State of the author – exhausted!


I just don’t have the time or energy to put up a Saturday Snippet excerpt this week.  Let me explain by giving you a follow-up “State of the Author” post, following on from earlier this month and in early April.

Our new utility/garden/storage shed was erected in mid-May.  The electric power has since been installed, along with air-conditioning, and the garage door has been fitted to its frame.  Next week the insulation will be sprayed in, and the concrete floor sealed.  That will complete the shed, and I’ll begin the long process (probably taking several months, a little at a time) to move all our bits and pieces from the garage and a storage unit into the shed, sort and discard what we don’t need, and put the rest in some semblance of order on shelves along the walls.

Previous aspects of our renovations have included an upgrade to our electrical circuit-board, a new HVAC system, a patio (slab and roof), ordering an insulated garage door (which won’t be ready for some months yet, thanks to supply chain issues), and other minor elements.  It’s cost us about 30% more than I’d budgeted, thanks largely to electrical problems we didn’t know we had, which were uncovered during the renovation process and required immediate (and expensive) attention.  Still, I’m grateful we found out about them before they developed into, or caused, something really nasty.  I’ve also taken the advice of those who commented on our shed insulation, and committed to spending money on 2″ of closed-cell foam instead of the 1″ I’d planned.  It’ll cost more, but like the proverb says, “Buy once, cry once“.  The insulation contractor strongly endorsed your suggestions that 2″ would be far more efficient and effective in the long run, given our hundred-degree-plus Texas heat during summer;  his own utility building has 2” on sides and ceiling for that reason.  (Our winters are relatively mild compared to further north, with only a few days every year at or below freezing point.)

Of course, getting multiple contractors (more than 15 so far) organized, and arranging their visits in a logical sequence so that preliminary work was completed in time for each of them in turn to build on that foundation, has completely occupied my time for three months.  I’m greatly looking forward to a slower pace of upgrades over the rest of the summer.  We’ve hired a young man to take care of finishing some paint work, sealing some concrete, and doing handyman stuff for us (my fused spine and damaged sciatic nerve make bending and twisting an “interesting” exercise, in the sense of the fabled Chinese curse).  I’m planning on spending an hour or two sorting boxes and shelves each day, and several hours in (hopefully) uninterrupted attention to my writing.

Current plan is to have Maxwell Volume 6, “Venom Strike”, published by the end of June.  It may get pushed out into July if there are any more alarums and excursions, but it’s well under way, and with time available to devote to it, I think it’ll be out soon.  After that I’ll take a deep breath, add up the other manuscripts awaiting attention, and tackle them one at a time.

So far, so good.  Onward!



  1. Peter – Congratulations on your progress!

    Working with contractor types getting stuff built right, ok cost, and on time takes a lot of energy.

    Which hvac solution did you go with?

  2. @Ray – SoCal: We went with a Carrier 3½-ton HVAC unit, 16 SEER rating. It was more expensive than most of the quotes we received, but had an extra half-ton capacity, which I used to add two new vents, one to my study (an enclosed porch) and one to the garage. The latter doesn't cool or heat the garage to the desired temperature of the rest of the house, but it makes it a bit warmer or cooler than ambient temperature, and thus more usable if one has to work there for a while. Overall, it's been working very well, and we're glad we chose to spend the extra money on it.

  3. How is the attic insulation in your house? We added a couple feet to what we had a few years ago and the savings in cooling costs has about paid for the job. That it is more comfortable in the house is nice too.

    You don't need fancy, renting an insulation chopper/blower and hiring a couple teens on summer break could get the job done.

  4. Sounds like great progress, Peter. Congratulations, but please pace yourself. You'll want to enjoy the new spaces, not suffer in them.

    At one point you'd mentioned a re-write for the Maxwell stories. Did that ever happen?

  5. Peter – always good to oversize. Sounds like a huge improvement on livability on the garage and to your study, and you can always close the vents when not using.

    What ac solution did you do for the shed?

    1. Nice!

      I’m a big fan of minisplits, and price including install you got looks very fair. Having the compressor outside makes the noise inside much nicer, than a window unit. Plus, it includes a heating ability.

  6. @Stan_qaz: A few years ago we had all the old, compacted blow-in insulation removed from our attic, and replaced it with 12" batts. They've held up very well to the passage of time, and haven't lost their loft the way blow-in insulation can do. Combined with the new HVAC, they're doing very well.

  7. I work with a guy that I have a lot of respect for. Even among our very intelligent team he is a stand out. He and his family build a new house and move about every 10 years. He's run the numbers and it ends up being cheaper than upgrading and maintaining an old house. I have a hard time arguing with him. We live in a very nice home in North Texas that we bought new in 2002 and raised our kids in. About 15 years in we had to replace both A/C systems to the tune of about $16,000. Our co-pay on a so called 30 year roof replacment was around $4000. Right now the master bath needs to be completley refurbished. If the wife didn't like this house so much (and don't get me wrong – it's a real nice place) I'd sell it like hot potato and get a cabin out in the mountains somewhere.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *