Wednesday, March 29, 2023

A little gratitude

Apparently you CAN take them apart
Thank you all for indulging my whining last week. I'm better now. Not everything has improved, but I had my day or two to wallow and I've shoved the problems in their own little boxes, and now I'm dealing with the boxes, one by one.

First box: vision. My follow-up with the eye doctor went well. He's pleased with how my vision is clarifying, and doesn't want to see me for another 3 weeks. At that point, we may be able to discuss a new eyeglass prescription. Fingers and toes are crossed!

Second box: sewing machine. Replaced that bad boy, then sat with my husband in the living room and took the broken one completely apart and realized that so long as you are careful in separating the two pieces of the machine body, you can get in there and do a lot more cleaning and probably make the machine last longer. English muffins don't have that many nooks and crannies.

Third box: the oven. That's next up. I was just not in a mood to deal with the phone calls and service visits when I was still feeling blurry, but I have no more excuses. Making calls today.

Miscellaneous writing box: I've pretty much finished edits on coming closer, I've started drafting the third book, and for any UK readers who haven't tried the Tudor Court series, Songbird, the first book, will be available on Amazon for 99p for the month of April.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Raining stones

Warning: may contain whining.

2023 has had more complications than all of 2022, and possibly 2021. I started this whole journey toward cataract clarity in mid-January. The plan was to be finished by the time my birthday rolled around on the 31st. Ha! 

We know how that's gone. I had my second procedure last Tuesday, and as far as the actual cataract removal went, it was the picture-perfect operation that the first one should have been. Ten minutes, done. The thing nobody explained to me, and I didn't think of myself, was that with my eyes original lenses being removed with the cataract, and being substituted with distance lenses, I lost all close vision.

Imagine, if you will, my reaction when, not seeing my phone clearly, I brought it up to my face and it went completely out of focus instead of the reverse. Panic ensued. Loud, annoying, somewhat frantic panic.

Add to this that my sewing machine died last Monday. It was a 6-year-old inexpensive Brother machine, so not worth repairing. I ordered another one, and it came yesterday. We're getting acquainted - I have the seam allowance marked with blue painter's tape so I can see where I'm going.

Beyond that, our oven has decided that it will not go to any temperature above 100°. It did that once last week, and we turned it off and reset it at 350° and it worked, but the other night, we decided to put a pizza in the oven and the oven laughed. And laughed.

I will deal with that later.

Vision-wise, I had a follow-up appointment the day after surgery and badgered my eye doctor into giving me an interim prescription that I then ordered from one of those 24-hour eyeglass places - which do not deliver in 24 hours, but it's still better than waiting the potential several months until all the residual inflammation goes down and I have a steady prescription. 

In the meantime, some of the inflammation has gone down, and I am able to read and function at a closer level than I was immediately after surgery. There's still a fair amount of swearing involved, but I'm not sure if that's frustration or just me.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Watch this space

I finished my final edits this week, formatted the ebook, then formatted the paperback. Then I cracked open the ebook file and found... a typo. And that's why I have other readers, because you can't see everything, especially after going over a book this many times. 

So I'll keep reading same make those few final final tweaks, and turn my attention to Coming Together, the final book in my Ava and Claire series.

It would be so much easier if I could make an outline and write in order, but that's not how my brain works. I've fought against it, but we've come to terms, my brain and I. I'll respect how it wants to give me the story, and it will keep giving me stories.

Because I write historical, there is obviously some outlining that can't be avoided; I need to hit certain historical marks or the books won't be taken seriously. So I put the points on the timeline that can't be ignored, and figure out what other things - often smaller or local - will impact my characters, and they go in, as well. Then I can think about the larger points of the story. For this series, I have a triple timeline, going down the page in three columns: one for Ava, one for Claire, and one for unavoidable history.

Once I have those events noted down, I let my mind wander. The book comes to me in snippets, often conversation or locations. I'll write it all down or dictate it, and later I'll try to put these bits in order. Most don't fit, yet. So I have an actual book document and a second document for snippets, which holds all those brain bits. I pull from that when I get stuck and need words.

At my worst, I've had 30k words in the snippet document. The challenge is to use all of them, in one way or another, in the final manuscript. For Coming Closer, I ended up with less than 50 words left in the document, so major win. Not all of them were used - some were rewritten, and some deleted, but all of them were thought about.

The third book will happen now. I know this because when I formatted the ebook for Coming Closer, I put an order link for the final book in the back. I can't do that without putting it up for preorder. If it's on preorder, it exists, I just have to make it happen.

Watch this space.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Small Things

This will be a random update post, because a lot of small things are happening. First, and not small, actually, is my second cataract surgery is scheduled for March 14. I got my sutures out last week - which was a surprising non-event, considering how terrible it sounds - and the doctor said I had healed well enough that it was time to do the second eye. I didn't think I'd be up for it, but I'm at the point of wanting to get this whole procedure over with. Not only that, but season 3 of Ted Lasso premieres the next day, and I operate on a reward system. 

Second thing, it's contractor season. We had a warm day last week, and I was outside cleaning up the garden. In the side yard, I found a chunk of concrete. Which turned out not to be a chunk of concrete, but a chunk of stucco off the top corner of the house. Monday afternoon, the stucco repair guy came to fix that, and several other cracks. The day before, the electrician was in because the light switch in my sewing room was stuck in the off position. At least if it had been stuck on, I could have turned it off by way of the chain on the ceiling fan. But, no...

We're on the slippery slope toward craft show season, so I've been doing a lot of sewing of my new critters, whose name, I think is going to be Pet Frocks. It was suggested by a neighbor, and even though there were other suggestions, it's stupidly perfect. 

And last, but far from least, I am four chapters from the end of final edits of coming closer. Then I send it to my proofreading friend and do a final read-through on my Kindle, because I see different mistakes when I read in a different format, and then I'll upload it for publication on April 18. Despite all the delays caused by the eye surgery, I'm right on time. 

How are things going in your neck of the woods? Are your houses behaving?

Friday, March 3, 2023

Fabulous Fashion Friday #5

This snippet is from From This Day Forward, the prequel novella to the Ava & Claire series, available only as a signup bonus for my newsletter. You can find it here. To explain the difference in style, this was a 1918 wartime wedding.


Claire is calm this morning, as calm as a girl can be when her entire life is about to change. I’m glad the strange nervousness that kept her wakeful last night has faded. I wanted to stay up and talk, but the rare combination of silence and a soft mattress was irresistible, and I did not wake until nearly six.

Mama was already washed and dressed, sitting by the window. Her hair was still in its braid, and I got up to brush it for her. “Should I do something different?”

Her brows knit together. “Whatever for?”

I brush and twist and pin, and soon she is the mother I have always known, with a tight knot at her nape and a tatted collar around the neck of her new dress.

She talks to Claire while I wash. I emerge in my corset cover and petticoat, not wanting to wrestle myself into my new dress in the bathroom.

“Let me.” Claire drops it over my head and does up the buttons, smoothing the green fabric over my hips and straightening the high collar. “You look beautiful.”

“Look who’s talking.” My gaze sweeps over her gown, hung now on the outside of the wardrobe, waiting for her to put it on. The heavy ivory satin is like nothing I’ve ever touched, and the clever bodice, wrapping over a front panel of beaded lace to join with the hip sash, is a marvel of construction. The skirt is straight, with an asymmetric overskirt and a short train.

It is simple and elegant, not at all what I would have expected from Claire, who never met a ruffle she didn’t like. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

And that's probably a good thing

I'll be back on Friday with another update - and maybe some more Fabulous Fashions - but today I'm back off to the eye doctor again, this time to have the sutures removed from the first surgery 6 or so weeks ago. It's just an in-office procedure, so it shouldn't be a big deal, but I'm not actually sure what's going to happen. And that's probably a good thing.