A Failure of Google-Fu


I’m running into an issue with my research for the medieval murder mystery. Not everything I want to know is online! Or, if it is, it isn’t in English! I know … shocking.

I’m working on the language aspect. My French reading skills are getting better so, if I can find documentation in French, I may even be able to read it. Someday. Soon. I hope.

More worrisome, my google-fu is failing me. I’m just not discovering important things, like where the heir to Burgundy was to be found in 1418 (he wasn’t lost. I just can’t find him). I have no idea of the name of the mistress of Chateau Montbrun in 1427, or the list of convents and/or monasteries to be found in Guyenne, Provence, or Burgundy in the fifteenth century. How hard should that be, really?

One of the benefits to writing historical fiction is that I can use my imagination to fill in the blanks. But when do I decide that the information is not out there and it isn’t just that I’ve failed to find it?

Post WisCon Blues


I tried to figure it out this year. I try to figure it out every year but I really have lost track by now. However, I think my first WisCon may have been WisCon 20. WisCon was my first SFF convention, has been pretty much my only convention, save for a couple of forays into MinneCon and even one World Fantasy Con, the year it was in Saratoga.

For the first decade or so, I would leave WisCon energized, ready to get to my next project, finish my current project, read all the good stuff, do all the writing. In those days I came off of WisCon on an incredible high! There were years I did readings, I participate on panels. I met some really great authors and made some long-term friends there. Smokey Wizard Bacon, my writing group, was formed out at WisCon (alas, like my first WisCon, I don’t remember which year that was, either. I remember it happened during one of the “Living Room” sessions with Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner. That narrows it down to a few years) and I wouldn’t have accomplished what I have with my writing if not for SWB.

But for the last several years, going to WisCon has ended with the blues. I’m not sure if my expectations were too high or my goals unrealistic. I know I was focused on selling my writing and maybe that was the issue. I’m not sure if its because fewer of those friends formed in the early years are going any longer, that I’m going to more panels alone. I’m not sure if it is because WisCon management treated my friend Elise really poorly or if, because of that total failure to do the right thing for a harassed woman at a feminist convention, I stopped going for a few years and haven’t been able to get back in to it.

Whatever the reason, by Memorial Day I feel entirely let down. I’m disillusioned, I’m ready to pack it all in. This year was no exception. I read on Friday but found no panels that I was interested in going to or at times I could attend. None. Zero. I’ve always been focused on the writing and business panels and I saw nothing that was of interest to me this year. I went to the Tiptree auction and the new auctioneer Sumana Harihareswara did a great job. She entertained and did the auction her way, and it was great. But she isn’t Ellen Klages (she wasn’t trying to be) and that just pointed out how much has changed.

The good is also the bad, I’m afraid. The GoH speeches were jaw droppingly amazing this year (I think they are pretty much every year). I was blown away by the power of those words, the power that words have to move people. (I’d link to them, but in another dissapointment, I don’t see them on the WisCon site).

At least my blue feelings didn’t last as long this time. I’m back reading and researching, I’m moving forward with my writing which is less and less focused on fantasy. I’m hoping to publish a mainstream novel in the next year and I’m working on a medieval murder mystery series. I’m sure next Memorial Day weekend I’ll think about heading downtown Madison to the Concourse. I’m just not sure I’ll make it all the way in or how I’ll feel afterward.

A Call of Moonhart now available!


Cover thumbMy new novel, A Call of Moonhart, is available now to purchase through Amazon.com.

Due to popular demand — seriously, I was amazed and gratified at how many people wanted to hold a printed book — a PRINT copy is available as well. If you really want to go old school, in a few weeks, you should be able to go into your favorite brick-and-mortar bookstore and request it.

Either version you order should show up on/about May 15th. I hope you enjoy my novel.

Adventures in Indie Publishing


I must admit, I totally missed how many people still want to read print books. Apparently, I made the move to ebooks so decisively that I hadn’t realized I’d made it! So when I went to publish my first book, based on cost (to me) and cost (to the reader), I expected that making an ebook available would be the best approach and reach the most readers.

I was quickly disabused of that notion. Not just from my parents or that generation, for whom iPads and Kindle devices may still seem something of a new-fangled novelty. No, I heard from a wide range of folks that still prefer printed books to the electronic kind. “I like books,” a friend told me (ironically enough, using electronic messaging). “Real books.”

Well, okay then.

So I got to work creating a print version of the book. There are a number of steps needed to create a book that’s ready for the public. If I had managed to catch the eye of an agent, then other folks would have done the work of editing, cover design, interior design, registration, etc. In order to pay all of those people, my portion out of the cost of the book would have been less (far less) but my time to do other things — like more writing — would have been far greater.

I knew I needed to treat this part of the process like the business project it was. First thing I did was go in search of information that delineated for me the steps of the process. I found Bookplanner.com and rejoiced. It was exactly what I was looking for. It provides a project management focus to the work needed to publish and gave great information supporting each step of that process.

The downside to BookPlanner is that it is single focus. But I’m not doing only one thing, not even from a writing standpoint. At the same time I moved one book towards publication, I had another book in the initial writing stage (now in first rewrite) and another book in the research phase. This doesn’t even take into account my study of French as well as, you know, the rest of my life. I needed something bigger than a single-project tool.

I’ve been using ZenDone for awhile now. It using the “Get Things Done” (GTD) methodology and — best of all! — it integrates with Evernote. So now the work I’m doing on, say, writing an author bio, is checked off the list in ZenDone while the information itself is captured in Evernote for reference later.

That digression is just by way of getting to the fact that I learned that interior book design is a thing and it’s a thing I needed help on. There are professional book designers and I’ve heard of a good program for the Mac, but I don’t use a Mac. I found (most likely through BookPlanner as I think they are sibling companies) a company called Book Design Templates where they sell — you guessed it — templates to use towards interior design. They have created a large number of designs for a wide range of book types/moods/genres. When you purchase a design, you get Word, Pages, and InDesign templates with the guarantee that the style will work for both ebook and print. Port your text into one of those and start applying the styles provided.

I’m very familiar with Word styles and it wasn’t difficult (only tedious) to port from Scrivener to a Word file and then go through and clean it up, using the styles provided in the template. Even though I only planned on doing ebook now, print if called for, once I started hearing the calls for print I was half way there. I created a copy of my Word document so that I could modify things for the print edition, such as the new ISBN1 that goes with this different edition of the book.

In addition to the ISBN I needed an expanded cover, because the one I’d purchased originally was only the “front” of the ebook and I needed a full wrap cover. That and the purchase of an ISBN barcode so that it could be sold in actual, real bookstores.
The best part of this process is that, in working with CreateSpace to get the book ready to print, I’ll be able to review it in a different format and have an actual physical proof in hand to check over, playing the role of copy editor as well as author. Any issues I find I can correct for both physical and ebook format if necessary.

What this means is that I plan on having both an ebook and a print book ready for publication on May 15th.

  1. You can allow KDP or CreateSpace to provide you with an ISBN but I decided to purchase and manage my own. You get them from Bowker Identifier Services and the cost is significantly cheaper when you buy in bulk. They will happily sell you everything (and more) that you could need for self-publishing your book. 

The Irons in the Fire


I have a number of writing projects on going right now and it is a learning process to discover just how to keep them all moving forward. These projects are in various stages and I’m trying to learn how it will work for me to keep moving back and forth between them, to keep work up on all of them.

The most noticeable one so far is the one I’m about to publish. Self-publish (he says, self-consciously). I think it is a great story, I think I have some really interesting characters and concepts, and I’m glad it is getting out into the world. I wish it would have been through the traditional process for one very big reason.

There is a lot of work that goes into putting a novel into print!

Cover design. Interior design. Editing and proofing. Getting the paperwork done so that I can sell it. Creating the site on Amazon and then uploading the book to it (there is so much that I don’t know about that process that I should add “Learn about Amazon” to the list). But by May, the bulk of work on that one is done and it is all over but the shouting. 1

Then I have the book Harmony that is in the first re-write. The bulk of the writing work has been done, now it is editing and revising. I need to make sure there is a story there that is worth reading. 2 I haven’t opened it in nearly 3 months and so will do a re-read starting next week. Then read it again, this time with notes. Then chopping, hacking, squeezing, and the blood, dear god all the blood! 3

Finally, I’m continuing with the research of the “Book Hunters” historical mystery. The things that I don’t know about Provence in the early 15th century could fill several books. Do fill. And I’m trying to find them, and read them, now. Information, thoughts, notes, copies are being collected and at some point the real work of the outline will happen. [^4] I’m hoping that I’ll have that first draft created during NaNoWriMo this year.

I’m actually doing pretty good at keeping all of these moving. Harmony is about to come out of cold storage at the time that Moonhart as about to be completed. I’m not sure if I have three novels at a time in me. I have my day job and my paid writing job of my Union’s newsletter. Oh, and a social life. It should be an interesting summer.

  1. And by “shouting” I mean social media promotion, or as I like to think of it, “shouting in to the void.” 
  2. It was totally worth writing, even if I don’t ever offer it for sale. But it may be of no interest to anyone but myself. This next stage is going to be about me deciding if as anything but a very long writing exercise. 
  3. Figuratively speaking. I’ve rarely actually bled during a rewrite.