Thursday, August 23, 2018

Where Have I Been?

I've been under a rock. There is no excuse for not writing as often as I could be. However, the great news: I have a new book on the way! I was 99% certain this morning I'd be approving the new book. Instead, I decided to flip through a section of the book, I rarely focused on in previous editing attempts and was stopped by a glaring error. So I had to fix that. Since I was in the mood for re-uploading the file, I went and tried a little experiment and fixed something that was literally trivial but the fix made my heart feel better about layout.
So "On the Shoulders of Giants", my latest book for The Company (not to be confused with the general Hollywood euphemism for the CIA or any other Federal agency) is actually a 3 part book series. I had started in June organizing all three books, I actually thought I could publish all three books by the end of the summer. But I realized, there were some major holes in my research for the bulk of two of the books--so I focused on this third book, the biographies of people who contributed to science, 43 different people in the field of science and their accomplishments written for students who need modified curriculum. For every 1-2 pages of biography, there are 2 different sets of questions. One direct W/H questions (Who, What, When, Where, How--no "Why"..that's a different level of thinking), and the other more about encouraging research and finding answers to relate to the readings. Every biography had a map of the modern birth country of the scientist, a timeline of the scientist's life in perspective of the timeline of history that modern history recognizes, and then one illustration that relates to the reading of something that the scientist is connected with.
This book was intended to be a capstone on an already epic series. And then when I moved it to be my sole focus, I do think it lost a little edge, and then I went into the publisher to start setting the book up for publishing. And then there was a problem. A major problem. At 200 pages, with about 175 pages that had color, the book would have to be priced at nearly $50 for The Company to make any reasonable money-- our usual royalty is from $6-$10 per book. That amount broke our general rule of trying not to charge more than $30 to every customer.
We hemmed and hawed painfully for a few days. There are some things that aren't worth fighting for, we put the customers first. The book illustrations were redone: all to be in black and white. It was challenging at first, because we didn't know what would translate well in black and white-- it turns out nothing did so we threw away a lot of original illustrations and used some very old, old graphic tricks like patterning to get the effects we wanted, not just removing the color from the graphics. We tried just removing color from the graphics. It wasn't enough to be visually clear.
So right now, we're waiting to hear back from the publisher. We're 99% certain we'll be approving the draft as final tomorrow. (Yes we know we were 99% certain we'd publish to day, but give us our hope!)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Getting In For the Long Game

It took me three years to get off my butt and finish converting all the images from "The Bard In Stick Figures" into true graphics. The downside, the print on some of the images became too small to read as a result for digital publication. But the good side of all of this, it means that the graphics are ready to go for the new publication. Other issues we ran into include that the publication works best in horizontal and not so awesome for black and white only tablets which still represents about 60% of the market base (including me!). But it's still better than "nothing".

In my personal writing endeavors, however, I'm stumped. My characters have one sided relationships, they do not share what they like about each other, I suspect that one of my characters, no matter who she would end up with, it would not be easy for anyone.

Despite setbacks, one of the things I really like about writing is the process. Just getting the words on the page and not worrying about the artful imagery, though at times, that proves to be useful. Knowing what I see in my characters and needing to bring that out and share with others is very important to my work.

And I did not win any lottery. So back to the salt mines to do taxes.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017

If it is not obvious, managing nearly eight different blogs and working three full time jobs has eaten away at my blogging abilities. But that wasn't the reason my NaNo got derailed at all this year. As of today, I did cross into 50,000 territory. I had initially started out aiming for 61,000 words. On Thursday last week, my anxiety crossed new boundaries. There was no reasonable way for me to make a personal best this year. 
I don't talk a lot about anxiety. I've had it for years. But on Thursday, after one of my regular jobs, I was informed I would not go in on Friday. The entire employee base was denied entry to work for safety and the seriousness of the situation. Police barricaded all entry points. For the first time in my life, my worse fears were at my feet. Where could I go? This still has not resolved and the police action is valid. I'm personally prepared to return to work, I know on Monday I will have specific information that I will not be able share on social media but marching orders are what they will be. But on Friday, while I was managing family and work from the car, I broke. The idea of looking at a personal best was impossible. I have never written a sentence of NaNo from my car on the side of a road, but this year I did. And while I did so, I couldn't look at my characters. I wanted to cry. I wanted to be anywhere but useless. And in my car, with my laptop open, I was officially useless. I decided 
I could not make 61,000. I would have to make 50,000 and just write a few extra days. And like that, my anxiety leveled off.

What did I learn?
  • I have gotten better at describing a single situation. I still need to work on my chapter transitions. I really have good scenes built up when I think about the things I want to hit. 
  • My main character is very much an introvert. They relish in their solitude, but do not resent the people that pull them out for snippets of time. My introverts value the world they have to navigate but in their solitude, they shine. But the world is unkind at times to introverts and it seems so much bigger than they are.
  • If i keep working at my major plot holes, I eventually do find a great way to fix them. 
  • Using real life events are a bad idea. This year because of some situations beyond my control, I went with a "solution" that then became front page news. I cannot publish this story. Fictional pain that then becomes real pain, even by coincidence is not a real plot point. See my entire paragraph of anxiety above.
NaNo goodies are now mine for the taking. I will write all thirty days, get my first thirty day badge. Then back to work.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Stalled out but not down

So I've been puttering around with no less than twelve pretty serious works in progress.
I had settled that my last year's NaNo would be cut down into a short story, but then I stalled out into making some serious decisions for my characters and I just did not feel like that was organic enough to address.
Then I have this huge math book project and I couldn't decide whether or not to put work samples in or not. But that was actually a 'little' problem compared to getting information in there correctly. That project is slowly coming together.
I have six geography projects in progress. The problem there is trying to gather enough research to be credible. Plus all the map illustrations are currently still in progress.
Then there's my newest Stick Figure book. Yes! I have another Stick Figure book in progress. Today's breakthrough there was actually really profound. I'm partnered into an art class this last part of the term and today we introduced proportional facial feature drawing. And all the information I learned nearly twenty-five years ago came back. Unlike my last Stick Figure book, which was based on Shakespeare, it's a lot harder when the same character is at the center of the story and his outward appearance changes because it's literally years of abuse his body takes in the story. So how do you know it's this guy and not another guy? It's the face. It will always be the face. I finally had a breakthrough about facial shapes looking at the options given. I reviewed classical proportions, appropriate due to the content of the book, and was reminded the stress of facial expressions had in classical sculptures. On the plus side, it's also encouraging me to draw larger, which is all right, I can have a few views of much more detailed faces.
There are assorted works of fiction and non-fiction all demanding different attentions from me and I still have yet to address them all. But I will. And I need to publish this summer because I don't know when I'll have a chance ever again.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Those mid-NaNoWriMo reminders

I am 34,000+ words into this year's NaNoWriMo. Again, I aim for 60,000 words. Other than being seriously sick last week, 60,000 looks like it may just be in the cards again. Except for a few things.
One of the pieces of advice I recently took to heart was looking at making sure the characters did not always get what they wanted. And I realized, part of my current NaNoWriMo is boring because I am literally letting my characters get what they want. On the plus side, however, I have been re-working scenes (read I re-wrote them) and getting to those roadblocks.
Other things of note: I did not realize unto recently how lonely all of my characters are without associates in their lives to help guide them through life's journey. I get my characters happy with being in the lives of someone else but no one else is in their life at all. No sage, no friend, no comic relief. This is why my stories stop-start so abruptly. I need to work on that.

And I need to get back to work. I am too old to be doing this on a Friday night.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

When the Push Isn't the Story

There is no secret, I'm constantly churning out at least a short story or two. But lately, my work hasn't been as fruitful. And it's definitely slowed. Certainly my life situations do really limit my productivity. Between the fact that I'm trying to find a grad school that will take me and testing for other issues related to getting into the grad programs I wish to get into.

So this is the first year in a long time I have access to the required reading block in my academic schedule where it's required that all students come in and read at the beginning of class. And to my unexpected pleasure, the teacher with whom I am partnered with this year, has a wonderful book collection. I am in book heaven. I spent the first three weeks of the school year devouring a new book and then I realized there was a book I "should" read. I picked up that book, it is a biography.

The medium of biography is not a focus of the type of writing I do: general descriptive non-fiction and fiction. But as I read this story and look at the life of another person who just had an opportunity like no one else could have ever believed. I haven't even gotten to the primary focus of the biography yet.

But this reminds me of two things: writers need to read everything and then reading helps writers get clarity in directions of the ways their fiction or non-fiction need to be able to appeal to a variety of readers.

Yes I am still writing. I am still reading as well. I hope to become more open to reading more genres.

Friday, June 24, 2016


Editing is the bane of my existence. Fortunately, for me, I make either subtle mistakes that I can ponder over, delete, and re-word into a simpler manner, or I make huge errors and freak out that they are giant glaring mistakes.

Today, looking at the manuscript heading to the publisher, I removed three pages and then had to sort through some tricky issues with the index. I have to admit, I do the index in a most strenuous manner, but there's got to be a better way sometimes. But on the upside, this upcoming publication has nearly five pages just of sources.

Almost ready to send to final publish. On a second 24 hour hold. We will see.