Friday Desk Report ~ April 28, 2017

Work on improving my marketing strategies continued this week. There’s a LOT of information and advice out there, and much of it concludes with “see what works for you.” That’s a lot of trial and error, but I guess it’s really the only way. I have worked out the beginnings of a weekly/monthly action list, which just sounds too organized for me. ;)

Not much in the way of word count this week, since my focus was elsewhere. I do have a new story to work on, though, and I figured out some more things about The Chaos Assassin. I also got those two non-fiction ebooks mostly formatted, so I think this weekend I will try to run through them both one last time and maybe get them out the door early next week. I’ve decided I’m happy with the covers. I have a school visit coming up on Monday, but fortunately there’s little prep work involved for that. I do have to finish up the last of my prep for the workshop I’m presenting next weekend. I’m hoping we’ll have some fun talking speculative fiction all day!

This new story idea is really giving me a brain itch, so I think I might have to write it before it drives me crazy. It will be the next installment in the Olympia Investigations series, so I know it will be fun to write. Although it rarely happens, I think I know the throughline of the whole story right off the top, so maybe I’ll be looking at a fast first draft. Here’s hoping!

 

Friday Desk Report – February 5, 2016

perlerbeadtypewriterIt’s been a while since the last Friday Desk Report–mainly because I haven’t been able to be at my desk, so there’s been little to report. However, between medication, time, and the stellar efforts of my wonderful physiotherapist, I’ve been inching my way back. I’m picking up the threads of the novel draft again, and making some progress on a new short story. The novel is certainly the more challenging of the two, since one might visualize it as something like this:

Tangled_leads

instead of something more like this:

loom

but that is what editing is for, right?

Actually, those two pictures make a pretty good summation of the state of life in general and what I’m trying to get back to. All with time, I guess.

I’ve also just joined up for Kobo Writing Life and put The Murder Prophet there. It was available on Kobo before, through Smashwords distribution, but I wanted to explore the opportunities that Writing Life might provide. I’ve heard other authors talk about good experiences with it. I’m not sure of all the ins and outs of it just yet, but I’m sure I’ll learn as I go. I have a few short stories published since To Unimagined Shores came out, so I’m thinking about maybe putting together a small short story pack. Just a notion I’m noodling, so we’ll have to see where it goes.

On the Third Person Press side of things, we’re looking at two manuscripts right now, so although it’s seemed quiet on that front, things are happening behind the scenes. More on that as things develop.

So it’s been a slow and rather painful December and January, but as the daylight hours begin to grow a bit longer, a few minutes at a time, so do things begin to get back to “normal” at the desk. What will it look like by the time spring is actually here? Time will tell.

Away from the desk, I’m doing a sketch-a-day challenge this year to work on my drawing skills. I always say I’m better at colouring than drawing–my forays into coloured pencil art  attest to that–but this year I’d like to get a little better with the sketching. I am calling it sketch-a-day, but am allowing myself some leeway on that. Some days I might just do some colouring or other art, and if I miss a day, I’m allowed to make it up later. Right now I think I’m two drawings behind, but I’ll catch up on those on the weekend. Sometimes the hardest part of the undertaking is deciding what I feel like drawing.

Things I drew (or attempted to draw) this week:

  • flowers from photos on Instagram
  • a lamp in my living room
  • sketch plans for a clockwork rocket
  • a tree in a winter field

Loom image by Ladyheart at morguefile.com

A Mystery Unearthed

  
This little gem came to light yesterday and generated a thrill of memory for me. This book was one of my favorites when I was young, and I would consider it a foundational influence on my reading and writing tastes.

It was probably one of my first introductions to “mystery” as a genre, and features a lot of story in its slim 80 pages. Kidnapping in the name of love! Trial by jury! Prison and escape! Vengeance and redemption! I read it countless times and I’m not sure what ever happened to the copy that lived at our house, but I’m sure glad to have one again now. 

I think I’ll curl up and read it today. :)

Friday Desk Report – Oct. 23/15

Did you think I was going to forget? Nope, here I am.

Terriermon completeIt’s been a not-so-productive week at the desk, since I’ve been laid low by a rather miserable cold and spent a good portion of my not-as-miserable time sewing. The sewing was definitely rewarding, however, since I finished this plush Terriermon for my daughter’s upcoming Digimon cosplay. He turned out to be quite a size and required a ridiculous amount of stuffing, but we are super pleased with him! The fabric is fleece so he’s very soft and cuddly.

I did manage to put the finishing touches on that little book trailer video for The Seventh Crow, and made it live today. You can find it here if you’d like to take a look. I also sent out my October writing news newsletter. If you’re not subscribed, you can find it here, but there’s a contest running only for subscribers, so consider signing up!

One nice aspect of the writing life is that one doesn’t necessarily have to be at the desk to be working, so I did a fair amount of cogitating on the plotlines of my upcoming NaNoWriMo novel while at the sewing machine. There are QUITE a number of things going on in this novel, and I’m not sure yet how they will all fit together, so a goodly amount of thinkage is required. Next I think I’m going to organize some index cards, either physical or in Scrivener, to sort out what’s been percolating this week.

Although it has nothing to do with writing, I’m so pleased that we have a new Canadian government as of this week, I can hardly stand it. Also not writing-related, I planted (with hubby’s help) all of my new bulbs and perennials–tulips, crocus, daylilies, oriental lilies, hyacinth, coneflowers, and astrantia. In a departure from the norm, I even marked where they are planted. I’m rarely that organized in the garden. Now to hunker down and wait until the long winter passes before they bloom in the spring. Sigh.cleandesk

Notably, I’ve kept my desk clean and tidy for over two weeks now. I expect that to change when November hits, since I’ll be writing like mad and also starting to run an online workshop.

Books I’ve been reading/listening to this week:

Read only one book at a time? Not me! :)

Next Friday I’ll be on the road to Hal-Con 2015, but if I’m really on the ball I’ll have my blog post ready to go before I leave.

 

Friday Desk Report – Oct. 16/15

old deskWhat? How can it be Friday again already?

Well, let’s see what I have for the desk report this week. I cooked and ate a lot of food over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and hung out with my family.

I did quite a bit more work on my Nearspace bible in preparation to begin the new novel, and I wrote almost two thousand words of new story notes. While doing some research reading I had a HUGE epiphany about how a lot of things fall into place in this novel, and honestly, when that happens, that’s enough of an accomplishment to make you feel good about the whole week! My brain is now telling me I’m ready to start writing, but I know that’s not true yet. It’s just that my brain gets overexcited about these things sometimes. Calm down. Not long now.

I got a short story rejection and sent out a new submission for that story the same day. Which reminded me of one of my favorite essays from back in the day when Speculations was still a print publication. It was “How Many Times Do You Have To Be Told No?” by James Van Pelt and it made a big impression on me as a new-ish writer (I still have a copy of that issue, so I went and re-read it for fun. It’s just as relevant today as it ever was). The tagline for the article was The sun sets on no rejected manuscript in my house and I have tried hard over the years to make that my creed for submitting stories.

I tweaked my NaNoWriMo guest blog post for Liana Brooks and saw it go live here on Thursday. And I read the page proofs for my story in the upcoming 2016 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide from Dreaming Robot Press. I’m really excited to read all of the stories in this anthology.

And I discovered two new very nice reviews for One’s Aspect to the Sun over on amazon.

Today I’m talking to some elementary school kids about “being a writer” for a career day project, so I did some prep work for that as well. I’m hoping they’ll have some questions to ask me, too!

Some things I looked up on the Internet this week (not necessarily to do with writing):

I’d call that a good week.

A Bird in the Hand

So, at the same time the Kickstarter for my book with a bird in the title (The Seventh Crow) is running, I had the opportunity to help out a little bird in trouble.

littlebirdAround 8 o’clock this morning, my daughter and I heard a thump on the front of the house. It took only a moment to spot a couple of downy feathers stuck to the glass and I knew what had happened–a bird had flown against the window over our front door. This is a fairly rare occurrence as the door and window are inset from the front of the house.

I checked the front step right away and saw the little creature in pile of leaves. My first impression was bad–its head seemed twisted and it was breathing heavily. I fetched some garden gloves and went out to have a closer look. When I gently picked it up, it looked left and right and although it was content to sit in my hands, it seemed overall okay, probably just stunned from the impact.

Well, I didn’t want to leave the little guy prey to the occasional cat who strolls through the neighborhood, so we quickly improvised a little shelter in an empty clementine box and set it in an elevated spot near the back door. I figured if it recovered quickly, it would slip out from underneath the mesh easily.IMG_3880 IMG_3879

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forty-five minutes later it hadn’t moved much, although it still opened its eyes if I gently drew the mesh back. At this point I wasn’t too confident of its recovery, since that seemed a long time to still be stunned. However, I decided that whether it could recover or not, it was safe and comfortable and not being attacked by any predators. I continued to check on it periodically through the morning and would find it sleeping, but alert if I pulled back the mesh.

IMG_3881It would be in just this position, but open its eyes when I moved the mesh covering. It wasn’t at all visibly distressed by my presence. Maybe it knew I was trying to help!

 

 

 

 

 

And then when I checked at noon, I found this. Looking much perkier!
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And then this…
IMG_3885

IMG_3884

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and then a minute later he hopped out of the box, took a couple of hops, and flew away, across the yard to land in a tree. I guess he just needed a good nap in a safe spot!

Now, my question is, what kind of bird was he? My mother’s bird guide offered a couple of suggestions but none of them looked quite right. If you know or think you know, leave me a comment!

Exterminate! Exterminate!

256px-Book_burning I’ve read some books I didn’t particularly like. I’ve read some books that I thought had many technical and craft-related flaws. I’ve written reviews on some of those books.

I’ve never felt the need or desire to destroy an author or their book in one of those reviews. I don’t think it’s necessary, professional, or entertaining.

I’m not writing this post because I’ve received any sort of review like this for my own work (or if I have, I’ve been lucky enough not to see it!). But I’ve read some others lately that alternately make me cringe, and make me angry. Have you seen reviews like this? Where the reviewer seems to take a sick delight in completely eviscerating the work–and by association, of course, the author? They can be cleverly written, sure. But their vitriol against the book is actually repulsive. I’m not going to do any of them the service of linking to them. Sadly, they’re not all that difficult to find.

Yes, there are probably more flawed books available now than there ever were before (although don’t think they don’t/didn’t exist inside traditional publishing since its inception). But I don’t know what can prompt a “reviewer” to write such a screed. Even if you think a book is the worst piece of drivel ever written, that opinion doesn’t give you the right to decimate another human being. You can discuss the flaws you found in the book; you can discuss why it didn’t appeal to you; you can even make suggestions for what would have improved it for you. Those thoughts might be helpful to an author in writing another book, and they might be helpful to other readers in deciding whether to read a book.

But if you’re not writing a review with those goals in mind, why *are* you writing it? If it’s to make yourself look clever and rapier-witted at the cost of destroying someone else–you’re just another online bully. And your credibility with me is a big fat zero.

Photo credit: By Patrick Correia from Northampton, MA, United States (Book burning Uploaded by mangostar) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I Can See Clearly Now

What are you looking at?

What are you looking at?

Well, I can’t yet, but I will be able to, soon. I had one of my slightly too-infrequent visits to the eye doctor today and I was right in suspecting that I need new glasses.

However, once you’re over *cough* a certain age, you expect this will happen with increasing regularity as your eyesight begins to get worse. The doctor confirmed what I had suspected previous to this visit but felt kind of ridiculous suggesting: my eyesight has actually improved. My current glasses are too strong.

I remarked on the apparent strangeness of that and he shrugged and said, “sometimes it happens.” So there you have it. I’m not super special, just a little bit special, I guess.

Anyway, I’m glad to learn that sitting in front of screens for much of the day has had no adverse affects–at least not on my vision. Viewed from a different angle, the verdict might also be slightly different.

Photo credit: krosseel

Considering the Working Plan

Boxes1

I actually have fewer than half this many Christmas boxes. Honest.

I’m not one to get over the holidays very quickly or easily. It’s only a few days since my tree and decorations came down and were put away, and as I write this, mere hours since I finally cleaned all the remnants of holiday leftovers out of the fridge. I love Christmas and New Year’s; they’re happy and busy times for our family, and I like to string them out as looooooong as possible.

However. There does come a time when I have to accept the notion that it’s really, really, really time to get back to work. And that means coming up with a new working plan.

I wonder how many writers there are out there who just work on one project until it’s finished, complete it absolutely, and then move on to the next one. Show of hands? Whew. That’s what I was hoping. I didn’t see a single hand out there among you. Like me, most of you have several projects on the back burner, shoved there by time or necessity over the holidays, just simmering until it’s time for you to stick the spoon in and give them a stir. The question for me is always which one to stir first?

I have one obvious answer this year, a project I’ve been mulling over and even picking at a bit over the holiday break. But there are also a few other unfinished bits of business; a manuscript I have to send out for a critiquing swap, one I have to read for Third Person Press, a couple of stories to line edit, and of course, the queue of stories that prompted me to resolve to make 2014 the Year of Finishing. If I’m gonna finish those, I have to pick them up sometime.

The big project has to be one priority, but does anyone else find they have this little voice in the back of their brain as well, saying, “Oh, but look at this one–it wouldn’t take any time at all to finish! You could get that out of the way first.” Which is a big fat lie, in most cases, because if it was that simple, it would already be finished, right? This is my brain trying to sabotage me because it doesn’t want to go back to work, and what the big project needs right now is going to be…well, I don’t want to say “hard.” “Hard” is digging ditches or working backshifts, and I can’t really lay claim to anything like that as I sit here in my cushy office, can I? But it’s going to take work, and my brain is a lazy old thing.

I think that’s part of why it takes me so long to let go of the holidays. My brain is loathe to go back into “work” mode, so even the end of the season…taking down the decorations, cleaning out the fridge, putting the house back to rights…must take as long as possible. But this is it. The end of that road. The house is back to normal. The fridge is clean. Fresh groceries have been purchased, the laundry basket is empty.

Assess, prioritize, tackle. Working plan, here I come.

Photo credit: By skrewtape (http://www.flickr.com/photos/skrewtape/851672959/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons