Week in Review- June 19th, 2021

This was a big week in the Ferrell Household.

I managed to write two scenes for book 4 of my urban fantasy series, Family Heritage. A third scene is formulated but not fully written. I began a new short story for Meteor Falls. Oh yeah, and I turned 39. Last year of the 30s before I hit the big 40.

Our monarch butterfly season is in full swing. We have close to 500 eggs and caterpillars of various stages. And nearly a dozen in “raccoons” as Emma called them the first season. She couldn’t say cocoons, much less chrysalis, at that point. The term has kinda stuck around our house, even though we know the proper terms now and can use them.

Sunday is my niece/goddaughter’s birthday. I took Emma and Jackson to go birthday shopping for her. They did really well picking out things they thought Nora would like. I guess we’ll see when we go there for her party.

June 2021??????

How in all that is written is it June already? It feels like we just had the doubleheader of my wife’s birthday and then Valentine’s Day. Lots to talk about so I may ramble a bit.

February I participated in a Pitch Party on Twitter (you can follow me here). I got a grand total of 1 like from an agent, so then I panicked. I’d written the story, almost 30k words, in January. Could I do this? Should I do this? I figured, what the hell. Worst she can say is no right? It’s never stopped me before. So I sent in the query packet. Then the crippling anxiety set in. February was a horrible month writing wise and March wasn’t much better. I’m getting back into a grove now, but none of my projects are holding on as tight as that one.

Fast Forward to April 7th, and I got the form letter rejection. No agent for me this time. I’m still thinking this one has commercial appeal and I’m going to query it again. When I’ve had a chance to study how to write better queries.

Meanwhile, I received feedback from a beta reader for Reunions & Rebellions, the third book in my Family Heritage series. She loved everything, including the ending. Except the girls sounded stilted and formal in their conversations. So I’ve reworked a few scenes with the help of my amazing friend Leya.

The day job is going well. Still slinging cheese but I’ve been promoted to a full time operator. Little more money and so far it’s easier on my wrists and shoulders. Feet still kill me almost everyday but might be time for a new pair of work shoes.

Cloaked Press is growing. Through our partnership with SciFi & Fantasy Writer’s Guild, we launched Depths of Love 2021. A short story anthology featuring tales of love in all its myriad forms, not just your typical romances.

That’s not all. Spring Into SciFi 2021 launched right on time this year as well. In its fourth year, this series of anthologies continues to be my best seller, both in copies and kindle unlimited page reads. I’m overjoyed that I got to share these stories with the world.

Our newest themed anthology, Summer of Speculation launches its first edition on June 21st. with a theme of Catastrophe, I wasn’t sure what kind of stories I would get. It’s turned out better than I hoped. It can be found HERE.

Ok onto the family side of things. I’m now the father of a high school junior and a kindergartener. We’ve been raising what we thought were frog tadpoles, turns out they must be some sort of lizard as they are well past the turning point to be frogs. Still waiting to see what they become.

It’s also Monarch Butterfly season here in Northeast Wisconsin. This is our third year helping these little beauties and I think we’re already nearing our total from last year. Between eggs and caterpillars we have nearly 400 already. We’ve seen Facebook posts from people who e crossed the thousand mark before now, but we just like to try and help as much as we can. The more we have, the more milkweed we have to collect, which means the more we find in the milkweed. Still, the look of pure joy and wonder on Emma’s face when she gets to hold the big 5th Instar caterpillars or the emerged butterflies is totally worth it. Jackson is starting to get into it a bit this year as well. You can follow Emma’s journey on her Facebook page, but it would be awesome if she got some more YouTube followers. She loves hearing comments from her “fans”.

I think that’s all for now but hopefully soon I’ll have a release date for Reunions & Rebellions. Until next time.

1 Month Down 2021 Edition

January was a good month for me on a lot of fronts, although I didn’t blog about them. I did put a bit more of my writing journey on Facebook on my author page though.

January Writing News:

30558 words written. Most of it in my just over 27k MG/YA fantasy novel. “Sibling Rivalry: A Children of the Realms Tale” will be getting pitched to agents and editors during the February 3rd #SFFPIT event in Twitter. You can check it out at this LINK. If anyone is on Twitter and would be willing to help Retweet me, you can find me on Twitter under andrewmferrell

My February goals include knocking out the rest of the two short stories I’m working on for my Meteor Fall project. Hopefully then that collection will start to come together. I’m working with some great friends of mine in the writing world. I think readers will enjoy the world we’re creating.

I’m also planning on getting a big chunk of my wip “Bible of Mars” done. This was an idea my father in law came up with when we used to carpool to the day job. Involved people having migrated from Mars to earth for some reason. I ended up finding a plot and outlining it last year. I don’t think I’ll finish it this month. It should be a fun SciFi romp though.

Family Heritage Book 3: Reunions & Rebellions is in the hands of some betas and proofreaders. I have a cover mock-up I’ll share later this month I think once I think I have a handle on its publication date.

On the home front things are going pretty good. My oldest started his job and it’s going alright except for constant changes in his sports schedule messing with his work schedule. But basketball season will be over soon and then he can put in a few more hours. We’re getting along pretty well. I’m proud of the choices he’s making lately with regards to school and his future.

Emma and Jackson are still giving Dad a run for his money. Here’s Emma and I playing on a 15-20 ft snow pile behind our house yesterday.

It was harder to climb than I thought it would be because the snow was very fluffy and didn’t pack down well. I kept sinking and sliding back down. It was fun though. Wife and Jackson watched from a window and laughed pretty hard at “Daddy fall down. “Daddy fall again”. As Jackson put it. He’d had enough by this time and had gone back inside.

I have a short story of n a collection called “The Depths of Love: an SFWG anthology” due out February 10th. I happen to know if you preorder the ebook and send a screenshot to the publisher, you are entered to win a paperback copy of any short story collection they’ve published.

Cloaked Press also has its 2021 edition of Spring Into SciFi coming later this month or first week of March. Currently accepting submissions for the first Summer of Speculation themed anthology as well. Catastrophe is the theme. All the details are on their website.

I’m hoping to get more updates here on the blog in the future. Maybe just a weekly check in with some more writing and family news as that’s my focus here. Thank you all for coming along on this crazy journey with me.

Decorating the mind…

A dear friend of mine shared a tweet that got me thinking. I’m sharing the tweet as I’ve tracked down the original author and followed him and his friend he mentions. It’s, to me at least, a very powerful way to look at two of the arts.

For myself, as I have trouble drawing stick figures, and my musical talents were left behind in high school band, I thought, how does this apply to me?

The answer became clear quickly. Writing is how we decorate the mind. Writers take a complex idea, and distill it down into words that, when ingested, fill a room within your mind, even if only for a little while.

Some of these keep these rooms throughout our life and they form a part of who we are. Perhaps they help us deal with a difficult or painful situation. Maybe they form a basis for how we react to something in our lives, or how we perceive justice or what we consider our moral right.

Writers entertain us, inform us, and, if we let them, teach us something. These lessons may be about our world, or just their world. But either way, they can leave this room within us, decorated with their words. With the emotions and images they co hire within us. These rooms are just as powerful as a master’s painting, or a composer’s magnum opus.

So if you’re a writer like me, don’t give up on your creations. Someone out there is waiting for you to decorate a room in their mind, whether they know it now or not.

38 years old…

June 16th, 2020, I turn 38. In two years I’ll be 40 and on the downhill slide as people look at it. If you’d asked me 20 years ago where I’d be, I never would have thought: married, three kids (one of which a teenager), and working in a factory. I’d hoped to be writing, which I am, but it would be nice to be sitting on a nice big publishing deal or something.

I got to my day job this morning and was talking to this new kid from third shift. I say kid because, turns out he’s 19. I’m officially twice the age of a coworker. The next milestone would be when there are coworkers younger than my kids.

So I made a comment about the music I was playing on the stereo and he mentioned he writes songs, music and lyrics, the whole nine yards. I asked him if he’s done anything with it and he got shy and said no. I instantly saw a flashback to when I started writing and never let anyone read or see any of it. I didn’t publish my first book until I was 32.

I told him this, and I said to him. Go for it. Don’t wait. Don’t waste years wishing you had tried it. Even if you lay down the tracks and post it to iTunes yourself. I told him about my cousins son who did this and actually made some money doing it.

I hope he took my advice and he goes home, dusts off those sheets of paper and gives it a try. I’m sure I’ll see him around. So I’ll try to keep encouraging him.

It’s a small thing but it made me feel good to talk to him and maybe help him a little. Something put him in my path today. Whether you believe in Fate or Karma or any of that stuff. I do, and I feel good about the conversation. My spirit and my drive to pursue my dreams is bolstered. I hope his is too.

See ya around Gentle Readers. Hopefully I have some news about Family Heritage Book 3 soon.

YouTube, Basketball, and Short Stories-February on a roll

Hello all. February has been a crazy month so far and it’s not over yet.

Emma (my 3yr old) has a YouTube channel now for all the adventures she gets up to. we also started a Facebook page and Instagram account. She’s really enjoying all her activities. Her mom and I are loving sharing our unique girl with the world. You can find her on YouTube at http://bit.ly/EmmasWorld

She’s already surpassed 100 likes on her Facebook page which is amazing. One of the best stories out of this so far has been tweeting with Ted Allen from Food Network’s Chopped. When she was just a few months old, Emma would stop and stare at the screen any time Ted talked. Now that she’s cooking on YouTube, I tweeted him telling him. He responded the next day, not once, but twice.

My oldest is rocking the basketball court and getting lots of playing time on Varsity as a freshman. Here he is taking the tip-off on the Junior Varsity game tonight. He then went down and scored the first two points of the game between either team.

#44- That’s mine…

Lastly for this update has to do with short stories. I’ve been working on a few the last few months and one of my favorite lines is from one dealing with the God of War )or lack there of) in my fantasy realm, Ezrahn.

Kreios was a General before he killed a demigod in self defense and became a Master of War. Now, as he learns why there is no centralized overseer of conflict, he discovers that it is his destiny to become the new God of War. With the help of the magical Emerson’s and armor that make up the powers of War, he sees that having the many demigod Masters, keeps the world in conflict far more than if there was the single God. After he strips the Armament and status of one of his fellow Masters of War, he says, “I am War, so that there can be Peace.” He then sends the now mortal Master Into the battle he was formally orchestrating. I can’t wait to share these stories once they are all done and bundled together. They’ve been a lot of fun to write.

Take care, keep writing, and I’ll be back soon my Gentle Readers.

Welcome to the Roaring 20s…

Hello all. It’s been a year and a half since I last posted so this one is going to be a bit long. Lots of big changes so I’m going o have updates in my Fatherhood, Writing, and Business aspects of my life. So break out the jazz music and brush up on your Charleston.

Fatherhood Updates

2018 ended with a bang as we welcomed a third child into our family. Jackson Warren Ferrell was born November 24th after a long labor. He wasn’t ready to leave mommy and he’s still a snuggler a year later.

Here he is a week ago beating me at his version of checkers.

His sister joined her older brother and her parents in wearing glasses this past November, just weeks before Jackson’s first birthday.

We built a snowman this week because Wisconsin got some great packing snow. Our Olaf didn’t last long as it warmed up enough the next day his head separated and had to be rebuilt.

My oldest child is a freshman in high school now. The only freshman (and only one other sophomore) that got consistent playing time on varsity football. He got his letter and pin for his jacket. He’s slowly earning more time with varsity on the basketball court as well.

Here he is during football season with his sister.

Three kids has been a huge adjustment for our family in terms of time management and trip planning. Thankfully my beautiful wife is a wizard at that aspect and manages to get us everywhere we need to be.

The challenge I’ve faced lately is trying to remember that Emma isn’t older than she is. There are times she says and does things that would lead one to believe she’s a lot older (maybe even a teenager in some ways). The next minute she’s melting down over something so minor (to us parents at least) and it hits you that she’s not quite four. She’s still figuring out how to handle her own emotions and feelings and navigate the world. It’s a work in progress for all of us at this stage.

Writing Updates

2019 was a good year. I joined a 365 Challenge on Facebook that really helped keep me accountable. I developed a much better writing routine through the groups founding principles of just 10 minutes a day. I drafted several pieces I’m still working on. I also finished and published my second novel, “Through Darkness to Light”. In addition I had a new cover done for book one to make them flow better.

You can click the images to be taken to the Amazon product page.

2020 is going to be bigger yet. I’m finally working on my high fantasy realm Ezrahn via short stories to build the world lore and flesh it out more. I’ll definitely be sharing snippets via my Facebook page and Twitter accounts so be sure you’re following me there.

Business Updates

Cloaked Press enters its third year in 2020. We’re launching Spring Into SciFi 2020 in February/March which will be our 6th short story collection. We also published our first stand alone novel, “To Visit Earth” by British author, Ian Hugh McAllister.

We redesigned our website recently to hopefully provide a better user experience. We also now offer editing services for authors on a budget. I feel our prices are very competitive for what we offer.

Our Kickstarter to expand into more single author novels, novellas and collections isn’t fairing so well and in its final hours is still a long way from being funded. We’ll still get there, just will take us longer to take in these projects.

I think that’s all for now. I hope you’re still with me and I look forward to sharing more of my journey as a Father, Author, Blogger, Publisher.

February 8th, 2018 Update – Fatherhood, upcoming projects, etc.

Hello my Gentle Readers. I just wanted to check in and let you all know how my 2018 is shaping up so far. We are more than a month in now and things are really hopping.

Cloaked Press, the publishing company I started last year, is turning 1 year old this month. We are launching our second short story collection, Spring Into SciFi 2018, on March 20th, 2018. (Obviously 2018, since it’s in the title. Haha). It’s very exciting. I’ll throw out the cover here, but if you’d like to get your hands on an ARC and get a chance to talk to some of the authors, then you can join the Launch Street Team.
spring into scifi EBOOK.jpg

I am woefully behind on my own writing projects. My demon infused novella has stalled out. Editing books 2 and 3 of my Family Heritage Series is taxing to say the least. I hate editing/revising. I just want it to be perfect when I bleed that first draft onto the pages, you know? Hopefully once I get Spring Into SciFi put to press, I’ll have more energy to devote to my personal projects.

I hope everyone has been enjoying the guest posts and the recent Meet The Author Monday interviews. I’d love to have more authors to feature on my blog, so if you know any that should be shared with the world, please send them my way. They can get the details on the Meet The Author Mondays Page.

Lastly, I want to tell a story about my daughter (who will be 2 in April). For at least the last 6 months, I have been the primary person to put my daughter to bed at night. I warm up a bottle of milk, we snuggle under a blanket in the recliner in her room that I bought for my wife when she was nursing. We have a tradition of her talking to Quack Quack, which is me making a shadow duck on her ceiling using my cellphone flashlight. She and Quack Quack talk about her day and then he gives her a “shadow smooch” and she finishes her milk. Normally, I would end up falling asleep in the chair with her and wake up a few hours later (usually when we both have turned into the furnace we become when we sleep). Then I could put her in her crib and go to my bed. I know this was a cause for dissatisfaction for my wife, as I didn’t get to come back and spend time with her before she went to bed. Lately that has all changed and my feelings are bittersweet about it. Our routine is slightly changed: warm bottle, snuggled in recliner with blanket, conversation with Quack Quack. The difference is when she finishes her bottle, she hands it to me, and says, “Done.” Then she will usually roll over like she is going to snuggle in, and immediately starts to kick the blanket off, telling me she’s, “Done”. If I ask her, “Are you ready for your bed?” She will tell me, “Yes. Done.” or “Night Night”. If I don’t move fast enough to put her in her bed, she gets quite upset with me.

I miss the snuggles, but I am grateful for the hour or two that I get back in the evening as it has helped me to get things ready for Spring Into SciFi, and actually get a little bit of editing done. Here is a recent picture of my little princess. She has her pajamas on still, but she put her mother’s snow boots on so she could take a sled ride with her grammy. (For the record we waited until later and had real snow worthy clothes on when the sled ride happened.)
emma1.jpg

On This Day – March 25th

Today, in 1955, the US Government launched the first volley in its latest attempts at censorship by seizing 520 copies of “Howl” based on obscenity charges.

The poet was Allen Ginsberg.
allenginsberg

I confess that I never had the pleasure of reading Howl. I must have been living under a rock to have also missed the 2010 movie. Hopefully I can find it on Netflix or something. As for the poem, I was able to find parts 1 and 2 on Poets.org

This is some powerful stuff from a generation that shouted against the conventional norms of the time. To speak so openly about drugs and sex brought the ire of the conservatives in power at the time. To think just 60 years ago. what Ginsberg wrote was considered so horribly obscene that it required a governmental assault to try and keep it away from the public.  Now we have things like Miley Cyrus and parents taking their 8 year olds to see R rated films. Have we become so desensitized to shock that we laugh at this instead of the horror expressed just 60 years ago.

I ask you my Gentle Readers, did we lose sight somewhere along the way of the creative art and simply keep escalating the shock value in our work? When did we stop pushing the envelope and start napalming it? I know it might sound hypocritical for me to applaud Ginsberg but condemn Cyrus. However, I am not sure that we can put them in the same category. What is the purpose of Cyrus acting as she did? Maybe it is hypocritical of me.  Maybe I should stop this trainwreck while I have some shred of credibility as an artist left.

Keep pushing the envelope my Gentle Readers, but have a purpose. Be opening the eyes of closeminded people, not just seeking attention for shock value. Until next time. Live well, Write well, Be well.

On This Day – March 11th 2016

Today in 1818, a legendary icon of literature and horror was born. Mary Shelley, just 21 at the time, published her masterpiece, Frankenstein.
maryshelley.jpeg

To think, at 21 she created a work of fiction that will surely last well beyond its 200 year anniversary that is coming up in 2018. Countless printings and cinema editions have been produced from this single piece of literature. The number of appearances by her creation in television is testament to its enduring appeal to the masses.

I have always been familiar with the book, having read it multiple times in my youth. I never realized then that she was only 21 at the time of publication. It seems unreal. She had to have been a truly amazing young woman. I have trouble picturing myself at 21 being ready to put forth anything of its like.

I wonder what she would tell today’s youth about success and having dreams. When most youth here in the states are thinking about the day they can legally buy alcohol (I know not all but it was something we all thought about), she was publishing her first, and greatest novel. Not only was she young, but she was a woman in the 1800s. Women had fewer rights in those days. They were often viewed as little more than property to the patriarch of their family. Property to be sold off to the highest bidder, or for the most political gain. Then they would be treated as property by their new husband. Mary seemed lucky in that regard to have truly married for love.

Fortune did not come easily in her lifetime. Tragedy also struck as most of her children did not survive into adulthood. She lived most of her life on a small stipend from her father-in-law, until her one surviving son came into his inheritance and title.

What we should take from Mary’s story my Gentle Readers is to never give up. If a young woman in the 1800s could create such an enduring classic piece of literary history, then there is hope for us to eke out a space on the shelf nearby. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.