an odd collection of tales about learning to do the impossible

It worked!

I’ve been holding my breath for months now (metaphorically) as I worked to release my first novel with a new title. I could hardly be blamed. The first title had an exponent in it. (Yes, as in the letter x raised to the power of zero.) If you’re not mathematically inclined, trust me it was clever, but no one could fault me for wanting a title that was easier to pronounce, market and search for.

Read the full story of how it went when I republished the old x0 under the new name One of One at It worked!

 

The Sound of a Story

Then my husband, supporter of my writing and all around good-guy, decides he’s going to read my books aloud so I can have audio books and he’s starting today. Wow. At first blush, this seems great. He knows the books. He has this deep, rich voice, honed from years in a classroom. And, he’s free. I mean, he has the time, but more importantly, he doesn’t cost anything. Narrators are expensive.

Read more at The Sound of a Story.

Have Courage

I’m trying to show more courage in my own life, and for me right now that translates into being more honest about who I am. My deep dark secret? I write science fiction ….

Read more at Have Courage

Yes this cover is cool. Yes this will need some tweaking. But go ahead and take a peak, and then I’ll share the input I sent back.

Read more at Not my new cover, but I’m still having fun ….

Bitchy Editor is Back

One of One is now ready for its January 17 release, and I’ve moved on to the same process with Shape of Secrets. Its gentle read happened last fall, and a few days ago Bitchy Editor took over. She’s got all sorts of problems with this book. Why doesn’t anyone here ever use a contraction when they speak? Nobody uses big words like that? What does that even mean?

She’s having a good time, I think. To be honest, it’s hard to tell. Shape of Secrets is taking shape, however, in new and better ways.

Read more at Bitchy Editor is Back

You know, get rid of some of those lingering adverbs. Reduce the he saids, and make the he pondereds, he chuckleds and he exclaimeds go almost completely away.

She has been doing that, and found more than I expected, but that wasn’t enough. She’s decided to look at every sentence and demand to know what it is doing in my book. Does this matter? Who cares about this? Why is this in here?

Read more at Bitchy Editor says this is it!

Sometimes I Fly

Today I booked a beach rental near Kitty Hawk on the outer banks of North Carolina. I visited there about three years ago and I was so moved by this windswept shore that birthed human flight. I’ve invited two of my favorite people to come all the way from Illinois to share it with me. One, a former pilot, I’m sure will enjoy it.

It reminded me of this post I wrote months ago, when I was having a particularly good day editing my books. I never shared it here and I’d like to.

Sometimes I Fly

I’ve always wanted to be a bird. In eighth grade I took my first trip in a plane. I squirmed with joy during take-off when it was everything I had dreamt.

I was flying.

One of my most common reoccurring dreams has always been being airborne. I’m surprised to find myself aloft, then I remember. That’s right. I always knew how to do this. I just forgot I knew. Sometimes I get details of what works, like I have to hop twice on my left foot before I jump off, but those recipes for flight have never been the same twice and not one has worked the next morning.

Read the rest at Sometimes I Fly.

Every part of self-publishing is an adventure. I’ve been working with a group known as Deranged Doctor Design and we’ve been working on the paperback version of the second novel. Isn’t it beautiful? I especially love the beach on the back cover.

The part requiring the most revision was the color of the spine and the insert on the back. I was determined for it to be orange, so the designer suggested a more transparent look  I loved, but no decision is without ramifications. The cover for the first novel, One of One, was finalized a few weeks ago, and it doesn’t match.

Or at least it didn’t. Now it’s been revised and we’re on a roll.

The first draft of the cover for book three should be done in about a week.  I can’t wait to see it.

 

Almost My New Cover Part 2

I’m going through much of the same process re-birthing my second novel as I went through with the first. The first draft of the new cover was good, but my shape shifting protagonist couldn’t have facial hair, and I wanted more of a feel of the tropics.

I loved the background of this second version, but didn’t like Zane’s new head. As someone else put it, he had too much of a “Jersey Shore” look to him.

Once again, the third time was a charm.

Read more about this process at Almost my new cover and at Fun With Covers. 

The newly named and highly edited new version will be out in mid-February. I can’t wait.

I had great fun working with a pro to design a new, genre appropriate cover for One of One. Here’s what the first draft looked like.

The second draft was much closer, and needed only a few more tweaks to get there.

This final version combines the best of both, I think. I’ll be proud to release it, along with the streamlined and updated story, on January 17.

Check out my original two posts about this process of making this cover at Not My New Cover and Almost My New Cover

Summary: I’m in awe of this book, and I like to think that I don’t awe easily. It has stuck with me since I finished it; the surest sign of an effective story. I give it a 4.8/5, the highest rating I’ve given since I started this decimal point thing.

Read more at Review: The City and The City.

c3 is dead

What prompts an author to kill her own book?

Over the years, I’ve eliminated all the hyperlinks in the book, and the text that went with them. I’ve made corrections and done minor clean-up. Why not. But I’ve refrained from doing anything major.

Because this will be a new book, I have the chance to do some serious editing. So I am. I’m giving more attention to point of view. I’m taking the techniques I’ve learned over the past six years, at conferences, from other writers, and simply from practicing my craft for hours every week, and I’m doing my best to fold those learnings into telling my story better.

Read more at c3 is dead.

z2 will die

What prompts an author to kill her own book?

As with my first two books, x0 and y1, I’ve never totaled up the exact sales, because it’s not easy to separate a sale from a give-away. I’m pretty sure I’ve been paid for over two hundred copies, and have gifted at least as many more. I’d hoped for more sales, of course, but every time a stranger liked my book and let me know, it delighted me. No regrets.

Times change. Sales of z2 have gone from small to nearly zero.

Read more at z2 will die

y1 will die

What prompts an author to kill her own book?

On January 1, 2019 my second novel is scheduled to die. I admit the prospect makes me sad. This book, with its fiery sunset-themed cover, has been part of my life for a while.

I finished it in early 2012, and released it on Kindle September 2012. Shape shifter Zane and his unique crime solving skills were a source of pride and joy.

Read more at y1 will die.

x0 will die

What prompts an author to kill her own book?

A few months ago, I attended a conference of science fiction writers, and signed up for a mentor. It may have been one of my more useful decisions. This guy pointed out that I could still have a marketable product in this particular story, but I needed a more genre-appropriate cover, a much better title, and an updated and aggressive marketing plan.

I can change the title of my book? Apparently I can. I do need a new ISBN number (no problem). I also need to acknowledge to the new reader what has been done (just in case he or she is one of the 800 humans who already read this story.)

And …. I need to kill x0. That is, I must take it off the market completely. No electronic versions for sale, although those who have it obviously always will. No new paperbacks printed and sold, although nothing can prevent current owners from reselling their copies on Amazon and elsewhere.

Read more at x0 will die.

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Here’s the plan

This is my first original post on this blog.

Not my 1st cover

I usually feed it with material from the blogs for my individual books, but this is special. I’m in the process of undergoing something of a transformation (I know, it’s an exciting word) and my books are going with me.

Last spring I gave all six of them a quick edit, with the expectation of moving on to a new series this fall. I was excited to get started on this new project, but I wanted to leave them in the best shape I could.

Then my plan got disintegrated. Burst into flames. Died a violent death. It happens to plans sometimes.

A successful self-published author got assigned to mentor me at a SFWA convention and he made a few suggestions. Rename your books and get new covers. (I can do that?) Learn about writing ads and read about successful advertising. (I can learn that?) You’ve created a product. Why not sell it?

This is my 1st cover

These ideas may not seem like a news flash to many writers, but they were to me. I’d written six books to express myself and to get these stories out of my head. Sure, I wanted to sell books but that was secondary to creating the thing I wanted to create, in the way I wanted to create it. I cared about sharing my stories with those I knew, and then finding like-minded souls who’d enjoy what I had done. I never considered anything other than self-publishing. It was all one big arts and crafts project for me, and I enjoyed the heck out of it.

But he had a point. My sales were down to nearly nothing, so why not put on a new hat? I just didn’t expect to enjoy wearing this other hat so much.

The books have been renamed. Great fun. I love the new names. The first cover is finalized and I can’t stop looking at it. The second one is in progress and I’m betting I’ll be every bit as enamored when it is done.

Not my 2nd cover

The first three books have received a hearty edit with an eye towards moving the story along, keeping words simple and phrases short, and keeping controversy out of the story. I let myself have another go at the first book, and it seems I can’t stop cutting. Zap, another 6000 words just went in the trash. It is no longer the art creation I loved, but it is something else I am proud of and something I am sure more readers will enjoy.

I’ve set an ambitious schedule for the next six months. I’ll be releasing One of One in mid-January and then another book the middle of every month until June. Each version will be as every bit as marketable as I am able to make it, and will receive strategic advertising designed to pull in readers. Will it work? I’ve no idea. I hope so.

Then I intend to start that next great project in the fall of 2019. At least, that’s the plan.

There is a famous Yiddish proverb that says we plan and God laughs. True, huh? Who knows what I’ll be doing in the fall of 2019. None-the-less, it’s good to have a plan.

 

Day 28. Grateful

The final stretch is a trip through the deep south. We end up spending the night in town in which the only open restaurant is a fast food chicken place, and the only open grocery store is whatever they sell at the bait shop attached to the local gas station. We patch together a meal from what’s in our car.

The next day, as I drive up the road to my own house, my last rule of the road, #28, is clear. Be grateful to have made the journey. Be grateful to have made it home.

I’ve been listening to my playlist of 25 songs with home in the title. When the list is done, Gabrielle Aplin’s Home is the one I play twice. Make that three times.

I don’t see the video until after I’m in the house. It has such a creepy start that I almost don’t post it, but I watch it a few more times and it wins me over. So much of the country she travels through looks like where I’ve just been.

I could swear I passed the guy in the yellow truck at least once in my travels. In fact, I might have stayed at his Airbnb. Or maybe I saw him at Burning Man. At any rate, the video resonates with my journey, and her song leaves me smiling … because I’m finally home.

Read the full post at Day 28. Grateful and enjoy the final video.

Day 27. Lights Along My Path

As far as rules of the road go, I fear I might have run out of words of wisdom. I feel myself spiraling out towards lofty observations like “always put love first” or inane comments like “don’t forget to give the pets treats.” I guess rule #27 is going to be: If you didn’t learn anything special today, it’s okay. Don’t worry about it.

I do have a song for the day, however. It was introduced to me by my sweet and lovely host and I think of her when I hear it. It also is about being beckoned home, and about the things that light our way.  At Burning Man, the lights off to the right helped me find my way back to my tent. Today, in this second to last day of my four week journey, she was one of the lights along my path.

Read more at Day 27. Lights Along My Path and enjoy my favorite song about lights.

Day 26. To Stop a Hurricane

A few years ago I made a play list of songs with the word “home” in the title. I was moving across the country at the time, leaving my home of fifteen years, and I was trying to generate enthusiasm for making a home elsewhere. It helped.

As I take a turn driving, one of those songs keeps running through my head, I think because the chorus has something to do with stopping a hurricane.

Tonight, I won’t be in my own house but I’ll be staying at the home of someone I love, and I’m looking forward to it. There will be a home-cooked meal (and probably a very good one) and fine wine and a soft bed that I haven’t had to pay to sleep in. It feels welcoming as I drive through the storm.

Read more at Day 26. To Stop a Hurricane and enjoy the song of the day below.

 

Day 25. Backing Up

We spend a satisfying few hours ranting about the sad state of affairs in the world (that is what news junkies most love doing) and sharing our predictions for how our current mess is going to end (that is the other thing news junkies love to do.)

Leaving our place to get food, my friend backs up on the long driveway, misjudges and hits a tree. “Just broke one of my rules,” he says. “Never back up more than you have to.”

It’s a such wise insight that I immediately adopt it as my personal rule #25.

Read more at Day 25. Backing Up.

The house is hot. Really hot. Inside, it’s a single room with a room air conditioner stuck high in a window up over an armoire. It’s turned off, of course, and there is nothing to stand on to reach the controls for the AC.

This is ridiculous.

We try several ill-fated and bad ideas for getting the place cooled down when my husband notices a page of info for guests to read. It includes the usual wifi password and request to do ones own dishes, and one sentence that is key.

“Turn on the AC by flipping the light switch just to the right of the bed.”

Read more at Day 24. If it seems ridiculous …

I’ve spent several days at Burning Man, which I think we can all agree is a world unto itself. Now that I’m back in what burners call the default world, I seem to be hyper aware of the fact that none of us live in quite the same reality as each other.

The point is really brought home today when I go visit my husband’s brother and his wife at their ranch. I admire these two a great deal. Years ago they made a choice to live off of the grid, growing or raising most of their own food, hauling in their own water, generating their own solar power. Their food is pure, their bodies work hard.

The vision has morphed somewhat, allowing more modernization and convenience, but they still live a harsh and solitary life in a stunning location. Today’s big news is that they have found a way to have hot running water. They’ve both just taken their first shower at home at the turn of a knob since they began this life about a decade ago. They are quite pleased.

For all that I find their place beautiful, and their choices admirable, I realize that I’m glad I don’t live their life. I enjoy hot showers and baths, among many other creature comforts.

Read more and enjoy the song of the day at Day 23. What’s Your Reality?

Day 22. Stop, or Else …

I should have reconsidered my plan to follow-up 6 nights camping at Burning Man with two long days of driving. Last night I woke up twice in the night thinking the place was filling up with dust. An inch or more of the flaky grey coating on everything gave the room the look of something out of a horror movie, until I turned on the lights and saw there was no dust at all.

The second time it happened I knew I needed a little more decompression time.

Read more at Day 22. Stop, or Else …

Next thing I know we’ve changed our route to have lunch because isn’t this amazing. Yes, it is great to see him, but throw in a little road construction and a couple of other longer stops than expected and we arrive well into the dark, 14 clock hours after we left.

Not a problem, except this Airbnb is along the unlit and poorly marked dirt roads west of Trinidad. Our host’s verbal directions are vague and once we make a wrong turn, my phone is so flummoxed it shows us heading across a pasture, which we clearly are not.

Frustrations are rising, so I call our host and describe our location.  She talks us, landmark by landmark, to the edge of her long driveway where she meets us with a flashlight to guide us in. Some Airbnb hosts go well beyond the expected. Yay for nice people.

The frazzled nature of the day leaves me craving soft music and pretty sounds as I get ready for bed. I’m not particularly religious but my time on the road has put this song in my head. I turn to this amazing rendition, not knowing yet that it will help me get through the remainder of this journey, and soothe me for many more nights once I’m home.

Read the full post at Day 21. Time flies like an arrow and …. and enjoy.

 

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