Tues. May 15, 2018: Creativity Inspires Creativity

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
New Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise and meet Emily Montgomery, a writer early in her career who jumped in when the post supposed to go live today ran into trouble.

Busy, busy weekend. But a good one. I finished the contest entries late last week, made my final decisions, and sent off the winning choice in each category and the finalists. Now, I have to count up the books so I can invoice, and do the digital entry on the judging sheets. I did everything in hard copy, because it was easier to keep the categories organized.

Got some excellent work done on HEART THEFT. I’m hoping that will be ready to go out the end of this week.

Also did some excellent work on the serial – which I shouldn’t be working on, but it pulled so hard I had to or else.

Early to work yesterday with a client who’s going out of the country for a few weeks. She just designed the next season’s line, and I have to get her design information to the people who make up the samples. It was fascinating, and so different than designing costumes for theatre.

Over the weekend, I watched THE POST and THE GREATEST SHOWMAN. They were both terrific. THE POST made me mourn the way the NEW YORK TIMES has turned into a right-wing propaganda paper for the current administration. The former editors must be spinning in their graves. I looked up to the TIMES so much growing up – trained in their journalism style, admired their work. And, of course, their cafeteria was one of the best in the city! A friend of mine worked there, and I used to visit her and we’d have lunch or dinner there. Even after the whole Jayson Blair problem, they got back on track. Although they were never, in my lifetime, a “liberal” paper. They’ve always been The Gray Lady, slightly right of center. Now, they’re just a propaganda machine for the corrupt and the stupid. I read the WASHINGTON POST far more than the TIMES. I trust them more. And, of course, I remember both the Pentagon Papers and Watergate – when Congress actually pretended to have ethics and wouldn’t just let the White House run roughshod over everything like a banana republic. Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and all the supporting cast – all terrific. If you haven’t seen it yet, do it.

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN took my breath away. It’s completely unique. It’s a period film that’s not constrained by period, and goes beyond. Yes, the music is contemporary rather than period, and so it the dance style. But, somehow, it all works. And Hugh Jackman owns it. He lights up the screen, more so than in anything else I’ve seen him in. I even liked Zac Efron’s work – for the first time. The bar scene between Jackman and Efron is going down as one of my favorite film scenes ever. The joy, the cleverness, the precision – stunning. Michelle Williams pulled it off; not a big fan of her work, but she did a decent job here. I think I’m going to buy the DVD – it’s definitely a film I’ll go back to time and time again.

Back to the page now – I have two manuscripts to work on that need to go out by the end of the month AND get back on track with MYTH & INTERPRETATION and RELICS & REQUIEM.

I do love the process of writing, though, and especially after seeing two great movies, I’m fired up about creating again – even though what I’m working on has nothing to do with what I watched. But excellence in creativity inspires. Always.

Allow yourself to be inspired.

Then go for it.

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Just a reminder: PLAYING THE ANGLES, the first Coventina Circle book, is on sale for a limited time for 99 cents. THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, the second book in the series, is available for $3.99.

I hope you read them both and like them!

Back to the page.

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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.

 

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

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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.

Tues. April 24, 2018: The Right Kind of Writing Busy

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy, busy, busy weekend.

I did a lot of work on the serial proposal, and that went out yesterday. It’ll be about two months before I hear anything, and, hey, it’s a 50-50 chance. I hope they pick it up; if they don’t, I have it outlined and ready to dig back into as a novel when I can fit it back into the schedule.

I went through a stack of contest entries, and I started reading the radio dramas sent to me to judge.

I did a good bit of percolating and figuring out stuff for both NOT BY THE BOOK and HEART THEFT, and have started drafting the additional chapters.

I’m in another round of copyedits for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY and hope to get them out later today or tomorrow.

I managed to get some yard work in, hauling the big branches that broke in the March storms, raking leaves in no man’s land, and cutting out some of the invasive oak. We put some of the big potted plants out on the deck — the two Rose of Sharons, the lilac, the forsythia, the hydrangea, the blueberry, some of the hanging baskets. Hopefully, we’ve moving into spring and can set up our enchanted deck soon.

I’m so exhausted, just feeling burned out on a lot of life stuff. But I’m excited about the writing opportunities, and I’m determined to do my best.

I’m excited by the worlds I’ve built for the serial, for HEART THEFT, and for NOT BY THE BOOK. I feel good about the work. There’s always room for “better” and that’s where editors come in, but I feel good about the work.

 

Thurs. April 19, 2018: Roller Coaster Day

Thursday, April 19, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

What is it now? The 107th day of January? Sure feels like it!

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for an update.

Yesterday was a roller coaster that nearly broke me.

I had guests, more than expected, up for a funeral. Tuesday night, I cooked and baked. They arrived at night. I fed them and listened to them talk. We were up until the wee hours. Mostly, I listened and offered sanctuary. That was my role.

Helped them get ready the next morning. And discovered that 1&1.com destroyed all seven of the websites I’d built on the new host. All gone. Supposedly as part of the “holding package” they forced me into, although when I asked them BEFORE MOVING the DNS to A2, and NOTHING was mentioned about needing to have a “holding package” in order to retain the registrations that are paid through until October of this year.

I was furious. 1&1 shrugged and said all I had to do was re-point the DNS. Of course, I could sign in to the 1&1 Control Panel, but the only option was to “re-join” their package. There was no way to re-point the domain. That screen wouldn’t come up, and every other click put me into an endless loop. Finally, someone at 1&1 did the re-point and the sites came back up. They should have never gone down in the first place. But 1&1 did it because they could, and they like to fuck with their customers and do whatever they can to make life hell and prevent their customers from actually receiving services for which they paid.

THEN — 1&1 made an unauthorized withdrawal from my bank account. I was told — in writing — that the fee for this “holding package” would be waived, and I would not be charged until April of 2019. But then, they pull a payment WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION from my bank account. Not to mention that I warned my bank back in March that I was afraid they would pull this kind of a stunt, but I could not delete my card from their information until the registration transfer was complete. But, you know, TD Bank — if you’ve ever dealt with a vendor, as long as it’s not a prince from Nigeria, they’ll let anyone at any time remove any amount from your account. Their position is that you have to fight it out with the vendor. They won’t credit it or put a hold on the amount until it’s investigated. Too bad for you. They just keep racking up fees against you.

I told 1&1 they had to reverse the payment. 1&1 said it wasn’t a “real” payment, but an “RVK” and wouldn’t actually go through. TD Bank shows it as a debit, and, in fact, now says I’m overdrawn and is adding overdraft fees. 1&1 says there’s “nothing they can do” and they’ve refused to reverse the charge or give me a credit.

Not only that, but now they want to hold the transfer hostage for another 60 days (the original 60 days that would have allowed the move would be up in early May). How much more money will they extort from me with the threat of again destroying my sites and making it impossible for me to promote my books or earn a living?

So I have to file a boatload of paper work with Attorneys General, with my Senators, and probably go fill out a police report so that TD Bank will take this seriously.

I talked to Name Silo, to whom I plan to move the registration, and they told me it was par for the course with 1&1. They also said that the DNS should never have been touched, even if the names of the domains were moved into another package, and told me that, once I wrench the domain registrations away from them and get them to Name Silo, there isn’t any need to re-point DNS; it should remain the same. Intellectually, I knew that; it’s yet again, 1&1 doing whatever they can to hurt me and get more money out of me.

At four a.m. this morning, they sent me another invoice and are going to make another pull from my bank for monies to which they have no right. AFTER telling me IN WRITING none of this would cost me anything until April 2019.

So, now I also have to file more paperwork with ICANN.

I’m also not happy with A2 Hosting’s position, which is that it’s not their problem and there’s nothing they can do. I’m paying them to host my sites. I expect them to keep those sites secure and not let any random individual re-point a DNS without permission.

This will be hours and hours of putting together documentation that I need to spend writing. I am furious.

I finished up a couple of ads for one of my clients yesterday — things are moving along nicely there.

I got more work done on the outline for the serial. I hope to finish it today, distill it down into a synopsis, and send it off with the sample pages by tomorrow.

The good news is that I participated in the Carina Pitch event on Twitter. I’d polished and honed the pitch for NOT BY THE BOOK for hours on Tuesday afternoon. As a “what the hell” later that day, I polished a pitch for HEART THEFT as well. This particular round of pitching is open to partials as well as full manuscripts, so I was clear. Both NOT BY THE BOOK and HEART THEFT were developed with an eye to the Harlequin lines.

I pitched both on Twitter early in the morning. Almost immediately, one of the editors expressed interest in HEART THEFT. She sent me information to her personal submission link and the rest of the guidelines.

I re-pitched NOT BY THE BOOK in the early afternoon (you can pitch each project twice). A few minutes later, I heard from another editor, who liked that pitch, and asked for more. She sent me HER personal submission link and the guidelines.

So I have until May 28 to submit both.

I have four polished chapters of each book done and my writer’s rough outline. I plan to write six more of each in the interim, and polish them, and distill my writer’s rough into a polished synopsis. The cover letter will be a little different than I usually write, since it’s a partial, but that’s okay. I want to get them both in before May 28.

This is a great opportunity and I’m excited.

Of course, I still have SPIRIT REPOSITORY in galleys, and I have to keep MYTH & INTERPRETATION, RELICS & REQUIEM, and DAVY JONES DHARMA on track. AND keep up with client projects. AND keep landing new clients.

I will have to be focused and disciplined over the next few weeks.

In other words, the fraud and extortion practiced by 1&1 and the shrugging off about the unauthorized transactions by TD Bank need to be stopped by the appropriate authorities.

I have a life to live, and I’m tired of companies like 1&1 and TD Bank preying on people because those people don’t have infinite amounts of money to spend and actually notice when there are unauthorized transactions, and that it matters.

I have sixteen pages of copyediting notes to put in to THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. I am mortified that I missed so many things in the manuscript I turned in; I am grateful for the opportunity to fix them with my copyeditor before the book is published!

Onward.

Wed. April 18, 2018: Schedules, Decisions, and Unexpected Guests

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for today’s post, “Fake Pitches that Alienate” to see how I answer that question.

The weather really got me down on Monday. I got a bunch of niggily admin stuff done for one of my clients, but I had trouble focusing. Yesterday, it was creating a couple of new ads for a client, and helping sort a big shipment that came in that has to be broken down into orders and go out.

I started putting together a slideshow of my books that I’m going to add to the Devon Ellington Work site. That will take a bit of doing, but I think it will be worth it. If I like it, I can do one for the Delectable Digital Delights page, too.

I’m getting an awful lot of spam through my contact forms. I’m glad it’s through the form, and not through the actual address. Many of them are scams. At least one of them threatened the registration of one of my sites.

I left 1&1.com’s hosting platform because it didn’t work for what I do, their customer service is non-existent, their techs are idiots without basic reading comprehension or problem-solving ability, and they try to extort additional fees for basics like posting jpgs on the site.

Unfortunately, I could not move my registrations at the same time as I moved the sites themselves. Because they did not update the contact information I provided, I have to wait 60-90 days before moving my registrations to Name Silo. My registrations are paid through October, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

But, when I forwarded the threatening scam email so they’d know what was going on and so they would DO THEIR JOB AND DEAL WITH IT, all I got back was a mis-spelled, poorly written email saying that the domain was no longer on their host.

Yeah, moron, I KNOW THAT. I MOVED IT BECAUSE YOU ARE EXTORTING IDIOTS.

But my registration is still stuck with them. I PAID THEM. It is THEIR JOB to deal with threats to the registration.

In fact, the accounting department was very specific about the fact I still have an account and a customer number, even though I cancelled my plan and moved the sites.

But those idiots keep coming back with improperly structured sentences about how my plan is cancelled.

In other words, 1&1.com and their incompetence are still making my life hell. It took more than a dozen emails to get it bumped up the food chain until there was someone who knew the difference between hosting a domain and registering a domain.

I look forward to moving the registrations as soon as I can. Hopefully, they won’t have allowed someone else to seize the domains and hold them hostage.

Echoes of Mercury Retrograde, still being frustrating. Pile on the Jupiter and Saturn retrogrades, and the upcoming Pluto Retrograde, and I am not a happy camper.

On the positive side, I’m working through contest entries.

I also did a first pass on the galleys for SPIRIT REPOSITORY. It never ceases to mortify me when it comes back in copyedits and I see all those things I should have caught and didn’t. Thank goodness for my copyeditor! In my own defense, some of the errors I remember changing, and it annoys me that the “saves” didn’t hold.

Anyway, I hope to get the galleys back to Cady either late today or first thing tomorrow, and I’ll probably have my next set to read over the weekend.

The page is up for the third Coventina Circle book, RELICS & REQUIEM, with its blurb. Cover will be revealed in autumn, and it releases in October.

Working on the media kit for SPIRIT REPOSITORY and some ads for SPIRIT REPOSITORY and the Jain Lazarus Adventures.

Working steadily on MYTH & INTERPRETATION. I love being back with Gwen and Justin.

Working steadily on the outline for the serial, while moving ahead with several more chapters. If it gets picked up as a serial, I’ll have some material to hand over right away, working with the developer, and I won’t be scrambling. I also have plans for a cool website with maps and background material and micro-fiction on supporting characters who can’t get enough time in the main arcs.

If the serial isn’t picked up, I have the basis of a solid novel, tweaking it back from serial format and pace, and the website will still happen.

Getting excited about RELICS & REQUIEM again, too.

Having a discussion about some shorter tie-in novellas or novelettes with the stories that serve as catalysts in the Coventina Circle series. These would not be paranormal romantic suspense. These would be historical fiction. I would do one about the woman who fell down the stairs and broke her neck, becoming one of the ghosts at the Candasco Theatre, mentioned in Playing the Angles. I could do one about the time Mathias Hendrik’s nephew Pieter goes missing, mentioned in Spirit Repository; the story of Klaus Hendrik, taken prisoner during the Battle of Fort Washington and put on the horrible prison ship in Brooklyn, mentioned in the same book; the tale of Hugh Gwydion Llewellyn and his passion for the medium Natasha Levelle (born Deborah Brown) in Victorian New York, also mentioned in the same book.

Again, carving out the time to re-visit the research with it being the foundation for those tales themselves, and putting them in the appropriate genre will be a challenge. As will marketing them to make it clear that the seeds are planted in the paranormal romantic suspense books, but they’re historical fiction instead. I don’t want readers to feel mis-led, so the website and copy has to be clear.

These stories within the stories are interesting, but if I fully explored them, I’d go off tangent on the Coventina Circle books. Yet they deserve their own time.

At the same time, I’m on a brutal contract schedule this year, and, because I hesitate to put all my eggs in a single publishing basket, I’m also trying to finish and get a few other submissions out the door.

I’ll make notes, gather research sources, maybe even do a reader survey. Then, when we meet this spring for another career re-evaluation and decide what to tweak for the next year, we’ll see if it makes sense to weave these shorter, more straightforward historical pieces in or not.

That decision will be influenced by whether or not the serial gets picked up. If it does, the novellas need to be put on hold until the serial is running, the website’s up, and there’s a good portion of micro-fiction up.

This year alone, I have THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY (Coventina Circle #2), MYTH AND INTERPRETATION (Gwen Finnegan #1.5), RELICS & REQUIEM (Coventina Circle #3), and DAVY JONES DHARMA (Nautical Namaste #2) releasing, with THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE (Gwen Finnegan #2) out in January of next year. That’s a brutal schedule.

I don’t want to burn out. Did that, a few years back. Don’t want to get there again.

The serial novel that’s under the working title of POWER OF WORDS, DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, SONGBOUND SISTERS, NOT BY THE BOOK, HEART THEFT, and FIX-IT GIRL all need attention, too.

it’s a lot of juggling, especially with the marketing writing that keeps us all afloat.

Plus, I’m pitching in the Carina Pitch fest over on Twitter today. Either they’ll like it or they won’t. I’ll make my decision from there.

So decisions will have to be made on long-term goals, sales numbers, and life-of-series viability. There’s just not the budget to do five and six figure advertising campaigns. Which means a quieter, but steady long-term strategy.

Stay tuned — I’m as interested to learn the results as anyone else (and have more invested, on many levels).

Had a houseful of people last night who came in from out of town for the wake and the funeral of their colleague. A couple of them I knew from my research days; they brought new colleagues. I cooked a lot of food, they brought a bunch of beer when they came back from the wake. I didn’t talk much, just listened. I hadn’t gone to the wake, although I stood to line the procession as my way to pay my respects. I listened to a lot of stories, a lot of pain, a lot of laughter. This morning, they attend the funeral and then head back.

 

Published in: on April 18, 2018 at 2:26 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 18, 2018: Schedules, Decisions, and Unexpected Guests  
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Tues. April 17, 2018: Staying on a Tight Contract Schedule

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Direct (as of 4/15)

Even though the Mercury Retrograde echoes, I’m glad it’s gone direct. Not happy about Saturn and Jupiter being retrograde, though, and Pluto piling on at the end of the week. But, it is what it is.

The area is still in mourning for Sean Gannon, and will be for a long time to come. Hopefully, that gives some help and comfort to his family, although I’m sure everyone would simply rather he was still alive. Nero survived surgery and is recovering.

THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY is in galleys — I got them on Saturday. Yesterday, I started work on them. I’m starting to feel good about this book again, although, by the time I finish galleys, I’m always sick of whatever book’s in galleys! Part of the process!

I finally cracked the first chapter of RELICS & REQUIEM, and polished the excerpt that will go in the back of SPIRIT REPOSITORY. So that can progress on a steady pace, as it needs to.

Most of the weekend, however, was spent working on the serial. I’m putting the scenes on index cards, teleplay style. Even though I don’t like working that way, for this piece, I feel I need to. I need to weave a couple more lines together and figure out the big climactic sequence. Then I can pull out the points most necessary, do the outline, and get the piece off to the producer. They’ll either want it or they won’t. If they do, we go into development and see what happens; if they don’t, I’ve got a good start on the book itself, although when I’ll be able to slot it in, who knows?

The fifth POV muscled in, and I wrote a chapter from that POV, to see if it truly was necessary. It is. It made a lot of the rest of the outline click.

Worked on contest entries as well; some good ones. Enjoyed them very much. Picking the winner and the top five finalists will be even more of a challenge than usual this year. It’s exciting that there’s so much good writing out there, and that those good authors are no longer limited by the Big 5. Small presses that do actual print runs — not PODS, but print runs — need to start flourishing again, because they are the ones that will turn the industry around.

Sunday is usually my “day of disconnect” from social media, et al. I didn’t take it this weekend, what with all the corruption and the bombing of Syria and James Comey trying to save his legacy with his book and interviews. So I didn’t get the silence on that front I needed. However, I got into some lively conversations about process and art, which made up for the news feed chaos.

I didn’t take Patriots’ Day as a holiday yesterday; I worked with a client. I felt bad for the Boston Marathon runners. It was a nasty day.

I got back to work on MYTH & INTERPRETATION, RELICS & REQUIEM, and the outline for the serial. And contest entries and a book whose review deadline is coming up quickly. I hope to get the serial pitch out this week. Fingers crossed.

The updated media kit for TRACKING MEDUSA is up. I’m working on the updated kits for HEX BREAKER, OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, and the Jain Lazarus series.

They are pushed back a bit, because I have to do the media kit for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY first, and then create one for the Coventina Circle series in general, so I can get those uploaded by the end of the week.

I’ve run across some interesting people I’d like to host for A Biblio Paradise, and I’m getting the invites out over the next few days. And talking to my distributor about a special promotion when SPIRIT REPOSITORY comes out, so I can do a promotion.

I need to get some LOIs out this week, and also do some more purging in the basement. And, you know, yard work whenever the weather lets me.

Oh and hop on over to Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions, to see where I am on this month’s list!

Never a dull moment, which is a good thing!

Published in: on April 17, 2018 at 5:18 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 17, 2018: Staying on a Tight Contract Schedule  
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Fri. April 6, 2018: Seriously Sick of Retrogrades

Friday, April 6, 2018
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Why yes, we are going to have more snow this weekend. Enough already!

Yesterday was a lot of running around in the morning, juggling errands and priorities. I posted pieces for Upbeat Authors, next week’s Ink-Dipped Advice, worked on a few LOIs, did some promo for the Jain Lazarus Adventures. The ebooks are discounted on Kindle, $1.99 for HEX BREAKER and $2.99 for OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, with Kindle Unlimited editions free.

Did some genealogy work. I enjoy it, but it’s specific and detailed, and it takes time. Carving out the time while juggling everything else that needs to be done is difficult. But I want to do it, so I’m finding a way.

The Stupid was very strong out and about, and, especially online yesterday. Just have no patience with it right now.

I have an article to finish today, another pitch to get out. I’m working steadily on the serial outline. I’m wondering if it makes more sense to put scenes on index cards and then arrange them. I HATE working that way, but it might make the most sense for this.

I’ll be digging in to THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY over this weekend, with the snowstorm, and finishing up my taxes.

Have a great weekend!

 

Published in: on April 6, 2018 at 9:10 am  Comments Off on Fri. April 6, 2018: Seriously Sick of Retrogrades  
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Thurs. April 4, 2018: Brief Sun Before More Snow

Thursday, April 5, 2018
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

They’re predicting another snow storm this weekend. Enough!

Tired, on many levels right now. I’m struggling.

Onsite work with one client was quiet, but busy this week. I’m behind where I want to be on SPIRIT REPOSITORY, but that seems to be a theme for the book. I’m working on the outline for the serial, and need some more time for it. I’d like to get it out at some point next week.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest.

Working on next week’s post for Ink-Dipped Advice, next Monday’s #Upbeat Authors post, and for a guest post over for Writer’s Worth month on Words on the Page.

Need to get back on track with MYTH AND INTERPRETATION, too, although we’ve come up with a potential cover image to start building its cover. We also found some great stuff for the cover of RELICS & REQUIEM, and possibly even GRAVE REACH. SPIRIT REPOSITORY will have its cover reveal tomorrow. My newsletter subscribers got it first!

Working on the updated media kit for TRACKING MEDUSA (since the one I’d worked on dumped last week, and I’ve had to start from scratch). I still have a good deal of work to do on the Jain Lazarus site.

The main focus right now is finishing SPIRIT REPOSITORY so it can release on schedule, and get back in gear with both MYTH and RELICS & REQUIEM. I have to get started on DAVY JONES DHARMA pretty soon, too, to keep that on track.

I read Alice Hoffman’s THE RULES OF MAGIC. It’s about the early life of the aunts in PRACTICAL MAGIC, which is one of my favorite books. I loved a lot of this book, but I got frustrated with the characters sometimes, their refusal to learn more about what they are, the lack of curiosity. It also made me think about the thread throughout many books, of the healers in a community who are shunned by day, but people creep to the door for their help at night. Not just in this book, but in literature in general, across genre. It makes me wonder why characters and authors allow characters this type of hypocrisy without consequence. Yes, it happens in life. But I would also like to see some characters, sometime, somewhere, refuse to condone and enable it. It’s gotten me thinking, in a good way. Which means the book touched on something deep in me, even if every reaction to it wasn’t positive, and the book did its job of getting me to think, to feel, and to ask questions. So my final response is positive.

Today, I have to run some errands and go grocery shopping, do some more research on ANCESTRY, do some yard work (if the weather holds), and, most importantly, WRITE.

I feel like I’m juggling two-ton dictionaries right now.

Back to the page.

Wed. March 28, 2018: Writing And Other

Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice to see the latest post for business owners on how to write an ad that attracts the right writer.

I’m clipping along on MYTH & INTERPRETATION. It’s great to be back with Gwen and Justin. Keeping in mind what my editor and I discussed about the outline helps me keep it moving without it getting too unwieldy. After all, this is a between-the-books-novella, not the second book in the series.

The fact it’s not the “second book” is probably part of why I’m not struggling to write it (so far, anyway). I struggle with every second book in a series, it seems, and wind up unhappy with it. The outline helps a lot, too.

Breaking this section off and developing it, keeping it separate from BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, was the right decision.

The notes are due back from my editor on SPIRIT REPOSITORY today, and I’ll have to start digging in to make our release date. I’m nervous about the notes.

Working on the Writer’s Rough Outline for the serial project. It’s coming along more slowly than I would like, but it’s coming. Even if the pitch isn’t contracted, it gives me clarity on where I want to go with this piece, and that’s a good thing.

Working on the Writer’s Rough of another outline for a piece that’s been bugging me. I want to get the notes down so it will leave me alone, but when I decide to go back to it, the bones are there.

The work on the outline is making me refine the pitch, which is a good thing.

Client work the past few days has been challenging. Not the work itself, but some of the personalities. All in day’s work. Especially when both Mercury and Jupiter are retrograde.

I did some promotion on both Facebook and Twitter for all the novels in all the series yesterday. I usually don’t do batch promotions like that, but I had the chance, and I did it. I’m not too worried about it; I spent a LOT of time promoting, re-tweeting, and encouraging other authors.

With all the anger at Facebook for the way they sell data on their users (well-placed anger, I might add), I’ve been looking at other social media possibilities. I prefer Twitter to Facebook for many things anyway. But I wanted to see what else is out there. So, far, not impressed by what I’ve come across. Again, they want too much control over my content and too much information.

I had a typical Mercury Retrograde experience on Monday. I spent hours on a supposedly stable computer reconfiguring the TRACKING MEDUSA media kit, tweaking content, adding content, switching out some of the excerpts, etc. And the damn computer crashed, so I lost the new material. I’m frustrated. But then, that’s what I get for working on a PC. It seemed it would make more sense to work on it than on my aging Macbook, but it wasn’t.

More on-site client work today, and then, I’m sure I’ll have the notes for the final big REPOSITORY edit waiting for me. Once I get over the shock of all the red marks (because, no matter how hard I worked on the draft, there will be plenty of red marks), I’ll get to work and make it better.

To the page.

 

Published in: on March 28, 2018 at 2:28 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 28, 2018: Writing And Other  
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Fri. March 23, 2018: Anticipating a Writing Weekend

Friday, March 23, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

So, Mercury is retrograde. In Aries. Ick.

Yesterday wasn’t as productive writing-wise as I wanted, but it was productive in other ways. I finished the book I had to review, and will polish the review and send it off today. I worked my way through several contest entries.

The big deal, for me, was that I figured why the contact form wasn’t coding in properly on my websites, and fixed it. Now the websites have contact forms, rather than stating my email or writing out the email so I’ll get a lot of spam.

I cleaned up my new mailboxes. I am in the process of unsubscribing from a bunch of stuff, on all my email accounts. There’s too much crap coming in.

I figured out how to reconfigure my menu bars so I can use drop-down features where appropriate.

I have three different WordPress books checked out from various libraries in the system. In order to figure this out, I had to read the relevant sections in all THREE and then do something slightly different, based on what I read. Because heaven forbid, any ONE of them should have had the complete, correct steps.

I worked on the newsletter. I worked on the updated media kit for TRACKING MEDUSA. I may do the cover reveal for SPIRIT REPOSITORY in the newsletter.

I got ahead on some blog posts.

I’m working on the Writer’s Rough Outline so I can distill it down to a synopsis and get the submission packet for the last big project out in the next couple of weeks. I have another project to get back out on submission, but I will wait until after Mercury goes direct. I want to do another pass on it and make some cuts.

I have a lot of errands to run this morning, then a meeting, and then I’m digging back to drafting the books that are waiting rather impatiently for attention.

And, of course work on the Writer’s Rough/synopsis.

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on March 23, 2018 at 9:31 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 23, 2018: Anticipating a Writing Weekend  
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Fri. Feb. 23, 2018: Positive Web Host Adventures (For a Change)

Friday, February 23, 2018
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

They told us it would be snowing and raining on Cape this morning, so I changed my off-Cape appointment, and now it’s beautiful. Cold, but beautiful. How annoying.

Yesterday was a lousy day, writing-wise. I could not make SPIRIT REPOSITORY work. The deadline looming doesn’t help, and I feel like I’m chasing my own tail. At the same time, POWER OF WORDS is singing its siren song to me. But I can’t do anything until I have the contracted work back on track.

On the positive side, I got a lot of work done on both the Devon Ellington Work site and the Coventina Circle site. I figured out WHY there’s a problem on the landing page of the DE site, but not how to fix it. At least I cleaned it up! I also realized I had to add an “anthology page” for the anthologies in which I’m included. I realized there’s quite a bit of my work out there — I’ve had a decent output. It’s nice to see it all set out.

As I finish building the subdomains, I’ll have to keep tweaking some of the information on the links, but, for the most part, the DE site is done.

The Coventina Circle site is almost done. I have to tweak and upload the media kit for PLAYING THE ANGLES, and then it can go live.

I plan to do that work on both sites today, and then move on to building the Nautical Namaste site.

I still have to go back and do an article on the goddess Coventina and create the playbill for the show within PLAYING THE ANGLES, but at least there’s enough content to give readers something to enjoy. I have a feeling I can’t call it “playbill”, but have to call lit “show program.”

I’ll do as much as I can today, and then, the weekend is about SPIRIT REPOSITORY, not the websites. I’ll go back to work next week on the websites. I’m hoping I can go live with all the series subdomains by next week and start building Cerridwen’s Cottage, get that moved, get Fearless Ink up and moved on so on. And then, breathe a huge sigh of relief!

I have house-and-home stuff to do this weekend, too. Some yard work, if the weather holds, some errands across the bridge.

But most of the weekend is about finishing THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY.

And then, the primary focus shifts to MYTH & INTERPREATION, but I have to work on RELICS & REQUIEM in tandem with that. My editor and I talked about stripping MYTHS down quite a bit, which I think is a good idea. I still might overwrite some of it, but she pointed out where the tangents are derailing the story. Since MYTHS was a derail of BALTHAZAAR TREASURE in the first place, I don’t want to wander too far afield.

It’s a good kind of busy, and I’m trying to push other frustrations out of the way and focus on the work that gives me the most satisfaction and is the most career-building.

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on February 23, 2018 at 9:49 am  Comments Off on Fri. Feb. 23, 2018: Positive Web Host Adventures (For a Change)  
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Thurs. Feb. 22, 2018: Stresses and Deadlines

Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018
Waxing Moon
Rainy and cold

Wacky weather.

Check out the latest post on Gratitude and Growth here. I’m trying to revive that blog, along with everything else.

I’m weary. There’s some stuff I can’t discuss publicly that has to be thought through and decisions made. It’s been a rough week. Especially since the bulk of the unpleasant chaos was unnecessary and caused by someone who is manipulative and a nasty piece of work.

On a happier note, the Devon Ellington Work site is coming along nicely. I’m pleased with the design; no muss, no fuss, easy to read. There are still a few glitches, some more material to add. But the host moved happened, and it’s just about ready to announce — once I figure out why the pages I trashed show up published under the home page!

I’m working my way through the emails, getting all the necessary accounts re-set, too.

The Coventina Circle site is also coming along well. It’s about halfway there, and should be ready for its live announcement in a few days. I’m building all the subdomains live, which is risky, but necessary.

Nautical Namaste, Gwen Finnegan, and Jain Lazarus all have temporary landing pages. I hope to have them finished next week, and then I’ll start on Cerridwen’s Cottage, get that moved, and then, last but not least, do Fearless Ink.

On a writing front, I’m frustrated with myself. I haven’t been pitching enough articles; I haven’t been sending enough LOIs; I am pushing to get THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY done on deadline, but I’m struggling.

Between the web host stress and difficulties on another front, I am worn out, physically and emotionally. But deadlines aren’t suggestions; they’re deadlines. So I’m pushing through. Once I get this book off my desk and to my editor, I’ll feel better.

Of course, then I’ll be focusing on MYTH & INTERPRETATION, and starting RELICS & REQUIEM. And finishing FIX-IT GIRL so it can go out on submission and getting back to NOT BY THE BOOK. But REPOSITORY must get the bulk of my writing attention now. I’m in the last few chapters. It’s just making them work, and picking up the pace.

We have some more cover discussion for SPIRIT, too, coming up.

Once the websites are live, then we can start putting our marketing ideas into play and get some promotion done on these books.

I found the photos for the special page on the Gwen Finnegan site, where I got inspirations for TRACKING MEDUSA. I’m excited, when I get to the point where I’m building that site, to put those up and share them.

Working steadily on the books submitted for the contest. I finished the first batch of mysteries, and I’m working on the fantasy genre now. I’m glad that the entries are so strong this year.

I’m looking forward to a productive few days, and then, maybe, maybe, just focusing on hearth and home issues this weekend!

Published in: on February 22, 2018 at 9:45 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Feb. 22, 2018: Stresses and Deadlines  
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