February already?!?!?!

How does this happen? We are already a month into the new year. I feel like I just woke up from the sensory/family overload of the holidays. Oh wait, that’s cause I spent this last weekend at an indoor water park, sharing a villa with my wife’s entire family (Parents, brothers and sister, plus their spouses and kids). All told we had 19 people in this spacious 5 bedroom, three story house. It worked, on a lot of levels, but it was also… well, crowded isn’t the right word. I’m going to miss everyone and wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, but I am glad to be home.

I finished a beta read of a thriller novel this past week and managed to get my word count in on my own projects. This week I need to focus on getting Spring Into SciFi 2020 ready for betas. This means I have to cut two more submissions to hit the magic number of 13. I’ve whittled it down to 15, three of which are already confirmed accepted for publication. This is the worst part of my job doing this, because I don’t like sending rejection letters. Sometimes you get an easy one, the person sent in something way outside the submissions guidelines (way too short, way too long, or the one guy who sent me erotica when I specifically point it out as not what is wanted for these collections). Most of the time, however, there are great stories and I just don’t have the room/funding to publish them all. So 13 is our magic number and we’re cutting down to that this week. Updates will come via the company’s website (http://www.cloakedpress.com) , and social media platforms.

I’ve been looking into ways to improve my editing skills, not only for myself but to utilize this within the business and for friends/critiquing. I think I’m going to look into some EFA courses, and possibly this online coursework through San Diego Extension. Will just have to figure out the funding for either/both of those avenues. I could probably file for a student loan for the San Diego stuff, but I don’t know how the wife will take that. We’re trying to cut debt, not create more.

Anyway… I’ll leave you with a snippet from one of my short stories I’ve written recently. “The Blacksmith” originally was supposed to be about a group called the Highwaymen, that protect merchant caravans, or retrieve stolen goods, for a price, within the Realm of Ezrahn. As I wrote it, it became more about a young man who wanted to be an adventurer, but found all the adventure he could handle right in his own hometown.

***

“The Highwaymen? Are you out of your mind, boy?” the older man said. “Take it from Old Sawyer, you don’t want to get mixed up with they’re mercenaries. That’s no life for a young man. Selling your soul for a bit of coin. No. You’d be best to go marry that blacksmith’s daughter who fancies you. Learn her father’s trade and make babies. That’s my advice.” Old Sawyer drank deeply from his tankard. “Fetch me another round, if you please.” He tossed the young man a gold coin.

Gareth stared at the coin a moment. It wasn’t often gold showed up in his little town. Silver, sure, especially when the merchants passed through. The shiny metal mesmerized him.

“Boy,” came Old Sawyer’s voice, breaking the coin’s spell. “Get me a bowl of that stew I smell as well. A half loaf of good warm bread should go nicely. Do that, and you can keep the change.”

Some much needed family time…

This past week afforded me the opportunity to recharge my mental batteries with some much needed family time. My day job as a logistical wizard had been overly taxing of late, leaving me little time to deal with the tedious process of re-editing my first book, editing the second, or completing the draft of my third.

Wednesday – I got up first in my household, as usual. I took my vehicle in for its overdue oil change as soon as the shop was open. As we had a trip to Chicago planned I wanted to have it get the full treatment from a professional. Coming home a bare 20 minutes later, I went to work straightening up our messy kitchen. The trash also had to go out as it was collection day in our village. I then cooked scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast for the family. Once I had it ready to hit the table, I went to wake up my wife and son, who were still sleeping. After breakfast, my wife took over the cleaning in the house while I broke out our riding lawn mower to cut our grass. It was looking decidedly shaggy. My son joined me outside to take the trimmer to the dog kennel. The grass was taller than our little Shih-tzu but I cannot get the riding mower through the gate to cut it that way. A trip to the recycling center for our weekly deposit completed the major chores for the day. My wife had our bag packed to go out to our camper on the lake. An afternoon of swimming, cards, and cooking out ended my Wednesday on a very high note. The dogs even enjoyed some time in the water.

Thursday – We were up, not quite with the sun but still a decent hour. We packed up the campsite. We took the dogs to my wife’s parents house where they would be staying for the next few days. A quick trip home for real showers and a change of clothes had us off and running to Chicago for the rest of our family vacation. After shocking my wife with how calm I was in Chicago traffic (normally she feels the need to premedicate to handle my road rage) we checked into our hotel. Thursday night was spent cheering the Black and White Knight at Medieval Times Schaumburg. I am proud to say that after 3 trips, we finally picked a winner. The food was tasty as always. I admit to having two of their “Executioner” drinks (Southern Comfort, and two flavors of Fat Tuesday mix). I don’t remember which ones. Then it was back to the hotel to relax and get some sleep for our Friday excursions.

Friday – The Brookfield Zoo outdid itself this year. They added a new bird exhibit full of parakeets. For a couple bucks you can purchase this little stick with food on it. The birds will land on the stick, your hand, or whatever they can to get at the sticks. The coolest thing was when I had three of them between the stick and my hand fighting over who got the food. Once in awhile something spooks them and the several hundred birds all take flight at once and did figure eights around the building. I am not sure what it was that spooked them, but it was impressive to see them all flying in formation like a fighter bomber squadron. Luckily all three of us escaped without getting pooped on. We made a trip to the Lego store, a must whether you are 10 (like my son) or 33 (like me). We finished up at Bahama Breeze restaurant in Schaumburg. I HIGHLY recommend checking out their Creole Shrimp Rice bowl. DELICIOUS!!!  We headed back to the hotel with full bellies, but my son insisted he needed to hit the pool. I sat in the corner in my near food coma while he swam and played in the water.

Saturday – Bristol Ren Faire on the Wisconsin/Illinois border. Always good for people watching. Some of the costumes are pretty fantastic. We watched a whip cracker show where he actually did flaming whips. When he made a joke about accidents happening (revealing the bald head under his hat) he picked me out of the crowd to say “This guy knows what I am talking about, right?” I just laughed and nodded in agreement with him. We also saw the first joust of the day. Our knight, Sir Maximillion, won. This makes twice in three days we picked a winner. I should have bought a lottery ticket. The heat was oppressive, so after a little shopping, we decided to grab some ice cream and head home. I was disappointed with the vendor as we ordered three strawberry waffle cones, but only received 2 and a half. When the third one arrived, decidedly lacking in as much ice cream as the first two. I started to question it. The lady ignored me and called for the next customer. I had been pretty calm so far. Not frustrated or raging at the idiotic driving on the IL Tollway, but this lady almost wore the ice cream. I can proudly say I chose to take a breath and just walk quickly towards the exit before I caused a scene. My wife and son followed at a safe distance, knowing I was not in a good mood. We cruised on home, after stopping to pick up the pups from in-law’s house. My wife and son have decided we are definitely dressing up the next time we go to the Faire.

Sunday – we relaxed till afternoon, did a little shopping and then watched some evening TV. We did begin dismantling and painting two of my son’s NERF guns so they can be redesigned into a “steampunk” style as part of his costume for the Faire (as well as Halloween this year).

Definitely just what I needed to recharge from work. Today has been calmer in the office. The boss is away. Maybe I can get some edits done on something today. Keep fighting the fight my friends.