The Outsider: Blog


Small Tweaks and Big Thank You

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I've just finished a small revision of "A Charmed Life," cleaning up various errors in punctuation, continuity, and consistency. The underlying story is unchanged, this was more like a fresh coat of paint and a few upgrades here and there. I can't see making any other major revisions at this time.

When I finished ACL last month, I tried to express here in the blog how thankful I was for Graybyrd's help and guidance since February, but what I was writing never looked right. Thankfully he contacted me before I'd gotten too far into the story to change course; he also let me continue to make the decisions on where that new course would take Jeff and company. In fact, other than some early suggestions about Jeff's character, the vast majority of the suggestions he made while ACL was being written were related to the story's structure and not the story itself. I was able to find the writing style I did through his guidance, knowledge and patience. I look forward to working with him on my next story.

My last blog entry was also lacking any meaningful thanks to you, the readers. I am glad so many of you enjoyed the story. In reading some of the forum posts over on SOL, I have also been humbled by your recommendation of ACL to others. I thank you all for voting on the story and for emailing along the way.

Two of the graphics projects I mentioned in the last post are finished, being simple one-offs, but the third is more than just a graphics project and could stretch for some time. While I do have a good start on my second story, this blog entry is the most I have written in weeks. I hope to use a lull in the project to return to writing, however briefly.


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I've posted the final chapter of A Charmed Life tonight; thanks to everyone who took the time to read, email, etc.

My writing time will be limited as I'll be working on a couple of non-writing projects for friends, so it'll be a few months at least before I post another story. The good news is that I've already begun working on that next idea, and Graybyrd has agreed to work with me again. I'm hoping to begin posting by the end of 2016, but I'll have to see.

Chapter 52 & Pronunciation Guide

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The latest installment of A Charmed Life is in Graybyrd's inbox, but he was headed out of town this week, so I don't believe he's been able to get to it yet. I will post it as soon as I am able.

It also occurred to me earlier today that other than for the Town of Greenwich, I have not included help with the proper pronunciations of town names in Massachusetts which appear in the story (as well as selected others). To rectify that oversight, I offer the guide below:

Massachusetts Town Name Pronunciation Guide
(CAPITAL letters indicate which syllable to stress)

Amherst: AMurst
Ashburnham: ASHburnam
Ayer: AIR
Belchertown: BELCHertown
Billerica: billRICKa
Boston: BOSStun
Chicopee: CHICKapee
Concord: CONcurd (CAHNkid)
Devens: DEVVins
Enfield: ENfield
Everett: EVrit
Fitchburg: FITCHburg
Gardner: GARDner (adding "-hey" at the end optional)
Greenwich: GREENwitch
Groton: GROTTun (rhymes with "cotton")
Hardwick: HARDwick
Harvard: HAHvid (or HAHvud)
Lancaster: LANKister
Leicester: LESSter
Leominster: LEMINster
Lexington: LEXingtun
Littleton: LITTLEtun
Malden: MALden
Medford: MEDferd (occasionally MEFFuhd)
Melrose: MELrose
Methuen: methOOen
Natick: NAYtick
Nauset: NAWsit (rhymes with "faucet")
New Salem: new SAILem
Palmer: PALMer
Pelham: PELLum
Petersham: PETERSam
Pittsfield: PITTSfield
Prescott: PRESScot
Reading: REDDing
Shutesbury: SHOOTSbury
Shrewsbury: SHOESbury
Springfield: SPRINGfield
Ware: WEAR (where?)
Wakefield: WAKEfield
Westfield: WESTfield
Westover: WESTover
Woburn: WOOburn
Worcester: WUSSter (note the lack of an "H" sound)

PS: Say these as fast as possible for more authenticity.

A Bolt From The Blue

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Fifteen years ago, my day changed with a phone call from my wife and the question: "What the hell's going on in New York?"

I'd slept late that morning, burrowing back into my pillow after she'd left for work. I wasn't one to watch the morning news shows back then but, as soon as I saw those recorded images, I was glued to the TV for the rest of the day.

Usually when I'd work the night shift, I'd get plenty of things done around the house before leaving for work. I don't think I moved off the couch after my wife called; it was like watching the proverbial train wreck but a thousand times worse.

Working that night was surreal. The joking that usually occurs between police, fire and EMS was absent that night; everyone was hyper-focused and on edge. Working in a city whose name no one knows how to pronounce, or has ever heard of outside of our area, we didn't realistically expect anything to happen; conversely, the only thing you're ever sure of in public safety is what time you're punching in.

Fifteen years ago, the entire world changed. Time will tell if it ultimately changed for the better.

Chapter 46 and Life

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Chapter 46 is about one-third written, and I think the third I've completed is good, but it will not be posted today. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I tend to be a creature of habit. Up until a couple of weeks ago my routine was nice and regular, repeating with a rhythm I'd become quite accustomed to.

That rhythm was changed when I was asked to help out with some recent openings in the schedule at work. I was the FNG for my first fourteen months but now I'm about to be one of the "more experienced" members there at my two-year anniversary, one who will be looked to as a resource for the newer members when they have questions. As an employee who is halfway up the seniority list in my department the expectation for me to step up and lead by example is increasing. Because of all of this, my schedule has been completely opposite my "norm" half the time.

What does this mean to you? Fear not, gentle reader, for I am still committed to this story and I will finish it. What this means in the near-term though is that I'm finding it hard to keep my brain focused on the story when I have time to write. My schedule will continue its chaotic gyrations for the foreseeable future.

My *plan* is to have Chapter 46 posted this weekend; that will depend on when Graybyrd is able to get to whatever I send him when I send it to him. Following this weekend, however, I will be gone on vacation (or "on holiday" for at least one of my readers) for a week. I hope to have time to write, because I do consider writing a way to relax; it's something "not work." If I am able to post 46, 47 will not post next week (8/12) but hopefully the week after.

I remain grateful to those of you who have been with me since I began posting in January, especially through the first draft of the story. I am no less grateful to those who have found this story somewhere along the way also. Thank you to all.