Tag Archives: update

The turret, and more from A Wasted Land for #WIPpet Wednesday

Since the turret I mentioned in my WIPpeteer interview seems to have been a big hit, I decided to start this post off with a picture:

The turret

It is a rather modest turret, as turrets go, and far from castle-like, but it still makes me happy on a regular basis when I’m walking up the street for home. (For those who were also excited about the parrots and missed that post, I have pictures of them here.)

My progress so far this week is a bit less exciting. I know a number of you caught my post about my friend Jay Lake, who is officially dying of cancer now. Anyway, the latest news had me redefining my priorities a bit, and I started to put together another book of our stuff, this time two connected pieces, one short story and one long novella, about a first and second contact gone wrong. All I’ve done until now is gotten them into a file in Scrivener, but it still took up a lot of my writing time the last couple of days, since I also wanted to have the file formatted right for an ebook once I’m done with a complete editing pass. The stories have had various names over their different incarnations, but right now I’m referring to the whole as “Recontact.”

As a result, my progress on the new word front has been very modest: 400 words on A Wasted Land since Sunday. But I also had the birthday of a newly minted 4-year-old to contend with yesterday:

4!

Have I mentioned before that she’s on the energetic side? AND it was her birthday …

Anyway, on to the main business of the day, WIPPET WEDNESDAY! My math goes like this: 1 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 4 (1-22-14) = 10. So here you have 10 paragraphs from A Wasted Land:

Kustennin nodded. “I should lead the scouting party.” He glanced briefly at his mother, almost embarrassed at what he was about to say. Normally, Kustennin was reluctant to use the powers he had inherited from Yseult of Eriu, but at the same time, he was well aware that there were times they could be a powerful ally. He knew his hesitance was far from logical. In the end, it came down to one thing: his image of himself as a warrior, not a magician.
“I have some of my mother’s powers of changing,” Kustennin added “I could cloak a small party in illusion, if necessary.”
“And I have the ability to help you,” Taliesin said. “We could travel to Venta as a group of traveling minstrels.”
“Wouldn’t that be dangerous?” Celemon asked. “What if one of you were recognized?”
Taliesin shrugged. “Less dangerous than for a band of enemy warriors in Cerdic’s territories, I’d wager.”
“Who said anything about going to Venta as minstrels?” Kustennin tried to repress the frown he could feel lurking in the muscles of his forehead, but he wasn’t sure if he was successful.
Taliesin clapped him on the back. “Why I did, my liege!”
Kustennin doubted if anyone was Taliesin’s liege — when it came right down to it, he didn’t even know which part of Britain was the bard’s native kingdom. He knew that sometime before entering his mother’s service, Taliesin had been a bard at the court of Maelgwn in Gwynedd, where he had dared to speak a prophecy of the new king’s death and had to flee for his life. But where Taliesin was born and who on the island of Britain he might truly consider his king — of that, Kustennin knew nothing.
“Consider,” Taliesin continued. “If we travel to Venta as players and entertainers, there will be no need to hide and sneak. We can walk around the city in broad daylight, even play for the soldiers — perhaps even Cerdic himself.”
Kustennin saw Taliesin glance around at the others standing near where the soldiers had begun putting up their tents. Yseult, Cador, and Bedwyr were strangely quiet. Finally, Cador broke the silence. “That disguise can be very effective. We used it once ourselves.”

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂

Related posts:

A brief update, and Celemon among the horses for #WIPpet Wednesday

Back by popular demand: An excerpt from A Wasted Land for #WIPpet Wednesday

Research, lack of words, and another #WIPpet for Wednesday

More from A Wasted Land for #WIPpet Wednesday

Jay Lake fundraiser and a brief update

Better times - Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold

For several years, Jay Lake and I were writing stories together on a regular basis. Two of the short stories we co-authored made it into Year’s Best anthologies. But then interests shifted, and we both started focusing more on novels, and I stopped visiting cons, and we drifted apart.

And then Jay was diagnosed with colon cancer.

He’s been battling cancer for years now. A while back, his doctors said he was cancer free, and his friends and family, me included, heaved a sigh of relief. But last year, after the cancer cropped up again, he was declared terminal. Now he has a chance to participate in an experimental NIH program — but they don’t pick up all the costs.

There’s a fund-raiser to help him out with the expenses:

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/science-fiction-author-on-trial-nih-trial-that-is-/127511

So I’m asking the Interwebz to chip in if you can. Thanks in advance to anyone willing to kick in a dollar or two.

On the writing front, I’m plowing ahead on the translation, but still not at a rate that will allow me to catch up with where I wanted to be anytime soon. Oh well.

A Wasted Land and Amber’s story are limping along, but I am a little ahead of my modest goals. I managed to write 2200 words in the past week.

Good luck to everyone on their writing goals. 🙂

A brief update, and Celemon among the horses for #WIPpet Wednesday

Sunday, I didn’t get around to posting on my progress, so I will just give a brief update here before I get on with the real business of the day, WIPpet Wednesday!

The translation is coming along well again, now that I’ve that I’ve transferred the German into the correct file.

Given the time I need to devote to the translation, it seems to have been a wise decision to only shoot for a page a day of original work for the time being. Because I can proudly announce that I am exceeding my goal on that front. 🙂 Last week, I managed 1800 words (barely over 250 a day *g*). The first two days of this week, I’ve gotten almost 1,000 words written. For now, I’m jumping back and forth between A Wasted Land and Amber’s story, as the mood strikes me.

I also submitted a short story to a traditional market again! I hadn’t done that for months. It wasn’t on my to-do list, but it’s been in the back of my brain for a long time, that I really have to get back to submitting short stories. So I think I’m going to add that to the list. I’ll shoot for one short story a week, I think. That really should be doable without too much time or trouble.

Now on to WIPpet Wednesday. My math today is easy: 1+15=16. I’m giving you 16 sentences from a scene in which Celemon is picking Cador’s brain about being Master of Horse:

Celemon walked the perimeter of one of the fenced pastures below the hill-fort of Dyn Draithou with Cador, feeling happier than she could have deemed possible just months ago, when she had learned publicly of Aurelius’s infidelity. August sun was warm on their backs, little Riona ran ahead of them, laughing, and Celemon was wearing her riding trousers, which always gave her a singular sense of freedom.
“I feel as if I am telling you no more than you already know,” Cador complained, but there was a smile in his friendly brown eyes.
“No, please, don’t stop!” Celemon said, laughing. “I have never actually run stables myself, I have only helped out. You were Arthur’s Master of Horse for a time. I need all the instruction you are willing to give.”
“Good. Then please stop me if I tell you too much about something you already know backward and forward.” Energetic Riona began climbing up to the top of the fence, and Cador laid a fatherly hand on her waist, to make sure he could grab her is she started tumbling over. “That’s far enough, Riona.”
He turned his attention back to Celemon, one eye still on his small daughter. “There are extensive stables in Caer Leon for the British forces already, but if Kustennin decides it is necessary to set up stables for the war horses closer to the lands Cerdic holds, there are several things you need to keep in mind when deciding on a site.”
“It’s hard to breed horses on a hilltop,” Celemon said with a smile.
Cador chuckled. “So you have heard that little saying of mine.”

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂

Related posts:

Back by popular demand: An excerpt from A Wasted Land for #WIPpet Wednesday

Research, lack of words, and another #WIPpet for Wednesday

Excuses department: getting rid of tomatoes

More from A Wasted Land for #WIPpet Wednesday

Another creative outlet, and my quarterly accounting post

Yesterday, I dragged the sewing machine out for the first time in months (at least!) Not only do I have tons of mending to do, I wanted to do something creative other than writing for a change. So I made this medievaly fairy / elf outfit:

I realize Barbies are politically incorrect and lead to inferiority complexes, but they are also ubiquitous. I played with them as a girl, as did my daughter, and we both turned out to be fairly reasonable adults, with fairly healthy egos. And the dolls are fun to make dresses for. *g* I’ve actually been playing with the idea of making some historical costumes for a while. It was nice to do something almost completely without purpose (except for some upcoming birthdays), and messing with fabrics and designs was a kick too.

So, on to the update, which is not quite as fun as a Lord-of-the-Rings-inspired Barbie costume. Below I have listed my goals at the beginning of the quarter and what became of them.

Writing:

– Write an average of at least two hours a day, five days a week (10 hours a week)

I did pretty well on this one, at least until December rolled around.

– Finish the first draft of A Wasted Land

Nope. Got waylaid by the need to do more research and brainstorming, I’m afraid.

– Brainstorm the next two novellas in The Glassmakers trilogy, Facets of Glass and Shards of Glass

Got a little bit of brainstorming done, but not much.

– Start (finish?) Facets of Glass

Nope.

Business:

– Be at least 240 pages into the Big Translation Project by the end of the round

I’m afraid I’m about 100 pages behind on this goal. 😦

Writing business:

– Publish Chameleon in a Mirror and Island of Glass

Nope. They’re finished, but I’m still waiting for feedback from beta readers for both. And the last thing I want to do is bug people who are doing a huge favor like read and comment on a whole book for me!

– Prepare CreateSpace version of Shadow of Stone

DONE! Shadow of Stone is now available as a trade paperback. 🙂

– Publish Shadow of Stone to B&N, Smashwords and D2D

Nope.

– Publish “Mars, A Traveler’s Guide” to Amazon and make it free

Nope.

– Publish Gawain and Ragenll and make it free

DONE! Gawain is now available free at most major ebook sellers. And it actually seems to be helping my sales of Yseult and Shadow of Stone a tiny bit.

So it looks like next round I’m going to have mostly the same goals. Hopefully without the Christmas season I’ll have a bit more success with them. 🙂 I’m not going to kick myself, though. I got a lot of words written, started a new project I wasn’t planning, “won” Nanowrimo, and made my granddaughters very happy at Christmas. And that’s pretty high up on my list of priorites. 🙂

Hope everyone else is happy with the progress they made!

Happy holidays to all!

I have come to the conclusion that Christmas is a full time job. Here’s what I’ve been up to in the last couple of days:

And that doesn’t include all the shopping for dinner, marinating the lamb, etc.

We put up the tree with family on Saturday, which involved getting it, decorating it, and eating cake (cherry cheesecake, which I made before the festivities). Then we had the girls overnight. But before their parents left for a blessed night alone, we discovered that Mira still fits in an Amazon box:

Sunday was spent with the girls and then putting together some last presents. I’ve been trying to get at least a page of writing and a page of translating done each day the last few days, despite holiday obligations, and I managed it Saturday and Sunday, but not today. Today I had to do the rest of the shopping for the Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow, as well as wrap the rest of the presents. Which all took longer than I expected. So what else is new?

I barely made it to this blog post today, a day late. But I’ve been having fun. And I’m looking forward to the big party tomorrow. It will be slightly diminished with my own “little” girl on another continent, not to mention a death in the other side of family of my granddaughters. But I am hopeful the girls will be able to forget that for a while in light of the festivities.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season!

Finishing Nanowrimo and a WIPpet snippet

We had our traditional Stuttgart Thanksgiving on Saturday, Nov. 30 (Thursday is not a holiday here in Germany), and I was so burned out afterwards, I couldn’t bring myself to post on Sunday — that I actually managed to “win” Nanowrimo! I’m very glad, not necessarily regarding the winning part, but I think of those 50,000+ words there are definitely a few that will be usable. And I’m getting quite a kick out of the mystery experiment.

Completing 50,000 words for the month of November is my biggest update since my last post, besides the turkey, of course:

Thanksgiving 2013

Mira seemed a bit skeptical about the traditional American cuisine of her Oma:

Thanksgiving 2013

Since Saturday, I’ve only managed to get another 1100 words written on Amber’s story, and 400 on A Wasted Land. But I also did a lot of brainstorming for the mystery, and that’s starting to come together — work that doesn’t “pay off” in word count but is still necessary.

Now that Nanowrimo is over, I’m going to get back to A Wasted Land. I really want to finish it, so I will have more books in the Pendragon series and I can start promoting them again. Sales are absolutely abysmal without promotion, but neither does promotion seem to pay off very well with books that aren’t in a series. Sigh.

Anyway, this week I give you another excerpt from the still unnamed mystery. My math is simple: 12/4 = 12+4=16 = 16 sentences. This is the first scene from a new POV character, a detective at the scene of the crime. Rough draft, so any comments much appreciated!

Detective Jude Forsythe gazed at the body of Richard Merritt, his hands tied behind the back of a chair, his upper body slumped forward, his congealed blood pooling on the kitchen tiles in front of his feet. Around him, the crime scene unit was taking pictures and collecting evidence: fingerprints, DNA, and anything out of the ordinary they could find. To Jude’s practiced eye, it looked like a professional job. The way the vic’s hands were lashed, the single, deadly shot to the head, the fact that none of the neighbors’ seemed to have heard a thing, which probably meant a silencer had been used.
But then there was the missing wife.
Merritt had been called in missing that morning by the law firm in Raleigh where he worked, after they had been unable to reach him on either his cell or at home. The caller at the law firm suggested the police try to reach his wife, Amber Duchamp. The receptionist who’d taken the call made a note of the names and assured the caller it would be looked into after twenty-four hours — and had filed the missing report away.
But when she got a call not long after, regarding a missing teacher by the name of Amber Duchamp, she took it to the police, and they decided to make a house call.
To find the front door unlocked, the husband dead, and no sign of Amber Duchamp.
Jude’s partner Brent strolled over, his arms crossed in front of his chest over his beer belly. “Wow, looks like the wife really had it out for him, doesn’t it?”
Normally, Jude was grateful that he’d been assigned to work with Brent as his superior, but now he had to hold himself back not to blurt out how much seemed wrong about this crime scene. “We don’t know that yet,” he said carefully.
Brent laughed. “You’re still such a good guy, Jude, you give everyone the benefit of the doubt.”

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂

Back to Shadow of Stone again for #WIPpet Wednesday, and a Nano update – kinda

Yesterday and today, I had to take a break from Nano-ing in order to finish the final editing pass of Shadow of Stone. On my personal list of priorities, it’s more important to me that I make the paperback version of SoS available before Christmas than it is that I “win” Nano. So now I am going through the interior reviewer app provided by CreateSpace to make sure that the formatting really is as good as it looked in my DOC and PDF files. When I made the book of my dad’s memoirs this summer, there was a very odd glitch with several lines written over each other that wasn’t there in my files. So it’s important that I at least glance at each page. With 500+ pages, that takes a while.

I’ve also been a bit slowed down by some additional research that I need to do for A Wasted Land. Some of the settings are ones I haven’t used before. And while I’ve been to Old Sarum on a wonderful research trip I took with my hubby while I was working on Yseult, that’s a very long time ago now, and my memory needs some refreshing.

Old Sarum by John Constable

So right now, I’m only at about 6500 words for the month.

Anyway, since I’m caught up in Shadow of Stone again, you get another excerpt from that this week. After today, I should (mostly) be back to A Wasted Land for the rest of the month. Maybe I will even be able to catch up and get my 50,000 words written!

Today’s date is 11/6, so I am going to chapter 11 to give you 6 paragraphs, from the pov of the boy who will grow up to be St. Gildas:

Every day Gildas spent at the monastery was another day he hated Cador and Kustennin more. The only problem was, he couldn’t hate Cador, because his foster father had probably saved his life. But he wanted to, because Cador was the reason he was in this miserable monastery in the first place.
He would just have to be content with hating Kustennin.
From what he heard, Kustennin was now fighting for Arthur, making a hero of himself. He’d helped take back Dyn Tagell from a traitorous sub-king and the “Sons of Caw,” and now he was earning more praise and glory in battles along the Sabrina Estuary.
While Gildas had spent the last months in a pig sty.
He threw the slops over the fence into the pen, and the pigs began grunting happily at the leftovers. Gildas hated their squealing, the way it went from bass low to hysterical high, hated the way they wallowed in their own offal, hated their smell and their obesity; most of all, he hated that he had to feed them. His life in the villa outside of Lindinis with Cador had not been pleasant, not like his early childhood in Bro Leon with his mother, where his every wish was tended to, sometimes before he even voiced it. At least in Lindinis he had not been lowered to feeding the pigs.
Arthur was the one he should hate, he knew that well enough. But he’d only met Arthur a handful of times, and on those occasions the Dux Bellorum never did anything more than pat Gildas on the shoulder. It was hard to hate someone who had no more feelings for you than a pat.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂

Amazon trying to re-Kindle interest in KDP Select: The new “Countdown Deals”

I published my first ebook, Yseult, in January 2012, pretty much simultaneous with the introduction of KDP Select. I opted in and set my first promotion for a mere week after publication — and I didn’t have a clue how lucky I was. I got a couple of quick reviews as a result of review copies I’d given away, and my brand new little baby (or rather big fat hunking baby — the hard copy book comes in at over 600 pages) got picked up by no less than Pixel of Ink, which at the time was *the* way to ensure that a freebie promotion would be successful.

Back then, using free days with KDP Select was an excellent way for a new indie writer to gain exposure and (after the free run) sell books. That first month as an indie publisher, I sold 242 books. I added more titles, mostly collections of my previously published short stories, and by spacing regular free runs across all my titles, I could increase my visibility as a whole and ensure that I continued to sell books.

But then Amazon made a couple of “corrections” to how free downloads were counted towards popularity and sales rankings (the infamous “Amazon algorithms”), and they hid the top 100 free book listings on pages that didn’t as easily show up when browsing. Free days became less and less effective as a marketing tool, to the point where it now is basically useless, unless you have a simultaneous ad running on Bookbub (which is very pricey).

Nowadays, you have to pay to give books away.

As a result, I and many, many others have been pulling out of KDP Select. Why have your books exclusive to Amazon when it doesn’t do you any good, right? Now Amazon has introduced something new to make Select more attractive to writers again: what they call “Countdown Deals.” This is how it works:

– Your book can be discounted for up to seven days. The duration of the sale is visible on the book’s page on Amazon, as well as the regular price, so that readers can see that they really are getting a “deal.”

– Your royalty rate remains the same even while the book is on sale. So instead of getting only 35% on a book marked down to 99c, you get 70%. The income is still naturally quite a bit less, but if it results in increased exposure, it’s worth it. And it certainly beats giving your book away.

– Amazon has set up a dedicated “Kindle Countdown Deals” page at www.amazon.com/kindlecountdowndeals – but of course there is no guarantee your Countdown Deal will get listed.

I don’t have many books in KDP Select anymore, and those that I do are basically there because I forgot to take them out, or I’m too swamped to upload them elsewhere. But hey, I’ve decided to give it a whirl, see if it’s any better than free days. Amazon has made it quite easy to set up a promotion. Here’s a screen shot of the first page of my books:

On the dashboard, you click on “Manage Benefits” and then just fill in the details for your sale. I decided to go with a seven day, single price 99c sale of my short story collection Dragon Time to test the waters, starting tomorrow Nov. 4 and going to Nov. 10. You can also have a sale where the price gradually returns to normal. For example, for my Dragon Time sale, I could have increased the price halfway through the sale to 1.99 if I had wanted to.

It will be interesting to see what good this does, if any. I’m suspecting the exposure won’t be enough to make KDP Select attractive enough to return to, at least not for most of us. But we’ll see — starting tomorrow.

I will naturally report my results when the promotion is over.

Related posts:

E-book promotions: Countdown – meh. Permafree – yay! (kinda)

“Promoting Ebooks with KDP Select”

Changes in attitudes, changes in latitudes

I’m sad.

My daughter, the architect and Photoshop expert who helps me with the covers I do myself, flew to the States today, most likely for good. I’ve always been aware that I might lose her to another continent, the way my dad lost me to Europe, but realizing it might happen, then knowing it will happen, and then finally being confronted with the fact that it has happened … well, those are very different things. We’re very close, she lived next door for many years, and we would trade cooking duties on a regular basis, go out to dinner together, go to the garden together — and of course make covers together. 🙂

Anyway, I haven’t gotten much done in the way of writing the last few days. There have been a lot of going away parties, and a lot to do to help them clear out the apartment and pack and get ready to go. I am not going to kick myself for having other priorities when such a life-changing event is going on. I’ve never been one of those writers who would sell her grandmother (if I had one) for my goals; family is without a doubt more important to me than my writing. And now part of my family is much farther away.

Donations of virtual hugs gladly accepted. *g*