Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Exhale

I don't know about you, but the first ten days of November have been a long year. And let's not talk about how long the year has actually been; I feel myself aging as I type.

Things have been moving along. Despite - or maybe because of - the oddness of the year, I've almost completed the first draft of my third book. This is good, because I've promised the publisher a readable draft by the end of the year (which would be 11:59 p.m. on December 31, and not a minute sooner), and while it's readable by me right now, I'm not so sure anyone else could make heads or tails of it.

My cover designer has just completed a stunning cover for A Wider World - as beautiful in its own way as the new cover for Songbird. I can't show it off yet, but I'd like to. It's another period-appropriate ceiling, and it's gorgeous.

Despite the fact that it's November and the leaves have turned and mostly fallen, it's been in the 70s here, so it's hard to feel convinced of that. I just finally tore out the last of the pepper plants from the back yard and got the beds ready for winter. My next-door-neighbor gave me a few cinderblocks and an old recycle tub, so I've also set up a new composting system by the back fence, because my dinky little tumbling composter can't keep up. A few of my neighbors who don't compost deliver their food scraps to me, and a chicken-owning neighbor gives me the mucky straw from her coop. (Manure and fresh eggs are what I miss most about having chickens. The chickens...not so much).

Thanksgiving is coming. It's going to be strange this year, because of Covid. We've had Thanksgiving dinner in NJ with Mario's family every year since 2005, but his mom's in a nursing home now, mostly on lockdown (we visit at her window like she's a puppy in a pet store) and his sister works in a hospital, so her hours are inconsistent, and we couldn't sit down together indoors, anyway. Having his mom isolated is difficult, but even Mario is glad we got her placed in February, before all this happened - since she's got severe memory issues, it would have been really hard to feel that she was safe living on her own during quarantine and beyond.

It will get better, eventually. It has to, right? The news of a potential vaccine this week was cheering, as was the end of all the election ads, if not - completely - the election itself.

I just keep thinking, "It's history. I'm living through history." And it's not always fun.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Author copies

There are better feelings than seeing your name on a book cover, but honestly, there aren't many.

Especially a new book cover, which feels much more like what I'd envisioned from the beginning, and is totally my idea combined with my cover designer's skill and amazing font choice.

I got a box of author copies for an upcoming craft show on Thanksgiving weekend - my town is doing their annual show, with half the vendors so we can be properly spaced, mandatory masking-and-sanitizer, doors open for extra ventilation, and I'm going to take a few copies along in case anyone is interested.

If you don't have your copy yet, and would like this snazzy new design, drop me an email or leave a comment here with your email address. I can even provide gift wrap for the holidays, if you're feeling giftish. 

 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

End of season

And so it goes, the end of another growing season.

This was a particularly good one. I'm not sure if it's because I didn't overextend myself and try to grow too many things, so that the ones I did plant worked better, or if it was just a good weather year, or the garden was the one part of 2020 that worked out as anticipated.

Whatever. It worked. 

I took out the last of the tomatoes the other day, and this was the amount of green tomatoes still on the vines. We've had some colder nights, so the vines were dying back, and I wanted to get the fruit off before they got frosted and squishy.

There was an equal amount of red tomatoes, so I threw those in the crockpot and made sauce, which I later canned, but I didn't have the energy to face all these green tomatoes in addition to the number of jalapenos that were left, which also needed to be canned (more candied hot peppers for the pantry). 

My local Buy Nothing group made short work of the green tomatoes. The ones that were left moved around the corner to a neighbor's house. She's a distribution point for USDA food boxes, and lots of neighbors put extra food on her porch for "shopping." So she got the tomatoes, and they were gone by nightfall.

Now I can look out at my barren back yard, and start thinking about 2021. 

 

Monday, October 19, 2020

How it started; how it's going

 

There's a thing going around on Twitter among the writing community - "how it started, how it's going." Some responses are as minimal as a blank page and a page with "Chapter 1" written on it; others are a notebook, and a stack of published books.

Being somewhere in the middle, I thought I'd show mine. This is the very beginning of Songbird, which you can see on the cover says "Henry book," then "King's Creatures" and "King's Music," two of its early titles.

Songbird was started before I had a computer at home. I'm not sure if I even reliably had one at work, just things with some memory that I couldn't save personal stuff onto, which explains the second photo - a later portion of the book with handwritten, literal cut-and-tape inserts and lots of edits which wrap around the sides.

I thought my handwriting was bad then. There's no way I could draft a book by hand now, I'd never be able to read it.

Surprisingly, the section of the book contained on this page made it into the final version relatively intact. I recognize some of the dialogue and know that it's still there. Which is shocking, because I feel like I wrote and rewrote and edited and tinkered and tweaked the book at least 142 times.

And counting.

The final picture is where it's at. 

Where it's going is book 2 (no cover yet) and book 3 (not completely drafted yet). But I'll get there, and I hope you'll be with me when I do.







Tuesday, October 6, 2020

A Wider World Teaser

I'm currently working on my third book, but book 2 is bubbling away in the background, working its way toward publication.

There's no cover image yet, but one of my ways of brainstorming while writing (but not actually writing) is to make collages of the research images I've found. This is what I put together for the second book.

Robin Lewis was a character from Songbird, who we first see as an obnoxious 12-year-old chorister who clashes with Bess, the main character. Their lives touch at several points, and Robin never quite explains his actions. 

(Hint: he does, in A Wider World). This is the blurb - the back cover / Amazon copy - at least so far. Everything gets tweaked, multiple times, but I'm happy with it at the moment.

Can memories save a life? 

After five years of exile, Robin Lewis stands accused of heresy by the dying Queen Mary. When an escort arrives to bring him to the Tower of London, Robin spins a tale for his captor, hoping it will last long enough for him to be saved by the accession of Mary's heir, the young Queen Elizabeth.

As he revisits his life under three Tudor monarchs, Robin wonders how he will be judged, not just by the queen, but by the God he stopped serving long ago.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

What's new

Somehow it's nearly October. I know that time has no meaning anymore, but this is getting ridiculous.

I just finished my Readers Group newsletter, with a few changes. I'd been sending it out twice a month, but I've realized that I spend far too much time trying to think of interesting things to put in the newsletter, rather than thinking of interesting things to put in my books. Which is the reason - I hope - that people have signed up for the newsletter. So it's going to once a month after this, unless there's a special announcement, a sale, etc. 

P.S., if you haven't signed up yet, you can do so here.

So I have been doing a fair bit of writing, other issues aside. My third book, Lady, in Waiting, is still in the first draft but has passed the 100k word mark. The eventual publication length will probably be about 115k (that's what Songbird and A Wider World came in near), but I'll probably hit 130k and then edit it back down. I know how I work by now.

A good bit of my writing has taken place outside. I've trained myself to dictate my rough first drafts, which I then upload onto my desktop and tidy up, speech-to-text not always being the most accurate technology. Still, it's better than sitting inside when we're at that perfect end-of-summer-almost-fall weather. 

If I'm not walking around the neighborhood, I'm sitting on our front patio, which has just recently been redone with four orange vintage chairs and matching tables that I trash picked from a neighbor across the street. They'd been in his garage for 10 years, and he finally gave up on the idea of repainting them and using them on his own porch. Personally, I like the orange, so I got a gallon of metal paint in the same shade and I'll sand and repaint once the season is over.

Garden season is nearly over. We've had a few nights in the 40s, and that means the bigger tomatoes have shut down, along with some of the peppers. The grape tomatoes are still chugging along, producing more fruit than I can use, and my neighbors are beginning to hide when they see me coming, in case of tomatoes. I made a roasted tomato salsa last week which came out well, so I think I'll make a few more jars to shove in the back of the fridge.

What about you? Is it still garden season? Are you making anything with your produce, whether it's from your garden, the farmer's market or the grocery store?

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Audio Arrival!

So the audiobook for Songbird is finally up everywhere! It actually arrived on Audible sooner than expected. ACX, the technical name for Audible, has really high production standards and will bounce books that are accepted everywhere else. I was a little nervous, until it appeared.

Then, because things never run completely smooth, it ended up somehow categorized under literature, fiction, and erotica. While there are a few... Interesting scenes in the book, anybody who purchased it looking for erotica would be sorely disappointed, and readers not looking for that would avoid the book, so I waited to really promote the Audible listing until my publisher reached out and had Amazon correct it. We're still not sure how it happened, because I know the categories that the book is in, and since it's a book already on Amazon, the categories should have simply carried over.

Who knows? Technical glitches happen, and this one is sorted now.

All this is to say that I have free codes for the audiobook, and all you have to do - you knew there'd be a catch, right? - is to sign up for my newsletter (which is on the sidebar) and respond to the newsletter email, saying you're interested in being entered to win a copy of the audio.

If you're on Facebook, you could also like and share my author page. I didn't make that mandatory, because I know a lot of people aren't fans of Facebook these days. Truth to tell, I'm not always either, but I have to reach readers where I can find them.