All Was Quiet on the Home Front

December 23, 2014 at 12:02 pm (The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , )

xmas5How many times have you sent a question out into the universe and actually expected to get an answer? Usually such questions are more an act of despair, not really anticipating a response. But then sometimes life will surprise you.

I hadn’t written anything in over a week, and I did not submit the last three stories I had considered submitting. Why? This year has been a struggle to maintain motivation. I had failed to make any of the progress I had been hoping for and suffered some serious setbacks. My publisher’s managing editor had encountered some delightful success with his own writing (go him!) and his financial manager spouse had met some serious family troubles that left her wanting to cut back on her workload (my sympathies), so they decided to focus on his work and release the majority of their authors.

My novels are now all in limbo, with the exception of my Snowy Barrens Trilogy. Most are just sitting on the shelf. Two are still with my old publisher but I’m expecting them to come down eventually. The others are mostly unavailable, many of them waiting on a release in writing, and a couple of them sitting with a Canadian publisher for review (they have been there for about a year.) It feels like everything has just stalled out. And it is not very encouraging.

I did have a few short story acceptances this year, but the pickings were slim. One of my stories also got picked up for a theatrical reading for Halloween, a new one for me. But mostly, I was looking at a handful of stories put on hold and then turned down by pro-rate venues (I did appreciate the “maybe”s and the feedback I did get was useful) and a big bag full o’ rejections. My creative process is fueled by feedback, preferably positive, and this year I was facing a drought.
To top it all off, I had failed at my new year’s resolution. My aspiration to get a pro-rate sale this year died with the rejection letter this month from the last pro-rate venue that still had one of my stories on hold – the one I considered my best shot. I was starting to believe the universe was trying to tell me something because my hard work seemed to be yielding little in the way of returns. There’s a saying in accounting about throwing good money after bad. The same thought could be applied to effort, especially when you find yourself moving backwards. Was all of this worth my time?

It doesn’t help that I’m not very good at marketing myself. I try, but I’m not a natural salesperson. I lack the gift of schmooze. That can make or break you in the publishing industry.

I figured I’d step back from writing until I had shaken this off. Either I’d come back to it fresh and ready to start writing just for fun again, or I’d move on to something else. I stopped blogging, wrote my last couple of short stories for a spell, and threw the question out there into the cosmos. “Is this worth it? Give me a sign?”

I’ve lived my life as sort of a cosmic joke, and this situation proved no different, because the cosmos’s answer got filtered right into my e-mail junk folder twelve days before my chance to succeed at my resolution would come to an end. Call it what you want – the powers that be…fate…coincidence or just dumb luck. Call it a good thing that I check my junk mail folder on a regular basis. Anyway, rather than finding my first pro rate sale, it found me.

There it was, mixed in with the spam about pills that could improve the size of my manhood and princes from Nigeria needing help to access their inheritance: an e-mail from a big publisher wanting to buy one of my stories, and a reprint at that.  I hadn’t even submitted anything to them.

I answered back right away. The e-mail had already been sitting there for three days. The going price they were offering was pro rate. So now it is just a matter of settling out the contract and providing them with the extra bits they need for promotional purposes (photo, bio, etc.).

If any of you were wondering why my blog had gone quiet, now you know. It won’t be quiet anyxmas1 longer. Right now I want to sing (and do a series of happy dances.) I’ll have a Christmas treat for you coming up and some links to share.

Happy holidays, and I hope you have your own reasons to happy dance as well.

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You May Have Noticed…

September 16, 2014 at 11:54 am (Fervor, Reviews, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , )

I haven’t been blogging much lately. I’m still trying to make heads or tails of the fact that my publisher, May December Publications, has decided to release the majority of its authors, which means the better part of my novels will soon be out of print (in fact, Transcendence already is and the others will soon follow.) If you were thinking of purchasing any of the novels, you may want to grab them now while you still can. Some are being offered at deal prices – Fervor for $4.83 for example.

I can appreciate the reasons behind their decisions. MDP is a family run business and they are dealing with some very serious personal issues at the moment. They are choosing to concentrate their limited time and resources on the publication and promotion of the managing editor’s books instead. This a a more profitable option for them.  I understand their choice, it makes perfect sense, and I expected things to go this way for some time. Unfortunate circumstances just prompted it sooner rather than later.

So now I’m left deciding if I want to put the work into self-publishing these novels, try to find a new small press publisher or just sit on them for a while and mull things over.  My writing effort of late has been going into short stories and I am still publishing those with other publishers.  My Snowy Barrens Trilogy will still be available.

I will have to go about disabling the buttons and links here on WordPress for things no longer in print .  It will take me some time to update everything, so bear with me.  It sort of feels like I’ll be starting all over again from the beginning, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  The only thing  I’m unhappy about losing are the reviews I’ve amassed on Amazon, especially for Fervor.

Anyway, MDP and I will be parting on good terms.  I wish them luck and I enjoyed working with them.

On to the next adventure.

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Friday the 13th – Update #2

June 14, 2014 at 1:53 am (fantasy, Fervor, Links, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I’m starting to think I’m meant to stick with my semi-pro/amateur writer status after this last blitz. It has been almost entirely unsuccessful. One firm yes so far and royalty-based only. I had a couple of “maybe”s, but one did not pan out because the kick-starter campaign, while meeting its goal amount, failed to reach its stretch goal and the other turned into “we’ll put it in the next anthology in this series” offer…which I guess does count as a yes in a way. Otherwise it has been a stream of “no”s, most arriving in form letters or with feedback leaning heavily on the negative.

Have I lost my mojo along with my muse? It’s possible. I don’t think I’ve written anything to my satisfaction since that ill-fated April. I can still connect with characters I created back in the day, so my Fervor series continues to be going okay, but nothing new has had the same magic. As a lifelong dabbler, I’m starting to think the time has come to figure out the next thing to delve into – maybe something a little less overly popular this time. Perhaps I’ll move into non-fiction. Or something completely different.

On a lighter note, I finally got the ebook version of the last novel in my trilogy up on Amazon (the paperback version has been there for a while.) Now I need to set up links and tabs and put a plethora of other things in place, as well as fix a few typos/formatting issues in the first two that readers reported before embarking on promotional efforts. I plan on doing a first issue freebie offer, when everything is ready.

I also will be posting a surprise as soon as I have permission to make the announcement, a happy outcome in an annual event. At least that much has made me smile.

And lastly, I sent Victims of Circumstance, Masters & Renegades #4, off to the publisher. I’m looking forward to seeing that one in print. It is a fun, but at times very dark, romp involving some of my favourite characters and while it does involve a few standard fantasy tropes, it dishes them out in a highly unusual way.

Happy Friday the 13th

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Progress Update

March 29, 2014 at 3:30 am (Fervor, horror, Links, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , )

My apologies for my recent absence, but my world is a busy blur at the moment. Along with trying to meet a March 31st deadline for two pro-rate submissions as part of my current writing/submission goal, I’m also working on Dominion, book #6 in my Fervor series, revving up for my April Submission Blitz and trying to finalize this year’s Wicked Women Writer submission. This month also saw the release of the print version of The Blood Flows True, the last installment of my Snowy Barrens Trilogy. So this progress report will be brief.

Released this month was an anthology I’m happy to be a part of – Let’s Scare Cancer to Death. This is one of several charity anthologies to which I’ve contributed, but this one helps in the fight against cancer and my story is dedicated to my dear friend Barb McQueen who lost her battle with cancer almost a year ago. I purchased a copy and I encourage others to do the same. It contains stories written by a great group of horror writers and supports a cause that’s close to my heart.

I did manage to complete and send off those two pro-rate submissions. So far, all I’ve had is more rejections, but the last one said my story was “quite excellent” and had made it to the final round of selections before they decided not to go with it. I’ll keep trying and maybe at some point, I’ll get that elusive pro-rate acceptance. I’ll be sending many more submissions out next month.

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Trying Times

January 20, 2014 at 9:25 pm (The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , )

I’ve been trying to write this post for days…

My blog has been quiet for some time as I was struggling to prepare the last installment of my Snowy Barrens Trilogy for print. I had a thank you post in mind along with an opportunity to share a little about a few post-Christmas events, a post that I was planning for Friday past. I had a picture to share of a gift I had made my mother along with a few thoughts on the year to come (this picture here.) And as I finally reached the end of my editing challenge, tragedy struck my family and my ability to organize my thoughts changed in an instant. That’s why this post was delayed. And I’m still not quite on track so forgive me if this doesn’t stay on point.

I did plan on discussing a couple of new books, but that will have to wait. I’ll offer my thoughts on those when I can think straight again.

I’m not going to share the bad news. Those who know my family well enough know what happened and I’m not inclined to go into detail for those who don’t know us as well. I don’t like dwelling on unpleasant things or discussing them with others. I have a hard enough time talking to people as is. Just ask my husband – he complains about it all the time, and he’s someone I love and trust. So you can imagine how much worse it is with those who aren’t as close to me. Spoken words don’t come easily to me. They never have. I don’t share other family members’ gift of the gab. That’s why writing is such a great outlet for me.

It’s not just a matter of being shy, either – I’m not. You could ask my first game-master if she were still around to tell you. While most people just role-play orally, I would send her a novel’s worth of written notes for the game. It sounds silly, but that’s just who I am. Writing has been my communication medium of choice for most of my life. I’m not about to change now.

When something bad happens to most people, they want someone to talk to. They feel better if they can share their feelings and get it out of their system. Other than with anger – I need to vent like most people – I’m not like that. I babble a little when I get overly excited, but in general, I tend to clam up when things go awry. At times like this, I just want to curl in on myself and sit there being numb, processing everything at whatever pace feels natural to me. I don’t want to talk. Talking just adds extra discomfort on top of the original distress. But that’s what everybody else wants me to do. They don’t get it, because it’s different for them.

Unfortunately, I also find it hard to write creatively when things go terribly wrong, and this past year has been an exceptionally bad one. I lost a best friend and now my nephew. It feels like the universe is conspiring against me and these things have sucked the creative spirit right out of me. I’m hoping life will get better, but there are no guarantees. I just have to keep being thankful for what I still have. Everything you value in life may be fleeting…absolutely everything.

I do appreciate the words of support from the folks who have been kind and understanding when my family really needs it. I think we all feel very wounded and exposed right now. Knowing that people care doesn’t fix the situation, but it certainly makes it easier to bear.

So to all of you who have been there when we needed you, in these trying times – thank you.

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A Current Endeavor – Closing in on the End

September 23, 2013 at 9:00 pm (fantasy, horror, Links, Reviews, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I’m part way through Chapter 19 of Endeavor with only one chapter to go after this, and I’m hoping to see the last of this first draft by the end of the month. Being a horror writer, October is always a very busy month for me, with book releases and Halloween celebrations. I also have a Submission Blitz planned for this October since the one in April went so well. Here are a few of the things I have coming up:

My first chance at buying my work in a local bookstore! Dead North, an anthology containing one of my short stories is being released by Exile Editions in October. It has already received a great review and it is available for pre-order.

Horrified Press has announced the release of their horror anthology ‘Nightmare Stalkers & Dream Walkers’ edited by Suzie Lockhart & Bruce Lockhart which “dares you to confront the dark behind your eyelids, as no-one is safe to dream in this collection of frightening tales from some of the biggest names in horror.” I have a story in that one. ‘Nightmare Stalkers & Dream Walkers’ will be available in both digital and print formats.

The release of Prisoners of Fate, the third book in my Masters and Renegades series is rapidly approaching. Here’s a sneak peek (above) at the cover. I’ll share more news as it becomes available and I’ll soon be offering up “The Field Test” a teaser tale for the novel involving Urwick, one of the main characters (he was Barb’s favourite character in the series).

Also, I’m hoping to finally release the third book in my Snowy Barrens trilogy. I’ve been procrastinating there, dragging my feet on the last few details.

And finally, I’m eying November and NaNoWri Mo. I’m not sure if I’ll be participating this year. Without Barb to push me, I doubt I can meet the pace required. If I do go for it, I won’t be working on anything new, but attempting to put 50,000 more words into “Sifting the Ashes,” which will bring me close to finishing that novel. We’ll see – I just don’t have the inspiration or enthusiasm without her around.

Anyway, back to Chapter 19…

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A Current Endeavor – Sidetracked

June 20, 2013 at 11:52 pm (fantasy, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , )

I have to confess – I haven’t worked on Endeavor since Father’s Day. With many projects on the go, it is easy to get sidetracked. In this case, I had started fishing through The Blood Flows True looking for an excerpt appropriate for a Father’s Day posting. I found plenty, but never got around to posting any of them because I stumbled across a couple of passages that Barb had really loved, and suddenly I was really missing her again.

She had always wanted to see The Snowy Barrens Trilogy in print which was why I started self-publishing it. She only got as far as seeing books #1 & #2 come to be, unfortunately. She did get to read the full trilogy, at least, but only in first draft for book#3.

Anyway, all of this possessed me with the notion that I had to finish up the final edits for Blood Flows True, so that’s what I’ve been doing since Sunday. Now that that’s done, I can go back to working on Endeavor until my conscience goads me into working on the cover art for book#3. I can’t put it out until I finish the cover art, the acknowledgements and updating the cast of characters to include the newcomers in the last book.

The cover art is the sticking point. My confidence is lacking there, however, so I tend to procrastinate, dreading an outcome that could either be somewhat satisfying, like for The Blood Runs Deep, or bad enough that I have to do it over again…and maybe over again after that. That’s not where my true talent lies.

Ironically, this blog post was supposed to be about background stories and zombie apocalypses, but I got sidetracked there too. Since I had to move my Blurb on Other People to tomorrow, the zombies are going to have to wait until the weekend (like the rest of us.)

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Edit Fest – Working to a Goal

May 21, 2013 at 8:37 pm (Fervor, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I find I make the best progress when I set a distinct goal to reach. With the work I’m doing for Providence, I decided to get things done by next weekend. I’ve finished the review of the final edits, written the preface, acknowledgements, and back cover blurb, updated the character list for the book and completed seven illustrations so far. I just need to finish a few more illustrations, and then I can ship the whole lot off to MDP to wrap up the package.

We don’t have a cover for it yet. I’m not sure how involved I’m going to be in its creation. I did the cover artwork for Fervor and The Blood Runs Deep, but I’m more of a black and white kind of illustrator. I’m willing to work on something, but I don’t have near the talent of the other cover artists they have used. I have the heart and the motivation – I just don’t have the skill.

I will give you a peek at one of my favourites from what I’ve drawn so far, from the ones that are actually scanned in.

And I’m happy to say for my submission blitz update that I received an acceptance for Rev-Ursal. That makes four so far for thirty. Fingers crossed there will be more.

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Edit Fest – Day of Gray

May 15, 2013 at 1:19 am (The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , )

Pardon my gloominess, but this has been a terrible day for me and it has nothing to do with the two rejections that came my way (one was quite nice, actually). I’m generally a non-confrontational person and I had to say a few things to someone today that I really wasn’t comfortable saying. But they were things I couldn’t avoid saying. To make matters worse, it has been a month since we lost Barb and I found her loss suffocating today. I spent most of the day struggling to hold back tears and it hurt to breathe. I’m not typically an emotional person so this was all very unsettling for me.

I honestly don’t know which way is up right now. I have to keep reminding myself that it may feel like the end of the world, but it’s not, and that eventually things will resolve themselves one way or another. It still doesn’t shake that sense of a dark cloud hovering over my head and a heavy weight sitting atop my shoulders.

As a result of all this, my editing/reviews have come to an abrupt stand-still. I’m going to have to take a step back, reorient myself and maybe take on a new project for a while until I know where things are going from here. For now I think that means going back to The Blood Flows True and seeing what I can do with that in the anticipation of its eventual release. This is really disappointing because I have a four-day weekend coming up and I had other plans for that “free” time.

Submission blitz update: As I mentioned above, two rejections came in – a form rejection for “A Shovel and a Bag of Lime too”, but no surprise coming from a pro-rate market, and a very nice rejection letter for “Velveteen” with lots of positive feedback.

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Edit Fest – Taking a Break

May 9, 2013 at 2:06 am (fantasy, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I needed a pause from editing today, so since I was actually in the mood for formatting, something I dislike more than editing, I figured I had better jump on it. I set up the last novel in my Snowy Barrens Trilogy so that I just need to add illustrations and do my final edits. I still have to work on cover art, but this was a good start. Once I get this one out I’m going to attack marketing for the trilogy with gusto. I wanted to wait until all three books were out before throwing myself in whole-heartedly to any serious promotion.

Today also served as an opportunity for some impromptu research for Sifting the Ashes. I’ve delved deep into the world of crows and discovered they will recognize and distinguish one human from another. They will also label people as “bad” or “good” and actively warn others of their kind about the “bad” humans. I’ve been trying to get on the good side of local crows to get a better first-hand look at them and hopefully shoot some photos for the book cover at a later date. I’ve been feeding them breadcrumbs while out waiting for the bus and one of them, who I nicknamed “Divot” because he has a gap in his wing, was waiting for me at the bus stop this morning.

I don’t know if I’ll get him comfortable enough to get the photos I want, but just getting to watch him this morning I think will add to the book. We’ll see when I get back to it later this month.

Formatting is done now, so back to editing.

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