I’m not an expert, but . . .

Hi everyone.  All I’m going to say is life got in the way, again.

First, check the links at the bottom of the page – Luna and Pluto both are out, and full of great stories.

Now, about the title of this one.  Authors can be experts in a narrow field, or, they can have a lot of general knowledge.  Example – when I was younger, I spent a summer working as a plumbing laborer.  Digging ditches, cracking pipe and dealing with odd odors were all part of the job, as was learning not to puke from said odd odors in an area where you were going to have to crawl later.  One day, the crusty old master plumber on the job took me aside and said ‘Son, I am going to teach you everything you need to know to be a good plumber.’  Being young and dumb, I was awed by this.

‘First,’ he said, ‘you have to remember that shit doesn’t flow uphill.  Second, find out when payday is, and finally, never eat with your hands.’

There is a lot more to being a master plumber than that, of course, but he had laid out the basics, as he, the expert saw them.  Writing is the same way – sure, there’s a fine line between imparting enough information to show your characters know what the hell they’re doing and baffling the reader with bullshit, but the line exists.

Then there’s ‘I’m making this bullshit up as I go along’.  Which is fine if you’re writing fantasy.  But if you’re writing post-apocalyptic fiction supposedly based in reality . . . yeah, it drives me as a reader, or watcher, nuts.

Which brings us to my quasi-review of ‘The 100’.  I read the description on Netflix and thought it looked interesting.  Then my wife started watching it, and yeah, I lost it.  Understand, my review is of the CW TV show, not the YA books, and is based on watching a few minutes here and there and then leaving the room in disgust.

Ninety seven years after nuclear war has destroyed all life on earth (ignore the green trees we can see from orbit, everything is dead, entirely dead) the survivors on a space station face a growing population crisis after three generations of births (note, 97 years equals five generations, roughly but who’s counting).  A group of 100 rebellious youths is sent to earth to see if it’s habitable, and they encounter living human beings!!!!

Those telescopes we’re not training on earth?  Yeah, they totally missed the signs of people living on earth. We also missed the radio transmissions from the bad guys . . .

So, you take 100 ‘teens’ in the Hollywood sense, who have never been outside and you drop them on an irradiated earth as punishment for their sins.

None of them suffer from agoraphobia after spending their entire lives inside a space station.  And they’re all young and good looking, because TV.  There’s also a sub-plot about blood transfusions preventing people from dying of radiation poisoning, because you know, to misquote Richard Meltzer, there had been ‘nooklear destruction!’.

Then there’s the post-apocalyptic fashion.  Now, admittedly, most post-apocalyptia’s draw their fashion asthetic from 1981’s ‘Mad Max 2 – The Road Warrior’.  Now, wearing football pads and bondage gear might make sense immediately after the bombs fall – after all the producers of nylon buckles and Cordura just went out of business, albeit not by choice.  Almost a century later?  Yeah, sure. Anyone who’s had the joy of using those items can tell you how quickly they wear out – especially the damn buckles.

But the clothing issues pale compared to the big issue of season four.  ALL THE NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS ARE GOING TO BLOW UP!!!1!!!

Seriously.  All the nuclear power plants, that have survived for 97 years without maintenance are going to go critical at the same time, making the surface of the planet uninhabitable, again.  I’m not sure what the no maintenance time for any reactor is, but I’m pretty sure I could find out after a few minutes quick insert favored search engine here search on the internet.

After this bit of ‘science’ I quit walking into the bedroom where my wife was watching the show unless it was absolutely necessary.

I’m not an expert in a lot of things – but I consult experts when needed.  I want what I write to sound not only plausible, but to be as accurate to life as I can write it.  That way, when I slip in a bit of handwavium, you the reader are more likely to accept it as ‘truth’ in that universe.

Hope y’all enjoyed the commentary,


Links, links, Links –



I skipped November???

Hi everyone.  Things around Tree Duck Manor have been a bit exciting – well, if your idea of exciting is high pain levels and injuries.  As the old saying goes, it ain’t the years, its the mileage.  Although the years are catching up with the miles.

Couple of recommendations – if you play Fallout 4 and can mod your game, you might want to try the mods Borealis, Commonwealth Connifers, and Boston Natural Surroundings.  You get a Commonwealth that looks like the war occurred 200 years ago, not last week, or like you’re running around in the Mojave.

Also, the Planetary series has another book out, including the short story ‘On Eternal Patrol’ by yours truly.  Link in the links section, of course.

Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate it.


Links –



Good Morning . . .

Bit dusty in here, I know.  Sorry, between moving things around and the weather, my brain has only been semi-functional.  Speaking of the weather, I’ve got to admire weather forecasters, if for no other reason than the unwillingness to adjust their forecast when local conditions change.  The forecast for today is 81 for the high and 63 for the low.  Currently, it’s 50 degrees.  Something tells me we’re probably not going to make the forecast high, either.

I want to thank everyone who’s purchased Last Call, and ask that you take a moment to leave a review.  If you haven’t purchased it yet, see the links section below.

Words are the subject of discussion today.  Admittedly, I have a preference for archaic spellings of certain words – I prefer daemon to demon, for example.  To me, when you’re fighting the forces of evil, the older spelling looks better on the page.  I bring this up because a reviewer brought it up as a spelling error in my story ‘Run Through the Jungle’ in the upcoming JTF13: Origins.  I’ll also admit to using ‘English Spellings’ to differentiate characters from the UK from Americans.

That last one confuses the hell out of spell check and the occasional beta reader.

I’m going to keep it short today, because, well I’ve got a couple of errands to run.  One last thing – JTF13: Origins is available for preorder, with a release date of 31 October.  The concept is simple – if things that go bump in the night are real, the US Government would have to deal with them, right?  Six authors look at how they’d do it, from the American Revolution to today.

Have a great weekend,


The Links!

Last Call –

Origins –

Just a few, brief words . . .

Hi everybody!

Pain levels are high this week – the weather is doing a number on ye olde spine, and it’s doing a number on the nerves in my leg – so I’m going to be brief.

First, a couple of notes –
Thanks to everyone who bought Last Call over the last week.   If you haven’t done so, how about a quick review?  I know Amazon bugs folks for reviews, but from the Author side of it, that’s how Amazon ‘exposes’ the work.  And trust me, to misquote Ghostbusters II, the last thing you want is me exposing myself. .  .

Secondly, I’ve got a novella coming out in the Joint Task Force 13 universe from Cannon Publishing.  What’s JTF13, I hear someone in the background asking?  Imagine the US Government had to deal with things that go bump in the night.  They’d assign someone to it, right?  Historically, the folks that have gotten those kinda jobs from Uncle Sugar have been Marines – Horrible Harry’s Police Force, as they put it going ashore at Inchon.  JTF13 is a new series about the job of defending the US from enemies, foreign, domestic, and supernatural.

Origins will be available 31 October 2019.

Other than that, I hope y’all had a good week and have a good weekend!


Bring out your links!

Character . . .

Hi.  Been busy, sick and busy with a sick wife, so things have been a bit hectic.

First, some good news.  Last Call will be released on 20 September, and I have a novella in the upcoming Joint Task Force-13 anthology.  What’s JTF-13 I hear someone in the back asking.  JTF-13 is an upcoming shared universe from Cannon Publishing.  The main premise is there’s a US Government organization tasked to deal with the supernatural.  The story that started it all can be found here –

Today, I thought I’d talk about character – as Lord John Whorfin says, ‘History is-a made at night.  Character is what you do in the dark.’  More specifically ‘out of character’.  Today’s notes brought to you by Gypsy, House Panther and Marketing Cat Extraordinaire.  A buddy came to visit last week, and Gypsy still isn’t used to strange people in the house.  After he left, I went to take a nap (getting old is fun, but it beats the other options) and Gypsy came slinking into the bedroom and up onto the bed.  Normally, she’d climb into the wife’s lap and get pettings, then climb down and lay at the foot of the bed on the wife’s side.  On this day, however, Gypsy came to my side of the bed and insisted on curling up next to my hip.  Where she stayed until I had to answer a call of nature.
I bring this up because it was out of character for her to seek comfort from me in a stress situation.  Now, in real life, we all know people who have acted out of character in various situations, but how do you show that in your writing?

Writing in third person perspective, you have other characters discuss the changes in the character.  First person?  If it isn’t your POV character, you can have the POV character discussing it or helping the character who is out of character resolve the issues caused by the OOC experience.

What if it is your POV character?  How do you show a change in attitude?  Flipping it around by having secondary characters help with the issues that need resolving is common.  So is the descent into insert trope here-ism, followed by redemption.  Redemption can be in death, but there is redemption.

Anyway, I hope y’all have a great holiday if you’re in the States,

Lloyd –

Links –


What we have heah is a failyah to communicate. . .

Hi everybody!  I hope y’all are doing well.  Here at Tree Duck Manor, summer has hit with a vengeance – temps for the next week are supposed to be in the low 100 – high 90 degree range.  I know, we had another gap week – between yard work and getting things out the door, I just didn’t have the capacity for braining last week, thus the title.

Last Call is finished – off to the publisher, along with two short stories.  Next goal is to tear down two works in project and rebuild them – one from a different point of view, and transition the other from a novella to a novel, which is always fun.

Today’s topic of discussion – OMG TWO WEEKS IN A ROW?? – is naming characters.  “How do you come up with character names?” is probably the second most asked question I see in the writing groups I’m in – the first being ‘How does this sound?”

If you’re writing modern stories – and by modern I mean current or shortly into the future – names are simple.  Phone books (although those are becoming harder to come by), popular name sites, the Social Security Administration (they keep statistics on names by year), and calls for Tuckerization and you’re in like Flynn.

Let’s say, however, you’re writing a Lovecraftian horror story set in the 1930’s.  Where can you get names for that?  Popular name sites – some will break down how popular a name is by year, based on the aforementioned SSA data and period authors are a good source.

Finally, never think your naming conventions are too weird.  Strange names run in families.  General William Tecumseh Sherman wasn’t originally named ‘William’, for example.  When he was born, his parents named him ‘Tecumseh’ and left it at that.  When the circuit preacher came through and baptized him, the preacher refused to baptize Cump (as he was known to family and friends) with a ‘heathen’ name, so he found the closest saint’s day to Sherman’s birth and baptized him as William.

But for weird, there are days I think the naming conventions in my family take the cake – obviously, I’m named for my father.  Well, not that obviously, because ‘II’ usually indicates the third person to wear that name – Junior first then II, III, IV, etc.  However, my parents thought Junior would be a bad idea, because they realized growing up in Texas, I’d be stuck with the nickname Junior.   The ‘A’ comes from my paternal grandfathers first name.  But for really strange, you have to go to my maternal line.  There are three names that pop up in every generation before mine – William, Michael, and Albert.  On my maternal grandmothers side, there’s at least one William in every generation to my mother – including at least two at the level of my great-great grandfather.  My grandfather’s family liked Michael Albert or Albert Michael – that combination is used on the first born male child in most generations up to mine all the way back to the old country.

Swap names around.  Mix and match.  Don’t feel that you have to come up with something ‘strange and unusual’ simply because everyone else is doing it.

Have a good week,


PS, the links –