Friday, November 22, 2013

Writing, writing, writing!

Writing—that's exactly what I have been doing. Lots of writing going on here these days. The writing might have to take a break now and then, but it never stops completely.

Besides the fiction that you're familiar with, I also write a small monthly column for my town newsletter, which you can find here: You're looking for the Highland Herald and it opens in PDF format.

Fall and and winter have traditionally been my most productive writing seasons. For one thing, I'm indoors a whole lot more. The warm weather days with lots of sunshine are over for the year. The colder, shorter daylight hours are far more conducive to huddling over a keyboard with coffee or hot cocoa nearby for sipping as I ponder and pound out the phrases that put books and short stories together. Many of the household tasks at hand are indoor in nature too, so I haven't got far to commute. Over the years I have gone from stay-at-home mother to write-from-home author.

Currently I am working on two hot projects. 

One is an editor's suggested rewrite of a short story I submitted a while ago, involving a post apocalyptic steampunk setting with emerging superheroes. Yeah it's a departure for me, but in a good way, and no I didn't get it perfect the first time. So the piece needs work, and when you've been invited to write in someone else's world, you learn to respect their judgement. 

I was involved in an editing project for a pal at the time I got my story back for rewrite. That little editing job was something that I promised to do as a return favor, so I didn't get started on my own work immediately. Now that I am finished with my compadre's piece, I am busily redoing the parts of my own story that need rework. I hope to have it done in another week or so—give or take the holiday next week, for which I have to bake one day and cook the next, and possibly having a Black Friday outing. That's the only problem with this time of year for writing; the winter holidays tend to divide my attention.

My other project is writing the first draft of the finale to the trilogy started in FORTUNE'S PAWN and continued in PROPHECY'S GAMBIT. Well, MASTER'S ENDGAME is well underway—in fact, I am currently working in the huge climatic scene. It's quite a battle, bringing multiple forces together on both sides of the line, and yes we finally get to meet that long-prophesied 'child of three races'. A lot of the material for this one comes from the original doorstop manuscript. That far into the original piece I had hit my stride as an author, so I'm finding a lot more usable material, though it all is getting rewritten to some extent. Plot lines have changed a bit too, as has my style, from ponderous and wordy to action/adventure oriented. So far I am pleased with what I have, though it is longer than the last couple books, and very rough at this point. I'm hoping to have the first draft done by the end of the year.

Looking ahead to next year, I know I have a couple short story commitments for anthologies to write, and need to turn in at least one more new manuscript for my imprint, Hansen's Way. The publisher has fallen behind on my stuff, so they have a finished antho in need of cover art that was supposed to debut this year (and most likely won't) and another novel for the imprint still in early editing. Once I am finished with MASTER'S ENDGAME, that will also be in the queue, so I see no need for more than one additional novel length project as that likely would not see the light of day until at least 2015.

I have quite a few short pieces out there that have not seen print yet either, though to my knowledge all have been accepted. I have one short story proposal I have yet to write, but had to push that one ahead until next year. I will still be looking for other opportunities to present themselves in the short story and novel markets, but I plan to be very choosy from here on in about what projects I take on. 

Co-author Roger Stegman and I have turned in another Companion Dragons Tales story in the digest size for children's books and it is also awaiting final editing and cover artwork. I am hoping Finding Waxy will be out sometime before summer next year. I will be contributing a third tale to the series, lengthening an original short piece to digest size as well with a full length story for Copper Dragon. Copper's Choice is the title, and I should have that in sometime before the halfway point of 2014, unless something comes up.

To tell you the truth, I've been seriously thinking about self-publishing, since I have been doing most of the promotion for my own work anyway. Right now I don't have anything concrete in mind plot-wise, but that's something I plan to start working on next year as well. I'd like to see at least 1-2 projects out each year that don't rely on someone else's timetable. There is a lot of competition for publishing slots within the small companies, and I get impatient when half a year or more goes by and I don't have anything new out. I'd also prefer to have more control over things like content, length, editing, and artwork. Don't worry loyal readers, you'll know as soon as I have something more to share there. If you have any input for what you'd like to read, drop me a line here, or stop on my Facebook/G+ pages and let me know. I always love getting feedback.

So that is what's going on this side of the desk. I'll let you know if and when I have something new in print. Rest assured though, whatever happens, I sit here working on something every chance I get. I'm far from tapped out. 

Write On,

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Craziness From My Desk....

I have been so busy lately, I've hardly had time for blogging. Besides writing, I have a lot of things going on in my personal life—most of them boring, so I'll spare you. 

The big one that had the most impact on writing is when my PC decided it was time to die.

Oh yeah, that's not good... 

Fortunately #2 son is a whiz with computer stuff, and he had just ordered for me most of the parts I'd need to upgrade this thing. Old Faithful had been warning us for a few weeks that it was on its last legs. Since this PC was originally built for me by same son, I knew he'd come to my rescue. He did, but it took a few days. He is a family man after all, with a new baby, 9 year old stepson, and a job, so I was surprised and pleased I got the fast response that I did. I guess they take it seriously now that mom is a writer, and needs to be able to work in relative comfort.

Since the graphics card attached to the motherboard went first, I had huge 4-bit graphics that scrolled off the page. I could use the PC for email (because I could actually read it without a magnifier) or playing music while I worked, but that was about it. I did my writing on my netbook, with its cramped keyboard and 10" monitor (monitor size is diagonal BTW) was making me blind. But I did back up all my files as soon as I knew I had an issue, and was able to continue writing anyway—albeit at a far slower pace. I had to take frequent eyestrain breaks to stave off headaches, which means I cooked and my house got some needed attention.

    Once the PC was up and running again, I was ready to reload all my saved material. Unfortunately then—but fortuitously afterward, it turns out—I found out that the front two USB ports weren't connected. That meant I couldn't put back all my saved material, or save anything I might work on. ARRGGH!!!!! So I decided to re-download my most used programs, and a new word processor, since I can't afford MS WORD anymore. And in the process of doing that, it became 2AM rather too quickly, and I got careless. I downloaded SKYPE from a mirror site that was buggy and got...


Lots of it too. I could not get rid of it, and it kept replicating. Which means I had to shut down the PC and send an email from my netbook, begging for help, before calling it a night. 

I hopped back on the netbook for a day or so. And that's when my netbook charging unit decided to blow up. Actually it only made a popping noise, but it was toast. I had to borrow one until I could order another, which just came in the mail yesterday. Since my cell phone is also dying and should be replaced, I am beginning to feel like the Typhoid Mary of electronics...

Yeah, I heard about safe downloading, and felt like a 13 year old in Health 101. But they did come over and clean up my mess. I am usually very careful, but at 2 AM, I have less brain cells active. Live and learn. Go to bed, and use some writing time the next day to get things running smoothly again. My PC is my work station. It's where the magic that becomes books and short stories happens. It's my link to publishers and fans. I wanted to hug it when they said it was all clean again. I hugged my son instead. He gets jealous otherwise. And I got another chance to hold the grandbaby, and watched the older grandson carve a pumpkin from my garden, so all was not lost. Best of all, they hooked up my front USB ports, so I can save documents in a flash. 

Gradually as the week has gone on, I got this revamped machine set up the way I like it. I got all the programs I needed downloaded, and have learned to better navigate Windows 7 (I had XP) and LibreOffice's text program. I even downloaded SKYPE again, very carefully, from the official site. So things are running fine, and I'm writing. 

But I never stopped writing. I never do. I love it too much. I squinted at a screen less than half the size of the one I normally worked on, and dealt with carpal tunnel issues and all sorts of other awkward work positions (one of my office chairs insists on lowering itself while I'm still in it). 

Bottom line is, I didn't let the bad juju I encountered be an excuse to goof off. I'd have kept writing if I had to do it on paper with a pen. And that's the kind of attitude that separates the hobbyist from the pro.

Now you go make me proud, and write something too!

Or you can buy all my books and make me rich enough to afford better equipment, a housekeeper, a gardener, a vacation home...