Best-Laid Plans

I am the president of my local chapter of Romance Writers of America this year (and probably next year, unless someone wants to mount a write-in campaign). As part of my administration, I started a new project, which I call Finish the Damn Book–having shamelessly stolen the name from Cherry Adair’s much spiffier program at the Greater Seattle chapter of RWA.

Actually, I started it because I needed motivation to produce more output this year. Last year I finished a 70,000-word manuscript. The year before, only a 35,000-word novella. This vexed me, so I decided to do something about it, and drag the chapter along with me, or at least those members willing to be dragged.

This morning I did a progress check on myself; thus far this year I have written approximately 73,000 words of fiction. That’s not bad, but….that was spread over four different titles.

Sigh.

The book I wanted to finish is only half done, and I have only three months left in the year.

Granted, I’ve published two titles (the novel and novella finished last year and the year before), and I had to write blurbs and an author bio for those. I also finished the first draft of another novella. And I’ve written probably another 5,000 words of workshops, essays and articles about writing fiction.

But I need to get my behind in gear, or I’m not going to earn my romance writer’s sparkly tiara. I might have to make do with a coffee-cup full of chocolates and a purple feather boa, our consolation prizes. Quelle horreurs!

I’m off to, you know, Finish the Damn Book.

 

 

 

I am The Nexus of All Great Fictional Starship Captain Families

Not really, but… a couple of days ago, I got to thinking about my dad’s sister. She married a man named Kirk and they had two children before she died tragically (there was a crib death and a suicide; it’s all very sad and it happened before I was born), so I never got to know my cousins.

But I know I have cousins named Kirk. As far as I know, they’re Montanans, not from the Midwest, but they could move in the next few hundred years.

One of my mother’s sisters married a man named Pike and they had two sons. So I have cousins named Pike. They live in Arizona. Lovely people.

Have I ever mentioned that my mother’s maiden name was Reynolds? Yup, all kinds of relatives named Reynolds, including a bunch of cousins; Mom had nine brothers and sisters, so it’s not all that surprising.

So that’s two famous Star Fleet captains and the iconoclastic head of the Serenity crew that could possibly carry some of the same DNA I do. That is, if they weren’t, you know, made-up characters.

As far as I know, though, I don’t have any relatives with the surname Khan or Adama.

Yet (she typed with an evil grin).  And now, back to editing Getting Lucky.

 

Cover Reveal for ‘Getting Lucky’

Ta-dah! Cover by Kanaxa (the awesome). This is the third cover she’s designed for my stories — the first one was Blade’s Edge.

GettingLucky_Web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The story is in editing right now, but it will be out before Christmas.  The third in this trilogy of novellas is the story of Strike Force Colonel Ramsin Singh rediscovers his humanity, with a little help from some asteroid miners and — no, no spoilers. Yet.  Bwah-hah-hah-hah!

Second in a Series of Firsts–My First Second Book in a Series

The Nobinata Gambit is officially out among the virtual bookshelves, which marks another turning point for me; it’s the first story I’ve written about a character that had already appeared in a story, making it the second book in a series. What’s the name of the series? Beats me. It all started with a novella called “Finding the Briar Rose” which is a Sleeping Beauty retelling that I’m going to rewrite and publish as a freebie next year (early next year, I hope), because I like the characters and they should live somewhere besides my dead-manuscript file. The first published story in the series is The Valmont Contingency.

The Nobinata Gambit is the story of Shak and “Lilo” (her real name is Yuki) after the end of Valmont; they save the emperor of the Empire of Nippon and Allied Cultures from an assassination attempt by one of his distant cousins, with assorted tragedies, murders and goings on, a love story, and more sequel bait thrown in because life never lets you do one thing at a time.

The universe for this series is the area of space colonized by humans after Earth’s magnetic field fails–it doesn’t actually FAIL fail, but it flops poles (again, it’s done it before), so it effectively fails for a few thousand years. Geologically, that’s an eyeblink, but for humans it’s a real problem since the magnetic field keeps out lethal high-energy particles from the Solar wind. Privately, I’m calling these books the Diaspora series. Let me know if that works and I’ll put it on the books I control.

My next title will be Getting Lucky, also the second in a series (my second second book, so to speak); it’s the story of Sasha from Open Mike at Club Bebop and the personage he finds lurking in the sealed archive he’s searching for more information on that tantalizing piece of video Colonel Singh turned up in Bebop. Yes, Sasha is smitten by someone as sneaky as he is, and…Martians, although not live ones. I know, right? More on that when it gets beaten into shape.

However, The Nobinata Gambit has an excellent cover, created by the talented and beautiful Kim Killion of Hot Damn Designs (The Killion Group):

The Nobinata Gambit - Cover

  In case you were wondering, you can
buy it here:

Amazon (Kindle)

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Kobo

 Sorry, Apple readers, I can’t figure out how to get a direct link to the book in iTunes.

If you know, leave a comment with directions.

Open Mike at Club Bebop is Published

The e-book version of Open Mike at Club Bebop is officially on sale today at Amazon, Nook Press and Kobo Books. I am pleased with the way it has turned out — the last three years of XML coding at the day job have not been wasted.

Bebop's Cover

Bebop’s Cover

 

Buy links (in case you want to get it right now):
At Amazon
At Barnes & Noble
At Kobo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now, on to the print version of Bebop, soon to be followed by The Nobinata Gambit (what happened to Shak and “Lilo” after The Valmont Contingency ended). After that, it will be time for Sasha’s story….

I’d better get to work.

Wylde Hare Press’s First Cover

The marvelous Kanaxa did the cover for my first published book, Blade’s Edge, published by Samhain Publishing. I discovered recently that she’s doing a limited number of freelance covers and immediately contacted her about Open Mike at Club Bebop and the rest of the Ganymede series. She came up with the best cover idea and after a very little tweaking, she sent me this (imagine me bouncing with excitement as I embed the image):
OpenMikeAtClubBebop_Web

Ta-dah!

I couldn’t have asked for a better cover to kick off Wylde Hare Press. I think it might even be better than the cover for Blade’s Edge.

Now all I have to do is get the book formatted, the ISBNs purchased, the blurb written and get it uploaded to all the stores. My target date for this is August 20th.

This is going to be so much fun; I haven’t formatted a book in…well, more than 20 years, back when I was working my way through college as a typesetter in the university’s graphics and printing department. And it was before mobi and epub formats existed, so I get to learn something new.

(bounce, bounce, chortle, bounce)

On the Idea of Being My Own Publisher

In 1983, I became the features editor of my college newspaper, and shortly thereafter learned phototypesetting, a skill that would fund my last three years of college. This will become relevant in a bit.

In 1995, my husband started a small business to electronically file medical claims with insurance companies. Setting it up, filing the taxes, and eventually going through bankruptcy taught me how to run a business (we only ever had one client, and he had a heart attack several weeks before Blue Cross/Blue Shield came out with their own DIY software, but I digress).

In 1996, I became a technical writer after teaching myself HTML from a “for the Compleat Idiot” book (My Eureka moment: “It’s just typesetting codes!” Told you it would become relevant).

Off and on between 1997 and 2006 (and every few months in my current job) I worked in corporate marketing, branding, new product introduction, that sort of thing.

In short, it appears my background has given me a semi-unique skill set that will allow me to easily become my own publisher. Thus, I am filing an Assumed Business Name (Idaho’s version of a DBA — we can never do anything normally) with the Secretary of State’s office next month…Wylde Hare Press will be born.

Why? Carina Press just rejected the best thing I have ever written, “The Nobinata Gambit.” I submitted the second manuscript to them reluctantly; Carina is an imprint of Harlequin, which is a corporate master of ensuring rights are never returned to writers. I reasoned that I  might as well have the entire diaspora series with them, in spite of poor sales for the first title.

The sales of the first book in the series, to put it politely, stank on ice, in spite of the book finalling in the EPIC awards. Furthermore, the sales price was cut to $2.99, which means that I received about 60 cents for each sale at Amazon, Nook and Kobo.

By way of comparison, my Samhain Publishing title earns $1.65 per sale at third party retailers, and sells more copies per month (as in 6 copies vs 4) in spite of being three years older. So much for the mighty Harlequin marketing machine, LOL. They work great for some people — I have several friends who published well with the company — just not for me.

I will not start on my editor (who was essentially the reason I sat on the manuscript for nine months after completing it). Lovely woman, but we had different visions for the story in “The Valmont Contingency.” Since I’ve been an editor probably longer than she’s been alive — I first held the job title at the tender age of fourteen — I think mine was better. She would probably disagree.

During the 3.5 months I was waiting for Carina to decide, I developed an idea for a lead-in novella to the diaspora series that will make Carina’s “ownership” of the first full-length book irrelevant; I can have my “permafree” (that’s a technical term) novella, the first book at $2.99, and then…whatever I want, since I’m the owner of my new publisher.

The DBA name is one my husband, Spooky Man, has been throwing around for years in other contexts. And since I like rabbits and the whole idea of doing my own publishing really is kind of a wild hair, well, there you go. Synchronicity happens.

Spooky Man would dearly love its corporate symbol to be a white rabbit silhouette on a background of a starry sky (a wild hare where the sun doesn’t shine–he is a diabolical punster), but I would prefer to keep it mostly tasteful. Mostly.

I’m starting with a novella that I wrote in 2011, which is going to be the start of a series of six interlocking stories that will divide nicely into two novel-length anthologies. The first one is titled “Open Mike at Club Bebop” which is a jazz club in Luna City, on Earth’s moon. I haven’t figured out yet if this world is a precursor to the Human Diaspora universe or the Dozen Worlds universe, but it’s set during the era of our first settlements off of our homeworld.

With a bit of luck and quite a bit of elbow grease, “The Nobinata Gambit” will be ready and published by the end of September.

The follow-on to “Blade’s Edge,” which is tentatively titled “Becoming Unique,” (it’s how Talyn learns to use her powers for good rather than eeeevvviiilllll) is on track to publish about six months after, in March of 2015, and the two friends of Bebop should be finished in time to fill in the months between.

And so it goes, on to a brave new world in this case. Wish me luck.

So, I Wrote A Book in About Two Weeks

This is me sticking my head up, well, from writing most of a book in two weeks. I discovered something about myself this month. Several things, actually. This post is primarily for writers, so if you don’t care about the novelist’s process, check back in a few days for updated pet pictures.

In the meantime, here’s some stuff I learned:

1. If I can get characters and plot really nailed down, I can write forty thousand words in two weeks. Now, I’ve never written more than 25K words in a month before, so this was a revelation.

Unfortunately, it took me fourteen months to get to that point. Next step is to figure out how to speed up *that* process.

2. I have a hybrid plotting process. I start out by writing with no concrete plan, but maybe a vague idea of the major plot points. Then when I get 30-50 pages, I can’t go any farther without knowing what happens, which is when I start to plot in earnest.

Now, that first 30-50 pages isn’t necessarily all the first part of the book; it might be all the really pivotal scenes from beginning to end. Or it could be one or two of them.

The first kiss, the turning point where the hero(es) figure out the big conflict is inevitable and decide how to handle it, the closing scene–any or all of them could be in there. After that I have to figure out the holes and fill them.

For this last book, I ended up making a list of scenes, then color coding them: pink for the heroine’s character arc, blue for the hero’s character arc, green for the relationship arc, black for external plot, and yellow highlighting for scenes that hadn’t had a version written yet.

From June 1 to June 26, I added more than 43,000 words to this manuscript, cutting about two thousand (that I counted). The next step is to send it out to critique partners and beta readers and see if what I wrote actually makes sense.

And then I send it to my editor with fingers crossed, LOL.

At Last, Something to Say

Have you ever had one of those periods where you just have nothing to say? I’ve had six weeks of it.

Went to a kick-ass hands-on workshop on self-publishing, taught by Boise mystery and SF writer Ken McConnell — no comment, everyone knows Ken has mad skillz

Sent a novella out for critique with plans to self-publish it — no comment since I haven’t really heard much back yet.

Stock market hits record highs — no comment.

Stock market tanks 200+ points in a day — no comment.

Bombs at the Boston Marathon — no comment (really, what can you say other than “Oh my god, so horrible, so horrible” and everyone else is saying that).

West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion — no comment (see Boston Marathon, above).

Linked In e-mail that a friend has endorsed me for my knowledge of Unix — wait, what? I don’t know anything about Unix. Okay, I can spell it and name the most popular distributions (Red Hat and Ubuntu), but I can’t install it or use a command line at all. The only command I know is SUDO, which is very dangerous in the hands of a Unix-ignorant person such as myself. What in the wide-open world is going on over at Linked In?

Oh. I had something to say about that. I guess I’m out of my no-opinion slump.

February was a busy month

V-PAP, diabetes, cerebral events in dogs, you name it and it probably happened last month.

Spooky Man got off of all but one pain medication, turned 55 (which is specifying the number of years, but it explains sooo much), got his driver’s license back and bought a used Hummer. It’s the H3, the little version that actually gets almost-not-disgusting gas mileage. But it can still go up a 16-inch vertical curb.

He wants to get back to rockhounding this year, and says we needed a vehicle that can go into the mountains. Okay. It makes him happy, so I’m happy. Mostly.

He’s finally going to get some treatment for his sleep issues — we found out he has obstructive sleep apnea AND central sleep apnea — which could help his blood pressure, blood chemistry (cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar are all affected by crappy sleep), and pain levels.

Central sleep apnea is when you just forget to breathe altogether for a while, which scares the bejeebers out of me. His second sleep study introduced the VPAP, a machine that not only keeps your airways from collapsing, it will periodically increase the pressure to remind you (force you) to breathe.

Unfortunately, the workup to get one requires at least four doctor appointments — chest CT scan, echocardiogram, two-hour “pulmonary test”, and multiple consultations with the somnologist (sleep doctor). And this was after the two sleep studies.

And all this while I was getting diagnosed with Type II diabetes and starting my first Metformin prescription. Some people have a mid-life crisis and buy a sports car (or a Hummer), but my family’s rite of passage is insulin resistance and the first Metformin prescription. I’ve been fighting it — since I got off the steroids in 2008, I’ve lost almost 50 pounds. Just this week, I crossed the line between morbidly obese and moderately obese; only 40 more pounds and I’ll be down to overweight! Sigh.

Corticosteroids are evil. I’m just sayin’….

At least I impressed my doctor enough that he didn’t send me to diabetes education camp. And when he said it would help me lose more weight (those last five pounds I practically had to chisel off), I held out a hand and said, “Gimmee.”

But enough about the humans. Hank had a minor stroke (droopy left ear, droopy left side of his face) and his left back leg swelled up for no particular reason. One $400 ultrasound later, he’s been diagnosed with “Shar-Pei Syndrome” and put on a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (think Advil, but it’s called Rimadyl because it’s a slightly different molecule).

It’s supposed to help the swelling and a possible cause of his stroke — immune-mediated vasculitis, which is also part of Shar-Pei Syndrome. I’d never heard of it before, but a Google search confirmed it’s a Thing. At least it has an inexpensive treatment.

So that’s where I’ve been all month, instead of writing blog posts or working on my WIP more than a few sentences: At a doctor appointment. I’m hoping we’re done for a while and March will be relatively doctor-free.

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