Daddy/Jackson Day 9/20/2021

Today did not start out the way I would have liked. My youngest decided at 1am he was up. Wife had to work so it was up to Dad to take him downstairs and try to get him wound down.

Flash forward about 4 hours and I finally get him in his bed. I go back to mine to find my 5yr old has invaded. Dad hooks back into his cpap machine (yes I’ve been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea). About an hour later I have to get up and get kids ready for school. I send off the older two to school, wife to work, and I finally get another hour or so of sleep, albeit with Jackson sleeping on my arm.

Caffienating as I drive, we make it to our joint chiropractor appointment. I get adjusted and then it’s Jackson’s turn. It’s like he flipped a switch and became the most well behaved not quite 3 year old you’d ever meet.

A little facial massage to help open his sinuses.

We then managed to negotiate shopping at Walmart in record time, only missing one item, because they were out of it.

Successful shopping trip: Check

I would say, never argue with a child about what you McDonald’s has, because even if you’re right, you’re wrong. I told him they didn’t have dinosaur toys, he insisted they did. He ended up with Lion King’s Simba.

Lunch home and nap: in that order. Dad would have loved to get a nap too, but sadly I had things to do. He looked well rested when he got up later.

No pictures, please.

In the store, he’d tried to put two bags of mini powdered donuts in the cart. We compromised on one, in addition to the promised box of candy he got for being a good boy all day. For snack time before bed, he swore to me he didn’t pick out the candy that he did, Jolly Rancher Sour Gummies.

Instead, he chose to have two donuts “I need one for each hand”. And a third to give to Mommy “They are her favorite, I know”.

That’s when I was betrayed. He said he wanted more. Dad said no. Mom told Jackson to get the kitchen stool so he could reach them off the back of the counter where I had put them.

Celebrating his victory with additional donuts.

It’s clear the gauntlet had been thrown. The coup has begun. Dad is going to be overthrown as King of the House.

Who am I kidding?

Dad hasn’t been King since at least Empress Emma was born. I’m just a puppet. Dancing upon the strings.

Moral of the Day: Maybe, just maybe, the kid needs a facial massage and chiropractor appointment to keep the sassy away.

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.

Teen Driver In the House

Teen Driver In the House

I wanted to write this post two weeks ago, but a combination of the holidays and no small amount of procrastination has delayed these thoughts. My oldest officially became a licensed driver the week before Christmas.

I’m immensely proud of the young man he’s becoming. Sure there are still some things he does that annoy me, but isn’t that all teenagers?

He was given the task, to get his license, that he had to get his grades up. This half virtual learning path has been a struggle. It’s certainly not what any of us would have chosen for his sophomore year, but he keeps rolling with the setbacks: a shortened football season, several complete virtual weeks, and now disruptions to his basketball season. He’s handling better than I probably would have at his age. I doubt I tell him I’m proud of him enough. But hopefully, it shows.

With his license has come some freedom to come and go as he pleases. And with his sister in 4K during a Wisconsin winter, it’s wonderful that he can take her to school with him and she’s safe and taken care of. Emma really enjoys riding with Teta and has asked him to pick her up after school when he doesn’t have practice.

To fund his newfound freedom, he’s taken the initiative to apply for jobs. I’m proud of him that he sought out and negotiated a job that will work around his sports schedule. He has orientation this weekend and gets to start right away in the afternoon.

I’ll admit I’ve been nervous about this whole situation, but he’s been an amazing driver with his mom and I during his learning period. I can’t wait to hear about his first day of work and all the life lessons he’s going to experience as he enters this phase of life.

Teta, Your dad is very proud of you. Keep striving for your goals and I know you’ll become a great man.

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.

2016 is here…

Hello Gentle Readers. I thought in the midst of everyone’s New Year Resolution posts I would just add my own commentary.

2015 was a rollercoaster mixed with a hurricane. It came and left in a hurry. My literary and blogging goals stalled out for much of the year. I did manage to put a novella into the hands of a new friend for editing. She also took a look at my first novel and found some much needed grammatical and word usage problems that have made my work better. I failed to participate in NaNoWriMo, but that’s alright. The pressure would probably make me give up anyway.

On the fatherhood front I assisted my son’s baseball team and coached football. Coaching sports when I am clearly not a sports person was an experience in learning. The kids all seemed to have fun and we made it through the season without too many problems. My family will also be welcoming a new addition sometime in late April (if all goes according to plan). The prep work on the nursery has been tiring, but in a good way. My wife and I have decided to not find out the gender until the birth. This appears to be a growing trend according to our doctor. This new chapter in my journey as a parent is overwhelming at times. As of December 31st, we had “crossed the finish line” as our doctor says. Now if there is any premature labor, the baby is viable to survive. That means my family is definitely going to have an 11year old, and a newborn. The greatest part of these doctor visits has been hearing the heartbeat of a little person I helped create. We are also far enough along that I can feel the baby move and kick.

I have become obsessed with the Mackelmore and Lewis song, Growing Up (Sloane’s Song). I usually start my drive to work with it on and it is the last song I play before I pull into the drive at night. It has been my motivation to become a better person for the sake of both of my children. This means working on my temper and getting myself in better shape. I know, everyone makes resolutions to be healthier in the new year. However, I have managed to lose just over 30 pounds in the last 6 months. My goal is another 20-30 the first 6 months of this year. This will put me lighter than I have been since junior high. I have been quite pleased with my self control because I was warned that husbands typically put on some “sympathy weight” when their wives are pregnant. I have managed to stay constant the last two months.

I am also ecstatic over the new home office I am setting up in a spare bedroom in my home. I just have a carpet remnant to put down, and a corner shelving unit to buy or build (pending approval from my wife on design) and then I can really get to work on my literary endeavors. The space will be conducive to working on any project requiring some privacy and space to spread out notes/reference materials. There is even a section where my son (and future children) can work on homework or arts/crafts, without interfering with my work.

I suppose it is time for a few goals and resolutions for the year.
1 – I want to finish the rewrite/editing of my first book so that the improved second edition can be released.
2 – I want to self pub my novella (still in the editing phase).
3 – I want to finish, edit, and self pub my the second book in my Family Heritage series this year.
4 – I would like to make some major progress on my high fantasy (think Tolkien) series. I have the skeleton of a realm, deities, antagonists/protagonists. Just have to finish plotting and then get to work fleshing out the stories. I haven’t quite figured out if it will be a series of short stories/novellas, or if each set of characters will end up in their own full blown novel. Since they will also overlap I have to make sure my outlines are complete for consistency.
5 – I plan to get myself down in weight before summer. I have at least the 20-30 to lose that I want to, so from there I will evaluate what I still can lose healthily.
6 – I want to blog at least once a week, if not more often. I will be looking for topics to discuss. As part of this I want to do at least 2 book reviews a month. I need to get a submission page setup for anyone interested in having me review their work.
7 – It would be nice to put together a book of poetry as well. I have a notebook almost full and a thumb drive with a few dozen from when I was younger. Just not sure if I have enough that would be of interest to others. The ones I have blogged here have received favorable reviews so perhaps there is potential in others as well.
8 – I want to bring down and gain a better handle on my temper. I am not a homicidal maniac, but there are times where a cooler head would be a better face to present. I have noticed my son picking up some of my habits and I hope that if I can break my cycle, I can help him to not struggle like I have.

I wish everyone else luck with their goals for 2016. This year has an extra day in it (Leap year and all). I think I am going to need it. HA HA! Until next time Gentle Readers.

It’s been awhile… (6/7/15)

It has been some time since I wrote anything. The book reviews and author interview of the past week were scheduled several weeks earlier as part of a blog tour I participated in. I swear I have not been completely idle. I managed to catch up on several weeks of posts by the lovely people I follow, leaving comments/likes and reblogging a few that I found particularly useful to share.

I have managed to finish the first draft and first revision run through of my novella based on a freaky dream I had over a month ago. Now is the time to put it away and come back to it in a few weeks. Some elements nag at me a little but I need to wait and see if it is just jitters over sharing my work with anyone else. It took me YEARS to share my novel I published last year.

I have engaged in collecting pictures/quotes and links from writer groups I joined on Facebook. I wonder if my phone is going to fill up on pictures or books I have downloaded to it. I have collected at least 8 books for my To Be Read pile that I hope to get to over a campfire some evening this summer.

I have been highly active with my son’s 10U (aged 10 and under) baseball league team. I have been acting as assistant coach during practices and third base coach during games. It has been a wonderful experience. The kids have taught me a lot about myself and how to interact with my son. This Fatherhood gig never ceases to amaze me or teach me new lessons.

I have completed several Fiverr gigs, but thinking that freelancing editing is not going to make me money to supplement my writing or my day job. All it is doing is taking precious time away from my own creative pursuits with not enough return on investment. Elance, and its new name Upwork, have both proven to be a bust and a waste of time. It seems the people posting jobs have no idea the time investment to provide what they are asking for. Seriously, who accepts $50 to ghostwrite 30K words you are never able to claim any credit for? Especially when it needs to be published/polished and ready for publication to get paid. If I put that kind of time into it, I am going to publish it under my own name and collect all the royalties for myself. I don’t care if it is erotica/romance, which doesn’t normally appeal to me as something to write. I am more of a Science Fiction/Fantasy kind of guy. Even so, $50 or even some of the $80 ones are not worth submitting ove 30K published and polished words. More power to the ones that are willing to take those jobs.

To that end, I have the beginnings of 2 more manuscripts that I need to research, outline and start writing. Going to be a busy summer as hopefully I will have my second book back from the editors in the next few weeks. Then it will be time for a round of beta readers to polish it off and get some feedback before launching it. I still need to get a cover designed and write a blurb.

The last few weeks have also seen my wife’s baby brother graduate High School. To have watched him grow over the past 5 years has been a wonderful experience. He is hilarious and very talented. He leaves in about 3 weeks for an acting school in Los Angeles. One day he is going to star in major movies.

This past Thursday contained a new first for me. I saw my first professional baseball game live and in person. Remember, I am not a sports person so while baseball is America’s pastime, this should not come as a shock to any of my readers. My son earned a ticket for meeting his reading goals this year at school. The team is a Class A affiliate so it wasn’t true major league baseball. However, the smaller stadium and more family friendly atmosphere made for some entertaining hi-jinks in between innings. We had a lot of fun and got home much later than I would have preferred since I had to be at my day job early Friday morning. It was worth it to spend the time with my son.

This weekend began our summer of camping and last night I had my first beer around the campfire at the lake lot we spend our summers on. What a great way to reconnect with some of my extended family. Laughs were shared by all.

I suppose it is time to wrap up my day at the office. Thanks for sticking around through my absence folks. I will try to have something more for you to read in the near future. In the meantime, keep fighting the fight, whatever your personal battles may be.

A three year itch…

I have come to a realization in the last couple days. I am approaching a milestone in my professional life where I have held the EXACT same position/job title for the longest in my life. I started my professional career as an Internet Tech Support at the tender age of 17. While my role expanded to include server admin, webmaster, sales, and hardware repair/installation, I was only with the small company 2.5 years before I was laid off. 8 months later the company went under. My next job was a temp at a cold rolled steel plant performing quality auditing and maintaining records for ISO standards. I was there a year before I moved from Ohio to Wisconsin. I enjoyed the job, but I could not spend my entire life as a temp. They would not hire me on as a real employee and give me proper benefits, so I had to move on. I did some customer service at one of those big office complexes before landing a job with a national trucking company. I went from being the one that the drivers called for assistance, to dispatching the trucks during my 4 year tenure there. Again, a lay off ended that job. I have been with my current employer almost 6 years now. The first few years though, I bounced around a lot. I started on night shift, went into a pseudo leadership role on night shift, before coming to day shift in one region. I have been a lead dispatch in my current region since August of 2011. This marks the longest I have been settled anywhere in my entire life.

I don’t know exactly why I am writing this, but I am hoping that by putting it down it will stop swirling in my head so I can get back to my novella and novels I am working on. Or some poetry. I might have a few lines of verse hiding in the dark corners, waiting to come out and play. I do know that I am finding annoyance with many things in my current role. Doesn’t mean I am going to be changing jobs or anything, just that little things are starting to bother me a little and I am speaking out more about these items. Change is good, and my region that I cover needs some changes, needs to grow and become better. We have been mired in a rut for years before I came to the area and those mentalities need to change. I have been trying to influence where I can, but when you are not the sole person in charge, it takes longer than it should to modify the attitude and climate.

Anyway, I don’t think this is a post anyone will really care about, but I had to put it down to get it out of my head. Almost like the therapy of writing a journal. Keep fighting the fight friends.