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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I invited my in-person guest to write something.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great day!

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

black-and-white-construction-ladder-54335

Photo courtesy Khimish Sharma, via Pexels.com

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thurs. May 10, 2018: Head Down, Working

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on May 10, 2018 at 10:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tues. May 8, 2018: Release Day for SPIRIT REPOSITORY!

The Spirit Repository.6

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

Today is the release day for THE SPIRIT REPOSTIORY!

The book is $3.99 available on digital channels here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wed. May 2, 2018: Stuck Between Exhaustion and Deadlines

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

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

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

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

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

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

But right now, I’m in despair.

Published in: on May 2, 2018 at 3:02 am  Comments (1)  
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Mon. April 23, 2018: Listen To Your Heart #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, April 23, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

If  you’re looking for a hearts-and-flowers inspiration post on this topic, move along. This post is about determination, focus, will power, and passion.

If I didn’t listen to my heart, I wouldn’t have had the career in theatre that made me so happy, and I wouldn’t be a writer.

I started writing at age 6. I knew I loved theatre not much after that.

Of course, people told me it would be a “nice hobby” but I needed to get “a real job.”

What did I do?

I started landing paying gigs in theatre and rock ‘n roll when I was 18. I worked my way through college, between work-study and gigs. My college degree is in film and television production, from NYU, but I worked in theatre. I moved to the west coast for a few years to work regionals. I came back, and worked my way up from off-off-off-church-basement theatre to Broadway.

Because NO ONE was going to tell me that what I did was not “a real job.”

Anyone who doesn’t think working in the arts isn’t “a real job” has never worked in the arts. Cubicle dwellers wouldn’t last a week. You have to be fit physically, mentally, and emotionally. You have to be smart, able to think on your feet, a problem solver, have a quick learning curve, and able to work with all kinds of people. You learn that the nastiest people in the business are usually the most mediocre talents, and if you remain cordial and professional, they’ll nasty themselves out of a job and you’ll go on to work with better.

You have to love the work beyond measure. You have to be willing to give up nights, weekends, holidays, because your work is what others want when they play. You have to be ruthless. You have to be kind.

You have to love it.

Writing is much the same way. I wrote as much as I could through the theatre and film work. Production is all-consuming, but so is writing. When I had time to write, I sat down and I damn well WROTE.

If my show call at the theatre was 6:30, and I didn’t have day work or a special event with one of the actors, or spend my dark day from theatre on a television production, I was at my desk by 8 AM and I wrote until 4:30. A switch went off in my head at 4:30, and then I went into “show head” where, until I walked out of the theatre, the show was the only thing that occupied my world. Now that I’ve aged out of working in production and am writing full-time, I keep a similar schedule, although I’m usually at my desk by 7 AM. But 4:30 is no longer “show head.” Now, it’s cocktail hour! 😉

Focus, skills, learning curve, passion.

I can’t tell you how often over the years people told me I’d never “make it.” Of course, their version of “making it” had to do with fame and magazine covers and reality television.

My version of “making it” is to do good work with people I respect that expands people’s understanding of the world through the arts.

I worked hard, I continually learned, I loved what I did. I grew personally and professionally. Most important, by listening to my heart, I didn’t let the bitter, angry people who didn’t have the guts to go for it derail me from my dreams.

Listen to your heart.

Go for it.

 

Published in: on April 23, 2018 at 5:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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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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Wed. April 11, 2018: Visions and Re-visions

Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde

Hop on over to the Fearless Ink site for the latest post on Ink-Dipped Advice.

Busy couple of days. I’m prepping a presentation for a client. The opportunity came in on Monday, and the presentation is next week; today is my last day with the client before the presentation. And so it goes. But it’s an interesting project, and I enjoy the process as much as the result — which is why I do this in the first place.

The work on SPIRIT REPOSITORY is going very well. I did six chapters on Monday morning before my client meeting and four more that night. That left me only six more chapters to do. I got up at 5 yesterday, to get at it. Two seriously rewritten chapters in the morning, another at night.  I have to add an entire section to the last chapter to plug a hole and had to rewrite one of the earlier chapters in a different character’s POV. But I think I can send it to my editor either tomorrow or Friday, so we can get into galleys.

The glitch with Amazon for both PLAYING THE ANGLES and TRACKING MEDUSA has been solved, and they are both available for Kindle. Big relief. I’m pleased that all three books are selling steadily on Kobo and B&N, too. I’m amazed and delighted by the positive difference the new websites on the better host make. Learn from me, my writer friends — the website matters! Do your research, invest the money. It’s worth it.

Need to polish up the first chapter of RELICS & REQUIEM to include in the back of SPIRIT REPOSITORY. Need to polish the book-exclusive article on genius locii. Need to finalize both the Acknowledgements and the Dedication. Then, put it all together, and off we go. This phase of the book is always exciting and terrifying.

Back to the page! With relish today, instead of dread. I prefer it this way, and, more often than not, that’s what I feel. I am a writer who loves WRITING, not just HAVING WRITTEN. Big difference.

 

Published in: on April 11, 2018 at 2:34 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 11, 2018: Visions and Re-visions  
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Mon. April 2, 2018: Relaxation #UpbeatAuthors

Mon. April 2, 2018
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde

Relaxation is important for us to keep healthy, both mentally and physically, especially during retrogrades. Mercury Retrograde is always a mess, with communication, travel, and electronics going wonky, Jupiter is a heavy planet, and planet of expansion, so when it goes retrograde, everything is harder. Plus, we have a Pluto retrograde coming up.

I find the most important part of relaxation is disconnecting. Turn the damn phone off. This idea that we have to be reachable 24/7 is ridiculous. There is always a way you can be reached in an emergency, even if your phone is off. Cell phones are a fairly recent invention.

I try to have one day a week that’s a “day of disconnect.” No internet, no phone, no social media. I loathe the phone anyway. I find it an intrusive device that destroys my creativity. In the days pre-cell phone, I had an answering machine and screened my calls. There were plenty of time, during my writing times, when I unplugged the phone.

When I am writing, as far as I’m concerned, the only acceptable excuse for interruption is a major emergency such as death or hospitalized illness. Anything other than that, wait until I’m done.

Where I live now, on Cape Cod, is a beautiful place. But, in summer, when so many other people come here to enjoy the beauty, it’s stressful. I’m lucky to have a big backyard (currently in need to post-storm cleanup) and a covered deck with beautiful skylights. Every spring, we build an enchanted garden on the deck, full of our container plants, and we have lilacs and beds of beautiful plants throughout. We eat as many meals as possible out there, and I do a great deal of writing.

If I’m working in my home office, I stop and have a glass of wine before dinner, out on the deck. Or a cocktail, in summer (we’ve reinstated cocktail hour here). I do the same when I get home from working on-site with a client. I even did it last week, after an afternoon of yard work! I poured myself a glass of wine and sat on the steps (since the furniture isn’t out yet; it’s still too cold).

For me, a glass of wine in my garden is one of the most relaxing and restorative things I can do.

I have a daily yoga and meditation practice, and that’s the other way I relax. Savasana is important. When you practice yoga, don’t skip Savasana!

In my yoga/cruise ship mystery, SAVASANA AT SEA, Sophie, my protagonist, doesn’t let her students leave class early to skip the pose! It’s a wonderful way to release and restore.

Relaxation allows you to appreciate the good things in your life, and paves the way for happiness.

So take some time for yourself, and relax!

Published in: on April 2, 2018 at 5:02 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 2, 2018: Relaxation #UpbeatAuthors  
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Fri. March 30, 2018: I Hate Retrogrades

Friday, March 30, 2018
Day before Full Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and windy

Yesterday was a mixed bag. Semi-productive with admin work. We went another couple of rounds on the cover for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY and are all finally happy. The cover reveal was in the newsletter that also went out yesterday.

Got a little bit of writing done, but not enough. Worked through some contest entries.

Managed a few hours in the yard. Got most of the debris cleared out of the front, and one of the beds raked out. Slow going. I’m hoping that it clears up a bit today in order to get some more done. There’s a lot of work to do, and it’s going to take weeks, so I’d like to do a bit every day.

The Blue Moon meditation will go up on the Mediation page of Cerridwen’s Cottage later today.

And hop on over to the GDR site for the March wrap-up.

I have to track down a payment that was supposed to be in my account this morning and hasn’t shown up. This is from a reliable client, so I’m a bit concerned. I hate Mercury Retrograde, especially when it’s paired with Jupiter Retrograde.

I’m still having phone issues with AT&T. The phone hasn’t worked properly since the major cell service outage two storms ago. NOT acceptable.

Have a great weekend, and Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

 

Published in: on March 30, 2018 at 9:19 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 30, 2018: I Hate Retrogrades  
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Tues. March 20, 2018: Spring Equinox Without the Spring

Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Waxing Moon
Spring Equinox

It’s the Equinox, but we have another storm coming in. I have severe storm fatigue.

Hop on over to Biblio Paradise to read PJ Friel’s blog about her process for her upcoming release A TWIST OF WYRD.

Hop on over to the GDR site for the Mid-March Wrap-Up.

Hop on over to Kemmyrk for a post about the Spring Equinox.

I worked onsite with one of my clients on Friday, since we’d lost two days due to the storm. Then, I had some work to do on the Fearless Ink website. Although Ink-Dipped Advice is working, I’m still having trouble getting the contact form and the social media links to work.

The garage door stopped working in this last storm. I’m going to wait through the next one to get it fixed. Don’t want to get it fixed, only to have it go out again.

I’m frustrated with AT&T. Instead of doing right by the customers affected when cell service went down during the storm, they publicly pretend to “care” (as in the Twitter Account AT&T Cares), while privately making excuses and putting their customers in an endless loop of b.s. without fixing the problem or crediting the customers. I have limited service, minimal bars, and it’s going in and out. That’s not what I pay for. So fix the problem, and credit me for lost days, the way any ETHICAL business would. But ethics? In this day and age, when they see what Washington DC gets away with? No one’s even pretending to have any.

I had a few errands on Saturday, but I did them early, because there was no way I would drive around here on St. Patrick’s Day, when most people are drunk by 8 AM. Worse than it was in NYC. I can’t even imagine what it was like in Boston.

The rest of Saturday was about finishing this draft of SPIRIT REPOSITORY and getting it to my editor. I’m so relieved to have this book off my desk, even though I know we’ll be doing more work on it, and the work will have to be completed quickly, since this book kicked my ass so badly so far. But I’m happy with the climactic sequence, and that’s what I worried about the most. The word count works within the genre, although we have room to cut it back a bit. But I don’t have to look at it or think about it until my editor turns it around, and then we have to move, fast, to get it out on time. If this was going into print first, we’d really be screwed, because the delay on my end would have put the publisher back several months on their end. Fortunately, since the print edition is further down the line and the digital releases first, I haven’t hurt 50 other people’s schedules.

MYTH & INTERPRETATION, the Gwen Finnegan between-the-books novella, becomes the primary focus now, although I have to juggle it with RELICS & REQUIEM, the third Coventina Circle novel. And NOT BY THE BOOK comes back into play. I had a great session on Monday for MYTH, and hope today’s goes just as well.

The next shipment of books for the contest arrived. I’ve logged them and sorted them. I hadn’t quite finished the first shipment, but I was close, so I’m not worried. Many of these books look good, and I’m excited to dig in to them.

Even though I’m still tweaking the websites and haven’t started the serious promotions yet, the new sites are paying off. Sales on everything — Topic Workbooks, Digital Delights, and the series — have all picked up. Which is good news for when I start the serious promotions.

I prepped some in-depth pitch packets for a few places that interest me, and from whom I hope to land a contract. I needed to get them out sooner rather than later, because Mercury goes retrograde on Thursday, and there’s that whole not-signing-contracts-while-in-Retrograde thing. I ignored it a few retrogrades ago and signed a contract anyway and it was a disaster. Although, truthfully, I realize how much better off I am without that particular gig.

But these three gigs intrigue me. They’d all be long-term, remote, with room for growth. Two in fiction, one in non-fiction. So I put together packages and we’ll see. Either I’m what they’re looking for or I’m not. 50-50.

Also stockpiled some blog posts for various sites. Took longer than I expected, as everything does.

On site yesterday with a client, and then had to take my mom to a medical appointment. She has more tests coming up; stressful for everyone, especially her. On site with a client today, and then I have some stuff I need to do before the next storm hits.

Equinox ceremony this morning — always makes me feel more optimistic about what’s to come.

Either I’ll be online here Wednesday or not — who knows?

In any case, on Wednesday, if the Fearless Ink site is working properly, Ink-Dipped Advice will have a post of interest to both writers and employers about ad phrasing to attract the right writer. Check it out.

 

Published in: on March 20, 2018 at 2:56 am  Comments Off on Tues. March 20, 2018: Spring Equinox Without the Spring  
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Thurs. March 15, 2018: Storms and Ides

Thursday, March 15, 2018
Day Before Dark Moon
Sunny and cold

We got walloped by the storm.

A little over a foot of snow, power out for two days, and, more frightening, NO CELL SERVICE. Yup, cell service was down – no calls, not texts, nothing. Which was dangerous.

The point of cell service is to work when everything else goes down.

But we weathered it just fine; huddled with the fire on and the cats. We could still cook (gas stove) and had hot water, but no heat, because the gas heat is tripped by an electric switch.

Yesterday, it took me five hours to shovel out. The path and driveway weren’t that bad, but the plows had packed three feet of snow and ice against the bottom of the driveway, and that took longer than the rest of the property. But we all helped each other, in the neighborhood.

This morning, I had to take my mom to the doctor. Tomorrow, I’m with a client in the morning, and another in the afternoon; not sure what’s going on with my own computer time.

So, the new, business-oriented blog, INK-DIPPED ADVICE, debuted in the blizzard. Kind of amusing. Hopefully, the omen is more about “making a positive impact” than “disappearing in the storm.”

I’m in the final push for SPIRIT REPOSITORY. Couldn’t get anything done with the power out; although I could have written longhand, it didn’t really make sense for this piece. Hard for me to switch back and forth within a draft. Something I need to overcome.

I did write, but something else; played with some ideas. Like I have time for any more ideas!

And worked on contest entries. The next batch is on their way to me!

Power and cell service are both flickering. Not sure how much touch I’ll be in over the next few days.

Onward.

Published in: on March 15, 2018 at 9:38 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 15, 2018: Storms and Ides  
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Thurs. March 8, 2018: (Webhost) Moving, Moving

Thursday, March 8, 2018
Waning Moon
Stormy and snowy
International Women’s Day

I sat down to work on SPIRIT REPOSITORY yesterday morning. I am SO CLOSE to finishing.

And realized the chapter I’d written on Tuesday was from the wrong point of view.

This book is carefully structured in POV shifts in alternating chapters. I screwed up. Odd chapters are supposed to be from Bonnie’s POV, even from Rufus’s. Well, Chapter 31 is from Rufus’s. I’m ready to bang my head against the wall.

I was so tempted just to keep going, but I couldn’t. It changes the action. So I had to go back and rework the material. Something I couldn’t afford on any level on this deadline.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth to read the latest post.

And hop on over to the GDR site for a post on Intent.

The Cerridwen’s Cottage site is re-designed. I don’t have all the material uploaded yet, so I’m not officially sending people over there yet. I’m happy with the re-design. It’s giving me ideas to do a few tweaks on the Coventina Circle and the Nautical Namaste sites.

I might add a plug-in on the Devon Ellington site. The Twenty-Seventeen template works for that, but I want to change the background color on the page without writing new CSS code. I’m hoping a plug-in will fix it. If not, I’ll leave it white. White’s easy to read and to navigate, and, considering how much content I have on the page, it makes sense to keep it white. I have to figure out how to activate the social media stuff.

The Twenty-Seventeen Template did not work for the Cerridwen’s Cottage site. I switched to Twenty-Sixteen and am much happier. The Gwen Finnegan and Jain Lazarus sites are on Twenty-Sixteen, and I think I might move Coventina and Nautical Namaste to them, too, mostly so that I can do background colors on the page, and not just the border.

I’m unlocking the Fearless Ink site and prepping for that move. That’s the last of the sites that has to go. I’ll cancel my hosting package with 1&1, once it’s safely moved. Then I’ll be able to move, in 60 days, the registrations for all three domains, over to NameSilo. And I will be free of 1&1.

I will never know how much business that webhost has lost me, because of the lack of customer service, downtime, lost or delayed emails, and then, refusing to let me post jpgs unless I pay a separate monthly fee. I’m well rid of them.

I’m much happier with the new designs on the various sites, and the flexibility being on WordPress gives me. I’ve learned a lot. I still have a lot to learn, but at least I’ve learned a lot.

Once the sites are up, I can get back to writing and marketing. And creating new content.

I’d already rewritten the Fearless Ink content when I tried to move from 1&1 to Green Geeks. So it’s a case of putting in the time to the design, and then uploading the text already written, tweaking as needed. Maybe adding some graphics.

The new logo is back in re-design. As much as I liked it, a good friend pointed out that Freudians would have a field day with it. So, back to the drawing board.

I’m working on the newsletter, which will go out either the end of this week or early next week (probably early next week).

I have a meeting tomorrow morning with a potential new client. I hope it goes well — even in the emails setting it up, we seem to have a good time. Their work is a bit out of my wheelhouse, but it intrigues me.

Later today, I need to head into Hyannis and pick up some bus tickets; heading into Boston this weekend, if the weather holds.

I’m playing with new series title ideas for POWER OF WORDS. I want the double entendre without being cozy-mystery-cutesy. Unfortunately, everything I’ve come up with so far sounds vaguely unsavory and naughty in the wrong way, so no good so far.

I didn’t use the exact word I wanted above so  the bots pick up that term and start posting awful sites in the comments?

Onward.

Which seems to be my mantra lately!