Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Comics Kickstarter Announcement For A Writer/Publisher Friend!



Because Twitter doesn't allow you to post much in the way of press releases without splitting it all up, I'm using my blog as a link to spread the word. And I hope you will read through this entire post and please share it, but also if you can find it in your heart and wallet, contribute something. We all have dream projects that have been on the back burner, and this is one of Ron Fortier's brainchildren. He's been able to pull together an awesome team and it has a dedicated publisher, but they need funding. That's where we all come in.

You will find the Kickstarter HERE. You can also take a look at what they have already on Ron's Flight Log at this link on the Airship 27 site. Not only does this comic project look magnificent, but it shows you the power of the internet to bring creative people together. You can read more about those involved in the press release below this paragraph. And please do read it because this is an accomplishment to be proud of. How many people dream of doing something like this but it never makes it past the 'Wouldn't it be awesome...' daydreaming stage? Ron also runs a publishing company of his own with numerous authors including Your's Truly sending him material to be edited and ultimately turned into something salable to readers in multiple formats with both cover art and interior illustrations. There's a ton of work involved in coordinating that sort of thing. That two man operation at Airship 27 puts out an awful lot of books! They also try to hit a few conventions every year. So Ron is a busy guy. Now I have a chance to say thanks for the opportunity to be published by helping him get the word out about one of his own personal undertakings. Writers helping writers—it's a beautiful thing! That's why this announcement is here.



1305 Andes Dr.
Winter Springs, FL

For more information
contact Roland Mann


Fan favorite comic writer Ron Fortier (Green Hornet, Terminator, The Boston Bombers, Mr. Jigsaw) brings epic science fiction story to Silverline Comics. Fortier teams up with Italian artist Andrea Bormida for Beyond The Stars, a six-issue mini-series.

The concept originated with Andrea,” says Fortier, who saw pages on a social media board where Bormida was seeking feedback from industry professionals. “They were completely pencilled, inked, and colored…and incredibly beautiful.”

Fortier reached out to Bormida, and working together, Fortier crafted an outline for the six-part cosmic adventures. Shortly thereafter, Fortier reached out to Silverline editor Roland Mann.

I’m a big science fiction fan anyway,” says Mann, “but when I read Ron’s pitch and saw Andrea’s art…well, we jumped on it right away! Even more impressive was that Ron had assembled his entire team so quickly. I’m a big fan of Mike W. Belcher’s work, and Ron already had him lined up to do lettering and design.”

I love good comics,” says Belcher, “From top to bottom this is what I look for in a good read. Imaginative art by someone who puts their heart and soul into it. As well as a story that pulls me in and gives me characters I can care about.”

It’s my first crowd-funded project,” adds Bormida. “Will it work? Shall I be able to reach out to new fans? Such a new adventure.”

Beyond the Stars is the primal good versus evil tale. At its core is a group of unique Science-Warriors called upon to save all of mankind from an unimaginable horror. Beyond the Stars #1 will be 1/3 of a Silverline Sci-fi Extravaganza for the initial crowdfund campaign. The other comics are Obsoletes #1 by Wes Locher, Aaron Humphres, Jose Fuentes, and Haley Martin, and with Krey #1 RemiX by Roland Mann, Steven Butler, Ken Branch, and Jeremy Kahn. The giant-sized comic will come in at almost 70 pages of story and art.

A Kickstarter campaign is slated to run from May 5 through May 22. Original art and retailer bundles are available as part of the campaign!

Link to the kickstarter: https://tinyurl.com/SilPRbts

Beyond the Stars is trademarked and copyright 2022 Ron Fortier. The Obsoletes is trademarked and copyright 2022 Wes Locher. Krey is trademarked and copyright 2022 Roland Mann. All rights reserved.

 “Classic, ripping stuff that's rich in ideas and concepts but doesn't forget to bring us a cast we can relate to." 

Chuck Dixon: Batman, Nightwing, Punisher

Mind-blowing space adventure with brilliant art.”

Mike Baron: Nexus, Badger, Punisher

Variant cover by Dean Zachary, Thomas Florimonte, and Mickey Clausen

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Thinking about what writing means to me...

You know, 2022 is turning out to be a year where I am struggling at times to remain productive. It's not because I haven't been writing, because I certainly am, but the words seem to be coming harder. Plus there have been a lot of distractions. Since writing is essentially something I do from home and I'm home all the time these days, you'd think it would come easy. Just sit down and type. Yeah, I wish it was that simple!

Writing is a passion for me. I'm a creative person, I've always dabbled in arts and crafts. I crochet, I cook, I've gardened. I enjoy the challenge of taking something that starts as a raw idea or a whim and working out the kinks until it becomes a finished project. It never quite looks the way you imagined it would be, but it's always fascinating to see what develops. I enjoy the books I've written. Sometimes they even surprise me. Which happened recently when I got back the galley draft of my latest release from Pro Se Press.

You can find this book here on Amazon, in both Kindle and in paperback. The Kindle version is on sale for a limited time at 99¢, so don't delay on that, because it's a great deal! Below is the company press release...

REDEMPTION: A VAGABOND BARDS NOVEL, written by Nancy A. Hansen, Author of the anthology TALES OF THE VAGABOND BARDS, is now available in print and digital formats from the author’s own imprint HANSEN’S WAY and Pro Se Productions.
Siska of Voruta, the Archon, or leader of the Vagabond Bards, has traveled to the burgeoning mining town of Holtsville at the behest of a childhood friend. Brother Orson and his fellow monks of the St. Atreus Monastery have borne witness to a series of brutal murders and mutilations over the intervening months, and now need her help and advice to sort things out. What initially appears to be the work of a cult or a serial killer leads them into a web of diabolical intrigue wrapped in a conspiracy to wrest power from the local authority and turn the poor people of Holtsville into thralls for profit.
Unfortunately Holtsville's Lord Baron seems to be right in the midst of this cabal of greed, and something sinister in his past makes Siska and Orson suspicious that he might just be the mastermind behind these depraved killings.
Can these two old friends band together and discover what is going on in the area, or will the disparate powers of church and state tear them apart forevermore? Just who will ultimately find redemption, and how?
Featuring a fantastic cover by Larry Nadolsky, cover design by Antonino lo Iacono, and print formatting by Abba Studios, REDEMPTION: A VAGABOND BARDS NOVEL is available for 12.99 via Amazon at https://tinyurl.com/bdfhrzhr.
The second volume in this series is also available on Kindle formatted by Abba Studios for $0.99 for a limited time at https://tinyurl.com/2p9asaer. Kindle Unlimited Members can read this thrilling adventure for free!
TALES OF THE VAGABOND BARDS is also available via Amazon.
For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies for review, email editorinchief@prose-press.com.
To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook at Pro Se Productions.

This is the 30th novel released with my name on the cover as author. Only 4 of those 30 books have a co-author, the rest were written entirely by me. That in itself is quite an accomplishment. 😀👍  I turned this book in back in 2017 and was beginning to despair that I'd never see it hit print. So I was overjoyed when Pro Se let me know it was on the production line. In going over the galley after all that time, it struck me that this had really turned out to be a fascinating story, and had someone else written it, I would have devoured the book. That is a great feeling, and I hope my potential readers have the same reaction. It is a fantasy world setting, but without a lot of the usual tropes. It involves some murder mysteries, the meeting of old friends and one-time lovers trying to investigate them, and power struggles between church and state as well as those who would profit from suppressing and subduing others. The title 'REDEMPTION' has multiple meanings within the story itself, as several characters have things in their past to amends for. Still very readable for all that complexity and packed with all the action, tension, and intrigue that fans of the old pulp style would enjoy. These are characters you can love or despise, and I bet you'll find yourself rooting for a couple of them.

That's what writing is all about to me, making tales that leave a lasting impression in your mind and heart. I've had a love affair with books and short stories since I was a young girl, and now at 65, I feel privileged to be able to author my own tales, and offer them up to the world. Writing is a solitary business, where you spend a lot of time alone locked inside your own thoughts, but it is a process I actually revel in. I've always been somewhat of an introvert, so working by myself on a project without having to leave my home for some other workplace destination suits me. That publishers will print what I write and people buy the books never fails to amaze and encourage me to keep going. So even with the occasional off day or setback, I'm still at my desk, pounding those keys every chance I get.

One of the things that keeps me going is having friends in the business who also hear that call to create.  For that reason I have been part of a small but incredibly supported writer's group online since the middle of 2019. Started by writing pal Jaime Ramos, the 5 of us get together every week to discuss and read things we've been working on and to offer helpful critiques and support when and where needed. These people are my Scribe Tribe. All are published authors dealing with the same issues in writing and some divergent ones in real life that tend to make getting work done rather complicated. Back in March, Jaime was interviewed by Art Sippo of ArtsReview's Podcast about all his recent projects including the Golgotha one I am involved in.  Recently Jaime posted a very short (under 10 minutes long) podcast on Facebook about his life situation and his writing. He's promised us more of the same and I hope so. Once I get organized and can sit down to record something, I'd love to do something like that as well.

So what have I been working on? Well, I'm making decent progress on the 9th Jezebel Johnston pirate novel. This one finds our intrepid young Jez back in the Caribbean world of her birth as captain of her own ship and crew. She has some frustrating and at times heart-tugging issues to deal with before she can go back out on the account. I'm rapidly approaching the halfway point on this one, even though I've been distracted by other projects. One of those was my Golgotha novella, which has been turned in to Jaime for review and editing and is now with the potential publisher. The Golgotha project is set in a Gothic/noir world of Jaime's creation, but all of us involved have been able to add our own characters to the mix. I had fun working on that one. I also wrote a new Chandra Smoake short for a possible open call submission I've been waiting to see announced. The publisher is looking for Occult Detectives, and since this is my 3rd Chandra Smoake, that's now right in my wheelhouse. What is taking me far longer is a horror novella I've been picking away at about genetically altered bees arising from the Amazon to spread across the world. I was recommended by a fellow author to the publisher and made the initial contact. The person who emailed me and I kicked around some ideas, and this was a concept that fit what they wanted. So at their request I sent a sample of the rough draft and a quick synopsis covering 4 potential small books. That was some weeks ago, and since then I have heard :::CRICKETS::: I assume that means they are not interested. Well so be it, I can still turn this into something for another market, and I don't have to meet their ambitious time table of a 35,000—40,000 word novella every 40 days. I don't write that fast, and I want this story to make sense, not read like some low-budget B-movie plot. One thing I don't do is chase people around begging to be published. If they like what I send them, I assume they will tell me. If I don't hear anything, I move on to the next potential market. I did warn them (politely) up front that I do have other places I can sell this story. With what I have worked out, I have enough material for a couple of standard novels.

Working on the superbees novella (superbees is what I am calling them because they are 2-inch long biting and stinging honeybees that make huge hives in the thousands and swarm often) has been the most frustrating part of this writing year. Regardless of my status with the original interested publisher, I still want to complete the project. For one thing, this is my first foray into something that is completely a horror story. I've used horror elements before, but never something that has those heart-pounding massacre scenes all throughout. The idea of using bees came about because the publisher wanted something for the cover art that would be easily recognizable to the potential audience and I really didn't want to do another Kaiju or the standard horror monsters types (zombies, werewolves, vampires, etc). Killer bees have been done, but were always based on the aggressive Africanized bees that started spreading out of Brazil in the late 50s. I wanted something just a bit more intensely frightening and not as overdone. I've done a ton of (ongoing) research to make the potential menace more probable, and even with the entire internet at my disposal, that takes time. I've read through all sorts of science journals and beekeeping sites, watched Youtube videos on different types and bees and how they are handled—even how to breed new kinds of bees. I've always found bees interesting, but I know a heck of a lot more about them now than I ever expected to. So I plan to keep picking away at this project. I just need to set it aside now and then to focus on something else that isn't quite as intense or frustrating in what I need to know and still don't. Reminds me of my earlier days with the pirate series.

One project I need to get back to is making my final pass on Silver Pentacle #3. The book is finished in rough draft (with interior notes for revision) but still doesn't have a catchy subtitle. It's different from the other two books in that they were collections of 2-3 stories. This one is a continuous novel, it brings to the reader's attention a potential fourth elemental team member. So I want the subtitle to reflect that. I'm just not sure what to call it, and I'm hoping that when I go through it the title will suggest itself. My understanding is that #2 is in production now with both the interiors and the cover art in the capable hands of artist Guy Davis. Guy has been enthusiastic about the series since he read the first one and asked to be able to do the cover as well as interior illustrations. I'm all for that, and what I've seen from the first book showed his passion and energy. Gotta love it when the people who work on your books enjoy reading them as well!

One of the small projects that is near and dear to my heart and that I pick at now and then is writing the Tucker T. Bear book I promised my grandkids. My little granddaughter gave me a teddy bear she was going to donate because she thought I'd like him, and so I named him Tucker and promised her she could see him any time she came to visit. Tucker now sits on the headboard of my bed, along with his new little friend Miss Lily, a small white teddy bear holding a red heart who was a Valentine's Day gift from a dear friend. Like many other things in my life, Tucker became the catalyst for a whole bunch of story ideas about a teddy bear who comes to life and has all sorts of adventures while living with and traveling alongside his human companion. Granny Annie makes a good living writing poetry for greeting cards, and she travels often. She lives alone with her little Scottie McTavish, and one day when her granddaughter Rose gives her a cast off teddy bear, something the two of them do brings Tucker to life. What I'm working on is the initial tale of how that happened and what Tucker has to learn about being alive and fending for yourself when Granny goes off to a big convention and leaves him home alone. How much trouble can one teddy bear get into in a suburban household? Oh, you'd be surprised...

Just writing about all this has helped me realize that I'm just as busy and productive as ever. Sometimes I don't think I'm getting enough done. Then I look at what I have accomplished and how far I've stretched my writing ability, and I realize that I'm probably still doing more than I ever dreamed I could. I still do edit for other people now and then as well, but mostly these days I am focused on my own work. Now and then I take a day off for necessary appointments and errands, to do some cooking or cleaning, and most important of all, to spend with loved ones. Those are the days when I recharge my writing batteries by reentering the so-called 'real' world. With the exception of family, it's not always a place I prefer to be...

I honestly love what I do, and that is not going to change, even when things get a bit discouraging. I might drop one project for a bit, but I will usually boot up another and get right back to work. There is always something that I can write about, even if it's just a blog post speaking of my writing world. Because this thing I do with creating stories is what gets me up in the mornings and it's often the last thing I think about before I drop off to sleep. I'm in that part of my life where the nest is empty, my body fights me daily, and the world seems to have gone mad, so writing is where I go to remind myself that there are things I still can control. Heck, it's a better habit than booze and pills, and it's cheaper than therapy. A lot more fun for me than any of that too.

Writing ever onward!   ðŸ’ªðŸ˜Ž

Saturday, March 19, 2022

What's new? So glad you asked!

While it might seem like there has been a lull in my writing and published works, that's not entirely the case. I haven't blogged a lot but I have been extremely busy at writing. I'm working on both short stories as well as novels. I'll get to those in just a bit; first I want to talk about some new releases since the last time I posted here.

This first one is especially near and dear to my heart... Mark Halegua and I had been messaging each other in email and then on Twitter since fall of 2019, where we chatted about our respective days. We also talked a lot about writing, and he often shared with me what he was dealing with health-wise. I knew he was struggling both financially and with ongoing health issues, but he also was excited to tell me some details of a new book he was working on with a classic-style pulp superhero set in 1930s NYC. He did ask me if I'd be willing to take a look at it, but unfortunately I was pretty busy at that time. So I suggested to Mark that he could send what he had completed of his manuscript to fellow writer/editor Lee Houston Jr., and Mark was amenable to that. Lee went over the initial beginning, which was somewhere around 10 pages, and then Lee sent it back with his corrections/suggestions. Several months later when Mark wanted input again, I had gotten an opportunity to write a western for a publisher with a hard deadline, though they had bumped it ahead a couple months to accomodate me. So I just could not take on another project. Once again, the now much longer manuscript Mark had went to Lee, who worked on it in his spare time. Unfortunately we lost Mark in the interim, so what we had was basically 2/3 of a book that Mark wrote and never got to finish.

I felt really bad about not being involved in that, because I knew how much Mark wanted to see his name on a cover of a book that he had written. We were now well into 2020 when I approached Airship 27 Productions about Lee and I finishing Mark's book. Airchief Ron Fortier readily agreed to let us take on that project once we had the time. We worked on it a large part of last year (2021). First Lee and I gathered all our notes and material on the project (I had some info in messages, either email or on Twitter) and we had plenty of discussions. Lee did the initial reformatting and copy editing along with some light line editing for style. Then Lee turned it over to me.

The first thing I did was read the entire unfinished manuscript to try and get a feel for Mark's style, where he was going with the story, and how to bring it to some conclusion. I had read only snatches of it before that time and I'm not usually a superhero writer, so I really needed a chance to get the flavor of the story before I could go on. There were a lot of random crime scenes in it that did not seem purposeful, and some big time jags with flashbacks that were hard to make sense of. Lee was busy with a book he was working on so I took it on myself to pull the story Mark had already laid out for us together so that it made sense, and then it had to be continued. That's where it got challenging.

I had no clue what Mark intended for his big climatic scene, because he hadn't gotten that far. But there were some indications that he was going for something big from gangland that had to be stopped. I just had no idea exactly what. Explosives were mentioned, that could be built upon, and nobody in organized crime tolerates a do-gooder interfering with their 'business'. Mark had written in from the beginning that this hero in his real life was a struggling pulp author barely getting by who finds an alien A.I. that grants him certain enhanced abilities. There was a love interest for the main character that while it was rather distracting at times, could be used in a plot to smoke out the Blue Light. I went back and forth with Lee all the time I was working on it. Lee is a big comics fan and he loves mysteries and police procedurals, so his input was invaluable. I ran my ideas past him on almost a daily basis. The hardest thing was giving some reason for all the randomn crimes that Mark had written in. We certainly didn't want to lose Mark's hard work and author style in the process, so we did what we could to incorporate whatever he had written and have it all make sense and be readable. While working together all the way, I think Lee and I managed that aptly.

After weeks of working on the book with Lee's input throughout, I completed a rough draft that I felt good about. It got set aside for a bit before I made a second pass and then turned it over to Lee. When we were both on the same page about the events in the book and how readable it seemed, we sent it off to Airship 27 late last August (2021), and then both of us went on with other projects.

When we got the galleys back a week or so ago as of this writing (we each got a copy), Lee and I worked hard to get them corrected and back in on time. Reading that book over again, seeing the cover, the interior illustrations, and the dedication we wrote inside along with the one the publisher put on the back cover with Mark's picture, I'll admit I teared up more than once. It had been over 6 months months since we turned it in, and while reading it over I was very happy with how seamless it appeared to be. You could not easily tell where Mark left off and we stepped in. I kept thinking how proud he'd be to see his name on that cover that shows his character in an action scene—which by the way was done by AS27 in-house artist and all around setup man Rob Davis. The interior illustrations are awesome too, all done by Colorado based artist Sam A. Salas in a style that really suits the story. Every time I look at this book it makes me proud. How often in life do you get a chance to make someone's dream come true, even post-humously? It was worth every hour we put into it, and believe me there were plenty involved. Still very much a labor of love.

And now you can get your own copy, in Kindle or Paperback by clicking here. There is an inexpensive PDF available at Airship 27's Hangar site as well (scroll down). A book well worth reading to honor a great guy, and one I'd love to see do well for Mark's sake. None of us writers want our hard work to die with us. Let's make this novel a big success in Mark's memory.

In other recent release news, I found out today that my first Jezebel Johnston book, subtitled DEVIL'S HANDMAID, just got released in audio format once again—this time by Radio Archives! When someone believes in your work enough to go back and make their own audio version of the very first of eight current novels, that's absolutely a vote of confidence for the entire series. Right now you can get that 8 hour recording, read by Radio Archives voice artist Roberto Scarlato, for half price. So don't delay, because $7.99 for 8 hours of entertainment in a digital download you can enjoy at home or while out & about is a bargain! Also available on CD. This is the book that started the series, and I'm currently working on novel #9, so here's your chance to start at the beginning with a low cost source of entertainment for those long commutes, beach days, or evenings in the easy chair with the earbuds in. In case you were wondering, this is PG13 with off and on violence and some subtle adult situations, but filled with rollicking pirate adventures in a historical backdrop and as realistic as I can make it. You can find it in either format right here.

Now, what have I been working on? Well besides the 9th Jezebel Johnston pirate tale in progress (no title at this point) I've completed in rough draft the third Silver Pentacle book, which turned out to be a full novel this time. I still need to go over that and title this one, but it is essentially completed. The story went places I wasn't expecting, but that's nothing new. I hear SP #2 is in progress, so I'll let you know when that makes it to print.

I've been trying my hand at writing some horror this year. I've been flirting with that for a while now in certain stories, but this is the first time I've actually settled in to write a story that is 100% horror throughout. It's harder than you'd think, though I've really diversified my writing over the past 10 years or so, moving myself away from mostly epic/heroic fantasy and into other genres like westerns, private eye, children's adventure, Kaiju-type monsters, and of course those historical fiction pirate yarns. I have started a paranormal investigator series of short stories set in the 1950s that are gradually catching on, but true horror has always been something I've wanted to do and have been a bit uneasy about. The trick is much like in writing romance (especially the ever-popular bodice ripper stuff), maintaining the tension throughout without tipping your hand. I've got two in progress right now, one a novella series that I'm not positive that the publisher will take (though another has expressed interest) and a short story aimed at a specific publisher that I've already turned in. That story is more of a horror/gothic noir mashup and it had a fixed setting, so that was quite a bit easier. The novella is coming along, but I've had to pare out some wordy sections that slow it down. You can't afford that sort of slog-through area in a manuscript that is only 35,000-40,000 words long and is supposed to remain gripping throughout. Have to keep the action ramped up. I did write a pseudo horror short that was inspired by a 
reading group podcast I watched online last Halloween, but I haven't really thought of where to send that yet. So I've not just dipped my big toe in the genre, both my feet are wet now. Just something else to add to my usual repertoire.

I'm also writing another Chandra Smoake short story (the 1950s paranormal investigator) for a specific market that is looking for that sort of thing over the next month or so. They want a pitch and a sample of something else published. I want the story at least done in rough draft before I toss my hat into the ring. I'm trying to broaden my readership by reaching out to companies I have not yet dealt with. The idea is to keep expanding, which does bring new opportunities and makes my writing résumé look better. Anything I can produce has more than one potential sales site, so even if it doesn't make the cut for the intended target, I'll eventually find a home for it.

All this writing certainly keeps me busy, which is a good thing at this stage of my life. For one thing, I am an empty-nester in an all older adult household. Since I'm not employed outside of the home, I have the time and energy to write. Over the last eight years I've become increasingly incompacitated with advanced osteoarthritis and degenerative spine, making it hard for me to get around. I can't stand for more than 15 minutes without pain, and with at least one hip that is bone-on-bone (no cartilage left) and a knee joint below it that is severely damaged, I shamble along with a cane. Housework is tough for me, I can't garden like I used to or walk my dog, and just getting in and out of a vehicle or off a couch or chair is a struggle. I plan on getting some of that repaired with whatever medical science can provide for me, but it's going to be a while yet. I've been gradually bringing my weight down to a level that agrees with artificial joint replacements, but even after losing 77 lbs, I've still got some way to go. And most of those replacements at present have about a 15 year life span, though they are being improved all the time. So timing is everything now that I am about to turn 65.

Plus last fall, I was diagnosed with Stage 3A kidney disease, which forced me to once again, alter my diet rather drastically. In order to keep my kidney function where it is, I had to drastically cut back on all animal protein, including eggs and dairy. I had to add back in copious whole grains and some starchy stuff like potatoes in order to make up the difference in the reduced meat/fish/poultry/egg/cheese portions. The first month was tough since I'd been losing weight on a low carb/high protein keto regimen. As a longtime gardener, I love my veggies and fruit, but you can only eat so much—plus you don't stay full long enough. I can't stomach beans of any kind, they have never agreed with me, so that was out. In the intervening months I have come up with reasonable alternatives and I'm doing fine now; my kidney levels are stable at their current stage (they don't improve, the idea is to stop the damage) and weight is coming off again. But I have become even much more of a label reader than I was before, because sodium and phosphates—both abundant in most factory foods—are the enemy. In fact, I had to give up my prescription for twice daily 500 milligram naproxen that helped control the arthritis pain and stiffness to some degree because that too is sodium based and all that salt filters direcrtly through my already damaged kidneys. The only medication I am allowed now for the pain is time-released Tylenol and the very occasional muscle relaxer (for bad pain nights). So this is very much NOT fun.

So what does that have to do with writing? Well, everything! Writing is something I do well and enjoy immensely. It gives me something to look forward to daily. I can do it sitting down, and it takes my mind off my pain and my worries about what the future holds for me. It can also be squeezed in around other things in my day. I lose a lot of sleep due to chronic pain as well as nightly bathroom visits. The latter is because my kidneys are now much slower working than they used to be, and that end process cannot wait until morning. Thankfully most of my days are spent here at home, writing. That's what gets me up and gives me something positive to focus on. These big life changes don't come easy, so it's good to have something to look forward to accomplishing when I'm not with friends and family.

Which is exactly why I am here writing this post. To get the word out about what I have going on so I can continue writing and having places to publish my work where people will read it. If they'll print them, I'll write them. Keeps me out of trouble and in a better frame of mind.


Monday, January 3, 2022

Happy 2022!

Let's all hope this new year is a grand one, and a big turnaround from the last two. While there are positive things to speak of in any year, Covid 19 has overshadowed most of the good news out there. On the homefront here in rural Eastern Connecticut, new cases are rising at an alarming rate. In my family we are all vaccinated and those who can do so have been boostered. We all wear masks in public and avoid big gatherings. This is how you beat something as pervasive as this virus. We don't want to lose a loved one, or take a chance of infecting someone else. That's not being paranoid, it's being wise and thoughtful of others. That's how I was raised.

Well the big winter holidays are over now, the tree is down, and all the decorations are packed away. Most of the goodies have been eaten, and the gifts are not only unwrapped but unboxed and put to use. So now it's time to settle into the business of writing once more.

I actually got some writing done off and on during the stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. It wasn't a lot, but in past years I've taken that period of time off completely to concentrate on the holidays themselves.  So whatever I got done puts me that much farther ahead starting off this year. 

Complicating the situation just a bit was that fellow writing pal, honorary family member, and all-around good guy Lee Houston Jr. had another open heart surgery (his second in 13 years) back in mid-October to replace a failing artificial heart valve.  Though absolutely necessary, that is a very complex and invasive procedure with a long and painful recovery period. While the surgery went well, there were some speed bumps along the way. He is just now starting to feel like himself again. Lee lives with us and now that I am partially disabled he is a big help to me around the house as well as great company and a fellow writer. So his presence was sorely missed. I did whatever I could to take up the slack as well as keeping his loved ones informed about his progress, but I was often pretty frazzled and not up to doing a whole lot of writing. So that holiday slack-off started kind of early this year. Which all told, was still a very good writing year regardless...

I had planned the week before the big gift-giving holiday (which most of you call Christmas but I tend to stubbornly refer to as Yule because mine is a secular celebration) to get things done in a timely manner. Each day had a purpose, most of it gift wrapping until we got close to the actual day of our family get-together and I needed to at least bake something for my older son's birthday. So I managed to get gifts wrapped for former neighbors, a package sent to a friend, and gift cards out for the mail and paper carriers. That was Monday, and I felt soooo accomplished. Which was good, because I had a mountain of family gifts sitting on my fireplace hearth, waiting to be wrapped. That would give me at least two days for wrapping, another for baking and whatnot, and then Friday our part of the family was getting together at the kids' house. All cut & dried, everything planned out. Then Monday night, having done a late evening email check before bed, I found a galley for my Sinbad novel awaiting my final pass for corrections. That's when the fun started! 😵

Now to be perfectly honest, no one at Airship 27 was even suggesting I needed to get that book gone over and turned back in immediately. This was something I pushed myself to do. I was dying to see that book come out, thinking what a great time this was for a release so that folks can spend their holiday gift cards on some reading material. So Tuesday as soon as I could get to my PC, I sat my butt down in the chair and got to work going over it, which is basically reading the entire novel from end to end, making internal notes about anything that needed changing before it went to print. It's a lengthy process and not one that you can hurry through, and I gave it my full attention for the better part of 7 hours that day, with frequent breaks to rest my eyes and give me a chance to get up and stretch my legs. I got it all done in one fell swoop. That final hour was wrapping up and writing the cover email for when it got sent back. Caught the folks in charge off guard, but yes, it did come out by the holiday, and we were all pretty pleased about that. Great interiors on this one by artist Gary Kato, and a knock-out cover by Ted Hammond. If you enjoy the whole Sinbad mythos as well as the story of the Minotaur of Crete, you're going to love this book. Just rereading it was fascinating, because there were bits along the way I had forgotten. Once a book is done, I move on to the next project, and my mind shifts gears.

Available here folks!

You know, I got all those gifts wrapped the next day, in another marathon session of similar length. This one took place in the living room, with the tree lit and music on the cable holiday station, some of which I could actually sing along to. Oh, I was thinking about writing while I was otherwise occupied, I'd been picking away at Silver Pentacle novel #3 for weeks. But the family holiday comes first. With those gifts wrapped on Wednesday, I was back to having Thursday for baking. Which was what I did, making the Nestle's Tool House Pie my oldest son wanted for his 38th birthday (which was on Thursday the 23rd, but we waited a day to combine things). And then Friday, Christmas Eve, we traveled to their house for take-out Chinese, opening gifts, spending time together, and just being thankful that we're all healthy and safe. Yeah, that's what it's all really about.

The next day was quiet, the married son and his family had to go visit his in-laws, and because the weather was not too nice, my oldest decided to stay home. I made shepherd's pie, an old holiday standby dish for when there was no big gathering. A big pan for my household that lasted a couple days, a smaller one that got delivered and devoured by my two sons. They still enjoy their mom's cooking.

You see, being a writer, I could have just put all this other stuff aside and said, "Oh I'm too busy with my career to keep doing this or that." But being a wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, I won't even contemplate that. While I have scaled back the holiday projects I do now, the older I get, the more that I realize how short these years actually are, and how precious the fleeting moments of grace and goodwill have become. I love seeing the smiles and watching the faces light up when memories from the past present themselves once more. This is not a religious holiday for me and mine, but it is a spiritual one in that we long to be together. We talk about the passing years and the people we've loved and lost, and how you must cherish every moment that you have with each other. I have time to write most days, but when it's time for family to gather, even the writing that I love so much has to take a back seat. We have a little wooden sign in our living room here which says: FAMILY FIRST AND FOREMOST. We don't just mouth it—that's how we live.

No worries folks, I will be back at my desk, pounding the keys on Monday January 3rd. It's still what I love most to do with my unoccupied time. With the holidays behind me, it's full speed ahead once more.

Living life to the fullest and writing onward all through it,