Monday, August 1, 2022


With the limited amount of time I have now to read, it really pisses me off when I have to DNF a book.  What a waste.  Even if I've only spent 15 minutes on that book I didn't finish, it was 15 minutes I could've been reading something I might finish.

Now, back when I was still in the Kindle Unlimited program, I could 'see' people reading my books, because the page count would go up at a steady pace.  I can safely say that the majority of people read my books all the way through.  (About the only perk to selling so few books, by the way.)  Every once in a while, I'd see where someone only read a page or two.  For the most part, the page number they stopped on was the last page of the book.  

That, at least, could give me some measure of satisfaction.  Few people were picking up my books, but those few were enjoying them enough to read all the way through.  And often, they'd finish one book and go on to read the next book.  

My biggest problem has always been getting people to pick up a first book.  :shrug:

Anyway, the point here is I wasn't disappointing readers.  I would hate to do that.  Maybe I'm doing that now by not writing and publishing new books.  There's nothing to be done for that right now.  I needed a job.  I got a job.  And by the time I get home from a full day of work, I don't have the mental energy to put words on a page, let alone to edit, format, etc. and publish a book.  Gah, I wouldn't even want to think about the energy that goes into making a cover.  So, I'll say it again... I am deeply sorry to be not providing you with more books right now.

The only good thing I can say about all the DNFs this past year or so is that I rarely spent money acquiring them.  The books I download are almost always free.  And the books I do spend money on I almost always finish.  I think last year I has one DNF that I'd paid for.  I shrugged and got on with my life.  Sometimes you slaps your money down and you loses.  

It does make me wonder, though, about whether the authors who get a lot of DNFs with their books consider the whys and the wherefores.  If they attempt to change anything.  If they lay in bed at night wondering how to make the hemorrhage stop.  Or if they just shrug and continue on as usual. 

Personally, I think most writers are conscientious and they are paying attention.  Of course, without KU, how would they know unless they're seeing a lot of returns.  I dunno.

What do you think?

Monday, June 27, 2022

Not Giving Up... But Conceding

A couple of weeks ago, I made a decision.  With the economy the way it is, and every dollar stretched to its limits but still barely stretching far enough to meet needs, I applied for a job.  Gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do, right?

What does this mean for my goal of writing and publishing?  What does this mean for you as the reader?  It means I will have to find time after work and on the weekends to still get stories written and out there into the world.  

I'm not quitting.  I refuse to either give up or give in.  I'm merely conceding that writing is not bringing in enough money to keep this ship afloat.  Frankly, it never has, but the amounts I made helped.  In a better economy, the help I got from book sales was enough.  It just isn't anymore.  

This has been coming for a while.  Well, pretty much since 2020, but I was mulish.  

I got lucky.  A job opened up that is about a five minute drive from here.  I applied on the 10th, interviewed on the 17th, and started on the 22nd.  I'll get my first paycheck in July and the weight of cashflow will lift from my weary shoulders.  

And I'm glad to do it.  I've only worked three days, but I already love my job.  It's good to get out there and be productive.  

They've had a devil of a time finding employees who 1) want to work and 2) are stable, drug-free, drama-free, non-criminal, and sane.  That's me in a nutshell.  Tada.  I'm set to work 40 hours a week.  I'd work 50 if they let me.  I've never been afraid of work.  Depression makes me lazy sometimes and I tend to lack gumption at home, but in a work environment, I'm the little engine that could.  

Maybe if I could've put that engine to work with the writing, I would've done better.  But that's neither here nor there.  I busted my ass that first year of publishing and got crickets.  I know writers who bust their asses day in and day out, and still aren't making enough to get by.  So, kicking myself about my writing isn't going to help.  

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is I'm still here.  I'm still writing.  As I get things done, I'll get things published.  It'll just be a slow road.  To those readers who were hoping for new books soon, I apologize.  I just hope that by the time I get books done, there will still be people interested in them.  If not, I'll still be a writer.  And also an office assistant.  

How has this economy effected you?  

Friday, June 10, 2022

Making an Effort

In an attempt to do something, I'm making an effort to market again.  Not sure whether anyone knows this, but DYING EMBERS is only 99c and is now available from a variety of retailers.  

Anyway, here's the marketing copy I posted a short while ago*...

It's been ages since I did any marketing, so here goes...

When a string of deaths is linked together by a killer’s fiery signature, Agent Jace Douglas must face her fears and track down a murderer before another man is burned alive.

DYING EMBERS is available now from a variety of retailers for only 99c. Pick up your copy today!

With, ya know, this pretty pretty cover...

Anyway, I figured it was about time I got off my buns and tried to sell some books. I'll market some more later this morning. You know, after I get some sleep and have a cup of coffee... or five. ;o)

*No, this post wasn't scheduled. I was up at midnight. And since I was up, I figured I might as well do some marketing before my inner Piglet took over again.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Writerly Stuff

I think I was supposed to do a post about titles this morning, but I forgot and that one should probably be written ahead of time instead of on the fly.  Right now is definitely 'on the fly'.  LOL

Amazon, in its infinite wisdom, has changed the KDP page for checking out book sales - the Dashboard.  (And even the tiny picture next to my bookmark for them is different, making it so I have to go looking for it instead of going right to it.)  Turds.  I guess, for a limited time, you can still see the data the old way, but I'm not inclined.  If you're landing there for the first time, you might see that some of the metrics have a picture of a lock on them.  Click the lock, fix your preferences, and all will be well.  (It doesn't tell you to do that.  I found out by accident.)

I probably don't need to say this, but I detest change for the sake of change.  We'll see if the Dashboard is actually better or just different.  I'm holding off on my opinion there.

I guess now I could use a sale to show me exactly how it would work in the new Dashboard. :shrug:  If wishes were fishes, we'd all eat like kings.

I don't need to tell you that sales have sucked this year.  Well, ever since I went wide, I guess.  Of course, there's been very little marketing on my part, so that might be a huge factor.  The will to market is a dry, dry well.  As is the budget for marketing.  With no budget, all things markety have to be done by me, and with a dry gumption well... Umm, yah.

Anyway, enough with my whining.  I'm making progress on Shroudlands 2.  Not great leaps and bounds, but progress.  I'm almost at 18K words now.  My brain threw a curve at me last night that I wasn't expecting, so we'll see how that plays out.  Or whether I need to trash that plot path and initiate a do-over.

How are things in your world?

Monday, May 16, 2022

Going With the Flow

 As I said yesterday, "Right now, I have to go where the inspiration takes me.  And right now, the inspiration is following reader input."  

I'm not sure why this is so, but it's reality.  Last month, a reader was commenting on one of my book posts, wishing for another SCIU book, so I worked on that.  Last week, a reader sent me an email about Song of Storm and Shroud, told me I'd done a good job writing it, and said he couldn't wait for the sequel.  And like that, my gears shifted.

Actually, that's not entirely fair.  I was getting to a point in SCIU4 where I wasn't feeling it.  I was pushing out the words instead of them pulling me.  Last week's reader was a nudge I needed to make the words pull me again.  Unfortunately for the SCIU book, they're pulling me toward a different story.  

I'm not usually that flighty.  I start writing a book and I work on it until its either finished or I'm stumped on how to proceed.  Since I'm not finished with SCIU4 and definitely not stumped, I'm guessing I'm just not feeling it right now and the reader input gave me the excuse I needed to move onto something else.  

Having said that, I am rolling along right now with Shroudlands2.  I have stuff happening.  I have a good idea where I'm going next.  I know what the main thrust of the story is going to be.  It feels right.  Right now, at least.

I can't guarantee this'll keep going on like it's been going.  I'm trying not to question it too much.  I'm just going with the flow.  If the flow dries up, I'll switch back and see if I can make that work.  The point is, I guess, I'm writing again.  And I've always said we have to write however we can to get the words out.  What works for us one day may not work the next, so we have to go with the flow.  Probably not the answer readers are looking for, but it is what it is.  I'm going with the flow.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Is It Lame?

Welcome to Wednesday, where today's topic is:  Is it lame?  Who the hell cares?  Or how to write a dirty first draft and get the damn book done.

Probably the biggest roadblock to getting words out for me is worrying whether the words I'm typing are lame... stupid... WRONG...  Well, ya know what?  Who the hell cares?  It's a first draft, for pitysakes.  The words don't have to be awesome.  Hell, they don't even have to be good.  They just have to be words.  Sure, they have to make some kind of sense, but the point here is...


Except a blank page.  If there are no words to fix, then... well, duh... you can't fix them.  The point of every first draft is to get the damn thing written.  

Did you just write a sentence that would make even the kindest reader want to throw the book at the wall?  No problem.  No reader is going to see it yet.  

Do your characters sound wooden?  Easy peasy.  Fix it later.  

Did you use... :gasp: the wrong word?  Have typos?  Misspell something?  Forget a comma?  Use too many commas?  All of that can be fixed with your handy dandy EDIT ROUNDS.  

No matter what you've written that you think sucks, it can be fixed.  The only thing that can't be fixed is...  Well, actually there is a fix for a blank page.  It's... wait for it...


Set your big ass, your narrow ass, your flat ass, or your bubble butt down.  Hell, I didn't used to have a butt at all, and I could've slapped that down, too.  Now put your fingers on the keys (or your lips to the microphone, for those using a speech to text program) and write the damn story.  

So what if it's lame?  So what if you don't think anyone will ever like it?  So what if you don't like it right now?  It's your story.  Write it.  Then fix it so you do love it.  (Psst... there's not much you can do to insure anyone else likes it, but they sure as hell won't like it if you don't write it.  Eh?)

And yes, when I wrote this last night, I was thinking that what I am writing is LAME.  Ultra-lame.  Lamey McLamerson from Lameville, Lame-abama.  So what?  My ass was in the chair and I got to work writing.  It'll get unlame later.  And I'll come back to fix this lame part when I finish.  

Now, get out there and slap down some new words!  Go, go, go, go!

Update: After I wrote this and scheduled it, I laid down more words and ended up with a total of 1561 mostly unlame words.  See? You've gotta push past the lame to get to the good.

Monday, May 2, 2022

New Month, New Attitude

 It's my favorite month of the year and therefore, I am using this month to get reinvigorated and set my feet back on the path.  Onward!  

One can only wallow for so long, after all.  

To that end, I sat down yesterday with my trusty notebook and had a meeting with myself.  It went sort of like this:

'Where do we go from here?'

Then I listed all the things I could be / should be writing.  Pros, cons, etc.  The key to deciding what to move forward with turned out to be 'which one can I write the fastest that'll be the most likely to net me sales?'  Looking at it all that way, the answer was SCIU #4.  Tentatively... JUSTICE SERVED.  :shrug:  It's a working title.

Last night, I sent Hubs off to bed and then opened the file to start writing.  Unfortunately, I've been away from it long enough that I couldn't just pick up the thread.  That meant that I needed to go back and read everything I've already written.  And I fell down a bit of a rabbit hole renaming the main character.  (I really need to start searching the name before I fall in love with, ya know?  Who woulda guessed the name I had was also the name of an 'international escort'?  ROFL)  Anyway, she's got a new name that doesn't seem to also be the name of anyone famous or infamous.  And I'm ready for tonight when I will sit down and write the next scene.  (Barring acts of nature and power outages.)

The plan is to have this first drafted by the end of the month, so I guess this is a NoWriMo situation.  MaNoWriMo?  I kinda like it.  It has 'mano' in it, which is like Spanish for hand, as in mano a mano or hand to hand combat.  Heh.  Just me fighting with myself, doncha know.

Another thing I'm doing this month is ditching all negativity in its many forms.  Easier said than done, but I'm working on it.  

And now, I'd better get this posted because we've got a whopper storm coming in and losing power and.or internet here is always a possibility.

Anyone want to do a WriMo with me?  Jump on in, the water's fine.  ;o)  

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

SONG is Now in Paperback

I received the paperback proof yesterday.  It's very pretty and everything looks good, so I approved it for sale.  Yay.

Here's the social media release verbiage I just posted:

SONG OF STORM AND SHROUD is now available in paperback (as well as being an ebook from many fine retailers - see comments for the universal link). Sorry it's not easier on the wallet, but it's 422 pages. I made it as inexpensive as I could while still leaving a little scratch for me.

Of course, you don't have to go to comments here to get the universal link.  Click there.  And it's also available by clicking the image in the sidebar.  

It's pretty much everywhere Draft2Digital can make it be.  Except for Hoopla.  Nothing of mine has posted to Hoopla yet.  Derp.  

A quick note... I removed all the chapter-beginning wyverns.  I had a nightmare about being sued over use of a clipart image, so after I woke up, I did a bunch of research and since I was no longer 100% certain it was kosher to use those - even if I did change the original image - I ditched them when I woke up.  There are only four copies of it in its original format, and I own two of those (ebook and paperback proof).  It's all good.  I left the arrows.  They're mine.  

For the record, I get my cover images from Morguefile, and their terms state that as long as you change the image in some way and don't try to sell it as is, it's kosher.  I don't think anyone can say the images I've incorporated into my covers can ever even be recognized as the original photos.  Although, I think it would be kind of neat for the dude who owns that lizard to see his pet as a dragon on the cover of SSS.  I got the wings off a pic of a flying fox.  Cut, paste, delete on a microscopic scale, change the aspect, recolor, paste some more, add a bit of artsy so it doesn't look like a Franken-photo... tada, dragon!  Took me FOREVER, but I did it.

Anyway, the paperback is black text on cream paper and the cover has a nice matte finish.  The font size is 11pt, so it's easier on the eyes.  It's $17.99, but like I said, it's a big book, so it's about as cheap as I can make it and still make money.  Wish it could be different, but that's the way of the world right now. 

I'd really appreciate it if you could pick up a copy (print or ebook) and leave a review wherever you buy books.  Thanks.

Monday, April 4, 2022

A Snippet for You

 I'm up to my armpits this morning, so here's a snippet (the beginning of Chapter Two) for you to enjoy...

As the fiery tornado rose almost to the height of the gallery, the skin on Aryl's cheeks tightened. Not since the whole of Northunder gathered around the bonfire last Midwinter Eve had he felt such heat. He could almost smell Da’s pipe and Ma’s hot chicory tea. In his head, he could hear the townsfolk singing the song of storm and shroud to chase the blizzards and the beasts away.

Terrified screams reached him from below, jerking him out of his reverie. On the field, his potential classmates ran for their lives, scattering in every direction. 

One alone stood firm.

A boy almost as tall as Galin, but twice as wide, stood holding the largest sword Aryl had ever seen. It shimmered, but not from any kind of heat. Magic radiated from the weapon. Aryl couldn’t hear the boy, but he would swear he saw his lips move in a shouted spell. Blue light arced from the blade toward the elemental. 

And disappeared as if it were no more than mist.

The firestorm reached a hand-like tendril out and slapped downward at the human standing brazenly before it. With an audible fwoosh, the boy disappeared in a blaze, leaving only a smear of scorched earth behind. 

The elemental turned, seeking another foe, but all the other combatants had hidden behind the barricades at the edges of the field. With nothing to attack, it turned its horrible face toward the gallery. Its roar made all the watchers step back. 

Aryl looked to Master Eenan to save them, but the man had gone. “He left us?” Disbelief made his voice break. “How can fighting this thing be left to us?”

If you want to read more, head on over to Books2Read, click on your favorite retailer, and pick up a copy today.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Formatting for Print

I'm formatting for print today.  Fun fun fun.  

In case you weren't aware, I almost never use smaller than 11pt font in my print books.  I think I did 10pt once to try and keep the price reasonable, but that's it.  If I don't want to go blind trying to read tiny print, I'm sure as hell not going to subject you to that either.

It occurs to me that if I am going to venture into young adult, I probably shouldn't swear so much on my blog.  :shrug:  There are no swear words in SONG, except for the curses they use in that world.  Blast, blaze, etc.  Nothing you wouldn't want your kiddies reading in there.  Here?  Umm...  Parental Guidance is suggested for this blog - language, sometimes violence and adult themes.  No sex.

Chances are that the kids reading this particular book are old enough to have seen and heard many nasty words by this point in their lives.  Probably said a few, too.  Still, I didn't want that for this book, so it's not there.  I might've used damn... :shrug:

Anyway, I should be done with the print formatting and uploading today.  Then I have to wait for my proof copy to arrive and verify it's all good.  Then it'll be available for sale.  Right now, it's looking like it's going to be 424 pages.  Probably like $14-$17 a copy US and near to that elsewhere.  I try to keep them as cheap as I can and still make it worth my while to make print copies available.

Anyway... back at it.

What are you up to today?  How do you feel about print copy books?  Do you think I should try out Amazon's new 'hardcover' option?

Friday, March 25, 2022

Inspiration and Motivation

Inspiration:  This morning, Silver James did something special on her blog - she posted a music video and associated it with my new release: Song of Storm and Shroud.  It really hits the right spot for the story, and her doing that meant a lot to me.  Go check it out.  The gal in the video (the artist, really, playing a part) reminds me of one of the characters in the book, Fenwyn.  Totally awesome.

Motivation:  In other news, I got back to writing the sequel for SSS.  I'm about 2200 words in now.  Then last night as I was trying to sleep, I had a flood of ideas.  Three scenes worth.  I got up and wrote them down, so I'm definitely on a roll there.  Now I just need more people to buy the first book and give me the impetus to keep writing the second.  Book sales are incredibly motivating, doncha know.

Short post today.  Go read something.  ;o)

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

It's LIVE!

After spending most of yesterday on formatting, SONG OF STORM AND SHROUD went live on Amazon last night.  Of course... Amazon is the easiest to format and so it uploaded without a hitch.  Draft 2 Digital decided to be a picky bitch, but I finally got all the wrinkles hammered out and I uploaded the dratted thing everywhere before dinner last night.  

Today, I'll be formatting for print.  Woohoo.  So expect that to be available some time in the next couple of weeks.  (Takes time to get and approve the book for sale, doncha know.)

I did something with this book I've never done before.  I added graphics at the beginning of each chapter and a different graphic for the scene breaks.  I usually just laze out on the scene breaks and use some combination of symbols to denote a change of scenes, and I never do graphics for the chapter headings.  There's a little wyvern for the chapter breaks (looks like a dragon, but only two legs instead of four) and four little arrows for the scene breaks.  I'm pretty pleased.  All in all, the graphics added about 200,000 kilobytes to the file size, so I'll be losing a little bit of my royalties there, but it's worth it.  It's so SHINY.

Wouldn't you know it, though?  I was formatting and found a typo.  Aryl spelled Ayrl.  So, I went through the whole damn manuscript again.  And found a bunch more that I had missed AGAIN.  Aryl spelled wrong again, a couple other characters' names messed up, too.  Lucky for me, I had already added the names to my Word dictionary, so all the snafus had red squiggles underneath them.  The final draft was my SIXTH edit pass.  So, make it 7 passes on this sucker before it went live.  If there are errors now, they're masters of camouflage.  

You should've seen me yesterday, chain smoking cigarettes and talking to... err, yelling at... my computer.  D2D kept trying to put my wyvern at the end of the chapters instead of the beginnings.  I thought I had it fixed, but Chapter Two wouldn't behave.  Then I got Chapter Two fixed and all the other chapters went to hell.  I finally figured out it was trying to make my graphic be a Header instead of Normal.  I got that cleared up and it was then trying to put my chapter number on a different page entirely.  I had to switch it so the number came first and then the picture, which is a little odd, but hey, it works now, so I can deal with odd.  (The Amazon ebook has the pic first, so if you read it and have no idea what I'm talking about, you're on a Kindle.)

In the middle of the mess, I NEEDED a walk, so Hubs and I went for one.  I was burning off frustration, so the poor man kept having to tell me to slow down.  I hit the crest of that first hill panting like a sick dog, lemme tell ya.  But it burned the worst of it off, so when I got home, I went back at it and it worked FINALLY.  I probably spent 4 hours yesterday just on that annoying niggle.

Anyway, I'm toast.  If you're interested in epic fantasy, coming of age, action/adventure fiction, give the book a whirl.  It's $4.99, but that's not bad for a 110K word novel, eh?  And from what my beta readers told me, it's a fast read, too.  I hope you all enjoy it.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Checklist Time is a Comin'

The time is drawing nearer.  After a marathon weekend of proofreading, I only have 67 pages left.  I've already created a Goodreads listing.  Time to break out the checklists...

Formatting checklist 


1)  Type THE END

2)  Find and replace all double spacing between sentences with single spacing

3)  Remove all Bookmarks.

4)  Create Bookmarks: START, TOC, END

5)  Make sure everything is 12 pt font, Cambria

6)  Format all chapter headings as Headings.  Including THE END.

7)  Format all scene breaks for continuity within book and within series

8)  Create title page

9)  Create Copyright and Acknowledgements page

10)  Add in About the Author Page at the end

11)  Add in back matter.

12)  Create Table of Contents.

13)  Scan entire manuscript for continuity.

14)  Email book to Kindle and scan through again for continuity and formatting errors.

15)  Publish to Amazon

16)  Publish to D2D

17) Add ASIN to Goodreads listing before Amazon creates a duplicate listing


1)  Type THE END

2)  Find and replace all double spacing between sentences with single spacing

3)  Remove all Bookmarks.

4)  Make sure everything is the font you’ve chosen for the book.

5)  Format all chapter headings as Headings.  Including THE END.

6)  Apply print font for Headings to all.

7)  Format all scene breaks for continuity within book and within series

8)  Create title page

9)  Create Copyright and Acknowledgements page

10)  Add in About the Author Page at the end

11)  Add in back matter.

12)  Create Section Breaks after Acknowledgements and after THE END

13)  Add Pages Numbers to manuscript section centered bottom

14) Verify ‘Link to Previous’ is unchecked

15)  Format Page Numbers to chosen look

16)  Set to ‘Different First Page’ in manuscript section

17)  Delete page number from first page of manuscript section

18)  Verify no page numbers in front matter section or back matter section

19)  Set page size to 5.5” x 8.5”

20)  Set margins to Top .88”, Bottom .88”, Inside .75”, Outside .63”

21)  Make sure margins are ‘mirrored’

22)  Verify all chapters start on right hand page.

23)  Print a few pages to verify it will look how you want it to look.

24)  Upload to Amazon

Post publication checklist –

1)  Goodreads listing – add ASIN before the book goes live

Add book to your Amazon author page.

Verify book is on Amazon UK author page.

If in a series, add to series.

Update FB header.

Add book to all blog sidebars.

Update internal links inside book to Amazon

Post to the blogs

Post to FB pages

Post to Pinterest

Post to Twitter

Post to MEWE

Add book to appropriate Outside the Box book page

Update links on book page – US, UK, CA, AU

Bookmark Amazon pages – US, UK, CA, AU

Update back matter of all other books

Post to FB groups

Fall apart.


And that's how my life goes once I get the proofing done.  Thanks to everyone who helped me get to this point.  Now, it's time to crawl back into those last 67 pages before I get Monday all over me.

If there's anything you think I might've missed on those lists, feel free to let me know.  

What's up in your lives these days?

Friday, March 18, 2022

Blurby McBlurberson

 Here's the blurb I came up with for SONG OF STORM AND SHROUD.  It sucks, but I think you get the general idea...

Before anyone who lives in these lands was born, the Great Lady created the Shrouds and locked away those beings who would bring harm to her children.  Since then the Lady sleeps and while she sleeps, the Shrouds decay, loosing monsters upon the innocents.  Their only hope lies with the mages.

Aryl never wanted to be a mage, but the Lady chose to gift him and when the King's envoy arrives seeking those with the gift, he has no choice but to comply.  Thrust into the Academy to train with other young folk like him, he longs only for his home and the twin he left behind. 

The Lady could grant both of his wishes, but the cost may be higher than he expected to pay.  With Lyra beside him, they will learn to use their combined magics to fight and win.  But when visions of a dragon and destruction tear them away from their training, their meager skills may not be enough to save their home, let alone sufficient to save the Shroudlands.   

Yeah, I know, but I am clueless when it comes to writing blurbs.  Especially this one.  Do your worst.  One way or another I have to have something to toss up as marketing copy when I upload the book.  

On another note, I found something in the manuscript last night that I think requires an explanation I hadn't provided before.  Derp.  I'm working on it now.  If I can stop the distractions, that is.  It's a very distracty-full morning.

I'm still hoping to have this live on or before April 1st.  I worked on it all morning yesterday, took the afternoon off, and got back at it after dinner.  I want all my books to be the best they can be, but this one especially.  And, if you haven't written fantasy, it's probably the hardest genre to nail.  I know it's the hardest book I've ever worked on.

Anyway, I should toddle off and see if I can't weave this thing in and make it seamless.    

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Illigetimis Non Carborundum

The other day, I happened to be at my local feed store.  The cashier hasn't been there too awfully long, but long enough that I had hoped she would remember me.  She explained that she doesn't remember faces really well, and well, neither do I, so it was all good.  Then I got an idea.  I asked her if she likes to read.  She does.  Yay.  So, I handed her a bookmark and started talking to her about my books.  I bet her that she wouldn't forget me again.  

During the course of our conversation, though, she mentioned that her daughter writes books, too.  So, once I'd finished talking about myself, I asked about her daughter's writing.  She's only finished one book, but her experience with a 'professional editor' has her so down that she may never write another.  Even though the people who've read her book loved it and even though those people want more of that world and even though they told her to ignore the editor.  Poor thing.  I wish I could give her a hug and tell her everything will be alright.

Apparently, this editor wanted her to make so many changes, the book would no longer be the book she wrote.  I was livid.  Not only no, but hell no.  Instead of dropping the idea of writing, she needs to drop that editor.  Perhaps drop kick the editor.  

I told the mom what I firmly believe - editors are there to provide suggestions, and if they're messing with your story, they're the wrong editor.  Take what you agree with and ditch the rest.  And if you find yourself disagreeing more than agreeing, ditch the editor.

I also told the mom to have her daughter email me.  Not sure if I can help, but even if she just wants to vent and gain a sympathetic ear, I'm here.  Hell, for all I know, she's the next Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman.  (The book is fantasy.)  And all she needs is a little coaxing through this birthing process.  She could also be a true neophyte whose book needs a lot of work.  In either case, she probably doesn't deserve to have her dream stomped on.  New writers should all have wear the Label - Caution: Handle with Care.

Additionally, I told the mom that her daughter, pardon my language, needed to grow a set because this business requires it.  (Yes, I actually said 'pardon my language'.  I don't know this gal as well as I knew the last one.)  Because while new writers should be handled with care until their skin thickens, they also need to work on getting that skin as thick as they can make it - the sooner the better.  As most of you are aware, this writing thing will grind you into a fine powder, piss in the dust, and use the paste as grout - if you let it.

Anyway, I hope she does contact me.  If I can't help her, I can put her in touch with other writers, open the door to the community so maybe she can find someone who can help.  And like I said, I can at least commiserate.  

Lastly, I'll leave you all with these thoughts: 

"You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist, you are learning your craft -- then you can add all the genius you like." - Phyllis A. Whitney

"Writers must fortify themselves with pride and egotism as best they can. The process is analogous to using sandbags and loose timbers to protect a house against flood. Writers are vulnerable creatures like anyone else. For what do they have in reality? Not sandbags, not timbers. Just a flimsy reputation and a name." - Brian Adkiss

And... Illigetimis non carborundum.  Or 'don't let the bastards grind you down'.  ;o)

Monday, March 14, 2022

Opening the Tap

I sat myself down this weekend and had a long conversation about what I'm doing and what I'm going to do.  As a result, I did not get my edit notes done yesterday.  On the other hand, I did get 2259 words laid down on a new book.  Okay, not a new new book, but I wasn't that far along on the manuscript, so those words about doubled its length.  

Part of the impetus for picking this particular book was reader input.  As in someone I don't know contacted me filled with excitement about my books and she had asked for more of three different series.  Since I can't write four different books at once (those three plus the sequel to SSS), although lord knows I wish I could, I picked the first one she mentioned.

I also decided I need to be more business-like as a writer.  As in, I need to stop with the 'only writing when the mood strikes me' crap.  Like some precious flower who can only grow when the circumstances are right.  I need to be a dandelion and grow wherever and whenever.  

The world is going to hell and I can't control any of it.  But I can control this.  

So, to that end, I will be working more.  Edit and do business stuff during the day, write at night.  So basically, back to the way I used to work.  

As for the book I went back to working on, it's SCIU #4, tentatively called Justice Served.  If you're not familiar with the format of SCIU, these books don't hide who the villain is.  The story is in the actions of the villain and the heroes.  Who's going to die, how are they going to be stopped, who's going to stop them.  The tug and pull between the characters.  And the justice at the end.  There's always justice at the end.

Anyway, I will finish SSS and get it published by the end of the month.  I will also write subsequent books, but later.  Right now, if my gumption holds up and I keep whipping myself to work, the plan is to complete this book and get it out, then another Dennis Haggarty and another Duke Noble.  Can I do all that this year?  :shrug:  If I fail, I hope it's not due to lack of trying.  Although, I'd rather it was due to that then the world collapsing.  All I know is I'm gonna go out fighting one way or the other.

And now, I'll leave you with this quote: "If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write. Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow." - Louis L'Amour  

I'm going to keep the water flowing.  Open the tap and let it gush on out.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Time to Write the Cover Copy... Err, Maybe

It's time once again to create attractive and alluring cover copy that will encourage people to buy my book.  And once again, I am dreading it.

Or as I joked to Hubs a minute ago...

"So, you see, it's like this fantasy.  And there's a dude and a girl... well, they're twins, you see, and they have magic... Well, she doesn't, but he does... and they go to a school to train... but it's totally not like Hogwarts..." and this point I chortled and guffawed like an inbred idiot. 

Hey, he laughed.

But yeah, I feel like an inbred idiot every time I try to start writing this damn cover copy.  Is it too much to ask that people just see the title and the cover and go 'wow, I totally want to buy that'?  I mean, SONG OF STORM AND SHROUD totally says awesome fantasy novel.  Add that to this awesome cover...

And readers should already know it's gonna be good.  Right?  RIGHT?

Okay, maybe readers need more.  And I'll produce more.  Maybe not today, but definitely soon.  When I have it, you'll know.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Decisions, Decisions

Night before last, I started the sequel to Song of Storm and Shroud.  Last night, I got the last of my edit notes from the beta readers.  Needless to say, the new words are on hold so I can finish the edits and get this puppy ready to launch.  I also need to do a blurb.  Both of those together shouldn't take me too awfully long, so the question now is: Do I upload it and let it launch immediately?  Or do I upload it and set it for pre-order?  

I've heard pre-order can create buzz and interest in your book.  Not sure how that works versus actually having the book available for people to read.  Personally, I don't do pre-orders because I don't like things coming out of my bank account all willy-nilly.  And I don't like waiting.  If I order the book, I want the book now.  (For ebooks.  Obviously, I am capable of waiting on a print copy to arrive.)

Speaking of print, there will be one.  If I upload and set to order immediately, the print will probably be a bit behind that because I have to wait for a proof copy to be delivered and then approve that before I can set it for sale.  

Of course, if I set the ebook to pre-order, I could have the print stuff done and ready to go live when the ebook goes live.  Decisions decisions.

But, I lack patience.  So, this sucker may just go live when I upload it.  I want all of you to be able to read it as soon as humanly possible.  I'm so excited about this book.  I hope you will be, too.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Cue Hysterical Giggling

:cue hysterical giggling:

So, apparently yesterday, Brandon Sanderson decided to do a kickstarter for, I believe, four unpublished 'secret' novels of his.  He raised 14 million in one day.  Say it slow with me... FOURTEEN MILLION DOLLARS.  In one day.  And it's still rising.  (Go here to watch his $ counter and backer counter roll like the tote board at the Labor Day Telethon.  It's mesmerizing.)

A month before my own fantasy novel is set to go out into the world.

Now, there are people who would rejoice over a coincidence like that.  My name being Sanderson, after all, means people could get confused and one-click my book thinking it's HIS book.  I could reap the whirlwind there.  But I don't WANT to.  I've never ridden anyone else's coattails and I'm not about to start now.  

Besides, think about how pissed those of his readers would be when they realized this book was not his book.  I already got tagged once because of my name, where someone intimated, after WISH IN ONE HAND went live with that tragic first cover, that I was a hack trying to riff off the dude's name.  

And there are plenty of people out there who do exactly that.  Some chick decided to write romantic suspense under a name so very similar to a friend of mine (bestselling author of romantic suspense) that the similarity had to be on purpose to suck off her reader base.  I don't do that.  Even the implication that I would makes me nauseous.

The only thing worse would be if one of those books is in any way similar to my book.  Cover?  Title?  Premise?  No clue if they are because he's keeping all that a secret.  With my luck, everything about them is similar to SONG.  

The only thing I have going for me is that I already went live with the cover and title, so I couldn't possibly be riffing off his, which aren't public yet.  And my book is already in the hands of two people who could vouch for me that I didn't 'steal' from him.  

How could I steal from him?  I have purposely never read a single title of his.  And I was out in the world as B.E. Sanderson before I'd even heard of Brandon.  


I'm seriously considering changing my name.  For these books only.  I am proud to be a Sanderson, after all.  Hubs made me one and I am proud to be his wife.  But yeah, it's a liability right now.  I need to do some research, though, to see if I can legally use another name or if I have to go get a DBA (doing business as), which costs money.  And then I'd need to change the cover.  Which, thankfully, isn't that hard.


So, yeah, I'm over here giggling like a maniac.  The timing for his thing couldn't have been worse for me.  I mean, go him.  That's an incredible feat.  And his readers must really love him to be shelling out all that money to get all the goodies he's offering.  I wish I had half that love.  Hell, I'd be happy with a tenth.  But not at the cost of my integrity.  

Stay tuned.  This book will be published and it will go live on April First, barring unforeseen difficulties.  Whether it's as B.E. Sanderson or B.E. Meissner, who knows?  Would you buy Bes Anderson?  :shrug:

Monday, February 28, 2022

Done da done done, DONE

 After 34 days, 33 of which I worked, I am done with this round of edits on Song of Storm and Shroud.  

I know I said only yesterday that I was going to do another read through, but at this point, I'm not sure I can read the thing again any time soon.  Especially with my brain going 'You're done? Hey, cool... Now, write THIS!  And THAT!'  So, if you're ready to beta read SONG, let me know.  It shouldn't need more than proofing at this point.

At this time, I should really spend some time on blurbing.  (You know, the exercise in trying to take a 110K manuscript and squeeze it into a diamond that will attract buyers.)  Except my brain isn't braining right now.  I need a coffee IV.  And a time machine to go back to when the world wasn't all crazypants.

And I need to clean my house.  And I need a shower.  And I need to go to Wallyworld.  I've been remiss in all three.  (Okay, I've taken showers since I last cleaned or shopped, but still... yuck.)

Anyway... SONG or S3 or SoSaS or whatever nickname I use, is a big, beautiful, chonky book.  Chock full of excitement and adventure.  With a bunch of mages.  And a dragon.  Good versus evil.  Magic abounds.  It was fun to write and I hope it'll be fun for you to read.  It's a whole book without a real cliffhanger, but there are seeds laid for another book.  Not sure exactly where to start that one, but it'll come to me.  (Maybe that'll be a post for Wednesday.)

Have a great day!

Monday, February 14, 2022

This Edit Round is Deep, Man

I am deep in editing.  This particular round involves me reading the book on my Kindle and making notes in a big 5-subject notebook.  Once I get a page of notes or so, I enter them into the manuscript.  (As opposed to the round when I waited until I was done with the whole book to enter the notes.)  :shrug:  It's my process.  

I use a 5-subject notebook because it's thick enough to be stable on the arm of my recliner.  And college-ruled, so I can fit as much on one page as possible.  But I only write on one side of the page.  

The other day, a writer friend of mine expressed that my way of doing this would drive her nuts.  And that's okay.  Everyone has their own process.  And the process might not necessarily be set in stone.  As I've said before, I'm big on letting people do what they do.  I'm just talking about what works for me.

So, here I am, reading my own book, looking for anything that makes me stumble as a reader - typos, wrong-words, crutch words - as well as taking note of anything that makes me wonder 'WTF?'  Like inconsistencies in the world or the writing or what have you.  There's a whole place where a character's pent-up anger bites him in the ass and afterward they're all wondering whether the same thing is going to happen to any of them, but I hadn't delved into the MC's considerable load of pent-up anger making him a prime candidate for this particular ass-biting event.  So, I was all like WTF? and then I addressed it.  Voila.  

I think all of this work is making a better book.  I hope.  We'll see.  Actually, it is making it a better book.  The question is whether the 'better book than it was' is better than other books on the market.  That's what we'll have to see about.

Anyway, I'm usually hitting this first thing in the morning, after my coffee and web-surfing.  Then throughout the day.  Then after dinner.  Seeing as it takes me about an hour to make a page of notes and then another hour to enter those notes, I'm only 154 pages into what is now a 371 pages book.  It's not a fast process by any means.  It is what it is.  

Now, back to your regularly scheduled and me back to work.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Tangled in Ideas

The brain is a wonderful and terrible thing.  It gives us all these ideas to write.  Then again, it gives us all these ideas to write.

LOL, I know.  That looks weird.  But it's true.  We have all these wonderful and glorious ideas that we can write, but also can have too many ideas of what to write and how to write it.  So many ideas that sometimes we can get tangled up in them all.  

Case in point:  I've written a fantasy novel.  I'm damn near done editing it.  In fact, I'd say I'm less than two months away from it being publishable.  And my brain comes along and says 'what if we expanded on certain things and in certain areas and instead of one book, we turn this into three books?'  Silly brain.

Shut up, silly brain.  I know what you're doing.  You're afraid of sending this out into the world and having it flop, so you're throwing landmines in the way of publication.  

If I listened to my silly brain, I would spend the next few months writing more words and editing more stuff, and still maybe not have a solid thing to show for it.  I have a solid thing NOW.  It's a good book.  The more I read it, the more convinced I am that it is a good book.  Sure, I could expand on stuff, but that's not what this book needs.  It is what it is without further futzing around.  

Sure, I could delve deeper into the whole 'school for mages' aspect, but that isn't what this is about.  This isn't Harry Potter, for pitysakes.  This is about a bunch of kids - teenagers, really - thrown into training to protect the Shroudlands because there is no one else to do it.  And they don't exactly have a lot of time because, like I said, they're it.  Evil stuff is coming out of the shrouds and they need to handle it, whether they're trained or not.  

So, no, I will not be expanding this one book into three.  The book is done.  I'm editing it.  I'm looking ahead to what will happen in the next book.  I have some ideas.  My silly brain needs to focus on that and drop the damn idea of reworking this book.  

Okay, now that I've smacked my silly brain a bit, maybe I can get down to getting it done.  Finish the damn book and let what comes come.

Do you ever have so many ideas you're getting tangled up in them?  

Friday, February 4, 2022

I'm No Ninja

I read a post this morning that said something to the effect of 'Ninja writers pre-sell books'.  Umm... yeah... about that...

I don't pre-sell books.

I had my first book up for pre-order.  For like ten days.  It was finished and could've gone live as soon as I uploaded it.  But I'd heard pre-orders were a thing, so I tried it.  I didn't like it.  I got a few orders that way, but not enough to warrant the waiting.  This post was talking about putting it up for pre-order before you even have the cover or the book finished.  


Just the thought of doing that sends me into paroxysms of fear and doubt.  What if I don't get the book finished?  What if I have to delay the release due to reasons and because of stuffs?  What if I do get a bunch of pre-orders and I have to let those readers down?  

The author of the post even went so far as to suggest taking money for books that haven't been printed and offering a discount to those people.  Actual cash in hand for a product that doesn't exist.  :panics at the thought:

Nope, nope, nope.  If you lay down money for one of my books, you will have the book in your hot little hands, inside whatever time it takes to deliver the book to you - immediate for ebooks and however long ship times are for print.  

Perhaps if I was the kind of author who planned her books, this would be closer to possible.  I'd have a general idea of how long a book was and when I'd get the damn thing done, so I could maybe put up a pre-order.  Even then, I'd still be all spastic about it.  What if I break an arm?  What if my arthritic wrists decide not to comply?  Hell, what if my beta-readers/editors are jammed up and can't work me into their schedules?  Or they break an arm?  There are too many variables.  I don't like variables.

Now, if the post-author had been talking about pre-selling in terms of marketing before the book is ready to go, that I can do.  To a certain extent.  I mean, I have a cover.  And I have a general idea of what the book is about now that it's finished (not edited, but written), so I can talk about it.  But to take actual orders?  Ut-uh.  I can whet your appetite with snips and stuff, and let you hunger to buy it when it's available.  But that's it.  

I can hardly even give you a firm date for release until I am way closer to finished than I am now.  I'm shooting for before April Fool's Day, but I'm not promising anything.  I don't like making promises I'm not certain I can keep.  And a pre-sale is a promise.  

So if that means I'm not a Ninja Writer, well, I guess I'm okay with that.  I hope you are, too.

What about you?  Do you pre-sell your books?  If you're a reader, do you do pre-orders?  (I don't do those either, but that's me and a whole 'nother post.)

Monday, January 31, 2022

Cover Reveal

As you may know, I've been going 'round and 'round with both the cover and the title for Untitled Fantasy.  I had several front runners.  I even thought of holding a poll here.  But in the end, I decided for myself like a big girl.  Yay!

And the winner is... :drumroll: 

Shroudlands Book One: SONG OF STORM AND SHROUD

Gah, and now I need a blurb to go with the cover and the title.  It's an epic fantasy with mages and spells and magical creatures.  There's action and adventure, a quest, and death.  And, of course, a dragon.  She's right there on the cover, after all.  

I'm working on editing now.  It's a long haul, but I can see the end.  I'm hoping for a book release no later than April Fool's Day.  I expect earlier.  I'm shooting for under-promise and over-deliver there.

And here's a snap of a snip of the beginning... just to whet your appetite.  (Click on it to make it large enough to read.)

Hope you like it.

Friday, January 28, 2022

The Fun of Being an Author

There are sites where it is, apparently, great fun to publicly poke fun at the covers of books.  I landed on one once with the original cover for Wish In One Hand.  It was humiliating.  Especially considering I'd paid a supposed artist a heaping helping of money to create that cover.  It wasn't what I wanted, but I allowed myself to be bullied into accepting it.  I was backed into a corner, with my release date fast approaching, so I went forth with a cover I was not proud of.  

If you saw it, I apologize.  Once I finished licking my wounds and refilling my coffers, I paid another artist to create the covers you see now for it and it's sequels.  

I create my own covers for the non-fantastic books I write.  They're not bad.  Okay, maybe a couple.  Oddly enough, Accidental Death is the first cover people point to off my bookmarks and say that's the one they're interested in reading.  Doesn't sell well online, but in person, it's da bomb.  It's sequel is also not a great cover.  :shrug:  Maybe someday I'll do new covers for them now that I'm better at it.

Of course, now, I have a fantasy novel in the works.  And I'm trying to do the cover myself.  I made a dragon.  She's pretty cool and I'm proud of the effort.  Unfortunately, every time I try to incorporate her into a cover, she looks like a bad photoshop job.  

I worked on it for about 2 hours last night, so maybe it was staring at it for all that time that finally made me throw my hands up.  I'll try again today.

Oh, I could probably find a cover artist for this.  My other artist, the one I like, is super busy and fantasy ain't her bag anyway.  There are others.  But 1) I'm gun-shy after my encounter with the dude who shall remain nameless (mainly because I'm repressing that and because I do not wish to get sued at this late date). And 2) I want to do this for myself.  

But yeah, the fear is there that I'll end up on another one of those sites that pan bad book covers.  That can't be good for sales.  Nothing like being the target of ridicule.  Woohoo.

Of course, I've also been working on titles.  I'm leaning toward Shroudlands: The Battle for Kingshead, but again, I spent so much time looking at that in various fonts that I now kind of hate it.  Or maybe I just need to rename the city.  Or maybe I should've just spent last night reading a book.

It's so much fun being an author.  Derp.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Play Amongst Yourselves

Oops.  I opened this to write a new post and then I got caught up in working on spreadsheets for the ol' payjob.  And now, two hours later, here I am with no post.  Unfortunately, I need to focus on creating my dragon and on coming up with a title.  Play amongst yourselves.

Oh, and if you're interested, I posted a snippet of this book in the comment section at Silver's place this morning.  Wednesday Words and all that.  Read hers, read mine.  Enjoy yourselves.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Working on It

 I finished that round of edits on Untitled Fantasy on Saturday.  Right now, it's 368 pages long and just a hair under 108K words.  Publication day is getting closer.  Not sure when it will be, but it'll definitely in sight now.  (If you have a good pair of binoculars.  LOL)

So, that means I need to get moving on two things... 1) a cover, and 2) a title.

I started something the other day with regard to the cover.  Spent copious hours on it, then scrapped it.  Yesterday morning, I hit it again with all new images and I've got something.  It's not quite right yet, but I think I'm getting there. 

What I did worked like this... scour Morguefile for free images of lizards, found ones I thought could work as a dragon and saved those.  Open the files, erase all the background around the lizard.  Find wings that were the right size and orientation to fit said lizard.  Find teeth that were the right size and potentially the right orientation.  Take those and erase the backgrounds.  Cobble them together so they look like they actually belong on the same animal.

But wait... in my particular art program, when you save an image as a jpg, it gives the damn thing a white background.  So, I spent some extra time erasing the lizard's background again and then saving it as a mic file (Microsoft Image Composer).  Okay, so now my 'sprites' are happy and I can play with them.  Of course, once I get a beast cobbled together, I'll have to save it as a jpg so the sprites work together as one image, and then I'll have to erase the damn background again.  (Yes, there probably IS an easier way, but I haven't found it yet.  I suspect it lies within software I don't have, don't want to buy, and don't want to learn.)

The super easier, and also more expensive, way is to pay someone else to do this for me.  Umm, yah.  Umm, no.  I love my go-to cover artist, but she is super busy, as in like booking for next year, and I don't think epic fantasy is her bailiwick.  I could look for another artist, but I keep having flashbacks of the first cover for Wish in One Hand.  OMG, that was SOOOOO bad and an incredibly expensive lesson to learn.  Like with getting a haircut, I hate paying for bad service, so I do it myself.  If this cover is going to be bad, at least I didn't pay for it, eh?

Anyway, I think I have the setting image - all tweaked and ready to go - all I need now is a dragon.  I think it's a bearded dragon base with flying fox wings and snake teeth.  Right now, it looks like the weird mating of a gargoyle and that gremlin in Gremlins 2 who grew wings.  But I can work with that.

Oh, yeah, and #2... the title.  I've been playing with stuff in my head, trying to find something that makes me stand up and salute.  I thought up Mageborn... but it's still not right and of course, someone else is using it.  (And yes, I know, finding a title someone else HASN'T used isn't necessary, but I want what I want, so I'll try my damndest.)  Thinking about it now, maybe Mage Against the Shrouds... which could make the next book Mage Within the Shrouds.  That seems interesting...  Has that fantasy ring to it.  And it isn't already used.  Hmm.  Ooo, maybe Twins Against the Shrouds... eh, mage seems better.  

Okay, well, time to toddle off.  Work to do.  Calls to make.  

Anyway, as you can see, I'm working on it.  What are you working on these days?

Friday, January 21, 2022

Can You See Them?

I have a confession to make.  When I write a story, or even when I read one, I can't see the characters.  

I don't think my brain works that way.  Maybe it did before it got crumpled, but it doesn't now.

Oh, I hear them fine.  And I do have a general impression of what they look like.  But I couldn't give their descriptions to a sketch artist and have them draw these people so they'd look like what I think they look like.  I couldn't pick them out of a line-up.  Because I don't think they look like anything more than an amorphous blob.

Looking for models for my book covers was the hardest thing.  My cover artist gave me a link to the site she uses and had me go at it.  I scanned hundreds of photos to find the best approximation of what Jo Mayweather and Jeni Braxxon look like.  I must've scanned hundreds more to find images for Accidental Death and Natural Causes, and those aren't even full face.  All I had to do was find a general shape.  

Once I'm made to go look for a character's face, then they have a face forever after.  Jo will always look like the cover model to me now.  So will Jeni.  Before that?  Not a clue.  Once I went looking for an image of Zeke - because I think someone asked me for it - and Zeke now looks like that dude.  (I'd show you, but the link to that model is broken now.  Oops.)

I have author friends who are all like 'this is what my character looks like' and they'll show a picture they found.  I'm a little jealous of those folks.  I want to see my creations in my head, but I can't.  

Thinking about it now, I can't really hold the images of someone's face in my head either.  Real life people are amorphous blobs, too.  :shrug:

As a result, I'm probably not the best at describing my characters in writing.  At least, I don't feel like I'm the best.  My readers are probably a better judge of that than I am.  The image the reader has in their heads probably isn't anywhere close to what I would have, if, you know, I had an image.  I guess that's okay.  I want the reader to picture the characters as they see them.  I guess what I do write as description is sufficient for that purpose.  

Like in Untitled Fantasy... Captain Vere, the head of the Academy, is tall and wiry with silver hair (not silver as in old, just silver) and a scar running down her cheek.  She's a battle-hardened lady and obviously tough enough to run an academy full of kids learning magic and skills for battle, but there's a sadness to her as she never really had a childhood of her own and her twin was killed in battle.  Can ya picture her?  

But let's take Aryl, the main character.  He's average height/weight for a 15-year-old boy.  He's a farm boy, so he's got some physical strength, but he's also way smaller than his friend, Galin.  Black hair, violet eyes.  And that's all I've got for him.  Can't picture anything else, so there he is.  And I need to go find a model for him so I can do the freakin' cover.  Derp.

His sister, Lyra...  White hair, violet eyes.  Pretty.  Or at least pretty to Galin.  I guess she would have a similar facial structure to Aryl... they are twins, after all, even if it's fraternal and not identical.  Since I can't see him, I can't really give you her either.  She's a wisp of a dream of a drawing of a person.

Galin... Aryl's best friend and sweet on Lyra.  Big dude for his age.  A 'pull the plow when the horses get tired' kind of guy.  

Anyway, I don't want to talk about every character here.  I have the basics, but I can't SEE them.  Wish I could.  Can't.  

What about you?  Can you see the characters you write or read?  Are they fully-formed or just blobs?  Does having a picture help?  Or when you see a pic of the characters do they totally harsh the image you formed on your own?

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Wave of the Future or Flash in the Pan?

More and more, I'm seeing stuff that isn't the title in the title of books.  The other morning, I saw 'TITLE: A gripping psychological thriller you do not want to miss' as the title of a book.  


This annoys me greatly, as I have said before.  However, I'm beginning to wonder if readers are so used to this, as well as being so 'short attention span theater' these days, that I'm missing the boat.


Although, at this point, the word gripping really rubs me the wrong way.  If everything is gripping, is anything really gripping?  Nowadays, I'm all like "Oh, yeah... :eyeroll: ...a gripping psychological thriller... ri-ight."

But is this something I should be doing?  I don't mean the gripping thing.  But the adding a descriptive puff after the title.  

Dying Embers: A Flaming Good Suspense with Arson and Murder and a slight tinge of romance
Accidental Death: A Small Town Revenge-filled Romp in the Snow
Wish in One Hand: A Suspense-filled Urban Fantasy with Snarky Genies

Would that really sell more books?  I always figured I said everything that needed to be said in the blurb.  Along with a... pardon me... gripping title and cover.  And, you know, the general GENRE listing.  :heavy sigh:

Maybe it isn't enough anymore.  Maybe readers really don't want to take the time to read a blurb anymore.  Maybe they'd be more inclined to read the blurb if they already saw it what it was in the title.  

Project Hermes: A Thrilling Political Suspense with Techno and Medical Stuff
Blink of an I: A dark, yet suspenseful and thrilling glimpse into the future
Unequal: A dark, thought-provoking suspenseful dystopian with medical stuff

Meh.  I'm really loathe to do this.  It might be the wave of the future.  I hope it's just a flash in the pan.  Because if I have to do this, you saw up there what might happen.  

I have a tough enough time coming up with blurbs and taglines.  You want short title descriptors, too?  

Monday, January 17, 2022

Is it Pertinent to the Story?

Okay, I know I'm probably gonna piss some people off by saying this, but those people probably don't stop by here anyway, so here goes... If your character's sexuality has nothing to do with the story, then you don't need to mention it.  Not in the story.  Not outside the story.  Not after the story's over.  No need to do a big reveal there, JK - it wasn't pertinent to the story.  Ever.

But let's say it is pertinent to your story in some way.  If your character is gay or bi, show them having romantic feelings toward a member of the same sex.  (Although, I'd only really think it was pertinent if you were writing romance - with suspense after or paranormal before or whatever).  Show a dude going out with his boyfriend.  Show a gal checking out another gal.  Make it smooth.  No need to beat your readers over the heads with it.  If you don't feel like you've gotten the point across without being explicit, work on your writing.

Unless, of course, you FEEL THE NEED to beat people over the heads with it.  Then, perhaps, you need to think about why you feel that way and whether you're writing fiction or proselytizing.  Personally, I prefer the fiction.  If I wanted the other thing, I can find it in plenty of other places.  Leave it out of the fiction.

Yeah, I DNF'd a book yesterday where the author came out with a good phrase about the female MC - she found a woman beautiful but the gal wasn't her type, but they'd already said she was living with a man, so I got the point there.  Then a couple pages later, the author actually came out and said the character was 'bi'.  Why?  I didn't miss it before, so why did it need to be explicit?  Because things like that have to be explicit in certain realms or you don't get credit?  :shrug:

That's poor writing, by the way.  If you can show it another way, you don't need to tell it.  Show, don't tell.  How many times have we writers heard or read that?  I couldn't begin to count over the past 18 years how many times I've heard it.  So many times, it's embedded in my head now.  

Personally, I don't care about a character's personal tastes in bed.  Unless I'm reading a romance and then I prefer the sexy bits align with my own preferences.  Same sex romances don't interest me, but more power to ya.  If it's not a romance... whatever floats your boats.  I used to enjoy an urban fantasy series* where the sidekick was gay.  She wove it in rather than tell the reader about it and it was just part of his personality.  Gnarly.  Write on, McDuff.   Actually, thinking about it now, I've read a lot of books where a character was gay and they were written as part of their personality.  It wasn't jammed in there like someone was checking a special box.  That's the way it ought to be done.  

In short, and I know I've said this before, the story is the thing.  Write the story, populate it with the people it requires, and write it to the best of your ability.  Show don't tell.  Etc. etc. etc.

* I say 'used to' because she stopped writing it.  Then I saw on social media where she'd gone full on ACTIVIST, so I didn't bother reading anything else by her**.  I enjoyed the stories but I don't enjoy indoctrination.  K thx bye.

** This has, unfortunately, happened a couple of times.  It makes me sad.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Woke Word, Keep Your Hands Off My Story

Yesterday I read an article at Not The Bee about how Microsoft has added a new feature to Word.  It will now alert you when you've used words that might be considered offensive.  

First, let me say that if you're a writer and you're worried about offending people, you probably should find something else to do with your life.  It doesn't matter what you write, you'll offend someone.  I know if I read a book that had been bashed into mush with this 'anti-offensiveness' feature, I would be offended because I would DNF it and feel like my time had been wasted.  Wasting my time offends me no end.

I read that story and laughed my ass off.  Right now, I'm in the middle of editing a 106K word fantasy manuscript.  The mages use Master/Mistress as titles.  Master Eenan and his sister, Mistress Uuwen would be aghast at being called Expert and Lover.  And they might just blast your butts back into the shrouds where you belong.  Eenan might be an expert, but Uuwen ain't no lover, she's a fighter.  ROFL.  

See?  Silly stuff there, folks.  

Lucky for me, my version of Word is so old that Microsoft washed its hands of me years ago.  I don't remember how long ago it was I got a notice they'd no longer be supporting that version, but I shrugged and thought 'no skin off my... err, nose'.  Now I'm genuinely glad I can't receive updates.  I don't want that woke crap on my computer.  Hell, I'd switch to WordPerfect and tell MS to kiss my ass if switching word processing and spreadsheet programs at this stage wouldn't be a totally pain in my buns.

Point here, folks?  I don't let anyone tell me how or what to write.  My editor and my betas can suggest things, but ultimately, I decide.  And after that first editor decided it would be good to school me after my use of the word 'spic' - one instance in dialogue, spoken by an asshole - I switched editors to someone who would be less offendsensitive.  

Watering things down to avoid the potential of hurting someone's feelings is wrong.  In the end, it will hurt the story.  And we're here to write and stay true to the stories to the best of our abilities.  At least, that's why I'm here.  

So, to Woke Word... keep your hands off my stories.  If I have to, I'll write the damn things by hand before I'll ever let you tell me what words are okay to use and which ones are 'bad'.  

Monday, January 10, 2022

Title Troubles

I believe one of you asked the other day whether I was any closer to coming up with a title for Untitled Fantasy.  Ummm... no.  

Titles are HARD.  

Okay, so maybe they're not always hard.  Sometimes the title pops right into my head.  Poof.  Most of the time, I at least have a working title.  This time?  Not a ding-dang thing is popping anywhere.

You see, I want a grabby title.  I want one that jumps up and says 'READ ME!'  I want readers to see it and say 'Wow, I have to buy that'.  

I also want one that gives some hint of the story.  Like Dying Embers... people are dying in fire.  Umm, yeah.  Or even an old switcheroo kind of thing, like with Accidental Death?  People are dying and it looks like accidents, but it isn't.  

With Wish in One Hand, it started out as Djinnocide.  That title didn't seem to be sparking any interest with agents and I was really wishing it would, but then I remembered something my dad used to say about wishing and the new title was born.  

Additionally, the title of this book has to say FANTASY without riffing off or ripping off any other fantasy series.  Unfortunately, the damn Dragonlance books have a twin thing going on in there.  Totally different take than I have, but the title Time of the Twins was taken.  (And, I just saw when searching, also stolen used by celebrity-type people for their own ghostwritten fantasy thing. Feh.)

I'm hoping for this to be a series.  That has a title, I think... Shroudlands.  And a just-now search of that shows it's been used.  Derp.  Warhammer.  And D&D.  Sometimes, you can't help but be similarly named.  Ideas abound and they aren't copyright-able, not there's wiggle room there.  

I'm already going to get slapped around for Sanderson, seeing as there's already a popular fantasy author with that last name.  (Might publish as my maiden name.  Still thinking about that.)

Anyway, the quick answer about titles is 'I don't have one'.  I wish I could send this off to a publisher and let them come up with a title.  But you know what Dad said about wishing.  ;o)

Friday, January 7, 2022

Picking Flowers Off the Wallpaper

In the interest of potentially finding more people to read the books I write, I'm beginning the journey of trying to be more sociable online.  (There's not much I can do about being more social in person.  I'm a hermit, for pitysakes.)

So, here's what I've been doing this week:

I've been commenting more on other people's posts.  It's not much and I'm not being especially profound, but if I have something nice to say, I say it.  "Way to go."  "That book sounds intriguing.  Thanks for posting about it."  

I friended like 3 more people and I'm looking for people to friend in the comments sections.  So it's not willy-nilly or friending without reason.  If they make a comment and it sounds like someone I might enjoy being around online, I send them a friend request.  Hopefully, they find something of value in me, too, and accept my requests.

I'm trying to remember to post on the blogs every day.  Actually, I'm trying to have these posts scheduled at least the night before, so I don't fall down on the job again.  Last night, I fell down, so here I am at 7am creating a post.  Come on, coffee.

And I'm trying to remember to post links to my blog posts on FB and MeWe.  This was a thing I used to do, but got out of the habit of.  Back at it again.  :whipcrack:  

Like I said on Wednesday, the point of this is to gain more potential readers, BUT it's not to post more about my books - which is kind of counter-intuitive.  So, while I have posted a link or two about the books being in wide distribution, I'm making that a rare type of post.  Sprinkle it here or there.  See if anything grows.

I've thought about starting to be active in the forums at KDP.  I used to be very active at the AbsoluteWrite forums, but then they pissed me off and I left.  The thought of going back to that kind of thing sort of makes me nauseous, but if I have to do it, I have to do it.  I wouldn't mind having a little hangout online somewhere, where people of like minds can get together.  Unfortunately, with the world the way it is, finding people who have minds like mine is a crap shoot.  Is there anywhere a body can talk about life and writing without political stuff getting in the way?  Or is that like locating a unicorn?

Now, I realize that stating here why I'm suddenly being more social and the self-serving nature of my socialness could turn some folks off.  Sorry about that.  I could be all fake and junk and say I'm giving in to my herd-beast nature, but that just wouldn't be my style.  If I'm out there and I find people who could truly be my friends, then great.  If not, that's okay.  The purpose of this is to find readers.  Anything else is sprinkles on the icing on the cake.

I am what I am - a wallflower.  Or a flower on the wallpaper.  Time to pick it.  If I have to.  I guess.

(And yes, I know that 'picking flowers off the wallpaper' is a euphemism for being nuts, but I thought it was funny.  And I'm feeling a little nuts these days.)