Street Witch Series and Other Progress

September 15th, 2018

Yesterday, I hit 76,000 on The Next Paranormal. I’m up to Chapter 29 of 39 in revisions. Basically, the story is done and now it’s polishing, bringing out theme, and going through my Action Items list. I expect some of the remaining chapters to be folded in to others, and, per usual for me, I will write the final chapter at the very last. The fork is not out yet, but I am targeting the end of this month for that.

I have engaged a new-for-me cover artist and committed to three covers in the series. I was really happy with the previous cover design company I was using, but I had such a terrible time with the last cover that I decided it was time to use someone new. Those of you in my “Secret” facebook group went through part of the design process for that cover and are acquainted with some of my issues with the quality of the work that was done. And so, I am seriously upping the ante on covers.

Spinoff Series and Titles

My original plan with The Next Paranormal was that it would be a new lead-in to the My Immortals series, but after thinking about that for a long time, I decided a spinoff series was a wiser, more productive, and less frustrating-for-me idea. The first two Immortals books are simply unlikely to revert to me until 2021 and as I worked on the current book, I became more and more convinced a new series would be easier and more fun for me.

Anyway, I am 99% committed to Street Witch as a series name, and titles related to fire for the first three books. This should be amusing for those of you who recall the fiasco of settling on a title for the first book in the My Immortals series. Members of my reader group (The Jewelies Group of Awesome) have been offering some great ideas for titles. If you’re interested in joining the group, go here, answer a couple of questions and ask to join.

Meanwhile, the 80% sure title for the first book is Fire Bound but that’s not for sure yet because it’s possible the title should have something to do with smoke. Anyway, this is also typical for me. Sometimes I come up with a title from the start (The Spare and Lord Ruin are two examples) and sometimes I don’t have a title until much later. (A Darker Crimson, which was actually my editor’s suggestion, for example.)

Slightly Writing-Related News

My webhost of many many years handled an issue so badly that I ended up moving almost all my sites with them to a new host. All in all, the move went pretty well, and now that things have been on the new host for a while, I’m ready to tell the old host goodbye. There was a period toward the end of August where my site was misconfigured and my email was bouncing.  So, if anyone sent me an email in August and I didn’t reply it’s because I never got your email and worse, there’s no recovery for that.

Share

Laborious

September 3rd, 2018

Here in the US, it’s Labor Day, a day when most workers have a day off from their daily paid labors.

Solidarity, workers of the world.

I’m kicking back and . . . working today.  At the writing job. The Next Paranormal is now over 70,000 words and I’m up to chapter 24 in the edit/fix/revise/sob stage of the writing process. Also, later I’m getting a massage to help get the knots out of my shoulders.

I really need to settle on a title so I can get the cover in progress.

In the meantime, here is a pretty picture I took a while back.

A fairly close up picture of a green succulent that is probably agave but I don't really know. The leaves are kind of like an artichoke that's open, but not spiny.
Share

Customer Service – A Rant

August 26th, 2018

If you’re reading this, congratulations to us all because it means my move to a new webhost was successful.  I’d been with my previous webhost for over ten years and they were really stellar. If there was a problem it got fixed quickly and courteously. I feel it’s not unrelated, given the story I’m about to tell you, that the person who handled most of the issues I had was a woman who recently left that company.

I was surprised when the security certificate on my site didn’t/couldn’t renew. I contacted my host about why it hadn’t renewed and the response was “You don’t need a cert because you don’t sell anything on your website.”

Notice that this does not respond in any way to my request. Note as well that the customer service rep is wrong. Deeply wrong, in fact.

For the last two years at least Google has been downranking websites that don’t run on SSL (That is, has a security certificate and is https:// rather than http://) and by now users are seeing warnings when they land on a site that isn’t running on SSL. Not to mention an expired cert will cause all kinds of problems for a website.

This is an experience women have all the time. They get worse customer service and more roadblocks in the way of that service. I opened a ticket about why an existing cert hadn’t renewed and the answer to me, someone with an obviously female name, was to question my need for a service I was using. At every step, in fact, my issues were not taken seriously.

On top of this add that these tech support people did not understand certs and how their backend requires they be set up for the customer, and the problem is even worse.

What’s in a Name? Customer Service

The short version of this tale is that I spent from the 14th to 20th explaining over and over what they needed to do and telling them that their changes actually made things worse and had ended up breaking my email. There  was a string of responses over those days that were all basically, we fixed this, please reply to the cert email we are sending you, an email  I was not getting (if they were actually sending it which I doubt because they were doing it wrong) because they broke my email. And if was wasn’t that, it was, please send us the error messages and tell us exactly what the problem is and I kept saying, OK, but look at in the thread of this ticket where I already did that, but here it is AGAIN.

Carolyn Not Charles

It was worse than that, way worse. And I’m just going to say that if my name was Charles Jewel my cert would have been renewed on the first day and I would still be their customer.


Share

Miscellaneous Updates

August 12th, 2018

It’s been a while since my last post, I’ve been busy and a bit frazzled. The RWA national conference was the third week in July and since I’m currently on the board I was in Denver for 9 days. Conference was great, busy, and inspiring.

I’ve been writing, of course, and thinking about projects and the order I’ll write them in.

The Current Project

As you may or may not know I am working on a book set in the My Immortals world. My original plan was to write two new books introducing the series so that I could properly market the books and the series. I thought about that long and hard and decided I would rather start a whole new series set in that world. Those first two books should revert to me in 2021 at which time I can market that series without being severely handicapped.

What I’ve decided to do is center this new  series around the street witches  who play such a crucial role in the My Immortals world. What I need now is a boffo series title and I only have terrible ideas. Fortunately, that’s a good start. I do need a new title for the book. I have terrible ideas about that, too.

The good news is the story is actually finished and at this point I’m going through and polishing and adding a lot of words. At the moment I’m staying right around 68,000 words because I delete the ones I don’t like and replace them with better ones.

Habits Old and New

I’m working on setting up new habits and ways of thinking about my writing and my approach to writing. I hadn’t realized while I was dealing with my mother ‘s health issues how many negative thoughts had wiggled their way into my head. I was feeling guilty about not writing fast enough or enough that all and that seems to have wormed its way into my head as a new pattern.

That’s one I’m going to get rid of. I need positive thoughts about my writing and I need not to guilt myself out for taking time to decompress, I need not to stare at my computer resenting that I’m writing s o o  s l o w l y when I’d  rather nap because I’m tired and stressed. The good news is I have caught up on my sleep and I’m not habitually tired and I’m no longer waking up in the middle of the night because I heard something and am worried about my mom.

And so I am laying down new habits of positive thinking. I am really excited about this new series, and it’s pretty exciting that I’m actually so close to done.

Share

New Cover for Scandal

July 28th, 2018

Have a look at the New Cover for Scandal

image of the new cover for Scandal - it's a hot Regency couple. The image is a paperback book that looks like it's standing up

New Cover for Scandal

I commissioned a new cover for Scandal because the previous cover, which I love to this day, was getting rejected for promotions because the guy was shirtless. ::sigh:: If you already purchased Scandal and want your copy to have the new cover, you should be able to follow the process for updating books at the vendor of your choice. I took the opportunity to update my booklist, but nothing else changed about the text so the only reason to update is the new cover, and a more recent list of my titles in the back.

Share

Greetings From Denver

July 15th, 2018

Hello! I’m in Denver, Colorado for the Romance Writers of America Conference! Facebook is giving me fits about trying to log in so this is me also waving to facebook folks!

Today was the first day of the Board meeting. We got a lot done and that’s about all I can say at the moment. We meet again tomorrow so I’m heading to bed pretty soon. I hope everyone is having a great week.

I arrived Saturday. It was 97F and I did not go outside. Today, it rained. I also did not go outside. I do not expect to go outside tomorrow either, but I guess you never know.

Stay cool, and if you’re in Denver and you see me, say hi!

Share

242 Years Ago

July 4th, 2018
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Share

Announcing a New Series

June 2nd, 2018

New Series in the My Immortals World

An interesting idea occurred to me recently that involves the My Immortals series. I have been working on what I’ve been calling a prequel book to the series, which is in part due to the status of the first two books in the series, which are still published by Grand Central Forever. To date, they have been unwilling to revert those first two books, which means I cannot effectively market the series to new readers. That’s why I decided to do what I should have done ages ago: write “new” Books 1 and 2.

My current project is the first replacement book, with a working title of My Infernal Lover. This book is getting close to done. One thing I’ve always loved about writing this series is the “Street Witches” who play an integral part of the series world. The book I’m working on now features a Street Witch heroine, for example.

I have decided to change my original plan of replacement books 1 and 2 and instead introduce a new series set in the same world. This solves several issues and opens up a whole new set of possibilities. A new series in the My Immortals world lets me keep the same world and the elements I love about the series, but unhampered by the control issues with Books 1 and 2. I will have a series to market to new readers that also functions as an entry to the My Immortals series.

Street Witch Series

One possibility I’m considering is sliding the two My Immortals novellas/short novel (Free Fall and Dead Drop) into this “Street Witch” series concept which is actually where they fit better.

This means my current project will be Book 1 in a new series set in the My Immortals world. I am mulling over a series name, possibly even the entirely obvious yet descriptive “Street Witch Series.” I’ll continue mulling over titles, specifically potential titles for the current project. Maybe just Infernal Lover?

Share

Writing and Technology

May 19th, 2018

Writing and Technology Carolyn Style

I recently bought an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil, since some writers I know had switched entirely and my MacBook Pro is aging a bit. In addition, I have at last found a Mac app that I can write in without being incredibly frustrated and annoyed. My novella, The Viscount’s First Kiss, was written entirely using the Ulysses app.  Ulysses exports to Word, PDF, and HTML, among other formats. It syncs seamlessly between all my devices. I’m fifty thousand words into a novel with Ulysses.

I have some nitpicks, but  in the main I like it. In case you’re wondering, for essentially my entire writing career I’ve been using WordPerfect. When I switched to Mac OS, I installed a Windows virtual machine so I could continue using WordPerfect. There’s a lot about WordPerfect I miss, but Ulysses is the first acceptable replacement I’ve found that works for me.  Yes, I tried Scrivener but it just doesn’t work for me. I know it does for others and more power to you. I keep hoping that Scrivener will address its controlling propensities and stop interfering in the way I want to write. With Ulysses, I started writing and just kept going. I didn’t have to fight with the interface, and it took me about thirty seconds to read about how to make things look the way I want them to.

Anyway,  a while back, my MacBook Pro underwent some kind of glitch that required a complete reformat and restore from backup. To be honest I haven’t bothered to fix the Windows virtual machine on it since I bought the iPad Pro.

What I love About The iPad Pro For Writing

It’s a lot lighter than my MacBook Pro, but about the same dimensions other than thickness.  I bought the Apple keyboard cover, which is pretty sweet. That keyboard is about the same size as the keyboard for the MacBook Pro. When I’m writing on it, I love that it’s a touch screen, too.  I am able to rest the iPad Pro on the exercise bike do-hickey for holding devices, and have been able to dictate while I exercise.  This gives me an additional hour of writing time, which is nice.  I’ve used the Apple pencil a little less than I thought.  I find the documentation for my notebook apps to be pretty bad, and I hate spending more than a few minutes trying to figure out how to do something. However, I have used it for some note booking, for example, and that has been absolutely awesome. Writing longhand is a different experience and a different way of unlocking the writing brain.

What I Don’t Like About Writing on The iPad Pro

iOS is simply not quite as functional as Mac OS there are a couple of things I cannot do on the iPad Pro that I can do on Mac OS, predominantly having to do with one or two apps that I like. The reasons this is a con for writing, is that I want to travel with the iPad Pro and not have to bring the MacBook Pro.

Slight Segue Into Dictation

A couple of years ago I started using dictation because I wanted to make sure I preserved the functionality of my fingers and wrists and because once you settle into the dictation it can be a lot faster than  typing by hand. I had a disaster once that I resolved by dictating a massive number of edits that had been lost. If I hadn’t done that I would not have been able to finish my book on time. For my emergency, I used the built-in Apple dictation. It was not perfect but it worked and well enough I that I bought Dragon dictation both for Mac OS and Windows. Unfortunately, neither was seamless or effortless. Yuck.

What I don’t understand is why Apple insists on using straight quotes in apps where curly quotes are available and enabled. Word corrects this  annoyance, but the Ulysses app does not. Straight quotes are an abomination in fiction. Dragon, however, fixes those straight quotes, so I’m stuck using Dragon When I am writing on the iMac. Speech recognition in Dragon for Mac is pretty awful. Considering how expensive the program is, Nuance should be ashamed. In iOS, I have to use Apple dictation and for some reason that is completely beyond me, when the keyboard cover is attached to the iPad Pro you cannot dictate. WTF, Apple? When I’m on the bike, I remove the cover so I can dictate.

That said, I have watched Apple dictation perfectly transcribe my words and then change them to near gibberish as they are processed. Why? Why? Why is there no setting that allows me to tell it that I am dictating fiction and to stop changing everything to present tense or using pronouns that aren’t the pronouns I used. In addition, there are several  punctuation conventions for fiction that Apple and Dragon completely blow over. It drives me batty. For dialogue, a comma, followed by a close quote should not be followed by a capital letter unless that word actually requires a capital letter: “More coffee,” Mrs. Smith said. But: “More coffee,” she said with a desperate smile. NOT “More coffee,” She said.

It’s annoying as hell. Oh and also for some reason on my computers, both Dragon and Apple dictation randomly capitalize words. Really?

 All in All

Nevertheless, I have not used the MacBook Pro in quite some time. The combination of the iPad Pro, Ulysses app, and the Apple Pencil overlap with several functionalities: a MacBook Pro, a paper notebook, printed MSS, and pens and ink. There was a day when I forgot to bring the iPad Pro with me but I had my regular iPad. I was able to work exactly where I left off. If I had to, I could write on my iPhone.

That said, the RWA National Conference is coming up and I haven’t decided if I’m also going to bring the MacBook Pro. If I don’t, there is an app I use daily that I will have to skip. It wouldn’t be a big deal, though. So I think probably not. My board service means that I fly several times a year and that means I have learned to hate flying, checked luggage, and heavy purses.

Overall, I really like the Ulysses app and hope that they work on the needs of fiction authors. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the portability and lightness of the iPad Pro, and the ability to do longhand writing with it. This combination does most of what I need. It’s just short of perfect.

I find it ironic that so many apps, including Microsoft Word, talk about how great they are for professional writing when in fact they fall down in crucial ways that professional fiction writers need. I would pay a lot of money for WordPerfect as a native Mac App.

 

Share

Oooh, Pretty. Editing Can Be Fun!

May 13th, 2018

I printed out a copy of My Infernal Lover for a paper read through. For this kind of editing, I really enjoy using various fountain pens and colorful inks. I’m using two pens loaded with ink that just arrived. Some of you may know that I love ink with sparkles, and DeAtramentis just came out with some pearlescent inks that have copper sparkles.  I used a paintbrush for the swathes of ink, then wrote some stuff so you can (hopefully) see what it looks like.

Heliogen Green

I loaded the heliogen green in my copper Karas Customs. I really like this pen a lot, though it’s a bit heavy. It writes well. I can’t recall what nib size I got. I’m pretty sure it’s a fine because I was buying fines when I bought this pen. With this pen it’s easy to fit lots of new words all over the front and back of a page.

A swath of ink from a bottle of DeAtramentis Heliogen Green with copper sparkles. The green is soothing and soft, and the copper sparkles are just lovely.

DeAtramentis Heliogen Green with copper sparkles

Velvet Black

I don’t think my photo does justice to this ink. I don’t normally use black ink at all, but the copper sparkles make this special and really fun to write all over my MS with. Interesting note, this ink is loaded in a Monteverde invincia with a nib that is clearly stamped F for fine. But it lays down ink like a medium, which I really like.

A swath of DeAtramentis Velvet Black with copper sparkles. The feeling is soft with an undertone of surprise!

DeAtramentis Velvet Black with copper sparkles

Switching Off

So, I have been switching between the pens with fair frequency. I am up to chapter 3 and I really like this story so far.

Share