Summer Update

Yesterday afternoon, I fell, gasping, across the finish line of the writing project I began in September of 2015.

My new baby weighs in at a little over 242,000 words, but don’t worry; it’s triplets. I won’t call it a series, because it’s not a series of related stories. It’s one story that takes three volumes to tell, kind of like the Lord of the Rings.

(NOTE: the format is the only comparison between my project and Tolkien’s famous work. Mine does not approach LOTR’s scope or depth or creativity, and no languages or alphabets were created in the making of it. So don’t go telling people I told you it’s like Lord of the Rings. It’s not!)

I intended to publish the first book this spring. But circumstances have led me to believe I shouldn’t be in such a hurry, so I decided hold off for a while. But having the whole thing drafted at last makes me very happy.

Something else I’ve been talking about for a long time but have only recently made firm plans to accomplish: travel to Tasmania! I’ll be gone most of the month of October, which means I’ll have to miss one of my four favorite seasons here in this part of the world. But that’s okay, I’ve seen autumn before. (Quite a few times, in fact!) But I’ve never seen Tasmania before. And since I have an invitation, as well as the time, health, and means to go, it would be foolish of me to not take advantage of this opportunity.

This is a view of Tasmania from space. I won’t see it from this perspective, but it makes for a great photo

It won’t be the first time I’ve been out of the US, but the other times don’t really count. Back in 1975, a friend and I visited her aunt and uncle in San Diego, and while we were in the neighborhood, we popped in to Tijuana, Mexico one evening. I’ve also been to Canada several times, but only in the days before we needed a passport to go there.

This trip will take a lot more preparation than simply packing a suitcase and making sure there’s gas in the car. I’m doing the research and trying to be practical (like, calmly making a to-do list and checking off items as I complete them) and not think too much about how exciting the trip will be! Because if I think about it too much, I’ll be good for nothing.

I’m pretty much good for nothing anyway: it’s taken me a couple hours to draft this post, because I keep looking at things travelers should know about visiting Australia. (Their Department of State has a very useful website for that.)

I’ll keep you updated on the upcoming trip, and also my progress as I move toward publishing my new baby, The Four Lives of Jemma Freeman.

I originally called it The Four Lives of Jemima Freeman, but I realized  the name Jemima Freeman gives the wrong impression. This is a speculative story set on another planet and has nothing whatsoever to do with African Americans, but unfortunately, the name “Jemima Freeman” conjures up an image something like this

when actually, the character in question has nothing in common with this famous fictional lady, other than the first name. Because some of her friends call my character Jemma, I’ve used that nickname in the title of the series to try to avoid confusion.

I do like the name Jemima, though. Too bad it’s stereotyped.

 

I hope to have some publishing news for you before too long. Meanwhile, enjoy your summer! Unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, in which case, I wish you a happy winter.

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Home!

I’ve been quiet recently for a number of reasons:

#1 – I’m a lazy blogger. Lazy like a sloth, but not so hairy.

#2 – Craig and I recently made another out-of-state move. (Didn’t we just do that a little over three years ago? Yes. But it was so fun the last time, we did it again…)

#3 – I’ve been waiting until one of my new releases finally came out, so I could announce it.

SO… We’re settled into our new home now. Yes, actually settled, though we still have one more carload of stuff to bring from the old place — things like winter coats and other odds and ends we won’t need immediately, so we won’t go back to get them for another couple of weeks.

AND… I’m finally able to announce the publication of that tiny house novella I’ve been talking about!

Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection is now available in Kindle, and will be out in print in the next week or two.

I’ve read four of the seven stories, and they’re each very different but are all sweet reads. I have no doubt the other three are just as good, and I look forward to them.

As is always the case with new releases, we need reviews. So if you’ve got $4 to spend and a little time for reading, I invite you to download it and post a review!

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Book Publicity and Root Canal

I was going to say book publicity is like root canal, but I’m not in a position to make the comparison, as I’ve never undergone that particular dental procedure.

In my mind, however, the procedure of marketing my writing is probably worse than root canal, because with dental work, it’s usually a one-shot deal. Maybe two or three shots. In any event, unlike promotional efforts, it’s not something you have to do on a regular basis.

I’m not sure why so many writers cringe at the very thought of self-promotion, but many of us do. Possibly it’s because writing is a rather solitary endeavor that appeals to introverts. I do know of some writers who love marketing, but they seem to be in the minority.

With two new releases coming up (the novella collection, and Stillwaters, Book 1 in the Four Lives of Jemma Freeman), I embarked on an online course  in book publicity through ACFW. I’m getting a lot of information, suggestions, and ideas. None of it excites me, and all of it makes me feel a little sick to the stomach. I don’t want to do that! Are you kidding? I’m supposed to do what?

This isn’t my first rodeo, but I’ve never won any prizes in the past. In fact, my efforts have made me feel more like a rodeo clown than a competitor. But it would be silly to keep writing and publishing books if I’m going to pretend I’m not.

So please bear with me as I get on this bronco and ride. And get thrown. And get on again. And get thrown again… And get on again…

If you want to laugh at me, I won’t be offended. That’s what clowns are for, right?

 

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It’s About Time!

After keeping the same site format for almost seven (7) years, I’ve finally updated my blog! I like the simple format and the clean look. I may tweak it here and there yet–for instance, I’d like to find a good photo to set up as the featured image, if this template will allow me to do that. But because I haven’t posted anything since March, I’m letting it go out into the world despite its immature state.

As you might notice, I’ve made small revisions to my “About” page as well as the tab for the Gateway to Gannah series. And I’ve added three new tabs:

  • One for my upcoming speculative fiction series, The Four Lives of Jemma Freeman;
  • Another for the tiny house novella series;
  • And a third for the new publishing company I’ve recently created, Gannah’s Gate.

Check them out! What do you think?

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New Stuff Coming Up

Us old dogs adapt slowly to new things, but if you hang around a little longer, you’re likely to see some changes here on Ys Words.

Including announcements of new book releases. Woo hoo! After not having published anything since 2015, I’m getting in the game again. With, of course, some changes, because it’s the year for switcheroos!

One new book to watch for is the novella collection I mentioned a little while ago. We have a cover for it now, as you can see, and I love it! It was designed by Ken Raney, who also did all four of my new Gannah books.

I’ve read four (including my own) of the seven stories that will be in it, and they’re all good. I’m assuming the other three are too, but I haven’t read them yet, so I can’t tell you about them. The four I’ve read are all very different, but each is a short, entertaining read, and I’m happy to conspire–except I guess the proper term is collaborate–with the authors to bring this collection of stories to you.

The projected release date is May 8. Watch for the official announcement, with buy links, later this spring!

Speaking of spring, we had the first real snowfall of the winter last night and this morning. A total of about 9 inches. That is apropos of nothing, but I thought I’d mention it, as the first day of spring is next Monday. Unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, of course, in which case it’s the first day of fall.

Okay, back to yakking about books:

I’m also preparing to release the first part of my speculative series I started working on in the fall of 2015. Hard to believe it’s been that long, but as you can see, I first mentioned it this past April when I was at 80,000-some words, and I posted a snippet of it here. I’m still not finished with the final section, but I’m far enough along that I’m ready to unleash the first part into the world. I hope it bites several thousand people and makes them rabid for more. It’s more reasonable to expect it might interest two or three unfortunate individuals, but I can hope for thousands, right?

Series name: The Four Lives of Jemma Freeman.

Book one title: Stillwaters

I don’t yet have a cover design to show you, but I do have a map of the world–my story world, that is. Here’s a peek at the land masses on the planet Umban:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See that little island called Freemansland in the eastern ocean all by itself? That’s where the story opens, which you’d know if you read the preview I posted earlier. As things unfold, you’ll get to see a great deal more of Umban than just Freemansland.

And, in case you wonder why I’m sniffling as I write this, a strange thing happened just now. While drafting a chapter that comes near the end of Book 3 a few minutes ago, I started crying over what was happening in the chapter. I don’t mean I had a tear trickle, I mean I actually cried! Writing the end of The Last Toqeph, which readers tell me is a genuine tear-jerker, made me sniffle. But writing Chapter 63 of Jemma Freeman made me break down. When I go through and make revisions later, I’ll see if it’s really that bad or if it was just the mood I was in when I drafted it.

Appetite whetted yet? No? Why not? What more do you want from me, for crying out loud?

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Ups and Downs

My writer friend Michelle recently posted the following infographic on her blog. It resonated with me, and so I’m sharing it, with her permission. (You may use it too–she says so! Honest!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve mentioned in the past that the so-called inspiration that comes to me in my half-awake state is almost always, if not always-always, laughable when seen in the light of day. So I couldn’t fully relate to the first part of this scenario. Not as far as good ideas coming to me as I drop off to sleep, anyway.

I’m more apt to come up with good story ideas while I’m doing something else. Something that occupies one part of my conscious mind while giving the creative part freedom to roam. Like washing dishes or pulling weeds or painting a wall. But the point is, I do get an idea now and then, and as illustrated above, I work on it mentally for a while before I sit down and try putting it into words. The Inspiration, Vision, and Genius phases are three of my close acquaintances.

And so, inevitably, is Disaster.

I’m not sure why, but the clearest, most gripping scenario in my mind often doesn’t work when I try to write it. Quite a few plans I’d had for the story I’m currently working on have had to be either scratched or dramatically changed in order for things to make sense.

But that’s okay. This is fiction; if the facts don’t fit, then change the facts, right?

Well, that works to a degree. If you’re writing historical fiction, you can’t change history; that would shift it into the speculative category of alternative history. If you’re writing about the real world, you’ve got to keep all the natural laws intact. Otherwise, you’re writing fantasy.

In case you hadn’t guessed, that’s one reason I write speculative fiction: because I like to write my own history, create my own society. But even in a DIY world, things must be consistent. You can’t have elements changing their properties according to the whim of the moment. Just because something seems like it should work doesn’t mean it will once you lay it all out and see how the pieces fit together.

And then, as the above graphic points out, we writers often have trouble with the basic mechanics of writing. Even when we know what we want to convey, the words do not flow. We stammer on the page. Our sentences look like they were written by a five-year-old.

I think a five-year-old might have a better way with words than what I come up with some days.

So why do I do this to myself?

I have no idea. I keep praying that God would let me quit. I don’t care that I’ve invested untold hours and years of my life in this unprofitable venture; I’m ready to cut my losses. Turn my back on it once and for all and just walk away. Right now. Tell the world, Yeah, I thought I might be a writer, but I guess I was wrong. Let’s just forget it, shall we?

But every time I think that way, I get the impression of God lifting an eyebrow. Are you done with your whining? Yes? Good. Now, quit being such a baby and get back to work.

So that’s what I’m going to do once I publish this blog post. Get back to work on my current writing project. And then, after it’s finished, then maybe I can quit. Can I? Can I? Please?

 

 

 

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Turkey, Cheese, and The Need for Editors

turkey with knife and fork thanksgiving day clipartThanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday ever. Turkey isn’t the reason—after all, we can have turkey anytime of the year. But I don’t eat it very often, because I like to save it for Thanksgiving, much as I don’t make fruitcake except at Christmastime. It might be good any time, but it’s not special if it becomes routine.

The only reason I mention that is because some people don’t like turkey—or they’re vegetarians and so don’t eat it, regardless of whether or not they like it. I know someone who says his ideal Thanksgiving dinner is steak. Seriously? No way. Gimme turkey. And stuffing. And an ocean of gravy. And rutabaga! Squash! Sweet potatoes!

And then more of the same all over again for a week straight, while enjoying the memory of Thanksgiving Day with family and friends and new acquaintances, and being thankful each day for God’s abundant blessings, both physical and spiritual. Yeah. All that’s wrapped up in the taste of the turkey leftovers I’ve been eating since Thursday. Turkey makes me smile.

tn_cheesea
I don’t associate cheese with Thanksgiving, though it’s compatible with it. Here’s why I mention it:

Some months ago, I was contacted by a fellow-writer, PD Richmond, asking if I’d be willing to be interviewed on his blog. He does an interview once a week, a feature he said he calls Featured Friday, and he apologized for the cheesy name.

I told him: “I’d be happy to do an interview with you on your Featured Friday page, cheesily named or otherwise. At least you don’t call it Feta Friday. Or Immental Interviews (except I guess the cheese is spelled Emmental). Or Tilsit Talks. Sorry…
Anyway, feel free to send me your questions at your convenience. I promise to answer them without mentioning cheese.”

(I must have been overtired when I composed that email.)

His reply: “I’m a sucker for a dodgy pun! I’m now going to be very disappointed if you don’t manage to slip at least one cheese reference into your answers. (I just hope it’s a gouda one!)”

And so the cheese fest began. I answered his interview questions as requested, sent it on its way, and he scheduled it in his lineup. As it happened, it went live the day after Thanksgiving, while I was still picking turkey out of my teeth. (Only to put more into them later in the day, of course.) You can find it here.

editing-clipart-1Before sending the interview on its way, I read it carefully, and re-read it, and felt good about it. But when I saw it in its published form this week, I found several errors! Missing words and things like that. I don’t blame the good Paneer Danby (you’ll understand if you read the interview); I have no doubt he published it just the way I sent it. But I cringe when I find errors in my published work.

Meanwhile, this underscores the need for a self-published author to hire a professional editor, no matter how competent the writer. We all need fresh, unbiased eyes to look over our stuff, not only to spot typos and missing words, but structure problems, errors in word use, improbabilities in the story, and other writerly things.

Even with the top-notch critique partners that I’m blessed with, I intend to have my current WIP professionally edited before I publish it.

If I had an editor helping me with this blog post, it wouldn’t have as many errors in it as I’m sure it has. (I don’t believe I’ve ever published a post without going back and making corrections afterward. Ever.)

And if I had an editor helping me with this blog post, he or she would encourage me to wrap it up a with a bit more style than merely ending it abruptly like this.

UPDATE: Since writing this, PD Richmond has allowed me to revise my post on his site. (How very un-cheesy of him!) Now you won’t see the errors, but there were three of them; two missing words and a misplaced apostrophe. Shameful. Thank you, Pete, for making the corrections.

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