Weekly Roundup 11-14-18 Book Review – LEVITY

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

If you are a fan of fairy tale re-tellings, get a copy of LEVITY by Leta Blake and Keira Andrews. This gay fairy tale contains many of the classic ideas: a prince, a witch’s curse, a love story, a happy ending. All similarity ends there, however, as the authors spin an enjoyable tale with an incredible twist.

The prince is cursed from youth with a lack of gravity, both physical and emotional, requiring constant care to keep him from floating away! Though taught about normal emotions by the royal staff, the young prince spends his life laughing through most circumstances, never shedding a tear or showing remorse or sadness.

A birthday outing results in the prince floating away into the sky, only to be rescued later by a handsome woodsman. The lonely man also suffers from a curse of his own, yet the two of them manage to quickly develop a relationship before the prince’s keepers arrive to take him home. When the witch who cursed them both gets involved once again, the lovers face a crisis which seems to have no solution. How can they ever free and remain together?

I enjoyed both the classic format and the unique elements which made the story deliciously different. This is an example of imagination at its best! I can’t say I would ever have thought to curse someone with a lack of gravity, but the authors make it work. I found the use of flashbacks to explain the curses a bit clumsy, as it broke up the flow of the book and felt artificial. Otherwise, it was a wonderful read and one I highly recommend. You’ll like the cover too!

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Though my writing time this week remained severely limited, I did mange to get a good start on chapter eleven. Word count now stands at 88,000+. It felt good returning to the story!

I had hoped to publish Traitor’s Moon before the end of the year, but it looks doubtful. My new work schedule leaves me with even less writing time than I had before, and I am often so tired I have to use my free time to catch up on sleep. Believe me, I’m just as disappointed as my readers, but my health and ability to pay the bills has to come before my books. I will keep trying, and who knows – it may still happen. I’ll keep you posted!

Weekly Roundup 11-7-18 Ten Unusual Things About Me

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Today I’m responding to an unofficial tag from H.R.R Gorman, who published a list of unusual things about himself. Check out his blog – he always has interesting things to say! Anyway, the challenge sounded like fun, so I’m going to give it a go.

  1. I come from a family of eleven children. This was something my parents planned right from the beginning, and if my mother hadn’t miscarried once, they would have had twelve. I have eight sisters and two bothers and am number nine in the lineup. OK, enough math.
  2. I really hate getting lost while driving, as in stressed out worried I will never find my way back to civilization. It’s even worse if I’m running late, the weather is bad, or I’m in a strange city. If you’re ever riding with me when this happens, you may hear some colorful words!
  3. Not sure what the percentages are, but I never had my tonsils or appendix removed. Sad to say, this is not true of my perfectly healthy gall bladder which was mistakenly yanked from my insensate body at the hands of an HMO physician (don’t get me started!).
  4. I learned to drive on a Ford Pinto, a stick-shift gas-saver without any amenities which my father purchased new and kept running well beyond its normal lifetime.
  5. Since leaving home for college, I have moved a total of thirty times. Yes, I’m getting too old for this, and no, it won’t be the last.
  6. As far as I know, I have only wet the bed once. I was nine years old, and my family was vacationing in Minnesota. On the very last morning, I did the deed thinking no one would notice – including my older brother who shared the bed with me. You must understand; we were staying in a cabin by the lake where it was pitch black at night and a family of skunks was living under the outhouse. There was NO WAY my nine year old scared of the dark (and woodsy creatures) self was going to venture out to pee! I certainly didn’t get any sympathy from my mother, who was forced to delay the trip home while she dashed to the laundromat in town to wash the sheets.
  7. I have a master’s degree which I used for less than a year and will never need again. Yeah, I would definitely do some things differently if I could go back in time.
  8. At one time, I was serious about becoming an actor or a singer. Later came the nature photography phase, followed by the current author career track. Hey, at least my recent choices are a bit more exciting than the mailman or garbage man I wanted to be when I was kid!
  9. People who are afraid of heights normally stay away from them, yet I still enjoy riding roller coasters. The worst part is the slow clink-clink-clink up the long hill to the top. Once you drop over the edge, the certainty of plunging to a gory death outweighs the mere fear of heights. Go figure…
  10. I feel lost with out access to a clock. I not only wear a wrist watch but have clocks in every room of the house. I think it’s part of a need to feel in control of my day and avoid being late. Perhaps I should have been a horologist.

And there you have it -all my weirdness in one list! Well, the list probably could have been longer, but I don’t know you well enough to reveal anything else.

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I wish I could report some progress on Traitor’s Moon, but I’ve been swamped with work and getting settled in my new apartment. Except for wall art, I’m almost done unpacking boxes and finding new homes for things. While I like my kitchen, its layout is opposite of the last one, and I find myself turning in circles trying to find things which used to be next to the stove but are now on the other side of the fridge. Light switches also have me goofed up, and if it weren’t for strategically placed nightlights, I would be slamming into walls in the middle of the night.

I dearly miss writing, and my poor book cries out for me to finish it! Now that I’m getting used to my work schedule and the move-in is almost complete, I should be able to make some progress. My goal is to start again tomorrow, or as soon as I can get caught up on changing addresses and paying bills. Tune in next week to see what happens!

Weekly Roundup 11-1-18 Changes!

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

My apologies for missing the update yesterday, but I have a good excuse.

Last week, I wrote about the difficulty of securing employment – two days later I got a job! It’s not everything I might have wanted, but it has potential. Unfortunately, working second shift is playing merry hell with my schedule! My neat, orderly world suddenly went belly up and I am scrambling to compensate. When your new normal is abnormal, things get kind of weird.

As if that weren’t enough pot-stirring, I was able to find an apartment (that’s another story) and so have been spending my little free time arranging utilities, changing addresses, etc. The move is this weekend, and since I just started a new job, can’t ask for time off. Whew! The silver lining here is I will finally have my own place instead of camping out in my son’s living room. I’m grateful to him for putting up with me, but he and I need our own space! How I’m going to afford the rent is another issue…

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I haven’t had any time to write. I hope to be back on the horse by this time next week, but no guarantees. Oddly enough, most of my “author” thoughts lately concern the next book in the series; something I’ve had happen before. If the ideas are really cool I’ll write them down, otherwise they get tucked back into my cranial cupboard until needed. While I hate the interruption, I should be back on track within a few days and make some progress on Traitor’s Moon!

PS – I have the final cover art and it’s gorgeous!

Weekly Roundup 10-24-18 Looking for Work

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

As you may know, I completed a major move at the end of September and am trying to get settled. I can’t speak for anyone else but looking for a job is at the top of my “Least Favorite Things to Do” list. It saps my energy, makes me doubt everything, and reduces my already low self-esteem. Almost four weeks and… nothing.

Yesterday, I spent over three hours at one employment agency, trying to secure a job I didn’t really want – they’re still looking. You know things are bad when you send in an application to the one place you swore you’d NEVER work, and they turn you down. At this point, the bottom of the barrel would be looking up.

All righty then, enough complaining! There are some perks to my current situation:

  • I get to stay up late and sleep in.
  • There are no annoying co-workers to put up with.
  • My morning commute is only as far as the bathroom.
  • I have more time to write!

Current manuscript – I’m now on chapter 11 of Traitor’s Moon. In order to fit in the rest of the story, I’ll probably need three or four more chapters. Word count = 86,000+.

I ran into a curious problem in Chapter 10. Two sets of characters were recently mated; one gay and one straight. Now, I couldn’t ignore the straight couple completely, so yeah they get some sexy time together. When I attempted to get more detailed about their love-making, I felt very uncomfortable and had to delete it from the manuscript. I still managed to give them their own moments, but I simply couldn’t go much beyond pleasant generalities! It’s not a matter of being shy or ignorant – I was, after all, in a presumably straight relationship for twenty years!

Writing intimate situations for gay couples is easy, and yes, I get a kick out it. This was the first time I attempted to write a straight sex scene with any depth, so the whole “I don’t think I can do this” feeling really took me by surprise. In the end, it’s probably for the best. My readers aren’t looking for hetero sex in my romances, and since I don’t feel comfortable writing about it, I think we’re on the same page. This is another example of characters teaching me something about myself, and I’m OK with that. At least I know my limitations!

Expectant Moon Gets a Makeover

The importance of a great cover cannot be overstated. It’s crucial to grab a potential reader’s attention while also giving them a general idea of what kind of book they are looking at. Great, now you’re halfway there! The second step is to provide an enticing book description, which, if done correctly, peaks their interest and convinces them to purchase. I’m going to save step two for another post and focus on the cover today.

One of the challenges an indie author faces is the overwhelming body of knowledge needed to successfully publish a book. Assuming you have a great story and the manuscript has been written well and edited properly, you’re still left with all the marketing issues – including the items mentioned above. I was arrogant enough to believe I knew better than my graphic artist what a great book cover should look like. Consequently my choices have been underwhelming, affecting sales and my brand. (Yes, my other books need new covers too, but I can’t afford to change them all right now.)

Well, this old dog really CAN learn new tricks! At times it’s difficult for me to admit I was wrong, swallow my pride, and let the “experts” guide me. Perhaps you share the same struggle and know what I mean. Anyway, with Traitor’s Moon nearing completion, I was determined to find an AWESOME cover for it. The original plan was to model it after Expectant Moon’s with slight changes. Now, I’m very fond of the present artwork and wouldn’t normally spend the money to replace it so soon, but I’d made too many mistakes and it had to go.

After eating a generous portion of humble pie, I contacted my graphic artist with a request to start from scratch and design the whole series, which will include at least three books. This time, I gave her the freedom to do it properly and ignore my input if it got in her way. The difference between the old and new is quite striking and early feedback is convinced I’ve got a winner. Tell me what you think!

New Cover:

ExpectantMoonSmallerWebUse -new

Old Cover:

ExpectantMoonSmallerWebUse

 

WEEKLY ROUNDUP 10-17-18 May I quote you?

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

This week I want to share a mix of wonderful book quotes:

  • “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” Groucho Marx
  • “The library is inhabited by spirits that come out of the pages at night.” Isabel Allende
  • “You cannot open a book without learning something.” Confucius
  • “The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.” Joseph Joubert
  • “Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.” G.K. Chesterton
  • “Why can’t people just sit and read books and be nice to each other?” David Baldacci
  • “A book is a dream that you hold in your hands.” Neil Gaiman
  • “In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own.” Anna Quindlen
  • “Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.” Christopher Hitchens
  • “A book is a gift you can open again and again.” Garrison Keillor

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Traitor’s Moon – I’m deep into chapter 10! Two of the minor characters have been brought together as mates and were named after my parents. If they were still alive they would not be amused! I didn’t do it on purpose…it just happened that way – really! Anyway, I’m unpacking the story box at a faster pace, revealing jewels which had to wait their turn. I’m not sure if I get more pleasure from revealing it to myself or to my readers. Word count stands at 80,000+.

My graphic artist is busy working on the cover for Traitor’s Moon! I love seeing the book come to life visually this way. In fact, she is creating covers for the series, which means Expectant Moon will get a new one too. I may give you a preview but will definitely reveal it when Traitor’s Moon is released. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Weekly Roundup 10-10-18 Why Characters Must Struggle

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Struggle

I hate to admit this, but in my early books the characters faced too few challenges. This fault was noticed by a number of reviewers, but I basically ignored them as negative trolls who were having a bad day. I was tired of reading books which reflected constant turmoil, struggle, pain and angst. There was already plenty of that in the news and everyday life, and I wanted to write about people and places where most everything goes right. (Note to self: this is called fantasy.)

It took a while for me to figure out that few people want to read such stories. Why not? Because it doesn’t reflect real life. I’m sure there is a complicated psychological explanation for the human need to face and overcome obstacles, and we all subscribe to it whether we want to or not. I have never met a single person who’s life was ALL sunshine and roses, and neither have you. This is why my characters, if I want them to be realistic, must be given struggles to overcome, problems to solve, and issues to face.

Matthew Trinetti wrote an interesting article entitled “Ten Reasons to Love the Obstacles in Your Life”. There were several which I consider particularly useful as an author:

1.Obstacles show us who we really are.

2.Obstacles instruct us on what to do next.

3.Obstacles help us focus on what’s important.

4.Obstacles help us find meaning in our lives.

5.Obstacles give us the opportunity to change our lives for the better.

So I guess I have to admit those “negative trolls” were right after all, and I deserved their criticism! My more recent books are more representative of reality, and truth be told, my readers and I are both happier with them. Still…I hate making my main characters suffer too much or for too long. A bit of realism is fine, but I will probably always prefer writing stories which are generally uplifting.

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Despite the upheaval of my recent move, I managed to finish chapter nine of Traitor’s Moon! Word count stands at 74,000+ (A full length novel contains 50,000-110,000 words). Now begins the gentle downhill slope towards the finish where I can spend more time on the romance, final resolution of the major conflict, and put the final touches on the sub-plot threads. There’s still a lot of story to write, but I’m feeling less pressure. It’s incredibly freeing to get the story out of my head and down on paper!

Part of the process for every new book is creating a new cover, and I am working on that too. Covers are extremely important, so it pays to do it right. Searching for images or photos can be fun but it eats up a lot of time. The next step involves all the back and forth with the designer; explaining what I want, looking at multiple mock-ups, color choices, last minute changes, etc. The reward comes when all the pieces fall into place and my new book is complete! I’ll keep you informed as things progress.

Weekly Roundup 10-03-18 What’s the rush?

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

This ever happen to you? The book you are reading has been enjoyable from the start, but as you get close to the end things begin to change. The pace of the action picks up considerably while the characters begin speaking and acting strangely. Suddenly, the book is brought to a whirlwind conclusion and you’re staring at “The End”, wondering how you got there.

I’ve encountered this phenomenon many times and it’s always a shame. For whatever reason, the author enters a race to finish the book as soon as possible – and it shows. Perhaps they were tired of living with the characters and simply wanted OUT. It may be their editor slapped them with an impossible-to-meet deadline, or maybe the author simply got lazy and declined to put as much thought and care into the end of the book as they should.

As a result, the readers are left disappointed, having been cheated out of the carefully crafted ending they deserved. How unfair! I didn’t pay for the “lite” version of the book, and you better believe my displeasure will show up in the review. What happened to pride in a job well done? Did the author truly believe no one would notice?

If nothing else, incidents like this remind me of my responsibilities as an author. Readers deserve my best effort from start to finish, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because I want them to keep reading my books into the future. As my father used to say, “If you’re not going to do it right, don’t do it at all.”

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I have missed you the last couple of weeks! The move went as planned, almost, and I’m as settled as I can be. The idea was to find a place to live while I was here for my son’s wedding, but instead I’m camped out in his living room. By the way, the wedding was lovely and a good time was had by all! It was great to see some of my family in attendance, and I enjoyed being together with both my boys for the first time since 2011.

Anyway, as it turns out the rents here are high and there are few units available – I simply couldn’t find anything before I had to return and pack up the truck. My stuff is all tucked away in a storage unit for now, and I am busy searching for a job. Once I secure employment, I’ll begin the search for an apartment. I’m getting too old for this nonsense!

Needless to say, my writing has taken a back seat, and I am eager to resume working on Traitor’s Moon. I actually did get a little bit done on Chapter nine, but nothing significant to report. Hopefully, by next week I will have a job and will have made some progress on the manuscript. As I said, hopefully

Weekly Roundup 9-12-18

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Grandparents Day was Monday September 10th, and this year turned out to be super special. While I already have two granddaughters, my grandson was born on Monday – nine days late! I certainly appreciate my daughter-in-law’s sacrifice in waiting to give birth just to make the day even more magical for Grandpa!! Don’t know when I will get to see the little guy, since he’s all the way out on the east coast and I’m getting ready to move.

It’s crunch time now. Yesterday was my last day of work, and I have a few days to finish packing and cleaning before traveling to my younger son’s wedding. After that, I return here, pack up the truck and head back out again, arriving on the 28th. I’ve moved MANY times before, but this one is proving to be a bit more complicated than I would like. I don’t relish the thought of doing it all by myself, but there is no one available to go with me. I’m grateful for friends here who are helping me prepare and pack the truck for an eight-hundred-mile trip.

The farthest move happened many years ago when I went off to attend graduate school. The journey was eighteen-hundred miles and took over twenty-seven hours across mountains and two time zones. Two years later, I turned around and did it again. No way in the world I would try it now, and most certainly not by myself! Looking back, I have moved at least thirty times since graduating from high school. I’d like to think this month’s relocation will be my last, but I know it won’t be. Maybe someday I’ll be able to afford a house and put down some roots.

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Traitor’s Moon: chapter eight is complete and initial feedback was very positive! There was a lot riding on this pivotal chapter which included action, danger, drama, and the set-up for relationships in the second half of the book. You’re going to love it! Word count stands at 64,000+.

I was pleased to get it done, as I have to set aside my writing until I get moved and settled. It bugs me not being able to continue – I feel as though I am shirking my duty! I’ll try to keep you informed during the next couple of weeks, but don’t be surprised if I have to skip a Roundup or two.

Weekly Roundup 9-5-18 Name That Character!

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Don’t be fooled – naming characters is more difficult than it would seem. Well, I think it should be if you’re doing it right.

Some authors insist on choosing unfortunate, distracting, or uncomplimentary names for their characters, making the story difficult to read or enjoy. You know the ones I mean:

  • a modern-day protagonist with a nineteenth century moniker such as Gladys or Herbert.
  • a sci-fi hero in the far future with a three-part name only a linguist can figure out.
  • a fantasy epic requiring a pronunciation guide for the MC’s (which, I am sorry to say, seldom helps).

I have my own set of “rules” for creating character names which takes additional time, but I believe it’s worth it. The main idea is to make them easy to pronounce, fit the time and place of the story, and match the character’s personality. The last thing I want to do is cause a reader to take a pass on the book because they can’t get past my attempt to be “creative”, cute, or mysterious.

If you think I’m simply being lazy, you may be right! For me, reading serves as entertainment, so I tend to reject books which force me to work hard to understand them – and that includes character names. I suppose I’m missing out on some great literature by being so picky, but life is short and my brain cells deserve a rest when I’m reading.

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This week has been strange as I began saying goodbye to co-workers and cut ties in preparation for my move. I will miss some people of course, but not the job, company, state, or city! I’ve been here almost four years but knew all along it would be temporary. I’m more than ready to get out of Dodge and start fresh in a new place. Moving is a pain, but being closer to my kids makes it worth the trouble.

I finished a crucial chapter of Traitor’s Moon and will spend today editing. It turned out differently than I planned, but I’m very pleased with it. The next chapter features a shifter memorial service, requiring a careful blend of human and paranormal elements to make it convincing. I look forward to the challenge! Word count is now 64,000.

My third grandchild was due on September first, and we are still waiting. The Doctor says everything is fine and my daughter-in-law is feeling good, but tired. Sadly for me, they live 1300 miles away (though the move will bring me 800 miles closer), so I have no idea when I will see the little one. Perhaps next week I’ll have good news to share!