Sunday, January 3, 2021

Plans for 2021

I wouldn't call them resolutions, which I've always been crap at keeping, but one thing I am good at is meeting a deadline.

The collage here is something I put together as book 3 became clearer in my head. I like a physical representation because I can then convince myself that it's real.

Back in May, when I submitted A Wider World to the publisher, they told me if I wanted my third book to follow along within a year (April 2022), I would have to submit it by the end of 2020. We negotiated that to mean a readable first draft, which I managed to do - by mid-afternoon on New Year's Eve. (I'd actually finished it the day before, but I wanted to accomplish a few last minute tweaks).

I now have until the end of February to do proper edits, and I think that's doable, but only because I didn't get a decent grasp of my main character until later than usual and rewrote the entire first half to get her properly in line. So it's really only the last half that needs hard work, and then shaping and polishing for length, as it's currently about 13k over its word budget. (I've been worse, so not too scared).

Also for early 2021, I've got to do final copy edits for A Wider World. Once those edits are done, I need to get the book to the voice actor for the the audio, and I'd like to do the edits again, because it really gave me a feel for how the project went together. The book launches on 
April 25, the day after my husband's birthday, so he might not be the total focus on the day, because there'll be another FB Live reading - which I'll mention on here, and post afterwards for those who miss it and/or don't do the FB thing anymore.

I'd like to raise my head from the 16th century and get back to the 1930s project I talked about a while ago. I've been working on it in some dim corner in my mind, but once the third book is with the publisher and I'm waiting on their edits, I'd like to start in again. Now that I know I can produce a readable draft in a certain amount of time, I'd like to produce that one, edit it, have it gone over by a few trusted writer friends, and self-publish it in the fall, so I have a book of my "own" out in between books from my publisher. 

Those are the writing goals, but there are also other goals to do with marketing and getting the books in front of people who will leave reviews, which will in turn cause more people to buy the books.

And for all that I love writing, it's not bringing in anything that I can class as an income - yet. And Covid has pretty much eliminated office work as I know it, so I'll be concentrating on doing more online transcription and building up my handmade and vintage Etsy businesses so that they're worth keeping. So long as the post office recovers from its current hellscape, I'll be okay. I have a basement full of vintage from relatives and flea markets that can, eventually, be turned into cash, and I'm hopeful that there may be some masked and outdoor craft events this year.

I'm also going to keep moving - we walked a LOT in 2020, trying to keep from climbing the walls, and we'd like to keep it up. I'll also walk on my own, because that's when some of my best writing gets done, just me, the trees, and my phone, listening to me babble.

So those are my plans for the new year. They are, as always, subject to change, but I've tried to make them achievable goals, spaced out in a way that I shouldn't get too overwhelmed, or at least not too often.

What about you? What do you have in line for 2021, and what are you hoping to change up after making it through 2020?

Thursday, December 31, 2020

So long, farewell


2020. What a long, strange trip it's been. I have to say, like everyone else, I'll be happy to see the back end of this year, where so many bad things have happened to so many good people.

I'm thankful that, all in all, this year touched me pretty lightly. While I know people who have been sick, all my nearest and dearest have stayed healthy - with the exception of my mother-in-law, who tested positive twice but stayed asymptomatic. Whew! 

Being asked to stay close to home hasn't been the hardship for me that it has for some; while I'm somewhere between introvert/extrovert, I'm a happy homebody, because I put a lot of time and effort into making my home a place I want to be. (Also something I'm lucky to be able to do).

Living where we do, instead of in the city, has made this year a lot easier, too. We have good neighbors who look out for each other, and we have enough local stores that we can patronize who run a tighter ship regarding masks and hygiene than some of the larger chains. While I'm feeling hug-deprived, I'm not deprived of people - I see my neighbors regularly, and we're having a socially distant, masked New Year's Eve gathering in the middle of the street tonight.

I can also say that keeping close to home has made me very productive this year. I finished and submitted A Wider World in May, for publication this coming April, and I just emailed the publisher a completed draft of the third book, Lady, in Waiting, for publication the year after. I wrote an entire book this year, plus edited the second one, and did audio edits for Songbird. Busy is also how I keep myself from thinking too much, so it's not been productivity for its own sake; it's been to keep me from running off the deep end when the existential dread sets in.

Though I'm looking forward to the vaccine being rolled out and things going back to (a slightly different) normal, I'm not sure if any of us will ever completely resume our pre-pandemic existence. As annoying as masks can sometimes be (though far less annoying than oxygen or a ventilator), I have to admit that neither Mario nor I have gotten sick at all this year. Even our allergies have been greatly reduced. That could also be because we're exposed to less people, but I can't think of the last unmasked conversation I had with anyone close enough to pick up a germ.

I miss faces.

But it's New Year's Eve, and we're supposed to be looking ahead and trying to be positive. I'm going to try. Hard. 

Happy new year to everyone - I hope you and yours are healthy and stay that way. Thanks for stopping by and listening to me ramble. There will be more to come.

Friday, December 11, 2020

The saddest story in Tudor England


I'm currently working on my third book, titled Lady, In Waiting, which is set during the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I. One of the side characters - someone I hadn't planned to write about but whose life and story couldn't be avoided - is Lady Katherine Grey.

Younger sister of Lady Jane Grey, the unsuccessful Nine Days Queen, Katherine's life was slightly longer, but just as unhappy. Because of her proximity to the throne (she and Mary Queen of Scots were Elizabeth's two natural heirs, unless she married), she was watched and not permitted to marry.

But she did. And she got pregnant. And she didn't get caught until her eighth month, at which point she was put in the Tower - separately from her husband - to think about what she'd done. She gave birth to a son, which must have made Elizabeth furious.

Remaining in the Tower, she managed, by way of a sympathetic jailer, to have conjugal visits with her husband, and eventually gave birth to a second son! That did it. Elizabeth separated the already separated couple, sending the husband and older son in one direction, and Katherine and her baby in another.

Katherine died in 1568, at the age of 27. She's not the most sympathetic character, despite her unhappy circumstances, and because of the prominence of her story, she couldn't be ignored and is now an important side character in my story.

Pictures: the real Katherine, and a photo I snagged from the internets which is my inspiration for her.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The other stuff

For the curious, I do still sew, though not as much for myself these days. (My pandemic wardrobe is rather limited).

Craft shows have also been limited this year, as in limited to the ones I've produced on my front patio. In a bastardized version of the words of the Grinch himself, "If I can't find a craft show, I'll make one instead."

I did have one event scheduled, for Thanksgiving weekend here in town. They'd put so much work into it,  cutting the number of vendors by half, organizing it so that everyone had 8' of space between their tables, having mask checks and sanitizer stations at the doors, Ikea arrows on the floor so that customers could only travel in one direction...and then the virus numbers for Pennsylvania spiked again, and it was canceled.

Logical, yes. The right thing to do, also yes. A freaking shame, because we all want to get out and pretend to be normal? Yes yes yes.

So I made a Facebook event and invited all my local friends and neighbors to show up on the patio on that same weekend - properly masked and distanced, of course.

Everything was set out on tables for people to paw through. It wasn't as profitable as an indoor show would have been, but it was still good to get out and talk to people again, and I didn't get frostbitten because we have a glass front door and I spent my un-customered time on the couch, finishing Etsy products for shipment. I love a good multi-task.

I also did some writing in between, because of this pesky end-of-year deadline that I agreed to. Which will be met, somehow or other. Good thing I've only promised a "readable first draft" at that point.

Readable, it will be. Can't guarantee much else.

So this was the new normal of my holiday selling season. What about you? Did you get to do any in-person shopping? All online? What do you want to find in your stocking this year, other than sanitizer and masks?


Monday, November 30, 2020

Blowing my own horn


So, this happened.

I'm still a bit over the moon at Songbird being declared anyone's Book of the Year, but The Coffee Pot Book Club is a seriously good book review blog, and an award from them carries weight in the author and reader community.

It also carries some weight in helping to promote A Wider World when the time comes, because one of the prizes is a blog tour, which can be scheduled for early spring, just before the new book comes out. It will coincide with my publisher dropping the price on Songbird to celebrate the pre-order status of the second book.

2020 is still a year I'd rather not repeat, but this makes a lot of it better.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


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.