Friday, August 11, 2017

Keeping Busy

Most days I wake up feeling as if I haven't accomplished anything in my life. I go off to work five days a week wishing I had more time to write and promote my work and attend author events, but work and dealing with/coping with health issues often consume much of my time. I try to write a little bit every night, but sometimes household tasks and errands chew up a couple hours of evening time. Therefore, I often go to bed thinking about all the writing I want to do and feeling disappointed that there is not enough time in a day to accomplish it.


It's almost mid-August, so this morning I've been thinking about what I have accomplished so far this year. In February I published 13, a little volume of supernatural and psychologically disturbing stories I had planned on publishing the previous October, but it got set aside. I polished it up and got it out there and was happy with it. Simultaneously, I also finished the sequel to Black King Takes White Queen, Black Knight, White Rook and published that novel.


I did some beta reading for author friends as spring approached. Then I put together a collection of just ghost stories and published Niss Peculiar's Ghost Stories, Volume I in June, and also a group of contemporary stories called butterscotch-a collection of stories, also released in June.


Then in July I tackled a pair of ghost hunting novels that had been sitting in binders in a milk crate, woefully neglected since 2011 and 2013. They both underwent revisions and editing because I had written the second book two years before the first book in the series, so had to fix continuity issues so the books would flow together more seamlessly. The Fairlawn Investigation and The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation were released at the end of July and beginning of August.


And then I dug out Bending Birches, a novella I'd written in 2014 or 2015. It has a local setting, fictionalized (partially as there are some real western MA locations mentioned as well). There was a partial sequel set seven years later that took me some searching to locate because I couldn;t remember what its title was. Seventh Year Itch was finished and the two novellas were put into a volume called Bending Birches and published.


And then I'd been thinking about putting together stories in which cats, dogs, kittens and puppies played a role in romances. I gleaned a number of stories from previous published story collections and added one previously unpublished story with a ghost cat, and Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs was released last week with a picture of Kelly's and my cats on the cover, no less!


Finally, I had a vampire novel written two years ago and was talking to a publishing companies self-publishing subsidiary when John lost his job. With 5/6 of our income gone I couldn't afford to pay their fee and just set the book aside, although I did write new sections and insert them into each chapter, and then did revisions to fix continuity issues. I left it alone for over a year, then began fixing it up some more, ordering a proof copy after each revision. Red, Green, Yellow print on black covers. Then I chose deep purple roses for the new and final cover...and ordered a fourth proof, while considering submitting it to a publisher in Pepperell MA that only publishes quality vampire fiction...until I read the disclaimer that authors are responsible for promoting their own work. Well, I already do that, so I decided to just release it on my own. I did the last major overhaul and Out was released this week.


Nine books in eight months. Viewed that way, I see that I have accomplished something- maybe too much something, but I guess my main issue is that this was all (except for Black Knight, White Rook, previously written material, of which I have a mountain of! I really haven't written much new material-although I've started a lycanthrope novel, two contemporary novels, and a few stories.


And I've been beta reading for three author friends- two beta reads completed, one BIG one to go!


So, I don't know why I feel I haven't done anything...I think it's just I set the bar too high for myself, and right now I am tired with summer dragging on with hot humid days and cool rainy weather alternating, which wreaks havoc on arthritis and mood in general. It's been draining energy wise.


At least I can read this and remind myself that I have been keeping busy- even when I don't feel that I've done much at all!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Out is out

Well...after doing additional thinking about things, I came to the conclusion that I still prefer to remain in control of my own work- therefore, I approved Out this evening and it will be available shortly on Amazon. It will be released as a Kindle book shortly.


Out is a different sort of vampire book. It is part romance, part social commentary on tolerance of different people, and a smidge of horror, which is a genre I do not ordinarily write. Basically, it's the story of a young woman with a prosthetic lower limb who has had a crush on a wealthy businessman since she was a girl. He has also been attracted to her. Their very different worlds collide, and it's up to the two of them to bring about change in the world. (If you've read Black King Takes White Queen the theme is similar, but given a vampire spin and another twist so that the story alternates between excerpts from the media in all its myriad forms, to the past and present as related from Irina's point of view, Irina being the very human young woman who lost part of her left leg in the opening salvo between rival vampires.


That's all I'm saying about the novel.


I will do a goodreads giveaway in the near future. A few copies will be placed at Blue Umbrella Books once I have them in hand. Otherwise- you'll have to get it on Amazon or on your Kindle.


This is book #30 for me.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Four Books in Two Months and Now to Get Serious

On May 31st I was finished with The Fairlawn Investigation, closely followed in June by The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation. Those two novels were written in 2013 and 2011 respectively, then joined the ranks of unpublished material in binders sitting around in milk crates and file boxes for 4 and 6 years. Not feeling well enough to tackle a new writing project, I've spent the past two months polishing up stuff already written and getting it out there. Bending Birches was written in 2015. It's sequel was partially written then abandoned when my friend Pauline (Mrs. Thayer in the novella) passed away in September of that year. I cleaned up Bending Birches, tracked down the sequel (having to open and start reading a number of files because I couldn't remember the name I'd given it). It was almost finished, so I did finish it, and then backtracked to make sure both novellas meshed. That's how Bending Birches came to be. Finally, thinking about all my cat and dog loving friends and fellow authors, I plucked 9 stories in which kittens, cats, puppies and dogs play a role in the romance going on between two people. Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs was an easy put together since I pulled the stories from previously published books. Only Franklin, a ghost cat story, had not yet been published. I gave it a read through, fixed up punctuation and grammar here and there, and then plugged it into the new book. To perk up the book, I plucked cat and dog quotes by famous writers, authors and others and added them at the beginning of the book, then added a quote of my own. To make it more enjoyable for family and friends, and facebook acquaintances who have seen the boys on my facebook page, I added one of my favorite photos of Riley Beans and Revere as the cover image. It took me about eight hours on a Saturday to pull the stories and put them into a new interior book file, fix up Franklin, then upload the file and create the book. Technical glitches with the internet and CreateSpace created a few delays, but by Monday evening the book was approved and now it's in the hands of family and friends already.


So, for me, it's not a matter of OMG- you wrote four books in two months! No. I have been writing for decades and NOT publishing anything. I have tons of written material lying around my house. I have been writing new books (novels are still fairly new for me) and ghost stories in between and publishing them also, so that's what gives the illusion that I'm some sort of writing whiz. I write daily (well, I do occasionally take a day or two off to read). I am a disciplined hobbyist writer. I also write to relieve stress. I write because I enjoy writing. I love words- putting them together so they tell an entertaining story.


But- now, I have one novel that I have been working on for two years. I just finished the 4th printed proof read through- making final tweaks, revisions, and corrections. I think I finally have this novel ready to submit to a real publisher. As you probably know, I do not like loosening my control over my work...so offering this manuscript to a publisher is a humongous step for me. I'm only doing it because I have had good experiences with novels I've submitted to contests with The Subtlety of Light and Shadow earning a 10 of 10 from a judge in The Golden Heart Contest in 2015, and an overall 7.49 rating (I don't write straight out romance- this was my one and only attempt at that. Then My Magical Life and The Archetypes-First Generation garnered positive comments in the Writer's Digest Self Published Novel contest last year with the judges really liking the story, but marking me down on the covers and such things as starting the chapters too high on the page (technical stuff), and the stunning surprise of Black King Takes White Queen being shortlisted for the OZMA AWARD 2016 earlier this year. Black King Takes White Queen is my 2017 Writer's Digest Self Published Novel entry this year.


So, Out is going through its revisions this weekend and if I get it done by Sunday I'll begin drafting a query letter according to the publisher's specifications (include an author bio and first three chapters for esubmissions). We'll see what happens. If it gets rejected, I'll look into one more local publisher...and if that fails, I will release the book with its current deep purple roses cover.


So, yes, during the course of my life so far, I have been a prolific writer. I have not written all of these stories in the past two years. I have written the majority of the 13 published novels over the past 6 years. I have one more I really want to finish that would probably fall into the romance category. If you've read The Winter Solstice Ball in Always Christmas in My Heart then you've read a novella based on the novel.


I will not be putting out another book for a while because I have beta reading to do for other authors and a writer's group to get started. I will be writing a NaNoWriMo novel in November, more ghost stories, and my annual holiday story/-ies, but will probably not have a second Miss Peculiar's Ghost Stories out this year. I have two longer holiday stories written last year. Not quite enough for a new book yet. However, I still have the three already self published Christmas books to do some revisions in that I did not get to when I redid all the previous books covers and spiffed up the interior copy. Still a lot of projects to tackle, but making some sow and steady progress!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs Released

I put together a collection of 9 stories for cat and dog lovers over the weekend, gleaned from previous story collections such as Love Me Knots, Auspicious Beginnings, Cupid's Darts (from the Sweet Hearts Collections), Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume I and Miss Peculiar's Ghost Stories, Volume I (because who hasn't been haunted by a ghost cat or dog in their lifetime?) Each story has some romance in it, of course. There is one previously unpublished story in this volume, Franklin, which is a ghost cat story!


When it came to designing the cover the ONLY choice I could make was to grace the cover with one of my favorite photos of my boys- Revere and Riley Beans. Actually, Revere,the domestic shorthair tuxedo cat, is Kelly's boy while the fluffy gray and white long-haired cat is my Riley Beans. They were both adopted in 2011, Revere in June after we lost Isador, and Beans in November after the sudden death of Diego (our former tuxedo cat). They were both adopted from the Homeless Cat Project here in Westfield, not too far from where we live. They are the sweetest boys, and though they are a few months apart in age and not related at all, they are the loving brothers and get along very well.


Now I just need to keep their being coverboys from going to their heads!!


Life, Death, Love, Cats & Kittens is available on Amazon.com and will be a Kindle ebook in a day or two.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Bending Birches

I haven't fall off the face of the planet.


I've been plagued by health issues since the beginning of the year including rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatic, diabetic neuropathy, right hip bursitis, and sacroiliitis-all very painful when a person is also allergic to the medications nonallergic people can take like ibuprofen, Aleve, and other analgesics in the NSAID class, and the biologics that are available for RA like Enbrel and Humira. Oh yeah, did I mention I was allergic to prednisone and cortisone shots?


It's discouraging and sometimes I get a little depressed about it so that just getting up every day and going to work can be a monumental challenge. I'm not ready to retire. I want to stay as active as I can because if I just sit around it would all get much worse. Therefore, most nights lately I haven't felt like writing or doing much of anything, but then I get angry with myself for not accomplishing something and push myself harder...which can also not be a good thing because a big part of RA is the chronic fatigue that can make a person feel like they're pinned down in place, too tired to move.


However- I'm not a whiner or complainer (really!). I just carry on, maybe not at full speed anymore, but I move forward, and do what I can.


While unable to sleep one night recently, I thought of a novella that I'd written a couple of years ago- Bending Birches. It's set at a fictionalized Mount Holyoke College (called Bircham College in the story), but in the very real towns of Hadley, Amherst, and Stockbridge, MA with mention of Lenox, MA, Hancock Shaker Village, The Red Lion Inn, The Mount, and Friendly's just off the Mass Pike in Westfield, I used the area I've lived in all my life-beautiful, scenic western MA (AKA "The Sticks"  or "The Boonies" by friends from eastern MA. My best friend from Peabody thought we were taking her "into the wilderness" when we brought her to Westfield for the first time from Fitchburg along the Daniel Shay Highway! She was really very nervous as my mother flew around those unlit corners with what must have seemed like rash bravado to Carol! Recently, Kelly and I took her friend Bethany from Bridgewater to exotic, uncivilized towns like Granville, Southampton, Deerfield, and Wyben- a rural part of Westfield at the edge of" "the Hilltowns.") What western MA kid hasn't learned to drive at night with confidence on streets without streetlights and wanted to slap on a pair of sunglasses when reaching an area with those lights on sticks? It's a rite of passage, and also perfectly routine and normal, something we grew up with when we went for night drives with our parents on sultry summer nights with all the car windows rolled down and mosquitoes whining in our ears, the wind whipping our hair into wild tangles.


Bending Birches explores a developing relationship between an English professor and a soon-to-be-graduating senior who has been working  on the college arts & literary magazine since her freshman year, when she was a student in Professor Lockwood's Dickens class. Just as he begins to make his more personal feelings toward her known, a sex scandal erupts in the English department. It's Jordan James' elderly landlady who quietly plays matchmaker for the professor and the graduating senior, and Professor Lockwood who takes Jordan to Stockbridge to try to land a job as a photojournalist/staff writer for Berkshire Life magazine. Lockwood has to act before Jordan graduates and decides to return to sunny southern CA where she is originally from.


I partially wrote the sequel novella set nearly seven years later. Reid is still a professor at Bircham College, living in his restored Victorian house in Amherst. Jordan is living at the couple's Victorian Stockbridge cottage and working on the magazine full time while raising the couple's now three-year old son, Charlie (named after Dickens). Reid spends the summer with them in the Berkshires because he teaches a summer course at Wisteria Academy and either produces or directs a play at the Stockbridge Playhouse. Jordan reaches a cracking point as a stressed out, basically working mom. On the night that Reid hosts the department staff meeting at the Amherst house, Jordan has had enough that same night, loads Charlie in the car and heads home on the Mass Pike. Meanwhile, a former classmate of Jordan's, now a professor at Bircham, has stayed late to "help clean up" after the meeting and she sets about seducing Reid. He receives the call from the state police before things go too far, but they've gone much farther than they should have. The remainder of the second novella, Seventh Year Itch, has Reid and Jordan grappling with their issues and working out the problem of their living in two places because neither wants to lose the other-so compromises must be made if they are to survive as a couple and a family.


My late button collector friend Pauline Johnson is fictionalized in Bending Birches as Jordan's landlady, Mrs. Thayer. I promised her before she passed that when I was missing her I would write her into a story- and through her character, I would hear her voice once again and not miss her so much. It's my way of letting her know I love her and always will- immortalizing her in my writing.


I remember that I had a crush on one of my high school English teachers (all the girls adored him) at Westfield High in the mid-70's. I also had a totally cool Advanced Placement English teacher there. Then, I  had some pretty awesome college English professors including a charismatic English professor my freshman year of college (who sort of reminded me of Stephen King, oddly enough) at Fitchburg State. He was from South Hadley. I also had some pretty amazing English professors at Westfield State, but I only worked on the arts & literary magazine at Fitchburg my freshman year. This is not a biographical book by any means. Strictly fiction!


So, if I am behind in beta reading, I apologize. I do what I can when I can after work and on weekends, but I've been moving like molasses lately due to the increased joint stiffness and pain, and a flareup of tendinitis in multiple places which was a reaction to an antibiotic for an infection...can we say train wreck? Recovering, slowly moving forward, but at least feel like I've accomplished something the past two weeks!


The Fairlawn Investigation and The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation, the first two novels in the Amberton Paanormal Investigation Society series were also released as print books and as ebooks on Kindle in the past two weeks. They're my ghost hunting novels. Book 3 is partially written.


I changed the cover of butterscotch, when I made corrections to the story Poppy inside. I got the copy I ordered in the mail today and realized that I forgot to change the font color, so the title virtually disappears into the candies on the cover. Changed it back tonight to the original cover when I was on CreateSpace approving Bending Birches. Why tamper with There's Nothing Wrong With It when there really was nothing wrong with the original- except I added the author photo to the back cover because when you submit a self-published book to a contest they kind of want to see the author on the cover or inside on the bio page- horror of horrors! I do not like being photographed but am using a selfie I shot in a dark room that I'm okay with (as long as you don't blow it up and notice the tiny smear of chocolate ice cream under my lower lip-haha!)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Project List

I've ticked several items off my Project List this week. Both The Fairlawn Investigation and The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation are now available on Amazon.com and as Kindle books. butterscotch-a collection of stories is also finally available as a Kindle book. It kind of got lost in the shuffle a couple of months ago.


Out is here at the house in its fourth print proof copy version. I did some Gordon Ramsey-type ranting after finding a minor continuity error in the very first chapter, but have calmed down and am methodically prowling through the book in search of any other issues that might still exist. It will be on its way to a real publisher once this final raking over the editing coals is completed. I am giving it a shot, despite my maybe not so well-known OCDism of wanting absolute control over my own work. Maybe I'm ready to let a project go out into the mainstream world. I don't know. If I change my mind, as I am often prone to do, Out will be self-published. I don't ever really know what I will do until I do it.


I have two new novels started, The Lakeside Manor Investigation (3rd in the Amberton Paranormal Investigation Society series) and Cherry (tentative title), and have just finished proofreading and editing a novella, Bending Birches which I might combined with several novelettes or short stories into another book, although I could complete the sequel to this novella and publish them both in one book...that's another option. I just don't remember what I called the sequel, but I did see a typed copy of the story someplace when searching for Lakeside Manor recently.


A few health issues have slowed me down this summer. I'm trying to cope with them and keep moving forward. I've also been doing a little more preliminary work in preparation for WhipCity Wordsmiths, the authors/writers group Kelly and I are launching in September. And I've been doing some beta reading for author friends, and catching up on other reading, too.


Crazy busy as usual despite everything going on! I don't feel as if I am quite on track where I want to be, but I'm not lagging too far behind at this point in time!





Sunday, July 9, 2017

What's New From My Kitchen Table

I'm awaiting the new printed proof copies of two paranormal investigation novels- The Fairlawn Investigation and The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation. Meanwhile, since last weekend I've pounded out a little less than half of the third novel in the series, The Lakeside Manor Investigation. The novels are set in the Burlington, Vermont/Lake Champlain area, but a lot of The Victoria Wayfarer is set at a seacoast inn haunted by numerous spirits/apparitions. Book three is back in Vermont, and will have characters that visited in book one returning for this investigation. Several of these characters are interesting because they are fictionalizations of my office manager and a co-worker. I just asked my office manager if I could reprise her fictional character in book three and received the nod to do so. My other co-worker was on vacation this week, so  I'll have to get her permission on Monday if she's back. Also, in book three I'm working in three characters from daughter Kelly' first novel, Parapsychology. She mentioned the founder of my novels' paranormal investigation group, plus referenced the group in her novel. I just had to look across the kitchen table to ask her permission to include her characters Holly St. Stephens, Milo French, and Jacob 'Jake' Euler, plus a mention of the head of their organization, Dr. Aubrey Winters. My book is set about a year before her book occurs.


Thus is the life of mother/daughter authors!


Yesterday I ran a couple of copies of Kelly's new novel, Teleport, downtown to Blue Umbrella Books where author Russell Atwood was behind the counter. He happily accepted the books to sell on the local author shelf at the store. And then he had a surprise for me. He'd recently learned that I collect vintage decks of playing cards. He'd found a deck of Louis L'Amour western theme (gunslinger) playing cards while antiquing. The cards are a poker deck, mint in the plastic inside the box with great cowboy with drawn gun graphic on the box. I was thrilled (and maybe somewhat inspired to include a western in my writing experience in the future?) I was also happy to hear he has some writing projects going now that his schedule has stabilized. I really enjoyed his PI novels East of A and Losers Live Longer (which has an ending I never saw coming!)


This morning I finally got around to setting a radio appearance date with Bob Plasse. I suggested that he have Kelly and me on his program for several reasons- we'll have 30 novels and story collections self published by the time October 24th, the date we agreed upon, rolls around, we're probably the most prolific mother/daughter authors in Westfield, and she and I just established a group for authors & writers in Westfield called WhipCity Wordsmiths which has already had a soft launch with a core group of local authors and writers, but will have its official launch in September after things settle down from vacations, kids out of school, traveling and summer activities and events.


I did find a second version of The Victoria Wayfarer and beyond that I'd been working on years ago...read two thirds of it Friday night and yesterday before concluding that while it has a ton of good stuff in it, it wasn't really going anywhere definitive so that must be why I'd abandoned it in the first place. I still won't delete the file, but I will most likely consign the printed manuscript pages to recycle in the near future to downsize the clutter in the dining room.


Otherwise, today we looked at four potential first homes for Kelly- but each one had various issues from the first one needing an entire gut job to the fourth one having a mysterious small puddle on the cellar floor with nothing dripping above it and no crack where seepage could come up through the floor beneath it. Just kind of weird in an empty basement. The second house was cute, but had an open staircase to the basement in the kitchen, and multiple small rooms in the basement that gave it a totally claustrophobic feel, plus tall Dad whacked his head on an oddly place low header which put him in a bad mood. House three was all knotty pine and 70's Aztec gold and would need a ton of reno work to make it suitable for Kelly and her myriad collections- plus it was dark and dingy and smelled weird- like old and musty and damp. Sigh...still looking...


Finally-the fog of RA is lifting so I'm feeling more productive after 5 or 6 weeks of barely being able to haul myself to work and get the editing and revision work on the two paranormal novels done. Feeling more productive!


Had to break out my Dell netbook to post on the blogs today- my HPStream has Alzheimers (memory issues)...not enough memory. I can write on it, but when I try to get into my blogs to post it just sits and spins looking for memory it doesn't have. I'm rapidly reaching the conclusion I need a real laptop with a ton of memory and disc space! I'll put it on my wish list!