to.
Her companion and best friend, the Blood Countess Elizabeth Bathory, has particular difficulty adjusting to the new powers in Europe. Defending her friend may make enemies among the vampire royalty.
In case Shauna doesn’t have enough to worry about, her twin sister and vampiric progeny, Laura, free of her mortal addictions, may have found a new, deadlier, habit.
I’m working on the third book as my Nanowrimo project. It wont be ready to publish in a month–give me about six months to have it out there.
Print Version of Blood Huntress will be available soon. If you can’t wait, Amazon’s sub-company Createspace has it now:
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere I’m terribly busy these days writing my novels and thus all my creativity is going there for the time being. So my blog is suffering. As a lazy excuse for an annual birthday-slash-halloween post I’m collating my halloween posts of earlier years.
The timeless classic:
I am currently devoting the majority of my creativity to finishing up my vampire novella trilogy. My 19.5 fans out there will be happy to know I am almost done with the second novel and hope for a Halloween release or sooner.
I have a few other projects I am working on as well, such as my demonic roleplaying setting, Demiarpg.wordpress.com, but that requires me to dive deep when I do work on it, so I only touch it once a month or so.
In the meantime, my blog has suffered. I’d like to revive it a bit, but I need help on the creative side. Dedicating that part of my brain to my fiction, I tend to be at a loss as to what to blog about. I need ideas. Got Questions you need answered? These can be philosophical or scientific. I might even answer a personal question or two. Got concepts you need explored? I’ll try anything. Once I have an idea, I can pretty much run with it. My only restriction is no targetted political questions like “Why are Republicans so stupid?”
Send your ideas to me using my contact information on the ‘CONTACT’ page above or leave a comment.
I’d say there are no stupid questions, but honestly, that’s not true. If you think your question is stupid, go ahead and ask anyway. This is the internet and no one will ever find out, right?
The title here is misleading. This is about a whole new weekend of activities, some of which are continuations of a prior weekend’s.
Not quite finished with the painting, but you can see where it’s going.
What you see are some of our chickens on the bottom level, the run, protected by steel mesh. This stuff is much more expensive than chicken wire, which one would assume would be the proper material for a chicken run. Chicken wire works great for keeping chickens in, but is crappy at keeping raccoons, foxes and such out.
The platforms comprise the Fort portion of this thing. Nothing fancy there, just a place to stand and look down on the world, just what my megalomaniac daughter needs. The lower platform is hinged and has a handle so the whole 4′ x 4′ section lifts to allow access to the run.
What you cannot see is the coop. It’s behind the green wall between the run and the upper platform. Coop access is from the right side here and that whole wall folds down. The chickens can get from the coop to the run via a ramp at the bottom right.
That rope ladder started life as a hundred feet of rope, fifty feet of garden hose some plastic stakes to attack the rope to the ground and some eye hooks to attach it to the fort. It took me about an hour to throw together and attach.
So that’s that.
We also got a new refrigerator on Saturday. The old refrigerator fit snuggly between the floor and the incredibly stupid cabinet attached to the wall above the refrigerator. I call it stupid, not because the wood had a low IQ, but who ever installed it must have. The cabinet was a foot back from the front of the refrigerator, so as soon as we put anything on top of the refrigerator, the cabinet became inaccessible. Not that it was terribly accessible to begin with. It’s 66 inches up and a foot back. No one could reach easily anyway.
Our new refrigerator is 68 inches tall. See the problem? Remember I said the 66-inch-tall fridge was snug.
I gleefully uninstalled the cabinets, spackled and painted the wall where it had been and put the cabinets on a wall in the nook, where they could be reached and used. Win-Win. And, as a bonus, it was a pure gain in storage space since not only does the new fridge also have a top suitable for storing children’s art projects, but it has more space since half of it is not being occupied by a stupid cabinet.
I also had a bit of adventure with powertools when the guy who came to install the ice maker on the new refrigerator complained our pipes weren’t the kind he’s allowed to work on. We live in an old house that’s seen many updates over the years. I’ve mentioned the lead pipes before and the galvanized steel pipes. We do have some copper pipes, which is the only thing modern plumbers will want to work with. However our copper pipes were too small, so he couldn’t do squat.
The most important thing I know about plumbing is to leave it to professionals, which I totally didn’t do.
They make these things called “self tapping” ice maker kits. Supposedly, simply by bolting them to the pipe, they can punch the hole into the copper providing the necessary water to the ice maker. I bought one of these kits. The self-tapping part is over-rated. It seems our copper pipes are stronger than the steel they make the punching pin of the kit.
So, being brave and resourceful, no sarcasm there, really, I drilled a hole in the copper piping of my home. Yes I turned the water off to that pipe first. No, I don’t have a horror story to tell. I know it’d be funnier if I had been doused with spraying, cold water, but it didn’t happen. I had one compression bolt leak a trickle, but that was fixed with a twist or two with a wrench.
I didn’t mention drilling a hole in our stone tile floor to run the copper tubing of the ice maker water line to our basement pipes. It was boring. I measured, I drilled, again everything worked fine.
I know this is a blog and I’m supposed to tell funny stories about how things can go wrong. Maybe I’m just a talented home-improvement god. At this point, people who know me just spat their drinks all over their keyboards to keep from choking to death as they burst in uncontrollable laughter. Perhaps, and this is the more likely scenario, I just don’t have high enough standards to notice when things go wrong.
There are several not terribly level parts of that cooprunfort, the paint does not have perfect lines at the seams. The rope ladder’s rungs are not precisely even in their spacing. The water line to the ice maker does not leak, however, and that’s the only standard that matters there.
And we finished the walls I mentioned the other week. They are nice, sturdy half-walls, as designed. The spackling job is less than perfect, and the paint isn’t hiding it as well as I’d hoped. But they do their job of keeping folks from falling down the steps and giving my cats a place to perch to look down on the world around them, feeding the megalomania that all cat’s innately possess.
“Second Blood” is now available on Amazon.com
This is my first foray as into the vampire genre. It’s part one of three and I promise not to die of old age before finishing the trilogy and I won’t expand the trilogy to ninety five books either, or for that matter, four.
For a link, click on “Currently Available Published Works” up at the top of this page.
I have a tendency in life to rely very heavily on my massive intelligence rather than careful planning, education or even experience.
I used to be the epitome of masculinity in that when I brought home “some-assembly” required furniture, I would put it together without reading the instructions. They put extra pieces in the box in the event something breaks, right?
I got better and will now glance at the instructions once or twice before throwing them aside and wading into piles of bits of pieces. That one panel that is clearly on backwards or upside down–that was a choice to show my individuality in my work. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Not everything I build comes from a box, however. I have more than one set of shelves in my house constructed entirely from 2x4s. My wife think’s the ones in the kitchen are nifty, so I feel a little encouraged.
I’ve also built a display tower for my wife’s grandfather’s trains, which I blogged about a year or two ago. It’s down there in the days past somewhere with pictures.
My most recent project was turning one of those old cheap sets of self-assembled bookshelves into a drafting desk.
Last weekend I undertook my two largest projects to date and I did so simultaneously.
Actually I am doing three projects but combining two.
The first project was “simple”. The stairs that go to the second floor of our house come up in the middle of the den. They had a guard rail on each side with flimsy wooden newels holding it up. My cats liked to jump across from one rail to the other, shaking both rails wildly and scaring the bejesus out of anyone walking up the stairs under them.
I’ve been promising for years to upgrade the railings with actual walls, or at least, half walls.
I don’t know how to put in a wall. I mean the concept seems simple enough: Build a stud wall, anchor it, hang drywall, mud it up, and then paint. That’s it, right?
Right? I’m really asking.
It’s kind of too late to respond anyway, so don’t feel bad for hesitating. I built two half walls, which, though currently in need of sanding and painting, didn’t come out half-bad. They’re sturdy, which was the primary goal.
Nevermind the fact that I built one of the stud frames 3.5 inches two long and the other 4.5 inches too long. Ignore that both walls should have been the same length and werent. Some hasty power tool work and the walls were cut perfectly to size.
Hanging the drywall was another matter. Sheets of drywall are missing an important part–something to hold them by. Hanging a full sheet of drywall above your head on a flight of stairs is difficult. Let’s put it this way: For that first piece of drywall, I probably went through a cup of joint compound filling in the dents. The next three sheets went much easier.
Jason, my friend who sometimes rues the day he opted to get a pickup truck rather than a car, commented on the one gallon bucket of joint compound I bought “You won’t need that much for just two walls.”
Au Contraire. Two walls means more than two buckets of joint compound. Maybe if they were just part of a bigger wall, it would be less, but eight feet of an exposed top of the wall, means a lot of mud to flatten that gap.
If I’d used planning instead of hubris, I might have thought to pick up corner-bead when I bought the drywall and had Jason’s truck to carry it in. Like it sounds, it’s the metal stuff you line the corners of walls with. Luckily my hybrid sedan had a teensy little hole designed to allow skis to be put into the trunk and through to the passenger compartment. Yes, I put the corner bead on before I started with the mud. I’m not an idiot, usually.
The biggest lesson I learned from building the walls: Don’t randomly place the studs. Put them at carefully measured intervals. Measuring tapes work better than studfinders.
The other two things I needed to build were a bigger chicken coop-slash-run and a treehouse for my daughter.
The chicken coop is because my wife “needed” two more chickens this year, bringing our backyard eggery to five chickens, which don’t all fit in the coop we had.
The treehouse was a long-standing promise for my daughter’s birthday after kindergarten, which is next month.
Our yard has two trees. The one in the front yard, next to the street, is obviously the wrong choice. The eighty foot pin-oak is every child’s dream place to put a tree house, but I’m not a fan of heights and eighty feet is a long way to fall. Putting it lower on the trunk would almost work if the trunk weren’t eight feet around.
So treehouse became “fort” or “playset”. Me, being oh so brilliant, (no sarcasm, really), came up with the idea of building a chicken run/henhouse/playset all in one!
Don’t roll your eyes, it’s a great idea. I even drew a picture before I started cutting the wood.
However, I didn’t keep the picture with me and had to do most of my cutting from quick calculations in my head and careful measuring. When building the stud flooring, I did careful measuring and spacing so I won’t have to rely on a stud finder to screw the surfaces to the frame.
See, I can still learn. Who knew? It surprised the heck out of me.
I should note that I tend to build using minimal cutting on my part. Common dimensions are very derivative of what sizes the wood comes in. So my chicken run/henhouse/fort is 8’x 4′ at the base.
Also important to note: It works just fine to stack three pieces of 8’x 4′ plywood to cut them all into 4’x4′ pieces with one run of the circular saw. However, if you have the wood up on saw horses and cut down the middle, they will collapse into a heap when you complete the cut. Keep your feet clear.
I would say, after two days of work, the walls are 75% done and the cooprunfort is almost half done.
Pictures coming soon.