Monday, May 14, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors The Next Step on the Ladder

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Photo courtesy Khimish Sharma, via Pexels.com

Monday, May 14, 2018
Dark of the Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

 

My first response to that is, “Which ladder?” I have various limbs on various ladders. I write in different genres, under different names, in a variety of formats: prose, theatre, television, film, radio. Journalism. Essays. Marketing writing. Reviewing.

I do very little editing for private clients now, because the time/money ratio doesn’t work for me, too many would-be writers default on payments (when they’re not trying to lowball me down to a fraction of my rate), and I need the primary focus to be on my own work. When I edit, I am generally hired by the publishing house to work for something under contract that has passed particular gate-keeping standards.

I am with more than one publisher. One of them, who has signed several projects, is small, just starting out. We are taking a risk on each other. Among the reasons I was excited to work with them was that they pay small advances, don’t demand their writers acquiesce to a boiler-plate contract AND, instead of POD, they do small print runs. The print runs are after a certain digital threshhold is reached, but the POD model was not working for me, so I wanted to try this. I am still with another publisher who is doing the POD model, and I have submissions out to several other publishers, who work on a mix of models, so we’ll see what happens. I also liked them because the editor with whom I’m working constantly pushes me to be better. And that is my goal — that every book I write is better, in both craft and art, than the previous books.

About a year ago, I sat down with a lawyer, an agent, an editor, and a marketing advisor, and we came up with a plan. I was unhappy and frustrated with the way things were going in my career. I knew I wasn’t writing what the Big Five wanted; I wanted to explore some things that they are currently giving lip service to, but not following through on, and I wanted to do it in my way. We were not a good fit at the time. I knew I was going to part from an agent I’d been working with for several months, because we were not a good fit. When we got together, she was excited by my work and my voice; but the more we worked together, the more she wanted to dilute it and take out what made it unique. She kept telling me my themes and issues were “too hard for the typical reader.” In other words, she wanted me to dumb things down, and I didn’t want to do that. Also, she only wanted to commit to a book at a time, and I need an agent who is interested in long-term career planning. She has since signed a friend of mine, and they’re doing great together. I’m happy for both of them; they are the right fit. We were not.

As far as the marketing writing went, I wanted to have the confidence to say “No” to the lowballers locally and reach farther afield. The interesting thing is that as soon as I did that, I landed two clients locally with whom I work well, WHILE also reaching beyond the bridge for clients who pay better.

We took four or five days together, and I took about twenty pages of notes. We crafted a plan. Some of that we followed; some of that has fallen by the wayside for various reasons.

I re-stated my commitment not to “niche” — to me, that’s a death toll for a creative life. Far too many people who “advise” freelancers sneer and call what I do a “generalist.” I prefer to call it being a “Renaissance Writer” and I’ve written on this topic for both WOW-Women on Writing and Write Naked!

I wanted to get back into article writing, which fell by the wayside for a bit. I started pitching again, and I did pretty well, but that seems to be one of the things that falls away first. Since I enjoy articles — every part from the pitch through the research through the writing and the polish, especially working with a good editor — I need to get back on track with that.

One of the big changes I made was in the way I do pitch letters. Instead of trying to frame what I do to sound like what they want, I’m more specific in the elements I think will appeal and more specific in where our paths diverge. I’m more myself in the cover letter — while still structuring it the way I find works — hook, one paragraph summary, technical info, bio, why this market. And the results are good.

This year and next, I’m on a brutal contract schedule. I’d spent a couple of years working on different types of material, on working on craft. Now, with a commitment to more than one series, I am sitting down and writing the books.

Last year, PLAYING THE ANGLES was re-released, as the first of the Coventina Circle paranormal romantic suspense novels (in its original incarnation, it was a stand-alone). The second book in the series, THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, just released, and the third, RELICS & REQUIEM, will come out in October of this year, with the fourth, GRAVE REACH, coming out in May of 2019. So that’s a tight schedule.

Last year, the first Nautical Namaste mystery, SAVASANA AT SEA (as Ava Dunne) released. It’s a not-quite-cozy mystery series, whose protagonist is a yoga instructor on a cruise ship. Only one of those books comes out a year! But the next one, DAVY JONES DHARMA, is due in early December this year.

TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan mystery, re-released this past January. As I worked on the second book, THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, I realized that there was a chunk of it that slowed down the plot. Yet the information was necessary to where my characters were in their emotional lives and how they’d built their day-to-day relationships. Flashbacks and info-dump conversations wouldn’t work; so my editor and I decided to pull out those chapters, flesh them out into a “between-the-books” novella, now called MYTH & INTERPRETATION, and put that out this summer. BALTHAZAAR is still scheduled to come out in January of 2019, and that is now back on track, the pace and content correct.

In the meantime, I had three terrific opportunities. One was to pitch a serial. Those of you who’ve known me for several years know that I used to write four serials in four genres under two names for 18 months a few years back. A total of 8000 words a month. I love writing serials, and I miss it. I had the chance to pitch to a company that specializes in serials.

I pitched a fantasy/adventure novel. I’d written the first four chapters a couple of years ago and put it aside for scheduling reasons. But, when I had this opportunity, I wrote a few more chapters, and outlined what would be the book-length arc of this serial. I fell in love with it all over again. If it’s picked up, it goes back in the schedule; if not, it will be back-burnered again.

I also had two other ideas, stand-alones, that I played with, on and off for a couple of years, writing my way in the first few chapters, then making notes for my Writers’ Rough. On impulse, I polished pitches and tossed them into a Twitter pitch day for a specific company. Editors liked both; so I’m working on some additional chapters, polishing them, and sending them out by deadline this month. Again, if the editors want the full manuscript, they go back into the schedule sooner rather than later; if not, they are back-burnered until next year, when my contract schedule isn’t quite as demanding.

As I said above, I have a couple of other pieces out on submission; if they are contracted, they will be worked in. I also have a serial novel — which is different than a novel broken down as a serial. This is a set of novels that are all of a piece. It follows the filming of a television series over several seasons. Not a series, in the sense that each stands alone and progresses. These novels all fit together like puzzle pieces. One of my publishers has expressed interest in looking at it when the first five or so puzzle pieces are ready. When will that be? I don’t know.

I also made a commitment to do more script work again. I’m taking this year off from stage plays (I wrote four in three years for 365 Women). But one of my radio plays will be produced later this month, and I want to submit some screenplays I’ve polished.

Along with all this, I will pitch to higher-paying clients and higher-paying article markets. Gotta keep a roof over my head, and if I don’t keep up the writing pace I can’t. This is my profession, not my hobby. I am paid to write. That IS my day job. While my book sales have jumped considerably since I moved webhosts and redesigned my websites, I still need the marketing writing and article writing for income. Plus, I enjoy it.

So, my “next step” is building on the foundation of the series on which I currently write; continuing to expand the publication contracts with other publishers at higher-paying tiers, and book higher-paid marketing and article gigs.

I’ve found a process that works for me as far as the new ideas — because, as we all know, new ideas come in batches. I write my way in for a few chapters, then sit down and do a Writer’s Rough Outline. That way, whenever I can actually sit down and WRITE the book, I can drop into its world. The Writer’s Rough outline captures the initial energy of the idea, and then, as I work, I can develop the structure and the craft.

In the coming weeks, we will sit down again and assess how this last year played out. What worked, what didn’t. Where I lost focus, and what I dropped because it didn’t work. And we will craft a plan for the coming year that will guide me toward the “next step on the ladder.”

I don’t want fame. I worked in theatre and film for too many years and see how it can hurt creativity and general life; that is not what I want. I do want financial stability, and to be paid fairly for my work. There is no reason not to be paid well doing work I love. My profession is writing. I will not let ANYONE decide that it’s a cute lil hobby and I don’t deserve to be paid a living wage. I will dig in and do it, and earn my living. It will be a mix and match of projects and styles and tangents, but writing is my profession. When I decided I wanted to work on Broadway, I didn’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of achieving that goal. Now that I’m writing full-time, I feel the same way.

My next step is increased earnings and visibility for my work. It is also participating in the community of writers who love what they do and are committed to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work across the board, no matter what the profession. It is refusing to “dumb it down” or change what I write because people I don’t respect threaten not to buy what I write. The great thing about writing is that there are plenty of authors writing in plenty of styles and genres, so there’s something for everyone. It’s fine if someone doesn’t connect with my work — there are wonderful authors out there with whom they WILL connect. But threatening me and demanding I change what I write is not going to work.

Artists have a responsibility. I believe that responsibility is to bear witness to the world, to expand people’s vision of the world, but also to create better worlds and help us find ways to reach those better worlds inclusively and fairly. A better world needs social and economic justice. By respecting our own value, our own worth, we set the tone.

For more inspiration on valuing your work, please visit Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page blog. It’s great all the time, but May is Writers Worth Month. It’s especially great now.

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

beautiful-bloom-blooming-1019475Photo courtesy of skitterphoto.com via Pexels.com

 

Published in: on May 13, 2018 at 12:18 am  Comments Off on Happy Mother’s Day!  

Fri. May 11, 2018: Uncreative Start, but A Beautiful Day

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Friday, May 11, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

A bad night’s sleep makes for a slow, cranky, uncreative start.

Yesterday, I got a few things done. There’s a special promotion going on for the Coventina Circle Series. THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, which just released, is available on multiple digital channels for $3.99. But many people prefer to start a series with the first book. So, PLAYING THE ANGLES is available, for a limited time, for 99 cents here.

I did a Facebook ad for the promotion, and I’m not happy with either Canva or Facebook. The ad was made on Canva. In order for the links to work, it had to be downloaded as a PDF. Only Facebook does not allow a PDF to be uploaded and used as an ad. I was forced to SHARE the PDF version of the ad from the Canva site — and Facebook didn’t allow me to boost the post. So I paid for an ad where you can’t click through the links, because they wouldn’t let me boost the one that worked properly. I am NOT a happy camper.

I added the promo info to the landing page of the Coventina Circle site and the News page on Devon Ellington Work. But I seriously doubt the ad will earn its keep. Last time I listen to Canva.

Worked on HEART THEFT.

Worked on the contest entries. I will be done with two of my three genres later today and send off the winners and finalists tomorrow. The final category, which is huge, will need Sunday and Monday to be finished properly, and I’ll send out that information on Monday.

Next week, I’ll buy my basic push mower and do the grass. It’s growing quickly — which is a good thing, but hey, it’s growing quickly.

This morning, I’m headed to Market Basket — haven’t been there in awhile. Then, I’ll work at the library for a bit, work on HEART THEFT, finish the two categories of contest entries — and dig out all the poison ivy that’s taken up residence in the yard.

I’m glad there’s never a dull moment, but I’m tired, and it’s definitely hurting my creativity.

I’ve been watching the Ken Burns documentary JAZZ and loving it.

Have a great weekend, and happy Mother’s Day!

Published in: on May 11, 2018 at 9:16 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 11, 2018: Uncreative Start, but A Beautiful Day  
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Thurs. May 10, 2018: Head Down, Working

Thursday, May 10, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Head down, working hard. I’ve been helping one client with her new collection for Spring 2019, while working on marketing materials for 2018. I’m making the final decisions for the contest I’m judging – sometimes, the winner is chosen by a few punctuation marks, or whether or not a word was mis-used, when the rest of the quality is high.

Working on HEART THEFT and NOT BY THE BOOK. HEART THEFT has the bulk of the focus right now, and I’ll switch that out next week.

I was frustrated on HEART THEFT yesterday, because it read like I was trying too hard. I’m tired, I’m not at my best, but I can’t drop the ball on this deadline, nor can I get an extension. I either step up to the opportunity, or it’s gone.

I’m excited that my radio play LIGHT BEHIND THE EYES, will be performed on May 21 in Florida. I look forward to hearing it.

Back to the page – my own and those I’m judging. Finishing up the last few entries today and tomorrow.

Published in: on May 10, 2018 at 10:32 am  Comments Off on Thurs. May 10, 2018: Head Down, Working  
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Wed. May 9, 2018: Sending You to the Other blog

I am completely worn out from deadlines and other stuff.

So I’m going to send you over to the Ink-Dipped Advice blog today, where I talk about how the refusal to network hurts business.

Published in: on May 8, 2018 at 2:10 am  Comments Off on Wed. May 9, 2018: Sending You to the Other blog  

Tues. May 8, 2018: Release Day for SPIRIT REPOSITORY!

The Spirit Repository.6

Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

Today is the release day for THE SPIRIT REPOSTIORY!

The book is $3.99 available on digital channels here.

There’s a post about the book and an excerpt over on A Biblio Paradise.

If you’d like to read excerpts and have more information, visit THE SPIRIT REPSOITORY page and the Media Page on the Coventina Circle website. Articles tied to the book will go up soon.

The blurb is also up for RELICS & REQUEIM, the third Coventina Circle novel, which will release in October of this year.

It was a busy weekend. We had guests. Friday night, we had a good dinner and catch up. Saturday was spent on Martha’s Vineyard, with dinner ready in the slow cooker when we got home. Sunday, we slept in, then trundled around the Cape doing fun staff, and had a nice dinner, and then started binge-watching VICTORIA. Yesterday morning, I took them to the airport bus on the way to work. It was nice to spend time together.

I was delighted that Justify won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, and that my longshot pick, Good Magic, came in second.

I was also thrilled, on Saturday, to find out that the Radio Theatre Players in St. Petersburg, Florida, will produce my comic noir mystery LIGHT BEHIND THE EYES later this month. I’m very excited.

Yesterday, I was pretty tired. I dug back in to working on HEART THEFT and on the contest entries. They are due next week. There are some terrific books in contention, and all the categories are very competitive.

I know I’m behind on the GDR stuff of the end of April and early May, but I’ll catch up, I promise!

I hope you enjoy SPIRIT REPOSITORY, and I’m digging in for the rest of the things on deadline.

Published in: on May 8, 2018 at 1:26 am  Comments Off on Tues. May 8, 2018: Release Day for SPIRIT REPOSITORY!  
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Mon. May 7, 2018: Self-Esteem – It’s About You but MORE than You #UpBeat Authors

Monday, May 7, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

In the self-help world, the advice is that no one can make you feel bad except you.

That’s a load of crap.

People hurt each other all the time. Sometimes it’s by accident. You speak up, and work it out. Often, it’s by design, because causing harm to someone else makes them feel better about themselves.

Yes, they ARE the catalyst, the cause of how you feel.

But how you recover from it and build toward a more positive future is on you.

That’s where self-esteem comes in. You need to have a strong core of understanding who you are. That way, when those who want to hurt you for their own agendas take a run at you, you can respond with strength, grace, and dignity. You can respond without being a doormat, but with integrity instead of viciousness. If you are in a community where the social construct is against your beliefs and values, look for another job, save your money, and move. Find your tribe, both online and in person.

Be open to listening to and learning about those different than you, but don’t stay in toxic relationships on personal, vocational, or social levels.

Self-esteem comes from knowing who you are, what you value, and being unapologetic about it. It takes work. It’s a process. There will be times when you’re exhausted, when you feel awful, when you doubt.

But if you examine yourself and find the cause of the doubts, the root of them, you can find a solution.

Self-esteem does NOT come through avoidance. It comes from dealing directly with issues that are uncomfortable, infuriating, upsetting. If every time you have periods of discomfort, you hide behind pills, alcohol, sex, television, or any other drug (legal or not), the long-term effects will be worse.

You look at yourself, you’re honest with yourself. Decide what you like and want to build. Decide what doesn’t work and what YOU will change. You decide how your needs and wants fit in with the others in your life, and where you can compromise (not capitulate, compromise) to make a better life for everyone in it. You decide who needs to be removed from your life, where relationships are stale or toxic and can’t be saved.

You take responsibility for your words and actions. You don’t allow others who want to cause harm to derail you from your dreams, your work, your passions. You work with your community to create a better world for EVERYONE. You take your responsibilities to vote and serve on jury duty seriously. You remind politicians that you are THEIR employer, and you remove those who aren’t working to make life better in your community, but are only out to line their own pockets with big donor funds.

You do something every day to make yourself happy. You do something every day to make someone else happy. You do something every day to make your community happy.

Every action you take to build a better world will grow your self-esteem while improving that world.

Published in: on May 7, 2018 at 5:38 am  Comments Off on Mon. May 7, 2018: Self-Esteem – It’s About You but MORE than You #UpBeat Authors  
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Kentucky Derby Day!

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Image courtesy of Pexels, in the public domain.

Quick picks for me today:

I wasn’t going to bet on the favorite, Justify, but with Mike Smith on him, yeah, I’ll bet him at least across the board, possibly in exotics.

I want to take another look at Mendelssohn. I’m on the fence about him, but liking him more and more.

Bolt D’oro and Magnum Moon are my favorites. Definitely doing an exacta with them, and probably mixing them in a trifecta. I may do one Trifecta with Justify and one with Good Magic.

My medium long shot is Good Magic, a horse I like and hope is around for awhile.

My longest shot is Enticed.

Published in: on May 5, 2018 at 4:27 am  Comments Off on Kentucky Derby Day!  
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Fri. May 4, 2018: Company and Writing

The Spirit Repository.6

The Spirit Repository,  the second Coventina Circle romantic suspense novel, releases on May 8. Blurb here. Universal Buy Link here.

Friday, May 04, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy/sunny and pleasant

The house is clean. Beds are changed. Fresh towels out. Cookies are baked. The food and liquor are in. I have a chocolate mousse still to prepare, and then we are ready for our weekend guests!

SPIRIT REPOSITORY is available for pre-order here, and will go to Amazon as soon as it releases on Tuesday.

The major writing focus right on is on HEART FOCUS and then NOT BY THE BOOK, with MYTH & INTERPRETATION and RELICS & REQUIEM working around that.

I’m working on contest entries.

I’m making notes for the serial, but not letting it pull too much focus.

I’ll lose some writing time with my guests this weekend, but I’m looking at the break as a way to refill the creative well.

I’m tired, oh so tired, but determined to enjoy the weekend!

And, hey, SPIRIT REPOSITORY comes out on Tuesday!

Published in: on May 4, 2018 at 9:18 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 4, 2018: Company and Writing  
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Thurs. May 3, 2018: Warmth & Progress

Thursday, May 3, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Finally, some warmth!

And, finally, the galleys are done on SPIRIT REPOSITORY. They go out for the final time today. Sending out galleys always makes me slightly ill. I’m always sure we missed something important. That’s especially true with this book, where the galley process has been a nightmare. I swear gremlins enter the manuscript in between turnarounds to add errors.

Working steadily on HEART THEFT, and contest entries. Making notes on the serial. Created gift certificates for a client yesterday. The online templates suck. Pages (Mac) used to have good ones, but they don’t have them in the newer versions. Most of the design software can only be used online now; you can’t download and design offline, which is how I like to do it. And they try to force it into conformist models, which don’t work for the businesses with which I work. So I have to design from scratch.

At least I’m building skills that bring up my rates.

Preparing the house for our weekend company. On the one hand, it’s all overwhelming. On the other hand, it’ll be really fun to see and spend time with friends.

The grass is growing. I’m going to have to mow soon.

Ick.

Back to the page!

Published in: on May 3, 2018 at 8:36 am  Comments (1)  
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Wed. May 2, 2018: Stuck Between Exhaustion and Deadlines

Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

By late afternoon yesterday, I was so tired, all I could do was cry.

I’m still fighting with the galleys on SPIRIT REPOSITORY. I’m doing client work and contest work and the work for the interested editors. I’m preparing for company. And I’m exhausted.

There will be no break for me until the end of May. That’s just the way it is.

I’m frustrated, because I no longer have the stamina to just stay up as long as it takes to get things done. By midnight, I’m cooked. When I get up at 5:30 in the morning, I have to finish what wasn’t finished by midnight, and then get behind on the morning’s work. I feel like I’m never going to catch up. I can’t move any of the deadlines. I have to MEET THEM or else.

So I’ll just have to push harder and get it done.

But right now, I’m in despair.

Published in: on May 2, 2018 at 3:02 am  Comments (1)  
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Tues. May 1, 2018: Overwhelmed With Deadlines

Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Beltane

Busy weekend. The copy edits for SPIRIT REPOSITORY are killing me. I’m so grateful to my copy editor, but how the hell did I miss some of this stuff the first time out? And, when I put in the changes, how the hell do we keep finding new errors? I’m at the stage, which I reach during copy edits on every book, where I’m second-guessing everything.

Got a good chunk of work done on HEART THEFT, but not as much as I wanted. I feel like that’s my mantra lately. I’m worried, because I won’t get much done next weekend, with guests here. Not to mention everything I have to do this week to prepare for guests.

I’m also worried because they’re working on our street, and it will be tough to get in and out of the house. I contacted the manager of the project for coordination.

Worked on contest entries, too, and am making progress. Grateful the deadline is the 15th of May and not the 1st.

Did another revision for the client with whom I’m trying to wrap things up. I disagree with the direction, but that’s one of the reasons we need to part ways. The check for last month’s work still isn’t here; contractually, it was due yesterday. Getting a little tired of that, too. I always get paid eventually; I can never count on when, even though it’s clearly spelled out in the contract. They won’t change, so I must remove myself from the situation.

Put out some invitations to potential guests on Biblio Paradise, and posted some questions for quotes for two upcoming pieces on Ink-Dipped Advice.

Client work on site yesterday, today, tomorrow. A batch of LOIs out — I need to replace the client with whom I just finished until fall, and the one I’m parting with permanently, plus add in some one-offs. All I WANT to do is focus on HEART THEFT and NOT BY THE BOOK, but that’s not an option right now.

Back to the page.

I hope I get SPIRIT REPOSITORY finalized by tomorrow.

 

Published in: on May 1, 2018 at 1:14 am  Comments Off on Tues. May 1, 2018: Overwhelmed With Deadlines  
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