Books Music Programming History Purchase Interviews
I created my writing app (WriteEverywhere) for a very specific purpose: I wanted to be able to write from my computer or from my phone without worrying about whether what I had written would actually synch up, regardless of which device I was using. This is a surprisingly difficult problem to address. The reasons are complicated, but most of them have to do with determining which version of the document is most recent (if you edit on an iPhone and then edit again on a computer, the two devices struggle to tell each other whose version is more recent). 
I solved that problem by storing all my documents on a web server and then using the app to edit, regardless of whether the app is on a computer or a phone. 
Anyway, that was all well and good, but I still had a problem: the app looked like crap on an iPhone, and it was tough to use because of the way iPhones handle certain types of input.
So I cracked down, and above is what you see when you launch the app (a list of books you've created). 
Then, clicking on a book produces this:
And, of course, when you select a chapter, it produces this:
And it all works great. I still have a few things to fix before it's completely useable, but at this point, I can actually write on my iPhone again, which had been stopping me from writing as much as I used to, because if I'm using my phone, I can write and still hang around the family, "watch" TV with them, that kind of thing. 
So I'm excited. 
And yeah, as you can tell, my attention has switched back to Father of Malice as my current project, and I think I'll stick with it this time, because I've stumbled across a great plot, and that's like hitting an artery—the gush of words just won't stop.
Here's my new plot overview for it: 
A snarky big-city newspaper editor gets fired and finds himself having to move to small-town America to get another job. Once there, his new paper discovers a strange cult outside town that worships a mysterious, emaciated man who seems to pop up in whispered tales of horror throughout history.
I think it's a great plot, and I'm going to be writing it pretty quickly from here out now that I don't have to sit at my desk to do it.
UPDATE: Still working on it. I fixed the editing interface to make everything clearer:
The formatting buttons are all now clearer, and you can tell which chapter and book you're working on.
Father of MaliceProgrammingWriteEverywhere.comWriting
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If President Barack Obama had deep financial ties to Russia, if his campaign had made contact with the Russians and it was later determined the Russians had actively used their spy network to compromise the American election, if the Russians had a sex tape of Obama that they said they could later use to control him...
Well, the man never even escaped the blatant lies about him that he was a Muslim, born in a foreign country and wanted to take all our guns. Imagine how right-wingers would be freaking out if just ONE of those Russia ties happened to Obama.
Just the specter of possibly colluding with a foreign hostile power in order to win the election would be enough for the entire South to be demanding a lynching.
But listen. You hear that? Crickets. Nothing from the right, except for brave Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham, who says this shit needs to be sorted out, like YESTERDAY.
Look, I don't like Trump. But I like Pence even less. I don't want Mike Pence to be our president. But I also don't think, if any of these things are true, that Donald Trump should be president. If he helped the Russians help him cheat to win, he is a traitor and guilty of treason. 
If he has financial debts to the Russian government, he isn't allowed to serve as our president, according to the law. If there's a sex tape of him banging Russian prostitutes—well, that's not illegal, but it's still pretty damn embarrassing. 
Look, as a liberal, I'm chowing down the metaphorical popcorn watching this shitshow. 
But as an American, I fervently hope this stuff isn't true. Donald Trump won the election. Hillary lost. I get that. I'm over it. I don't think he'll be a very good president, but I hope I'm wrong even on that. And I hope this Russia stuff isn't true. Because even though my side lost, I love this country, I love what our elections stand for. And I don't want the idea that they were compromised by a foreign power to be true.
It was so nice to have eight years with no scandals.
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I dunno what I was expecting when my mom requested a copy of Minister of Justice over Christmas when she and my step-father, Charles, came to visit us and the boys.
My mom, you understand, is a fundamentalist Christian. So is Charlie. Charlie's a super-nice guy, but he's fundamentally opposed to my opinions politically and religiously. That said, and I repeat, he's a super-nice guy. And my mom, given all the water under our bridge, turned out to be pleasant on the visit, and like I said, requested a copy of Minister. Which she finished today.
Great book, Leif!
Seriously, the last three words I thought I'd hear from her. Not that I don't think it's a great book. Narcissistically, I do. I really do. I just didn't think she would think so, since the Minister of Justice himself, Steve Samuelson, is a VERY liberal kind of minister, embracing all the things fundamentalists generally stand against, and the book is chock full of cuss words, underage sex and pretty much every other craziness you can dream up, including an Amish guy who figures out people's darkest secrets so he can hoard gold. 
Apparently, my mom doesn't hate the word "fuck" as much as she used to, because it's probably on every other (at least every third) page in the book. 
It was brilliant. Can't wait to read "Robby the R-word." The first chapter really sucks you in.
Again, shocking. I guess I'm never too old to be surprised.
Minister of JusticeParenting PoorlyRobby the R-Word
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Robby the R-Word is coming this spring. That means I have to have another novel written by the time it's out in order to get it published before 2018 ends. 
I've been struggling to fall in love with any of the projects I have going.
Until I was working on my writing program today, and I stumbled across something I had completely forgotten I wrote, called "Pathetic Prophet."
It is absolutely horrible—and I mean that in the most complimentary way. It's essentially a guy saying all the things you want to say but don't because of social conventions.
If you can stand the language, I'll post a snippet from the very beginning here:

"He will rape your little girl," I tell the pleasantly middle-class woman as I walk past her on my way to the Golden Arches. "He will rape her and then kill you with a claw hammer when you catch him. Run now. Take the college account you started for her and rent an apartment in Tennessee. Preferably Memphis. Otherwise, you're dead and she'll end up stripping to pay for her heroin."

God, I'm a bundle of joy, right?

The woman, horrified, I'm sure, backs away from me like I am breathing leprosy, hepatitis and sweat pore cancer—which apparently is a real thing.

"How do you know about the college—"

"Take it or leave it," I grumble. "I couldn't care less."

I walk away without looking to see if she is going to listen. In my experience, it's about 70/30 in favor of those who don't. Which means, odds are her baby is going to be whipping her tits out for money in about 15 years. Or less.

Truth is, there's nothing about that whole spiel I couldn't have guessed without any supernatural help. What middle-class asshole hasn't started a college fund for their little bundles of autism and child-onset diabetes? The bruise on the woman's cheekbone says she's with a guy taking out frustrations. The prematurely weathered glare of the little girl says the man has already gotten pretty close to crossing the line.    
I know, it's kind of vulgar, but again, it's social convention that keeps us all from being vulgar. I mean, what if your Id could simply run amok without the filters your life training has put on you that stop you from blurting out what you really think? Now add to that some sort of mysterious power of precognition, and you can see how the main character here might not care much about how he delivers his message.
Then add the fact that everyone he talks to, he sees their past, present and future without the gloss of the lies we tell ourselves to justify our past and present missteps. Being jaded might be the only way he could deal with that sort of knowledge, I would think.
Anyway, I love the idea of telling the story of a guy who seriously does not give a shit about what people think about him. The precognition isn't even the main plot point, I think. It's more a side attribute. I think he might be the most interesting character I've come up with so far.
So maybe I'll write on that for awhile. If I can ever get my writing program working again. In the meantime, start chomping at the bit to read Robby, because it's the best writing I've done so far.
Bad WritingWriting
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Page 1. That's right. The first page.
When I earlier talked about bad publishing deals, here's what tf I meant. See the part highlighted  in the picture above? That's from the first chapter, first page of my novel, Minister of Justice. The original manuscript read like this: "The body the station had just shown..."
But, in their infinite and cut-rate wisdom, the publisher and editor decided I used the word "had" too much. "It makes it too passive," they said. So I painstakingly went through the manuscript and changed the majority of instances where "had" appeared. But I left that one, because, um, it fucking needed to be there.
So they went through, and I shit you not, used find-and-replace in Word to get rid of every fucking instance of the word "had" in the manuscript. And in the process, changed a perfectly good sentence into a FIRST FUCKING PAGE MISTAKE.
I pointed it out to them.
But if you pick up a printed copy of Minister of Justice (and you should, because despite their worst efforts, it's still a good novel), you can still see that mistake in the first page. And there are numerous other mistakes throughout the manuscript, some of which are mine (I type fast, and when I'm writing on an iPhone, autocorrect is not my friend), but most of which were introduced during the editing process.
I can't tell you how frustrating that is.
All of this came up because my mother is now reading the book. Whenever someone I know reads my work, I go back and re-read it to see what they're seeing. OCD much? Yes, thank you.
Of course, her first instinct was to defend herself against what she saw as attacks on her in the book:

The "mostly fiction" thing is something I wrote when I signed her copy of the book. Fuck me for trying to be funny. Still, I don't blame her. No one wants to see themselves through the eyes of someone whose view isn't completely positive. I guess she got her revenge by calling me greasy-haired (completely untrue, for the record):
Yeah, you read that right. My mom told me to make my novel's mom a "sexy vixen." Is it any wonder my mind isn't right?
Still, her reading the novel made me go back and look through it, and I really do like it. Love it, even. Despite the fact that buying it would cause money to undeservedly go into the pockets of the publisher, I still think you should buy it, because I want you to read my work. I have not made a single dime from that publisher on Minister, (I have made some respectable money selling it on my own) but that doesn't matter. I just want people to read my books. I have a good business; I don't need to make a lot of money on books. I just want people to read them.
That sounds pathetic, so for the record: I made good money on Deadly Vows. In person-to-person sales, I made good money on Minister of Justice. Though I hate to give that publisher any money, fact is, Minister is a damn good book, and I enjoyed reading it to see what my mom was reading. 
You will too. If you can't afford 14.95 to buy the paperback on Amazon (and Jesus, that's a lot of money for a paperback), the Kindle version is a lot cheaper. Doesn't make me any difference, as long as you read it. The shady-ass publisher isn't sending me any cash either way, so just get the cheapest version and start reading! 
My mom appears to love it:
(Troy is my brother. Candi is my older sister)
Also, have I mentioned that my mother came here for Christmas, and immediately made an impression on my kids?
I was surprised when Axl asked this morning, "Why did the grandma leave?"
And then, tonight, as April and I were watching season three of Girls (an excellent show, by the way), he kept coming in and pasting stickers to my head:
Shut up. I know I'm old.
His reason? "I love the stickers the grandma gave me." I didn't even know she had given him stickers. Apparently, they were in the first page of a coloring book she had given him.
Ah well, he had fun. By the end of the night, I had something like 20 stickers on my head.
More importantly, my view of my parents is colored by my perspective, my prejudices, my peculiar psychology. By all accounts, my father, who was horrible to me, was an excellent grandfather. And my mother clearly made my children feel special. 
Regardless of the real or perceived slights we have all experienced, we owe it to our children to let them experience a world unencumbered by our prejudices. I can be grumpy about my upbringing, but in the long run, my kids should have the opportunity to develop their own opinions, even if those are divergent from mine.
My parents weren't malicious. They did the best they could to raise their four children, and it's easy for me to sit back, using modern understanding, and judge them. I would have done it differently. But I wasn't a parent in the 1970s. I was a child. I'm a parent now, and my parenting style differs greatly from theirs. In 40 years, my kids will be bitching about what a horrible parent I was, despite the fact that I'm doing the very best I know how to do. 
So I'm going to give my parents a break, at least as far as my kids are concerned.
My mom made my kids love her. And I'm happy about that.
Bad WritingMinister of JusticeParenting PoorlyRobby the R-WordThe Good Son
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Sister Wives. As the late, great Joan Rivers would say, can we talk about this bullshit? OK, I get it, polygamy. Sure. Interesting and whatnot. One dude, four butterfaces, fun show. 
For about three episodes.
How in the world are we here, ELEVEN seasons later, and this is still a thing? I truly, honestly, do not get it. My wife and I tried to watch an episode from a recent season (it was forgettable enough that I'm not even going to try to research which one), and it was unwatchable crap. Like, why does anyone care about any of these people?
They cry on a dime, all act like sad-sack halfwits, and somehow someone is still paying them to expose their ridiculous lives for a weekly TV show. 
Look, I knew a polygamist family really well. I even wrote a book about them. I get that it's interesting. But after a few minutes, you just think, "OK, that's crazy, I'll move on to some other subject before I lose my shit."
Actually, I just read the "four butterfaces" line again. Totally inaccurate. Because "butterface" implies that everything "but her face" is good to go. In no way is that true of any of his four Droopy Dog manatees. A true butterface is someone you see initially and go, "oh, hell yes," and then you see her face and go, "holy shit, talk about false advertising!" Sandra Bernhardt. She was a butterface. Bruce Willis and Demi Moore's daughter from Dancing with the Stars. There's a butterface. These sacks of Mormonism and Xanax? ButterEVERYTHINGS. But I digress.
And don't think I'm a misogynist; I'm just trying to clarify the "butterfaces" thing. Bah. Screw it. If I wasn't so lazy, I'd delete the whole thing and start over. The point is, they're boring. Ugly, too, yeah, but dreadfully, painfully, excruciatingly boring. That's the main point, I'm pretty sure.
The point is, the show is horrible. And always has been. Which goes to show that TLC will run a show about anything, and apparently people will watch it.
Meanwhile, the winter lull of shows led me to watching Timeless, largely because it showed up for free in my new TV app on the AppleTV. 
And, to my surprise, after I was able to suspend my disbelief with the help of single-malt Scotch, it's a pretty damn good show about the Butterfly Effect (does it seem like there's a lot of butter in this entry? Not on purpose. But I use the real stuff on my toast every morning), and unlike most shows that deal with that theoretical phenomenon, this one tramples all over it, and we have yet to discover what sort of consequences that will bring. 
Lincoln, assassinated not by John Wilkes Booth, but by a time-traveling douchebag. The Hindenburg survives, only to be torched a day later. The great letter from the Alamo written by another time traveler. Benedict Arnold being killed by several time travelers instead of living out his life in peace in England.
What changes will that bring in the future? Who knows? But I'm certainly in for watching. It airs, I think, on NBC, but I forget what day. Sorry. Look it up.
TVThe Lunatic Channel
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Good programmers are rarely also good interface designers. 
When I designed my writing program, I designed an interface that worked perfectly on my computer, but on a phone, it just didn't work at all, because phones are vertical and computers are horizontal. Here 'tis:
Horrible, right?

I needed an interface that worked both places, so I went back to the drawing board. In the old interface, when you load the program, a list of books appears on the left. You click one of those and a list of chapters in that book appears next to the list of books. Click on a chapter, and that chapter opens in the editor on the right. Like I said, great for a desktop, horrible for a phone.
So instead, I decided the interface should be designed for a phone first, because that form tends to work on a desktop as well. Above is what I came up with. A list of books still appears first, but it fills all the horizontal space on the program (assuming there are enough books to do that). Then, clicking one of the books (Throckmorton Creek is clicked above) opens up a new space underneath that book containing all the chapters in that book. Clicking a chapter will cause the entire interface to disappear, replaced by a full-area editor with links at the top to allow you to go back to the list of chapters or the list of books.
I think that's a lot simpler, and better-looking, in my never-very-humble opinion.
I think however, I'll make the icons bigger. Right now, it looks like 1995 Windows.
There. That's better.
Of course, there's a lot of work still to do, and the monochrome color scheme is on purpose: Writing works better for me if the background is dark (but not black) and the text is light (but not white). Other users will, of course, be able to adjust that.
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This morning, Axl casually said, "That was a horrible dream."
"Oh? What was it?"
"The spider is still in her cage, isn't she?" I reassured him that she was. "She's not shooting webs?"
Tarantulas don't shoot webs, so he got that from watching spider videos on YouTube, which he does more often than anything else. I don't know what it is that fascinates him so much, but he loves watching people be scared of spiders.
I guess embrace your fears.
AxlParenting Poorly
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Say hello to PI, the newest addition to the dozens of pets at the Wright Hacienda. PI is a rose-haired tarantula, and since my sons spend hours every day watching spider videos, I thought they'd love her. 
And I was right. At least twenty times tonight, I heard, "Can I go look at the spider, Daddy?"
Here she is, climbing around her tank to get the lay of the land. Those fangs look formidable, but the bite of a rose-hair is less painful than a bee sting, and since I also keep bees, no biggie. 
My wife posted these pictures on her Facebook, and people lost their minds, as if we now have a tarantula roaming the grounds. She's in a cage, she'll never get out of it, and even if she did, she's less dangerous than the 500 fiddlebacks that are probably hiding in every corner of your house right now. She's a non-aggressive, cuddly spider who simply wants to hang out and eat a cricket every week or so. I'm not really a spider kind of guy, but even I can see she's not threatening, not scary at all. I think fear/hate of spiders is somehow coded into our DNA from back in a time when spiders were real threats to the survival of the homo sapiens species.
Also, does it look like an angry little robot is poking its head up from the hood of my car in the picture below?
Now that I've anthropomorphized the windshield wiper spigot, I can't unsee it. Every time I look, I see an angry robot. Anthropomorphization is fascinating aspect of humanity. It's how we are able to see dragons and bunnies in cloud formations; it's a byproduct of our evolution, the ability to pick shapes out in the distance and assume what they might represent. It could be a defensive mechanism: the ability to pick a tiger out of the grasses, or it could be an offensive mechanism: the ability to see a rabbit trying to hide in the tree log. Either way, it's part of who we are, and now my car is staring at me every time I drive.
Also, there's this:
My five-year-old has begun tagging everything with his name, including the back door on my truck. His graffiti is too cute to remove, I think.
It's a pretty good final few days of a horrible year. But I choose to see the good, even in this kind of hateful year. I've had a personally great year, even if the nation has had a less than desirable one. The way you keep your head above the water is by focusing on the fact that you're still able to breathe between the waves, not by focusing on how much it sucks when they roll on in. 
As George Takai would say: Oh my!
AxlBizarreFuck 2016
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This is a list of projects I currently have going
I've before alluded to how I work: I start writing on something and then if I get stuck or bored, I don't sweat it; I move onto something else, until I get stuck or bored there, and then I either start a new something or move back to an old something I abandoned because of stuckness or boredness, neither of which are actually words.
Recently, I was making serious headway in Infidels' Bible, the sequel to Minister of Justice, but then a snitty exchange with Minister's publisher led me to believe my energies might be better directed elsewhere, since there's no way I would let that publisher touch another book of mine, and they don't seem amenable to the idea of giving me back the publishing rights to Minister. No publisher in its right mind would publish the sequel to a book to which they don't have the rights, so I can't very well make Infidels' Bible a sequel to Minister of Justice. So I moved on, back to a great story I still love, Father of Malice, but then I got to thinking: What if I just ditched the parts of Infidels' Bible that made it a sequel and continued on with the story, using a different main character?
Genius! So now I'm back at that, trying to find a way to weave a new main character in, which opens up a whole slew of possibilities, especially since using Steve Samuelson was limiting the outrageousness of the premise. Steve's universe was grounded in reality, since Minister of Justice was a mystery novel. But because the premise of Infidels' Bible is kind of necessarily unhinged, with a character who hasn't been established as living in the grounded universe, I can expand on the batshittiness of the premise and let its freak flag fly, so to speak.
So I think it's about to get a lot weirder than it already was, and that makes me happy, because it's a concept that begs to be weird
So, as much as I love the idea behind Father of Malice, I'm flip-flopping back to Infidels' Bible, because I do loves me some weirdness.
Infidels BibleMinister of JusticeWritingFather of Malice
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I mean, who wouldn't love text conversations like this? Right? Right.
FamilyI Am Mean
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