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I'm baffled...

Feb. 10th, 2016 | 06:53 am

A family member is getting married this weekend, and I found myself bumfuzzled by the gift registry.  After much deliberation, I chose a bathroom trashcan, tootbrush holder, and soap dispenser.

And that came out to about $115.

It turns out that the items are porcelain. A $60 porcelain trashcan.  For a bathroom.

First of all, people want what they want. I'm aware of that. But I looked up from my computer (I shopped online) and thought....wow, I'm a cheap and tacky person.

The trashcans in my bathrooms are all from Walmart or Target...and mostly purchased on sale or clearance. I doubt any of them cost more than $10.  I can't imagine purchasing a bathroom trashcan for that much.  (I have a more expensive can in the kitchen, but it's much larger, stainless steel, and at least 10 years old.)

This is culture shock.

Why do people spend $$$$$ on cars when they can have books instead. Or a new computer and books. Or...well, a lot of things.

It's just always surprising to me where people put their money. Because it's not where I would put it.

Part of the variety of life, I guess ;o)

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The Sparrow

Feb. 6th, 2016 | 12:09 pm
mood: optimisticoptimistic

In my quest to put out some new ebboks, I've actually been looking at professional covers (rather than my amateurish attempts from 2012).  For my next Golden City novella (After the War), I've gone back to the same artist who did The Seer's Choice ($275+)

The next project is a redo of the Iron Shoes trilogy, where I'm putting the three novellas into one book (Iron Shoes, Snow Comes to Hawk's Folly, and Snowfall). For this one I've engaged the same guy who formatted The Seer's Choice and a different artist (who's a bit more expensive--$550--but I hope will be willing to work with me on the cover more.)

And only after that was I planning to put out the Russian Novella, otherwise known as "The Sparrow in the Aviary".

But yesterday while I was looking for cover examples for Artist 2, I was trolling selfpubbookcovers.com. A high percentage of their covers are not very great, but they have some occasional gems. And I ran across one that suited my needs perfectly. After tweaking the text a bit, I have this:


The good thing about getting the cover done at this point is that I'm still editing the novella. Therefore it's not a big deal for me to change the heroine's eye color or hair color to match this photo. What I liked best about the photo is that:

-we can't see her clothes, so we can't have the wrong time period for her clothing.
-she's not made up or glamorized, and she's not smiling.
-all the props work with my story: jewelry, trees, feather.

I did try to stick in a tag line, but with the variance bright to dark, it's hard to find a good place for that. It would fit under my author name, but then I think it would be busy.  And since I really don't foresee a ton of novella sales in print form (and no one's going to be purchasing them off the shelf anywhere) I can put the tag line on the top of the description anyway.

In the Russian Forest, Magic Still Reigns.

That sets both location and fantasy. And I can work the time period (1815) in pretty quickly so that purchasers won't be misled.

So I got my third cover quite inexpensively--$80--which helps the over all writing budget. (I told my husband last night how much Artist 2 is costing, and he gasped!). The covers alone (not the formatting) will eat up all of the last advance check I'm getting from my publisher. I'm hoping to have some royalties coming in, but they won't cover much.



And I do have a Patreon, but it hasn't funded yet, so I'm not getting any money from it.  This is a bit like kickstarter, in that the funding doesn't kick in until the goals are met.  I have not been pushing it, so that's one of my goals for February...to do a couple of promotion runs for it in hops of creeping up to that $100 mark.

(At $100 a month, that will cover the publication of roughly 2 ebooks per year. I am hoping to buy software and learn to formatting myself, which would probably make it 3 books a year, but that will take a bit of time.)




Cool! I've never seen these before! 

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Winter Regrets

Feb. 3rd, 2016 | 01:35 pm

A strange aftereffect of coming back to Texas--I now seem to resent winter.

Admittedly, the winter's much milder here than OKC winter. A couple of weeks ago, my inlaws (still in OK) had the fun of an ice storm while we were in the 50s. I should be pleased with the weather here.

But for some reason, I find myself resenting today's 50 degree temps, as I have every time it's gotten chilly over the last few months. It's almost as if I expect winter to be non-existent in Dallas.

I know this is illogical. Perhaps I can just blame hormones. Either way, I'm strangely annoyed at the weather.

Bescause that's SO helpful. 
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Quick List, Mostly for myself

Jan. 25th, 2016 | 08:09 am

I'm having trouble sleeping, so I'm putting a list here, mostly for myself, so I can consider what to do about my stress levels.

Stressors:

1) Weight: I've set a modest goal of 3lbs per month. I think I have this month licked, but I still feel hideous since last year's HRT weight gain of 17 lbs.  Ugh.

2) House: The house is my biggest stressor. There's so much to do, especially with spring coming up.
a) Dig up hollies and boxwood.
b) Meet with Foundation Guys to go over their notes
c) Cut down 4 trees in back yard.
d) Cut down 3-5 trees in front yard (will hire that out--needs a stump grinder.)
e) Fill/stain door frames (I removed some swinging doors from one, and took out the flashing/hinges left from a 2010 remodel.)
f) Install swinging doors in other door frame.
g) Find/order perfect blinds for kitchen/dining area.
h) Repaint the entire interior of this house, save the ceilings.
i) Make decisions about whether to repaint/reface the kitchen cabinets.
j) Replant back yard.

Not all of that will get done this year, but I need to find a way to prioritize, so I don't feel like I have ALL of that hanging over my head. Plus I need to do all of that economically, so we can eventually replace the horrid W2W carpet in the bedrooms.

3) Dogs: I have to get their shots updated in the next week. Need to set an appointment. Otherwise they're mostly OK now.

4) Signing:  I have that book signing next weekend. I keep seeing all the clever things people do fo their singings, making cookies or special things to hand out. I've decided that I'm not going to do that. There's enough pressure with being 'ON' for two + hours anyway. I've also given up coming up with that great outfit that will make me look thin and younger and, most of all, memorable.

5) ConDFW: I have this coming up the week after the signing, with my nephew's wedding taking me away Saturday night. Have to do both.

6) DFWCon: (That's a different conference). I'm deciding whether to do a powerpoint. I did fine last time without a powerpoint. Maybe just handouts, but photos would be very helpful for my presentations.)

7) Career: So much going on, so many decisions ahead, and so little control. Buy my new book, please. That is all.

But until feel like I have a handle on these things, I'm still going to feel stressed out.

It helps, though, to acknowedge that there's a problem.

Right now I don't have a plan. That's what I need to work on.

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It's cold both inside my mind and outside my house :(

Jan. 21st, 2016 | 12:09 pm

For DFW Area Peeps:

1) Rhonda Eudaly has Half Price Books signing coming up on Sunday (1-3) at the Flagship Store just off 75 and Northwest Highway. Please come. The more people that come in for her signing encourages the store to take risks on other authors. So by helping one you help all of us!

2) I have a signing on Tuesday 2/2, at 7 PM at the Barnes and Noble (Lincoln Park) that's just south of that HPB (on the other side of Northwest Highway). I'm terribly nervous about it, but please feel free to come and mock me.


3) If you're interested in The Piano Guys, they're having a concert in Grand Prairie on 3/19. My niece bought $$$ tickets as a birthday thing only to learn later that a close friend would be getting married that weekend and now she has to offload her 2 choice seats.  Let me know if you're interested...


________________________

I'm still working on setting up my Patreon, alternating between "I don't deserve to have people pay me for stuff" and "It would be stupid not to do this since you don't have a contract any more."

I will post about it here, once I get it up and running (in a beta mode, at least.)

It's a scary thing.  But unfortunately, I think I also need it to survive this year as a writer.

So...we'll see.

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Hoping History Doesn't Repeat Itself...

Jan. 19th, 2016 | 08:06 am

Preparatory to my coming book debut (2/2), I have a signing lined up at a nearby Barnes & Noble.

Okay, not really nearby, about 20 miles from here. There are a lot of closer stores, but perhaps B&N signings do better in Dallas or something.

Anyhoo, I don't have a particularly good history for signings.  I haven't attempted a real signing since Book 1, and those were disasters.


Here:
Signing 1, Indie Bookstore OKC (with another author)
Had a total of 4 people. Discovered about halfway through that the cashier (who could SEE us from where he sat) was telling people that our signing was next weekend.  I know this because I saw my in-laws come in, talk to him, and then turn around to leave. When I caught them at the door, that's what they told me. Not a success.

Signing 2, B&N OKC (solo)
It was scheduled for a Friday night by a very enthusiastic B&N CSR (I think that's the acronym). Unfortunately, someone else scheduled an Ice Storm for the same evening.  Those few customers who -did- come in  despite the falling ice were looking to grab a book and get home before it got worse. It did not go well.

Signing 3, Coffee house in DFW (with a group of RWA authors)
Scheduled for a Saturday. Got news of an impending ice storm. Didn't even bother to drive down to DFW through the ice for that one. Cancelled.

After that, I rather gave up on individual signings.

But...now I'm having a new signing...in winter...in DFW. I can only hope that there's not inclement weather that weekend. Cross your fingers for that, please...

Two weeks from today, I'll be signing books at Barnes & Noble--Lincoln Park (Dallas), celebrating the debut of my new novel, Dreaming Death, at 7PM. I'd love it if you could drop by!

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Testing the waters...

Jan. 17th, 2016 | 04:48 pm

I'm working up to starting a Patreon. It's scary, but....I think it's what I need to do right now.

Even more so, I feel I would be stupid NOT to do this. I have all this content sitting around, and all I need to do is plunk it out on the Patreon site.

And maybe a handful of people would pay me to do so on a regular basis.

What it comes down to, though, is...what do I have to lose?

So I'll be setting that up, likely this week, and the first thing I'll drop is a 10K start to a novella about the meeting of Miguel Gaspar and a certain lady.  Yes, that's what I'm working on today (because Sunday is my 'fun' day.)

And perhaps someone will want to read it. ;o)

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Library Journal

Jan. 16th, 2016 | 06:53 am

I finally ran down Library Journal's review of Dreaming Death, where they have the same problem that a lot of reviewers did...not enough worldbuilding shown.  I promise, the worldbuilding's there, I just ran out of space to show it all to you.

Library Journal

Library Journal
01/01/2016
When Mikael Lee dreams of death, he is a menace to those around him. In the fortress where he lives, sensitives pick up the images and emotions he broadcasts, and Mikael has taken to fleeing his home when he feels a death vision approaching. Shironne Anjir, a young blind woman, is linked to Mikael when he dreams. She is a rare touch-sensitive able to pick up psychic impressions off anything she encounters, and while she has helped with army investigations before, her connections to Mikael suddenly become very important when a vicious killer is on the loose. VERDICT In this series launch, Cheney (The Golden City) has built a complicated tiered society, and the relationships among ruling Anvarrids, the Six Families, and Larossans could have been a little clearer, as the action immediately plunges the reader deep into the author's world. Fully drawn characters, especially Shironne and Mikael, make this a realm that deserves another visit, especially with a romance just set to brewing.—MM

OOH!  The Goodreads Giveaway for that has gone live...

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/169831-dreaming-death

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Today's Horoscope

Jan. 11th, 2016 | 07:45 am

JAN. 11, 2016
Overall, you are operating through a very discouraging time with regard to your career, and it may be difficult for you to keep your chin up through it all. Go easy on yourself instead of expecting too much. Your time will come. Be patient.


__________________
Most of the time they're totally wrong, but sometimes they say exactly the right thing. I'd really like to believe this one...

....also, if they could give me a more concrete date of when my time is coming, I'd really appreciate it.
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Social Exhaustion and Obligations...

Jan. 8th, 2016 | 06:40 am

I'm not a very social person. I never have been.

When I was in college, I worked grocery, and because I was a very fast checker, I was often put on "Express", which meant that I talked to hundreds of people per shift.

I would sometimes go back to my apartment and sit down on the floor in the walk-in closet. I couldn't even deal with my roommate civilly by that point. (Oddly, I never lost it with a customer, but it was a job, so I forced myself to be perky and friendly.)

I always thought it was a good thing to make myself socialize. I still do.  I get online, I go to writers meetings, and I go to cons.

But I also have to have closet time.  I actually plan nothing for the day after a con because I will be so mentally stressed out that I'm pretty useless.  I try to keep up with social media, but there are times that I drop off the scene. I block certain people online because I don't need the stress they cause. And if I need to, I will skip a meeting (although I'll probably advise ahead.)

I wish I were better about all the social media stuff. I need to pimp my fellow writers more. I need to get involved in more groups.

Having said that, I just quit my Heyer group because I wasn't contributing anything.  (Or reading the books. Bad writer! Bad!) I also quit one of my Oklahoma groups, since I no longer live there.

One of my goals for this year is to look at all my groups, evaluate which ones are beneficial and which are not, and get out of the ones I don't need.  Better to do well with a few than lousy with a million.
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