Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Getting Organized Has Unexpected Benefits

Sunday, July 24th, 2022

As you may know from an earlier post, in late June of this year, my website host disappeared from the web. I was able to recover everything on my main site thank goodness. The site I use to maintain evergreen links wasn’t quite so easy to recover, which I admit was totally my fault. But I was able to get the service up (YOURLS) and running and now I have a local database-driven system for keeping track of all manner of information about my books. Being forced to get organized has both expected and unexpected benefits. I am totally thrilled!

If you are an author and want some help with something like this, especially YOURLS, let me know. I’m happy to help.

Screenshot of a portion of a MySQL GUI. No, I'm not showing anyone the actual name of the database. Doh.

MySQL GUI screenshot

Benefits!

Now I have a book database that will generate all the links I need for a new book which is super handy. While I was at it, I added in tables for all my ISBNs and various required info when books get uploaded to the various vendors, and now all this stuff is essentially automated and is going to save me so much time I’m practically giddy. I hadn’t realized what a mental burden the inefficiencies were.

Don’t worry! All this was, at most and in total, maybe a day and a half of work. I do database work for a living so I know now to build and populate a database.

Technical Details for Nerds

Once I had the link service database up and running, the next challenge was to recreate the short links and load them into the database. Trying to rebuild them manually would have been an utter nightmare and likely months of work. Instead, I built a local database designed to generate the flat files needed for a mass-upload plugin available for the service. My internal system for naming the short links meant I already knew the vast majority of the short links I needed to make and only needed to get the vendor URLS, which I already had in a spreadsheet. Once that was done, it only took a second (literally) to generate the csv files required for the plugin. It took way longer to upload the files via the plugin than it did to generate a file of hundreds of links. After that, all I needed to do was manually enter a handful of short links I’d made that didn’t conform to the standard.

This work uncovered a situation with two books where a vendor URL had inexplicably changed at the vendor and/or disappeared from the vendor site. I was able to fix both those, in one case with the assistance of the vendor’s tech support.

This weekend I installed MySQL locally, restored a backup of my short links database, and started building and testing the queries to do some direct backend updates related to cleaning up a test upload and doing future updates. SQL Server syntax is just different enough from MySQL syntax that I had to keep googling for the MySQL syntax but this morning I issued two of my backend updates.

Now I have the pieces in place to test my planned batch update process, and I’m actually pretty excited about having that capability since YOURLS isn’t set up to deal with the kind of short link system an author is likely to need; the ability to batch update a vendor URL from the pre on-sale URL to the on-sale URL, for example, across multiple short urls. I did have a plugin that was supposed to do this, but it was clunkier than I liked, and this is going to be way faster and less prone to error because I can test everything locally first.

And, of course, always backup the database first!

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Spooky Greetings from Jewel HQ!

Saturday, 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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The Fork is Out

Sunday, April 21st, 2019
Fork against a blue sky with white clouds
The Fork

You guys. I have sent Bound In Smoke to my editor. The fork is out. Photo by yours truly. It’s one of my best on-accident photos.

Repeat! THE BOOK HAS BEEN SENT TO MY EDITOR!

Here is the cover of Bound in Smoke, by the way.

Cover of Bound in Smoke, Book 1 in the Street Witch series. Cover features a tough looking witch admd a fiery, dramatic, urban gritty background.
Cover of Bound in Smoke

Bound In Smoke is book one in a new paranormal romance series. It’s got witches and demons and there’s enforcement zones, and it’s pretty awesome. I do not have a final blurb yet, but you can read a little bit about the series here.

Ember Azuria is a street witch who accepts a job from a trained witch and ends up blamed for the disappearance of a valuable talisman and with a demon warlord sent after her. The problem is, you just don’t want Ember pissed at you.


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Book Covers and Projects

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

Some of you may know that starting November 1, I will be President-Elect of Romance Writers of America (RWA). The following year, I will take over as President. I did not make the decision to run lightly and now that the election results are in, I will have a lot of additional responsibilities. I’m really looking forward to the next two years, though. There’s a lot of great things ahead!


Book Covers for the Street Witch Series

I have selected the models for the first three covers and all three were available. The shoot will take place in the next two weeks and I’m really getting excited about this! More news when it’s available.

The Street Witch Series – Book 1

The title of the first three books are 98% sure to be:

  • Bound in Smoke
  • Born in Fire
  • Risen from Ash

I am in the final stages of finishing Bound in Smoke prior to sending it out for first round editing. I think it’s unlikely I will have this book out before the end of the year. All the passes of editing, revision, re-editing, copy-editing, and proofreading take time.

Once that is out for editing, though, I will be writing a historical novella titled Miss Fiona Harper’s Night of Passion. I already have a cover for this book. I am hoping the novella will take about 6-8 weeks to write. I expect this story to be on the shorter side. It will be a way to have something new out while I get the Street Witch series prepped for launch. After that, I will see where my writing time is given my RWA duties and adjust accordingly.

In the meantime, I will probably put by Christmas novellas on sale, so watch for that! I’ll post everywhere when that happens!

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Miscellaneous Information You Should Know

Saturday, October 6th, 2018

Consider this a miscellaneous information announcement post where I cover social media, book covers, my writing schedule, and the next two years or so.

Facebook

Facebook has never been my favorite social media, and they have been making it more and more difficult for authors to actually connect with readers without laying down cash. I get that. It’s their right, but I do think there’s a calculation to be made about platforms where you can’t reach people who are actual fans without a significant outlay.

I do post there regularly, so by all means follow me on facebook. But if you actually want to see my posts there, I don’t have any great advice for how to make happen, other than making sure you like, follow, and tell facebook you’d like my posts in your feed. You can find me at CarolynJewelAuthor

I also have a reader group, The Jewelies Group of Awesome. This is a closed group for fans. To join, you have to request membership.

Sadly, I think facebook is no longer a vibrant place for authors to connect with readers. For now, I will continue to be present there.

Twitter

I’m on Twitter a fair amount, but beware, I am highly political there. Shrug. But there is writing news there from time to time. @cjewel

Follow Me On Amazon

Follow me on Amazon if you really only want to know when I have a new book.

Join my Reader Email Group

I am always looking to improve my ability to engage and reach readers who enjoy my books.  Sign up to get emails about what’s up, new books, content for members only etc. There’s a sign up form over there to the right, if you’re reading this at my website. If not, here is a link: Join My Reader Email Group

RWA – Romance Writers of America

I have been on the National Board since 2014 as a Director at Large. This year I ran for President-Elect and won. This means that for 2018-2020, I will be President-Elect and then President of RWA. This also means I will be very busy and that I will likely have only one book out for each of those two years.

This was not a decision I made lightly.  My mother’s recent passing meant that a significant portion of my time and even my own health was recovered. I realize that is a very passive statement, but she was very ill and needed a tremendous amount of care. I took several months afterward to be sure I was making the right decision about running for the position. I care deeply about the issues the organization is facing right now, and so, here I am. I am honored to have been elected to the position and am looking forward to the next two years.

I do have some ideas about writing shorter content while I am also working on the Street Witch series, so stay tuned for that.


Book Covers

I am upping the ante on the covers for my new Street Witch series and I am really really excited about that. Members of my Facebook reader group and email list subscribers will get the first look at the covers, as well as extended excerpts. The links are up there.


The first book in the series, Bound in Smoke, is essentially done. I’m polishing right now before it goes out for the first round of editing.

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Did You Ever?

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

Need to do one simple thing on your computer and end up spending all day doing computer updates and installs?

And then get almost nothing actually done, including that one simple thing? Because that’s me today.

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Street Witch Series and Other Progress

Saturday, 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.

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Miscellaneous Updates

Sunday, 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.

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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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Updates!

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Writing Updates

I have a a few updates for everyone. First, Surrender to Ruin is back from it’s additional read through. I have a few tweaks to make so things are moving ever closer to done. I’m doing another historical anthology with Grace Burrowes, Miranda Neville, and Shana Galen. I started that story while STR was out being read. I’m considering calling my story “Kissed by a Rake.” Maybe. After that I will work on another My Immortals story and the new project I’m calling “Dark Elves.”

Writing is going slowly at the moment. My duties as a Director for RWA is part of the reason, but that is mostly predictable and manageable.  However, the health of a family member is not, and it should come as no surprise that the burden of that is falling to the women in my immediate family, aka mostly me. I cannot change that. STR is really just about done. But I can’t promise rapid turn arounds these days,

Writing Related Updates

I have a new desk! Here’s some pictures.  It’s made of reclaimed wood by Sons of Salvage here in my town. I highly recommend following that link. I gave them my specific needs and dimensions and they carried it out. In the top picture you can kind of see the 2 drawer pedestal to the right. It’s on wheels so I can move it to the other side if I want. I have a built in keyboard tray. I decided to go with a narrower desk. It’s perfect for me and the space. My next project is to clean out the closet and move the printer there.

Over to the right you’ll see a lamp that looks like it was probably on a train or something. There’s a local artist who makes these super funky lamps out of old items. There’s a picture below with the lamp on so you can see why it’s called “Once in a Blue Moon.” I have it on a timer so it comes on at 9:00 PM to remind me it’s time for bed. Sleep is a precious commodity right now.

Here is a close up of the wood. I love the color and the grain.

Close up of the desk surface. The wood is highly grained and you can see where there were nails and such. All polished and smooth now

Wood!

 

Here’s a picture with the lamp on. The framed print to the right is by Ricky Watts, another local artist. And this is a good shot of my current computer wallpaper. It’s a photo by Anton Jankovoy. I bought two of his pictures. This one is of the Milky Way in Nepal. His photos are amazing.

Beautiful desk made of reclaimed wood, with a funky lamp with blue glass on one side, The lamp is on here and there is a blue glow around it,

The desk. With Blue Moon Lamp

 

I also hooked up my new ergo keyboard. More ergo than the previous one. I’m still getting used to it. My writing space is surrounded by stuff that is meaningful and inspiring to me. It makes a big difference to have these things around me.

And now, back to work.

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