Friday, August 25, 2017

August Catch-Up

I've been wicked busy this month doing three beta reads for author friends, and now editing up a book interior text copy version of one of those author's five connected stories so that everything is ready for this first time self publisher to upload his book and complete the design process when Kelly and I send the almost ready for publication file to him (he just needs to plug in his copyright info, dedication, and author bio!) I have 50 pages to go before putting the project back in his hands.

Meanwhile, I've been tweaking two of the five recently released books I self published. I wasn't happy with the cover fonts I chose (well, I liked them just fine, but they proved difficult to read ont he actually book covers front and back) so I pulled them, changed the fonts on both Bending Birches and Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs, and also cleaned up a few minor issues I found in each book, plus the I don't have a clue how it happened spacing issue in the last ten or so pages of Bending Birches. There last section of the book never got justified! Very strange since I did the entire text at once...but, stuff happens. Stuff gets fixed. Both books were off the marketplace for just 24 hours or less.

Another project for me this August is finishing all the book revisions I began earlier this year. I have the three volumes of Christmas stories to revise the interior of (I published them before I knew how to justify the text.) As the holidays approach I want to get them done, looking their best, and also upload them as Kindle books like all the rest are. I also need to redo Halloween Story which was published under Victoria Bell, my pseudonym for young reader and young adult books, of which there are just two, Medea being the young adult/new adult novel. I might redo Medea also. I'm still thinking about that. First up, though, are the Christmas volumes. I have one re-edited and started the second this morning.

Also, I'm happy to announce here that Kelly is a Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo this year. November will be a busy month for us with each of us writing a novel, and her hosting local write-ins, etc.

WhipCity Wordsmiths has its first meeting September 23rd here in town. I planned the meeting agenda the other day, have some materials stockpiled, and a fun writing assignment lined up for this inaugural meeting. The membership response has been more than I had hoped for- what an amazing group of people! Many of the group members are included in my dedication in Out to A League of Extraordinary Authors/Writers- all of them local authors I admire.

I've been catching up on some reading and posting a few book reviews this month also.

I also scheduled an author event for October 21st for Out, my vampire romance novel. I'll talk about the book, the journey involved in writing it, the four revisions, read from the book, and will either discuss vampires in literature, or vampire legend and lore- haven't decided yet. Last year when I did an author event for Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales I had a scavenger hunt for Miss Peculiar's Curiosities afterwards in the store that was fun. Everyone who attended went home with an armload of Halloween d├ęcor goodies and treats. Not sure what I'll do this year!

Meanwhile, Out is currently a goodreads giveaway. The giveaway is for seven signed first edition copies. The giveaway ends September 30th. It started August 22nd and has already drawn interest from over 150 people!

There's a hint of approaching autumn here in western MA this evening with acorns thudding down through the green leaves of the oaks into the lawn, and a distinct coolness in the air now that the sun has set. Perfect sleeping weather! Also the perfect weather for a cup of tea and to pay some attention to all these story ideas percolating in my brain. There's a Ghost Stories LIVE! event coming up October 28th- I had a scary idea pop into my head while at work this afternoon! I really need to develop this one. I don't usually write stuff that's too terrifying- but this idea has the potential to be more chilling than usual!

There are a dozen other story ideas circling around waiting for their chance to be fully heard. But first,  I need to get all these projects I've tackled this month done before I can go back to writing new stories and novels.

Time for tea! My toes are cold sitting here barefoot at the kitchen table with the back door open, crickets chirping, frogs croaking, and the occasional trill of a mockingbird disturbed by the ballgame on TV while trying to sleep in the rhododendron outside the open front window. (Or maybe it likes TV commercial jingles? I don't know!)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Next goodreads Giveaway Scheduled

Beginning August 22nd a goodreads Giveaway will begin for 7 signed first edition copies of my two-years in the writing/fine tuning of my contemporary vampire romance Out. I wrote the book and then realized that there were a lot of characters in it that needed some background and more definition, so I went back and wrote excerpts as if from various media sources about each vampire and inserted them in a sort of chronological order which also touches upon what was or is happening at the time in society as vampires are being outed, the publics reaction to "the monsters" in their midst (their perception of these vampires as monsters when in fact they have been living among the normal human populace for centuries), and a splash of horror that leads to change.

It's difficult to classify this novel because it is not your usual horror-laced or campy vampire tale. To understand what I mean, I guess you need to read it.

Out is currently available on and as a Kindle book in the Kindle store. I will be delivering a few copies to Blue Umbrella Books in Westfield, MA this Saturday sometime.

Look for the black book with the deep purple roses on the cover!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Keeping Busy

Most days I wake up feeling as if I haven't accomplished anything in my life. I go off to work five days a week wishing I had more time to write and promote my work and attend author events, but work and dealing with/coping with health issues often consume much of my time. I try to write a little bit every night, but sometimes household tasks and errands chew up a couple hours of evening time. Therefore, I often go to bed thinking about all the writing I want to do and feeling disappointed that there is not enough time in a day to accomplish it.

It's almost mid-August, so this morning I've been thinking about what I have accomplished so far this year. In February I published 13, a little volume of supernatural and psychologically disturbing stories I had planned on publishing the previous October, but it got set aside. I polished it up and got it out there and was happy with it. Simultaneously, I also finished the sequel to Black King Takes White Queen, Black Knight, White Rook and published that novel.

I did some beta reading for author friends as spring approached. Then I put together a collection of just ghost stories and published Niss Peculiar's Ghost Stories, Volume I in June, and also a group of contemporary stories called butterscotch-a collection of stories, also released in June.

Then in July I tackled a pair of ghost hunting novels that had been sitting in binders in a milk crate, woefully neglected since 2011 and 2013. They both underwent revisions and editing because I had written the second book two years before the first book in the series, so had to fix continuity issues so the books would flow together more seamlessly. The Fairlawn Investigation and The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation were released at the end of July and beginning of August.

And then I dug out Bending Birches, a novella I'd written in 2014 or 2015. It has a local setting, fictionalized (partially as there are some real western MA locations mentioned as well). There was a partial sequel set seven years later that took me some searching to locate because I couldn;t remember what its title was. Seventh Year Itch was finished and the two novellas were put into a volume called Bending Birches and published.

And then I'd been thinking about putting together stories in which cats, dogs, kittens and puppies played a role in romances. I gleaned a number of stories from previous published story collections and added one previously unpublished story with a ghost cat, and Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs was released last week with a picture of Kelly's and my cats on the cover, no less!

Finally, I had a vampire novel written two years ago and was talking to a publishing companies self-publishing subsidiary when John lost his job. With 5/6 of our income gone I couldn't afford to pay their fee and just set the book aside, although I did write new sections and insert them into each chapter, and then did revisions to fix continuity issues. I left it alone for over a year, then began fixing it up some more, ordering a proof copy after each revision. Red, Green, Yellow print on black covers. Then I chose deep purple roses for the new and final cover...and ordered a fourth proof, while considering submitting it to a publisher in Pepperell MA that only publishes quality vampire fiction...until I read the disclaimer that authors are responsible for promoting their own work. Well, I already do that, so I decided to just release it on my own. I did the last major overhaul and Out was released this week.

Nine books in eight months. Viewed that way, I see that I have accomplished something- maybe too much something, but I guess my main issue is that this was all (except for Black Knight, White Rook, previously written material, of which I have a mountain of! I really haven't written much new material-although I've started a lycanthrope novel, two contemporary novels, and a few stories.

And I've been beta reading for three author friends- two beta reads completed, one BIG one to go!

So, I don't know why I feel I haven't done anything...I think it's just I set the bar too high for myself, and right now I am tired with summer dragging on with hot humid days and cool rainy weather alternating, which wreaks havoc on arthritis and mood in general. It's been draining energy wise.

At least I can read this and remind myself that I have been keeping busy- even when I don't feel that I've done much at all!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Out is out

Well...after doing additional thinking about things, I came to the conclusion that I still prefer to remain in control of my own work- therefore, I approved Out this evening and it will be available shortly on Amazon. It will be released as a Kindle book shortly.

Out is a different sort of vampire book. It is part romance, part social commentary on tolerance of different people, and a smidge of horror, which is a genre I do not ordinarily write. Basically, it's the story of a young woman with a prosthetic lower limb who has had a crush on a wealthy businessman since she was a girl. He has also been attracted to her. Their very different worlds collide, and it's up to the two of them to bring about change in the world. (If you've read Black King Takes White Queen the theme is similar, but given a vampire spin and another twist so that the story alternates between excerpts from the media in all its myriad forms, to the past and present as related from Irina's point of view, Irina being the very human young woman who lost part of her left leg in the opening salvo between rival vampires.

That's all I'm saying about the novel.

I will do a goodreads giveaway in the near future. A few copies will be placed at Blue Umbrella Books once I have them in hand. Otherwise- you'll have to get it on Amazon or on your Kindle.

This is book #30 for me.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Four Books in Two Months and Now to Get Serious

On May 31st I was finished with The Fairlawn Investigation, closely followed in June by The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation. Those two novels were written in 2013 and 2011 respectively, then joined the ranks of unpublished material in binders sitting around in milk crates and file boxes for 4 and 6 years. Not feeling well enough to tackle a new writing project, I've spent the past two months polishing up stuff already written and getting it out there. Bending Birches was written in 2015. It's sequel was partially written then abandoned when my friend Pauline (Mrs. Thayer in the novella) passed away in September of that year. I cleaned up Bending Birches, tracked down the sequel (having to open and start reading a number of files because I couldn't remember the name I'd given it). It was almost finished, so I did finish it, and then backtracked to make sure both novellas meshed. That's how Bending Birches came to be. Finally, thinking about all my cat and dog loving friends and fellow authors, I plucked 9 stories in which kittens, cats, puppies and dogs play a role in the romance going on between two people. Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs was an easy put together since I pulled the stories from previously published books. Only Franklin, a ghost cat story, had not yet been published. I gave it a read through, fixed up punctuation and grammar here and there, and then plugged it into the new book. To perk up the book, I plucked cat and dog quotes by famous writers, authors and others and added them at the beginning of the book, then added a quote of my own. To make it more enjoyable for family and friends, and facebook acquaintances who have seen the boys on my facebook page, I added one of my favorite photos of Riley Beans and Revere as the cover image. It took me about eight hours on a Saturday to pull the stories and put them into a new interior book file, fix up Franklin, then upload the file and create the book. Technical glitches with the internet and CreateSpace created a few delays, but by Monday evening the book was approved and now it's in the hands of family and friends already.

So, for me, it's not a matter of OMG- you wrote four books in two months! No. I have been writing for decades and NOT publishing anything. I have tons of written material lying around my house. I have been writing new books (novels are still fairly new for me) and ghost stories in between and publishing them also, so that's what gives the illusion that I'm some sort of writing whiz. I write daily (well, I do occasionally take a day or two off to read). I am a disciplined hobbyist writer. I also write to relieve stress. I write because I enjoy writing. I love words- putting them together so they tell an entertaining story.

But- now, I have one novel that I have been working on for two years. I just finished the 4th printed proof read through- making final tweaks, revisions, and corrections. I think I finally have this novel ready to submit to a real publisher. As you probably know, I do not like loosening my control over my offering this manuscript to a publisher is a humongous step for me. I'm only doing it because I have had good experiences with novels I've submitted to contests with The Subtlety of Light and Shadow earning a 10 of 10 from a judge in The Golden Heart Contest in 2015, and an overall 7.49 rating (I don't write straight out romance- this was my one and only attempt at that. Then My Magical Life and The Archetypes-First Generation garnered positive comments in the Writer's Digest Self Published Novel contest last year with the judges really liking the story, but marking me down on the covers and such things as starting the chapters too high on the page (technical stuff), and the stunning surprise of Black King Takes White Queen being shortlisted for the OZMA AWARD 2016 earlier this year. Black King Takes White Queen is my 2017 Writer's Digest Self Published Novel entry this year.

So, Out is going through its revisions this weekend and if I get it done by Sunday I'll begin drafting a query letter according to the publisher's specifications (include an author bio and first three chapters for esubmissions). We'll see what happens. If it gets rejected, I'll look into one more local publisher...and if that fails, I will release the book with its current deep purple roses cover.

So, yes, during the course of my life so far, I have been a prolific writer. I have not written all of these stories in the past two years. I have written the majority of the 13 published novels over the past 6 years. I have one more I really want to finish that would probably fall into the romance category. If you've read The Winter Solstice Ball in Always Christmas in My Heart then you've read a novella based on the novel.

I will not be putting out another book for a while because I have beta reading to do for other authors and a writer's group to get started. I will be writing a NaNoWriMo novel in November, more ghost stories, and my annual holiday story/-ies, but will probably not have a second Miss Peculiar's Ghost Stories out this year. I have two longer holiday stories written last year. Not quite enough for a new book yet. However, I still have the three already self published Christmas books to do some revisions in that I did not get to when I redid all the previous books covers and spiffed up the interior copy. Still a lot of projects to tackle, but making some sow and steady progress!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs Released

I put together a collection of 9 stories for cat and dog lovers over the weekend, gleaned from previous story collections such as Love Me Knots, Auspicious Beginnings, Cupid's Darts (from the Sweet Hearts Collections), Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume I and Miss Peculiar's Ghost Stories, Volume I (because who hasn't been haunted by a ghost cat or dog in their lifetime?) Each story has some romance in it, of course. There is one previously unpublished story in this volume, Franklin, which is a ghost cat story!

When it came to designing the cover the ONLY choice I could make was to grace the cover with one of my favorite photos of my boys- Revere and Riley Beans. Actually, Revere,the domestic shorthair tuxedo cat, is Kelly's boy while the fluffy gray and white long-haired cat is my Riley Beans. They were both adopted in 2011, Revere in June after we lost Isador, and Beans in November after the sudden death of Diego (our former tuxedo cat). They were both adopted from the Homeless Cat Project here in Westfield, not too far from where we live. They are the sweetest boys, and though they are a few months apart in age and not related at all, they are the loving brothers and get along very well.

Now I just need to keep their being coverboys from going to their heads!!

Life, Death, Love, Cats & Kittens is available on and will be a Kindle ebook in a day or two.