David Niall Wilson

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The restoration of the Kay Style Master Guitar – HELP WELCOME

Recently, I bought an old Kay electric guitar.  It’s a Style-Master – from 1959 (the same year I was born).  Today I disassembled the guitar, and now I will proceed with the restoration.  The wood body and neck are going to need very light fine grade sanding, and a clear coat of lacquer.  It’s a blonde wood with no stain, so it won’t change the appearance, but should help preserve it.  The pickups are a problem.  The chrome covers are pitted a little.  They used to be a sort of gold tone, but are mostly silver now.  They are also riveted to one of the pick-guard plates, which also have some light corrosion and discoloration.  I have to figure out how to fix them.

There is some corrosion around the potentiometers that manage the tone and volume – this guitar has three each of tone and volume, and then one that changes the pickups.  I have to find a small tabbed knob for the top control, which is the pickup selector.  The “V” and “T” is faded on some of the knobs, but I can use a tiny bit of white paint and fix those. The electronics, I’m afraid, I will have to replace, but it’s a simple wiring project, and I did this for 20 years in the US Navy – that part I can handle.  The bridge is in great shape.  The tuning pegs are functional, but the chrome is a bit rusted and pitted (see pictures) so I may replace them.  The tail piece is copper or brass – it’s a little worn, but I think it will stay (after a polishing.  There’s a white peg that goes through the bottom of this tailpiece and into the wood (looks almost like the pegs that hold strings) except the top of it is broken off (where a strap would connect) so I have to find one of those.  I will keep you all posted as I go – but here’s what I could use… someone with experience to tell me how to handle those riveted on Pickpups.  I guess they could be drilled out and replaced…?  I need to figure out how to buff out or clean out the corrosion on the pick guards and then fix the finish (sort of a copper or gold-tone finish that looks as if it was lacquered over (again, see pics).  I need a vintage K control knob with a single pointed tab on one side to point where it’s selecting.

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Dear World – Note From the Author in the Middle

2013-05-19 16.41.26There is a lot of timing involved in a writing career.  Anyone who does not believe this should pay attention.  Here’s a story for you…and a commentary on where I find myself these days.  This is not a complaint, or a call for, well, anything…just what I do.  When I write in this blog, I try to adhere to my own advice to write what hurts…

When I started writing back in the 80s, horror was in a boom.  Due to circumstances that could have gone other ways, I became a writer of horror and dark fantasy early on and I had a unique opportunity.  I either blew that opportunity, or avoided it.  The votes are still out on that.  I had an agent at one point who called while I was away at sea.  If I’d been there when that call came in, there was “a slot”.  What this meant, at the time, was that pretty much whatever I’d turned in (and I had books) would have been published in the raised-foil tsunami of horror.  That probably would have irrevocably changed my career. Maybe I’d still be riding the wave – maybe I’d be drowning in the aftermath of the big crash.  No way to tell, because I was out at sea, and missed it.

I set off on my own multi-directional path.  Star Trek, White Wolf, Vampires, horror, science fiction, fantasy – mystery and thrillers.  I’ve written them all.  Most of my books have gotten good to great reviews.  I’ve won awards.  People in some small circles know who I am.  I write a lot, and that will probably never change.

Along the way, though, something weird happened.  I never reached the heights of best-sellerdom, or even the upper middle-class of writing.  I just did okay.  I barely missed a lot of things that would have changed everything, and I kept writing.

Recently I started noticing that – despite the fact people know me and congratulate me when I finish a project, they don’t read them.  It’s not that no one likes the books – people who do read them like them – sometimes even love.  I don’t see any of those dreaded threads on message boards about how no one gets how I am still writing, or they couldn’t get through my books.  I also don’t see anyone starting threads about me in any positive way, or any excitement over whatever I’m working on.  What I get – mostly – is nothing.  Nothing at all.  Those who have always been famous remain famous.  Many newer authors, some awesome, others mediocre, and even a few I consider a long way from ready for prime time, get read.  People gather together and read their books in groups.  They line up to buy them before they are even published.  For my books, people are happy to enter a contest and maybe get the book for free, but buying seems to just never happen, and when people DO buy the books…well, if they ever read them I seldom hear about it.

I’m the author in the middle, currently.  I still believe I’ll find the way out – not sure what it will be. If I do make it out, I hope those who “discover” me also come back and read the older books – the ones I’ve spent a lifetime writing.  I hope they like/hate/talk about them.  Mostly, I hope they read them.

-DNW

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Some Career Notes on the Past 2 Years

Since we’ve really kicked Crossroad Press into gear, and I’ve concentrated more of my writing on drawing my big, fictional universe into one entity – and promoting the original series work I’ve created, there has been an interesting shift and upswing.  I have consolidated my sales numbers and earnings across all my many books for 2011 and 2012 and can present some findings.

1) So far in 2012 (which means through sales in July) I have already made almost twice what I did in 2011.

2) Series books sell better than stand-alone novels.   Collections sell fairly steadily.

3) Attaching a cover by a famous artist can boost sales, but not as much as tying works together and being creative in how you present this in your marketing material.

4) There is absolutely NO WAY to tell what will, and what will not be the big seller – though you can sometimes guess.

One of my focuses this past year has been tying Hallowed Ground, Donovan DeChance, O.C.L.T.,  and many of my other works that take place in and around the few fictional settings I’ve created into a larger universe.  This has helped me lead readers from one book and one series to the next, and has significantly impacted sales.

Tying in with other authors?  Same effect. We published the very successful LOST THINGS by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham this year, tied in loosely to the O.C.L.T. series, and I have watched steady sales across the series during this debut.

It cannot be said enough – promotions that reach people who have never heard of you, do not attend conventions – or at least not the same ones you do – who had NO IDEA you existed…those are the promotions that bring big new sales numbers and spread you like a fictional plague.  Repeated posts to the same boards, groups, newsletters, etc. can sustain a certain number of sales on new works, but do your already-in-print stuff no good at all.

The goal is to sustain growth.  I’ll try to pop back with some figures as things progress and 2013 approaches.  In the meantime, follow the link below to find all (or most) of my digital works.  See if you don’t find something that appeals to you.

For the record…my top ten bestselling titles over the two year period, in order:

  • Vintage Soul – Book 2 of the DeChance Chronicles
  • The Parting – A Novel of the O.C.L.T.
  • Heart of a Dragon – Book 1 of the DeChance Chronicles
  • My Soul to Keep – Book III of the DeChance Chronicles
  • Kali’s Tale – Book IV of the DeChance Chronicles
  • The Call of Distant Shores – Lovecraftian Collection
  • The Second Veil – Book II of the Tales of the Scattered Earth
  • On the Third Day
  • Ancient Eyes
  • Deep Blue

FIND MY DIGITAL WORKS THROUGH THIS POST:

David Niall Wilson in Digital – 31 Books and Growing

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Blessed With Sons, & Daughters

Off to the US NAVY

Parents joke around a lot about kids growing up, kicking them out into the world, etc…  When the time comes for them to go, it’s just not as funny.  It’s important, and it’s necessary … but it’s never easy.

Trish and I are blessed with a big family.  We have Stephanie, Bill, Zach, Zane and Katie.  Stephanie started pulling free three years ago.  She’s on her senior year of college at Columbia College in South Carolina.  Bill headed out last year to the US Navy, and he’s down in Georgia getting ready to sink beneath the waves on a submarine.

Now – tomorrow – Zach is following, heading off to Great Lakes, and boot camp, leaving another big empty room … shrinking the home front by a voice and a smile.  There are things that we’ll be able to do as the house empties out that we could not do before, but the fact remains, it gets emptier each time.

I have known Zach the longest of any of the kids. He’s not the oldest, but I was there when he was born.  I watched him grow up and then missed some of the most important years of his life – because that’s how it happens, sometimes, with families.  Now he’s leaving again, but I know he’ll be back.

His brother Zane isn’t too far behind him – one year – then we get holidays and visits…their lives and families will expand outward.  I hope we’ll stay a family that is close.  I don’t want to be right up one another’s faces, but I want home to be just that.  Home.  For all of them.  (Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want them to move back in …)  I just want to know that when we are together, it will be a happy, important time for everyone and not a chore or a duty.

I can promise there will be pie…

And I’m not even ready to start thinking about Katie following them off into the sunset…with her we still have years.  Really fast years that will dribble through our fingers, I know…  But still, years.

You’ll understand this more later, Zach, but Fair Winds, and Following Seas from your Dad.   Bill – we’ll see you soon, I hope.  Stephanie will be here for Thanksgiving.  Trish and Katie can hug me while I try to pretend none of it bothers me…  I’ll miss you bud.

A lot.

And I love you all…

Your Dad

 

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Spring Vacation & The Aurora Fossil Festival FTW!

About six months ago, we began planning what seemed at the time an unlikely vacation.  It was to begin the very night of my son Zachary’s high school graduation.  The plan?  We would hop in the van, drive to New Bern, NC to a hotel, and on Saturday, we would attend the Aurora Fossil Festival.  None of us really knew anything about this place except that they HAD a museum, there were giant Megaladon jaws you could get your picture taken in, and there was a pile of dirt – somewhere – you could dig through and find your own fossils.

None of us (at that particular time) was obsessed with fossils.  We wanted a break, a getaway, and something different.  We found all of that and more.

The trip up was an adventure in itself, as there are a lot of new bypasses and roads in place that were NOT in place when our Tom Tom was last updated.  Several times in the middle of long stretches of bridge it suggested we go 80 yards and turn left.  We declined.  Also, there was a tiny place named Chocowinity along the way…but it passed so quickly I thought maybe I’d hallucinated it.  It turns out it’s from a Native American word for “Fish From Many Waters,” but that’s for another story.

We spent a good first night in the Holiday In Express, rose early, ate our continental breakfast, and piled into the van. Along the way we passed interestingly named places, and as we pulled into town, we cut in around to the left and ended up parking two spaces off the main street.  Quite by accident.

After hitting the one ATM machine in town, we started back across a big field into the festival.  Before we really got in, we were handed a sheet to identify fossils, and a very friendly girl told us that the secret was that the gravel and dirt in the parking lot was fresher than what had been dumped for the festival.  She showed us a very nice prehistoric Great White shark’s tooth she’d found.  We went back to the parking lot.

We gathered four or five baggies of fossils, and the pride of the lot was Katie’s Great White tooth, about twice the size of a quarter.  When we’d finished in the parking lot, we crossed into the field and dug with the rest of the festival guests in a big pile of “reject” from the Phosphate mine, which is the source of all the fossils.

While there we saw some odd species of duck, played with a corn snake, had funnel cake, bought fossils – and hats – and other things – and attended an amazing lecture on how the biggest specimen ever pulled from the mine was preserved, cleaned, and displayed.  It’s the skeleton of a juvenile whale, and the care and ingenuity involved in that project was well worth the our we sat listening to the lecture and learning.  After that we went out and saw the skeleton itself, as well as the rest of the museum, and took the obligatory photos of people in giant jaws.  We also bought raffle tickets for the giant Megaladon tooth, over 6″ – did not win – and enjoyed the parade, including a passably good Jack Sparrow impersonator.  Below are some more pictures from the trip.

 

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The Pie Guy #8 – Fresh Nectarine Pie

This pie is another experiment.  I like peach pie, and I like nectarines, so I figured, what the heck.  As long as there is a recipe for a pie made out of something I like, and people seem to like the PIE, then I am in.  I also have vanilla ice cream to make sure.  It worked with the apple pie.  Everyone dug in and that one was gone almost as soon as I sliced it.

This brings me within four pies of the writing of the first book by The Pie Guy – wherein I will explain my contempt for crappy, thin, too small and overpriced pies as sold in stores – go on about my childhood and how much I love pie in general – and tell you all the lessons I’ve learned along the way trying to bake all these fruit pies.  I will probably talk about how much I enjoyed EATING them as well.

So without further ado – the gallery of photos from the Fresh Nectarine Pie.

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The Pie Guy #7 – Honey Crisp Apple

Okay, this one is cooling on the stove, and I have to say…it smells awesome.  There are six cored and sliced honey-crisp apples inside, dusted with sugar and cinnamon, sprinkled with lemon juice to keep the apples from discoloring prior to baking…butter (margerin, actually) melted in between the slices.

I purposely held off on apple pie because it is one that most of the family loves.  I wanted everyone to enjoy it.  As usual, I overstuffed it a bit.  There are more of them than the recipe called for, but somehow it did not pop the crust open, or spoil the amazing smell.

One thing that led me to start baking pies is the ridiculous, deflated, tiny things we’ve started bringing home from the grocery store with the label “pie” on them.  They have very little filling, they don’t seem to be a full 9″ around…they just are not what I remember, or grew up loving, and honestly – at $9-$12 apiece, I can make much better ones much cheaper – and DO. Here is the gallery for the honey-crisp apple pie.

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The Pie Guy #6 Fresh Kiwi Pie

Of all the strange pies that have occurred to me, which is how this whole journey to make as many as possible began, Fresh Kiwi Pie seemed one of the least likely.  I have to say, now that we have made it, tried it and fallen in love with it (or I did, anyway) … the “PIE” is the limit (lol).  This is a very very good pie.  The nutmeg in the recipe makes it – at first taste – seem a bit like an apple pie.  But it is sweeter than an apple pie, and at the same time has a tiny citrus twang that gives it an extra burst of flavor.  It is also a good consistency…not too much juice, firms up well.

It’s a lot of work, but only for the peeling of the fruit.  Katie helped me, and I managed to keep her from stealing too many bits of kiwi (we both love the fruit fresh, and we peeled two dozen of them.  Another thing learned is that four cups of kiwi is right around 12 of the little buggers.  I would have put in five cups per pie, but I only bought 24, and I promised to bring a pie to work on Monday.

That is the last lesson I learned today.  It takes more planning to make two pies at the same time.  I pulled it off, but…I will make more preparations next time. For now, here is my gallery of fresh kiwi pie photographs.

-DNW

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The Invisible Shoes & The Barefoot 1/2 Mile.

So, I mentioned on Facebook that the Invisible Shoes I ordered arrived, surprising me by being so think and light they came in a Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope.  I’ve been reading the book “Born to Run,” which I recommend even to people with no love of running, and trying to find my way back onto the road and out of some extra poundage I’ve picked up.

The gist of it appears to be…we were born with feet and bodies designed to be able to run long distances.  The shoe industry (Nike in particular) has spent decades now convincing us we have to cushion, support and baby our feet with higher and higher tech shoes for half our salaries, while – in fact – there has never been any data to support their claims.  Now the data seems to say – if you wear expensive shoes you are MORE likely to be injured.  Barefoot runners are winning races, racking up the miles, and have caught my interest.

So…just to share…tonight I strapped on (incorrectly) my Huareches (sandals) and hit the road with my son Zane’s Hero HD camera strapped to my head.  Here are the things I learned.

The heel strap is very important.  If the shoe slips off your heel, it simply won’t work for running.  I found that one of my two sandals was too loose at the heel.  I decided, however, that I was not giving up that easily, so I ran the first mile barefoot.  I passed a very amused and confused man and his dog.  I did NOT hurt my feet as I feared on gravel or anything else..I also did not go far.

Your first time out you WILL use muscles in your calves and legs that are not ready for it.  It IS good to have the tiny thin padding of the shoe, just because those of us not used to going barefoot don’t have calloused soles on our feet.

Then I came back, watched the video again, laced on the sandals to take the dog for a walk…and learned that having them too tight over the toes is ALSO not going to work, which means…I have to get this just right.  I intend to keep at it.  I am convinced, after one run, that the sheer difference of it will keep me going, and I see many miles in my future.  I would LOVE to work up to a half or full marathon before I’m done.  I’m 52, but that’s not nearly too old for this.

Onward!

-DNW

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The Pie Guy #5 Fresh Grape Pie

This one was simple, and fun.  My daughter Katie helped me get the stems off of the grapes.  We don’t know what kind they are…they are red, sweet, and seedless.  The recipe called for less than usual, which always makes me smile.  We substituted lime juice for lemon juice because somewhere between the store and home the lemon I bought disappeared.  Probably in the trunk of my car…

Anyway, we will be having pizza, and then doing a taste-testing of this one…hoping for another success, because five of five would be awesome.

In other news (and to come in a later post) received my “Invisible Shoes” today.  Will be having a video shot when I first put them on and muck about in them…because the folks who sold them to me asked for it.  Also got some light sweat pants and long-sleeved wicking t-shirts to run in…because I will be starting to run again soon.  Shoeless Dave…that’s me.  No shoes, got pie…

-DNW

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