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working writer wending her way through the labyrinth that is self-publishing

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The importance of research

A writing friend mentioned to me how important proper research is to the process of writing a novel--this is SO true! In my first three books, Wolfmoon series, I did oodles of research on herbalism, wolf behavior, Celtic myth, gods and goddesses, trees and what they can be used for, how to make matches, Scottish slang and sayings, etc...etc... I rarely have a day when I am not consulting the Internet for info on something! How wonderful to have a library at ones fingertips!

Second series, Gypsy, found me looking up Norse myth and worlds and their significance, Norse gods and goddesses, satyrs, Beserkers, the finer points of sailing, Norse holidays in olden days and what they consisted of, more herbs and their lesser known uses, time travel lore, nuclear disasters, etc... And don't forget to call on your friends who might know things that you do not. My brother, a sailor, helped me immensely when I was writing the Gypsy books.

Coyote series took me into Native American myth, the Navajo culture, coyote behavior, native ceremonies...My Witch series led me back in time to Salem of 1693 and what happened there with the hanging of witches. I read about the Pilgrims and the Puritans and the differences between the two, (didn't we learn this in grammar school?), the people who were involved in the witch trials and their roles, and every single person who was hung that year, as well as the Wampanoag culture and the role they played at that time. It paid off, since A Witch in Time Saves Nine, received an honorable mention in the New England Book Festival!

I've learned so much over the course of writing seventeen books, a lot of of it in one ear and out the other, but some of it has stuck. For instance I now know how to start a fire in the wilderness without benefit of matches or even a mirror! (not sure I could actually manage it) I know what an AGA is. I understand Cenotes and their spiritual significance. I know the meaning of Berserker. But, the research I've done for my ghost murder mysteries has been harder for me. For one, I am not a person who knows much about police procedure and there isn't much on the Internet about it--at least it's been hard for me to discover. (And it is not a subject that interests me!) I sought out a retired cop for help on one book--he was invaluable and I dedicated the book to him. I'm lucky, since my ghost murder mystery/romances are really NOT about that aspect--they are more about relationship, and ghosts, with some police procedure thrown in for good measure. And how do you research ghosts? I have to admit my heart lies in the fantasy realm where I can draw on my very active imagination--😈

My latest book, (second in witch series)The Moon in Her Eyes, is taking me to Luxembourg, a place I've never been...(a beautiful place, by the way) It has also placed me within the anomalies of time travel--I've been fudging it a bit, trying to work out what might happen if...and of course more research on the Wampanoag and their various evil and good spirits. I actually love the research part of writing, although I have to admit that sometimes it can get a bit tedious...

So in summing up, do your research, because without it a story won't have the believability it might otherwise. And whatever you do, keep on writing!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Good news!

I have been honored to have my work included in an anthology published by Crimson Cloak Publishing! The book is called The Rider and can be purchased on Amazon. I found the contest on the Internet and entered because it piqued my interest with its fantasy elements. We were to write a certain number of words and include within the story certain elements contained in a picture..very much like the picture of the cover I've included here. So much fun! My story is called 'The Awakening'. If you haven't heard of Crimson Cloak, check out their FB page and look into upcoming contests.

My second piece of good news is another of my short stories inclusion in the July issue of Gemini Magazine! I wasn't one of the winners but I was listed as one of several 'notable stories'! http://www.gemini-magazine.com/ It's called 'The Grove'.

And so in following up with all this...entering contests is a wonderful way to get your name and work out there. It's fun and can either be expensive or not depending on what you find as a contest. I have had several success stories with books even though I have yet to win or place. With all the writers and all the books I feel privileged to even have my name mentioned!

All you need do is go on the Internet and look up writing contests--and you can take it from there! Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Some day things are going to be easier...someday things will be brighter...


That is my mantra these days of attempting to frickin' give away my book and not having any takers!!! Where are my readers? Not on FB apparently--but--I have a plan and that plan's name is Kathaleen Coyle.

Kathaleen lives in Tucson close to where I live, and her enthusiasm is infectious, her ways of marketing different enough to be intriguing--like--maybe they will work?  She suggested re-doing my website which was a hokey one on Go-Daddy site. I chose it because I could navigate it somewhat, but it tended to lock up and the text and pictures moved around and didn't lock into place..In any case I now have a site on WIX that is much more professional and also easy to navigate. Lots of options with that one. Kathaleen is working on it as we speak! (My vision tends to be more for artists, hers is to lure in readers)

We have discussed numerous things in the few weeks I've known her, on the phone and in person. Her prices are very reasonable. I have put all my fiddle faddle aside (amazon ads and other marketing schemes that haven't been working) while she's investigating my books and coming up with a real plan instead of my knee jerk reactions and flailing attempts to get my books selling. First and foremost I have to know where my readers hang out, second of all I need an e-mail list. When these two things are in place perhaps my readers will be able to find me? What will I do if I really begin to sell? No more crying into my beer and feeling sorry for myself. But all levity aside, I am so very glad to have found Kathaleen Coyle and hope any of you having marketing woes will contact her. She isn't just about book marketing.

And so while she's hard at work at a real and cohesive PLAN, I am working on my second witch book, The Moon in Her Eyes, as well as the new Summer McCloud, Akumal Alibi. I still tend to check on my KDP site too often, appalled by how few books I've sold, but mostly I'm trying very hard to be patient. Rome was not built in a day.

I will keep you posted as we progress and hope I have good news to share. Click on her name for more info!

And thanks for reading! 🙏

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

exorcising demons and other obstacles to writing

Publishing a book always leaves me fretting and feeling as though I'm going through postpartum depression. Sometimes it lasts only a few days, other times it takes weeks to get back to normal. On this latest one I've gone through psychic ups and downs like never before. Maybe because it's been so long in coming, or maybe it's because it isn't like my other books. For whatever reason it's been keeping me up nights.

Trusting myself and my process is hard. I suffer great angst despite my bravado in sending out enthusiastic e-mails promoting myself and touting my books. I tend to call myself names and beat myself up over whatever comes to mind, things I would never say to another person. These bouts of self hate are not helpful. Some people swear by critique groups. I've tried them in the past and found myself agonizing over tiny details and losing my ability to stay true to my own voice. I know they work for others, but not for me. I write in isolation because that's what works best. I share my work with a few trusted friends to let me know if I'm veering off course. I love writing and don't want to quit, but early this morning I considered it. Only because of DOUBT. Doubt is a killer and can come from the most innocuous comments or even from silence. Doubt has to be driven out. We as writers all have our own process, our own way of doing things. Writers are NOT created equal and just as certain foods agree with some and not others, how we go about writing is individual.

My suggestion is to hang out with people who make you feel good about yourself--who are supportive of you and what you do. When it comes to writing they are hard to find, so if and when you do find one, hang on tight! The entire process reminds me of dealing with my ex-husband. Yes, I should be over feeling nervous around him, but...in reality I'm still nervous, so why should I place myself in that kind of situation?  Reality bites.

I know--major ego problems, right? Do you have any idea how hard it is to expose yourself to the world? My book is like a piece of me that I am laying bare for the world to see. What if they don't like it? And of course, many don't. So feeling angst ridden and insecure is par for the course as far as I can tell--anyone who doesn't feel this way is either lying or they are writing stuff that means nothing to them.

Perfectionism kills creativity, is my motto. The more you strive to be perfect the more balled up in knots you become. Better to let it rip and fix it later. And what is this about putting a manuscript away for a year before publishing? Steven King, are you listening? I'm too old for this--I don't have the time to mess about! Isn't that what beta readers are for? And so in closing I say to all you aspiring and accomplished writers--keep on writing!!!

Next time: why money isn't important.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Writing and truth

Almost ended up with another very negative diatribe here about my frustrations, but luckily did not finish or publish...thanks to everything holy! A goddess or two must have been looking out for me!

Not sure what to write now that I've dialed it back. Shall I mention that said diatribe came from reading posts about other author's income? There--now you know. Jealousy, with all it's green and slimy yuckiness. Note to self: stay off those FB pages! You know the ones.

My newest book, Rosemary for Remembrance, is at formatters! This one was a long time in coming. I had over 400 pages written when I started over! Back in 2002 it began as a 'memoir' of sorts, about my parents' marriage after my father spent 3 and a half years as a POW held by the Japanese--I have his journals kept during that time and was bound and determined to write their story around them. ...But...my story had real life places and people who bore a striking resemblance to relatives of mine. I changed them, but it wasn't enough. And every day of writing was like a grind from hell. I put it away twice, three times, four and five times. This last time I didn't look at it again for over a year, and what I saw convinced me to scrap the entire thing. The writing was stilted, stiff and trying to be something it wasn't--I had concentrated too hard on exactness in describing places I knew--and the two main characters were seriously unlikeable (this from a friend who read it for me).

My new one, written quickly because it was RIGHT, has a paranormal element which is a theme that goes through all my books. It has my father's journals as a part of the story, but the main theme is nothing and I mean nothing like the real story of my parents. (not one relative can ask me, 'is, so and so me?' or, 'why did you depict the house that way when really it was...' or, I don't think that happened.'...You know what I'm talking about.) It will be listed in historical world war 2 fiction as well as some sort of paranormal, supernatural designation--(a past life nags and prods the characters as they try to sort out their marriage.) And just to be clear in an occult sort of way--I did ask my father if this was okay with him and I got the answer that it was. My father, a Leo, loved to hold forth about this and that, and although the diaries are very personal, I think he would like his writings to be out in the public. I did have some angst around this point, worrying that I hadn't done his writings justice, but I've gone ahead with it anyway. And as a bargain with my long dead father, I will make sure the WW2 museum in New Orleans gets a copy of his journals.

Friday, March 17, 2017

How to be HAPPY again

I think a lot of people have been going through what I've been going through. What I'm talking about  has nothing to do with whether you're a writer or not, this is a syndrome that has infected many, the symptoms manifesting as exhaustion, depression, hopelessness and anger. Here are my tips on how to be happy again, even though I haven't yet achieved that goal.

1. Turn off the news! whatever you do, don't watch it right before bed or first thing in the morning--it wreaks havoc on your mood.
2. Try yoga, Tai Chi--meditation--something that is calming and centering.
3. Focus on the little things that make you smile--the sound of birdsong, clouds, playing with or walking your dog.
4. Every time your mind strays to things you know you can't change, say an inner no and let the thought drift away.
5. Realize that this too shall pass.
6. Life is short--enjoy what you've got!
7. If you aren't a writer already, try writing--it helps to get emotions off your chest.
8. Identify those thoughts that make you happy and unhappy--give up the unhappy ones.
9. Cook good food, drink wine, look at the clouds passing by.
10. Give thanks for all you have.
11. Stand on your head.
12. If you are a writer, write! I've recently begun a book that takes place in a future time where the government has turned authoritarian. Instead of being considered the opiate of the masses, religion is mandatory, and people have to attend church or be jailed. Take your frustrations out in your writing--I guarantee it helps!
13. Take herbal remedies to help mood and sleep--Ashwaganda, gotu kola, rhodiola, siberian ginseng--look them up.
14. Don't deprive yourself!
15. Take a day long vacation, or a longer one if you can.