Writing for the Busy Parents

Standard

jr-handley-header

Hey Space Cadets, how are you today?  I’m doing well, forcing myself to stop watching the book rankings so I can resume the work of writing.  Hey, book three won’t write itself!!  Operation Breakout currently sits at 38k words and I wish to break 40k by the New Year, with a goal of having it to my editor by the end of January.  After that we should be on track for Boss Man to do his pre-publication magic in February 2017.  Maybe you could gift that special someone a military science fiction novel for Valentines?  Okay, maybe a vacuum would be a better choice!!  Eww, eww, eww… or a dishwasher!!  Anyway, back to work as usual today!

 

While trying to catch up on reading the blogs I follow, I stumbled across an unread post my editor’s page.  I found an interesting article about managing writing as busy parents and decided to get in on the action.  First, read Corey’s post and comment and then hop on back here to read and comment!  It should make for an interesting discussion, and we would love for you to be a part of it!!  And yeah, I got his permission to use his blogging topic.  He even promised he’d leave the light on for ya when you mosey on over!!

 

writing as parents.PNG

 

The Questions:

 

How do you balance work, home, writing, love, and life?

Right now, I’m a housewife and do my best to keep the home fires burning while my wife goes back to school.  Before that, I did the same thing while she worked.  Mostly this means keeping the kids at bay while she studies, or cleaning and prepping the meal so we can eat as a family.  She is in the Speech Language Pathology degree program, seeking her bachelor’s degree with plans for a masters afterwards.  She was motivated to learn, since our youngest has special needs that prompted her to go into a field of work where she could help him as well.  To be honest, she was also motivated by what she has had to do to help me with my own injuries as well.  Since we stress the importance of school, she does her homework while the boys do theirs at the table.  It is very much a partnership, and she covers for me in the evenings for the Friday writing meet-up.  She covers for me when I need to Skype the Boss Man, and generally keeps the chaos at bay.  We make time for each other once the kids are in bed, and our folks watch the kids so we can have date nights.

 

How has becoming a parent changed your outlook on writing and reading?

I always told stories in my head, but I started vocalizing them to the kids as they were little.  After I’d finished a book, I would tell myself fanfic type stories in the universe with the main characters I loved.  Basically, it was my way of not letting a good story end.  With kids, I told them crazy stories because I can’t sing to save my life.  I sung them Army cadences as lullabies and told them goofy stories to make them giggle.  After the writing therapy started, my hope was to leave my sons parts of me, before the TBI turned to dementia or I got struck by lightning. 

 

What’s the biggest misconception you’ve faced with stay-at-home parenting, or parenting in general?

That it was easier than working, for sure!  And that somehow being a stay-at-home dad was emasculating.  To be honest, my injuries are why I couldn’t work, but I’m not one to sit around watching daytime television so I took to the housewifery.

 

As a parent, where do you go to write? When is the best time for you to write?

Right now, my office is in the dining room, so I sneak out to coffee shops or a weekly write in at Panera.  Mainly I just write while the kids were asleep or at school.  Luckily my boys are old enough to be in school full time (8 & 10), so it isn’t as difficult to work around.

 

Why do you write, and how does that reason impact your writing?

I write to excise my demons from Iraq, to leave a part of myself for my sons and to be whole.  It helps me stay calm, which helps me be a better parent.  And if we end up making the JK money, I won’t say no or send it back!!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!  

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

WRITERS ARE CRAZY PEOPLE

Standard

jr-handley-header

Hello Space Cadets, today is another throwback post.  I think this story was posted way back when, before anyone had found this post so I decided it needed an edit because it’s too funny to go unloved.  This happened when I was writing book one, The Legion Awakes, in the local Starbucks.  The very one whose store number became Lance Scipio’s beloved 6907th TAC Regiment.  I was spread out over the long corner table organizing the story, so I could fix issues Tim C. Taylor had with the combat scene.  The scene in question was part of what became the novella The Demons of Kor-Lir which is still available to those who sign up for my mailing list.

sleepinglegion_book0_ebook_01 

Like I said, I had to share what happened.  I had just finished a very early draft and sent it to my editor, Tim C. Taylor.  This was before Corey Truax came into the picture.  Anyway, as I poured over his critiques, I noticed that he suggested I bone up on my science and medical knowledge, since my death scenes didn’t read true.  Hey, I was a grunt… we haven’t trained to kill people with swords in a few years!  And swords in space?  Blimey, what sort of Army do you think I served in?  For some reason I’m envisioning Stripes meets The Jetsons but I digress.  I read Tim’s comments, until I had a flash of insight!  I realized my aunt was an ER nurse, so I decided to call her up to go over some things. 

 

While still sitting at the previously mentioned Starbucks I called my aunt – we talked about decapitations, death grips, arterial spray and how long it takes someone to bleed out.  Upon finishing my phone call I noticed that the Starbucks had gotten unusually quiet, the long table I was sitting at was suddenly empty and people were reacting as if they’d suddenly smelled something foul.  I swear, I almost sniffed my armpits to make sure we were good!  Then one of Virginia’s Finest, Officer Friendly, and yes names have been changed to protect the innocent, walked over and sat in the chair opposite mine.  When he had my attention, he got chatty.  “Everything alright here?  Anything you need to confess?  Do you need a lawyer?” 

 

Rarely one to be at a loss for words, I quipped a reply chalk full of my usual shenanigans.  “Nothing to see here officer, move along,” before laughing nervously.  Officer Friendly wasn’t smiling.  Sighing, knowing I needed to figure out what was really going on, I asked and waited for the big reveal. 

 

Officer Friendly was right there to clear it up, “So, murder plans this weekend,” he asked.  Was it ironically?  Meh, I don’t know but I was instantly relieved that there wasn’t something more serious.  Did I just type that?  Nothing serious about murder?  Man, the Army seriously warped my mind! 

 

Smiling, I simply informed him that I was working on my novel and consulting my experts to improve the text.  “I’m not a serial killer Officer, I’m just a writer.”  Luck was on my side, he chose NOT to check my browser history and all the murderous research I’d been doing.  The best part about all of this, it was the first time I called myself a writer out loud and around strangers.  Hopefully the times that follow won’t require armed law enforcement and a concerned public!  Well, unless the officers are protecting me from adoring crowds as I outsell the great JK Rowling!!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are owned by JR Handley.

World Building Wednesday: Sand Tables

Standard

tranquility_4

Hello Space Cadets, how is everyone doing today?  What’s that?  I can’t hear you, sound off like you got a pair!  And if you don’t, fake it till you make it!  So, now that I have your attention, let’s have a little chat over coffee!  Today I decided to give you get a sneak peek into how I wrote my battle scenes.  Let’s dive into the world of sand tables, sometimes called Recess for Soldiers!

 

So where to start, first let me start by discussing what a sand table is.  In a nutshell, a sand table is a surface bearing a three-dimensional map of a given piece of land.  According the Merriam-Webster, it’s “a table bearing a relief model of a terrain built to scale for study or demonstration especially of military tactics.”  Basically, I a super special map!  The military has used them since forever, long before Christ was even a Corporal.

 

Now that I’ve explained what a sand table is, I’ve decided to show you the one I made for my first novel.  Yes, The Legion Awakes, which will be published on December 19th, 2016.  It’s an improvised sand table for a combat scene in the novel involving a battle that my main character is involved in.  Wanna know more, read the book!  You’ve probably already read this, but please let me be prideful for just a few words!  I’m currently writing The Sleeping Legion Series set in the military science fiction world of Tim C. Taylor.  That book will be out soon, so I wanted to share some of how I got here.  Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let us return to our regularly scheduled programing.

 

Anyway, the key to a successful sand table is that they provide you with the opportunity to visualize the battle space in three-dimensions.  This allows you to better describe the field as you’ve envisioned it.  It allows you to envision all of the obstacles which might get in the way of the armies you are describing, though this could work for any type of writing, combat or otherwise.  I supposed I would be remiss if I didn’t also tell you that these can be used to model towns, and other generic settings for your works in progress.  Not as exciting, but certainly necessary.  They are used by the military for strategic visualizations, are extremely helpful with strategic planning, but can be used by everyone!!

 

Without further adieu, my masterpiece!

 

My Sand Table

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

LEGEND:

Cups: Akoni Mountains

Green Sponges: Dense forests

Brown Building Blocks: Old Government Tower and Akoni City

Blue Paper: Water Features; Dynia River and Lake Charon

 

Now that we’ve covered this in depth, feel free to sound off in the comments below!  And if this tickled your fancy, click the follow button and never miss out on the insanity or shenanigans from the Handley Trenches!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are owned by JR Handley.

 

Sleeping Legion Update

Standard

sleepinglegion_logo_nov2016_02_blackbg

Hello Space Cadets, I’m trying not to float away as I write this!  It’s finally here!!  The big day, the day I get to tell you about the release date of my first novel, The Legion Awakes!!  It will be the first in a series of military science fiction novels set in Tim C. Taylor’s Human Legion Universe.  This debut novel will be released on December 19th, 2016 amid much celebrating in the Handley Household.  Hey, if it goes well I might just buy back that family castle!  😉

 

To let you glimpse what you’d be buying, I thought about a quote from the book.  I wanted to give you a feel for my bad assed main character, Senior Veteran Sergeant Lance Scipio’s training style.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

“… Lance decided to take the beast by the horns and address the assistant squad leader, Cadet Sergeant Fitzgerald Wyckoff, directly. “Cadet Sergeant Wyckoff, is it true that Cadet Hayley Mason led the mutiny by herself? Think carefully before you answer my questions.”

Cadet Wyckoff jumped to attention, though less rigidly than Cadet Mason had, with a self-assured cockiness that told Lance he often tried to charm his way out of trouble. “That’s correct, Sarge, right on the money.”

Wyckoff never saw it coming, so confident was he that his charisma would save him. Without missing a beat, Lance pulled the Flenser pistol out of the holster on his thigh and shot Fitzgerald in the head. This abrupt execution caused a rippled gasp around the room, as 1st Squad finally had one reaction that was unified. Apparently that’s what it takes to get everyone’s attention?

 

sleepinglegion_book1_08

 

Hopefully this has sparked your interest, because it has been a rollercoaster journey of self-discovery for me.  If you do decide to buy it, please be kind and leave an honest and heartfelt review.

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are cover art owned by Human Legion Publications under licensed use for JR Handley.

NaNoWriMo Update

Standard

nano-2016-winner

 

Hello Space Cadets, I’m sorry for the delay in posting lately. I AM still alive; my alien overlords haven’t called me back yet.  I took a few days off for Thanksgiving, and then had to play a crazy game of catch up to finish the NaNoWriMo event.  It has been insane!  Long days, longer nights and loads of coffee.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Okay, as for the NaNo… let me give you a recap. I finished the rewrites for book two, Fortress Beta City.  It’s now with my copy editor for the last pre-publication pass.  This was a lot of work, hours of conference calls giggling over pizza, but it is done.  It is, hands down, the favorite book I’ve written.  My former editor, and boss, was so close to the story that together we missed some ways it could’ve been better.  I imagine that many authors who let outsiders play in their sandbox experience these issues.  I think book one, The Legion Awakes is good, but I’m even happier with book two.  And let’s face it, there is also the element of my improving skill at storytelling.

 

In addition to Thanksgiving, I had my 35th birthday just after Thanksgiving and it was wonderful.  My wife is very supportive of my work, so she bought me a fancy dancy ergonomic desk chair.  Stand back boys and girls, she’s mine and I’m keeping her!!  My birthday present to myself was finishing book two, Fortress Beta City.  Like I said earlier, the final structural/content editing pass is done, and I don’t tend to worry about the copy editing!!  Hey, I’m just not too overly attached to the commas and whatnot.  Now we wait for the final formatting before it’s off to the presses!!!!!  Okay, maybe beta readers too…. but IT IS DONE!!!!

 

Now that I’ve mentioned the editing, I need to pretend my momma taught me some manners.  I’m not an ungrateful frakker, so thank you Corey Truax!!  You do good work, glad we hired you!! Tim C Taylor will love the finished product!!

 

Sorry literary world, he can’t be your editor…. HE’S ALL MINE!!!!! MWAHAHAHAHA!!!!

 

Continuing on my NaNo writing journey, I also pushed past book two and wrote over 36,000 words into book three, Operation Breakout.  I’m loving this book too, it’s full of action and has improved upon the mistakes I made in earlier novels.  I feel like Operation Breakout is the fulfillment of the promise of high action that was made in Fortress Beta City, and as a writer I always want to honor the implicit promises I make.

 

Growing, always growing (and not just my belly) towards being a better novelist.  That’s what I hope I’m doing anyway.  Hopefully readers will agree; I’m sure I’ll find out soon.  I’ve not done it alone, I’ve had great mentors and support.  I won’t list those mentors today, but I will write a post about who they are since they are so very supportive of new writers.  They host podcasts, webpages and Facebook groups that are very supportive environments.  Another noob would be welcome, the Fire Marshal just extended our digital capacity!  Again, more to come!!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are personally owned by the author of the Human Legion Universe.

Family Friday Update

Standard

 

Hello Space Cadets, I hope this post finds you well and in good health.  The American Thanksgiving Holiday has just passed and the process of recovering from the food coma’s have begun.  If you’re participating in the Great NaNoWriMo, I wish you many words and hope your journey is well on its way. 

 

Speaking of the NaNo, I’m behind but still within the realm of finishing the 50,000 words in 30 days.  I’m working on Operation Breakout, the third novel in my Sleeping Legion series.  I’ve also put some words into two short stories and some last-minute revisions of Fortress Beta City. That’s the second novel in the Sleeping Legion series.  The first two novels in the series should be in ready to leave me and wander into the big bad jungles of the Amazon.  I’ll post more as soon as my editor and boss give me more information.  My current word count is 35,939 words across several projects related to the series I’m currently writing.  I am behind, but it is definitely salvageable!

 

As for my interview series, they will come as soon as the authors I’ve contacted respond.  I will keep you posted, and unless I have something to say this will be the last post marked in the series until my interview requests start coming in.  Since I can’t offer you an author’s interview, let me instead recommend a book by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Children of Húrin.  It’s his first complete book since the 1977 publication of The Silmarillion.  If you loved the Lord of the Rings, you’ll love this! 

 tolkien

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

 

Beta Reading Recon Team

Standard

Hello Space Cadets, do you yearn for action and adventure?  Does your soul beg to shake free from the shackles of Mother Earth?  Do you love reading, diving into fictional universes and then discussing it in depth?  Basically, there’s a call out for all of the Geeks, Nerds, Fan boys/Fan girls and all around science fiction fanatics.  If this sounds like you, and you want to help an author launch his debut novel, head on over and join the Legionnaires!!  Be a part of the adventure, shape it and mold it until it is a piece of literary perfection that Heinlein would be proud of!  🙂

 If you want to join the recon teams, you need to first join the Legion, which you can do here.  You can then discuss your thoughts on the BattleNet, but you don’t need to do so to chat away.  You can find join the discussion here.

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section