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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As The Old Saying Goes…

file0001772520894A man may toil from sun to sun, but a writer’s job is never done.

Oh, wait… it’s supposed to be a woman’s job, not a writer’s. But what if that woman is a writer?

[Side note: I looked online for free images for working, laboring, toiling, tired woman, and so on, but couldn’t find what I was looking for. So these guys with the jackhammers will have to do.]

Using a jackhammer is work — a lot more physically toilsome than writing. So much so, in fact, that it isn’t fair to compare the tasks.

(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

BUT… at least when you’re done breaking up concrete, it’s done. I doubt any of the guys in the picture above went back to the job site later and said, “Hey, I want to revise that.”

Which is what this “elderly woman with laptop” (the caption given to this image by FreeDigitalPhotos) has a bad habit of doing. (In case that statement wasn’t clear, I’m talking about me, not the model in the photo.)

Okay, so I guess I’m not elderly yet. But I’m a gray-haired woman with a laptop, and that can be dangerous.

Old cover
Old cover
New cover
New cover

As you may be aware, Risen Books recently released me from my contract so I can self- publish the first two titles in the Gateway to Gannah series, with new cover art. And, although they offered me the manuscript files, I elected to use what I already had on my computer from the first time around, as I intended to revise them anyway. I didn’t plan to change either of the story details, just tweak a word here and there.

I embarked on that project about the time I contacted the designer to talk about doing new covers. So when he completed the first one last week, I had the first book revised and formatted and ready to go. I uploaded it to CreateSpace and checked the digital proof.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.18.47 PMHmmm… there were a few glitches. For instance, I omitted a drop cap here and there, or indented the first paragraph of a scene when I shouldn’t have. So I fixed the issues in my document and uploaded the corrected version.

Oops. Somehow one of the chapters was in a different size font. Redo. Upload again.

But then…. I’d put a fleuron at the beginning of each chapter (that little star-like thing you Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.24.36 PMsee in the example on the right) as well between scene changes. But it looked too cluttered that way, so I took out all the flourishes between scenes but left them at the beginning of each chapter.

Upload again.

Eventually, I was ready to order a print proof, which required a wait of several days until it arrived. During that time, I sparred with the cover designer over what to do for the next book. (I say “sparred” because I always feel like I’m a pain in the neck in these discussions. But he’s very nice through the whole process, and if he grumbles about it, I never hear him.) We discussed numerous options and he did a few preliminary sketches, and we finally came to an agreement as to what scene to depict and what it should look like.

to flourish...
to flourish…
Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.33.17 PM
…or not to flourish…

Meanwhile, the print proof arrived, and, highlighter at the ready, and with a pack of little sticky flags at hand for marking pages, I went over it verrry carefully.

 

And made a change to almost every page! I didn’t find many actual errors, but I found LOTS of places where I wanted to reword something. And, hey, if I’m going to make any changes, I might as well make a lot of them, right?

Correct this, correct that, for 330 pages. Upload again. Review the digital proof once more!

WAK! Here’s another paragraph that’s indented, though it’s not supposed to be. And there’s one where the drop cap is missing. ARGH!

Correct. Upload. Review. Oh, and did I mention, each time I thought I was satisfied, I had to wait for CreateSpace to look it over before I could do the final proof? The whole process took several days.

But then, finally! After an uncounted number of repetitions of this exercise, I approved the proof. Publish the puppy!

And then there’s the Kindle version. When I first uploaded it and checked out the result, I remembered–belatedly–that I didn’t want those fleurons at the beginning of the chapters in the ebook version; I only wanted to use them to delineate scene breaks. (Just the opposite of how I did it on the print version.)

Revise. Upload.

Oh, you know what? The drop caps don’t translate well into that format. I should get rid of them in the ebook version.

Revise. Upload.

Well. All that to say… the new-and-improved The Story in the Stars is now available on  Kindle, and it should be available very soon in print. (If not, I’ll have to find out why, because it should be; but at present, the only print version I can find is the original edition. Which I thought was supposed to have been taken off Amazon as of February 15, but it obviously hasn’t been.)

Next, I get to do the same thing with Words in the Wind, once Ken Raney finishes up the beautiful cover he’s creating for it.

James Michener in 1991 (Wikipedia)
James Michener in 1991 (Wikipedia)

After that, maybe I can concentrate on some of these other projects I have on the back burner.

Oh, yes — another thing about writing that makes it never-ending: you can continue doing it long after you’re too old to use a jackhammer.

James Michener published his last novel at the age of 87, and shortly before his death at the age of 90, he published a collection of poetry. Maybe by the time I’m that age, I’ll have hammered out the ins and outs of this business…

 

 

 

 

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I Give My New Cover Five Stars

Lost and Found

 

The new cover art for The Story in the Stars is finished — and I don’t mind telling you, I’m delighted with it!

I hadn’t planned to reveal it before republishing the book, but I was too excited about it to keep it under my hat. Doesn’t this make you want to skate to Gannah just as fast as you can get there?

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Ken Raney of Clash Creative.

 

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Shifting Out of Idle

file3951337414647Green means go!

Throughout my writing career (if you can use that word to describe an activity that costs more money than it generates), I’ve watched God’s signals so that I could move forward, slow, stop, and change direction according to how He leads.

This isn’t a “follow your heart” type of a thing. Nor do I hear audible voices or anything like that. But if you’re a Christ-follower too, you understand it’s a combination of the Spirit speaking through God’s word, the alignment of situations, wise words spoken by fellow believers, and other factors, all working together in a process that’s hard to pin down.

As as a result, my writing life has been on idle for quite some time. The motor was running, and I kind of gunned it sometimes just to make sure there was still gas in the tank. But I wasn’t going anywhere.

Now, however, the light has turned green, and I’m moving forward once again. I have a couple of projects in the works, with more ready to take their places when the current heat of this lifelong race has finished.

A nonfiction project I’ve been contemplating for quite some time has progressed past the planning stage, and I’m now into the actual writing of it. It’s exciting and challenging, and, although I’m happy with the way it’s going, the finish line is still distant. It’s definitely not ready to share with anyone yet, so I’ll say no more about it for now.

While waiting for the light to turn, I occupied myself with reviewing and revising the manuscripts for the first two books in the Gateway to Gannah series and formatting them for upload to CreateSpace. This was with the view toward re-releasing them with new covers when the time was right. I also contacted Ken Raney, who designed the covers for Books 3 and 4, and asked him to start working on the first two, so those would be ready whenever the time was right.

Apparently, however, the time is right NOW! Sensing it was time to move, I contacted the publisher of the first two titles and asked to be released from my contract (which would expire next January anyway). And apparently they were also aware that the time was right, because they agreed immediately. In fact, they’re taking the books out of circulation on February 15, so when I do re-release them, there will only be no confusion.file6461244338923

This happened much more readily than I expected. But I don’t want to rush things — I’ll walk, not run. I won’t pressure Ken to knock himself out getting the covers done yesterday-if-not-sooner, and will give each of the manuscripts one more careful run-through before launching them into the world.

And then, of course, I’ll have to get serious about promoting them. Which I’m not looking forward to AT ALL. But once the pricing and distribution of the whole series is in my control, and all four titles have covers I’m happy with, I’ll have no more excuses. I’ll have to buckle down and sell some books!

And, of course, there’s that Deer in the Dining Room book still languishing on my computer. I plan to release it this summer so it will be available by next deer season, but I want to set up a website to go along with it. Urg. Not the type of thing I like to do, but if I take a deep, fortifying breath or two along the way, I should be able to manage it.

Besides all that, I have another fiction story bubbling in my brain. I’m constantly picking up ideas, rolling them around, and mentally plotting the tale. But I think I have enough writing projects for the moment, so I’ll leave this one simmering for now.

I expect it will be quite tasty by the time I serve it.

 

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About Gannah and Easter

Lost and FoundNo, they don’t celebrate Easter on Gannah — that’s an Earthish custom.

The cover for Book #3, Ransom in the Rock, is finalized now, so I can show it off. I love it!

This evening I hope to get the rest of the bugs worked out of my manuscript’s formatting, upload it to CreateSpace, and then upload the cover. I’m making slow progress on this publishing thing, but at least I’m moving forward.

You’ll notice a couple of changes to my blog. Most notably, the header image. I liked the spacey one, but I never got permission from the photographer to use it. Nor do I remember where I found it, so I couldn’t go back and ask permission. Therefore, I’ve banished it, cool though it was, and have replaced it with one that I’ve been unofficially using for a while to represent the “gateway” to Gannah. This time I asked the photographer (my brother) and he said sure, it’s okay with him. So I’ll give him official credit here: Header image by Stan Smith.

And while giving credit where credit is due, I’d also like to thank my sister, Holly Schwartz, for her diligent work in proofreading Ransom. She caught some errors, so that proves a number of things: she knows a mistake when she sees one — she was paying attention — and I make plenty of mistakes. (That last was a no-brainer.)

Another update, which you’ll have to click on the “Gateway to Gannah Series” tab to see: I’ve added the “blurb” for Book #4. I also changed the title. It’s now called The Last Toqeph. Yes, this this breaks the pattern, as it’s the only title that’s not alliterative (and I do love alliteration), but it’s more fitting. For a number of reasons. I was never fully satisfied with the old title (The Promise in the Prism) but am quite content with the new one.

Since I’m thanking people in this post, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give kudos to the cover designer: Ken Raney of Clash Creative. He doesn’t work cheap, but he does great work. And he’s wonderfully patient with finicky authors who want only the best covers for their books (raising my hand here; yep, that’s me), and he spares no effort in trying to give them what they want. Ransom‘s cover was quick and easy, being created from images readily at his disposal. Book #4’s cover has been more of a challenge. But Ken is up for it.

Previously, I had an Easter-themed idea in mind for the rest of this post, but then E. Stephen Burnettresurrection-198x300 put up an excellent one on the Speculative Faith blog today.  I liked Stephen’s post so much I decided to be lazy and let him speak for me on the Easter subject. (As you may have noticed, I even borrowed the image he used. ‘Cause I’m lazy like that.)

The fact is, Easter is a way more important subject than the Gannah series, and it should, by all rights, get top billing. Not just in this blog, but in our lives, our world.

As Stephen points out, one day it will. Until then, let’s ponder the significance of the resurrection — and have a blessed Easter.

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