March Progress Report

March 6th, 2022

I hope everyone is managing 2022 as well as possible in these stressful and trying times. Don’t forget to take time for yourself and your inner peace.

I wanted to update everyone on my writing. Bound in Smoke is going very well. I’m in a spot where word count isn’t increasing very fast but the story is taking on shape and vibe that I really like. For me, a story is typically essentially done at about 50K words, with the remaining word count coming from polishing and expanding on themes and plot. I’m not quite there yet, but will be soon, I think.

Self Doubt and the Inner Critic

My primary challenge right now is what the header suggests. Self doubt and a loud inner critic, both of which love to remind me that previous versions of this book were not done when I thought they were. For me, self doubt and my inner critic play a crucial role in producing a story I love. I need them, but I also need to be able to rise above them, and that’s been a slowly improving situation.

Another element I have noticed is one that I think can be particularly toxic to everyone, and that’s the idea that it’s not just OK to power through difficulties without regard to the personal toll, but virtuous to do so. I call bullshit on that. Hard and regular work, yes, but not without respect to the creative well. As Susan Elizabeth Philips has said, “Protect the writing.” You can’t do that if you’re only making withdrawals from your emotional well-being.

So What’s the Progress Report?

Story sparks have been coming to me more and more often, which is an encouraging return to normalcy. I think it’s because I’ve been telling myself, “F***, it, just write what you want to put on the page. I am writing. I am getting my story told.

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Update on My Immortals Series

January 18th, 2022

For years I have been trying to get reversions for the first two books in the My Immortals series (My Wicked Enemy and My Forbidden Desire) but have had no luck. My publisher has refused to entertain any buy-back offers even though the books make them no money. They have earned my undying resentment for refusing to revert the rights to me. The hang up is that the reversion clause says the books don’t revert until the licenses for foreign rights expire.

The existing license for My Wicked Enemy ends June 18, 2022. The one for My Forbidden Desire expires December 17, 2022. The books should revert to me on those dates.

It’s always been my intention to return My Wicked Enemy to something more like what I originally wrote.I expect I’ll release both books in December, but by then, at long, long, last, I will be able to properly market and manage this series. Expect to see proposed covers soon, and come December, what I’m calling the Author’s Cut of the books.

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Holiday Movies

December 23rd, 2021

Here at Jewel HQ we have been watching holiday movies as one does at this time of year. Here are the movies we’ve watched so far, and a quick rating. They’re in no particular order. We watched on Netflix.

A California Christmas, City Lights. This is a sequel to A California Christmas. The sequel was as delightful as the original and totally fun. I would watch an entire movie centered on Manny, who has a secondary romance. He lights of the screen in every scene. This movie is set in Petaluma, CA and directed by a local, so we get extra enjoyment out of seeing downtown Petaluma and the ranches/countryside to the west. We also got a kick out of seeing some of downtown Petaluma standing in for San Francisco. They filmed during the summer so you won’t see the breathtaking green hills of winter in Sonoma County. Two thumbs up.

A Castle for Christmas. This stars Brooke Shields and Cary Elwes. She’s an author, he’s a duke. They meet-cute at his castle. This was loads of fun, and it was lovely to see a diverse cast and an older couple. Two thumbs up.

A Cinderella Story, Christmas Wish. One of us hated this so much we bailed. I suspect there’s no actual plot or not enough so they stretched it out with musical montages and bad lip syncing. Personally, I would have watched it all by fast forwarding through the music for the minutes of story. Cinderella stories are my jam. I think it would have taken 20-30 minutes. The male lead is the guy who’s cast as Rand Al’Thor in The Wheel of Time. Half a Thumbs up. I might go speed watch it.

Father Christmas is Back. I was bored out of my mind and bailed. My sister watched the whole thing. I didn’t care about any of the characters and couldn’t get past the stupidity. If someone takes your car (a Rolls!) and makes it the prize in a contest, the solution to getting back your car is not to attempt to win the contest. Hated. It. No thumbs. If you like English-style narratives, you might like this.

Christmas Break In. A riff on Home Alone only with a girl and at a school and a totally undeveloped plot line. This could have been awesome. Danny Glover was in it and he was worth watching. It was childish and dumb, but that’s the whole point. It was mildly amusing and totally predictable. One lazy thumb up.

A Christmas Prince, The Royal Baby. Set somewhere in Europe. At least this time they had a more diverse cast than the previous story set in this mythical country. It was enjoyable enough, and it was unintentionally comic to watch the Queen, who was in end-stage labor, magically able to solve and explain a mystery in between pushing. One and a half thumbs up.

Holidate. This was a strange one. Two gorgeous people decide they will escape holiday questions about their relationship lives by pretending to be a couple on holidays. It starts and ends at Christmas. It was OK. One and a half thumbs up.

Single All the Way. We loved this. It’s cute, adorable, and corny. Roomates to lovers. I wasn’t at all sure for the first 5-10 minutes but then the chemistry kicked in between the two guys, and I was on board. There are lots of Awww moments. Two thumbs up.

Have you watched any holiday movies? Which ones, and which are your favorites?

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Happy Going into the Holidays!

November 26th, 2021

I hope all is well with everyone and that those who celebrated US Thanksgiving had a safe and wonderful day.

Per Jewel HQ tradition, now that it’s after Thanksgiving, we can appropriately procrastinate preparations for the holidays. The weather here has been about as wintery as the North Bay gets. This year there is a bumper crop of mushrooms. A few of them are enormous and can be seen from quite far away. I enjoy going out to look at the mushrooms.

Now that we have fish in the pond, we’ve had visits from both herons and egrets . . . beautiful, majestic birds who don’t normally come anywhere near the house. Goldfish are good at hiding, but we’re fairly certain the netting has done it’s job and we still have all six.

Bound In Smoke continues to go well. I have some time off and hope to get a lot of words down.

Stay safe, everyone. What are you reading these days? I’m re-reading R. Lee Smith’s Land of the Beautiful Dead.

Below is a picture of a mushroom.

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Spooky Greetings from Jewel HQ!

October 30th, 2021

As I write this post, tomorrow is the U.S. celebration of Halloween, a holiday beloved by many here, so spooky greetings to all! Here is a picture of my happily transplanted pitcher plants. They will soon be dormant for winter, but right now they’re very pretty.

Close of of Pitcher plants. They are slender green tubes that widen to a magenta and white opening with a curved top above the pitcher.
Pitcher Plants. Photo by Carolyn Jewel

They happily consume garden pests, so yay! And, as I have learned, California has native species of pitcher plants so they do extremely well here.

Writing News

My writing continues to go well. Bound in Smoke is really shaping up. My new approach to getting more sleep is about 80% effective, I’d say, which means I am getting a lot more sleep these says. It’s probably no coincidence that my creative headspace is a happier place these days. To all my readers, I am writing every single day, taking care of myself, and putting together a story I love.

Take care, everyone!

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Fall Greetings!

September 18th, 2021

I suppose technically it’s not Fall yet, but let’s not quibble. As we move into what will hopefully be cooler, wetter weather, the writing is going well. I switched up my schedule and now write in the mornings before my “commute” into the living room for the day job. I’ve also made some progress with getting more sleep, and that makes a tremendous difference in how I feel. Go figure.

Bound in Smoke is going reallly well. I continue to have breakthroughs that make me excited about the story and the world. I’m not sure when I’ll have an updated Chapter 1 to post, though I think it will be sometime in the next couple of months. It’s such a relief to have the creativity continuing to come back to me and have the words on the page feel rich and real.

A while back, I started writing using a program called Ulysses rather than WordPerfect and so far it’s been a great transition. Ulysses has a really neat feature that lets me quickly insert editorial notes as I’m writing that don’t disturb the flow of the story text. Oddly, this has been emotionally helpful because recently my inner critic has been so loud and detrimental. Now, I can insert a note or reminder about the text and just move on instead of feeling like the whole story is a failure. Plus, I also got my printer working again after the MacOS upgrade to Big Sur disabled my ability to print.

I hope everyone is staying safe and doing well. Let me know in the comments.

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Greetings from August!

August 7th, 2021

I hope everyone is well and that you’re reading lots of fabulous books. Let me know in the comments what you’ve read lately.

Here at Jewel HQ things are going pretty well, all things considered. Bound In Smoke continues to develop in exciting ways. I’m writing everyday and also making sure I am keeping the creative well refreshed. I’ve been mulling over a new post to the writing section of my site about dealing with circumstances that drain that creative spark.

I imagine most of us are feeling stressed by current events, so I hope everyone is taking time to make sure they are OK. My son came for a visit which ended up being perfectly timed. Just a couple of weeks past when he came, I would have advised him not to travel. It was lovely to see him. He’s starting grad school in September, and I am proud and excited for him.

I’ll probably be posted a revised draft Chapter 1 fairly soon…

Here’s a picture of my favorite mug.

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May Report

May 15th, 2021

I hope everyone is doing well this May of 2021. It’s been a tough year for the world, and it is my fervent hope that we get as many people vaccinated in as many countries as possible. In the meantime, I hope everyone is doing all they can to stay safe and happy.

I’m slowly doing better. I’ve discovered that when I go to sleep when my eyes are drooping, more often than not I sleep without interruption for 8-10 hours. If that means lights out at 7:30 or 8:00, so be it. I shouldn’t be so surprised that going to sleep when I’m tired instead of forcing myself to stay awake until what I’d set as my bedtime has led to a massive improvement in my sleep. Being rested is one heck of a drug!

The writing continues to go well. I think getting enough sleep really helps, no surprise. More and more, the emotional and creative well is there for me to tap into, and it’s a relief and a joy.

Bound in Smoke continues to develop, and I’m back to writing nearly every single day without beating myself up for taking time deal with stress and grief. I’m getting excited about sharing this story with you!

Stay safe everyone, and be kind to yourself.

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How I’m Doing (TLDR; better)

April 25th, 2021

Hello all. I have all the best intentions of posting more often here so hold me to it! Since my last post, the writing has continued to slowly return to me. I’ve been writing every morning since February, getting more sleep, and learning to live with grief. I’m really pleased with how Bound in Smoke is developing. Ideas and story elements come to me with increasing frequency, and I take them when they come, with excitement and gratitude that the well is refilling. Thank you everyone, for all your patience and support.

Other good news is that as of now, all of my immediate family has had at least one COVID vaccine. I haven’t seen my son in nearly a year and now, fingers crossed, it looks like it might be safe to travel to see him later this year. Or him to see us. It’s my hope that we’ll soon be able to get to together to mourn our family losses.

For anyone who has lost a loved one, I am sending you my deepest sympathies. These are difficult times. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself.

Here is a picture of one of the irises now blooming at the house:

A maroon iris with gold highlights. The blossom is fully open and the picture is taken from above. The colors are striking, and it looks soft yet serious.
Iris. Taken from above. Picture by Yours Truly, aka Carolyn Jewel


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Where Am I? How Am I?

February 20th, 2021

Over the last few months, I have started an abandoned half a dozen posts to address those two questions and I just get emotionally derailed. So I’ll just say I am as OK as it’s possible to be under the circumstances. Grief is a process and you can’t just decide to bull through it.

I have been writing — more accurately rewriting– Bound in Smoke. For quite a while there wasn’t much in the writing well. I could edit and proofread but nothing much was happening in the part of the writing that puts drama on the page. Not a good place to be, and there’s not much point to editing when the emotional core of the story isn’t there.

Lately that’s changed. In moments when I’m not writing, a story-drama idea would just pop into my head. Normally this would happen on an almost daily basis, but there was nothing for quite a while. I documented those rare ideas and worked them into the writing and things were better on the page. Then there’d be nothing for a while only to have another idea pop into my head.

Instead of a near-constant flow of story emotion in me, I went from complete silence to oh, hey! Interesting . . . and then back to silence. At first, it wasn’t enough to justify doing a huge amount of work, but over the last several weeks, those slow bubbles have built on each other and now when I’m writing I don’t feel like there’s nothing in me to draw on.

Recently, I’ve taken to getting up a little early and getting some words in before the day starts, and that’s been productive. I think it helps that my sleep has improved somewhat.

And there you have it. That’s where I am now. I hope all of you are doing well in these trying times. Be kind to yourselves.

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