Fri. Jan. 4, 2013: Gearing Up for A Busy Weekend

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Reindeer over the fireplace

Friday, January 4, 2013
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Busy day yesterday, in spite of the late start. Wrote 1K on LEADING OPPORTUNITIES — I’m starting to get back into its groove. Did a lot of admin. Worked with students. Cleaned up the back bedroom (I’m getting the house sorted for Sunday’s party). Finished the material for Confidential Job #1 — now I just have to write it up.

Got nearly 2K done on MURDER’S INTOLERANCE this morning. I need to type up what I’ve handwritten — I’m getting too far behind, and need to update my character charts and arcs. Am about to go and work with students, and then have a LOT to do, especially when it comes to admin, grocery shopping, and party prep.

A slot for a manuscript critique opened for January — if you’ve got a manuscript that needs a critique, or know someone who does, please contact me via email for pricing and details. Spread the word!

Read a book that came highly recommended. Liked the world building, but felt the plotting was weak, and the characters weren’t quite unique enough. Oh, well. Glad I test drove that author at the library! There are good things in the book, but I’m not sure I’d buy/read another. I took the recommendation because it was so highly recommended, and this author was compared to one of my favorites. I don’t see many similarities.

“Just Jump in and Fly”, “Tumble”, and “Too Much Mistletoe” are all available on Smashwords now (see the Short Stories page). I’m excited. I’m looking forward to putting up some more shorts in the coming weeks, and also starting to put up some Topic Workbooks that grew out of seminars I’ve taught. I need to do a cover shoot for “That Man in Tights”, because that’s the next in the queue to release.

Better get going — lots to do!

Devon

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Thurs. Jan. 3, 2013: Writing, writing, writing, writing . . . .

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Thursday, January 3, 2013
Waning Moon
Sunny and c-c-cold!

Good morning! A little late getting online today, because I was at yoga.

I’m so delighted by the enthusiasm and thoughtful posts over on Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions — it’s always such fun to work towards goals together in company!

I wrote 1K on MURDER’S INTOLERANCE yesterday and 1K on LEADING OPPORTUNITIES — good day for both books. I caught up on a lot of email, and I’m getting through the backlog, too — seeing what needs to be filed, what can be dumped, if there’s stuff I never dealt with, and organizing market listings so I can attack them methodically for either queries or submissions. Swapped interviews for slots on blogs — my guest will be here at the end of January, and she’ll host me on the release day of OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK.

Spent most of the afternoon re-formatting “Too Much Mistletoe”, “Tumble”, and “Just Jump in and Fly” and getting them up on Smashwords. I’ll add the links to the appropriate pages on the website. I still have to tweak the covers some more — where Payloadz distorted the covers and said they were too big, Smashwords is saying they’re too small.

It’s made me realize that Nina Bell was really, in a lot of ways, a character ahead of her time. I’m looking forward to working with her more NOW, although, initially, the stories will be set back in the 1990s. I will move them forward — eventually, she’ll have to face 9/11. It will be interesting to see how she and her career evolve. I’m going to fix the parts of TAPESTRY that don’t work — since I know a lot more about structure than when I wrote it — while still keeping her character, well, Nina, because that’s what makes her memorable. The characters in “Just Jump in and Fly” and the energy in that piece just delights me — I look forward to working on the piece for Imbolc. I’ll probably release another Nina short in the next few weeks, and I also have to turn my attention to the re-release of “The Ramsey Chase” — now that I know I was writing time travel/steampunk/fantasy, I can actually use the expectations of each genre to support the structure better.

I’ll get those links up on the website later today — but I hope people find the stories and fall in love with the characters. Nina has always been a fan favorite — maybe, with my maturing a bit in terms of craft, now she can find her audience.

I’m also considering putting together a media kit that covers multiple books, etc., that I can use as a catch-all, in addition to having the more focused kits for the individual books.

I did a chunk of work on Confidential Job #1, and will be able to complete that assignment and get it out by tomorrow.

Still working on the proposal for my agent, and still working on the Twelve Days of Christmas stories — I have a feeling I’ll be working on those well into the month! But they’re fun, and I think, when they release during the holiday season at the end of this year, people will enjoy them.

Yoga was great — now, it’s digging in to work. Got some student assignments to check up on!

Devon

Thurs. Dec. 27, 2012: Storms and Oversleeping

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Thursday, December 27, 2012
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold
Third Day of Christmas

I talk about “Constant Improvement” over on The Writers Vineyard. Stop by and leave a comment!

What did you dream about last night? That will be February.

The storm woke me up at 4 AM. I fell asleep, overslept, and missed yoga! Felt like an idiot.

Yesterday was good. I got some work done, but not enough. Had a good time working on the Second Day of Christmas story, “Cooing”, and am working on the Third Day of Christmas story, “The Fleur De Lys Bakery”. Yes, the third day is about three French hens, and no, they don’t wind up in pastry! 😉

I’m pleasantly surprised by how funny these stories are! I’m having such fun writing them. Hopefully, next year, you’ll all have fun reading them!

Worked on materials for the upcoming classes and my private students. Finished MISTBORN and started the next book, THE WELL OF ASCENSION. Learning a lot from how Sanderson structures. His imagination is great, but so is his structure. Very helpful.

Came up with a totally wacky idea that I will meld into proposal form and pitch to my agent. If she doesn’t want it, I have a few ideas on where to send it.

HEX BREAKER’S only 99 cents as Solstice Publishing right now, so if you haven’t bought your copy — go get it!

And don’t forget the free download of the New Year’s tie-in story, “First Feet”. It’s only available until January 2. Excerpt and download here.

I’ve got to run some errands today, get the invitations out for the party, and the thank-yous written. Plus, work on student material and hustle a few more jobs for the first week of the New Year. I want to make a good dent in the proposal — if it sells, it’ll be a ton of fun to do.

I’m trying to take it a bit easy this week, because I know I have to hit the ground running with classes, private students, and articles. My brain needs a bit of a rest and time to recharge, which is why I’m doing uncontracted writing and only reading what I feel like reading for a few days!

Devon

Don’t forget to sign up for “When Words Align” to get your manuscript back on track (Jan. 2-9) and “Sensory Perceptions” to work on layering sensory detail into your work (Jan. 2 – Feb. 3). Registration closes Dec. 30!

Two short Nina Bell comic mysteries for the holidays, along with “Just Jump in and Fly”, a romantic/comic/fantasy twist on Yuletide myths.

Wed. December 26, 2012: Holiday Writing Blitz

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold
Boxing Day
Second Day of Christmas

So what did you dream last night? That’s what January will be about!

My dreams were very confusing, between watching DR. WHO and reading most of Brandon Sanderson’s MISTBORN yesterday. Hopefully, the dream itself denotes creativity, not chaos!

I had a quiet Christmas Eve and Day. I’d offered to be on call for the Marine Life Center in case someone couldn’t come in, but didn’t hear from them, so I’m assuming they were covered.

I did some work on the Eve, wrapped packages, and wrote about 2700 words on the Dickensian Steampunk. This gives me the shape of it. Some of the characters are surprising me, in a good way. Now I can figure out where I want to go with it, and do a rough outline. I’m not yet sure where it fits in to the schedule, but I like what I’m doing with it, and where I’m going.

Worked on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions. Didn’t realize, until I worked on them, how angry I am about a few things that happened last year. Full out fury and resentment. I’m glad I wrote what I did, but I’ll post something a lot more diplomatic! 😉 It helped to purge it and figure out what I can do differently and more positively next year, and made me realize I was right to cut ties with someone who’d been a major client last year, but whose business model and payment arrangements caused me a great deal of stress and pain. The client is not worth it. I am done. Although I prefer to transition between clients, easing out one as I take in new assignments, in practice, I find that I must take a leap and clear out the old in order to make room for the new, even when I don’t always know what that new is.

Dug out some of my old cookbooks that I hadn’t unpacked and re-acquainted myself with a lot of great stuff. Also, found some recipes I used to be very fond of and thought, “how could I have ever served THAT?”

Worked on the list and the menu for the Twelfth Night party. I have to design and start sending out invitations today.

Christmas Eve dinner was roast pork with a spice marinade, green beans in hollandaise sauce, mashed potatoes, and corn. All good.

We open our presents on Christmas Eve — a wealth of books made me happy. The cats LOVE opening presents — they help! I was up with the burning bayberry candle until after 2 AM (it has to burn all the way out on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve — can’t be extinguished and re-lit). Fortunately, I had the new Juliet Blackwell to keep me entertained — and the cats.

Up early on the Day for stockings and pancakes. Spent most of the rainy day reading, playing with the cats, and cooking the turkey. Yup, roast turkey, cranberry dressing, sweet potatoes, peas, and corn for dinner. We were too full to eat the plum pudding.

Costume Imp gave me a Brandon Sanderson trilogy for Yule, and I read most of MISTBORN yesterday. Love how he creates magical systems, and the detail in his world-building. I can learn a lot from him.

Wrote the first of the Twelve Days stories, which will need to be retitled, but uses the partridge in a pear tree theme. It was supposed to be four pages, and wound up being eleven. But it’s fun. I’ve got about half way through the second story this morning, writing four pages, and I think it will be eight. Will go back to that, once I’ve posted here and prepped tomorrow’s post for Writers Vineyard.

Will see how much I can get done on my list, but only planning to work a half day today. I want to finish that book and get some more writing done!

Have the self-clean function on for the oven — it was time. But it makes the house smell AWFUL.

I’m clearing up my desk, prepping folders for 2013, and, generally, trying to catch up on admin work over the last few days. I let the admin slide terribly last year, and now I have to make up for it.

Don’t forget to sign up before December 30 for “When Words Align” to get your WIP or revision back on track, and “Sensory Perceptions”, for a month of learning how to layer sensory detail into your work, taking it to the next level.

Devon

“First Feet”, the Jain Lazarus New Year’s tie-in is available as a free download here until Jan. 2.

Two holiday Nina Bell tales available via Payloadz! Read excerpts and find buy links here.

Even though Christmas is past, you can still enjoy “Just Jump in and Fly”, a comic/romantic/fantasy twist on Yuletide myths here.

Tuesday, Dec. 18: Baking Exhaustion & Sugar Overload

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All three can finally share the same chair

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Waxing Moon
Rainy and cold

Yup, I thought yesterday was December 15 -hence the mistake in the Blog Post title. I truly thought it was the 15th, not the 17th, which meant I missed a live video chat last night I wanted to attend. Fortunately, I wasn’t the presenter!

Yesterday I buckled down to holiday cards. My disorganization from last year bit me in the butt, because I spent more time hunting down changes of address than I spent on cards, and only made it through the J’s. That’s for domestic — all the overseas went out last week, thank goodness.

I also baked the molasses spice cookies I’d prepped on Sunday — three batches of them. They came out very well. I baked one batch of the lemon sugar cookies. They taste great, but the batch doesn’t make as many as I hoped, and I discovered it takes two lemons to create 1/3 of a cup of zest. So I’ll be buying more lemons today. The cookies are good, but they are a pain to prep, so this will probably be the only year I do them. Instead of two more batches of those, I have to do three.

This morning, I baked two batches of red velvet cupcakes. I’ll have to do at least one batch more. I also designed and printed the tags for the cookie platters. I don’t know what happened to the gift tags I’ve made in other years — disappeared into the Gift Tag Vortex, I guess. I combined what’s on the platter onto the tag, so I don’t have to prep the sheets of photographs.

The batter for red velvet cupcakes looks like blood — they’d be good for a Halloween party!

My hip flexors are giving me a lot of problems. I took valerian last night, to relax it enough to get some sleep, but I’m groggy this morning — which I shouldn’t be, from valerian. Too much raw cookie dough, probably — sugar crash.

Lousy first morning writing session, but I’ve got to get all this other stuff done, and I want to start moving the cookie platters out either later today or tomorrow. Anything with red velvet in it can’t sit around. I realized I need to yank some of the subplots from this book and save them for one further in the series. I can plant the seeds for those arcs now, but otherwise, too much gets too sprawly too fast.

I started planning the food for the Twelfth Night party — that’s not too far away, and I have to start thinking about invites, etc. But first, I need to get the cards and cookies out!

I’d love an extended nap, but that’s not on the agenda right now!

Pat, to answer your question about swapping out a revised piece for a contest entry — no, that’s not usually allowed. I’m trading on the relationship I have with this particular production company IF this draft is strong enough to land me a slot. What you send is what you’re judged on — if you get in, then, there is often a revision process. Before something is published, it’s going to get an edit (one hopes). But once it’s in the pipeline, you don’t get to swap it out. That’s where careful copy editing and proof-reading is so important. If a mistake hits someone in the pipeline on a bad day and that individual finds it particularly grating, you’re out. My revision for this play — should I land the slot — is more than just typos. I want to do a structural change, and hope that the seven pages it takes me to accomplish that will be allowed. I won’t know until mid-January, but I want to have the next draft in good shape, and then, if this draft gets me in, I’ll request the swap. If the draft doesn’t get me in, if I blew it, that’s on me, but at least I tried. I’ll still have a rewritten draft to submit elsewhere.

Back to baking. I may have to take a nap for an hour or so this afternoon.

Devon

Nibble on the Delectable Digital Delights for the holidays! Two Nina Bell shorts (read excerpts here) and an Ava Dunne romantic comedy/fantasy twist on traditional Yuletide myths (read excerpt here).

When Words Align is a one-week intensive to get you back on track with either your WIP or your revision, January 2-9.

Sensory Perceptions teaches you, story-by-story to focus on each of the senses, while layering them into a longer piece. January 2-February 3.

Wed. Nov. 28, 2012: “Just Jump in and Fly” — a fun twist on Yuletide Myths!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Full Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Here’s the cover for “Just Jump in a Fly” a romantic comedy/fantasy re-working of the Yuletide Myths that went up yesterday under the Ava Dunne name.

Blurb:
Samantha Wright has a problem. The attractive Kris Teague crash- landed his sleigh and eight not-so-tiny reindeer in her driveway. His uncle Nick happens to be THAT Nick – as in Claus – and they need Samantha Wright’s help to turn back the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse at one of the Universal Gates not only to save Christmas, but keep Earth turning. A fresh, romantic comedy turn on Yuletide myths and traditions!

For an excerpt and Buy Link, go to the Ava Dunne page. It’s only 99 cents!

I love this story — I had such a great time playing with the myths of the season. I’m planning to do more with these characters for each turn of the wheel. Which means the next piece has to be released by February1!

I figured out how to do better covers in Pages. I realized, for the PDFs, I don’t have to work in .doc. I also learned how to save into PDF and transform that into a JPG. Unfortunately, the back cover fill doesn’t convert from Pages to PDF, so, while the stand-alone cover I’m using to promote the book has the background color I want, the download is in simple black and white.

I tweaked the cover for “Tumble”. I think it looks much better. Again, I can’t replace the cover in the PDF, but it’s close, and this looks better for promotion. It’s much easier to work with photographs than anything else, so I need to go find some mistletoe and re-do the other cover. The Nina stories are too much fun to suffer from poor covers!

And yes, I’m hiring a cover ARTIST for the Nina Bell book release on April Fool’s Day! 😉

My bio’s up on the Indie Book Award site, and I look forward to being one of their judges this winter/spring. Exciting!

Had a good writing session in the morning, both yesterday and a little tougher one today. Ran errands — had to find a new tree topper — it’s hard! Finally found one that I think will be pretty.

Got some raking done in the back — the terraced back area and one side of the house. That’s all we could get done before the sleet started. Took seven bags of leaves to the dump. Most of the day was about getting “Just Jump in and Fly” done.

Good meeting in the evening. I’m going to change the way we handle the mailing list, and set up a gmail account for the organization, which will make more sense and give us more flexibility. I’m also going to set up a WordPress site for them. We need to have an internet presence, and be able to link to other sites in the town, etc.

Started packing for the NY trip this weekend. Worked with tarot students. Set up a Tarot Lounge on the workshop board so that we can continue the conversation once class ends, and set up a Yahoo loop called “Myth-Drunk Writers” so we can continue the conversation once the Greek/Roman Mythology class is over.

I’ve got an article to write today, and I’ve got to prep “That Man in Tights” to upload, and get the lights on the darned tree — I finally found them. Tessa spends a lot of time playing with the tree — it makes her feel like outdoor kitty! Also have to go to the local library and Sandwich, and find mistletoe to photograph!

Busy times. But happy ones.

Devon

Don’t forget to sign up for Flash 7 — Write, revise, and submit 7 flash fiction pieces in 10 Days! Info and registration here.

Tues. Nov. 27, 2012: Two Nina Bell stories out: “Too Much Mistletoe” and “Tumble”!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

We’re going to get snow today!

Okay, there are TWO Nina Bell short pieces available now! The holiday-themed novella Too Much Mistletoe, where Nina’s complicated love life both helps and hinders her search for a missing college friend. Excerpt and buy link here.

AND

there’s the shorter piece, “Tumble”, taking place around New Year’s, when Nina discovers the body of a co-worker in the theatre’s dryer and realizes the murderer has to be someone in their theatre. As usual, she gets herself into all kinds of trouble and has a complicated love life. Excerpt and buy links here, below the excerpt for Too Much Mistletoe.

If you like Stephanie Plum, you’ll love Nina Bell! A little humor, a little mystery, a little romance. These two pieces are a lot of fun. I love Nina, and people keep asking when she’s coming back. So, she’ll be around a lot more! I never thought I’d be old enough to write a “period piece”.

I’ve added a page to the blog with blurbs and information on the stories, too.

For the most part, I’m happy with the covers, although when I uploaded them into the Payloadz site, they got warped on the store page. It was a lot of fun to set up the shoot for “Tumble” and stage the bloody hand print on the dryer. Fortunately, my basement looks an awful lot like the theatre basement in the story. 😉 I wish I could have filled the background with a color, but I love the font. I would have liked to do a photo shoot for Mistletoe, staging a spring of mistletoe into the Scotch, but I wasn’t able to get my hands on a reasonable piece of mistletoe. If I can, I’ll redo the cover. I really need to get a good cover design program. The lack of manipulation my programs give me with images is appalling. What is so fucking hard about just letting me re-size? I downloaded the Gimp software, that’s supposed to allow image manipulation and layering, but haven’t figured it out yet. In iWeb, I could fill background — why can’t I do that on a regular page? Very frustrating. And none of the Canon programs that are supposed to let me do whatever I want with a JPG actually DO anything worthwhile.

What was even worse was that 1and1.com’s servers were down, and I couldn’t access my email most of the day, nor could I update the websites. Cyber Monday, busiest online shopping day of the year, and they couldn’t be bothered. Unacceptable. And when I complain, they do the usual — shrug and say THEY have no problem.

So, cover kerflamma took longer than it should have. I’m almost done editing “Just Jump in and Fly”, a re-working of a lot of familiar holiday myths, and I hope to have that ready later today.

Worked in the garden — got the terraced border raked out and cut back, and got a section of the meadow raked. I’m going out to do some more in a few minutes — trying to get as much done as possible before the snow starts later. And I’ve GOT to get cat food in. It won’t be a bad snow, just . . . snow, which means the leaves left will be wet and icky, but there’s no way I can get the whole meadow done today, not with everything else going on.

Meeting tonight, and have to do the minutes for it. The Astronomy class starts today — looking forward to that. Greek & Roman Mythology wraps up this week, and World History next week. Then, I’ll have about two or three weeks where I’m only taking ONE class! 😉

Managed to get a few more decorations up yesterday, and found the lights. The lights have to go on the tree before we can go any further.

Onward!

Devon

Don’t forget the Flash 7 Workshop from Dec. 7-16. Write, revise, and submit 7 flash fiction pieces in 10 Days. Information and registration here.