Thursday, December 7, 2023

What? I missed IWSG again?

 I'm not dead!

I haven't been posting much the last couple of months because life has kinda been awful. Battling Covid right now, I've had a fever on and off for two weeks. Needless to say, not much writing has been happening.

I hope everyone out there in IWSG land is staying well. I don't know how many blogs I'll get to visit this month, but I'll try.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Hugs & Kisses,

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Spooky Season is Coming and the Robots are Taking Over the World (#IWSG October 2023)

It's that time of year...

October Question:
The topic of AI writing has been heavily debated across the world. According to various sources, generative AI will assist writers, not replace them. What are your thoughts?

AI has already replaced writers. You know those terrible click-bait articles about recasting your favourite movie franchise, or gossip about when new video games might be coming out, or even blog articles with old trivia stories about historical figures? They're all written mostly by AI now. Websites need a constant churn of bland, vaguely interesting content, and the fastest/cheapest way to generate it is through AI software.

It will take longer to replace fiction writers, but it will happen. AI continues to get better all the time. The first thing that it will master will be formulaic genre fiction. The plots and themes are already kind of repetitive and generic; it's only a matter of time until computers figure out how to replicate writers that already crank out 50 books a year.

I stole this from the Baltimore Sun. It's very appropriate.

Ultimately, like with any new technology, the people who will succeed will be those that can adapt and learn to take advantage of AI, instead of being fearful of it. We already use AI in our writing all the time whether we realize it our not. Tools like Grammarly and spell checkers? Those are AI algorithms, scanning your work and making suggestions to make it better. I look forward to when these tools get more sophisticated, and can help you find holes in your plot, clichés in your figures of speech, and excessive exposition. Or that can help you outline, and keep you on track if you veer too much off your through plot.

Authors being afraid of AI writing is like horse ranchers being afraid of automobiles, train operators being afraid of the airplane, newspaper reporters being afraid of the internet. Changes are coming, whether you like it or not, and fighting against it is a losing battle. The industry will change, and your job may look very different in a few years. The most successful writers will be those that can adapt to an evolving world and market.

We need to learn to live side by side...

* * * 

In less controversial news, remember last month when I said that I had like two chapters left to write of Gale Harbour Book 3? Well, that turned into five chapters, and I'm still working on the epilogue. So I guess I'm kinda done, maybe? It's hard to be excited until you officially write "The End," you know? Plus there's so much revision. So much. I'm probably going to have to cut those five chapters back down to two or three, among many, many other things.

I really hoped to be done by now, but this past month, not only did we go back to school, but we're fitting my son for a scoliosis brace, and my daughter has casts on both of her feet. It's been one of those months. Maybe I could use some AI help with my writing. 😔

How is your October shaping up?

Hugs & kisses,

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group at

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Missed by That Much (#IWSG September 2023)

I was really hoping to have an update today that the first draft of Gale Harbour Book 3 was complete. Alas, it was not meant to be. I'm close, I have about 1.5 chapters to go, but I couldn't get it finished by this weekend as I had secretly hoped to. That's okay. It's been a crazy year and the fact that I've gotten this close is still really good. Just another week or two to the finish line...

Strangely, I had steady sales and page reads on all my books last month. I usually get a sale or two here or there, but August showed a noticeable (though still small) spike. There were page reads every day, on all of my books no less! It was probably just a fluke, and I have no idea what caused it, but it's really making me want to finish book 3 so I can get it out there and get back to marketing and pushing the completed trilogy.

Hopefully it's better than the end of this trilogy.

September Question: The IWSG celebrates 12 years today! When did you discover the IWSG, how do you connect, and how has it helped you? 

That's easy. I discovered the IWSG in April 2015, while I was doing the A-to-Z Blog Challenge. That was the year I made the stupid and arrogant decision to write about characters from unpublished stories in the Closet. Who the hell wants to read about characters no one has ever heard of, from an unpublished writer? Someone must have, because it was in the comments in one of those posts that someone suggested I check out the IWSG. I apologize that I don't remember who it was (all of my blogger comments got deleted a few years ago). 

My first IWSG post was May 6, 2015, which was my 35th birthday, and the date I officially hit "publish" on my first book. It was a big day. I haven't looked back since. Of course, I've only published four books in that time (with a fifth coming soon!), but I've hardly missed an IWSG. 

The IWSG has helped me by becoming my first writer's network. It has helped by providing supportive comments during hard times, helped in promoting my books and writing, and hell, many of the members have bought my books! It's introduced me to some of my favourite writers, too.

That's it for me today. Gotta get back and finish that manuscript!

Hugs & kisses,

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group at

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

I feel the conflict within me (#IWSG August 2023)

Writing on Gale Harbour book 3 continues. I'm regretting that I gave so many characters their own side plots, because I feel like I have to tie everything up, and it's making the story a lot larger than I anticipated. This has evolved far beyond the simple sci-fi/horror adventure series I originally set out to write.

I joined a Facebook group for writers called 20BooksTo50k, the premise of which is if you have 20 books that are making moderate sales, you can make $50k per year self-publishing. You may have heard of it. It's a group for self-published writers to share what has worked for them, and there are some very successful people in the group. 

It's a simple concept, and mostly it's just a forum for people to ask about the specifics of self-publishing (which boxes to check, which genres categories to select on Amazon, marketing tips, etc), as well as post success stories of their making five, ten, twenty thousand dollars (or more!) in a single month. It's overwhelming to be honest. I can't even imagine making that much money from writing, nor did I ever expect to. But there are more writers out there than I realized having staggering success, so it's hard not to be a bit shocked and maybe even a bit jealous.

August Question: Have you ever written something that afterwards you felt conflicted about? If so, did you let it stay how it was, take it out, or rewrite it?

I am constantly conflicted. There's the infamous story of how I got eliminated from the my first SPFBO because the reviewer didn't like a joke in my book. I thought long and hard about whether to keep it, and the fact that this negative review had been at the top of my reviews on Goodreads ever since really eats at me. I eventually did change it, because it's not just a book about sex jokes and I didn't want an early off-colour joke to spook people. As I've gotten older and found my voice I've definitely tried to tone down my writing a little. But it's not made a lick of difference. I think sold all of three copies of Ten Thousand Days since that review came out, and I haven't received a single new review, either. Did I cave? Should I have left it alone? I still haven't decided.

It's the same reason I'm considering taking down the "Werebear vs. Landopus" stories, and related to why I'm thinking of re-branding the Gale Harbour books. Like I said, I never imagined to have a huge success in self-publishing, and I know I will never live off of my writing, but I keep wondering if I could maybe expand my audience, at least a little bit? I want my writing to be true to my original ideas, but I also know that every weird title, sex joke and off-putting gross detail will make my audience just a little bit smaller. I don't write bizarro fiction (though occasionally there are elements), so maybe I should steer clear of it?

Who the hell knows why we do anything?

Hugs & Kisses,

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group at

Friday, July 7, 2023

July is really freakin' hot (#IWSG July 2023)

Don't take me off the list, I'm still here!

I missed the IWSG post this month (by two days, anyway), but I have been writing. A couple more chapters of Gale Harbour book 3, changed around an old one, two. This will definitely be the longest book of the series (possibly by a lot). I added too many characters. :-(

I've also been considering changing the branding on the series. I love titles like "Psycho Hose Beast from Outer Space," and "Revenge of the Space Surfing Butt Monkeys," and those who like them like them alot, but I do think some people may roll their eyes at it. I've sold a lot of copies to relatives and my parents' friends form back home, and I've met people who are literally embarrassed to say the names of the books out loud. That may be a marketing issue.

So I'm considering changing the covers to highlight the "Gale Harbour" part, and then making the individual titles more like a sub-title. Something like this:

This is just a mock-up, but you get the idea.

I like that my books have a slightly off-beat feel to them, but I do worry that it will limit my audience (and make them harder to find). 

This is what I'm thinking about when I should be writing.

Hugs & Kisses,

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group at

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Finding stuff to do is not my problem (#IWSG June 2023)

May chugged along, writing-wise. I finished a couple of more chapters in Gale Harbour book 3, and had lots of ideas how to fix some glaring problems in previous chapters. It really feels like it's starting to come together, which is good. I still have another 20-30K words to go, but for a long time I was stalled and it felt like I would never be able to get it back on track. Now the end is (almost) in sight. It's certainly not going to be published this year as I had originally hoped, but early next year is a distinct possibility. 

(Dammit, I shouldn't have said anything, now I've jinxed myself)

I like the question this month, so let's get to it:

June Question - If you ever did stop writing, what would you replace it with?

That's easy, and I'm already kind of doing it - painting miniatures and crafting. I did a whole month worth of posts about miniature painting for the A-to-Z Challenge. I'm already spending enough time (and money!) on painting and crafting that I'm taking away from my writing time. If I stopped writing, I would be painting even more.

Just some of the finest zombie slayers Canada has to offer.

Of course, I always have other creative hobbies. I like to make games (both tabletop and video), and I've been thinking for years about picking up guitar again. I just know I don't have time for it in my current situation. 

We've always got to find some kind of creative outlet, right? If not writing or painting, then I would probably be making stop-motion LEGO movies. I would actually LOVE to do that, if I had the time. 

Finding hobbies is not my problem. Finding time to actually do them is a whole other issue.

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group at

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

April Fooled Me But Good (#IWSG May 2023)

April was rough. On the First, my daughter suffered a concussion (no, not related to failed April Fool's prank). We ended up in the hospital emergency room all weekend, from which she picked up a nasty stomach flu. The flu proceeded to work its way through our house, and took us two whole weeks before everyone was back on their feet (we completely missed Easter). We got better for one day, met with in-laws for dinner, and then they got sick for two weeks. 

Through this, my kids have been seriously stressed out. I don't know if it's recovering from the illness or growing pains or what, but their mood and mental resilience have been terrible. Meanwhile, my union went on strike and I was walking the picket line for ten days. There's just no end to it.

It was not this cute.

The strike is over and I'm back to work. Everyone seems to be healthy and the kids are coming around. May is always an exciting month - my birthday, my wife's birthday, Mother's Day and our anniversary all fall within a ten-day period (we did not plan that well). So hopefully life will improve.

Oh, and did I mention that I kept up with the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge through all this, and didn't miss a day? Still don't know what I was thinking with that.

Somehow, through all of this, I actually wrote several chapters for the next Gale Harbour book. I don't know if they're any good yet, and I know they don't have any of my regular humour. I guess I just wasn't feeling very funny. I'm going to have to go back and put jokes in during the revising phase.

How was your month?

Please check out my A-to-Z posts

May Question - When you are working on a story, what inspires you?

This is interesting, because it doesn't say what inspires you to write the story, but "when you are" working on a story. I get ideas to start stories from lots of different places, but the inspiration to keep working on it, that's something else.

Sometimes I write because I want to see how it ends. Sometimes I genuinely don't know. Sometimes I'm trying a new idea or writing style and I want to see how it turns out. Sometimes I have a deadline, for a contest or submission. But most often my biggest inspiration is just wanting to see it done. I hate having unfinished projects (and I have so, so, so many of them), so being able to add something to the finished pile is just satisfying. 

Is that a good reason to write? Maybe, maybe not. But if it gets me to finish writing, then I'm not going to complain.

That's it for another month!

Hugs & Kisses,

P.S. Seriously, check out my A-to-Z Blog Posts. If you're interested in miniature painting, wargaming, model building, crafting... there's a little bit of something in here for you. He's the full list of topics I covered, from A-to-Z:

A is for The Army Painter
B is for Basecoat
C is for Contrast
D is for Dry Brushing
E is for Edge Highlighting
F is for Feathering
G is for Games Workshop
H is for 'eavy Metal
I is for Inks
J is for Jokaero Orange (paint)
K is for Kolinsky Sable Brushes
L is for Layering
M is for Masking
N is for NMM (Non-Metallic Metal)
O is for OSL (Object-Source Lighting)
P is for Primer
Q is for Quality
R is for Resin Printing
S is for... (Stippling, Shading, Scatter Terrain, Sprue)
T is for Terrain
U is for Undercoat, UV Resin
V is for Vallejo
W is for... Washes, Weathering, Wet Blending, Wet Palette, Warhammer
X is for XPS Foam
Y is for... (Flash, Kitbashing, Varnish)
Z is for Zenithal Priming

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Z is for Zenithal Priming

Zenithal Priming is an advanced priming technique that attempts to simulate shadows and highlights created by the sun at its zenith.

Basically, you prime the entire model in black, then spray on a white primer from above only. This leaves any lower edges and recesses black, creating baseline shadows even before you start blocking in your colours.

I've also seen this done with black, then a grey layer and then just a touch of white for the top most highlight.

All photos from The Army Painter

You don't even necessarily have to use white and black. You can also use complementary or contrast colours to get different, interesting effects:

And that's it! Twenty-six days about miniature painting! I did it, Ma! Thank you to those who stuck around for the full month, and I hope you learned a thing or two, or at least weren't too bored. Maybe you laughed at some of my terrible jokes or painting. Either way, you came back, so I appreciate it!

Hugs & kisses,


Saturday, April 29, 2023

Y Can't I Find a "Y" Word?

Y can't I find painting terms that start with Y? I've been trying to come up with something for almost two months and I can't think of anything good.

Oh well. Instead I'll talk about a few terms that I missed earlier in the month.

Flash is the excess plastic on the seam lines of models, where the piece was previously attached to the sprue. These are usually easily removed with a sharp blade (like an X-acto knife), though they may also need sanding at times.

This model piece has a very pronounced flash line running all along its side. Hopefully it can be removed without slicing off the model's finger.

Kitbashing is taking pieces from different model kits, and putting them together to create a new model. Many miniatures that require assembly (ie, Warhammer) come with extra pieces for customization (like alternate heads, weapons, etc). After you've been building for a while, you inevitably collect a variety of leftover pieces. These can be put together, or the "kits bashed" together to make completely new models.

This was very obviously put together from random parts. I have no idea what it's supposed to be, but it's kinda cool.
Source: Reddit

Varnish is a final layer of clear coating applied to a finished model to protect the paint job from the regular handling, bumps and scratches of gameplay. Though pretty much all painters agree that varnish is required, there is a variety of types to chose from. A matte, anti-shine varnish is most popular, as it prevents light glare and reflection, which can make your model look weird at such a small scale (remember how we talked about how light behaves differently on tiny models all the way back on Contrast day). There is sometimes use for gloss or satin (semi-gloss) finish, however, such as to simulate different textures or materials on your model. On my recent Darth Vader mini, I used matte varnish on his cape to make it look more like cloth, but satin on his armor to give it a more hard plastic and/or leather look. And gloss varnish is great for making things look wet, like eyeballs or fresh blood.

Varnish is commonly applied with a spray can, as aerosol varnish, like paint, tends to go on more evenly. That said, sometimes you may not want or be able to use spray varnish (varnish is even more sensitive to temperature and humidity than paint, and it also smells bad), so brush-on varnishes are also an acceptable option.

The difference in this one is a lot more noticeable, as I used a full gloss for the helmet and matte for the rest of it. In retrospect I probably could have used a satin for the helmet instead, but the gloss certainly gives a strong contrast.

Fun-fact: spray varnish and spray paint actually dissolves untreated XPS Foam, unless you seal it first. Like many other modelers, I learned this the hard way. Now that I seal the foam with a mixture of paint and glue before painting, however, I am able to use a spray varnish to finish my terrain.

One more day to go!

Hugs & kisses,

Friday, April 28, 2023

X is for XPS Foam

XPS Foam, or extruded polystyrene foam, is a type of rigid foam board usually used as insulation. It's very useful in construction as it's water resistant, easy to cut and work with, and very effective at insulating from heat and cold.

It comes in thicknesses between ½ to 2 inches, and convenient sizes from 2x2 up to 4x8 feet.

For our purposes, XPS is also incredibly useful in model building. It has numerous uses for making buildings, furniture, terrain, and countless other props and objects. It's very light but rigid, and easy to cut, carve and glue.

The Army Painter actually sells terrain-building kits that come with sheets of XPS Foam.

There are other types of foam out there, like Styrofoam and foamcore (the kind that has paper covering both sides, often used for presentation boards in kids science fairs) that have their uses, but none are as versatile as XPS. Personally I've used it to create dungeon walls and floors, houses and brick walls, forests floors and rocks.

See? I've got more happy little trees. And cute little cottages, too!

My walls are all carved, but I've also seen people with better tools and more patience cut thousands of individual bricks out of foam to create masterpieces like this: 

I had to include the picture with the finger to prove it's actually a scale model and not the real thing.

Lately I've actually been spending almost more time with models and "dioramas" than I have just painting miniatures. I'm turning into a bigger nerd all the time. Someone please stop me before I start building model trains. ;-)

Hugs & kisses,

Thursday, April 27, 2023

W is for... a Wide assortment of stuff

Washes we've discussed before - it's a high-viscosity medium that allows its pigment to flow into the recesses and low points of your model, adding shadow to the nooks and crannies.

Weathering is adding visual texture to a model to make it look old and well, weathered. This is a common technique used on vehicles and terrain to make them look rundown and battle worn. It's often achieved through a combination of washes and dry brushing to give it a dirty, rusty, battered look.

Wet blending is another technique, similar to layering and glazing, used to create a transition between two colours on your model. In wet blending, the two colours are added quickly side by side on the model, and then mixed and blended together while they're still wet. It's a bit trickier than some of the other blending techniques, as it requires speed as well as precision to pull off. 

A wet palette is a very useful tool for painting miniatures. Most of you are familiar with a standard painter's palette used to hold and mix paint - usually they're made of plastic, glass, ceramic, even wood or cardboard, really anything will do. The problem with mini painting is that you're using such small amounts of paint, they very rapidly dry out, often in the middle of painting. To mitigate this, a wet palette can be used. 

Basically a wet palette is a damp sponge with a  water-permeable sheet on top (parchment paper for baking works great for this). You mix your paints on top if the sheet, and the water from the sponge soaks through just enough to keep your paints wet and usable longer. It also has the added bonus of automatically thinning your paints. You can buy wet palettes or make them yourself quite easily, and they usually come with a lid so you can close up your paint and keep the wet and usable for up to several days.

Warhammer is a tabletop wargame made by Games Workshop. It's probably the most famous and popular miniature game in the world, but I have never played it so I know little about it. In it, two or more players pit their armies of tiny warriors against each other on a battlefield. Each players makes a team of equal points, where each little soldier on the field is worth varying numbers of points depending on how powerful they are. (A basic Space Marine is worth 13 points, while a tank is worth over 200). Armies are comprised of numerous factions, each with their own strengths and weaknesses and backstory flavour.

There are a ton of rules as to the various stats and abilities of each unit, and Games Workshop is very particular about using only official Warhammer rules and minis. Because of this and because you have to assemble and paint all your figures, Warhammer is an expensive hobby to get into. The current estimate for your first army plus the supplies to make them is going to run at least $400, and I've seen plenty of people say that its realistically twice that amount. Just for one player to start playing (your opponent will have to invest a comparable amount). Its kind of nuts really,  but Warhammer certainly has its fanatics, and it's because of that strong fanbase that it remains the most successful wargame in the world.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

V is for Vallejo

Amadeo Vallejo started Vallejo Paints out of his garage in New Jersey in 1965. A Spanish immigrant, he could barely speak English, so his Dutch wife, Eugene Safranek, handled most of the business and PR, while Vallejo himself perfected his new style of acrylic paints.

Vallejo in his workshop in 1971. Source

Vallejo's early customers were primarily animation studios, particularly Hanna Barbera (of The Flintstones and Yogi Bear fame). Animators appreciated the smooth consistent colours and strong opacity of Vallejo's paints. And when they needed tens of thousands of painted cells for a half hour TV program, that amounted to alot of paint, and Vallejo's business did quite well.

Soon, however, Vallejo grew homesick for Spain (who likes living in New Jersey, anyway?), and in the early 1970s, against the recommendation of his business associates and friends, Vallejo and his wife packed up their business and moved to Barcelona. They were lucky to get in on the ground floor just as colour television and cartoons started to become popular in Europe. Being one of the only acrylic paint suppliers on the continent, Vallejo was soon exporting his products across Europe. This was quickly followed by advertising and marketing companies- this is back on the day before computers, when advertising artwork and graphic design was all done by hand. 

Vallejo became the first producer of commercial, artist-grade, affordable tubes of acrylic paint in Europe. This revolutionised the fine arts industry, and by the early 80s Vallejo was working with art schools to produce a variety of lines of fine art paints, including for the new art style of airbrushing. Needless to say, business was booming.

Also in the 80s, Vallejo began making model and wargaming paints for third parties. Soon, however, people realized where the paint was coming from and started going to the source. By the early 90s, Vallejo had started their own line of model paints called Model Color, which was immensely successful and is still recognized as one of the top brands today. They also developed the dropper bottle, which is way better than the stupid pots that Games Workshop uses. With the advent of computer-animation in the 1990s, the animation business line of Vallejo dried up, but was quickly replaced by their growing scale modeling and wargaming line. In the 2000s they added Game Color, marketed specifically toward tabletop gamers, which was also successful.

Eugenie (in the back) and Alex Vallejo (right) at a convention in Valencia in 1978. Source

Amadeo Vallejo died in 2019, but the business continues to be run by his oldest son Alex and his brothers. Today they employ nearly 100 people and produce close to 2.5 million pounds of acrylic paint a year, making them one of the largest and most successful producers of fine art and model paint in the world. They have refused all offers for buy-outs and mergers, preferring to keep their business in the family and running the same way they have for nearly 60 years. They continue to innovate, just this year refreshing their line of Game Color paints, making their formula even better if possible, and adding a sweet line of contrast paints as well.

Bonus V: Vader

Talking about object-source lighting the other day got me wanting to try it again. I went back to the same model that first introduced me to OSL and tried to recreate it:

It's definitely not perfect, but it's miles ahead of my previous attempts. The biggest thing I would change is to cut down on the amount of red on the base - I think it would stand out more if it wasn't SO much red. I would also add more highlights overall, so the brightest spots would be even brighter. Still, I'm improving, so that's a plus.

Also, I've discovered that I love glazing, and I need to focus on improving that, as well.

(And and for reference, this was painted mostly with Army Painter paints, however there are definitely a few Vallejo shades and varnishes on there)

Anyway, that's all for now. Only a few days left!

Hugs & kisses,


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