Busy Aprils

I’m not sure exactly why but April and October are always busy months for me. Of course, this is a weird year in that there’s a pandemic but I was offered the vaccine by the state hospital in my state, to which the clinic I go to is attached, and when offered I gladly and gratefully accepted. Still, I like to exercise caution and, after all this time alone, my natural introversion has blossomed and the idea of people is a little scary. But spring break is over and Easter has come and gone. Back to classes and back to work since there are only five weeks left of this semester so I’ll be very busy with that. Especially after the homework I missed turning in over Easter weekend.

Despite the fact I have a tendency to focus more on what needs to be done than on what I have accomplished, I am still in awe. I’ve learned so much in a year. In May of last year, my first book was published. I’ve published three so far and have just now figured out how much I still have to learn! I’m so looking forward to what this next twelve months can teach me and how much fun it will all be! And, as if to celebrate that, I got my author copies of Million Dollar Challenge!

My friend bought one and wanted me to sign it this weekend. That was awesome! I can’t believe the joy I have when I hold my book in my hands, something I’ve dreamed about for years. I will say, however, when I dreamed that dream of holding my work in it’s physical manifestation, I wasn’t thinking formatting, book cover design, typography, image creation and choice, copyrights and software to do all of the above! I’m so excited and while I have several more I’m eager to publish, my classes will have to come first. Even as I say that, the eagerness is still bubbling over since my Illustrator 2 class is just really starting to get interesting! So much to learn and so willing to study! I can’t wait for year two. It can’t be better than this first year!

When a story won’t let go

I’ve been writing off an on for 22 years now. I will say my writing has improved a lot! That first novel I finished – the trash can cringed in horror. But over time, rereading my own work then reading a cherished novel by one of my favorite authors and comparing the two helped me to edit to what I considered to be the best it could be. Problem is, my inner editor never turns off!

When I say I’ve been writing for so long, it’s not to brag. I really fell into writing as a way to cope with trauma and the after-effects of trauma. I don’t talk about my mental illness much. Not much new to say about it. It’s mental. But I can say there are times when a story just won’t let go.

The first book I wrote occurred to me as a story line fifteen years before I actually wrote it. Joanna was that book and while it was always intended to be a one and done, guy gets the girl, world goes back to normal romance, Joanna had other ideas. Yep. Still figuring out book 8.

I don’t watch a lot of TV. I tend to watch old series I know I enjoyed before. (I’ll catch up on WandaVision in a couple of years, after the hype has died down.) Story is the same. I have the favorite story lines I like to explore but lately I’ve been watching a lot of MidSummer Murder. There are 22 seasons encompassed by three different viewing apps. I used to sleep to Midsummer Murder when I was caring for my Dad. That means all the episodes are new to me! I like to watch the same ones over and over. Vera is a huge favorite and I’ve seen all the existing episodes some five or more times. I like how they stay the same, comforting me that the story doesn’t change, not even if I’m having a bad day. So for me, story is important. I built most of my trauma work on story. If I could put it all down in a story then I could make something good out of it, no matter how bad I felt that particular day.

Romance. Space opera. Christian Fiction. Those are my favs so when a murder mystery started stirring in my mind, I was cautious. I’ve never written one before and I know writing a good murder mystery can be challenging. First, you have to make it hard to guess who done it. Oddly enough, that’s the second thing I got, was the who done it. The first thing was the investigator. I get my story lines in various ways but most of this came from half asleep, half awake dream segments.

I dismissed this story at first as not really being my thing. I could post it on a forum or something and just give it away to someone who can do it better. But though I continued to think giving it away would be best, the story won’t leave me alone. It is building itself in my mind so the only thing to do is to write it out. Seven pages so far. Set on a space station orbiting a planet featuring in the Machine Planet series, I’m not sure where it’s going, but I recognize trauma fiction when I see it.

That’s what I’d call it. When I was upset or having a really difficult time, I’d start to pour my mixed emotions and confusion and anger into prose and create what I called trauma fiction. Sometimes I’d borrow characters from other stories already published and write fan fiction. Machine Planet was born that way and I really enjoyed the companionship of those characters while I was caring for my mother during her vascular dementia. This murder mystery is different. This murder mystery is a mystery even to me. I know who done it. I know what evil they did and why. I even know the history of the man who will solve the crime. The best part, the absolute best part comes as I walk through the story with the characters, discovering the story for myself. Editing creates the plot and substories. Editing makes things get in line and behave. But for now, I just get to have fun and write!

At the same time, I’m also proofing Dorian 1 and considering Dorian 2 while also trying to conceptualize three book covers! I am so privileged that I get to have this much fun!

Million Dollar Challenge

I just finished uploading Million Dollar Challenge to KDP. It’ll be a day or so before it’s available for sale but I’m excited. This isn’t the first Christian book I’ve ever written but it was one of the first in the timeline. I know. The timeline shouldn’t matter but I’m a little OCD. I like to publish in the same way I like to read. If I pick up a new series, I have to google the correct order in which to read them!

So thankful to be able to design this cover myself and excited to see the reception. If you spot any errors, please let me know. Amazon does make it pretty easy to go in and fix errors and typos.

Completion

Nothing delays progress like a monster of a storm. Losing one week from my semester-long class really didn’t affect anything. However, losing a week from my 8 week mini-semester made a huge impact. In such cases, choices have to be made. Thankfully, that is now behind me. I have completed my 8 week mini-semester class in Marketing and continue with Typography. After Spring Break, another 8 week mini-semester begins where I’ll study the continuation of Illustrator.

Today’s Typography lesson included the movie Helvetica which documents the birth, design and usage of the font in the 1950s and the history of its usage in the next 7 decades. I was interested in how it wasn’t even available for me to use in typing up my essay after watching the movie. Microsoft Word doesn’t include Helvetica in my version.

I might have learned more from the movie on Helvetica if I hadn’t been sketching ideas for future book covers and also mentally reviewing a story I’m writing right now, a cross over novella from Joanna’s story line with another story, the first book for which I just got the certificate of copyright. That is one thing I can say for the storm of the century. Being in my house, no power, cold, and alone really did become sort of like a retreat to stimulate my imagination. Before the power even came on steady in my house, I was jotting down ideas in a notebook. Not that I could do anything with them. The fingers don’t move as nimbly over the keyboard at 40 degrees as they do in 70 degrees!

Completing Marketing gives me a chance to catch up in all the other aspects of my life. First, I’ve got a book to Publish! Million Dollar Challenge should be available by the end of the week. Second, another copyright certificate arrived today for a book I’m so ready to see in print. I have yet to design the cover for it. With all these classes behind me, I’m starting to move away from images purchased for the book cover and toward the idea of designing the cover myself. The only drawback with that is there’s not someone grading my creation or prompting me to change this or that to make it better. Still, with time, there is an accumulated learning which allows me to decide for myself what kind of design I like best.

After the Storm

Things are finally back to where they were before the storm hit Texas. I listened to the weather broadcasts but none of them said I’d be without electricity for nearly two days. Fortunately, God took care of me and I had expert advice from a plumber who helped me avoid bursted pipes which so many friends and neighbors had to deal with. Give me hundred degree days! I’ll hate them but I know how to handle those. Handling single digit temperatures isn’t something I’ve had to handle before so it was definitely a learning experience.

In the middle of that, I was waiting for my author copies of Joanna 2: Prince of Thieves. Thankfully, I got the corrected cover and not the one with the error. It looked good when I first uploaded it but once it had been converted by Amazon, it had a white halo around the addition which just didn’t look good.

I’ve already started to edit and put together Dorian Book 1: Witch’s Brew and the sequel Secret Asasssin. I’m also hoping to get my next book, not in the Crestival series, uploaded and available before the end of February. With the storm and the catching up in housework and cleaning up the landscape, I did get a bit delayed.

No one may ever feel the same way about the books as I do. I wrote them primarily for myself. For that reason, having printed copies is really nice. I enjoy looking at them and learning a bit more about the publishing process with each one I put out. This is so much more fun than I imagined it could be!

Updating a Cover

I had fun designing the cover for Prince of Thieves. I chose a scene from the book and found an image to best match that then added a few Illustrator touches to make it more match the scene.

Some additions do better than others!

I’ll admit. I’m still learning Illustrator and there is a learning curve. More importantly is the processing that is done inside Amazon’s print process. After peeking at the Prince of Thieves cover today, I realized something which looked decent to me on my own laptop screen in Illustrator did not look good after processing.

Fortunately, Amazon makes it easy to upload changes which should be live in a day or so, removing the figure which looked okay in Illustrator but looked like a drawing I might have made when I was in third grade when viewed in Amazon! LOL!!

I’m thankful to Amazon for making it so easy to edit and make changes to my work as I go through the process of learning how to do all of this. I’ve certainly enjoyed making this cover much more than I did the first and I hope that the next book I put out, which will be unrelated to the That Girl From Crestival series, will be even more enjoyable to put out! It’s exciting to be able to do this and then to hold my books in my hand! My author copies of Prince should be here in a week and I’ll get to add them to my bookshelf and show them off to my friends!

Look for Million Dollar Challenge by the end of February! I’m excited to put it out and see it in print!

Drumroll please!

I spent most of yesterday pleasantly engaged in doing a final edit, uploading the document to the format conversion needed to publish and finalizing the cover art. So, without further delay, here is Joanna book two: Prince of Thieves.

The book is available as a Kindle and also as a Print on Demand. So excited to see the finished project come together!

Author Copies

They arrived yesterday! I was able to flip through the pages of my first published book. Being the perfectionist I am, I immediately noticed two errors! But I was very struck by that very physical proof I am now a published author! I’m currently working on putting out Joanna 2 as well as an unrelated novel. Getting the covers ready and also formatting the interior are still such fun! I hope it never gets mundane!

Print on Demand

I just finished uploading the Print on Demand version. It should be live in a day or two!

It’s been a long journey to get to this point. That I know of, I haven’t sold a single copy but then my goal wasn’t to be a bestseller. I wanted to hold in my hand the work I’d poured myself into. Like many kids, I had a vision of what I wanted when I grew up. Those visions tend to get lost along the way, replaced with versions of reality other hardened souls tell us to accept. With two parents who were chronically ill, one a former foster child dealing with trauma and rejection, the other profoundly mentally ill, my life never followed a formula. I had many voices telling me who I should be and I unfortunately listened to them.

Fast forward thirty six years and here I am, pursuing that vision again. Only, now, I’m not in it because I have visions of being number one. I simply want to publish and hold in my hands the books I wrote when things were so difficult. I wished for time to write and it was granted. That it was often at night when I was caregiving and unable to sleep didn’t matter. I put together a story that, when I look back at it now, still really touches me. Through soul-searching and challenging the reality others told me to accept, I pulled together fragments that inspired me. I don’t expect this story will ever speak to anyone else the way it speaks to me.

The vision I had of this book when I wrote the first word in 1999 is no where near what it became. I’ve been spending my downtime around my Wintermester class to reread the whole series, ironing out inconsistencies and helping it to flow better. I had to do that same thing with Joanna 1 when, while getting the POD ready to go, I noticed a spelling error I couldn’t ignore. This is my first time to publish and I’m still learning but the thing I look forward to most is being able to hold in my hands the printed version of the book with the characters I grew to love. Even today, two decades later, it feels like coming home when I read it.

After Christmas I’ll get to work on Joanna 2 so I can get that up and published before January 31. To be able to sit down and read through my books without having a computer on my lap will be the best gift ever. I’m old fashioned and still take joy in turning the pages. Don’t get me wrong! I love my Kindle, but holding a book that smells like new paper and fresh ink still makes me smile. And if I sell one or two, that’ll be great too! Thank you for going with me on this journey!

Like so many others, I’ll be spending Christmas at home. I miss the travel and being as active as I was. Hopefully, I can go back to that in 2021. But if not, I’ll spend it writing and learning. Those were the two dreams my 14 year old self cherished and I’m very privileged to be able to pursue them now.

Editing

I’ve heard it said that editing is one of the worst jobs ever but I personally find it wonderful. Not all the time, mind you. I’ve written secretly for decades and used a variety of word processing apps and programs which can mean the text, opened in Microsoft Word, has a ton of unnecessary formatting. While I’ve tried to make these disappear in a wonderful way Word can sometimes manage, often it comes down to just removing them manually, which is the definition of tedious.

However, now and then there are wonderful edits where I can unkill someone I really never wanted to die anyway. I just change a word or two, alter a sentence, and that person lives on!

Character development is when the main or a supporting character learns or chooses something that alters his course, alters his viewpoint, alters them forever. Losing someone is one of the main ways that occurs but in the same way saving someone can also alter a character. Did they realize they’d put themselves in danger? Did they realize they had the power to alter another’s course of life?

It’s an interesting situation to ponder but I didn’t save that character for any of those reasons? I saved him so the main character can get used to not losing so often. So he can have more hope. Blame it on 2020 when life has been so difficult for so many. Blame it on a pandemic that has altered our nation, we hope, forever so that freedom and liberty really do apply to all! Well, it applied to Olozcho who will quite possibly die in a sequel somewhere. The real challenge here is, in future edits, I’ll need to remember that Olozcho isn’t dead anymore!

Thanksgiving prompted me to do the housework so now I just have a ton of homework to complete as the semester nears the end then decide what I want to take next semester. I’m considering a marketing class since that is certainly a part of writing I know absolutely nothing about. I also need to continue renovating the house, getting rid of all the things my Dad refused to throw away. Lots of things on my To Do list but I’m still on target to get the Print On Demand of Joanna 1 out before Christmas and also get Joanna 2 out by the end of January! As to the editing, I’m currently working on Dorian 1 and 2, getting them closer to being done so I can start the copyright process.

I love writing!