The Road is Long…

You’ve been traveling all day. The road is dusty, and long, and it’s been hours since you’ve seen another soul. It’s getting late, and the thought of sleeping on the ground and potentially getting eaten by wolves is unappealing.

Finally, up ahead, you spy a man with a cart. It’s old and lists to one side, but this is a good sign. Surely he’s coming from somewhere. You hail him, and he raises a hand in return, seeming friendly enough.

“Is the a town up ahead?” you ask once you’re close enough.

“Aye,” says the farmer.

“One with an inn?” you ask, scarcely daring to hope. You’d give anything for a roof over your head. More for a warm, dry bed.

“Aye,” says the farmer again. “Not far now.”

Then he is gone, and you forge ahead, dreams of warmth and fire and food vivid in your mind.

Still, the day drags on, and your hope fades. The sun continues its descent, and there is still nothing. But then, finally, there is a break in the trees, and the outline of buildings against the red sky. So close now. You stumble into town, asking directions of a small child gathering water at the well. Following his directions, the building in question arises out of the dark, like a lover, welcoming and open. Your savior, your place of refuge…

So the small, mobile ones are on spring break (which, with the snow days last week, means I’m going a bit mad) and we’re up to our normal shenanigans. This week we’re making a town out of toilet paper rolls I’ve been hoarding. (Though the dog has gotten a few. She loves to eat them, Landsquid knows why.)

The town keeps relocating so it’s kind of an adventure as to where you’re going to find it next.

(All the buildings have lobsters on the roofs because the small, mobile ones were overjoyed by the idea.)

We also celebrated the first day of spring by planting flowers in a pink dinosaur, as you do.

(Note the snow on the ground outside. The littler, mobile one is confused why there is still snow if it is now spring.)

Been up to anything fun lately, squiders? Ideas for our growing town?

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Workbooks and Journals, Oh My

So! It turns out that said journal class I had? Not a class so much as a collection of demos of how to make journals. Ah, well.

And also, the whole thing is kind of obvious in retrospect. There are some good pointers and tips, certainly. But the class is for making journals in Canva (I love Canva, I like to make book covers in it, though sometimes they prove too complicated–To Rule the Stars was made in Canva, for example, but Love Shines Through had to be done in Photoshop) and Canva has changed how it works over the past two years (madness, she says sarcastically) so the actual physical journal making isn’t as helpful as perhaps it would have been.

That said, I’m 14 pages into the first workbook (each section has different exercises, so it’s kind of slow going) and made an entire 98-page journal in about an hour this morning.

Title Page of the Workbook in Canva

Kind of fun. A little aggravating. I just realized one of the fonts I’m using I also used on the To Rule the Stars cover so that’s a bit funny. (It’s a nice font, though, so I’m not sorry.)

I’m not making amazing progress on anything (I got T-boned by a car running a red light last Friday, so a thoroughly-annoying amount of my time has been dedicated to that).

(Everyone is okay.)

But I am done with the major revision on the first nonfic book. And assuming it doesn’t spawn any more companion books (the journal came out of nowhere when I was doing my final organization of the book and workbook, as did a freebie that I still need to make), the workbook should be done by the end of the week. And then it’s on to Common Writing Mistakes (no companion books, hopefully), and then Outlining (probably not a companion book?), which should go a little faster.

How are you today, squiders?

WriYe and Editing

First of all, fantastic news, squiders! They found my journal/workbook class for me! Hallelujah! Words can describe how happy I am about this development. (Now to get on it.)

It’s editing month at WriYe (probably to line up with NaNoEdMo–National Novel Editing Month–is that still a thing? I’ve been in the online monthly challenge community for so long I can’t keep track anymore.) and so this month’s blog circle questions have to do with that.

(While, technically, revision is the process of changing story elements–writing new scenes, removing old ones, changing character arcs, etc.–and editing is technically stuff like fixing punctuation, grammar, and the fact that the character’s eye color went from hazel to brown on page 15, we’re going to follow general convention and equate editing to “the act of changing a story, hopefully for the better.”)

Describe your editing process. What is your biggest challenge in editing? 

I think I’ve talked about my editing process in great detail before here on the blog, but if I haven’t, essentially I do several months of analytical work, looking at plot and character arcs, which scenes are essential and which are not working, if there’s characters that should be removed or combined, if there’s confusing parts or if a prop comes out of nowhere or if some aspect of worldbuilding is falling apart.

And THEN I outline the story, put each scene on a color-coded note card, and start the revision/rewriting process.

That typically gets rid of the major issues, and if the story still needs some work, it’s mostly minor things.

Bonus:
Tell us about your ideal critique partner. What do you look for in a critique partner?

Ha! If we’re going for ideal, someone who reads the chapter/story quickly, who points out things that are good along with the things that are bad, and someone who can look at a chapter as part of a larger story and make insightful comments on character and story arcs. Oh, and someone who is into your writing and loves to get it.

But I’ll take what I can get. If I get feedback eventually and it’s at all insightful, I consider it a win. 😛

Happy Thursday, squiders! I hope you didn’t get bomb cycloned yesterday like I did. (But all the trees are still upright and we didn’t go without power overnight, so it wasn’t terrible.)

Announcing Love Shines Through

Hooray! It took a ton of work, but Love Shines Through: A Fractured World Anthology is now available!

Love Shines Through cover

Here’s the blurb:

The world was whole before the war.

But war is a terrible thing, and terrible things are done in the name of defense and protection. And this war tore the world apart, fractured it, separated families and lives and dreams. The reasons why no longer matter, but the effects still linger. They cause pain, though the war is over.

But despite the monsters and the poisons and the despair, there is a glimmer of light. And hope and love are not gone from the world.

These four stories, set in the Fractured World, explore how light can make it through the darkness. How hope can conquer fear. And most of all, how love can still flourish, even when the world is bleak.

A young woman braves monsters to see the sky.
A reluctant man chooses forgiveness over suffering.
Lovers reunite to save a child and their community.
Best friends risk everything for each other.

Come see the light for yourselves.

I’m so glad to see this done and out! Love Shines Through is available through Amazon in paperback or ebook form, or in your favorite format through Smashwords (and hopefully soon through your favorite ebook distributor).

I had a great time writing my story for this anthology–it was fun looking at Briony’s ancestors and thinking about what could have led them to the point they’re at in City of Hope and Ruin. (Oh yeah, this anthology takes place about 400 years ahead of CoHaR.) And I’m glad to see it come to fruition. The Fractured World was always supposed to be a shared world, so it was great to have some new authors write in it.

I hope you guys have a chance to check it out!

Review: In Search of a Witch’s Soul

Good morning, squiders! Today’s I’ve got an urban fantasy noir story for you.


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Urban Fantasy Noir
Publisher: Ink & Magick
Date Published: March 5, 2019

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Human, private detective Anna Caill isn’t keen on the prohibition of magic enacted by the 18th Amendment, but she won’t deny it’s good for business. The coppers couldn’t care less about the witches’ problems, giving her any number of clients to choose from.

When mysterious witch Jesse Hunt saunters into her office, he and his case will test her limits. While a killer stalks the magical underworld, Anna is hired to find Jesse’s friend, the high priest of an ancient coven.

As her case unravels, Anna is forced to confront her addiction to a dark spell in this urban fantasy noir.


About the Author

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D. writes stories she wants to read. Her love of the worlds of fiction led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University.

When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, crafting, watching anime, Korean television, Bollywood, or old movies. She may also be getting her geek on while planning her next steampunk cosplay with friends.

She lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John) and cat (Yin).


Contact Links



Purchase Links



Review

There’s a lot to like here. I love the world, which is a mixture of historical and urban fantasy. The story takes place in an alternate prohibition time period, where witches (which are tangibly different from humans) are known about and, if not fully accepted into society, somewhat integrated.

The noir elements are well done also, and I didn’t see the twist at the end coming at all (though it is properly foreshadowed–I just fell for the misdirection), so kudos on that. It’s a quick read, and the story moves along well.

Really my biggest issue was Anna, our main character. She’s a great private detective and her voice is fine, but man, does she have a major blind spot a mile high. I know noir main characters need to be flawed, and it is standard to have said flaw be related to their relationships, but it was obvious from the first flashback that she was operating under incorrect assumptions, and there’s no growth in said flaw throughout the book (and, indeed, it gets worse). I liked her well enough otherwise, but this was a major issue for me, and I don’t know if I would read another book following her unless I knew there was some sort of resolution in this area.

Bottom line: great, unique world with fun worldbuilding, fast read. Some characterization issues for me, but that’s completely arbitrary and another reader might not be bothered. I’d recommend picking it up if you like urban fantasy or noir with different-than-the-norm elements.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

So, both the Landsquid books and the nonfiction books are lower down in the priority for the next week, since the Fractured World anthology is coming out in about a week and I have Things That Need Doing (I am in charge of the back cover copy, the inside formatting, and the cover, and somewhere along the way here I have obviously taken on too much responsibility).

But that doesn’t mean I’m not working on them still. I finished the rough draft of the Landsquid book and have drawn most of the pages, and I started researching how one goes about submitting a picture book to publishers, and I have learned things.

I have learned that, apparently, you take the text of your picture book, put it in manuscript format, and send it off. And…that’s it. No artwork. No illustration notes.

Which…what? What? There are a ton of books written and illustrated by the same person–how did they submit? I have pages in my book where there are just pictures and no text–how is that represented in the manuscript format? Is it? Or does what text there is have to stand on its own?

I guess the idea is that publishers want the option to hire their own illustrators for projects, and so they’re more likely to accept a book without any artwork baggage. And, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind someone else illustrating. I am a competent artist but I’m under no illusions about being amazing. I just can’t figure out what I’m supposed to do.

(If anyone knows, please share your wisdom! I’m also going to look into my local SCWBI chapter–it’s been probably 5 years since I last did anything with them and I don’t remember anything–and see what’s what there.)

The journal class continues to be MIA. I emailed a follow-up last night but have not heard anything. Bah. Bah, I say! Meanwhile I’ve gotten a ton of emails from this company advertising OTHER classes they want me to buy, and I can’t say I’m motivated to ever buy anything from them ever again.

(I have Lifetime access on another class I bought from them four years ago, and I went back through it last week, since I also bought that class for the nonfiction series, and it’s not in a great state. Links going to the wrong information, missing information, etc. So.)

I did find a possible alternative, if it comes to that. The other teacher I follow who’s offering a journal/workbook class has a standalone workbook on the subject for $10. It’d probably be better than nothing, but I am waffling. It sounds like part of her class/workbook is figuring out what the workbook should be about, and I’ve got that part down. I mostly want formatting info.

Also, I’m working through How to Think Sideways, which is a class offered by Holly Lisle. I bought it for a lot of money a long time ago (probably 10 years) but never got all the way through it, and I’ve always wanted to get my money’s worth out of it. So I’m going through. I’ve made it past the lesson that tripped me up the first time, and have a ton of new story ideas, which is…well, not terrible. But I’ve got to get some stuff done before I start new things.

(Now, Holly is a woman who maintains her lifetime access in a way that is actually useful. Plus she updates the courses instead of making a new course and then expecting you to pay again.)

(I’m sorry, I’m just really Not Impressed with journal class company right now.)

But, yes, the anthology must be done. If I can swing it, I hope to finish the print formatting today and get the cover done. We’ll see, though, because everything is taking longer today than it should.

How are you doing, squiders?

Plugging Along

Well, squiders–Lord, is that more yellow? auuughhh–there’s been nothing past the initial contact on the journal class. How long do you think before I ping them? Tomorrow? Or do I need to wait until next week?

(I did check out the other teacher’s class, but it’s $100 and I’m especially not spending $100 on something I have already paid for.)

(Also, it’s my turn to make playdough for the smaller, mobile one’s class, and Goddess, there is nothing I hate more in life than making playdough. We picked yellow, which was a mistake.)

(Also, how am I allowed to make playdough but I am no longer allowed to make cute snacks? Is it because we can pretend the kids aren’t eating the playdough?)

I mean, it’s probably no skin off their backs if they ghost me. It’s not like I can call my credit card and ask them to take off some charge from two years ago. Also, I think I paid with Paypal.

So cross your fingers for me, squiders, that I hear from them soon and that it is good news.

I’ve also collated the posts for the first three books (story ideas, common writing mistakes, and outlining) and put together a list of other things to do:

  • Cover design
  • Find reviewers
  • Create freebie for email list (if you want on my author-specific list, it’s here)
  • Check picture permissions and make sure to attribute them
  • Add thank you pages to the backs of the books
  • Research categories and pricing

I’ve been so busy thinking about writing/revision I forgot about the publishing aspect. Ahahahaha. Ha. Ha. Except now I’ve done that, hooray.

I mean, I still need to do the writing/revision but now I have the big picture in mind.

(If you’ve made workbooks/journals previously, squiders, what software did you use? And did you use normal binding, or a coiled binding, and if you did a coil one, where did you publish it?)

(Stupid missing class.)

Also, it’s the end of February and so I find myself needing to think what I want to spend the next month on. The nonfiction books, yes. They will get done come hell or high water. Four years is more than enough time to spend on a project. But then there’s so many other options–the landsquid picture books (going okay, just procrastinating, which is silly, because it is silly to procrastinate things that are your own ideas that you want to do), maybe a new adult project. I should do some editing on other books, but I’m not feeling motivated. And I’d like to get more feedback before I do anything drastic.

Things to ponder.

Spring looms, squiders. Any plans?