Writing is hard, what we do to give you a story

Writing is hard, editing is harder, but doing a rewrite after the editor has worked over your story makes me feel like the lowest slave rowing the galley or the only slave rowing (and everyone on the boat is standing over me with a whip). No wonder people never finish their book.

As you read this blog remember, I don’t want to slug through another rewrite of my manuscript. But, I WILL. I’m a writer, an author, and there are readers who want stories.

I think my problem is overwork, loneliness, and exhaustion.

I run two to three Zoom meeting a week. I got to create an agenda for each meeting, schedule the meeting, email everyone, and set time aside. On some of the Zoom meetings I have to write up the minutes of the meeting. It takes an hour to three hours for each meeting. Now I’m doing this for myself as well as for the others attending the meeting.

I’m amazed that some people have so much trouble using the zoom program. I figured it out so it can’t be that hard to do. And the meetings are appreciated, there are members of the meeting that have begged for more meetings.

Note to self; do a blog about setting up zoom. Email me if your interested.

Even with all the zoom meetings, the loneliness is wearing me down. I’ve been holed up for six and a half weeks. The only time I’ve been out of the house is to go to the grocery store or the drug store. I wear the protective stuff and I’m in and out of the store as quick as I can be. There’s no time for interaction or even browsing. And before the troubles my critique group fell apart. I have to join one of the on line groups.

The biggest problem is I’m exhausted. I’m helping people, I’m helping a club I belong to, I’m writing these blog, I’m taking a screenwriting course, I got a garden half full of weeds, and I’m writing two other books.

I don’t want to slug through another rewrite of my manuscript. But, I WILL.

The usual ad for my book.

In this time of stress there is nothing like a warm brownie.

One box of brownie mix.

One or two eggs (plus one more than is recommended by the directions on the box).

Oil as recommended on the box. I use olive oil.

Water as recommended on box. Tap or bottled water.

I use the directions from a box of cake mix.

In a large bowl add eggs. Using fork lightly beat eggs. Add water and oil. Beat mixture until foamy.

Add brownie mix. If you feel adventurous add a small hand full of walnut pieces and/or chocolate chips. Mix until just blended. Do not over mix. Mixture will be lumpy.

Pour, scrape with a spatula, into greased pan.

Baked as directed. I have found that my oven takes a couple of minutes longer to get center on brownies done. The oven also runs 25 degrees cooler than the knob says, so check your oven temperature with a thermometer. Give brownies the tooth pick test. Toothpick must come out clean. If worst turns to worst and the edge of the brownies are overdone and hard then trim the over done rim of the brownies off like the crush of a slice of bread.

If you need a quick cake. Add one more egg to brownie mix. A cake with nuts and chocolate chips in it will be a surprise.

Stay strong, write on, and don’t stress eat.

Professor Hyram Volage

For the Readers of Steampunk

This blog is taking a change of direction. This is a time of great stress and that is going to drive a lot of changes.

For years I have written blogs about writing Steampunk and the occasional rant about software. All I got were … well nothing. Then at Wild Wild West con 9 I had someone say they read my blog. I was shocked. Someone actually reads this blog.

Thank you, I should have gotten your name. Still, no one has ever said they still read my blog (o long time readers) and no one has ever objected to what I said. All my posts can’t be winners. Some of my post should have upset someone.

There are more readers than writers out in the big wide world, and I would like to sell a few books. So; I’m going to focus on readers. I hope that’s you. I still have a ton of stuff to say to writers. I and other writers like to share. If you have concerns about the change of directions for this blog, then let me know. The comment section is open or email me.

For writers reading this, go to the bottom of the blog for a on-line-class review.

How do I give the readers of Steampunk something? How about a book review? I’m always looking for a good book to read. If you have read a good book let me know. If the book has humor in it that is a plus.

Book review; “The Glass Gargoyle” by Marie Andreas.

I liked it. How that for a succinct review?

It’s got drunken faeries. What’s not to like. It’s a magical fantasy story. It’s a light read for this unusual time. It kept me guessing what was going to happen next. That is a big thing in books I like.

The author did make the jungle where the protagonist worked to charming. I’m a desert rat. Jungles are hot, damp, unpleasant places to live and work. I’m sure a person who lives in a jungle says the desert is hot, dry, unpleasant place.

Anything else I say could give away some of the plot so go read the book.

Plug, asking you to buy my book;

For Steampunk writers;

I’m taking Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad Profit Challenge free course. It’s five days long. It open until the 27th. It’s a come on to take his big course, but that’s normal. I’m impressed by the free course. It contains useful information and it makes you go through the steps of sitting up an Amazon Ad for your book. And did I mention it’s free?

I get the feeling that the operation is a bit of flying by the seat of his pants. There were some typos in the slides. That’s a turn off to authors. We have to work with words every day. And boy will readers complain if there is a typo in my book. But the slides were better done than another course I am also taking. The course is a struggle for me, but I’m an engineer and I don’t think like a writer. If you want to dip into making ads this would be a painless try out.


I’ve been eating lots of tuna fish sandwiches and bacon sandwiches. So here’s something a little different.

Chicken tacos.

1 chicken breast or thigh.

2 tortillas

2 tablespoons hot sauce

A bit of lettuce

1 small hand full of cheese

A dash of seasoned salt


Heat eight inch skillet on stove. Add tablespoon of oil. Place tortilla in skillet. Flip tortilla over before it gets hard. Place heated tortilla on napkin to drain, heat other tortilla, then set them aside. This is how it’s done in Mexico near where I grew up.

You can heat tortillas over open flame using tongs. Be careful not to burn tortillas.

Cut chicken into quarter to half inch strips wide. Make enough for two tacos. Add a little bit of oil to skillet. Heat skillet. Place chicken strips in medium hot skillet. Sprinkle chicken with seasoned salt. Cook chicken till done, be careful to not over cook or chicken will be dry. When chicken is done place the strips on napkin to drain.

Build taco. Place chicken on tortilla. Add hot sauce, sprinkle with cheese. Add lettuce. Eat.

Stay strong, write on, read, and make ads.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Celebrate Bread Celebrate Your Steampunk Writing

Yesterday I made a load of bread.

Until a week ago I hadn’t made bread in decades. I have a bread machine, but it does not make a very good loaf.

The store was out of yeast except for a couple of little packets that cost more than a loaf of bread. I got lucky and was able to order some yeast online. There were very few places that had any for sale.

So I gathered up all the ingredients and dumped everything in the 25 plus year old bread machine and pressed go.

The top blew off the loaf. I figure I should not have scraped up the yeast I spilled and dumped the extra into the machine.

Bread was stuck to the bottom of the lid and the insides of the machine. It took me 45 minutes to clean the crusted/baked-on bread out of the machine.

The bread tasted OK and some of it got used.

For the second loaf I used less yeast and I set the machine to dough. I took the dough out of the machine and put it into a loaf pan and let it raise. The loaf came out half as high as it should have been and it was dense. This loaf tasted better and I made a couple of sandwiches out of it before I dumped the loaf.

The third loaf I used a different recipe and I proofed the yeast. The yeast was active dry yeast not bread machine yeast. I also measured the ingredients carefully. The loaf was much better, but a little dry and crumbly. This loaf taste much better and will get eaten. I still have some experimenting to do.

What does this have to do with writing steampunk?

The first loaf is like the first draft. The volcano hole where the top of the loaf should be is like a big plot hole in the first draft. The cleaning of the bread machine is like rewriting the first draft. They both are problems that take work to fix.

The second loaf is like a major rewrite of a manuscript. Sometimes you over do it. Like that loaf your writing can be dense. Unlike that loaf your writing can be saved.

The third loaf is like your manuscript after heavy editing. It’s close, but still needs work. All the parts are there, but something is not working out. The manuscript is usable, but not sellable. It will be.

Unabashed plug

Recipe for out of bread machine bread

Bread Machine dough for a one and a half pound loaf


3/4 cup plus 2 tapblespoons warm water (80 degrees F, I have read that
110 degree water will cause the bread to raise too fast and make large
holes in the baked loaf.)
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons yeast (dry active yeast is all I could get)
2 tablespoons butter (butter makes better bread than oil in my opion)
3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup of nonfat dry powder milk
1 teaspoon salt


Place the water in cup. Microwave water for 10 to 15 seconds till warm
(approximately 80 degrees). Add sugar and yeast to cup and stir. Let stand
for a couple of minutes or until starting to foam.

Make sure flapper is secured in bread machine bucket and bucket is well seated.
Add the rest of the dry ingredients; flour, milk, salt to bucket in bread machine.
Soften butter in cup or small bowl in microwave. Add to bucket.
Add yeast mixture to bucket. Close lid.
Set bread machine to dough. Press on.
After cycle is finished remove dough from bread machine.
Kneed dough for 7 minutes.
Grease inside of bread pan.
Place dough in pan.
Butter or oil top of loaf. Heat oven for two minutes then shut oven off.
Let dough raise in oven (oven is off and not hot but warm) for an hour or until dough it is over the top of pan.
Remove dough.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake bread for 30 minutes.
Cool and enjoy.

Stay strong, write on and may your writing cook.

Professor Hyram Voltage