Archive for the ‘Carolyn’s Writing’ Category

Announcing a New Series

Saturday, 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?

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Writing and Technology

Saturday, 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.

 

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Oooh, Pretty. Editing Can Be Fun!

Sunday, 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.

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How Did It Get To Be May? What’s Up with Me.

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

It seems like just yesterday it was January, and now it’s May. I’m adjusting to the life changes that arose with my mother’s passing in February.  We’ve been going through pictures and remembering her, and that’s been very nice. I can now say that I am now friends with Freddie, my sister’s macaw.  He’s such a great bird. The avian vet showed us where he’d previously written “sweet old bird” in his notes.

Freddie has learned to wave and turn around, and he is now target trained except when he doesn’t want to be. Target training is when you reward an animal for touching the end of a stick/chopstick. This is a huge aid for working with a creature you can’t just pick up. You put the stick where you want the animal to go, and (theoretically) they go there. That way you can safely and easily move a bird from an unsafe/undesired location to a safer one.

This worked great the time I left the lid off the nuts and Freddie climbed onto the container to help himself. He was not at all amenable to moving until I targeted him off. Freddie can be stubborn though and there are times when he’s just basically “Eff you. I’m not doing that.” I sometimes have trouble getting him in his cage at night. He doesn’t want to go to bed for me, and often side steps to the door rather than going in. My sister will come up to him and say, “Freddie, go to bed!” and then he goes right in. So there’s this situational/personal thing going on.

Bird psychology.

I am working on the first prequel novel for the My Immortals series. I’ve hit critical mass on the story itself and now I am shaping it — though it might be more accurate to say the characters are shaping the story for me. I’m liking it. And the characters for the second prequel have showed up so that’s awesome.

 

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Not Proper Enough!

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

Announcement! Not Proper Enough Has Reverted to Me

My Regency Romance, Not Proper Enough, is now available worldwide. It turns out Not Proper Enough was reverted to me last December, which neither my agent or I knew until the paperwork arrived in her office last month. What I didn’t realize that Berkley took down their version in December, so uh-oh. The book was off sale in the US and Canada. This news is of most interest to readers in the US and Canada since Berkley Books had North American rights only and I published my own version everywhere else. Below is the “new” cover for readers in the US and Canada.

A pretty lady in Regency attire, in profile but looking at you. Yeah, you. Her long curly hair is down. She looks feisty.

Cover of Not Proper Enough

Not Proper Enough

Could the wrong man be the right one after all?

Lady Eugenia Byrant doesn’t forget insults easily. Even years after the Marquess of Fenris publicly insulted her, she has no desire to let bygones be bygones. As a widow, she knows the gift of a magical medallion will never find her a second chance at love. When happiness appears to work its way back into her life, it’s Fenris who threatens her newfound peace.

The Marquess of Fenris loved Eugenia, even when she married his best friend. His feelings never changed, but now he has to convince the lady that he has. The handsome and wealthy heir to a dukedom puts on the charm, but will it be enough for her to forget his previous transgressions?

Not Proper Enough is a Regency historical romance novel for adults and about adults who actually act like adults. If you like enthralling characters, heated chemistry, and smoldering romance, then you’ll love Carolyn Jewel’s thoughtful and witty tale.

Where to Get Not Proper Enough

You can now buy direct from me at cJewel Books. I offer files suitable for your Kindle or any other book reading device. You can also order a print copy. Or buy from your favorite vendor.

cJewel Books | Smashwords | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes&Noble | Kobo |Google Play | Print

Not Proper Enough is book 2 in the Reforming the Rakes series. Book 1 is Not Wicked Enough. Book 3, Not Sinful Enough, is officially on my writing schedule.

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Anthology Retirement Announcement

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

As most of you no doubt heard, author Miranda Neville passed away last year. Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Miranda, and I did three historical romance anthologies together.  They are all great collections of connected stories. While they can each be read individually, all four stories together bring together a heartwarming arc. Miranda’s untimely and forever mourned death means that for the foreseeable future, and certainly while Miranda’s family is dealing with her estate, the three anthologies with Miranda will be going off sale. The last day to get all four stories in one collection is January 31, 2018.

My stories in the anthologies are available individually, and I believe Shana’s are as well. I don’t know if Grace published hers individually. Miranda did not, and to the best of my knowledge, Miranda’s family is not currently planning to issue her stories individually. That means if you do not already have copies of the anthologies now, you have a limited window to get those stories.

It’s possible that at some point in the future, assuming we have an agreement with Miranda’s estate, the books will be reissued in some manner or other, but we have no current plans to do so.

Here are the links to the anthologies

Cover of Christmas in The Duke's Arms

Christmas in The Duke’s Arms

Amazon | Barnes&Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Print

Cover of Dancing in the Duke's Arms, anthology. Cover is a dude in a brown coat and a pretty lady in a burgundy gown which is really pretty. They are dancing and falling in love. You want this book.

Dancing in The Duke’s Arms

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Print

Cover of Christmas in Duke Street, handsome couple against a snowy background with a building and a very small christmasy-tree in the backround

Christmas in Duke Street

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Trade Paper

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Writing Retreat – Ocean Pictures

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

Last weekend, I was at a writing retreat in Oceanside, California (near San Diego). A group of us rented a house directly on the beach. If we walked onto the patio, there was the beach, right there. In fact, at high tide, the beach was completely under water. It was a hugely inspiring weekend because of the people who attended and the amazing view. I did not bring my fancy camera since I was traveling and there for writing. I had my iPhone X, and here are some of the pictures I took.

Waves cresting at the beach. The feeling is expansive, as if you could open your arms wide and take in the entire ocean.

Pacific Ocean

Often, in addition to surfers, there were dolphins in the surf. In the above photo, you can see a portion of the balcony where I was standing. Directly below is the patio and the rock stairs to the beach. Here it is high tide so there is almost no beach. The view and the sound of the ocean was a wonderful backdrop to a weekend spent with other writers talking about writing and the business of writing.

A rectangular rock weighed down a feathery bit of kelp that is now covered in a layer of sand so that you see only the shape of the feathery fronds. It is remarkably detailed.

Sand Covered Kelp

I took the picture above on a walk along the beach in the afternoon. It was just so pretty and delicate looking, even though it’s kelp covered with a layer of sand.

The sky is cloudy, but for a small area just above the right side at the horizon. That space is orange and is reflecting onto water that looks like steel. The feeling is stern and stark.

Sunset over the Pacific

The sky looks like it’s on fire almost, and the ocean is steely gray. It’s an oddly peaceful picture. At sunset, we’d take a break from our discussions and presentations to watch the sun set over the ocean.

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean. The water and sky are deep, rich, pinks, purples, oranges, and blues . The light is reflecting off the water which looks smooth and almost soft. There are waves in the foreground.

Sunset, Oceanside, California

For me, these last two pictures are surreal. I’ve never seen the ocean and sky look like cotton candy backlit with orange.  It’s graceful and solemn, and awe-inspiring.

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean, picture 2. The water and sky are deep, rich, pinks, purples, oranges, and blues . The feeling is peaceful and full of grace. The light is reflecting off the water which looks soft and velvety. There are waves cresting to the front of the picture.

Sunset over the Pacific

This is the other picture of this sunset where the colors are surreal. Here, you can see a portion of the beach and the waves.

It’s calming and inspiring just to see the pictures again.

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Christmas in Duke Street is on Sale!

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

The Holiday Anthology Christmas in Duke Street is on Sale for $0.99. You’ll get stories by GraceBurrowes, Yours Truly (Carolyn Jewel) Shana Galen, and the late and sorely missed Miranda Neville.

Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Google Play | Kobo

Cover of Christmas in Duke Street, handsome couple against a snowy background with a building and a very small christmasy-tree in the backround

Christmas in Duke Street

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The My Immortals Series

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

It just occurred to me that I have not said anything here about what’s up with the My Immortals Series.

The rights to the first two books are still held by Grand Central Publishing. There are foreign language sub-licenses that prevent me from getting those books reverted even though they are well under the sales threshold in US sales and even though My Wicked Enemy is legally and officially out of print.

Because I do not control the pricing or any in-book links to the first two books, it is impossible to effectively market the series. Unfortunately, based on past experience, it would be extremely foolish of me to agree to any co-promotion or other co-marketing efforts with Grand Central. The subject was raised, but I declined. I’m not an idiot.

Since it is now clear I might not get reversions until 2021, I have decided I will write two prequels to the series to act as  “new” Books 1 and 2. That way, I can do sensible, effective promotion of the series. When the time comes that My Wicked Enemy and My Forbidden Desire do revert to me, those books will still fit into the series.

I have longed planned to do some significant rewriting of My Wicked Enemy, mostly to return several key scenes to the way I wrote them in the first place and back-out editorial caution that I feel, to this day, significantly weakened the book. For book 2 (RITA finalist My Forbidden Desire), I realized I’d have to write scenes I knew my editor would insist be cut so that I could keep the scenes I really wanted. For that reason, that book probably needs less rework to return it to my original concept of the series.

I’ve already started writing the first prequel. At the moment, the title is My Infernal Lover, but I suspect that won’t stick. The second one is tentatively titled “Blow Back” and will fit with the other two shorter novel/novellas, Dead Drop and Free Fall.

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Writing Stuff I’ve been Doing Lately

Friday, November 24th, 2017

I’ve been wanting to sell books directly for quite some time. I was able to sell print books from my site, but I removed the links to doing so because it was a PITA mostly because of the combination of PayPal functionality and people who just won’t look in their spam folders. . . .

The publishing environment being what it is, and given that most of the major platforms that let you sell books directly have addressed their issues with payment processing and tax collection and remittance, I really wanted to try this again.

Herewith my Tale

The important thing to understand here is that I have a low tolerance for bad instructions and almost no time to fuss with stuff. This is key to understanding why I ended up where I am. (Happily so!)

I started looking once again at all the systems that profess to allow you to sell books directly to consumers: Selz, eJunkies, Shopify, SquareSpace, and several open source systems that are free to install via my website host.

I had tried to set up Selz before and couldn’t bridge the last mile then or now. The whole interface was confusing to me, and they charge a monthly fee PLUS a percentage. And of course the cheapest plans offer so little that they are useless as options. I would have to sell a lot of books per month just to recoup the monthly fee, and I don’t even know if I will sell any. Selz was a no.

eJunkies doesn’t have a monthly fee, and they have a processing fee, which I was okay with, but then, its interface was confusing and the documentation was terrible and not specific enough. But I wanted to use BookFunnel to deliver my files and then I just got annoyed that it, too, isn’t really set up for what I wanted to do. I mean, you sell a book, and you need to deliver the buyer the format they want. Not ALL the formats. Anyway, I couldn’t confirm that I could do what I wanted so I moved on.

Shopify also did not have clear information about what they offer and JFC it’s expensive so NO.

I tried SquareSpace but, I’m sorry, the documentation is horrible and unclear, and I couldn’t even begin to figure out how to make the theme for digital products do anything appropriate for books. Abandoned.

I looked at all the shopping carts available via my website cPanel and decided to try Abante because it sounded like it would work. The instructions/documentation were written by someone who does not speak English as a first language well enough to provide clear documentation. I have some facility with interpreting the sentence structure of the country of origin, but this was frustratingly unclear. Abante even comes with a category for books so you’d think the product would be set up to actually sell digital books. I did the install, and spent way too much time setting everything up only to be unable to make the product allow me to let users select which digital version they want to have. They also don’t integrate with BookFunnel. Fast forward through a lot of frustrating googling and I realized that this product in fact cannot do this, and they apparently have no interest in addressing the issue.

Frustration is Frustrating

Yeah, I was getting pretty damn frustrated. I mean, LOTS of people want purchasers to be able to select which of a variety of digital files they actually want. People who sell photographs, for example.

So, then I looked at WooCommerce, and lo-and-behold, their documentation was clear enough, though not completely clear, and googling yielded a lot of great videos and other step-by-step explanations of how to do exactly what I wanted to do. WooCommerce is free, but you pay for certain additional functionality. I’ll skip ahead a bit and say that you could sell books without ponying up for anything, but there are a couple of useful extensions. And it happens, they were all on sale when I was getting this set up.

I installed WooCommerce on the domain I wanted to use, since it was already a WordPress site, and literally, within 15 minutes I was setting up books with the ability for customers to select ePub, Mobi, or print. BookFunnel integrates with them. When I ran into a question, the WooCommerce documentation had the answer about 60% of the time and the rest of the time google landed me on an excellent video step-by-step.

Trying to Cross the Last Mile

There were three stumbling blocks: The first is one that WordPress and WooCommerce need to address because it’s completely stupid; which is the ability to easily allow WordPress to upload additional file types. I get why they wouldn’t with regular WordPress, but WooCommerce is set up to sell digital files. The product needs to easily enable additional file types.

This is NOT easy and not documented. However, I found two plugins that offered the ability to add file extensions. Add WP Mime Types is what worked, but at first I thought it didn’t. I had to Google what exactly to enter to enable ePub and Mobi,but HERE IT IS so you don’t have to suffer:

epub = application/epub+zip
mobi = application/x-mobipocket-ebook

Just enter those two lines in the WP Mime Types plugin, and boom. Done, with one gotcha. I was expecting that when I went to select files in the WordPress media uploader, files with the extension ePub or mobi would no longer be grayed out. They remained grayed out and I was about to start cursing. Then I dragged the files to the window and then after I was done dealing with my intense frustration I looked up, and the files were there, listed in the media gallery.

WOO-Fricking-Hoo!!!

After that, it was easy to connect the ePub file to the ePub option and the mobi file to the mobi option, and set up the print option to not be a digital download, and I was essentially over the last blocker.

The next issue was how to make WooCommerce connect Book series, and that did require an extension to do this seamlessly, but in hindsight, I think it could be done, less elegantly, without the extension. I did not realize (and there was nothing in the documentation about this) that Categories of products do not actually connect to a product in the database until the product is published. I wish that weren’t the case, because you can’t easily sandbox efforts to see if you’ve made a sensible series of categories and sub-categories.

They have a sub-theme for books, which I went ahead and bought. But that is also not entirely necessary. It also took me a while to realize that you have to create a thumbnail image for each category. If you don’t, you end up with big ugly blank image markers on the shop home page. The intention is that users see an image that represents, say, All Books and others for Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance, each series, etc. Which they click on to see the various categories and subcategories, with, for me, series names being a subcategory of the series genre.

I am not a graphics person, but I managed to kludge together some images that solve the issue OK-enough. But this is something I’ll have to address as an improvement.

Payments

The last issue was payment. It was easy to set up Stripe, and I already have PayPal Standard. WooCommerce made this really really simple. No real surprise, Apple Pay isn’t working. Stripe integrates with Apple but the final hurdle is over at Apple and their instructions are unclear. So I’ll disable that for now, and work that out in the near future.

So, technically, I had everything set up in a day, and I THINK I’m ready. But a bit nervous about pulling the trigger and re-enabling my website’s shop menu tab and sending everyone to my WooCommerce set up. I need to fuss with a few more things.

Updated to add: I did figure out the ApplePay issue. I had to ftp a specific file to a specific directory and then wait for Apple to agree the file was there. So, ApplePay appears to be working.

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