Just Finished Reading – Duma Key

Duma KeyDuma Key by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been quite a while since the last time I read a novel on the scale of Duma Key. At well over seven hundred pages in length, it’s not a read for the feint of heart. To tell the truth, that is about the only aspect of it that seems daunting, or perhaps even a touch terrifying. Don’t get me wrong, the story is well written with a depth to it the hints at the way a painter layers on glaze after glaze of color to bring a painting to life.

There’s a hint of Lovecraft in Duma Key, in the telling and the story’s soul. It follows three distinct time frames: the story of a little girl as she’s recovering from a head injury, the story Edgar Freemantle rebuilds his life after a debilitating accident, and the time of the narrator, who also happens to be Edgar. The first two tie together in an intertwining thread that follows Edgar and the little girl’s journey to rediscover themselves, sometimes literally, through art. But both paths move past the mundane application of shape and form into something… else. The time of the narrator foreshadows, sometimes almost too much, what is to come. Of course, this is a Stephen King novel, so any mention of something happening to a character is likely an ill portent to say the least.

Overall, I would say this is a good read and would definitely recommend it. There are definitely scarier stories out there, and more horrifying, but sometimes that’s the point.

View all my reviews

The Erasable Man

The Erasable Man has been out for just about a month now and has already received it’s publicly posted review! It’s not all roses, but you can’t please every reader out there no matter what you do. It’s also interesting to look at Kindle analytics data:

Another little marketing experiment I gave a try was Watch it Boil. The whole idea is to sit back and watch as someone writes peoples comments on little pieces of paper and drops them into boiling water. That’s it! So, I sent the guy two copies of the book, one to keep and one to boil 😉 It was fun to see!

Last but not least: I’ve had a giveaway running on Goodreads for the last month that finished up sometime last night.  Of course, the moment  I try to check it this morning, I get:

Of course the site would be down right when I’m trying to look at it. Ah well. I did finally come up and I’ve got a list of ten winners out one thousand two hundred and nine people.  Over a thousand people wanted to put an eyeball martini on their bookshelf! Wow, of course, I only have ten copies to give away right now. The rest of you poor souls will have to actually buy one. Hey! An author’s got to buy their coffee somehow. As another.  (One thousand two hundred and nine people, that’s still amazing to me!).

Of course, now it’s time for me to pull the ten books down from the shelf, get the signed and personalized and in mailers for the ten stiffs lucky enough to win one!

The Erasable Man RC-Final!

And here we go!

– Lauri

It’s finally done! Yet not quite. Just yesterday (that being the 6th) finished a read through of The Erasable Man, hopefully for the last time before it’s released. I cut the new eupb/mobi last night and pushed a new PDF to CreateSpace for the paperback. Not I get to play the waiting game to see if Amazon thinks there’s anything I’ve horribly screwed up. I’m well in advance of the June 30th release data set for the e-book so things are looking pretty good for the paperbacks being released at the same time. Keep an eye out for more updates.

The Erasable Man

I’ve finished the last read through of The Erasable Man! Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m done by a long shot. There are some minor edits to attend to in the master, a few changes to the layout ( like page one being on the right hand side of the book rather than on the left) and then I’ll have this thing ready to go! If you follow me over on Facebook, I posted a link to pre-order for the E-Book version.  Still need to update the blurb text there ….

Some More Painting


This started out with a picture I found over on Pixabay that seemed like it might be interesting to give a shot. There were a couple of things I tried differently here than than the last painting I did. Namely, I used a proportional divider to and charcoal to lay the image out on the canvas rather than a tracing, and used WMOs again rather than acrylic.

Incidentally, I’m reasonably certain that I don’t like Golden Open acrylics. They seem to get into this “tacky” stage that persists for a very long time and makes it very easy to mistakenly pull up previous layers of paint. I might be able to get used to them and figure out how to use them, but more than likely I’m going to stick with the oils or straight acrylics instead.


Here’s another one that I spent a huge chunk of time on:

This one turned out amazing, but took me a month of painting sessions to finish up! It will likely be a while before I do another stint quite that long on a single piece.  Still, I’m happy with the way it turned out and will hopefully be able to get this one framed pretty soon.

On to writing!

I’ve had The Erasable Man back for nearly a month now and I’m about half way through my re-read after editing. The current plan is to finish this read up and send if off for a second round of beta reads. I might look into a follow up editing via Silvia’s Reading Corner if I have the spare cash by then. We’ll just have to see.

Until next time!

Water Mixable Oils

About Midnight last night I completed my first foray into water mixable oil paints, in particular Lukas Berlin paints. My “studio” is presently a garage with little to no ventilation and no good means of adding any so standard oil paints and traditional thinners/solvents are quite out of the question. Plus, the idea of being able to clean up with little more than water, oil, and soap is very attractive. They have a longer drying time than Acrylics, which is nice for somethings but kind of annoying for others. In particular, I now have to figure out where the heck to keep this thing until it drys completely!

Overall, I think the paints are an interesting alternative to Acrylics. I also have the distinct impression that the small tubes of Berlin paint will go a good deal further than a similar sized acrylic tube. If you decide to play with them, make sure to pick up a bottle of Lukas’ modified water mixable linseed oil to go along with your set. They say that you can use water to thin the paints, which is true, but everything I’ve read seems to indicate that water thinning can be a hit or miss prospect. The modified linseed oil seems to do the trick quite well though!

On to the good part! This painting started I shot by Sandie Bell over on Paint My Photo as a reference. If you’re a photographer or an artist I’d recommend giving the site a chance. They have a large collection of royalty free photos for use as reference material for physical medium artwork (i.e. paint, pencils, pastels, etc. but no digital stuff). You need an account to login and see the reference, but they’re free and I haven’t run into anything overly obnoxious with the site as yet.

The painting itself took me three sessions to complete. My schedule allows for two to three hours in a late evening session during the week. Since the last session was a Friday night, I’ve probably got about eight-ish hours in the painting itself.

1st Night Progress

I did the base drawing by tracing over an enlarged printout of the photo with some carbon paper underneath. That gave me some very light lines to start with that I went over with white charcoal pencil to make them more visible. My tendency to write with an extremely light touch and a dark canvas left them almost invisible otherwise. That first night I had a good handle on the blacks (all chromatic), shoreline, water, and the main boat in the center.

2nd Night Progress

The second night, I finished off five of the other boats and did a little rework of the water and shoreline in the background. This is where I discovered that the Berlin paints become touch dry amazingly fast. From what I’ve been told, I was expecting them to still be pretty “damp” but it turns out they were too dry to work on their own. A little extra medium (modified linseed oil) and paint seemed to do the trick though. As a note, it was only the paints on the canvas that were dry, the stuff on my palette was still pretty workable.

Final Night Progress

And here it is, finished! I had a little trouble with some of the thinner paint globs on my palette being drying this time. Of course, I wasn’t doing anything special to keep them from drying out so that is probably to be expected. Since this was on a stretched canvas rather than a canvas board, I took all the left over paint and mixed up a big glob of “palette mud” and used it as an edge cover.  Unfortunately, no I have to protect the thing for the three months or so it takes for the paint to cure enough to varnish. Which is why I’ll probably be doing acrylics for a while, at least until I can come up with a good strategy for dealing with drying oil paintings.

On other notes, TEM is coming along nicely.  I’ve been working with a beta reader I ran into over on Good Reads doing a manuscript exchange. So far, we’re about half way through both works and well on the way to getting this editing cycle finished. There’s also a scheduled beta read with a professional editor (Silvia’s Reading Corner) that should provide some valuable insights as well. If all of that goes well, then it’s on to figuring out a more formalized publishing strategy. So, still a ways out, making progress!

Finishing the Blue Door

Here’s a fun one that came out of following along with The Art Sherpa. In particular, the Blue Door tutorial and follow up. I got it up to this point:

Then took a shot at the stucco effect, minus the stucco effect medium. Mainly because I didn’t happen to have any on hand.  Well, that got a little away from me though.


That was a few days ago. Tonight I re-added a few of the bricks and went on with the second part of the tutorial. (Temporally it was the first part, but what the hey ;). In the end it came out about like so:


On other topics, the beta read of The Erasable Man is coming along nicely, but slowly. If all goes well, the book will be ready for publishing sometime early next year.

TEM and A New Hobby

I haven’t said much since the completing the first draft of The Resurrectionist, mainly because I’ve been spending my time editing The Erasable Man and working the day job. As of Friday this week, I have ~50600 words of TEM edited (that’s relying on Scrivener’s compile filter to pick out the completed sections). There’s probably about 10~15k left to edit and a few new scenes to add before I’m willing to call this version done, which will hopefully be sometime in the next month or so.

There’s about an hour to two hours a day that I can effectively write, assuming all the stars align properly.  In actuality, that’s broken up between my bus ride into work in the morning and what time I can prune out of my lunch hour. By the evening ride home, my brain isn’t very usable for working on the written word.  But, I’ve discovered something else that is just different enough from writing (words and code) to not add to my exhaustion and still in the creative vein.

About a week ago, my wife pointed out a Painting With A Twist event happening on a weekend and we decided to give it a shot. She’d been to several of these before hand and I hadn’t picked up a paint brush since middle school. That led to this:


Which finally turned into:


It was fun to play around with and got me thinking … Overall, the picture wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t too happy with the polka dot ground. The entire process wasn’t that tricky to pull off either, six colors of paint (if I remember correctly …) two brushes, canvas, an easel, something to use as a palette, and a little time. More or less. So, I blew some money at the local craft store and came up with this:


Yeah, I was even less happy with that one, the water effect didn’t quite work out and I overdid the clouds a bit, but it was a start. Now I had the equipment and decided to play around a bit and spend a little too much time watching Bob Ross on Netflix.

That led to:


And then too:


Where my wife thought the waterfall was a little unnatural looking so I did this:


And last night to:


Which is sort of based on a Bob Ross composition (finally found the channel on YouTube ).  I wouldn’t call any of it particularly good (heck I’ve only been playing for a week!) but it’s interesting to work through and who knows where it will ultimately lead. Plus, it’s pulling me away from less productive forms of procrastination that were eating into my semi-non-productive time anyhow.

Keep your eyes out for the next update.  My current plan is to have TEM ready to go by late December to Early January. Or at least be well done with this draft by then and handing it off to someone else to edit.  We’ll see if I make it!

The Resurrectionist – Hurry Up and Wait!

The last word on that last page of a manuscript always brings a sense of relief and, if not a feeling of satisfaction, at least a sense of “Thank goodness that’s over!” Well, at least that’s where I find myself after writing those closing lines— which I’m almost never happy with— and where I found myself yesterday afternoon at about 4:30 pm give or take a few.


Ok. Let’s be realistic about this. What really happened yesterday is the completion of a 51,609 word manuscript that is in serious, serious need of editing and beta reading! Unfortunately, that means the game right now is hurry up and wait” while the manuscript steeps on a shelf and I switch back to other projects for a while. I don’t plan on taking King’s advice to the letter and letting it sit for 6 months, but my brain definitely needs some time away from it before I can edit the thing.

In the mean time, here are a few pictures of what a 51k manuscript actually looks like, printed out, sectioned into chapters, and stuffed into a 1.5″ binder.


Pruned Cover Page


Beginning of a random chapter, eight in this case.


Binder on from the edge


Top left corner of last page

And yes, those image files are probably way, way too big, but hey, I’m a writer not a designer! 😉

This is the fourth full on “novel” manuscript that I’ve written, and very probably that second fastest one I’ve turned out a draft too.  The story idea itself was floating around in the back of my mind for nearly a year, and I could never quite get it straightened out in such a way to get it off the ground. Of all the things I expected to help, Scrivener turned out to be what I needed— not that I used half of the feature set that monster provides.  Well, that and the Nine Day Novel by Steve Windsor. He has a whole series of books on techniques for writing fast and the things that requires. Now, by his standards, Resurrectionist was written at a snails pace (10k a day, wholly crap! I’m lucky to get 800 words a day!), but the logic and techniques themselves are quite valid. Plus the books are fun to read through as well. I’d highly recommend heading over to Literature and Latte and grabbing their free trial. Then, heading over to Amazon and grabbing Nine Day Novel and Nine Day Outlining (you get a much better example of how the outlining process works with that one than the first so start there if that’s all you need).

And now, it’s back to editing! Maybe I can get The Erasable Man turned into something worth reading after all!


PS. I do plan on doing a more detailed write up on my thoughts about Scrivener here sometime soon.

The Scorpion and the Mouse

I’ve started on a new writing project while I’m waiting one The Erasable Man to percolate around in the back of my brain. Hopefully, but the time that I get this one planed out and ready to go I’ll have stepped back enough from TEM that I can get back into the game do a decent job of editing. (i.e. I’m planning to let it sit for at a couple of weeks before picking it back up again.)

In the mean time, I picked up a story idea that’s been floating around in my head for a year or so that I couldn’t quite get moving. I’ve also been re-reading through some of Steve Windsor’s Nine Day Novel books and trying to actually plan the story out this time, assuming the characters and settings will cooperate with me.

This story will also diverge from my normal technique in that I’m taking a deeper look at Scrivener through their 30 day trial version. At least, I’m diving in with it for the planning and rough draft phases of the project to see what it can do. To be fair, Scrivener feels like an IDE for writers and I have a distinct aversion to most IDEs and IDE like things when writing software. There are a couple of exceptions, but those exceptions usually deal with languages that are so cumbersome to work in without an IDE that you’d be nuts to use them otherwise. Plus Scrivener isn’t exactly cheap as far as software goes. Of course, it isn’t overly expensive either.

In any event, this little bit of prose is something I came up with as a prolog for the new story. I hope you like it:

The Scorpion and The Mouse

Chris S.

Once upon a time there was a young scorpion who was hungry and looking about for something to eat. The young scorpion spotted a mouse watching from the shadows and decided that mouse seemed a tasty morsel for one such as itself, a mighty hunter with a sting beyond comparison.

The scorpion looked at the mouse and said, “I see you hiding there in the shadows. Come out where I can see you plainly.”

Now the mouse was an old and wise mouse who had experienced many things in his days and knew the ways of other creatures. He knew of their nature and proclivities even better than many of them knew themselves.

“You are a scorpion, a very young scorpion at that,” said the mouse, “and I am an aging and feeble mouse. The years ride heavy upon my greying whiskers. What business do you have with one, such as I, who is not of your kind.”

“Oh wise one,” answered the scorpion. “I seek the wisdom of your age for, as you have rightly seen, I am but a young scorpion with little experience of the world. Please, come out of the shadows and share your wisdom with one such as I.”

“Do not be hasty young one. Why seek my wisdom?” asked the mouse. “Are there not others of your kind about?”

“Oh wise one,” replied the scorpion. “There are none such as yourself among my kind and even among us the news of your great wisdom has spread such that our elders wish to seek you out, though none have been so lucky as to find you.”

“Indeed, your elders are wise to seek one such as I,” said the mouse, though he did not move.

“Yes,” said the scorpion. “Are you sure you won’t come out into the light? The sun is warm and must surely feel good on your fur.”

“Perhaps I shall at that,” said the mouse. “It is not wise to stay always in the shadows lest the darkness consume you. But, you are a scorpion, are you not? In all my years, I have never known a scorpion that would not sting one such as I.”

“You are truly a creature full of wisdom,” said the scorpion. “Were it not I who had sought you, I or any other of my kind, would surly sting and you would die. But it was I who sought you out, oh wise one, to hear your wisdom. Please, come out of the dark and enjoy the light that you might better share that which I seek.”

The mouse smiled at the scorpion’s words for he knew that this was surly a young and inexperienced scorpion.

“Child, I will share my wisdom, if that is truly what you seek,” said the mouse. “But I must warn you that my lessons are harsh ones and not lightly sought. You are but a young scorpion, is it wise for one such as you to seek after the wisdom of one such as I?”

“Oh wise one,” said the scorpion. “Is it not wise to seek wisdom in any form wherever it may be found?”

The mouse smiled again and stepped forward into the light only to feel the scorpion’s sting pierce his back. The mouse only smiled, for he knew what the scorpion sought before they first spoke. In a flash, he turned and bit the scorpion’s tail.

“But how?” asked the scorpion. “My sting is like none other! No creatures have withstood it before!”

“Foolish child,” said the mouse while devouring the scorpion. “We mice feel not the sting of our prey.”