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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Happy Holidays!

December 24th, 2020
Greetings from Yours Truly and the Holiday Cat (Photo by Marguerite Jewel)

From Jewel HQ, wishing everyone Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! My sister took this picture of Shinshi’s very first encounter with our Christmas tree. As you can see, this year, we went small. It’s pretty cute, if you ask me, and yes, we have been finding the small ornaments all over the kitchen.

Stay safe, everyone.

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Wishing Everyone Happiness and Love

November 26th, 2020

To all who observe U.S. Thanksgiving, may your holiday be full of love and happiness even though it’s difficult or not possible to see friends and family in person. My son and his girlfriend are, wisely, staying in Seattle for the holiday which means this is the first year he will not be home on this holiday.

So many people this year are going through this holiday without people they hold dear, myself included. I am sending all of you love and the hope that you will find a moment to reflect on fond and happy memories of those we have lost. I know my family will be remembering those we have lost.

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A Profound Stillness

November 16th, 2020

On October 16, my beloved nephew Dylan passed away. He was 24. The times being what they are, I will say that it was not COVID related. Our entire family will forever be devastated. He was talented and generous and kind and beloved by all. We will never recover.

On November 12, my youngest brother, Geoffrey, was killed. He’d turned 52 just two days before, and all of us had been texting him that day with love and birthday wishes. Geoffrey was the extrovert among his siblings. He, too, was talented, generous, and kind. At this time, I cannot say more about what happened. We do not yet have all the facts. All of us were devastated yet again and now our grief is redoubled.

Two tragedies in such a short time is more than any of us can bear. It’s terrible that our family and all the people who loved them cannot safely be together to mourn our loss. We will when it is safe to do so.

To everyone who has offered their condolences, thank you. It helps. It really does.

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Update on Bound In Smoke

September 4th, 2020

I’ve been putting off this post for a while because it’s hard to write. But first, YES! This book is still coming your way, so don’t think it’s not. As many of you know, I sent the revised MS to my editor. The main take away from the comments I got is simple enough. I’ll paraphrase a lot:

It’s better to take risks and piss off a few readers than play it safe and leave your core readers dissatisfied.

Editor speaking Truth.

I immediately recognized this for what it meant for the way I was telling this story. The remarks were spot on and, perhaps ironically, incredibly freeing. I needed some time to process that and decide on my approach to the story and the series.

Love in the Time of COVID.

The last two years have been personally tough, with 2019 an intensely bad time. Add in COVID and 2020 so far hasn’t been any easier or better than 2019. The stress is just different, which I’m sure everyone will recognize in their own lives.
It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I have been. I have written well over 250,000 words (The equivalent of 2-3 books.)
Throughout, though, I knew something wasn’t quite right with the book. I made a lot of progress with this last draft, and I remain happy with the basic structure. The problem is in the emotional arc and my editor’s comment crystalized that for me.

Writing is a Constant Evolution

I took some time to think about why and how I had backed off of risk and once I did that, I decided I needed not a spin-off series but a brand new one. And that is what I am doing. Who knows what the rest of 2020 holds, but I am hopeful that I will have a completed new version before the end of the year.

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Update

June 6th, 2020

Yes, Bound in Smoke is still with my editor. These are difficult times for everyone, and my editor has a school age child. I’ve been in contact and hope to have the edited MS in a couple of weeks. Raising children is hard work no matter what, but these are exceptionally challenging times, and no one should be beating themselves up by comparing how we manage in times like these to how we managed before all this.

In the meantime I am writing a historical novella, Miss Fiona Harper’s Night Of Passion, which has been on my schedule for ages. I already have a cover for this work.

I apologize for the delay. I hope everyone is taking care and staying safe.

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In Memoriam

May 25th, 2020

I have several relatives who served in the military. My mother’s oldest and favorite brother, Vern, served in WWII in the South Pacific. According to my mother, after the war was over, he was discharged with the expectation that he would not survive six months.When he passed away in 1977, my mother was heartbroken. He was a wonderful, gentle, calm man and I remain grateful that I knew him. My son’s middle name is Vern. I wish he could have met his great uncle.

My cousin Jimmy was in the air force (like his father). He flew helicopters in Kuwait and worked at the Pentagon. My understanding is that he was there on 9/11. He passed away only a few years ago.

I am grateful to everyone who serves in the military and will always be grateful to them for their service and sacrifices.

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Post Cards from Carolyn

May 17th, 2020

I have a collection of 20+ postcards, most of which are from a pep talk collection or have a pretty picture. In addition, I have sassy foil stamps available to affix to said postcards. Upon my request, the USPS sent me various fun stamps, including dinosaurs, frogs, and orchids.

Please check out the close up of the foil stamps in case there is one you would prefer not to have on your postcard.

Postcards and foil stamps
Close up of foil stamps

If you’d like friendly postcard from me, email me your address (carolyn @ carolynjewel.com) or through the contact link and let me know whether you mind a sticker with a bad word (if so, I’ll choose a different one), and I’ll get one in the mail to you. International OK.

I will only use your address to send you the postcard. I won’t save it beyond any computer backups that occur as a matter of course. Offer available until I run out of postcards. (So, about twenty -ish,)

Please DO NOT leave your address in the comments. If you do, everyone will know your address.

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Renovation Dream/Financial Sinkhole?

April 23rd, 2020

In my between-books downtime and Pandemic anxiety reduction time, I have been watching a British show from a few years ago called Restoration Home. The show follows along with the restoration of historic homes in Britain. So far, all but one have been registered historic, but all have been at least two centuries old and most are far older. They intersperse the restoration work with research into the history of the house, its architecture, and its owners. It’s really, really interesting.

There is a pattern, however, and it goes like this: Someone falls in love with a historic house that is in serious need of rescuing, so they buy it and, starry eyed, embark on the nightmare that is all home renovations, only these are renovations on steroids. The registered homes have strict rules about what you can do and how you can do it , which I agree with, only some of the ensuing red tape is just awful. OMG.

Soon after the renovations begin, the first (of many) serious problems arise and so far every single house has had structural issues. The walls are standing on sheer stubbornness alone, the wood is rotten, ground floors are built on mud, everything leaks and has been leaking for centuries . . .

Halfway through, everyone is over budget and running out of money. Or is out of money. Some of the houses have not been finished or were simply abandoned. Some go on the market and stay there even when listed for less than the property plus renovations. Some owners appear to have got creative and are operating as a B&B.

One couple DID NOT DO A STRUCTURAL INSPECTION and guess what? The original builder in 1800 whatever was a DIY guy and/or way too trusting of his workers and many walls were not actually structurally connected. They were just leaning against each other and plastered over. I don’t understand why the house didn’t come down on his head. I can just imagine him telling his guests “DON’T LEAN ON THE WALL!” Fun parties.

After saying all that, once the structural issues are addressed and they start on the interiors, the results for the houses that get that far are magical. The proportions of these houses are breathtaking.

It’s a good thing I don’t live in England because I would be one of those people looking at a falling down historical house and I would buy it and go way over budget and be totally thrilled.

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