April Update

Welcome to all of you who reached this site via the link on the Indie Authors Read site. If you don’t know what that means, jump over to indieauthorsread.com to hear some terrific stories read by the people to wrote them.

If you’ve watched the video I made, thanks!  You probably want to click on the Barnstormers link in the menu bar, because on that page is Chapter Two of the story.  I gotta warn you, though: Chapter Two ends in a bigger cliffhanger than Chapter One!

Barnstormers: The Adventures of Kiki and Bridget is my latest project, and the sales copy is below, but I’ve written some other books as well.  All the details are on the My Other Books page, and some short stories for you to read are on my Short Stories page, including the popular tales of the customers of the Adventure Comics Comics Emporium.  Check ’em out.


I hope everyone is staying safe and sane during this time of isolation, and that you are following proper social distancing instructions whenever you have to venture outdoors.  I’m still working from home, and Stephie and I are, so far, healthy and uninfected.

I’ve been using WebEx to keep in touch with friends and writer pals.  I’m looking forward to the April writers group meeting on-line, after we had to cancel the March meeting.  Some of us are discussing plans to have some kind of an on-line get-together to fill in for the temporarily-cancelled Tamale Hut Cafe Reading Series nights.  If we get our plans together, I’ll mention it here and on social media.

I got an e-mail from one of the organizers of the 2020 Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention, to check if I was okay and if I was still planning to attend the new dates, September 11 to 13, because apparently there’s a long waiting list for tables.  I replied to him that I was looking forward to it.  I guess that I won’t be releasing any new books at the show, because I hope to have Barnstormers Book Two released in the next month or so, and book three might not be done by mid-September.  (Maybe I can do something for Book Two at Printers Row, if that hppens this year.)  I’m still looking to have book three released at the Tamale Hut for my Feature Reader spot in October.

That reminds me that I need to check with my brother to see how the editing on Book Two is going, and how he’s going to get me the pages once he’s done.  Because it’s not like this is essential or anything!  Then I need to get back to Book Three.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for something fun to read while the people you live with are getting on your nerves because of being cooped up with you, my latest book Barnstormers Book One: The Adventures of Kiki and Bridget is available from Amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle.  It’s a tale of action and adventure, set in the early days of aviation and written as a homage to the cliffhanger serials of the first half of the twentieth century   Click here to read the second chapter.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. Wash your hands. Share your toilet paper stockpiles with people that you love. I hope to see you all when we resume our regularly scheduled lives, whenever that may be.


Kristina “Kiki” Hansen and Bridget Doyle fell in love with aviation while in college. After graduation, they obtained one of the thousands of airplanes left over from the First World War and taught themselves the kinds of stunts that thrilled audiences all across the country, and that had made barnstorming one of the most popular forms of entertainment during the Roaring Twenties.

But by the middle of the decade, the U.S. Post Office began to hire private airlines to deliver mail, and the money involved in such contracts made certain undesirable elements of society take notice. Suddenly, the risks these daredevils faced were not only in the skies.

Follow our two intrepid aviatrices as they face action and adventure in this tale, set in the early days of aviation, and written as a homage to the cliffhanger serials of the first half of the twentieth century.

Barnstormers Book One is available at Amazon.com in paperback or Kindle.

March 2019 update – housebound!

Hi, everyone,

This corona virus threat really has knocked me for a loop.  We here are all safe and uninfected as far as I can tell.  I get to work from home for the foreseeable future, which I see as a blessing and a curse.  (I think I’m more productive when I have direct access to the people I work with.)

Worse news is that the 2020 Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention, where I was planning on debuting my next book, has been postponed until September.  As I mentioned before, I was planning to release book two in April at the Pulp convention, then release book three at the Tamale Hut for my Feature Reader spot in October.  I think I’ll have to rethink this plan.

The good news is that I don’t have to rush to get book two in print for the show.  The story is currently being edited and should be available to order in late-April or early-May.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for something fun to read while the people you live with are getting on your nerves because of being cooped up with you, my latest book Barnstormers Book One: The Adventures of Kiki and Bridget is available from Amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle.  It’s a tale of action and adventure, set in the early days of aviation and written as a homage to the cliffhanger serials of the first half of the twentieth century   Click here to read the first chapter.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. Wash your hands. Share your toilet paper stockpiles with people that you love. I hope to see you all when we resume our regularly scheduled lives, whenever that may be.

October 2019 Reading Series event

Thanks to everyone who came out to my THC Reading Series feature night on Saturday, October 19, 2019, I wasn’t sure that I would have copies of the book available to sell, but after a frantic call by me to customer service, Amazon came through and the box of books arrived the Thursday before the event.

I’m now working to complete book two of the saga.  It’s more than two-thirds complete, but will need some serious editing once done.  The first half of the book is set in the Chicago area, and I think I let my research get the best of me, with too much description getting in the way of the story.  Still, that’s what editing is for.

My plan is to have the second volume available in April, and to promote that, I’ve signed up for a table at the 2020 Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention!  It will be held April 17-19, 2020, and I’ll have more information as the dates get closer.

August, 2019 update

Happy Summer everyone!  The first volume of Barnstormers is being edited as you read this, and I’m still grinding through the first draft of the second volume.  I’m planning that my October featured reader spot at the Tamale Hut will be the book release party for book one of the saga!

We also have a big event coming up as Stephie will have her tent at the Bucktown Arts Fest on August 24 and 25, from 11am to 7pm both days.  We’ll have some of my books for sale there, and lots of Stephie’s art.  I will likely be there both days. The fest is at 2200 N Oakley in Chicago, across from Holstein Park.

The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, August 24, and I will not be there, owing to the item above.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go!  The feature that night will be my fellow writers from the Tamale Hut Café Writers Group, and you will be amazed by what they’ve written.  I know, because I’ve read most of what they will read over the course of the last few meetings.  Don’t miss it!

Thanks for stopping by!

January, 2019 update

Happy belated New Year!  If the first two weeks of this year are any indication, 2019 is going to be as busy a year as 2018 was.  I hope everyone had a great holiday, and are already used to writing 2019 on their checks and other correspondence.

Looking back on my 2018 goals, I found that I didn’t accomplish most of them, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it.  I did get ahead on my Barnstormers story by writing the next stop for NaNoWriMo, and I’m really happy with the way that turned out.  The first chapter of Bridget and Kiki’s adventures in 1925 Chicago is attached below.

The Writers Group that I coordinate celebrated six years of monthly meetings with a featured reader spot at the THC Reading Series in October, and the story I wrote to the theme of the evening featured the characters from my Adventures Comics Comics Emporium series.  I figure I just need one short story with them and I would have enough to publish in book form.  You can read some of the stories on my Short Stories page.

I finally have a good idea for my next story in the Sleep Detectives universe, and since I’m far enough ahead on the Barnstormers piece, I feel I can take some time to write that.  I need to get back to those characters because I really like them.

And this year I am definitely going to submit a story or two for publication somewhere.  I have a few pieces that I thought were good enough, but when I went back to them, they seem to need more work.  This will be a priority this year.

The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, January 19, but Stephie and I have another commitment and will not be going.  That doesn’t mean you can’t go and listen to some fine stories. There’s free parking, no admission, the tamales are excellent, and it’s BYOB.  They start at 7pm.  I do plan to be there for the February event, which will be on February 23.

I mentioned my Barnstormers story above, and if you’ve even considered joining my mailing list to read the full story as it comes out, now’s the perfect time to jump on, as the chapter I just sent begins with the ladies arriving in Chicago, where they have been hired to perform stunts over Riverview Amusement Park on the north side of the city.

I had done a lot of research for this story, because I want to make it as accurate as possible.  The story is fiction, but I’ve tried to make it as realistic as I could.  This is a bigger concern in this particular arc because I live in the Chicago area and many of my readers do as well, so the odds that someone would call me out on a factual inaccuracy are quite high.  I found a lot of interesting information while doing research for this chapter.  For instance:

  • The Checkerboard field where Kiki and Bridget keep their plane was located at the corner of First Avenue and Roosevelt Road in Maywood.  It was a major hub in the early days of air mail service, and one of the pilots who regularly landed at the field was Charles Lindbergh.
  • I wanted to have my characters drive down Cermak Ave, but discovered that it was called 22nd Street in 1925.  It was not known as Cermak until after the assassination of Mayor Anton Cermak in 1933.
  • Corruption in local government is nothing new, as I’m sure some still goes on today, but in the ’20s, it was not uncommon to lose your business license for refusing to have a mob-supplied jukebox or pinball machine, or to stock booze supplied by local organized crime figures, even though this was at the height of Prohibition..

I hope you enjoy reading Barnstormers: The Adventures of Kiki and Bridget as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Thanks for reading!

December, 2018 update

NaNoWriMo is over for 2018 and like the last four times I’d attempted it, I was up to the challenge!  Here’s the graph of my progress:

I found this year much tougher going than in previous attempts, and I think it had to do with the story.  I thought that I would coast through, because I already had established characters, I had picked out familiar surroundings for the action to occur (although I’d need to adjust for the time period), and I was excited because I hadn’t attempted the challenge in three years.  I even scheduled some vacation time during the month to give me a buffer of time to write.

What I hadn’t counted on was that I would feel the need to do more research on location, because my initial readers would have the same familiarity and I didn’t want to have any obvious gaffes.  I also found it much harder to focus on writing in the evenings, my current commute being more arduous than during previous attempts.

But I think the biggest problem I had was the story.  By nature, I’m not a plotter but a pantser.  I typically don’t plan very much ahead, if anything only one or two scenes.  In past years, I’ve described my writing process as watching a movie in my head and typing it out as it unspooled.  The Barnstormers story is an homage to the Saturday-afternoon serials of the ’30s and ’40s, in which each weekly chapter ended with a cliffhanger, and theatergoers would return the next week to see the resolution of the cliffhanger.  That framework meant that I was constantly watching my chapter word count, and forcing myself to come up with some danger that one or both of my protagonists would find themselves in.  I found that very easy when I was working on the earlier chapters of the story, before NaNoWriMo, but back then I was writing roughly a chapter every three weeks or so.  The constant watching for the upcoming end of the chapter placed added stress on my writing process that I really didn’t need.

In the end, I completed the challenge, but I don’t have a sense of closure because the story is far from finished.  I had hoped to chronicle my characters’ adventures in the Chicago area, then move to St. Louis, to have them wind up in Texas (I hadn’t decided on what city yet) but at just over 50K words, I’ve only got as far as establishing them in St. Louis.  It’s a sense of accomplishment to have written so much in one month, but I have so much more to go, I just feel burned out.  I think I just need to take a few days to recover, then continue on.

 

July, 2018 Update

Hi, Everyone,

Summer’s here and the time is right … for sitting inside in the air conditioning and writing!  At least that’s how the song goes inside of my head.

I’d like to hope that I’m finally getting my act together to get back to writing.  This weekend, for instance, I’ve written a couple thousand words on a short story I’ve been planning for a while, I’ve finally finished the migration of our family site, stephanieandmatt.com, to a new hosting company, one who will hopefully notify me when I have a bill due, as opposed to relying on my noticing that the site has vanished from the ‘net because I didn’t pay my annual fee, which is how it was with the previous jokers I was hosting with.  Seriously, I owe you money.  Don’t you think you could at least send me an e-mail with that fact?

I’ve also sent out what I’ve been calling my monthly update but has actually been bi-monthly so far this year.  I’m caught up with all the correspondence regarding the writers group that I moderate, and I updated some software on Stephie’s PC.  Not bad for a weekend!  I just need to keep this momentum going.

Because of other commitments, the next THC Reading Series night I will be attending will be Saturday, September 15, and I will be reading chapter 10 of Barnstormers.  If you want to catch up on the story, you can read chapter 9 on my Barnstormers page,  but the best way to follow the story of Kiki and Bridget is to join my mailing list.  I send out an e-mail once a month with information about my writing and any literary events I might be at, and I include the next chapter of the Barnstormers story with each one.  I do post each chapter here after I read it, but subscribers to my e-mail list are already ahead of the game, as in May they will be reading chapter ten, which I won’t be reading at THC until maybe September.  And it’s all for free!  Join today!

Thanks for reading!

March, 2018 update

Hi, Everyone,

If you’re wondering what happened to February, so am I!  Extra stress at work plus a lingering head cold plus the strange weather we’ve been having all contributed to a mid-winter funk that was not really the best state for me to do much creative work.  I got some writing done, but other things like this e-mail slipped away from me.

The good news is that it’s a sunny March morning and I feel like I’m starting to get my creative drive back.  I’ve been struggling with a little writer’s block since the Christmas holidays, and while the writing is still not flowing like I would like, I have been writing, and I like what’s coming out.  I’m getting excited about the story again, and I hope it shows in the published results.

I have only a few items to pass along to you this month:

  • I’m well into chapter 10 of Barnstormers, and expect to have it done in the next day or two.  The jump in the story line seems to have thrown me a bit, plot-wise, but I feel I’m back on track.  You will see it in April if you’re on my mailing list.
  • The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, March 17, and I’ll be reading an abbreviated version of chapter 7 of the Barnstormers story. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some interesting stories! There’s free parking, no admission, the tamales are excellent, and it’s BYOB.  We start at 7pm.
  • I finally have a hook for the next “Danny” story, and as crazy as it sounds considering the struggle I’ve been having making time to write, I’m thinking of trying to write it during April as part of the “Camp NaNoWriMo” challenge.  I always write best with a deadline, and the “Camp” part means that I can set my own word count goals, so I’ll shoot for a 10-15K novelette for the month.

Thanks for reading!

January, 2018 update

Happy New Year, everyone,

I hope everyone had as good a Christmas and New Year break as I had, and now I’m ready to get back to work.

Looking back on my writing output from last year, I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t write as much as I had hoped. I’m very happy with the eight chapters of the Barnstormers story that I’ve completed, and I think The Lost Ticket is the strongest of the three “Danny” stories I’ve written so far, but I have so many other stories I’d like to tell, and I’ve not been making the time to do that.

So I’m working on some goals for the next calendar year. Not “New Year’s Resolutions”, but goals. I want to get ahead on the Barnstormers story so I’m not scrambling at the last minute when I need a chapter for a writer’s group or to send to my mailing list. I want to write at least one more “Danny” story before starting on my next Sleep Detectives novel.

This year, I want to try to write a one-act play. I heard a guest on a podcast who is working in television talk about how he’d been writing one-act plays, and he put them together as a free e-book on Kindle that he uses as a kind of a resume. I downloaded it and thought the stories were awful, but I’m intrigued by the format. I really enjoyed converting the Sleep Detectives chapters for multi-person reading at the book releases (which you can hear on my Audio page), and I think I’d like to try writing something specifically for that format, rather than adapting something existing.

Finally, I’m going to try to submit a short story for publication somewhere, either in a magazine or an on-line publication. I have a couple of stories that most people haven’t seen, because they’re too long for a reading night and because I’m not happy with the endings. Maybe I’ll try to fix the ending and send them out into the world. Or maybe I’ll write something new. Either way, my goal is not necessarily to be published (which would be great, but not something under my control) but simply to submit.

Whatever I do, I plan to share it with you, and I hope you are entertained by it. If you have any comments, on the Barnstormers story or anything, please let me know.

I do have a few specific items to pass along to you this month:

  • I’ve been invited by one of my THC Reading Series pals to participate in an Open Mic event in Northbrook. While that’s pretty far from home, it’s only ten minutes from work, so I’m planning to go. It will be Tuesday night, January 23 at the Book Bin Northbrook,1151 Church St in Northbrook. The event starts at 7pm, and I think I might read an excerpt from one of the “Danny” stories, possibly the bar scene from The Lost Girl. I don’t know what to expect there, but I’m sure I’ll have fun. If you’re in the Northbrook area, join me there. There are worse places you can spend a cold January evening than at a book store listening to writers reading their work.
  • The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, January 20, and I’ll be reading an abbreviated version of chapter 6 of the Barnstormers story. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some interesting stories! There’s free parking, no admission, the tamales are excellent, and it’s BYOB. We start at 7pm.
  • I’m well into chapter 9 of Barnstormers, and expect to have it done soon

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great year!

November, 2018 update

The big news this month has nothing to do with my writing. My lovely and talented wife Stephanie is the next artist to display her work at the Tamale Hut Café.  Details are on my home page.

I do have a few writing-related items to pass along to you this month:

  • The story I read at the October reading series night is now posted on the Writing Group blog at https://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/. You can also read it on my web site on the Short Stories page.
  • Free time was at a premium in October, but with several major projects at work finishing in the next few weeks, I expect to have more writing time, so I will be back at the Barnstormers.  I plan to begin writing chapter 8 later today.

The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, November 18, and I will be reading an abbreviated version of chapter 5 of the Barnstormers story. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some interesting stories! There’s free parking, no admission, the tamales are excellent, and it’s BYOB.  We start at 7pm.

Thanks for reading!