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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Change of Pace

As alluded to in a previous post, I had some ideas in mind for some more short stories. I finally decided to go ahead an write one of them. The inspiration came after I spent way too much time cleaning a virus from my computer and wishing there was some way to make people who create them pay for the irritation and aggravation. "Mr. Fixit" was born.

Click on the page at the left to read the story. It's not very long. Leave a comment if you like.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


A link from the Joliet Public Library on its Author Fair coming up in October contributed to 25 hits on this blog yesterday. People who click on my name come here. For a writer with a small publisher, this is how the game is played. I am going to put a link on this page (although not inside this particular post) to lead people from here to there. What goes around comes around.

Not a lot of writing got done since my previous post. Sometimes, life and work intrude. I did start writing one of those short stories I mentioned earlier, and have added a bit to "Stranger Faces" as well, mostly inserting bits in earlier parts of the novel to set up for coming events.

Pretty soon, the Chicago Writers Association will be publishing the next issue of "The Write City Mag" and it should contain an article I wrote for them which discusses some of the things I have learned about editing and  getting published. I hope it helps some new pre-published writers along their way. I'm going to add a link to CWA as well. For a writer in the Chicago area, it's a great resource.

With "Two Faces, Two Faced" print edition completed, I'm eagerly awaiting galleys for "Dabblers" which I  really hope will be available before the holiday shopping season. As soon as I get a projected release date, I'd like to buy an ad on the Love Is Murder site. Really looking forward to the conference in February.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


More progress being made on "Stranger Faces," heading up to the point where it's kind of a free-for-all with every player involved. I really want to go for the humor here but with a dangerous edge, sort of like the denouement of "Two Faces, Two Faced."

I've also been giving more thought to what my next project should be, and the short story compilation holds ever greater appeal. Many of the stories have appeared on Authors Den and Writers Cafe already, but many could stand a touch of editing, which I discovered after reading a couple of them in the last week. So here's the list:

  • River of Ghosts (ghost story)
  • Night Vision (ghost story)
  • In Memory Of (ghost story)
  • Squatters (science fiction)
  • Tourist Season (science fiction)
  • Second Coming (science fiction)
  • Pets (science fiction)

There are a few more--one previously written, one mostly written, and two still just ideas--that would be included. Quite a collection now that I see it all listed.

Thinking about the finished stories, I really wish I was more of an artist. I have ideas for illustrations that could go with them. Alas, while I can squeak by in designing covers for my novels out of bits and pieces, I just don't have the talent or time or patience to draw from scratch. Especially people. I was never good a drawing people. Landscapes? Maybe.

This is an invitation to any visitors to leave a comment if this sounds like an interesting project.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

In the Name of Progress

Sometimes I miss the times of heads-down writing, whether pounding out brand new material or refining a draft. There's a lot of satisfaction in the process (of course, or I wouldn't do it). But those purely creative stages are also mixed with an urge, a desire, to get things going and see signs of success in this endeavor.

Flip side: creating publicity materials, monitoring websites and creating content for them, checking statistics, keeping records. These tasks provide a sense of action, moving forward, and yet make me long for the pure creative process. It's a balancing act, to be sure, especially when I factor in a day job, a house to manage and care for, a family which I want to have quality time with, and then the simple human requirements of eating, sleeping, and just relaxing sometimes.

I did cadge some time yesterday to print up brochures for the up-coming Author Fest in October. Doing 30 tri-folded brochures took less time than I would have expected. I have some more stuff to print--business cards, extensions to another handout about my books, signs. I'm holding back on the signs in case I get a release date for "Dabblers" which I could include on them.

On "Stranger Faces," I'm still thrashing around with the final chapters. It's tricky because there are so many characters involved and they all must be brought to a resolution point somehow. Occasionally, I think I should just start writing it and see what happens. I can always go back and revise as necessary. In the past, doing so has sometimes succeeded in breaking the logjam and getting things moving again.

The idea of creating an anthology of my short stories has become increasingly appealing. I have an idea for another story to add to the collection, too. I envision prefacing each story with a few notes about it, like its standing in the Writers of the Future contest or something about the inspiration for it. For the time being, I have the print edition of "Two Faces, Two Faced" and the ebook of "Dabblers" in the pipeline, plus "Stranger Faces" to finish. Guess I've got my own pipeline of projects.

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's a Labor of Love

"Stranger Faces" final sequence proving to be a major planning endeavor. There are so many people involved, each with his or her own motive for doing what they do, and it all has to come out in the end, preferably not in the form of a big chunk of exposition by any character in the wrap-up chapter. It's a tall order.

I've gone through the exercise of writing a sort of synopsis of what happens that Tracy doesn't get to know about until later. The tricky thing is that she is coming at the puzzle sideways, long after the action originally starts offstage. Each person involved takes actions that move the story forward but they must also have a motive for what they do. And it must be a believable one. As I work out those motivations and figure out who did what along the way, sometimes it changes passages I have already written in fundamental ways. For example, I had in mind two characters in a conspiracy but they have since merged into one. (Less complicated always helps!) Then I had to go back and make sure all the references were in order, did not contradict the actual facts but did not relay too much too soon to the reader. Arrrrgh! Sometimes creating the puzzle can be harder than unraveling one.

I've also been sidetracked a little by planning for the Joliet Author Fest. I have designed some new signage as well as a tri-fold brochure for my books. That took some fiddling around, but I think I've got something. It's not as fancy as the full-color fliers I put together for the Glen Ellyn BookFest back in June, but it does the job and may be easier for people to grab and look at. It might also lend itself to being placed in public places for the casual passerby.

Already I'm thinking ahead to my next project after "Stranger Faces." I've been toying with the idea of a collection of my science fiction short stories, an anthology type thing. Beyond that, there are a lot of choices among my older manuscripts, any of which could be revised and massaged into shape.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

You Learn Something New Every Day

I have been remiss. For someone who has spent much of her adult life writing computer programs, I am apparently woefully behind the times when it comes to the Internet, blogging, etc. (Hangs head in shame.)

I have gotten some emails recently indicating that people have commented on my blog, and I wondered why I could never see the comments displayed on the posts. After some searching, I learned what to do to activate the comments even for anonymous visitors.

Voila! I have read the comments I could not see before, now that I know where to look for them and to make sure they are not treated as spam just because they're anonymous. I welcome all comments from anyone, and I was overjoyed with the nice things people had to say. I do apologize for my ignorance which caused my appreciation to be expressed so long afterwards.

For any visitors who are newly published or still striving to be published, I thoroughly recommend my publisher's blog. She is a publisher, an author, and taught writing for many years. Her blog frequently provides important insights about publishing, editing, and writing fiction. I have learned a great deal from it and I visit her posts daily. Here is a link:

So please keep the comments coming, folks, and know that they will be displayed as part of the conversation. And for those who left links to their blogs, I will most certainly check them out.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Joliet Library Author Fest

Saturday, October 13, I will be at the Joliet Public Library's Black Road branch selling my books--ebooks as well as signed paperbacks of "The Dreamer Gambit." I look forward to meeting people there and talking about my books. "Dreamer" will be sold a special reduced price, and purchasers will receive a free chapbook for "The Changeling Kill", i.e., the first three chapters.

I'm going to try my hand at printing business cards myself. The forms were readily available at WalMart. I have the ink jet printer. Printing my own has the advantage that I can print a small number at a time and then be ready to update the content as needed. Can't do that very easily with business cards from an office store, where you have to buy hundreds of them at a time.

Finished second proof of "Two Faces, Two Faced" for the print edition. Only 12 changes, and they are very minor--some lost italics, a couple of misspelled words, a couple of word changes to prevent confusion to the reader. I've gone over the cover art several times. I think I'm done.

Hope "Game Faces" shows up on Amazon soon. Work on "Stranger Faces" has temporarily taken a back seat to other stuff, like promotional activities and proofreading. "Dabblers" galley should be ready in a few weeks, and I'll get to work on that.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Updates and News

After the Glen Ellyn Bookfest in June, I joined the Chicago Writers Association, and my membership may have just paid for itself. I received an email from them with an invitation to participate in another event held by the Joliet Public Library. They are hold an Author Fest in mid October, and I will be attending. I still have copies of "The Dreamer Gambit" to sell--at greatly reduced prices--as well as an abundance of information for the rest of my books. And participation is FREE! (I like free. Anything that furthers the sale of books that costs me little or nothing is like a gift.) I've already started updating promotional materials to include "Game Faces." I'll have a table where I can sell my books and talk to people. Very exciting.

Still proofing galley for "Two Faces, Two Faced" print edition, but the second reading has not unearthed any more changes so far, and I'm up to Chapter 5.

Looks like "Dabblers" will get into the next phase in a few weeks. I sent the cover art to go with the manuscript. Sounds like it will be released in 2012. Three books in one year!

"Game Faces" is starting to show up on other vendor sites, which is great. I also revamped and funded my Google ad.

"Stranger Faces" is progressing, but I'm still struggling/tinkering with that final big scene. I want to try to lighten things up a bit since I just finished a very dark passage. Tracy has reached her turning point, where it's time for her to fight back. I thinking to bring all the different factions together for one final chaotic showdown, and I'd like to do it with a touch of humor.

What comes after "Stranger Faces"? So many possibilities. A third entry for the Jack Watson series? A sequel to "Dabblers"? One of my old manuscripts resuscitated? There are a fair number of those to tap into. Ah, if only I could spend all my time writing . . .

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


First pass on proofing galley for "Two Faces Two Faced" is done. Only one page of corrections so far. I might mention that corrections are provided in a table format with the page, paragraph, line numbers plus before and after images of the line being changed. There are 11 changes right now. I'll give it a rest for a day or so and then read it again.

A friend and fellow writer made a post on Facebook about editing her novel and how she's sick of the story already. I hear that. An odd thing happened while proofing "Faces" this weekend. I printed the entire file, but my old HP printer has issues with printing massive files all in one swoop, so I break it up into batches of 50 pages each. Because of the way PDF files show page numbers, I had some instances of missed pages. Anyway, I took a break from reading to go grocery shopping, and although I knew what part of the book I had stopped off at, I could not recall actually proofing the section that came before it even though I actually had. This comes from knowing the story so well by this time, through pre-submission editing to proofing e-book galleys, and now the print edition galley. Even so, I'm glad to say I still like my story and my characters.

On a side note, last night, my hubby and I were winding down in front of the TV, and we happened upon "Remington Steele." I have a special fondness for that TV show, which I did not see when it first aired but caught on DVD years later. When we borrowed it from the library, "Faces" was already underway, but I had yet to define a metal image of Tracy. Then, suddenly, I'm watching "Remington Steele" and Stephanie Zimbalist seemed like the perfect Tracy. Added to that, Pierce Brosnan made the perfect Kevin Fox. Later, I saw a commercial for "The Mentalist" and, voila!, Alex Laughlin had an image in Simon Baker.

Going to be doing some juggling for a while. Between getting the "Faces" print edition going and then the "Dabblers" ebook, plus updating all my publicity endeavors, progress on "Stranger Faces" will be a bit spotty. The final scene I talked about in a previous post is taking shape, but I had the idea that it might be fun to add some humor to it, not make it so heavy and dark. There's been plenty of darkness thus far in the book, and part of what makes Tracy, Tracy is her humor. The final scene will be somewhat chaotic with just about everybody involved, so it will be a challenge to write. But that's the fun part.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hooray for Progress!

The galleys for "Two Faces, Two Faced" print edition arrived today. Can't wait to get started proofing, although it is always a challenge to proofread something I have already read so many times before. It's easy to fall into a mode of seeing what should be there and not what actually is.

Something I've tried to practice (although it can be tough) is multiple readings for different purposes. One reading is for close scrutiny of each word, sentence, paragraph to look for spelling and punctuation mistakes. The next round is to make sure the words convey what I intended. Yet another pass looks at formatting issues because the programs my publisher uses to take my RTF document and make it into a PDF file sometimes ignore what the word processor did. Italics seem to disappear, and sometimes paragraph changes  vanish too. While I try to make sure my final manuscript is consistent in its handling of these things, stuff happens.

While I only took time for a quick glance at the files I downloaded for proofing, I was uplifted by the first page of the book contents which had some reviews from the ebook version on

The galleys arrival gave me a sorely needed lift today after a personally challenging week.