Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

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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Join my newsletter, Get a free copy of Scandal

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

FYI, if you aren’t on my newsletter yet, if you sign up now using this InstaFreebie link you can get a free copy of my historical romance, Scandal.  To clarify: when you go to the provided link, you’ll be asked for your email. Once you provide an email at that site, you’ll be added to my newsletter list.

Cute graphic of a glasses-wearing lady selling newspapers. Pretend that's me.

The Newsletter Lady

I’ll be doing another one for one of my paranormals, but that’s not ready to set up yet.

Newsletter subscribers get all the news first, plus special, exclusive content, expanded excerpts, and access to the members only section of my site. I send a newsletter when I have a release or there’s something super important for readers to know; that is, 1-3 times a year – ish

NOTE: Surrender to Ruin is in the final stages, so if you sign up, expect to get a newsletter about that in the next 1-2 months.

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My Immortal Assassin – More Bad Ass than Ever!

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

I have obtained a reversion of rights to My Immortal Assassin, Book 3 in the My Immortals Series.

New cover, new backcover copy, UPDATED STORY

More about the book at my website page for the book.

Here’s the new cover.

A shirtless guy looking pretty bad ass against a glowy orange-red background. He's all moody and shit like a demon should be.

New Cover for My Immortal Assassin

And here’s the new backcover copy:

Sometimes revenge and love go hand-in-hand

Grayson “Gray” Spencer’s life as she knew it was over. Years of torture will do that to a person. Just when she’d given up all hope, someone sacrificed himself to save her and transformed Gray from a human into a mage. Determined to master her powers and exact revenge on those who imprisoned her, she must team up with a posh but sexy demon who will teach her everything… as long as she swears fealty to him.

Durian protects humankind from harm at the hands of his fellow demons. The highly trained assassin wants nothing to do with the punkish Gray, but her abilities are exactly what he needs to fulfill his mission.

Soon enough, Durian and Gray are bound together in a secret quest… and a fiery passion that makes the demon question everything he’s ever known. Their feelings threaten not only their hearts, but their entire society. They may survive, but how much will they lose in the process?

Changes? BUT WHY?

I did fairly intensive revisions. Unfortunately, there were errors (copy-editing and proofreading) but I’m pretty sure I got them all, though I surely managed to add some new ones (because that’s how such things work.) I am a firm believer in the Oxford comma, so I addressed that philosophical issue by adding those commas. The story remains essentially the same, but now reflects more of my vision for the series and a different editorial take. So, yes, the story structure is the much same, but I did significant wordsmithing and character-smithing. The changes got to the point that I had to concede to myself it’s a second edition. I have filed for a new copyright for this version.

The process of publishing this book would be a lot faster if the various vendors would allow authors to send them their reversion letters at the time of upload. In this case, Hachette removed their version of the book immediately upon revsersion– meaning in December 2016–which I greatly appreciate.

Irony of ironies, if they hadn’t, I could have done a DMCA take down and had the rights issue cleared before I published my version. This means the appearance of live links for my version will be slower as the vendors grind through their process for checking content. Which I also appreciate!

For the Curious

My Immortal Assassin has been under the income threshold for a reversion for over two years, but I wasn’t able to get Hachette to respond to reversion requests. I was informed by a lawyer I consulted that Hachette has no duty to respond to reversion requests where that request does not meet the terms of the reversion clause. No wonder authors are so frustrated with publishers. How does the author know if they’re being willfully ignored or ignored because the publisher has decided there are no grounds for reversion?

Ultimately (after two years and many many requests for a response) their position was that the book was still “in print” because there were 192 copies in the warehouse. Fair enough. I can do basic math so I knew that if I placed an order at, say, Amazon, I would pay $1500 for 192 books. Hachette can do math, too, so when I offered to buy back stock, they did some hand waving and shed tears over the $2,000 in royalties per year they would forego by reverting, and then offered to let me buy back stock for . . . $1500. I paid Hachette the money because I would get my reversion much faster and would not be at risk of someone deciding to print more copies.

Once Hachette was willing to discuss a buy back, things happened fairly quickly. I had my reversion letter in hand in mid-December. I very pleased Hachette and I were doing the same math. And I am thrilled to have the book back in my hands. None of this would have happened without the patience of my agent, Kristin Nelson.

 

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Period

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

So there I was on my lunch hour revising a scene in the MS when I suddenly needed to know a bit more about what women used when they had their periods. (This is for Surrender to Ruin, a historical romance, fyi). I had some ideas, but it’s always nice to do some research on such points. So off to Google I went. Fairly quickly, and not unexpectedly, I found that documentation is somewhat sparse.

This should be obvious to you-all, right? Not only is this a 100% female related event, but no one wrote much about going to the toilet etc. We know something about what people used for toilet paper in the Medieval era because there are a few places where conditions ended up preserving the material — moss, for example. But it’s not something people wrote down and then saved for posterity. I did not expect to come across copious documentation.

But I did expect to find some scholarly speculation. My quick and dirty research came to a quick halt when I came across this article about what American and European woman might have done historically. Why this would be materially different from what women all over the world have done, I’m not sure, but people specialize in all sorts of arcane areas.

The author notes that ancient Egyptians made tampons and mentions evidence in other countries that women used rags and other materials such as sheep wool wrapped in cloth. So far I was thinking, yeah. This sounds totally reasonable. Some of this evidence includes European women. And then the author says:

“Read why I have concluded, in May 2001, that most European and American women probably used nothing at all, bleeding into their clothing.”

Here is a representation of my reaction:

What do you mean my files are gone?

What????

The article gets even more ridiculous. Apparently, several woman contacted him to relate their actual personal knowledge of what their relatives did, many of said relatives having been born in the late 1800’s. Some of those people were actual historians with actual evidence. Those emails are posted, along with rebuttals.

Rebuttals. Please go on. Tell us more about your theory that defies logic and actual experience of the subject matter.

My suspicion that the author had never had a period turned out to be correct. The author is a man. And in epic fashion, he has decided that he, a person who has never menstruated, can deduce what women did and to hell with all historical evidence and the women who basically said a nice version of “You are an idiot, and here is why.”

No woman would decide she’d just bleed into her clothes, particularly when the vast majority of women would not have been able to afford to replace their clothing that often. There would be evidence of blood-stained clothing. There would be references to the epic consumption of shifts among the female population. There would be references to monthly replacements of mattresses among those who could afford them.

As a person who has personally experienced periods, I can say with 100% confidence that no woman would just bleed into her clothes as a matter of course. It’s just so ignorant and insulting. I can’t even.

I will leave you with one of my favorite videos by one of my favorite YouTubers, Sabrina, of Nerdy and Quirky, in which she addresses the subject of period euphemisms. Enjoy.

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Why I’m Running for Re-Election to the RWA Board of Directors

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Some of you may know that two years I was elected as to sit as a Director at Large on the RWA National Board. I’m running for re-election. For interested members, here’s a little more about me and my feelings about publishing and RWA.

I’ve been publishing Romance since 1987. I’ve traditionally published and now self-publish. I’m the poster child for managing a career as a mid-list author with series still tied up with traditional publishers. I’ve been a RITA finalist in historical romance and in paranormal romance. I’m a current board member. I have worked in the Tech sector in highly specialized jobs. Many of my tech skills have crossed over and become very useful and helpful to managing my self-publishing business. I’m an entrepreneur running a profitable business. I bring all that experience to my board service.

The short version is that these last two years on the board brought home to me in the very starkest of terms how unfair publishing is to diverse authors. The facts are depressing, and I am absolutely committed to seeing RWA make progress. Diverse authors do not have the same opportunities as white, straight, authors. Too many doors are shut to them and there are too many obstacles in front of that door and afterward for those who manage to get it open. RWA can and will do better and it can and will work with publishers and the industry to address and solve this issue.

I heartily recommend and endorse all the current sitting board members up for re-election: Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, Farrah Rochon, and Damon Suede.

Vote. It matters.

 

 

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A little help? Romance Dog Needs Name

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

Romance Dog Needs Name

In Surrender to Ruin, there is a dog that needs a name. At the moment, I am calling her Princess, but I’m not totally happy with that name.  What should I name this dog? Or should I keep the name Princess?

About The Dog

She is obviously progeny of Roger, the Wolfhound-ish mutt from A Notorious Ruin, but it’s equally obvious she is also part Bloodhound.  She is young (less than a year) and has been rescued from the streets. She’s a big, goofy, happy dog and not very attractive. As far as she is concerned everyone loves her.

Let me know in the comments.

FYI, I am up to Chapter 29 in my revisions prior to sending to my critique partner.

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Operation New Desk: Sub-Optimal Areas of Organization

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

To Avoid Hell, Organization Requires Commitment

So, some time ago, the day job negotiated renovated office space… and a lot of office equipment was offered up to employees. I snagged an adjustable desk because I want to set up a treadmill desk. I measured etc and confirmed the desk would fit in my room. I found a college student with a truck and arranged to get the desk to my house. The desk isn’t huge but it’s not light. But also, I was in the middle of trying to finish My Demon Warlord and Seduction in Winter and so I ended up having the guy park the desk in the living room until I had time to clear out drawers etc…

And there the desk stayed. For a really really long time. Because desk drawers. Because all the stuff I had on the desk… And the closet and and…. And every spare minute needed to go into writing.  Organization requires commitment of heart and time. If you stop halfway into an organization project you might as well go live in hell.

I was starting to hate the desk, taking up space in the living room on its end… A too-inviting target for small dogs.

And I was dreading the work…

But then I finished My Demon Warlord and sent it to the copy editor and whoo-hoo! My son was still home for Winter break and I finally had time to spend with him. I had him set up Apple TV when he got here and then signed up for the free trial of Netflix. And he had been watching Netflix. With my break between books he and I watched the first episodes of Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Sense8. Then we watched several episodes of Jessica Jones and then he went back to school.

Sub-Optimal Areas of Organization

And so, there I was with a long New Year weekend and a desk taking up space and so began Operation New Desk Binge Watch. I emptied desk drawers and surfaces and other places of  . . . let’s be kind and call them “sub-optimal areas of organization” and I brought out the shredder and put all this “stuff” into boxes and watched Jessica Jones while I shredded and sorted and discarded and found new homes for things. Rinse and repeat. When I ran out of Jessica Jones, I started on Daredevil.

Then I was exhausted. But yesterday, I looked at my office with my old icky desk cleaned off but still with a broken drawer and said “I’m going in!”

Only Slightly Bruised

I got the old desk out by myself because it’s not all that heavy, just 20 years old and, well, it’s had a broken drawer for years and no holes for cables so I wasn’t even sorry to see it go out. My brother was over, and he helped me maneuver the “new” desk in. My right toenail is only slightly bruised, I swear.

Then I set up the computer and dropped the cables through the cable holes in the back and Whoo-hoo!!

Phase Two Point Five

So it turns out I need a keyboard tray for the desk, which whatever. I ordered one on Amazon last night — while I was in bed with the lights off. THIS is how technology improves our lives. Since the new desk does not have drawers, today I’m going to buy something suitable that the printer can sit on (currently it’s on the floor) with drawers so I can proceed to Phase 3.

Phase Three

Phase three is to go through all the stuff I didn’t discard and figure out where to store it. Some will go in the Phase 2.5 pedestal thingee and the rest will be relocated to …. somewhere else.

Because of the NSA case, I have a lot of documents that need to be preserved, which is an additional challenge but might as well have it all in the same box, right?

Verdict

Jessica Jones is an awesome series. I love her so hard. I didn’t love Daredevil until about 4 episodes in but then I did. I’m on Sense8 now and I’m blown away at how great this series is. Normally, when I see TV it’s something from the more traditional channels and I watch maybe 2 times a year. But these shows have women doing awesome things and people of all colors and no one is being safe about writing, especially Jessica Jones. Though, a couple of times on Daredevil I thought some of the dialogue was pretty clunky and maybe they needed to call a lawyer a couple of times to get a grounding in how the law might actually work. I’m only a few episodes into Sense8 but yay for a show that isn’t just straight white guys!

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