What am I even doing with my life…

I have no idea. And I’m not sure I’m going to figure out anytime soon. So I am simply going to try to work it out here on the blog, while still hosting guest bloggers and writers.

Basically, I just took a month or two and went through a sort of Marie Kondo process of my life. Now, currently in Texas completing my Reserve annual training requirement, I’ve just started the next two classes in my MFA degree program. And I’m realizing that I’m glad I’ve set aside some obligations so that I can focus on writing and my Army Reserve career.

Anyway, I’m trying to get back to what I used to do with my old Livejournal blog–make it a place where I can put down my thoughts. Sometimes a little more polished. Sometimes rudimentary.

But in the meantime, I’ve got one more class reading list to get through, and then I’m going to maybe read a little.


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A Conversation With Jon Ray…

A warm welcome to fantasy and science fiction author, Jon Ray. I’ve invited him here to talk about his writing journey, goblins and panning for gold in the Australian Outback. Sounds pretty cool, right? Let’s get started!

Q (Infamous Scribbler): First, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your writing?
A (Jon Ray):
Greetings! I’m fantasy author Jon Ray. At the moment I’ve mostly written fantasy, but I do have a Sci-Fi Dystopian series planned in the near future, so then it will be Fantasy/Sci-Fi. I prefer Fantasy over all other genres, with Sci-Fi being a close 2nd. I wrote my first full novel “Gorp: Goblin Janitor” as part of NaNoWriMo 2010 while I was living in Phoenix, Arizona. I won that year and then just sat on the manuscript for about 7 years.
Flash forward to May of 2017 with my now living in Sydney, Australia, and I found myself having a lot of time on my hands. It was then that I finally decided to finish up my manuscript with a rewrite, edit and publishing so I could feel what it was like and be done with my one novel bucket list item. Up to that point, I’d never considered becoming an author with a series or writing any more books. I did my own book cover and all the illustrations both cover and inside. I’m also a cartographer and make my own fantasy maps as part of my worldbuilding. I also include these in my fantasy books.
It went out and I had that magical feeling all authors get when they hold their first book. I was happy with that and had some extremely modest sells. Along the way, a few people liked and commented on my book and started asking when the next one would come out. I hadn’t originally planned on a next Gorp book, but after seeing what it was like to have a published work and people actually buying my book and responding well to it, I was hooked.
It [was] then and there I decided that being an author was something I wanted to do for the rest of my list and I took charge of a one-off novel and turned it into a series. Now here I am, still residing in lovely Sydney, Australia as I finish up the 3rd and final Gorp the Goblin book in the series and have 2 more books planned for 2019. 

Q: What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you meet that challenge?
The challenging part of the writing process is forcing myself to write. Only a writer can understand the insane level of procrastination involved and being creative types we can come up with a cornucopia of reasons we are not writing. To overcome this, I give myself breaks so I don’t get burned out from writing. But I have an annual schedule and release dates for my projects, which I try to announce so there is no going back or extending them without facing public ridicule. When I’m in the zone, I follow my completed story outline to keep me on track and guided and try to get between 500 – 2000 words a day in, depending on what type of writing day I’m having.  

Q: What was the worst writing advice you ever received? The best writing advice? And why?
The worst writing advice I think I’ve ever received was more about self-publishing than writing itself. I was told I could never publish my own book and that I needed to instead find an agent and then a publisher and hope I made it after years of trying. The best writing advice I got from fellow self-published authors who just said to “Do it!” and figure it out along the way. This was better advice, but of course, I learned as I went and made mistakes in the beginning.
Since then, I’ve gone back to my first Gorp book and hired a professional artist to do my book cover, did a few more editing passes on it, and started focusing on my self-publishing as a part-time business. 

Q: Of the work you’ve done, who is your favorite character you’ve created, and why?
That is easy, Gorp the Goblin. He’s a small underdog type of character, who has heart and tries, despite what the world around him thinks of him. In the series, he spends the entire time in lands that are not friendly to goblins and has to cover his identity, but this goes against his true nature and feels more human than a goblin. Internal conflicts ensue. 

Q: What’s next in your writing journey?
What I have on the table for 2019 is to grow my Newsletter so I have a better network on reaching my readers. Writing wise I plan to have the 3rd and final Gorp book completed and published by May 2019. Afterward, I have a fantasy anthology that I’ve already been collecting stories based in my own world of Agrobathe. An original world complete with maps and background that I’ve spent the last 10 years worldbuilding on. I’m really excited to show this world my inner story world that I’ve crafted and plan to stage multiple book projects within that world. After I get the anthology which will be called “Agrobathe Stories” out, I’ll be switching genres for a new dystopian Sci-Fi series, which I’m just as excited about and will tell of the near future world of Earth a few worlds from now after global events nearly end human civilization. 

Q: Anything to add?
I’m an American living in Australia and when I’m not writing or holding down a day job in the city, I love to get out into the Australian Outback and pan for gold. It’s become a new hobby of mine and something I’ve always wanted to do. Included in the photos is me out in the bush with my favorite hat and pan and I almost always find gold and real-life adventure. If you’re in Australia I also do some New South Wales events where I have a stall from which I sell signed copies of my books. Check out my website for event dates and locations or sign-up for my Newsletter and find them there. 

Author Jon Ray, panning for gold in the Australian Outback!

Buy Links!
Gorp: Goblin Janitor – https://www.amazon.com/Gorp-Goblin-Janitor-Jon-Ray-ebook/dp/B071W9MC7B/
Gorp: Dungeon Overlord – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MM6CW2V/
Social Media Links
Official Website – http://author.jonray.net
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JonRayAuthor/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/lordjonray/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/lordjonray
Newsletter – http://eepurl.com/c-A3gb

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A Conversation with M.N. Jolley…

Welcome to M.N. Jolley, a very patient author (I got a little behind with some of my blog scheduling …) I invited him here to talk a bit about writing fantasy, writing advice, and his penchant for the name David. So, let’s begin!

Q (Infamous Scribbler): First, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your writing?
A (M.N. Jolley):
My name is M. N. Jolley, and I’m a fantasy author who’s predominantly been writing an adventure series with a western flair to it. I’ve got two books out at the moment, “The Stone Warrior” and “The Blue Flame”, with a third one coming later this month and a fourth one that’s churning its way through a first draft at the moment. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and finished the first project I’d charitably call a “Book” when I was about ten, but I’ve been pursuing writing as a profession for the past two and a half years. 
I like writing fantasy because it gives me more freedom with the setting, so I can craft things just how I like and not have to worry about matching up to any sort of real-world comparison. I’ve dabbled in hard sci-fi and a bit of military sci-fi, but neither of those rang true when I read them because I didn’t have the lived experience or the scientific knowledge to make them credible. With Fantasy, I can make the world seem real and lived-in without trying to emulate or copy anyone or anything else.

Q: What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you meet that challenge?
I’m going to be a bit of a cliche here and say that my biggest challenge is hitting my word count goals. (IS Note: I feel this. I really, really do…) I do freelance videography, which is a lot of fun but generally involves very long days without much down time for other projects on the days I’m filming, and I tend to hit a wall at around 5,000 words even on good days, so when I’m busy with video work it makes it very difficult to stay up to count or catch up when I fall behind.  
My best solution to overcome this is just to make time wherever possible. If I know I’m working a thirteen or fourteen hour day tomorrow, I’m going to make sure I have extra time to write today, so that I have a little slack to work with. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I can do right now.

Q: What was the worst writing advice you ever received? The best writing advice? And why?
I honestly can’t think of any bad writing advice I’ve been given, at least not that caused severe problems for me. Some classes I took in junior high had a lot of prescriptive advice that wasn’t very good, (“An adventure story must do X”, “You shouldn’t ever write Y”,) but I didn’t really take any of it to heart and it never caused me any trouble.
The best advice I’ve received, by far, came from a guy named Kevin Dilmore. He’s an author who writes Star Trek novels and went to school with my dad. When I was around ten years old, I finished up a short book that I’d been working on for the past year or so. It was clearly a childish endeavor, clearly written with a lot of enthusiasm and not much else in its favor, but when I asked him to take a look at it for me he agreed — and then came back a week later with my manuscript full of notes and comments, and sat down with me for about an hour, going through the whole thing to talk about the story, the characters, where he thought I’d done a good job and what could be improved. I only remember a few of the things he actually said, but it was the effort he put in that left the strongest impression on me. It was that push that made me feel like writing was something I could actually do, instead of just a passing hobby that wasn’t worth anybody’s time. 

Q: Of the work you’ve done, who is your favorite character you’ve created, and why?
Theoretically, my favorite character is named David, but it’s probably more accurate to say that I named my favorite character David. What I mean by this is that I’ve been using the name “David” for about a decade now, for something like three or four distinct characters. Some of the Davids are explicitly connected, some of them aren’t, and the David who exists in my current body of work is so detached from the others that he’s got nothing to do with them, but he’s still one of the Davids. The most recent David is also my favorite regardless of the name’s history, but I can’t really say why without spoiling a lot of “The Stone Warrior”. 
I’m still undecided if my next series will continue the tradition, or if I’ll finally break tradition and write a story that doesn’t involve a David. 

Q: What’s next in your writing journey?
 I haven’t talked about this publicly yet, but this seems as good a place to make the announcement as any: Once Book 3 of my series comes out, (That is, the one I’m writing now, since one of the books already out is a prequel.) I’m going to take a little time and start work on a serialized urban fantasy/horror short story collection. I don’t want to say more than that at the moment, because plans are still in the works. (The main series will continue on past Book 3 – I have plans for at least half a dozen more books in the main story alone – but it will be running concurrent to another body of work.)

Thank you for having me! 

Author M.N. Jolley


Website/Social Media:

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Blog Security

Some of my visitors may have noticed that Google claims my site is not secure. This popped up as an issue a couple weeks (months?) ago. In true techno-denial fashion, my regular M.O., I was ignoring it because I really didn’t know what it meant or what to do with it.

Yes. The foundation of my author platform had an issue and I was in denial. I just did a livestream over on my Patreon talking about how characters will do everything they can to avoid facing their problems, and so it’s our job to figure out what those problems are and force them to face them for the sake of LITERATURE. I was, of course, speaking from my own personal experience, as I am demonstrating here. Ahem. Anyway …

You will be happy to know that yesterday, my hosting provider, Network Solutions, called me up to inform me that I was not in compliance, and the very nice gentleman (who, by the way, turned out to be my “business consultant,” which I didn’t even know I had) I spoke to very patiently walked me through how to purchase the SSL certificates, and then how to follow the instructions to get them applied.

The result of this is twofold. First, visitors to this site should shortly see that the “not secure” label goes away, and Google no longer has a problem with it. I just did this, so it may take a moment, or a day, I don’t know. The second result is that I am going to take advantage of said business consultant to see what are some options for publicizing and marketing my site. Originally, this platform was a place to collect information about my writing, and for me to put thoughts out into the world. Now that I’m moving into Patreon, and coaching, etc., I would like to start spreading the word about that part of my business.

Anyway, it’s about time for me to go play on my new toy that my spouse got me for my birthday. It’s an AlphaSmart 3000, basically a glorified typewriter. I’m excited to see how it works in helping me get words on pages. I’ll let you know!

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How is it MARCH already?

I’m still not sure March is actually here. Maybe this is still January? Mid-February? Anything but late March …

Anyway, the writing proceeds apace. I’ve submitted about five short stories this year. Two of them were in the 3-5K word range, and three were flash fiction. One of the longer ones, an atompunk homage to Helen of Troy, got picked up by Writerpunk Press. One of the flash fiction pieces got rejected by Daily Science Fiction, so I did some tinkering and sent it back out. The other stories I’m waiting to hear on.

I’ve got about halfway with the blurbs and covers for my PNR/romantic suspense that I’m working on. My plan is to collect blurbs/outlines/covers, and then write the series all in a row in order to rapid release at the end of the year. So far, so good. The only problem is that I’m stuck for a title for the fourth book, the cover of which my artist will be working on in mid-April. So if you have any weather-related sayings, please let me know!

I’m about a third of the way down with Winter Run, so I’ll have more on that later.

And last, but definitely not least, I’ve reactivated my Patreon page. I’m going to be posting notes on my writing process, excerpts of works in progress, flash fiction, some livestreams on the writing process, as well as some reward tiers that have to do with coaching and critiquing. If any of this sounds interesting, stop by! Access starts at a buck a month, so the price is right.

In the meantime, back to work. I have words to put down on paper.

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Post-Con Rundown

The three months since November started seem to have gone by so fast I don’t actually remember large swathes of them–and it’s not because I enjoy a glass or two of a festive beverage during the holidays. Working at the church, family, traveling, and trying to figure out how to promote new releases all kind of merged together in one, big blur, which culminated in last weekend’s fan convention, Arisia 2019.

(Warning: This is the part I talk about some of the concerns surrounding my choice to attend the Con. I think they’re important, so I’m putting them first.) This year was the thirtieth anniversary of the convention that was my very first Con, back in 2008, and truthfully, I almost didn’t go. Like some other organizations, information came to light that showed it was institutionally incapable of addressing concerns regarding sexual assault and harassment. It took them far too long to do the right thing. However, from an outsider’s perspective, they did seem to get themselves back on the path towards doing the right thing. I very much understand other people’s decisions to not attend, and respect that. Which brings me to the first panel I attended, a round-table workshop on the reconciliation track aimed at improving institutional response to developing a culture of inclusion and proper response to reporting of incidents of harassment and assault.

Why does this matter to me? For one, I like to hang out with people in fandom, and I like doing it in spaces where assholes are unwelcome. I’m not talking about people whose ideologies differ from mine. I’m talking about predators who think it’s okay to exhibit stalking behavior, commit acts without consent, bully/troll people online, or other similar situations. I’m also raising two little geeky girls, and have brought them to conventions with my spouse and I, and I would prefer if they could also have spaces to hang out and talk about Star Wars without having to deal with assholes. (Although at the moment, they’re more about the rainbow unicorns and less about the Death Star.) So, I didn’t take my decision to attend lightly. I also paid close attention to how they were running the reconciliation track, and the products they expected to arise from them. I have not made any decisions, including if I will return next year (as a panelist if I get invited, or a fan attendee if I don’t, the decision will be the same either way.) I like the progress they’re making, I like the actions they’ve taken, now I want to see what happens when the pressure of the Con being right around the corner is taken off, and some of the reconciliation has to happen outside of the public eye.

Werewolves, urban fantasy, writing, and super moons! All part of the weekend…

The panels and workshops I was on or giving went pretty well (I think … I hope …) Most of them were writing-related, as you might expect, but I also got to hop on a “Geeky Parenting” panel, talking about the fun and challenges combined in raising kids in fandom. I’m quite happy to say that I learned as much as I shared; I’m looking forward to spending time around geeky folks as long as I can, and doing it with my spouse and kids. I’m hoping that next year we’ll be in a place where I can attend Arisia with them. I also got a chance to read the Green Man scene from Night Run, which was so awesome.

One of the highlights was getting to sit on a panel on Writing War with a bunch of people, moderated by author Kevin McLaughlin, who writes some very cool books and you should totally check them out. We all had a pretty good time BS’ing about the military and sharing our favorites, and now my TBR pile is about ten books taller, and I’m super excited to start plotting my own military fantasy novel this semester. Afterward, Kevin and I co-hosted a “Late Night Writer’s Cafe.” About ten other writers came together. We talked shop for about twenty minutes, and then settled down to get words on paper. I got a pretty decent start on a version of the Russian folktale, “Vasilisa the Beautiful,” rewriting it so that Baba Yaga comes out on top, with the intention of submitting it to Rachel Kenley’s anthology, The Villain Wins. Speaking of which, I also got to see Rachel on a panel and listen to her read from one of her works, a romance speculative fiction that combined mermaids and New Jersey, my home state. Shout out!

We took a selfie, and then I ate all of Tea & Absinthe’s cookies. They were delicious, and I have no regrets!

Some other fun moments from the Con — locusting all of Tea & Absinthe‘s homemade chocolate chip cookies as I helped them set up their booth in the vending hall; receiving a random gift of a knitted owl after I admired a fellow crafter’s work (so cute!); learning how to use Lyft (get off my lawn); seeing snow at least once this winter; getting a chance to lead my “Writing for Military Veterans” workshop; having said workshop turn into a deep conversation between two veterans and a civilian on writing and the military; having time to read, and re-reading Brian McClellan’s War Cry and the entire Powder Mage series as well as the first book in the next series; having someone on Twitter stick up for me when some rando nitpicked my sleep-deprived, jet-lagged Tweet about doing so; getting a chance to introduce some writers to using military models such as ASCOPE and PMESII-PT to do worldbuilding; getting some words down on some projects even though I gave myself permission to not do that this weekend; and finally, adding many more books to my “TBR” pile, including Kay Kenyon’s At the Table of Wolves, which I read straight through on the plane from Boston to LAX (SO AWESOME).

My little knitted owl; they came with me to every panel and hung out next to my name plate; but, true to form, the wise little owl said not a word!

The Post-Con pace hasn’t quite slowed down. I got home at midnight and then had to wake up at 6 the next morning to get to my day job. I still have a full slate of writing to do this year, and it’s not getting any longer. But Arisia, as it usually does, energized me and motivated me, and that positive energy is crackling as I tackle my MFA, the series I’m finishing, and the series I’m starting. I feel a little closer to the fan community and to the writers community, and all in all, it made a good start for the rest of the year. I’m hoping that the process that was started at Arisia will continue, and that more people will feel comfortable and safe returning to the Con next year. Until then, you’ll find me over here at my laptop, working on the next thing on my list…

Peace, and happy writing!

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Tanks, Monsters, Mercs … oh, my!

Started off this year wanting to get back to writing short stories and sending them out to the world, and then shortly after writing down my goals, I decided to take one of those stories and share it myself.

Bea Wolf, a dieselpunk re-telling of the classic Norse epic, Beowulf, is now available as a Kindle Short Read, for about the price of half a cup of coffee. In the post-war dystopia of northern Europe, Captain Wolf leads her company of armored cavalry mercenaries against their greatest foe yet.

I’ve got about an hour of time to pack until I have to get going with the plans for this weekend, so I’m going to sign off. But if you are interested, and have a dollar, check it out on Amazon! And if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free. Just saying.

Ride strong, my friends!

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What’s Ahead in 2019…

…or, reading, writing, coaching, oh my!

It’s been a minute since I updated my blog, mostly because the holiday season hit me like an overscheduled, frenetic, wrecking ball of joy and fun. To say I was upset about that would be a lie–I enjoyed almost every minute of it. To say that I’m looking forward to taking a few introvert days in a row would also not be misleading. I just got back from a three-day Reserve drill weekend, and I will be flying out again on Thursday to be a panelist, reader, workshop leader, and general fan attending Arisia 2019 in Boston. I’ll have a separate post later with my full dance card, but I hope to see you there!

Meanwhile, I’ve been taking stock of what it means to do this writing and coaching thing, and where I want to see it going.

First, a look back. In 2018, I finally broke through my block on writing a series, and finished the next four works in The Rick Keller Project. As it stands, the series includes the first novel, Cold Run, a 1.5 novelette, Night Run, the second novel, Vegas Run, and a 2.5 novella, Trial Run, all released from Untold Press. I’m currently working on the final novel, Winter Run, which got a little delayed by the crazy holiday season of travel and work, but I’m back on track, and should have a draft (and an awesome new cover!) in about a month.

I learned a lot this year, from how to make an effective Facebook ad, to how to start investigating using Amazon keywords and categorizing to maximize impact, to how to write a better blurb, logline, and query. I’ve had an urban fantasy novel, Steel-Toed Blues make it past the first rejection at a couple of places, which is pretty cool, especially since I think it’s a book that shows improvement on my part as a writer in developing characters and theme, and working with antagonists. I also wrapped up working with a long-term coaching client who finished his memoir! That was a really excellent experience, and taught me a lot about how to give effective, encouraging feedback.

And now for a look forward…

This year, I want to write and publish a series of paranormal romantic suspense novels under my romance pen name, using what I’ve learned to rapid release and build a following. I’ve been working on this project for a few months now, and am really enjoying exploring the genre further, planning, writing, and working on a publication plan. After Winter Run, this series will be my main effort for my full-length novel writing.

At the same time, I am going to step up my querying game with Steel-Toed Blues, refining my query, getting it out there, and working on some plotting so that if it gets accepted by a traditional publisher, I’ll be ready to go with finishing the trilogy.

I also plan to write and submit 12 short stories this year. I’ve already written two (an atompunk take on Helen of Troy, and a flash fiction romance), and submitted three (the first two, plus a steampunk detective story I’ve had rattling around). I’ve got a mecha SF short story planned, and am working on a short story that I plan to submit to a shared worlds anthology. Writing short fiction is a fun way to explore different genres, as well as being a storytelling challenge that I relish. It’s also, hopefully, a way to continue expanding my publication credits list.

As for coaching and editing, I am still open to clients wishing to develop their writing, whether it’s in-progress (coaching), or in need of a good developmental edit. I’m pretty easy to work with, I don’t require writers to send contracts, and I always send an invoice with the final product, not before. Giving feedback is something I enjoy doing, and I’m hoping to expand my client list in 2019.

And … I started a Facebook group, Crone Girls Press. Why did I do this? First, I wanted to have a place to invite friends and acquaintances to talk about fantasy and science fiction literature, as well as share what they’re working on, whether it be looking for ARC readers, blurb feedback, launch announcements or just recommendations for new books to read. Second, I would like to indie publish under two different names, and it seemed the best way to do this is to set up a business account that can accommodate such a thing. Lastly, I am planning on publishing a single-author anthology this fall by an author who is not me (more on this later), and my plan is to publish it under this company. So the group is to hang out, talk and share stories, and every once in a while, share a funny writing meme. Come check us out!

Last–but not least–I continue to move ahead with my MFA in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. I’m in the second of five terms, and have been learning a lot about how to improve my craft and my coaching techniques. This term, we begin planning the plot, characters, and premise of our thesis project. I’ve got a cool military fantasy project that has been percolating for a while, and I’m using this MFA to develop it. My goal is that my thesis novel (and series kickoff) will be a better piece of writing than anything I’ve done before.

I think that’s about all the news that fits at the moment. If you’d like to pick up one of my publications, check out the links above. If you’ve got an editing project you’d like me to take a look at, hit me up. If you’ve got some extra-strong coffee you’d like to donate to help me accomplish all of the in 2019, I will be forever grateful.

Until later!

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Wandering Around the San Juan Bautista Mission

The other day I found myself having completed all the work for the first two classes in my MFA, which had somehow resulted in a massive case of writer’s block. Instead of sitting and staring at the blinking cursor, I decided to do a little work on setting. In Trial Run, Rick Keller ends up at a Family compound where Calix and Karen have set up shop, working as independent security contractors for the Family. The building they live and work out of is an old Spanish mission that was built in the late 1700s … a little too close to a Family city. Funny enough, once construction was complete, all memory of the place disappeared–records, eyewitnesses, down to the last materiel purchase order.

When I wrote the book, I mostly drew on my memories of the La Purisima Mission in Lompoc, CA. The rectangular construction around an open courtyard, the chapel, the rooms where the inhabitants lived and worked, the garden and fountains on the ground–all were hanging out in my mind’s eye.

The view of San Juan Bautista from across the street at the historic Plaza Hotel.

We’re a solid four hours from Lompoc at the moment, but there is another of the 21 Spanish missions that were established in the region that became California–San Juan Bautista. I was feeling kind of down and blah, so a field trip was in order. I drove down on a gray, rainy Tuesday to check it out.

The first thing I noticed was that the mission, unlike La Purisima, sits in the middle of a town, surrounded by a state park. For three bucks (actually, more like 20, since I bought a book at the gift shop with my entrance fee), I got to walk around the San Juan Bautista State Historic Park. The grounds include several historic buildings: a hotel, the Breen residence (survivors of the Donner Party), a stables and blacksmith shop, and another grand residence. Definitely worth the price of admission.

The mission itself was built in a giant L-shape, with the chapel at the corner. I

The outdoor hallway at San Juan Bautista Mission. From here, you can access the gift shop, chapel, or more of the property.

entered and walked down the long, outside hallway, which reminded me of the La Purisima architecture. My first stop was in the gift shop, where I picked up a couple of books (I really can’t help myself), a bracelet rosary, a Christmas present, and a candle to light in the chapel.

I also put my phone down while I was trying to juggle everything, and found a cluster of visiting schoolkids checking it out since I hadn’t locked it down. Oops.

Phone safely retrieved, I headed out the door into the inner yard of the mission. There is a garden, more elaborate than the one at La Purisima, with roses and lemon trees, and even a fountain or two. The air was cold, with a sharp chill, and it smelled sweet and wet.

Down the outdoor corridor, a large door with a wooden sign reading “Church” pointed the way.


The chapel was a rectangular space, with a baptismal font in a small room off the side. At the back of the church, a depiction of the Savior stood against the left side, and the Virgin Mary at the front. The floor was stone. In Trial Run, Rick stretches out on the floor of the mission’s chapel, enjoying the cool of the tile. It was a little too chilly to do that; also, there were more schoolkids running around, followed by chaperones exhibiting varying levels of enthusiasm, so I decided discretion was the better part of valor.

A view across the center/back of the chapel.

The altar was very much in a familiar style of the other missions. A series of alcoves held depictions of various saints. Unlike the La Purisima mission, San Juan Bautista holds weekly masses. According to their Web site, they have had an unbroken pastoral lineage since the mission was first consecrated. There was a definite sense of history around the place.

The view toward to the altar and its saints.

In Trial Run, Rick goes into the chapel, not knowing what he will find. The people who live and work there continue to use it as a space for meditation and worship, although not in any specific or formal way. Rick half expects to meet with the Green Man, whose manifestation has come to him in various places, but in this place of worship, he does not appear.

Chapels and churches are very familiar spaces to me, having grown up in a faith tradition. I brought my candle over to the space in front of the Virgin Mary. Feeling super self-conscious given the fact that kids were still milling around and, from their reactions, not really expecting to encounter someone worshiping, I lit the candle for my sister,

The devotional area to the Virgin Mary.

Jenn, and spent a few moments in meditation.  Afterwards, I snapped a few photos, and wandered around the garden for a bit.

By that time, I was ready for lunch. I grabbed a burger at a little diner a block down the street. While I ate, I started reading one of the books I bought, enjoying the chance to spend some more time doing introvert things.

After I paid the tab, I wandered in another circle around the grounds. By this time, most of the kids from the school trip had headed out. I got a few more pictures, but mostly just enjoyed the quiet that had descended on the place.

I took a few more notes and photos, stashing the experience away for a future story. Rick isn’t a big fan of California landscapes, but I kind of enjoy them. I find it fun to explore the history, especially on days when you almost have the place to yourself. I’m feeling a bit more energized to keep working on Winter Run, as well as a couple of other short projects whose deadlines are politely coughing over my shoulder.

In the future, I’d like to start doing more of this, finding a place once a week or so, to spend a few hours in. You never know when a place or time is going to pop up and demand a place in something you’re writing, so it would be a way to gather potential future settings in one blog. Looking forward to future mini-adventures.

A view of part of the inner garden at San Juan Bautista.

~ ~ ~

The Rick Keller Project can be found on Amazon:
Cold Run
Night Run
Vegas Run
Trial Run

Winter Run, the concluding novel to the series, is currently in progress!

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Rick Keller meets Shop Small Saturday!

Good morning, and apologies for the intermittent radio silence!

There’s been quite a bit happening. I’m going to throw it out there in a blog post, and then start to slowly update the Website to reflect what’s been happening.

First — the FREE! If you’ve been interested in checking out the Rick Keller project, Cold Run is currently FREE DOLLARS on Amazon.

Next — the NEW! The latest installment in the series, Trial Run, is available for $0.99 on Amazon. This novella is the second-to-last release in the series, and sets the stage for the last book, Winter Run, which I’m currently about 12K words into and counting!

So, if you’re interested, but maybe slightly confused, here is the Rick Keller Project in order:

Cold Run (Novel, Rick Keller Project 1)
Night Run (Novelette, RKP 1.5)
Vegas Run (Novel, RKP 2)
Trial Run (Novella, RKP 2.5)
Winter Run (Novel-In-Progress, RKP 3/Final)


In other news, I’ve got two more weeks left of my first two classes for my Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. I’ve been doing pretty well, until last week, when I spent four days in the smoky goodness of north/central California with the Army Reserve, came home, and failed to fully read the directions on an assignment I was trying to finish on way too little sleep. Hopefully, I’ll be able to work something out with my instructor, and I know that I’ll probably be able to recover from that one grade, but still, my inner nerd doesn’t like seeing those letters on my course transcript … bleagh.

I’ve got a few more interviews with writers and creators set up, and a few more on the way. After a few years of keeping a separate milwriter interview blog, and this one, I’m going to combine the two, which means I’ll probably re-post the interviews I have over there, and start with some new ones.

I also have two new series I’m plotting. One is humorous military fantasy, the other is under my romance pen name. I’ve got some fun ideas swirling around, and I think they will be fun to write (and hopefully, fun to read.)

Anyway, I need to get back to the keyboard, because this novel won’t write itself. Sadly enough. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your Shop Small Saturday, and if you get a chance, check out the Rick Keller Project … and maybe leave a review?


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