Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block can take several different manifestations. It can be first and foremost fatigue. When anyone has been doing the same thing day in and out for weeks or months without many breaks, fatigue will set in no matter what. Secondly, it can be a relative of fatigue called “I’m sick of this” where the person will do anything, even the dreaded items on the TO DO list, to avoid the activity they quite possibly enjoy but, because they’re burned out, they don’t want to do anymore. Thirdly, it can be because life has invaded their workspace.

My writer’s block can be attributed to all three. The next semester starts again on Monday. This semester, I have classes I must actually attend. That will be an adventure since I’ve spent so much time at home. I’m basically going to have to learn how not to be a hermit! But I am looking forward to getting some time out of the house.

I’m still studying the Graphic Design and hope to be able to open up new avenues of creativity with these next classes. I spent a good part of yesterday gathering up the supplies needed for a new semester and today I’ll go through and find the school room locations and get the train schedule so I can save myself the $40 in parking fees every week.

Knowing myself as I do, once the newness of the beginning of a new semester has moved on into “They want me to do what on the first week?” I’ll be writing again very soon. Hoping to get Dorian 2 out by Christmas and also possibly get two more out before then but that will largely depend on the workload of my classes and also on my motivation!

Good Luck to all of us starting something new at this late part of the year with a hint of Autumn in the air. That hint is only a threat here in Texas where the temperatures are going to warm up again as we head toward the end of August into September. But Fall decorations are going up on doorways and the late season flowers are all blooming, a sure sign that, even if it’s hot outside, the season is still progressing onward toward the Autumn.

Dorian Book One

I’m sitting in my favorite chair by the open window with my old friend, Joey, in the window, soaking up the sunshine like cats like to do. There’s a breeze occasionally and I’m working on emails and catching some of the day’s news.

Dorian 1: Witch’s Brew went live on Kindle last night and as of this morning is live as a paperback! I can order my author’s copy!

Since I got a lot done yesterday, I’m not planning a lot for today but I will likely order a pizza later and probably paint a chest of drawers I decided to salvage. I might also pull out the quilt I’ve been working on and put the edging on which will finish out that quilt! Since it’s my first, I’m sure it’s not as pretty as others but I love it. It’s just for me so there’s no pressure. I can also start looking for my next quilting adventure even as I get down to work on putting more books through the copyright pipeline and into print. Today I can spend time on deciding which book that needs to be. On the whole, that is the best day I can imagine having.

Publication!

It’s too hot and humid to do much in the way of renovations so I settled down and decided to tackle the publication now. It’s a lot of uploading and waiting along with error corrections for anything KDP doesn’t like. It takes about half an hour to an hour for the ebook, which should be available for order in a few hours, and up to two hours for the paperback, which may take as long as 24 to 48 hours to be available for order.

As soon as it’s live, I can order my author copy and be able to hold it in my hands! So exciting!

Dorian 1: Witch’s Brew can be read on it’s own or in the series. If any formatting issues are spotted, please let me know. Comments are always appreciated. Thank you for checking out my blog!

Summertime

I have three weeks left until the start of the Fall Semester! I’ve been working nonstop on the household renovation projects and finished one and decided to try to finish another (Craft room!) before the start of the semester. This leaves little time for writing or editing but I did get the certificate for Dorian 1 copyright so that is in the works and should be live on Amazon before the end of the week.

I’ve also been reading a lot. I found a series by Pedro Urvi that I really like. It’s a YA series but doesn’t feel like it. Some of the YA series are more focused on the younger readers. William Joyce fit into that category. His books about the Guardians of Childhood were fast reads and enjoyable despite the fact they were largely meant for younger readers. Pedro Urvi’s Path of the Ranger books don’t feel like that and I enjoy the story line. It’s a bit like Harry Potter with a school setting with the main character being special in some way, first because his father was a traitor then because he can do magic. It’s kept my attention and I just ordered the two next books in the series.

Urvi’s books are translations so there are some issues with that and this last book, the third in the series, has some formatting and editing issues. Still, despite that, I’ve enjoyed them and the break I get. Writing and editing all the times does get tedious after a while. Normally, this time of year, I’d be travelling at least once a month to friend’s houses and maybe to see my cousin in Michigan. This year hasn’t been as hard as last but my Mom’s cat, Joey, has been sick. So I’m sticking close to home for him and keeping him comfortable.

I lost my mom is 2011 after a lengthy battle with dementia. She had schizophrenia before that and caring for her was a way to get to know her. We had little in common but she taught me to love books and reading. Her two cats became mine when the dementia got bad and Joey is the last of the pair. I lost Sadie last year to cancer. (I really miss Sadie.)

The summer is quickly passing by and with it all the days to be able to get things accomplished before the busy months of Fall and Winter. At the same time I’ll be preparing Dorian 1 to be published, Dorian 2 is going through a final edit and I’ll need to get together a cover image for it. Since I have the cover for Dorian 1, I may use a version of that to create a cover for Dorian 2.

I started reading Urvi’s books because I was looking at book cover art in Amazon’s store when I happened on his first Path of the Ranger book. I loved the cover art! It was so spectacular and when I read the description, I decided to buy it. I have read a lot of books through Kindle but I really prefer to hold a book in my hand while I read it!

Daylight is quickly passing me by while I’m roaming through crochet patterns online, sorting through emails, updating my blog and planning my afternoon. I have to get up and get going so I can accomplish some things while Joey takes his midday nap!

Finishing Things

Today was the day. After all the hard work of editing and re-editing, searching for a lost copy of an edit I especially liked and then proofreading that, I can officially say I’m done with Dorian 1.

Even though the copyright law has been amended to say any work created by an author belongs to that author, in our modern world with modern ways to obtain things, the advice I received at the last writer’s conference (Dallas has a great writer’s conference in Hurst every year!) is to copyright everything! It’s horrible and it’s a terrible side of writing but it’s part of the business.

Also, I got to copyright my first self-made image of cover art. It isn’t what I envisioned but, when I finally got it done, it looked just right and I believe it represents the contents of the text. Two submissions to the copyright office for text and for artistry will hopefully be approved within the standard three months. I’ll stay busy until then by packaging up Dorian 1 for publication and getting it ready. Then, when I receive the certificate, I can publish.

Whew! I was so disappointed in myself for taking so long. I love seeing the books in paper and being able to hold them. It’s been so much fun to publish and also very much an opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone. Illustrator definitely stretches me and learning new things gets harder with every decade that goes by. (I’m still 35. Honestly.) But it is a good thing to learn new things and stay relevant in our ever evolving society.

Still quilting but it had to take a back seat as I made curtains for the MBR. The next semester starts in just over a month and I’m still considering my long term options in education. I’d like to go for a Bachelor’s but I’m still on the fence. Then there’s the continuing renovation. I’m approaching the end of creating a Master Bedroom from the rubbish-filled ‘sunroom’ (It has a lot of windows.) my Dad left behind. And I’ve still got my writing. I’ll begin edits on Dorian 2 and also the creation of the cover art. I’d hoped to publish everything in quick secession but my desire to make them look professional and something I can enjoy means I need to take my time. And that’s fine too. I’m living a dream I’ve had for decades and I want to enjoy every moment and learn all the lessons I can from it.

Notes to Myself

Depression is a horrible thing. I’ve struggled with it all of my life. I shouldn’t complain. My mother and both grandmothers had schizophrenia so I’m really fortunate. But that’s not the topic of this missive. Notes. I make a lot of notes to myself and I put them where I can find them. Yeah. A year later! So writing is a very creative thing and ideas don’t always pop up exactly when I have time or the enthusiasm to write them down. This creates a lot of notes which are specifically about whatever I’m working on at the time I wrote them. I’ll find these notes months or years afterward and realize I’d had that idea but forgot about it – because I lost the note – and moved the story in another direction. The importance of storing notes where I can find them obviously needs to be a priority for me.

I haven’t written for so long that my arm aches as I’m writing this but I believe I have officially come out of the dark tunnel I’ve been in for so the last few months. I can think better. I can see better! I can drive safer than I did when I had that reaction. I’m also working again, not only on the renovation but also on my writing. I’ve also been working on the cover for Dorian one and actually started to gather ideas for Dorian two. I like to stay ahead when I can!

I came up with a novel cover idea and worked with it and, after watching a couple of Youtube videos on how to use the shape builder tool, I came up with a cover that is not exactly what I had in mind but that I actually like. I changed the cover on Joanna 1 several times because I just really had no idea how to do a cover. Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot since then. Dorian 1’s cover has more of southwest feel to it than I’d planned but it has all the elements I was wanting and it looked nice as of last night. I’m letting it rest so I can view it with fresh eyes today and see what I really think of it, remembering my epiphany of quilting. I’ve taught myself over decades to be more compassionate in some of the areas where I realized my inner critic was absolutely merciless! Creating artwork in Illustrator is going to be another one of those areas.

I’ve had to learn how to break down creating the cover into a series of smaller tasks which are easier for me to handle at this moment instead of one huge sit down where I conquer the world, end world hunger and bring about world peace. I’m still sometimes a type A person, especially when it comes to learning new tasks.

Which brings me to the subject of this post. Notes. I’m certain when I was reworking Dorian 2 that I saved a certain character who was killed in the rough draft. I ‘remember’ rewriting it and then journaling that I’d changed the story line and would need to remember to continue that change throughout the following books. But when I went to read through it, I noticed it wasn’t done. That character still died.

I had to stop a moment and wonder if I’d dreamed it. I do have complex dreams about things I’m thinking about in real life and often about concepts and realities I don’t want to think about in real life. So it was entirely possible I’d dreamed about saving this character. The other option was that I’d made a note about saving him but then lost it. That is also a very real possibility. The third option doesn’t bear consideration because it’s too scary – the possibility that I’ve lost a version of a book I’ve written and all the changes and character development I’d worked on. That was a horrifying thought!

So I saved him. It’s a moment where Dorian is on the precipice of staying the same or vowing to bring the change that he saw in Crestival into his own world. While he really believes Joanna is the only one to create the change, really and truly the only one who can create that alteration is himself. We can only change ourselves and no one else. So it’s an important point in Dorian’s character path. Also, randomly, I’m certain it means something to Olozcho, the character being saved. He’ll go on to participate in future stories and have more life. I know it may sound crazy to think about my characters as if they were real people but for me they kind of are.

I’m not a a great artist at all. I’ve done a lot of things but I know people who can do them all better and prettier than I can. Still, I have to say I’m proud of my quilting start. Bees were the topic since bee lives and all the benefits (of pollination) they bring are so important. I’ll add honey to that benefit since, when I got MRSA when I was caring for my Dad in 2007, they just really had no idea how to treat the resistant staph. A microbiologist came up with the idea of using honey, specifically Manuka Honey, to treat MRSA and it worked! So while bees do pollinate great things for us like coffee, there are other benefits they offer which are also worth preserving.

Bee Quilt Top.

Developing a Strategy

This blog has been less of a writer’s blog and more of an author’s blog. To recap, I got sick a few weeks back and visited the doctor, the first visit in a long time due to Covid. She put me on a medication my father took for years to prevent or slow disease progression, specifically heart disease. That medication made me very sick. So, here I am today, with nothing to show in the way of progress. Everything I had set up to make progress on for the last month is still sitting there waiting for me to get it done. I’m off that medication and my life is running more smoothly now. Ironically, my cat Joey got sick about the same time and is now on medications which are making him feel better. Definitely a trying time having us both feeling under the weather.

It’s all made me very frustrated. I’ve produced three which aren’t bad but when I look at them as book covers my inner critic refuses to allow they’re good enough. So I’ve come to this point in my life, a point I’ve visited several times over the years I’ve been writing or crafting any thing: When do I decide my work is good enough? When I do approve of what I’m producing? It’s so easy to look at something I spent hours creating and believe it’s no good. It’s harder to do that over time. Something I crocheted at the moment I finish is “okay” but if I fold it up and store it away for cold weather, once I pull it out and look at it anew and with fresh eyes, it becomes “beautiful”.

My desire to punch out books covers as fast as I can crochet granny squares has not manifested itself in reality so I’ll fall back on what I know to be true. An hour a day can accomplish great things. When I first started writing, an author I was corresponding with told me that her secret was to write one page a day. At the end of a year, all the pages equal a book. That is a strategy which works on many things from home repairs and remodeling (just spend an hour a day when you get home from work and before you know it the big project will be done), writing, crafting, and housework. I’ve spent so many hours in front of Illustrator crafting a well done image only to throw it out the next day and all I’ve actually accomplished is getting sick of the whole thing. So I’ll fall back on what I know to be true. Strategy wins the war.

Oddly enough, during this whole ordeal with the medication reaction, the only thing I kept thinking is that I wanted to start quilting again. I haven’t quilted in decades! I used to do it a lot when I was caring for my grandmother when I was in my late teens but put it aside as requiring too much attention when I was caring for my schizophrenic mother. Now I’m only caring for myself and Joey so I’ve pulled out the new Singer sewing machine I bought three years ago and set it up in the only space I’ve got room, which is the recently renovated laundry room, and I’ve been quilting. I kind of went crazy at the fabric store but the lady at the fabric cutting station told me if I quilted for an hour a day, I’d get it all worked up and finished. Amazing how that strategy is embraced by so many others on so many different projects.

Concept and Confidence

I got sidelined which is really quite easy to do. Writing is hard. Oh, the first stirrings of a story are easy. They fill me up and make my inner being buzz with energy and enthusiasm but then I find myself in a place where I have to solve a problem for the characters and that – that gets complicated. Solving problems forces me to put my aluminum foil hat on and really think. It’s bad enough to have to solve my own personal issues but then I’m solving problems for someone who only exists in my mind!? It’s easy to understand why it often takes a back seat.

I’m not NOT doing anything! I’m writing a bit but I’ve been sick and still recovering from that. Plus my Joey cat has also been sick and is still being evaluated by the vet for the best care scenario. Aging is no fun. But I’m also running into that rundown place where I’m just not interested in things. Some call it writer’s block. Some call it burn out. I personally call it reboot time.

I sat down yesterday and read a whole book all the way through. Not one of mine, mind you. One of Pedro Urvi’s books, The Traitor’s Son. I liked it! It was so nice to get away from a story I’m all too familiar with and relax with a story I don’t need to craft or edit. I hadn’t done that sort of thing, just spending a whole day reading, in years!

As I sat down with my green tea this morning by the window, watching my neighbors mow their yard, I opened the laptop and faced off against that inner demon all writers face which basically said, “I got nothing.” Not that I have absolutely nothing. I keep extensive notes of where I’d like things to go. Often, if I go back and read a few pages before where I stopped, I’ll get an idea of where the story needs to go next. But this morning, I’m still reeling from the joy of reading all day yesterday and the reality that I can’t do that today. So I changed gears and started thinking book covers.

It sounds so romantic to write and it can be but, when you get a book done, you have to edit and proof it and get it ready for copyright. There’s a process to that. The form is interestingly more difficult than it really needs to be. And in the middle of all that is the cover art. Many authors who publish the traditional way have the cover art done by a professional hired by the Publisher. For those who self-publish, that’s a chore the author has to take on. Again, there are professionals who will do that for a fee. I wanted and took classes so I could do that for myself but the issue is my demonic inner critic. I’ve been working on a cover for Dorian 1 for – I don’t know! Months maybe?! I’ve produced three creditable designs which probably would have worked but my Inner Critic tells me they’re not good enough! So what to do?? I’ve spent a lot of time looking at book covers (which is how I ended up with Pedro Urvi’s book) but my confidence in book covers isn’t the same as my confidence in writing. I’ve been writing for decades off and on. With book covers, I’m just getting started. So I’m being way more harsh on myself than usual.

In such a situation, my Inner Critic, devoid of any pride of accomplishment in any work I produce, will shut me down and I sat this morning watching my neighbors mow and wondering if that’s why I’m not writing today. I learned over time to muzzle that Inner Critic when it came to my writing and I may need to do that for my book covers too. I need a book cover for Dorian. Producing it myself means I’ll need to copyright it as well. Which tells me that I need to be working on covers at the same time I’m editing to speed up the publishing process. But I’ve only been in print for a year and I need to shut up my demonic Inner Critic (which is oddly telling me I need to start quilting again) and get back to work.

Each successful book cover is a mark in my favor. Granted, both Joanna books are stock photos I manipulated to become a cover and the cover for Million Dollar Challenge is a picture I took in Michigan in 2019. That being said, they were still covers I liked a great deal. And that’s the rub. I need to like the book covers I design. That’s a confidence issue, I think. Or maybe it’s just that I need to step back from my work for a moment and reassess my creative process and what I’m producing. It’s all a learning curve and humans are learning every day of their lives! Nothing is wasted.

Back on the Tracks

I cannot believe it’s been a month since I last wrote a post. Time hasn’t passed by me fast but it has passed by me like a whirlwind.

I don’t talk about my experiences with mental illness a lot but often after having a bout of physical illness, I’ll have an issue with mental illness as everything is thrown off balance by being sick. With mental illness in my family I was unlikely to escape it. I have been fortunate to have the tools of a modern world with which to learn to cope and to care for myself, therapies and doctors and phone numbers I can call for help, much of which was unavailable or in it’s infancy just twenty years ago. My mother had doctors thirty five years ago but they never really did anymore than prescribe medications which didn’t completely help. My grandmother had doctors she refused to see, electroconvulsive therapy which only led her to forget things and medications she refused to take. It’s odd how mental illness is still in the dark ages while so many other diseases are leaping ahead at a time warp speed to be more understood and preventable.

The story which won’t let me go is still calling my name. I’ve been jotting down notes and taking time to think about the plot and conclusion. My counselor posed an interesting question a month ago which is still going through my mind. What ending is the right ending versus what ending is right for that character? That was a complicated question I still ask myself today, a month after being asked. I don’t want too much of his input. I’ll have to give him partial credit!

My days while writing often meant staring at a screen for up to 10 hours a day. I’ve had days this week where I haven’t even picked up the laptop at all. As I navigate where I might want to further my education and what direction I want to seek that furtherance, my AC breaks. It’s a weird kind of broken which I’m sure has something to do with a very expensive computerized part. Fortunately, it’s been pretty mild in Texas this month.

I also made some progress with the household renovation, including some painting and also some planning for the next project I want to tackle. Right now, prices for all home renovation and repair items are skyrocketing. Flooring which cost under $250 for two rooms in 2019 cost almost $500 for one room and still hasn’t shipped! I hope they didn’t run out! The housing market in Texas is insane! Plus, it’s been raining for like two weeks straight. I’ve been so depressed not being able to see the sunshine but I know I’ll be grateful for this rain in August when it’s a hundred plus degrees out.

It’s odd to not be writing and it feels more and more odd every day that I don’t do it so I know that I’ll be back on the tracks very soon. Probably this weekend. There is a three day weekending coming and I’ll spend it at home with my sick cat who went to the vet Tuesday. He is feeling better now but the vet called to say they found something. They’re waiting for more test results to come in.

Life has a way of pushing and shoving us and that always prompted me to write. As the excitement of the story and the idea that I only have two months until the next semester starts, I know I’ll be writing very soon because all of that energy and enthusiasm will propel me to the keyboard because I can type faster than I can manually write. I put Joanna aside several times, frustrated with the story, with the characters, and with myself. But a character kept calling me and begging me to write more. That character was Chandler. It’s because of that character that I kept on writing Joanna’s story. In contrast, Makeja doesn’t speak to me. She’s too angry. But the investigator does. More than anything, what speaks to me is the fact that those who are often only trying to defend their right to exist are the ones who often wind up in prison (or worse) for just preserving their right to not die.