Welcome to our web site. For more information about Stephie's art, please also check out artbystephie.com.
For Matt's writing projects, please go to storiesbymatt.net. Enjoy your visit here!

12/01/18: Guess what? I did it! At 10:45 CST last night, I submitted my file to the automatic counter on the NaNoWriMo web site, and it reported that I had written 50,505 words since November 1st. As you can see on the graph here, I was behind every day until the last. Even though I took some time off of work with the intention of writing, I still had to write like a fiend on the last day to hit my goal.
     It's funny, but I don't have the sense of accomplishment I did the other times. I think it's probably because while I have enough here to put out as what will likely be book two in the Barnstormers series, the overall story has a long way to go. At least I got to see the video at the end of the NaNoWriMo people cheering my success. I love that part.

11/01/18: I probably should have my head examined, but I'm attempting NaNoWriMo again this year. For those of you new to the neighborhood, this is the National Novel Writing Month challenge that has people all over the world attempting to write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel in the month of November. This will be my fifth attempt, after having been successful on all four previous tries, so I feel the stakes are a little higher this year. I hope to complete book two of my Barnstormers story in 30 days. Wish me luck!

12/19/15: Just a quick note to let you know that I completed my NaNoWriMo novel this morning. I thought I had it done yesterday, but Stephie didn't like one part of the ending, so I added an epilogue to close one of the loops I left open. Final word count is 59,036. I'll be going back over it after the first of the year, but I think I'm going to take some time to read something for pleasure, which I've not done much of since November started.

11/08/15: I had a little setback today as I broke one of the cardinal rules of NaNoWriMo and went back to rewrite something I wrote yesterday. I had a scene in which my main character was being chased by a car driven by the bad guys, but I kept thinking of the car chase I had in The Hidden Message, which I think worked so well because I had the entire route mapped out, to where I actually walked the route downtown where the chase ended. The chapter I wrote yesterday was just a bunch or random left and right turns, ending up on Lake Shore Drive, and as I went to bed, I wasn't satisfied. I got up this morning and had two thoughts. One: I need to plot out the route, and drop a few street names in, to make it more realistic to me (and hopefully to the reader.) and two: why are the bad guys chasing my hero? They already know where he lives. I should have him chase them. SO I threw away around 600 words and the story is much better for it!

11/05/15: As my old boss used to say, things are progressing along smartly with NaNoWriMo. Something new this year: one of my buddies from the THC Writers Group has also taken up the challenge, and I have him as my Writing Buddy. I don't consider myself a competitive person, but watching his word count go up makes me want to keep going, since I don't want him to be that far ahead of me. This is not a competition in the strictest sense, since it doesn't matter what the final count is (as long as it's over 50,000 words) but I'll be ticked if we get to the end of the month and he hits the 50K and I don't. I won't be able to live with myself!

11/01/15: Call me crazy, but I'm trying NaNoWriMo again this year. If you don't know (and how can you not know since you're in the Internet), that's the National Novel Writing Month challenge, in which a whole bunch of people all over the world try to crank out a first draft of a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. I actually took the challenge and "won" in 2010, 2011 and 2012. I didn't try the last two years because I was busy with other things, but I somehow felt I was missing out on something, so this year, I'm going for it. I'll post semi-regular updates here, but you'll have to excuse me if I miss a few days because, you know, I'm writing!

12/08/12: Just a quick update: I finished my latest novel (this year's NaNoWriMo story) at 11:37 this morning. Final count was 55,555 words. It actually was 55,554 after I typed "The End," but I went back and added one more word to make it an easy-to-remember 55,555.

I think I need a nap now.

12/01/12: I don't mean to brag ... okay, yes I do. I won the NaNoWriMo challenge again! But there's a difference this year, and that's the fact that the novel is not done yet. 50,241 words since the first of November and I still have some story to go. Stephie says that she really likes what I've done so far, and has given me some of her theories about how it's going to end, but I'm not telling her if she's right or not. She'll have to wait until I finish. I'm hoping that's going to be tomorrow, after which, I'm taking a little break from fiction writing.

Except, of course, for my annual review at work, which is due next week.

11/26/12: Almost there! I know how the book is going to end, and I don't know that I will get there by Friday, but I do know I will be at 50,000 words by Friday (maybe even Thursday,) and that's all that's required to "win" the NaNoWriMo challenge. I'm so confident I'm going to order my winner's t-shirt tomorrow!

11/01/12: That's right, I'm doing it again this year. Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. So like I did the last two Novembers, I will be trying to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. What am I, nuts? Yeah, maybe I am, but I always work better with a deadline, and this is a tough one. I know from experience that if I fall behind on this, it's not easy to catch up, so I'm going to try to not let that happen. I've taken a snapshot of the nifty chart that the NaNoWriMo site provides to help you keep track of your progress. I will try to update it daily, so you can see how well I'm doing. As usual, I'm starting out a little slow, but I finished the last two years in 29 days, so I'm not worried. Wish me luck!

11/30/11: I did it! As I did last year, I completed the NaNoWriMo challenge a day early, but I was so tired last night that I didn't do the verification until today. But regardless if it was 29 or 30 days, 50,054 words (which is what it turned out to be) in one month is quite the accomplishment, if I do say so myself. And Stephie says she really liked reading it. Twice she said that I surprised her, which I think is high praise indeed. So now I think I'm done with writing for a little while.

At least until the rewriting begins!

11/03/11: It's November, and that means it's National Novel Writing Month. Here's my latest stats from the NaNoWriMo web site. I'll try to update this daily, so you can check back to watch my progress.

10/24/11: I'm doing it again! I've signed up for the NaNoWriMo challenge again this year. It was a lot of work, but I had such fun writing Casco Cove last year that I'm looking forward to trying pound out another 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I hope to be a little better prepared this year, so I'm spending the rest of this week doing a little research (I may even get a library card!) and trying to get my characters and plot a little better thought-out ahead of time. But the spirit of the challenge is not to start writing until the first of November, so a rough idea of my plot is all I'm working on. I'm hoping the style of this years book will be a little more like the action-adventure pulps that I so enjoy reading. I'm also going to try to link to the NaNoWriMo site so that I can share my daily word count with all of you. Wish me luck!

08/28/11: The guardian.co.uk had an article last week titled "Are books dead, and can authors survive?". I certainly hope they're not dead, because I just published my first book, Casco Cove.
     You may recall that last November, I took the NaNoWriMo challenge: to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. As I mentioned in past postings here, I did complete it on time, and because of that, I was entitled to a free proof copy from a publisher with ties to Amazon.com. I asked Stephie to do some cover art, then asked Jon to proofread the thing for me (which turned out to be a little embarrassing, to be honest) and Chris did the book design and layout. I can't describe the feeling when I saw the package arrived in the mail, and then opening it up to see my book, real and in person. It was fun to write it, and even more fun to have some people read it, but the best part was working with Stephie, Jon and Chris to actually get the darned thing printed.
     I had a couple copies printed for family and friends, but if you're interested in getting a copy for yourself, you can order it from Amazon. Click here to go to the Amazon listing. (I know! I'm listed on Amazon. How cool is that?) Like most things there, it's available in paperback and also for the Kindle. If you like it, drop me a line. I'm interested in your comments, both positive and negative.

03/15/11: Yeah, I know I've been neglecting this site lately. It's not that I don't have anything to write about, but I've been busy with other things. A couple weeks ago, while working on a major software upgrade on my home computer, I broke my CPU. I mean, it just came out of the socket! Fortunately, a quick-thinking guy at the service counter at my local MicroCenter saved me some bucks and some time by suggesting that I just buy a new chip, rather than having them check out the old one. It's a older Pentium 4, so it was only $12, but they put it in and it works like a champ. I'm still fiddling with the software, but you don't want to hear about that. (As a side note, the quick-thinking guy's name was Mike Hunt, which I did a double-take on. If you've ever seen Porky's, you'll know why.)
     I'm also in what I hope to be my final rewrite on the novel I wrote back in November. As part of "winning" the NaNoWriMo challenge, I can get a free proof copy printed, so I want to get the text cleaned up, and Stephie is working on the cover art, so I soon might just have a printed copy of my book in my grubby mitts. I'm pretty excited about that. And I'm already thinking of writing a follow-up.
     Other than that, we're just dragging. I've not been sleeping well for some reason (maybe the change in weather has something to do with that) and Stephie has had some tests done because she's not feeling well. Now, Kisu seems to be having a problem with her back leg after she lays on it for a while. I think with Spring just around the corner, we'll get back to our regular long walks after dinner, and that will pick us back up.
     Thanks for checking in, and have a great St. Patrick's Day.

01/22/11: Random thoughts:
- My company is having its Christmas Party tonight, so I figure the Christmas season is not yet over, so I can get away with posting this picture of a nativity that I took a couple weeks ago in my neighborhood. I'm not sure if this is the "Christmas Spirit" or one of the "Ghosts of Christmas Past/Present/Future". Maybe he just took a wrong turn at Thanksgiving.
- I've been in a bit of a rut lately, which is why you haven't seen much from me recently. November was swallowed up with that novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo, then December was busy with the holidays (which were great this year, by the way) and now, I think it's the January doldrums. It seems like I get up and go to work when it's dark, get home from work when it's dark, watch some TV, then go to bed and start it all over again. Plus, I haven't been sleeping well. I used to hear about people getting into a funk when there are stretches without sunshine, and I never thought that would bother me, but maybe it is. Fortunately, we had some sun this week, so that's something.
- On a lighter note, Tie Tuesday continues. I've worn a tie to work every Tuesday since the beginning of December, 2009, and I don't think I've yet worn every tie in my collection. Granted, there are a few that really should stay in the back of the closet, but I'm going to have to go through them and show off some of the more ... interesting ties I've accumulated over the years.
- Tomorrow is the big game between the Bears and the Packers to see who goes to the Super Bowl. I'm rooting for the Packers, of course, but I just hope it's a good game, and that the winner goes on and stomps either the Jets or the Steelers.
- I've been keeping track of the books I've read since 1997, and last years total of 47 is the most I've ever read in one year. This is undoubtedly thanks to taking the train to work since June. It will be interesting to see how many I read this year, taking the train all year.
- I've started slow this year by taking three weeks to get through the uncut version of Stephen King's The Stand. This is only the second SK book I've read, and possibly the longest book (at 1141 pages) I've ever read cover-to-cover. Now that I'm done, though, I think I need to read something happy! (Now that I think of it, reading an enormous post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel may have contributing to my current funk.)

11/17/10: I have a good excuse this time as to why I haven't posted in a while. I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. It's a web site that offers a challenge to anyone foolish enough to accept: write a 50,000 word novel, from scratch, in the month of November. I ran across the concept last year, but too late to participate. Fortunately, this year something brought it to my attention in the last week of October. I mulled it over for a few days, then figured "What the heck!" and signed up. Each night since November 1, I've sat down at the keyboard and struggled to avoid the Web, solitaire, e-mail, and other distractions on and around my desk (yes, even Kisu!) in order to pound out something that I could be proud of, if not finish.
     So far I've accomplished just that. At this point, I'm just over 25,000 words, so I'm halfway to the goal. I have no idea if I'm halfway thought with my novel, because I have no idea where it's going. I also have no idea what I'm going to do with it once I'm done. Maybe I'll post some of it here. Maybe I'll try to get some copies printed up to inflict on family and friends. Hey, I just had a thought. I think I may know what everyone on my list is getting for Christmas this year!
     By the way, if I've set this up correctly, you should be able to click the graphic here and see my up-to-date word count.

11/29/10 Update: I Won! My novel's finished, at 50,339 words. Maybe I'll get to bed at a reasonable hour for the first time this month!

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