Tues. June 12, 2018: A Happy Weekend

Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

That was quite a weekend!

I mowed the center front yard Friday morning, with the reel push mower. This time, it worked better, and the yard looks darned good, if I say so! Saturday, I did the side and No Man’s Land. It needs some weed whacking, but it looks much better.

The newsletter went out on Friday, with the cover reveal for MYTH & INTERPRETATION. I’ll do the public cover reveal later this week here, on the Gwen Finnegan website, on Facebook, on Twitter.

I started working on the media kit for MYTH and the one that will encompass the whole series. The latter will be updated each time a book is released.

I’m getting into the groove for RELICS & REQUIEM. Answered some of the “why” questions for myself, which will help me move the plot along smoothly. I need to do some tweaks in the outline, and then settle in for the ride. But I’ve got a good steady pace on it, about 1800-2000 words a day. Under what I’d like it to be, but decent.

I dug into the revisions for MYTH & INTERPRETATION. Made a few more connections, expanded some themes, cut some distractions. I’m happy with the way it’s going.

We started watching THE CROWN, which is interesting. Matt Smith does a wonderful job. I didn’t know about the fatal, coal-induced fog in the mid 1950s that triggered Britian’s Clear Air Act. It triggered the idea for a mystery.

It also infuriated me that Scott Pruitt wants to bring the United States back to worse than this, all as he continues to grift from the taxpayers.

Read Meg Wolitzer’s THE FEMALE PERSUASION. Absolutely loved it. I fall between the ages of Faith and Greer, so my experiences overlapped with some of each, and I could relate to both of them. The book is so well done. Hits on specifics, while making it feel universal, as all the best books do.

Did some work on THE POWER OF WORDS. I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ve hit on a series title that might actually work, along with titles for the first two books. I’m drafting what will be book four, although I’ve written part of book five already.

Realized that I can’t move forward on THREE ROADS OF STRANGERS until I add in that chapter I need earlier. It ties in too much to what’s going on now. I’m touching on some of the human trafficking themes in this book, but if there’s a second Cuanoir Port novel, I think that human trafficking will be its central focus. This needs to be about the intervention of foreign powers and fighting it (sound familiar)? If I try to put everything into the book, it will get unfocused.

Not enough work on the anti-gun violence play. Not happy with how I’ve handled the opening.

Saturday, I finished my daily writing quota early enough to feel good about participating in Worldwide Knit in Public Day. My mom and I were invited to join the group at Salt Yarn Studios in Dennis. They’d put aside some yarn I liked, so I was there to pick it up as well as participate.

My mom already finished the back of the top I designed from the yarn with which I’d fallen in love the last time we were there. She started on the front. I started on a crochet project — because I prefer crocheting to knitting, and I’m better at it.

I also fell in love with some other yarn and bought it, because, well, YARN.

One of the women who works in the store loves reading on her Kindle. She was excited to meet an author. I gave her information on the books, and she’s going to read through the sites and the blurbs and find what interests her. So that was fun.

We were outside, in the garden, overlooking Rt. 6A, in our chairs, with our yarn, working and chatting. It was a nice group of people, and passers-by stopped to find out what we were doing, ask questions, be included.

What a different vibe than the knitting group in a neighboring town that we participated in a few years ago, where they ignored newcomers and only said snide, gossipy, judgmental things about everyone else. This was much more of what I want from a group knitting experience. Not to mention the mango Bellinis and watermelon!

On the way home, I planned to stop and pick up a prepared meal because I didn’t feel like cooking. I stopped at a local market and the shelves were practically bare! Guess plenty of other people didn’t feel like cooking, either. We wound up picking up a pizza.

Absolutely thrilled that Justify won the Belmont. Thrilled for the horse. Thrilled for Mike Smith, who I think is one of the best people on the planet. If it wasn’t for him, I would have never gotten the use back in my shoulder after it was dislocated. Not to mention the many other acts of kindness and friendship over the years. I also love that he won the 13th Triple Crown.

I love how Justify wired the race, how his stride remained smooth throughout. It was a thing of beauty. He went from unraced to Triple Crown winner in 112 days. Pretty darn spectacular.

I was filled with gratitude that Saturday was such a happy day. Those are too rare lately.

And Sunday was the Tony Awards! I was so proud of the Broadway/theatre communities and how they are working for positive change.

Client work yesterday, today, and tomorrow onsite. More flexiiblity later in the week. I can’t believe it’s nearly mid-June. That means I’ll have to post the mid-month check in for the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site by the end of the week.

There’s a big announcement regarding the Jain Lazarus Adventures coming out soon. Stay tuned!

 

Thurs. June 7, 2018: A Thankfully Creative Period

Thursday, June 7, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I have my notes back on MYTH & INTERPRETATION. That’s the great thing about a novella — turnarounds are quicker.

My editor is pleased with the energy and the character development. But she feels I streamlined a bit too much, kept things a bit too lean. She has some suggestions about developing a few points more deeply and supporting the theme a bit more. An exchange here, a paragraph there. I came in a little under projected word count, so we have a bit of room to maneuver. I can write and then we can cut back some more.

The cover designer has an idea for a tweak on the cover, so we’ll look at that today. We looked at some early ideas for RELICS & REQUIEM, and I think we’ve found what we want. So we’re ahead of the game on that, and she will start work on the cover for DAVY JONES DHARMA soon.

Back matter won’t be difficult to put together for MYTH — I have most of it, I just have to assemble the bits. I’m working on the revisions this weekend, so I can get them out next week. I need to work on the newsletter, and get started on the media kit for MYTH & the overall kit for the Gwen Finnegan series.

A bit of work on RELICS & REQUIEM; I need to get into the groove of that, which will take awhile. I have to figure out a way to move from Gwen & Justin’s world to Amanda & Phineas’s world, since they are both contemporary NYC around the same time.

Did a bit of work on THREE ROADS OF STRANGERS, but having trouble settling. I feel like I need to type up what I have in longhand and take a look. I also have to add a chapter, or the new structure I’ve been playing with is off.

Have some material to work on to go with THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY.

Re-reading parts of POWER OF WORDS. Playing with a new series title; seeing how I can break it up into books/sections that are a comfortable reading length, still complete certain arcs, and yet keep the reader wanting more. We want to put out the books that cover the audition process, rehearsals, filming the mini-series, and the first season in quick succession. I’d like to have the hiatus, the second season, that hiatus, and the third season ready to go, too, but I’m not sure if that puts us so far down the road it doesn’t even make any sense to commit. That will need its new subdomain, and lots of different, interesting material about the business and behind-the-scenes to keep it fresh and interesting. There will also need to be a specific look for the covers, so they can each be eye-catching, yet also tie together to the actual stories.

The titles and subtitles we’ve played with that make it clear what the books are about are so long and convoluted that they’re annoying. I see that far too often: complex titles and subtitles that serve as log lines and wear me out before I even see the blurb. I want to avoid that. I need something ear-catching (yes, that’s deliberate) and quick that pulls a potential reader in.

THREE ROADS OF STRANGERS will also need its own subdomain. That’s a lot of web work.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s all moot if the books aren’t written, then edited properly.

If you didn’t get a chance to read “My Rolodex isn’t Free” yesterday, over on Ink-Dipped Advice, hop on over.

I’m trying to work ahead on a few blogs today, to take off some pressure in the coming weeks. I want to focus on MYTH, RELICS, and see what I can do with THREE ROADS and WORDS.

Hopefully, I can get to yoga. If the weather is nice this afternoon — more yard work.

Back to the page!

 

Published in: on June 7, 2018 at 9:08 am  Comments Off on Thurs. June 7, 2018: A Thankfully Creative Period  
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Tues. June 5, 2018: So Close!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

I’m leaving the essay on the “In Death” series up as the lead article on A Biblio Paradise for another week. If you haven’t yet read it, hop on over.

Got yard work done, mostly on Saturday. The front yard and the side front are now under control, although by the end of the week, I’ll have to mow again. I trimmed the beds in the terraced back area.

As soon as the weather clears, I’ll have to mow the terraced back area, no man’s land, and the meadow. But I feel like I’m getting a handle on things, between the push mower and the weed whacker.

I apologize for not posting on Friday. Comcast was down in my area, and couldn’t be bothered to give us an estimated repair window. Because, as they tell us often, “we’re you’re only option, so we get it done when we get it done.” I hate them.

The weekend focused on MYTH & INTERPRETATION. It will be ready to go to the editor in a couple of days, and cover art will be ready in a couple of days. I’m happy with the work. It feels good to be back in the groove with Gwen and Justin. It gives me the opportunity to seed the stresses that later explode in BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, and yet it stands fine on its own.

It made a huge difference to show an outline early in the process to my editor, back when we talked about breaking off the section that grew into MYTH off BALTHAZAAR, because it gummed up BALTHAZAAR’S works.

I wrote a Writer’s Rough Outline for MYTH. I showed it to my editor. She came back with suggestions to streamline and focus. As I wrote, I could streamline and focus even more. I kept a nice, lean word count that works for a novella, it has a good story on its own, and it drives forward the series arcs of both Gwen and Justin.

Knowing the four books and the novella in the series have a contractual commitment, being able to work with my editor before I finished a first draft, made a huge difference in the process. It made the writing smoother, more focused, and will save me a few drafts full of tangents.

I could get used to these multi-book contracts.

I also spent a little time on THREE ROADS OF STRANGERS and re-reading POWER OF WORDS. I didn’t get any work done on the play, because I’m pushing hard to get the novella out to my editor this week.

I miss POWER OF WORDS. A lot. I don’t know when I can get back to it, though.

I’m still waiting for a check from a gig that was contractually obligated to be here on the 31st. This is the same gig whose ethics (or lack thereof) make me uncomfortable. Once I get this check, I will withdraw, as gracefully as possible. I hate to lose the money, but a two month lag time and the rewrites to turn it into something different than it claims to be make it an unworkable gig for me. I need to let it go and make room for something better.

Hopefully that check and the check from the radio play will arrive shortly.

Yesterday was a chaotic day onsite with a client, and I expect today will be the same. But I got off some paperwork to another client; I have one more batch, and then I’m caught up on that job until next January.

But I had a great writing morning with MYTH, and another one today, so I’m feeling good about that portion of my working life, at least.

Back to the page.

 

Published in: on June 5, 2018 at 1:32 am  Comments Off on Tues. June 5, 2018: So Close!  
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Thursday, May 31: Multi-Level Creativity

Thursday, May 31, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Foggy and muggy and full of pollen

Sorry this is up late. I had to get the weed whacker fixed.

Hop on over to Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions to see the May Wrap-Up. I didn’t post a To-Do list for May, because I had those extra projects come up, and any list would have been tossed out the window. But I’m happy with what got done.

Yesterday’s work with the client was tiring. I came home and read on the deck for a bit. I was also disappointed, at that particular site, about several ignorant comments from people who should know better.

I was going to skip going to Green Drinks, but I have to make an effort to get out and participate more. I put on make-up, I made an effort, and hauled myself out the door. I’m glad I did.

The space was beautiful, and focused on the Love Live Local businesses in Hyannis. Little Beach Gallery, Shift Eco Boutique, and DeVinto Designs. I really like what they do, what they create themselves, and the artwork featured. I met a host of interesting people, including a cadre of New Yorkers who also live and work here. Almost everyone I met is involved in textile or fiber arts, which was also interesting. As an ex-wardrobe person, I’m still fascinated by anything to do with textiles or fiber. I also met the new owner of Salt Yarn Studio, in Dennis. What used to be Yarn Hound, and, before that, Ladybug. I planned to go there tomorrow anyway to check it out; we had a great talk and I’m more eager than ever to go over there.

I’m glad I forced myself out of my introvert hut. The individuals I met were all interesting, all had good stories and unique passions. I’m not a fan of “people” in the general sense, but I find that, when you take the time to talk to an individual, they’re usually pretty interesting.

Little Beach Gallery had some great organic soaps, so I bought a bunch of them.

I feel good about the work on MYTH & INTERPRETATION. I’m deeply grateful that I could send the outline for the novella to my editor before I’d written much (back when we decided that the section that’s grown into MYTH didn’t fit in BALTHAZAAR TREASURE). We decided to break that section out into its own novella, because it was a tangent from BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, but the readers needed to know how the relationship between Gwen and Justin evolved between TRACKING MEDUSA and THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

So, I wrote an outline and sent it to my editor. She read it through and sent it back with comments, and ideas on how to keep it from sprawling into too much. She had suggestions on how to pare down the ideas to get to the essence of the piece, which keeps the focus of the series, and also shows how Gwen and Justin navigate their new status as a couple, while trying to juggle their lives. Each of them had a life before the other; their relationship changed their lives, but didn’t negate them. Gwen is older than Justin both emotionally and chronologically — he’s starting to come into his own and grow up.

The short conclusion to all this is that listening to my editor worked. Even from the outline, I’m paring a few things down, rearranging them, streamlining them, and the piece works better in pace and content. I’m going to do a big push on it this weekend.

I’m a little behind where I want to be on RELICS & REQUIEM, so I’m also going to do a push on that this weekend. And I’m nearly at the point where I can put the opening of the anti-gun violence play down on paper.

My reward for this is, once I finish my quota each day, working on THREE ROADS OF STRANGERS. I picked up the oversized sketchbook yesterday, so I can work on the maps I need for the project. I’m using the smaller sketchbook for floor plans and buildings, and the large one for sections of the city and the city itself. Eventually, I’ll be able to scan in the large maps and I hope to put them into a program to animate them when I’m ready to do the website to go with this project. That’s months down the road, maybe a year or two, but I’m looking into software that’s similar to gaming software for it.

Auditing the class on International Tribunals in the Hague is fascinating. I’m glad I’m auditing and not taking it for credit, because it’s in French. While I can understand enough to get a lot out of the class (as long as I don’t try to translate every word as I hear it), my French isn’t strong enough to write the papers or take the exams. But I get a lot out of auditing.

Hopefully, there will be some good weather this weekend, so I can get yard work done.

If you haven’t read “My Deal with the Muse” over on Ink-Dipped Advice, go on over.

Today is the final day that PLAYING THE ANGLES, the first Coventina Circle book (set backstage on a Broadway show) is 99 cents. You can buy it here. Tomorrow, it goes back up to its normal price of $3.99.

Still hearing good things in response to LIGHT BEHIND THE EYES, the radio play that was broadcast last week. HEX BREAKER also got some good compliments. I’m glad people enjoy the work.

Back to the page.

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Witchcraft, politics, and theatre collide as Morag D’Anneville and Secret Service agent Simon Keane fight to protect the Vice President of the United States — or is it Morag who needs Simon’s protection more than the VP? Buy it for only 99 cents here (through May 31).

 

Wed. May 30, 2018: Writing Weekend & Rewards

Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

I need another week of weekend.

Busy times. Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the latest post.

I have to find someone who can help me re-thread the spool for the weed whacker, so I can keep working on the yard.

I made a stupid mistake on Friday because I was over-tired and careless. I can’t fix it; therefore I’ve lost a good opportunity. That’s my own damn fault. I need to let it go and move on.

Saturday was all about the yard. I worked in the front, I worked in the back. I set down the organic fertilizer that also fights ants and ticks. I planted the tomatoes I’ve grown from seed, re-planted some mints and other plants from the garden store, planted some more seeds, tracked down and destroyed the wasp nest and the wasps that have been tormenting us. Part of me felt guilty for the latter; however, they have an entire yard that remains organic; they don’t have to harass us on the deck. If they won’t respect boundaries, they are gone.

We set up the deck, and it’s lovely. I hope we can spend many wonderful hours out there this season.

I planned Sunday and Monday as writing days, and they were. However, they weren’t on the projects where I’m under the most pressure. I should have been working on MYTH & INTERPRETATION and RELICS & REQUIEM.

Instead, I worked on THREE ROADS OF STRANGERS. I wrote about fifty pages (mostly on Sunday, less on Monday). The shape is a little different than I expected, but I like it. The characters are surprising me in good ways. I’m having fun with the maps and building a dirigible that’s different from the other dirigibles I’ve designed for other stories. I have to adjust the structure — and that means going back and adding a chapter I skipped. I thought I had to rotate points of view and each chapter had to be from a different POV; however, I’m finding certain chapters where two in a row need to be from my primary protagonist. I’m also naming the chapters — something I rarely do. I’m naming them once they’re written, so the title reflects the content. I find if I try to name the chapter first, I then try to bend the chapter to fit the title, and it takes me off the track of the piece.

Thank goodness for my tracking sheets, or I’d never be able to stay consistent.

I heard that my radio play was well-received. I’m glad, and I look forward to hearing it when the link goes up. I also heard from some readers who bought and read my books over the holiday weekend, and enjoyed them. Always glad when something I write makes someone happy.

Worked on the anti-gun violence play. I have the characters, I think. I removed some, because they were pulling the focus of the piece. I have a smaller cast and a narrower focus, but I think it will work for what it is. I have what drives each of them; I have a basic idea of plot. I’m still working on structure, but I’m close. I find that, for a play, I need to work out a lot more in my head before I start writing. For prose, I need to make more notes and outline.

Yesterday, it was difficult to move out of the world of THREE ROADS and back into the contemporary New York of MYTH & INTERPRETAITON and RELICS & REQUIEM. Not to mention my actual reality of Cape Cod and having to work with a client on-site. I’m really tired of the attitude on Cape Cod of “if you’re not sitting in front of me doing the work, you can’t be working.” I’m much more productive working off-site, in my preferred surroundings. Both the quantity and the quality of my work are better when I work remotely.

Back on track with MYTH. Getting there with RELICS. My reward for getting each day’s quota on each is doing some work on THREE ROADS. Working steadily on the play — should be able to start putting something on paper this week.

Some LOIs out yesterday and more will go out today. I’m on-site with a client again, and have plenty of other stuff to get done while I’m gone.

And yard work, whenever I can, because the whole summer will be about yard work.

Back to the page.

 

Published in: on May 30, 2018 at 2:11 am  Comments Off on Wed. May 30, 2018: Writing Weekend & Rewards  
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Fri. May 25, 2018: Respite & New Creative Challenges

Friday, May 25, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Sorry this is up late; I had errands to run this morning before the tourons descend on Cape Cod and make our lives hell for the next three months.

The relief I feel at getting out both requested partials to the interested editors ahead of deadline leaves me exhausted. HEART THEFT went out nine days before deadline; NOT BY THE BOOK went out four days before deadline. Neither one were dumped on the editor during a holiday weekend (although I cut it close with NBTB). I lived up to my own expectations for myself AND I’m happy with the quality of work I turned in.

I tried mowing yesterday. The reel mower doesn’t really mow much. It massages, and the grass snaps right back up. I bought a rolling blade. It should damn well cut whatever vegetation over which I roll it. Not happy AT ALL. When it cuts, it does a decent job of it, but there’s too much it’s not cutting.

I’m getting annoyed by the part-time writers who have non-writing day jobs to pay the bills attacking full-time writers who earn our living at it for “writing every day.” This is my profession, not my hobby. If I don’t show up and do the work every day, I can’t pay the bills. Getting paid for my writing doesn’t make me love it any less or make me any less of a writer. Stop attacking people who achieve what you can’t.

And, you know what? Go ahead and DON’T write regularly. Only write “when the muse strikes.” You’ll still be a cubicle slave. I’ll still be earning my living doing what I love — because I show up and do the work.

Spent some time outside, both reading and working on the maps for THREE ROADS OF STRANGERS. I’m moving forward as though my first choice market passed, and not writing it with an eye to their parameters. I’m back to writing it because I really love the piece and want to create this world. It will have to be done in and around other projects, but not having a deadline means less pressure. I’m getting more and more ideas about the world, and making more and more notes. The chapters I’ve written so far have a strong energy and drive, and I like the sprawl. I like weaving the characters, situations, and storylines together, to see where they converge and where they part.

This morning, I worked out a plot and character arc involving one of my five central protagonists with one of the minor characters who’s more complex than I expected. In my first putterings with this arc, it would have derailed the main drive of the piece. But now, I’ve figured out a way to adjust it so it supports the central plot instead of serving as a tangent. It will drive plot, illuminate character, enrich the world. In other words, serve its purpose.

However, this morning, I’m going back to work on MYTH & INTERPRETATION, whose deadline is coming up quickly. I’ll be looking at cover choices next week from my publisher and cover designer — hopefully, there will be a cover reveal soon.

I’d also like to sit down with the market list this weekend and come up with some more article pitches to go out next week.

I finished reading Marshall Ryan Maresca’s AN IMPORT OF INTRIGUE. I like this series a lot. A MURDER OF MAGES remains as one of my Top Twelve Books across genre. The choices made as the series develops surprise me. I often think, “I wouldn’t do it that way — but I’m really glad HE did!” I enjoy his world building, and I enjoy the way he breaks genre clichés.

There’s such a big difference between turning a trope (I hate that word) inside out and ignoring it. Tropes set up expectations. A talented writer (like Maresca) knows them intimately and knows how to use them beyond the expectations and take the reader somewhere new and exciting. A careless writer would toss it in and not follow through or defy it without providing expansion and payoff.

I admit it, I read Maresca as much for craft as for story and character. I learn a lot about the way he structures his books, about the paths his characters take. There’s always the sense of discovery there, but he’s got such good craft, I’m willing to leap with him wherever he goes, because I know it will be a satisfying, exciting experience. He was also kind enough to point me in the right direction when I had questions about mapping that have been useful.

I heard the radio play went well earlier this week. The cast, crew, and audience had fun with it — that’s music to a playwright’s ears! I’m looking forward to hearing it.

I’m playing with ideas for the new gun violence play that came out of the conversation I had with an actress friend. I’d set out a cast of characters, but they started feeling too much like representations than individuals. So I stripped it back and narrowed the focus. Now, I have something to work with, something to develop. I usually don’t mention the physical characteristics or race of characters in a cast breakdown. With my work, I find that when the actor who connects best with the work is cast, we have an array of physical types, races, ethnicities.

However, in this case, race is part of what the play deals with. Which means I need to specify which characters are black, white, etc. We’re dealing with things people don’t want to talk about or acknowledge, but which have to be acknowledged. This will be a challenging piece to work on, and I’m pulling in advice from all kinds of actors and creatives with whom I’ve worked on Broadway, to make sure it’s not just a banal “I’m presenting a message” piece, but a piece that digs deep in search of the cause of the problem, and also offers more than one solution. The development process will take a looong time. But it will be worth it, if something valuable comes out of it, for those of us in the creation and the experience of the final piece. Flippant responses out of emotion, fear, anger, aren’t necessarily ones that will help. Yet they will also need to be a part of this, as they are a step on the journey to a solution, and sometimes a tangent.

I hope I’m up to the challenge.

In the meantime, I have to tackle the challenge of the Lawn that Refused to Bow to the Mower.

Have a great weekend!

 

Published in: on May 25, 2018 at 9:58 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 25, 2018: Respite & New Creative Challenges  
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Apologies. This was scheduled to post this morning, and, for some reason, did not.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to learn all about A.M. Griffin’s newest release, THE GOD KILLER.

Last night, my comic noir mystery radio drama LIGHT BEHIND THE EYES was performed by the Radio Theatre Players in St. Petersburg, Florida. I wish I could have been there to cheer them on in person!

Busy, busy, busy! Good busy, but still busy.

I finally bought a new lawn mower late last week, a reel push mower. No more horrible noise. No more fumes. No more gasoline. It was a pain the butt to put together. However, it’s been raining for days, so yesterday, before I left for my client meeting, was the first chance I had to really use it.

I like it much better than the gas mower.

I dug down and finished the requested partial for HEART THEFT. Seven polished chapters, and the synopsis, cut down from the nine page outline to a five page synopsis. It felt weird to send off a partial of an unfinished manuscript. I’m so used to submitting partials of complete manuscripts.

It also felt weird to step out of the rhythm of the book I’d established and switch over to NOT BY THE BOOK, which I’m now digging down on, because that partial has to go out this week. I aim for Thursday.

The deadline on both was actually Monday night (Memorial Day). However, I wanted them out early. I also don’t want to dump a manuscript on anyone as they’re leaving on Friday for the weekend, so I want to get NBTB out on Thursday, and I already have HT out, so I can actually enjoy the long holiday weekend.

I should hear back by July. Either the editors will like it and want more, which means the books go up a few steps in the writing queue, or they won’t, and the books stay where they are, and get submitted elsewhere when they’re submission-ready.

Once NBTB is out, the primary focus goes back to MYTH & INTERPRETATION, with RELICS & REQUIEM as a close second. In a few weeks, I have to get going on DAVY JONES DHARMA.

Had a conversation on Twitter with an actress friend about our anger over the lack of action taken by politicians on gun control. That’s translating into notes for a script, which I will send her when it’s done. She runs a theatre company.

Came across information on Julie d’Abigny, a fascinating woman from history. I considered pitching to write a play about her for 365 Women, but when I checked, someone else already has (and they’re full for this season). So I guess I sticking to not writing a play for them this year! 😉

But I miss script writing.

So, the summer will be a juggling act. How many balls I have in the air will depend on whether the serial is picked up, and how the editors respond to these two partials.

Considering all the non-writing stuff that has to get done this summer as well, it should be, well . . .interesting.

For me, the best part of the royal wedding was how people enjoyed the happiness the marrying couple shared. I didn’t watch it; I did, however, enjoy how happy so many people were on Twitter and FB.

For those who had to deride the happiness? They’re not worth my time. It’s fine not to like what others like. But don’t scorn them for it, because it doesn’t fit what YOU like. As long as they’re not hurting anyone, let them have their happiness. Not everything is about YOU or YOUR opinion.

Happy that Justify won the Preakness. The hope for another Triple Crown is still alive. Good Magic got a lousy ride – the jockey wore him out too early. My poor little Quip had a bad day, and was depressed to come in last. Poor little one. We forget how young they are when they run these races.

Client work yesterday, today, and tomorrow on a big project. Some LOIs out. Yard work.

Getting the final paperwork out for the contest. It was much easier when I just mailed them the judging sheets. But now I have to key it into the computer, zip a file, and send it off. I need the physical sheets for the way I organize Yes, No, and Maybe piles in each category.

Bought a big new sketch pad yesterday, because I need to figure out some physical mapping on the serial. I need to render the main building where a good portion of it takes place, the street, the neighborhood, and then, the entire town.

Good thing I studied stage design. It’s amazing how much that helps me in writing novels.

It’s amazing how many skills I picked up working in theatre help with the writing.

Wed. May 16, 2018: When It Works Out Anyway

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for some ideas on “The Social Media Conversation.”

I am exhausted, and I have to reconcile myself to being so until at least the end of the month.

Monday was busy — I went in early to work with my client, who was leaving for an international trip later that day. I had company when I came home — a writer with whom I’m acquainted who happened to be in Boston and came down to visit.

We were having a good visit when an email came through — the person who was scheduled to post on one of my sites the next day (which was uploaded and ready to go) wanted to postpone because one of the links wouldn’t be live. ONE of the links. The others were fine.

I was angry. You don’t pull out the day before guesting. Not unless you’re offering other content for the slot. Plus, as a guest, YOU don’t tell ME when to post your piece. You’re a GUEST. You can request a preferred date and I’ll do what I can. But you don’t make the decision when it runs. My house, my rules. Not to mention that I was off the clock for the day, had company, and wasn’t near a computer. There’s a reason I schedule posts ahead of time. I run multiple sites. I have X amount of time. I plan ahead, schedule ahead, and that’s that.

I said no and vented to my guest and to another friend.

On the other hand, I had some empathy. I had a book where I’d spent months lining up release-day promo for its release. Many of the sites were reluctant to include me, because they had trouble with that particular publisher before and considered the publisher unreliable. The caveat was that they would run my posts provided I could guarantee the links would be live on release day. I discussed it with my publisher, and was promised everything would be on time. I even turned in final galleys early to make sure everything on my end was done.

Book release day came. My posts were up on multiple sites. As soon as I woke up, I received a barrage of angry messages from the site masters — the book had not released. I had not been warned by my publisher that there would be a delay. If I had, I could have let the site masters know in time and offered other content. I contacted my publisher, who got back to me hours later with a shrug that “it happens” and “they didn’t have time” to get it up when they said they would. And that “that’s the way it is with digital releases; you better get used to it.”

Meanwhile, my posts had been pulled down by the site masters and they’ll never trust me again. I lost all the publicity I’d set up, I lost future publicity. I never got as much as an apology from my publisher. The book went up nearly a week later, and they refused to give me any marketing support. As far as they were concerned, I should have “known better” than to expect the book to be ready on release day. This is the same publisher who felt I wasn’t spending enough money to promote my books, and didn’t spend a dime.

Yeah, not a publisher I want to keep working with.

I remember how upsetting that was. I’d never told this particular guest that all the links had to be live, just that I needed links.

So, I’m sitting outside the restaurant, on my phone. I managed to get into my site on my phone and reschedule the post. Fortunately, I was still deciding which post would go up on the next requested day. I sure as heck wasn’t going to bump someone else.

THEN I had to take down all the scheduled promotional posts/tweets/et al I’d put up to promote it.

THEN, I had to figure out how to get substitute content for the next day.

But I told my guest I’d moved it, and that I needed the new links by Thursday noon. I’m on a brutal deadline right now. From Thursday noon through next Monday, I’m on a writing retreat/no or limited internet. I’m not blowing my deadline because someone else’s publisher didn’t come through for them.

No response. Not a thank you. Not a sorry. Nothing.

I was angry at myself for not just saying “no” and sticking with it.

I still needed content for the day, even though it would go up late.

I invited my in-person guest to write something.

She was terrified. She’s early in her writing career, no website, no blog, no contract. But she’s a good writer and she does the work. She came up with a post, I made a few suggestions, and yesterday it went up.

She’s already received an invitation to guest on another blog from it, so everything worked out.

And I got an idea for Ink-Dipped Advice on “Guest Post Etiquette.”

Between us all, we made it work. Was it a hassle? Yes. Was I frustrated and angry? Yes. But it worked out. I learned from it and moving on.
So that was Monday into Tuesday. The rest of Tuesday was busy at my client’s site. Even with her out of the office, there’s plenty to do. It’s interesting, but exhausting.

And, I’m working steadily on HEART THEFT, because I need to get out what I have this weekend. I like the work, I’m enjoying it, but I’m pushing. Especially because the characters in the serial won’t shut the heck up, and the other deadlines are looming as well.

Did a grocery run, trying to get home before the storm and forgot half of what I needed. As one does.

The storm wasn’t anywhere near as bad here as it was in New York. Some hail during the day, thunder, lightning, and rain at night. Power flickered, so I couldn’t write on the computer, and we didn’t watch anything.

Today, I’m with the client again, then picking up the missed groceries. Then, it’s back to HEART THEFT. Big push today, tomorrow, and Friday for that. I doubt I will post on Friday here, or if I do, it will be a post saying I’m not posting! 😉

HEART THEFT needs to go out this weekend, and then it’s NOT BY THE BOOK, which needs to go out by the end of next week.

And then, the editors either want them or they don’t. And my focus goes back to juggling MYTH & INTERPRETATION and RELICS & REQUIEM.

And preparing for another career evaluation/assessment over the Memorial Day weekend, where we will meet, talk, discuss, plan, and relax, while plotting out my next moves.

Have a great day!

Published in: on May 16, 2018 at 9:06 am  Comments Off on Wed. May 16, 2018: When It Works Out Anyway  
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Monday, May 14, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors The Next Step on the Ladder

black-and-white-construction-ladder-54335

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.

 

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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Fri. April 27, 2018: Immersed in My Fictional Worlds

Friday, April 27, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

The work continues: On the galleys of SPIRIT REPOSITORY; on HEART THEFT and NOT BY THE BOOK. On the contest entries. On the garden.

Deep in all this writing, trying to keep on top of MYTH & INTERPRETATION and RELICS & REQUIEM. I finally figured out the relic – thanks to an article suggested by a Twitter contact, just because that person thought I might be interested. And the article solved the problem of what kind of artifact I needed.

Finishing up a project for a client, and will make a break with this particular client. I’ve been working with this company for a year as of the end of May, and I’m uncomfortable with too many of their business practices for me to stay. They’re not doing anything illegal; I just question some of the ethics, and I shouldn’t be the person in the position. Someone else, more aligned with the company’s mission, will be a better fit. Our relationship has been cordial; they do pay, although not as regularly as the contract stated. It’s just best for me to be done. To make room for something that’s a better match, for both of us.

Some admin work to take care of, yard work before the next rain moves in, and then, all weekend, writing, writing, writing. I want to get one of these partials out early the week of May 7, and the other about a week or so after. I don’t want to wait until the end May deadline.

The serial still pulls. I’m designing the city as well as several of the houses/strongholds in it. I need RPG-style map-making software to really do it well. Right now, I’m doing a combination of drawing and blueprints/floorplans. I suck at the former, but developed some skills in the latter when I learned set and lighting design. I worry that the time I’m taking on this project is a form of procrastination on the deadlined stuff. After all, I won’t know about the serial for at least another month; if it’s a no, it gets adapted back to novel and goes farther back into the queue anyway.

But it pulls at me. The world opens up, heartbeat by heartbeat, and I don’t want to lose it.

Have a great weekend.

 

Published in: on April 27, 2018 at 9:30 am  Comments Off on Fri. April 27, 2018: Immersed in My Fictional Worlds  
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Wed. April 25, 2018: The Need For Focus, The Immersion in Worlds

Wednesday, April 25, 2016
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

It’s difficult to let go of the serial right now. The proposal is out; either they want it or they don’t. But I’m immersed in the world and the energy of the piece, and it’s difficult to put it aside until it’s back on the schedule.

But I have to.

The primary focus right now has to be on doing the additional work I need to do on HEART THEFT and NOT BY THE BOOK and get them to the interested editors. I also have to keep up with the work on MYTH & INTERPRETATION and on RELICS & REQUEIM. It’s difficult enough to juggle four projects. Five is beyond imagination.

And yet. . .

The next round of copyedits on SPIRIT REPOSITORY goes out tomorrow. I hope this is it. The review went out yesterday; I’m still working on contest entries, both for the fiction contest and for the radio contest. I’ll have the decisions for the radio contest tomorrow.

The slideshow plug-in I tried for the Devon Ellington site didn’t work the way I need it to — it mangles the cover images instead of adjusting them. So I’ll try a different one. There are plenty of them out there.

Sales of the Topic Workbooks have picked up, which is a good thing. I want to put together an ad for them and see if that helps, too. I’m also putting together the ad for SPIRIT REPOSITORY’s launch and a special promotion that will run for a few weeks.

I’m working on a couple of presentations for one of my clients. I’m having fun with it. Who knew Keynote/PowerPoint could be so much fun?

Hop over to Ink-Dipped Advice for my article on “Craft and Passion.”

Monday was such a gorgeous day. I should have worked in the yard. I was angry, though; they’re repairing my street. At the end of the workday, they “cleaned” up after themselves by using a leaf blower to put the debris onto my yard. I am NOT happy with it. That’s not the way to do the job, assholes.

I’m not going to re-clean the front until they’re done and gone. I have plenty to do in the back, but, instead, I had the first official glass of wine out on the deck, while doing some other reading. I didn’t want to waste time being disgruntled; I wanted to enjoy the beautiful day.

Tuesday, I buckled down and did some work in the back. Grudgingly, but I did. It’s supposed to rain today, so, gee, aw shucks, no yard work!

Tomorrow will be a busy day filled with doctor’s appointments for my mom. I have a lot to do, too, a lot to finish before I dig in for another intense weekend of writing, yard work, and cleaning up for the guests that are coming next week.

But it’s all good. I love the writing I’m doing, I’m happy that sales are picking up.

I just have to stay focused and creative.

 

Published in: on April 25, 2018 at 2:30 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 25, 2018: The Need For Focus, The Immersion in Worlds  
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