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Ideas Run Amok

Yesterday was pretty productive: I did my taxes and I finally got through that tricky scene and am ready to move forward. Progress!

Plus, I’ve already done my errands for today, so I can spend the afternoon writing. I need to finish this book because there are so many other things I want to write, and the ideas are escalating daily.

For instance, I now have some major incidents for the next Rebels book planned, and one of them seems such an obvious thing to put Verity through that I can’t believe I hadn’t already thought of it. Oh, that’s going to be fun.

Then there’s this other idea that’s been lurking in the background, and a documentary I’ve been watching on Amazon brought it back to the surface.

Meanwhile, I’ve left Katie hanging in mid-crisis for a long time and need to get back to her.

And then there’s this entirely new fictional universe I just created that I may need to play in soon.

Plus a very old story idea that refuses to go away. I have this vague idea that it might make a fun serial, but that would require finding time to write it.

So, off to work I go!

Back to Writing

I’m on the verge of finally having all my books back up where they need to be. It may take a little time to fully propagate through all the systems and be obviously available. The one slight delay is in the hardcovers of the Rebels books, but that’s in process. I have most of the purchase links on the web site fixed, but I still have a bit of work to do on those.

Which meant I finally got to go back to writing yesterday. Since it had been a while, I went back to a part I knew needed fixing and did some rereading/revising. I caught a few continuity errors and typos, so I guess it was worthwhile. Next up is a scene I decided didn’t need to be there because I realized there was no reason for the character to do the thing he was doing, but I need to figure out what goes in its place. I need a transition. And then I should be able to move forward toward the ending. I have a good chunk of the rest of the book mapped out.

I really want to finish by the end of the month (yeah, I said that last month, but business intervened) because May is going to be rather busy. I’ll be going to the Nebula Awards conference in mid-May, and I’m doing a workshop there, so I need to write that. I also have a story I need to work on, and then there’s some other stuff.

So it’s head down and focusing on writing for the next couple of weeks.

Back to Writing

I have just about all the books republished, though I’m still struggling with a couple of the print versions because they’re not accepting the files, even though they’re the exact same files that they already had. I’ve heard from readers alarmed that the paperbacks were suddenly super expensive, but the new “edition” (exactly the same as the old ones) should be available within a few days, aside from the two I’m wrestling with.

So I think I can get back to writing again soon. Whew! This whole thing has been very stressful, but I’ve learned a lot from doing it. Mostly, I’ve learned that I really want a publisher. I’ll finish out the series I have started, but we’ll see about what happens otherwise. If I can’t sell more books to publishers, I guess I’ll have no choice, but it’s so much easier to let someone else handle all this other stuff so I can focus on writing, which is the part I’m good at.

I’m still working on updating all the links on my web site, doing it a bit at a time as links come in.

But right now, what I really want to do is write, so I may spend a day doing that.

Formatting Woes

The slog of getting my books republished continues. Yesterday was the fun of setting up the print books. There was one that we didn’t have a ready-to-go file for because it was done in the early days when we just had CreateSpace set it up, so I had to format that one myself using a template. It wasn’t too hard once I figured it out, but it was a bit tedious. I made the mistake of working on that at night, so I had dreams and nightmares about formatting books all night long. Today I have to proof it and all the other books that I got set up. Then I should be mostly done with this transition phase and I can get back to writing.

I’m almost eager to get back to writing after dealing with all this. Maybe my mind will have solved that pesky plot problem I’ve been wrestling with. I hope it’s been working in the background while I’ve been doing busy work.

But I may not force myself to think about it until Monday because it’s a busy weekend. I’ve got a Good Friday service tonight. I’m singing with the choir and I’m also one of the readers — but being a reader means I also have to put out a couple of candles. There is some peril to doing this while wearing a choir robe, but we do have a long-handled candle snuffer.

Saturday, I’ll be baking to get ready for the choir’s Easter potluck breakfast, when we get to grab some food between services. We have to sing for three services, which means I’ll be leaving the house around 7 a.m. and getting home around 12:30. I will then promptly collapse for the rest of Sunday.

Getting back to my regular swing of things will be a relief.

Business Stuff

I had a dentist appointment yesterday morning, which somehow managed to throw off my whole schedule for the day, so there was another oops morning of forgetting to post.

Meanwhile, I’ve been busy with some business-related stuff.

My agent has been handling my independently published books, working almost like a publisher in handling the business side of things, but she’s transitioning away from doing that, so I’ll be handling it all myself in the future. In the long run, it will probably be good because I get the royalties without paying a commission and because it gives me a lot more direct control over my books. In the short run, there are some transition headaches because we have to remove the books from all those sales venues and then I have to repost them myself. At the moment, things are kind of in flux because it takes a little time to get everything up again. I’m updating the links on my web site as I go, but it may still be a week or so before everything is settled. There may be some places where books are no longer available because my agent was able to get access but I can’t on my own, or she was able to get a special deal that I can’t get. For instance, I won’t have books on Google Play anymore because they’re difficult for an individual author to deal with, but I only sold a few copies total there, anyway, so I’m not too worried. I’ll probably only have paperbacks through CreateSpace rather than in the Ingram catalog because Ingram requires a lot of up-front fees. My agent was able to get a deal that cut those down, but I don’t sell enough books there to make their full fees worthwhile.

On the other hand, since I’m going with a distributor for everything but Amazon, my books may now be in some new places, where I hope to find some new readers.

I’m sure everyone who bothers to read my blog has already got copies of everything, so this probably won’t affect you. There just may be some challenges temporarily if you’re recommending books to others or trying to buy gifts.

I’m looking forward to getting back to the writing part of work after spending a few days uploading files and filling out web forms.

This is why I want to find a new publisher. I know some people love the business side of things and like having total control over everything. I’d rather just hide in my cave and write and let someone else do all the other stuff. I’m glad to have the option of putting books out myself because it’s kept my career alive and makes me a decent amount of money, but it’s kind of a struggle for me, and even more so now. I guess in the future it won’t be quite so tedious if I’m just doing one book at a time rather than my entire catalog all at once.

Cinderella

Last night I went to see my church’s youth musical production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of Cinderella. They’ve really changed it in the recent reboot, so it’s not the show I remember watching on TV as a little girl or even the version I last saw at least ten years ago. There’s more of a relationship between Cinderella and the prince than I recall, and there’s a resistance movement going on. I think they may have made it a wee bit too modern because some of the jokes will have to be rewritten within a decade or so, but it was still a lot of fun.

I got a kick out of seeing how many little girls were in the audience wearing their Cinderella costumes, including one of my kindergarteners. I know when I was a kid, I’d have been eating it up. At that age, I had grand ambitions of being a Broadway star (I didn’t actually know what Broadway was, just that it had something to do with those records I liked singing with). Even now, shows like this are the one thing that makes me wish I could rewind and be a teenager again because I’d have loved to do something like this, but I lived in a very small town. I’ve joked/threatened to pretend to be a teen and audition, and have suggested we do an adult musical, but we might have a harder time getting cast members for all the adult roles.

Kids from all over town, not just from our church, can participate, and it’s fun seeing a broad cross-section of kids working together. We seemed to have more boys than usual, mostly seventh graders, so they were tiny next to the other kids (it was pretty obvious in looking at the cast the different rates at which boys and girls mature around that age), but they should have a good crop of high school boys in a few years if these guys stick with it.

Cinderella is probably my favorite fairy tale, and I like “collecting” versions of it. I like that she’s usually not going to the ball to meet a prince. She just wants a night out. She’s also a little more proactive than a lot of fairytale heroines, since she takes steps to achieve what she wants rather than lying there, sleeping, until she gets rescued. She wins because she’s a kind person.

I currently have two story ideas developing at the back of my head that are variations on the Cinderella story. One of them may become part of a series of short novels I’m thinking of doing that are kind of fairy tale retellings. I haven’t had a lot of luck with one of the short stories I wrote, and I suspect, based on audience reactions when I read it at cons, that there’s a readership for these romantic fantasy stories that aren’t exactly groundbreaking enough for the big publishers, but that might serve as good comfort reads.

But first I have to finish the book I’m working on, revise a proposal, and write at least two books and a short story before I can play with new things.

Rewatching the recent live-action Disney Cinderella might be fun for this weekend’s entertainment, though.

Cord Cutting Report

I’ve been without cable now for a couple of weeks, so I’m starting to see how it will shake out.

While the cable company didn’t do anything to market to me to try to keep me as a customer, either DirecTV Now was just having a sale at a good time or the time I looked up info about it while I was logged into my AT&T account triggered something because last week they sent me an offer to get the basic service for $10 a month for the first three months. This is the “cable” service that you stream online. Since I only really wanted it for three months, that was practically heaven-sent. It allowed me to watch the Olympics stuff that wasn’t on the broadcast network, it will allow me to watch the rest of the season of Once Upon a Time (since that’s a channel I can’t get with my antenna), and it will let me finish out the series of Star Wars Rebels and this season of The Magicians.

From my first week or so of using the service, I have to say that the live streaming works great. I forget I’m not watching regular TV. The only weird thing is that there are no channel numbers. The “what’s on now” grid just has the networks in alphabetical order, which takes some getting used to.

Their on demand service pretty much sucks, though. I’m not home when The Magicians is on, so I was counting on watching it on demand, but last time I checked, they were at least three episodes behind. I managed to watch Rebels live, but the new episode still hasn’t shown up. I’ll have to see how well they do with anything else. I did find a workaround for The Magicians because the DirecTV Now credentials let me unlock the SyFy app on Roku, so I’ve been able to watch episodes that way. I could probably do the same with the Disney app for Rebels.

Meanwhile, thanks to some recommendations, I checked out season one of The Good Place from the library, and then season two was available on demand. But getting that through DirecTV Now was really glitchy, lots of stops, starts, buffering, and then they put the ad breaks in the wrong places. It was like they got the feed out of sync. A character would be in mid-word and suddenly there are ads, then it would pick up the scene for another 20 or so seconds, and then there would be the regular ad break, but just with a network promo. I resorted to the NBC app instead, again unlocked using the DirecTV login (and what’s the deal with the broadcast networks, the ones you don’t need cable to watch, requiring cable subscriptions to stream their content? Are they actively trying to lose viewers? Because if you can’t keep up with their shows when you miss something, you tend to stop watching entirely.)

So, this isn’t quite a perfect replacement for cable, but for $10 a month it’ll do and I’ll be dropping it when this special runs out at the end of the TV season. With Amazon Prime and all the various free stuff on Roku, plus the streaming services from the library and the library’s DVD collection, I have more stuff to watch than I have time for, and the point of all this was to have more time to do other stuff. The difference is that I have to do more to get to something to watch, and that means no mindless “let’s see what’s on” channel surfing. I’m thinking of getting a longer coaxial cable and moving the antenna upstairs to see if that will help my reception. There’s a weird glitch that happens with the PBS station in certain weather conditions, where the picture freezes or pixilates when an airplane flies over, and I live between two major airports. I don’t know if the weather affects the signal or affects the flight path, which puts the planes in a place to affect the signal.

Now that the Olympics are over and I’m back to a more “normal” (for me) schedule, we’ll see how this affects my time management.

Getting Down to Business

I must have had decent instincts about picking figure skating music because last night’s competition was full of music from my various fantasy programs over the years. And now the competition is over, so I can get back on my regular schedule. I guess it’s not so bad to interrupt my life for a couple of weeks every four years.

But now I really have to get down to work. I have to finish the book I’m working on, get a proposal reworked, finish a book that’s halfway complete and I’d like to write another book, and that’s in the first half or so of the year. Then there’s another project I would like to do something with and a story I need to write.

So, yeah, kind of busy. I’m considering backing way off social media. I’m not sure how much good it’s doing me. My attempts at connecting with other writers don’t seem to go anywhere. I’m adding followers at a glacial pace. I may trim back who I’m following to personal friends or people whose posts I really pay attention to so it takes less time to read my feed and worry less about posting, since most of my posts seem to go into a black hole. Posting itself doesn’t take much time, but I’ve found that when I post something, I then feel compelled to keep checking to see if anyone has responded, and that eats up time and takes away from my focus when I’m trying to write. When I analyze how I spend my time, just checking my Twitter and Facebook feeds eats up a surprising amount of my day, with no real benefit to show for it.

Speaking of work, duty calls! There are stories to be written.

Convention Weekend

I’ll be at ConDFW in Fort Worth this Saturday. I’m only going to be there on Saturday because I realized last year that trying to do the whole weekend was a bit much. It’s a long drive, but because I have things going on around home in between convention events, I can’t really stay in the convention hotel. So I was driving all the way over to do a panel or so on Friday when no one was there, then back on Saturday, then had church stuff Sunday morning, so I couldn’t do panels until the afternoon, but that meant I only had a panel or so on Sunday. I have about the same amount of programming this year, but with only one drive across the Metroplex.

I’m still figuring out what I’ll read for a reading session. I also have an autograph session and a few panels. I should probably bring snacks because I won’t have much time for lunch between panels.

This is one of only two conventions I’m doing this year. Otherwise, I’m going to the Nebula Awards weekend, which is a professional event with a public booksigning, and then I’ll be speaking at a couple of book festivals in the fall. This is mostly going to be a “quiet” year as I focus on writing, and there’s a bit of leisure travel I want to do, with a couple of big trips on the list, one of which counts as research for a book I want to write.

Wimp Confession

Watching the Winter Olympics has made me rather uncomfortably aware of something about myself:

I’m a raging wimp.

I look at all those crazy things these people are doing — zooming down a mountain with boards strapped to their feet, sliding down an icy tube at high speeds on a sled, letting a person throw them in the air over ice, doing huge flips in the air — and my response is a big, huge, NOPE. About the only thing that looks like it might be fun is the cross-country skiing, and maybe some of the ice dancing — the parts that are more like ballroom dancing but not the parts where someone picks you up and spins you around.

Sometimes, it’s even hard for me to watch other people do it. I’ve never been much of a thrillseeker. I don’t like roller coasters or any kind of amusement park ride that includes a big vertical drop. I don’t like scary movies. I don’t like haunted houses. I don’t even like driving fast.

Which probably means that my occupation of sitting at home and writing about people having adventures is perfect for me, except that sometimes I even have to force myself to put my characters in jeopardy. I keep having to remind myself that a story needs tension and conflict.

Heck, even with books I’m reading, there are times when I have to flip to the end to make sure a character is going to be okay when things get a bit too tense.

I have done some scary things in my life. I’ve gone whitewater rafting (on an Olympic course!). Singing in public is actually scarier to me than that, and I do that all the time. Public speaking is supposedly the biggest fear, and that doesn’t bother me at all. I travel alone, even to foreign countries. I got into some hairy situations in my TV news days and was praised even by cops for keeping a cool head. I write down my daydreams and share them with the world.

So maybe I’m not such a wimp. I guess I just don’t go looking for thrills. I don’t court danger, but I do take other kinds of risks.