Breaking the Author – Week Eight

It’s February 28th, 2016, and that means I have an update thing for you. You know, that thing I do. On a weekly basis. It’s cool. Trust me.

So it’s well known that I’ve been having a rough time of it for pretty much all of this month, but I managed to complete all my goals for the week this week, so that’s a step in the right direction!

  • Write Shapes 2 Part 4 for next week’s post.
  • Write the opening part to a collaborative story game beginning in March.
  • Continue plugging away at Shapes 1 line edits.
  • Maintain the blog.

Continue reading

Media Medley – February 2016

It’s the last Thursday of the month, which means it’s time to yammer on about all the movies, TV shows, books, comics, games, and whatever else I consumed during the previous month, talking about each one briefly and what I liked or disliked about it, with a single recommendation at the end.

Away we go for February!


Deadpool –  The Fox vehicle that surprised pretty much everyone, starring Ryan Reynolds as a psychotic, fourth-wall breaking maniac in a red suit. It was everything I hoped it would be and more: smart, violent, raunchy, insane, and more meta than most can handle. I’m so glad it took the world by storm and that it was the X-Men movie franchise’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” moment. That is to say, a risky movie about niche characters the mainstream public knew almost nothing about that turned into a frickin’ sensation overnight. Continue reading

The Wings Take Shape – Part Three

Ah, can you smell it? The oaky scent of a fresh installment in The Wings Take Shape.

If you’re new to the story, head to Part One and start from the beginning!

Last week, Sergeant Marie Mollen helped keep order in the Red Forest while her twin sister, Captain Renee Mollen, decided what they should do. Their home had just come under attack from a foreign enemy, and they were barely outside the city when it started.

Private Jonathan Sawyer, a secret Skinchanger, took flight as a hawk to gather intel for Captain Mollen, and they rushed to the gates of the city based on what he had to say. Marie and Renee’s old Sergeant, Regina Hughes, came bursting out of the exploded gate, fleeing the capital, and Renee helped escort her to safety.

They flee to relative safety in the bloody wood while Sergeant Marie Mollen leads the chasing soldiers away with three of her Winged Riders to fight them off.


The Wings Take Shape

Part Three – Reunion
by Rick Cook Jr.

Renee urged silence as they worked. The foreign soldiers had scarcely passed them by, Marie’s presence flitting away on a high of anger and excitement. Regina Hughes was not just injured, she was pinned to her horse, biting on the leather reins as Tanner and Jon removed the crossbow bolt from the thrashing horseflesh and finally through Regina’s backside.

Regina fell from the saddle only to be caught by Tanner, and he set her down against the red bark of the tree, preparing bandages. She sucked in breaths, seething through teeth clenched tight.

“The rutting bastards,” she hissed. “Can’t believe I let them get a shot at me.” Continue reading

Breaking the Author – Week Seven

It’s Sunday, February 21st, 2016, and it’s time for another update!

The past week of my writerly productivity has been mildly depressing. I had a list of things to achieve, as per usual, and I did almost none of them.

  • Maintain the blog with a weekly update, an editorial, and a story post.
  • Complete Shapes 1 Line Edits
  • Write Shapes 2 Part 3
  • Write the opening part to a collaborative story game that begins in March.
  • Find cover art for Shapes 1
  • Begin Gridfall read and broad fixes before deep editing phases.
  • Get my writer resumé in a little bit more order and submit applications to a couple of places that I know are looking for writers.

So I managed to do the resumé bit, the blog, and writing Shapes 2 Part 3 for this coming Tuesday’s story post. The rest I have let languish and I’m trying not to take it too hard because I need the break.

Part of my writer life suffering is because I was recently rededicated to my management position at work, that I have been trying to get out of for the past seven months. I made the decision to step down from management, we were taking steps toward it at work, and then everything changed and now they need me to stay on as a project manager for the foreseeable future.

I’m disappointed that I have to continue doing it, but I’m also going to, in the short to mid term, do it to the best of my ability. And part of that is dedicating all my mental energy to that first, and writing gets whatever’s left. So I come home from work and I’m mentally exhausted and I just can’t make myself do the writer work to any significant degree.

I will get back to it, but in the meantime my writerly goals are going to be smaller.

For the coming week I will be attempting to do the following:

  • Write Shapes 2 Part 4 for next week’s post.
  • Write the opening part to a collaborative story game beginning in March.
  • Continue plugging away at Shapes 1 line edits.
  • Maintain the blog.


As always, follow me on Facebook and Twitter with #breakingauthor. Keep on striving for those goals.

And always remember to write the hell on!

The Moment

We’re turning things around here on Panning for Clouds this Thursday with a little walk down memory lane.

The Moment. It’s different for everyone. That second when you realize that thing you enjoy doing in your spare time is a thing you maybe could see yourself doing professionally.

I’m a writer. To be clear, that is not my professional title, but it is the title that sparks my imagination, gets me up in the morning, pushes me ever onward and upward. It is the framework through which I view the world. Some people are tactical, some are logical or a hundred other things, and some are a little bit of everything. I’m a writer and that means I write. Fiction, specifically, is my passion, but I’m always searching for a clever phrase, a funny bit of dialogue, a way to say something in a way no one has ever said it before. I’m looking to put thoughts, emotions, and ideas together in ways that touch people’s hearts and minds.  Continue reading

The Wings Take Shape – Part Two

Tuesday has come once again and it is now time to delve back into the world of shapeshifters, twinners, and more with Part Two of “The Wings Take Shape”!

If you’re new to the story, head to Part One and start from the beginning!

Last week, Jonathan Sawyer, hiding his Skinchanger abilities from the empire, found himself a recruit of the elite military Winged Riders under his twin friends Renee and Marie. They have set out upon their first mission together when the capital comes under attack from a foreign hostile takeover. They barely escape into the Red Forest with their lives and must decide what to do next.


The Wings Take Shape

Part Two – Fight or Flight

by Rick Cook Jr.

“This is insane!” Marie shouted, holding the reins of her horse as it tried to bolt once again. They had no horse-whisperer and she felt the lack keenly. The others all struggled with their horses, too. They weren’t far from the edge of the woods, maybe a quarter mile, but it was dread dark here, the light strangled under too many branches overhead.

Only then did it occur to Marie: “We’re in the bloody wood.”

“Sergeant!” Renee shouted from atop her horse. Not Acacia. She’d had to give up that scout’s horse for something hardy, and in every way she had emulated Captain Claymonte with a stout white mare.

Marie pulled her horse forward to Renee. “Renee?”

“Take Scout Irons and find us a clearing. Send for me when you have it.” Continue reading

Breaking the Author – Week Six

It’s Sunday, February 14th, 2016, Valentine’s Day though that doesn’t really matter. It’s time to update you on my pretty horrendous week!

If you saw my Thursday post about the slump I’m in, I haven’t gotten much writing or editing work done this week.

  • I managed to keep the blog updated.
  • I started posting the serial novella The Wings Take Shape
  • I wrote the next part of The Wings Take Shape for next Tuesday
  • I submitted Damp Summer Nights

I didn’t finish line edits on Shapes 1, find cover art for Shapes 1, or even look at Gridfall. Continue reading

The Slump

It’s Thursday and I am having a bad time. Last year I wrote Motivationals every week, musings that helped keep me moving on my writing goals.

This year I have been struggling to keep up with everything and I blame it on a whole bunch of factors, some of them in my control, others not as much.

Mostly I think I’m just overtired and the thought of editing or even writing has my brain twisting itself in knots of inaction until I’m literally doing nothing worthwhile in my scant free time each day. Continue reading

The Wings Take Shape – Part One

WELCOME back to Panning For Clouds! It’s Tuesday and I’ve got Part One of a new serial novella all set up down below. If you read “The Shape of Family” as it was posted last year, I have good and bad news for you. The good news is that you will soon be able to buy that novella on Amazon for a buck under the title “The Shapes We Take”. The bad news is that you cannot read it right this very moment as it is being prepared for Amazon Kindle. I hope to have that out by the end of the month!

Other good news: Having read “The Shape of Family” will give you some decent insight into several of the characters, but it is not necessary to understand what is happening in “The Wings Take Shape”, so you can hop right in and enjoy!

The way this works, if you’re new to the blog, is that I will be writing and posting a new Part (Chapter) to “The Wings Take Shape” every Tuesday until the novella is complete. It will remain free to read on the blog for an undisclosed amount of time, at which point it will be taken down to get the same Amazon treatment while I prepare to write and post the third novella. That may be later this year, or it may be the start of next year. Not sure!

So join me on the continuing adventures of the Winged Riders! I have a lot of fun things planned for this story and I’m excited to be coming back to it.

A real quick recap for those who haven’t read the first novella:

  1. Sadie is a shapeshifter that takes on the form of a horse to sneak her way into the capital and rescue her shapeshifting nephew who has gotten captured.
  2. Claire is the captain of a squad of Winged Riders, elite soldiers of the empire. She and her Wings catch Sadie as a horse.
  3. A creature known as the cadshee attempts to abduct the young scout Marie, killing her horse in the process. She rides Sadie to the capital to warn of the cadshee’s increased daytime activity. The cadshee is a creature of smoke and oil, capable of shifting his form to become anything he likes. He is the last of his kind, bent on reviving his species, which requires young, fertile mammals to carry his brood.
  4. Marie is a Twinner, capable of emotional bonds at distance with her sister, Renee, also a scout. Renee and Marie meet on the road and Renee is abducted in the place of Marie. Marie and Sadie go to rescue Renee, but only manage to get Marie caught and Renee rescued.
  5. They meet back up with Claire. Sadie reveals her shapeshifting to Jeffrey, Claire’s Sergeant, so that he agrees to help her find Marie and then Sadie can get on with her own mission of saving her nephew.
  6. Claire is investigating a cult in the village of Stalbridge. She accuses Jeffrey of collusion with this cult when he is acting suspicious. Jeffrey knocks Claire out and takes Renee, fleeing on Sadie as a horse to try and rescue Marie.
  7. The cadshee knocks out Jeffrey, misses Sadie shapeshifted as a mouse, abducts both Marie and Renee and flees to a secret chapel he used to fool humans into doing his bidding once upon a time.
  8. Claire and her Winged Riders are injured during a skirmish with the cadshee, and Sadie discovers she can harm the creature when none else seem to be able to.
  9. They find information on the cadshee’s cult in Stalbridge and go after him, to try and put him down before he can enact his plan of rape, murder, and a new era of darkness as his brood sweeps across the land.
  10. They are losing the fight until the cadshee reveals that he is the father of Sadie’s skinchanging people, also revealing the names of creatures that were lost to time. Sadie becomes a dragon and they fight to the death, Sadie ultimately winning and taking the cadshee’s powers of smoke and oil.
  11. She and Jeffrey have two children, both of whom are also creatures of smoke and oil. Sadie has nightmares that they will mask the world in darkness. Her nephew, Jonathan is rescued and is interested in becoming a Winged Rider.


The Wings Take Shape

Part One – Recruits

by Rick Cook Jr.

The capital of the Empire stared down at Jonathan. He hated the place, but it was home during training. His fellow recruits waited with him in the practice yard. Waiting for their results.

Waiting to find out if they were Winged Riders.

Aunt Sadie was in attendance with her two toddling boys. He only wished he had her air of nonchalance. She favored him with a brief smile while talking with Claire Claymonte, famed Wing Captain. The rumors had it that Captain Claymonte wanted him for her retinue, and he knew the reason why.

Jonathan Sawyer was a Skinchanger. Continue reading

Breaking the Author – Week Five

It’s February 7th, 2016. Five weeks of editing madness.

Goals achieved:

  1. Maintain blog. – Completed.
  2. Complete Line Edits on Shapes 1 – 50% complete.
  3. Edit and submit Magic Carnival and Shibboleth short stories.
  4. Write Shapes 2 Part 1

Continue reading