January 2, 2009

first-feel-cover-thumbnail

Friday, January 2, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snowy and cold

The Jain Lazarus short story, “First Feet” is available as a free download. You can read an excerpt and then download it here.

I’m sorry it took me so long to get it up. I’m having horrible computer problems. It’s the same old refrain: Dell, Microsoft, and NitroPDF all suck, and I lose half my working day because these dishonorable companies, who are quick to take consumer money, do not honor their side of the contract, which is to supply products that WORK.

It will be good to get my new computer, and to hell with all of them.

Anyway, I’m happy with “First Feet”. It much more light-hearted than some of the other Jain Lazarus stories, yet gives more about everyone’s background, and when you read OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK and the Billy Root story (that I begin tomorrow), you’ll go, “Oh, yeah, that goes back to ‘First Feet’.” At the same time, you don’t NEED to read any of them to enjoy each one separately.

I had a good couple of days, in spite of losing more than half my workday yet again today due to computer problems.

The weather was pretty bad on New Year’s Eve – a twenty minute drive took me an hour and a half. I was kind of shocked at how bad the roads were once I crossed the border into Connecticut. But I got there, unloaded the food, and prepared the h’ors d’oeuvres. (Five bags of food). Good thing I did, because the power went out. Fortunately, the fireplace is gas (wood-burning is better in my opinion, but beggars can’t be choosers) and the gas stove still worked, so we weren’t completely lost.

The power came back on a few hours later, which was a relief. It would have been a cold, dark night otherwise. They’re not big on candles or flashlights at this house. Good thing I always keep my Mag light in my bag.

We enjoyed a good chat by the fire with wine and cheese mid-afternoon. We had a fairly early supper (the salmon in mustard-wine sauce with spinach and mashed potatoes). And wine. Buche de Noel for dessert. At 8:30, we had the traditional herring salad – only, because I can’t stand herring, I mixed it with chopped egg, scallion, and sour cream. If I say so myself, it wasn’t bad. With more wine, of course.

We brought out the devilled eggs and the smoked salmon/spinach appetizers around 11, along with the champagne and happily kicked 2008 out the door, welcoming in 2009. I am so READY for a new year.

I was up early the next morning, grateful for a few minutes of peace and quiet to do my yoga. The past few years, I’ve been so used to going on yoga retreats that a grown-up house party weekend felt odd. I’m not used to being around people for such a stretch, even people I like.

Anyway, we had a big bacon-and-eggs breakfast, complete with more champagne (either with orange juice or cranberry, depending on what people wanted). We watched The Tournament of Roses Parade, always one of my favorites, while I prepared the duck.

I roasted the duck with a combination of fennel, shallot, and rosemary – quite good. The mashed potatoes were such a hit it was requested to have mashed potatoes again instead of roasted potatoes – no problem. And steamed green beans with hollandaise. And, of course, more wine. And more of the Buche de Noel for dessert.

It quickly came back to me how much I hate taking the remainder of the duck off the bone; next time, I may go to the butcher and ask just for duck breasts and duck legs instead of the whole duck.

Some of the rest of them stayed to watch football, but I packed up and came home in the late afternoon. The cats had plenty to tell me, and, frankly, I was tired. I had a good workout session at night and just took it easy. I don’t have an alcohol-related hangover, because I drank very little over long stretches of time; but I’ve got a food hangover. Thirty-six hours focused on food and drink.

In spite of everything, I managed over a thousand words on the Lucy Gothic project while I was gone.

Had a slow start this morning, but did my yoga and set back to work getting “First Feet” up. It was ready to go, it was just a case of the computer freezing, locking files, refusing to upload, Nitro PDF refusing to open, etc., etc., etc. for about six hours.

Oy.

But the story’s up. I think I’m going to take a break before I tackle another file, an article file that’s on deadline and with which I’m also having trouble, due to technical difficulties beyond my control.

I’ll make it an early night tonight, I think. It’s snowing again, which is fine with me, since I don’t have to go anywhere. I have a long weekend of writing ahead of me, but I have every intention of pacing myself.

The first set of answers to GDR questions will go up either later today or first thing tomorrow. Make sure you hop on over to the GDR site to take a look and post your answers to the questions, should you wish.

Devon

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

A couple of guest blog posts are up.

There’s an interview with me on Writing the Danger:

And a guest blog up on retaining the Joy in your writing on Writing the Cyber Highway:

I hope you stop by and drop a comment on both!

Adventures!

I haul two loads of laundry down four flights of stairs to the building’s basement, toss them in the machines, add the soap, put in the money, slide it home. The machine eats the money and doesn’t start. I kicked it; didn’t help.

So I called the temp super, who fixed it with some sort of magic, and I got my laundry done. Unfortunately, the dryer’s acting up, so hot I burned my hands taking the clothes out, which makes me worry something could catch fire.

I completed an interview and wrote two guest blog posts. I also did some rewrites on a novella-length piece – yes, Nina Bell fans, she is coming back! So stay tuned.

Did some other business stuff, and that was the day. It zoomed by pretty quickly.

This morning’s work on the mystery was tough, and I’m a little under where I’d like to be. I usually hit 50K around the 18th or 19th (last year I hit it on the 13th, but I was on fire), but this year I won’t. As long as it’s done by Thanksgiving, right?

I was also looking at desktop publishing programs. Nitro PDF does not meet my needs; I’m in search of something that does. I won’t be able to get it until after the first of the year, but at least I can do my research now. So far, I’m leaning towards PagePlus.

I’ve got to get some stuff out of storage – I’m getting out the Christmas decorations, and some important-to-me dishes and glassware. Usually, I don’t like starting too early for the holidays, but, for some reason, I’m having a great deal of time preventing myself from decorating for Yule already. I had hoped to be in my house by now, so I’m extremely disappointed in myself.

Back to the page.

Devon

Untitled Helena Francis Mystery – 37,416 words out of 50,000 (Nano goal)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
37 / 50
(74.0%)

Untitled Helena Francis Mystery – 37,416 words out of est. 75,000 words (total goal)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
37 / 75
(49.3%)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
New Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Cold, rainy, raw

Lots of stuff to talk about today.

First:
HEX BREAKER got another good review, this one from Bitten By Books here.

Second, building on that good review, the Jain Lazarus ghost story is finally available for free download! You can read an excerpt of “The Possession of Nattie Filmore” and then download it as a PDF here.

Third, I’ve got the website up for the new project launching next month, a line of short fiction called Penny’s Dreadfuls, in homage to the penny dreadful tales. The website’s still rough and will get worked on over the next few weeks, but come and visit the Penny’s Dreadfuls site to get an idea of the types of stories we will feature.

Okay, that’s the big stuff.

I got my Breeders’ Cup article out in the morning, and I’ll let you know when it publishes. I spent most of the rest of the day building the Penny’s Dreadfuls site, which didn’t take all that long because, for once, my webhost worked properly most of the time, and I understood what I was doing.

I lost far too much time prepping the Jain Lazarus story. I designed several really cool covers, but if they worked in Word, they didn’t convert properly in NitroPDF. NitroPDF does not have the versatility they promised when I bought it, and was not worth the price. It’s a huge, huge, huge disappointment. I’ll have to limp along with it for now, but once I get the new computer system, I’m getting the full Adobe Creative Suite package. That will do what I need it to do (although learning it will be a challenge, I’m sure). Until I can afford that purchase, all of my covers, etc., have to remain very simple and very geometric. Hopefully, I can grow from cover to cover, as far as scanning and maybe getting more color in (the Nitro conversion refuses to hold either background color or photographs as background, even though I can layer, and watermarking doesn’t really work, either). I can’t hold headers and footers with my cute little page designs, nothing. And, of course, I’m angry, because before I bought the program, I asked all these questions and was PROMISED it could do all these things that it can’t. So, don’t waste your money on NitroPDF. Perhaps somewhere out there is a product that actually does what it advertises.

And, of course, Microsoft just sucks, and I’m tired of the computer taking up to 22 minutes to boot up and then sticking, freezing, and giving me that fucking little hourglass all the time before I have to shut it down and start over.

Thank you, Colin, for all your time and patience helping me figure it out and helping me with the download glitch.

Heaven forbid I should be able to capture the cover out of Adobe and convert it to a jpg so I could do a thumbnail of the cover. No, tomorrow I have to go out and get more color ink. Then I have to print the cover, then scan it into the computer and then mess with it until I have a thumbnail. Which is ridiculous. I should be able to open the fucking document, copy the cover page into whatever format I want, and then manipulate it, not do 16 steps for something that should take 2.

Eventually, I’ll be able to post the damned cover!

Of course, it’s much simpler than the really cool covers I designed, with the photograph as the background and the text overlay, or the two column design with the current cover photograph on one side and the text on the other with a pumpkin-colored background, but again, fucking Microsoft won’t let me do that for the very first page, you have to have columns either for the whole document or “from this point forward”. How about “this page only” you dumbasses? I HATE MICROSOFT.

And, of course, I’m totally stressed out and behind on everything else because I had to waste so much fucking time AGAIN on programs that don’t do what they promise. Seriously, I’m ready to start invoicing NitroPDF and Microsoft for wasting my time.

On a happier note, I’m humming along with my N3s, all of whom seem committed and eager to get going, and I’m putting the work into my own outline. Yeah, I’m nuts, but let’s face it, I’m not going to be happy sitting on the sidelines. I still don’t have a title, so for now, it’s the Untitled Helena Francis Mystery. I think that’s what I’m doing – I might change my mind on November 1.

I’m happy with the site for Penny’s Dreadfuls, and working away on “The Ramsey Chase”, which is a ton of fun. Cornelia and Roman are quite an interesting pair.

Today is the worst weather day of the week; of course, I have to go out in it. Isn’t that the way it always goes?

Sigh.

Back to the page.

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:

NEW!Sensory Perceptions: Techniques to Improve Your Writing Through the Six Senses by Devon Ellington. Use the six senses to take your writing to the next level via a series of sense-specific exercises. By the end of seven weeks, you complete seven short stories!. $1.29 USD. Here.


Hex Breaker
by Devon Ellington. A Jain Lazarus Adventure. Hex Breaker Jain Lazarus joins the crew of a cursed film, hoping to put to rest what was stirred up before more people die and the film is lost. Tough, practical Detective Wyatt East becomes her unlikely ally and lover on an adventure fighting zombies, ceremonial magicians, the town wife-beater, the messenger of the gods, and their own pasts.
$4.00 ebook/ $6.00 on CD from Firedrakes Weyr Publishing.
Visit the site for the Jain Lazarus adventures.

Back By Popular Demand!
30 Tips for 30 Days: Kick Start Your Novel and Get Out of Your Own Way. A Nano Handbook by Devon Ellington. FREE!
If you’ve ever wondered whether or not you could survive National Novel Writing Month, this is the handbook for you! Ideas on preparations, setting goals, overcoming blocks, pushing yourself, tips for each day of the process, and ideas for going beyond, this handbook by veteran Nano-er Devon Ellington will help you survive. Best of all, it’s free! Download it here.
Limited time offer


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.


Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Full Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Exhausted and frustrated. It should have taken me 45 minutes to convert the ebook, upload it to Payloadz and list it.

It took seven hours.

Because both NitroPDF and Microsoft suck.

I designed a gorgeous cover for the ebook, and was thrilled with it. And that’s thanks to the readers like Kalem who taught me how to create it in Word. Only, NitroPDF won’t hold it when it converts the file. Even though the sales fuck who sold it to me swore it did. Because, believe me, I had a LONG list of questions before I bought it and I made it very clear that if the answer to ANY of them was no, this product was not worth my time or money. And the sales staff lied. Gee, what a surprise. Not only that, unless you pay them more money for them to tell you that no, the program doesn’t REALLY do what the sales team promised, you can’t even ask questions past the first thirty days. They can bite me. So not only do they make false promises to get you to buy it, customer service is non-existent.

In other words, if you’re looking for a conversion program, I suggest you take your business to a company that actually gives a damn about its customers once they’ve parted them from the money. There must be one out there somewhere.

It wouldn’t let me import images, it wouldn’t let me set new backgrounds, it wouldn’t let me do any damn thing. It took me a few hours, but I finally managed to underlay a photo as a watermark that’s still not exactly what I wanted, it’s not the photo I wanted, but that was that.

Only then Microsoft failed and the whole system crashed and then Nitro wouldn’t open again. It seems it only opens ONCE PER DAY. Um, excuse me, but when I’ve BOUGHT the program, shouldn’t it open whenever I need it to?

I finally tricked it into opening, planning to keep it open for the rest of the day, because I had to do the newsletter and all that other stuff that needed to get done in and around the conference.

But Microsoft kept failing, freezing, then crashing. Over and over and over again. And I had to keep finding new ways to trick Nitro PDF into opening, which it only did about every third time Microsoft crashed.

I’m telling you, I’d be better off hacking this Dell piece of crap into tiny pieces and then driving back and forth over it with a Hummer. It would work better. NitroPDF, Microsoft, and Dell – useless.

Seven effing hours. For something I knew how to do, which should have taken 45 minutes.

But the ebook is up, called SENSORY PERCEPTIONS, and it’s a seven week course based on sense-specific exercises and layering them. At the end of seven weeks, you have seven short stories. I’ve been working with these exercises with students for several years, developing them, and then did another test run on all of them last week, which is why I’ve ended up with a batch of new stories. I hope you check it out. I kept the price point low enough to make sense in these economic times, but high enough so that PayPal doesn’t keep 90% of it, which is what they do with Writing Rituals.

The newsletter came out, finally. If you haven’t gotten your copy, or haven’t yet signed up, you can do so here.

I wrote a short story for the short story workshop I’m taking. It surprised me in a good way, but the ending needs some more oomph, a kind of a button. The very last sentence is weak, and that ruins the impact of the piece as a whole

I commented on all the exercises I’d missed while fighting with the computer, and they’d stacked up. The majority of the students are really into it and there to learn. You always have one or two who pull something out of their drawer and slap it up there, whether it fits the exercise or not, or the ones who do the bare minimum, but for the most part, they’re an exceptionally lively, creative bunch.

I checked in to the workshops I’m taking, making sure I did the assignments and had the next and kept up my part of the conversation. I have to say, when the instructor can’t be bothered to respond to any of the assignments . . .it annoys me. We’re there for interaction, not to be lectured and then, when we do the work, be met with silence. The point of a workshop, in my mind, is to WORK, and to me, that means something that’s interactive. But, everyone’s got their own way. I’m meeting a lot of great people, and I’m also meeting some people whose methods just don’t jive with mine, and that’s fine – we can be pleasant colleagues and then go our separate ways. I’m learning a lot, both in where I can grow, and what doesn’t work, which is good. And I’m challenging some of my processes, which is also good. Uncomfortable at times, but good.

I should do some work on The Big Project. I’m feeling a little scattered now, so I’ll probably spend time on the conference board and try to get back to it later.

I STILL haven’t heard from the editor about the deadline for the two articles I’m supposed to write, and I asked about a week ago. Well, without a firm deadline, I’ll do them when I get around to them. I asked THE DAY I was hired. It takes 60 seconds to write a response.

Urgh.

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:

NEW!Sensory Perceptions: Techniques to Improve Your Writing Through the Six Senses by Devon Ellington. Use the six senses to take your writing to the next level via a series of sense-specific exercises. By the end of seven weeks, you complete seven short stories!. $1.29 USD. Here.


Hex Breaker
by Devon Ellington. A Jain Lazarus Adventure. Hex Breaker Jain Lazarus joins the crew of a cursed film, hoping to put to rest what was stirred up before more people die and the film is lost. Tough, practical Detective Wyatt East becomes her unlikely ally and lover on an adventure fighting zombies, ceremonial magicians, the town wife-beater, the messenger of the gods, and their own pasts.
$4.00 ebook/ $6.00 on CD from Firedrakes Weyr Publishing.
Visit the site for the Jain Lazarus adventures.


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.


Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on October 14, 2008 at 8:22 am  Comments (5)  
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