Coming Attractions–and They Won’t Cost You a Dime!

I’m baaaaack!

How long has it been now since my last post? If nobody realized I was MIA, I’m going to be really disappointed. There’s been a lot going on, most of it really, really boring–but I do have some new projects making their debut in the next few weeks. It’s just a matter of setup now.

As those of you who’ve been regulars here (thank you, by the way!) know, I’ve been struggling creatively. Haven’t finished a new book since 2009–in writer years, that’s a long time. There have been times I haven’t even wanted to write. I’ve been down all the roads already. First, there was traditional publishing–fourteen books, two major publishers. There were definite advantages, like large advances, skilled editors, major promotions. They did all the grunt work: editing, copyediting, proofreading, formatting, advertising, marketing. I didn’t pay them. They paid me. That was a good thing. What wasn’t a good thing was not getting to do the books I really wanted to write. When my agent told me she wouldn’t even send out one of my proposals because it “wasn’t glamorous,” I knew my goose was cooked. 

Then I tried self-publishing. It was great, for a while. I wrote what I wanted to write. No deadlines, no compromises. And my writer life was good–for a while. I hated the grunt work. I hated self-promotion. I know authors who have been so aggressive in their marketing they’ve been blocked from some Facebook groups. I hated having to ask friends to write reviews–something, I confess, I rarely do myself. I can review a movie, probably because I remember more of what I see and hear up on the screen than I remember of a printed page (wow–that’s not going to be a popular confession, coming from an author). Collin handled the formatting and all for a while, but with a full time job and trying to complete his degree, time was an issue–and converting my old (backlist) books to the necessary format for ebooks was a b****. 

Did I mention that I now have a virtual cuss jar?

Anyway, Collin and I talked it over and decided that we should find an indie publisher who could handle all that stuff. We went with Creativia because they came highly recommended by a fellow author. They reissued six of my sixteen books. I didn’t expect to get rich, or even to make the Amazon bestseller list. I achieved bestseller status years ago, so been there, done that. I just wanted to make the books available to anyone who might not have already read them. And I wanted them on my own Kindles.

After six, I even had second thoughts about reissuing the rest. Why? Long story.

Four of the six reissues have been around since the late ’80s-early ’90s, and Chasing the Wind and Final Hours were first published in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Again, a long time in book years. So…what could I do? I wasn’t sure. I knew I could no longer work on a deadline. Epilepsy has been an issue. There are good days and bad days. On the bad days, I can’t even write a grocery list without forgetting something. Last summer, I discovered I’d had a stroke–a pinpoint stroke, but it seems even those can cause permanent problems in the right (wrong?) place.

So…where to go from there? When I first sent Chasing the Wind out to literary agents, one of them, someone I’d known from her days as a publishing executive and trusted, told me, “This is a movie, not a book.”  I gave some thought to that in the past year. I considered trying my hand at screenwriting–but that’s a crapshoot. And again, it involves deadlines. Deadlines I might not be able to keep.

But I still want to write. What options are left?

I decided to blog the as yet unfinished projects. Blogging a book is nothing new. Bestselling author Andy Weir first blogged The Martian before it was a novel and a movie. It’s actually a recommended game plan for some nonfiction authors. This, I decided, would be a way I could tell the stories I want to tell in my own time, in my own way, with none of the grunt work. No marketing, no begging for reviews, nothing but writing. I had attempted to do this once before, but I hadn’t really thought it through and it didn’t work. This time, there’s been a lot of advance planning. Collin created the above headers for three of the projects. I’m still trying to decide if they’ll be on Blogger or here on WordPress–Blogger’s easier to use, but WordPress looks more professional and has actual techies as their support team, rather than expecting bloggers to rely on the “community” for answers. Maybe both! I have posts ready to go–not just one or two, but enough to keep the posts consistent throughout my bad days. An Army of Angels will include text from Chasing the Wind and bring back characters from four of my backlist books.

I’ll post the links here when they’re up and running. I hope you all will check them out! 


Maybe I Won’t Retire, After All….

Writing used to come easily for me. I wrote one of my best novels, The Unicorn’s Daughter, in four months. Final Hours took six weeks. It was almost too easy, which is why I was surprised that The Unicorn’s Daughter required almost no editing from Berkley and became, along with Chasing the Wind, one of my best-reviewed novels.

As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve found it more and more difficult to finish a project. I asked my neurologist if I might be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. “No. You’re way too sharp for that,” she assured me. Okay. If not that, what about epilepsy? I was first diagnosed as a teenager, and due to my own stupidity, was off the anti-seizure meds for a long time (I don’t have convulsive seizures, so I assumed–incorrectly–that I wasn’t having seizures at all). Again, the answer was no. My previous neurologist told me I was just distracted. ADHD, maybe?

My eyesight is not what it used to be–not that it was ever all that good. Arthritis has been an issue, so writing first drafts in longhand, as I’ve done throughout most of my career, was no longer possible. It was also a problem in using a computer, tablet or smartphone–especially the latter two, since I had to hold the devices at an angle close enough to be able to see the screens. I’ve joked here about my “Kindle elbow.”


I’d tried dictation, but that was also a struggle–until I found this book.

Dictate Your Book: How to Write Your Book Better, Faster and Smarter by Monica Leonelle is a gem. Really. She points out that, like learning to type and use a computer are skills that require training and practice, dictation isn’t something you just do. Her book is short, concise and gives you all you need to learn to dictate your books, screenplays, short stories, etc. Collin is even considering it for doing his classwork, time being a big factor for him.


It’s Time to Move On…Forward…Ahead? Or Is It?

Have any of you ever seen the movie Bruce Almighty


In it, a frustrated Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey), a TV reporter dealing with career setbacks–as he sees them–and being passed over for an anchor desk position in favor of a pompous co-worker (Steve Carrel), takes a swipe at God for “smiting” him. In one scene, he asks for a sign from God and gets this:

I read somewhere, a long time ago, that God communicates with us in the manner in which we’re most likely to notice–whether it’s nature, another person, a song, a story–once, years ago, I was talking to a man I didn’t really know while waiting at a bus stop. He told me a story–out of the blue, actually–about a group of climbers trying to reach the summit of Mount Everest. They gave up, later discovering they had done so only a short distance from their destination. He ended the story with a question: “How would you feel if you had traveled that far and turned back just as everything was about to turn around?” That conversation led me to take a chance I’d been resisting for some time–and indeed, everything did turn around.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about taking another risk–a big one, I think. In one week, I got two very similar messages from two completely different sources:

Am I nuts to act on this? Maybe. But if I don’t, I’ll never know if it was meant to be.

For years, I’ve wanted to be a screenwriter. At first, I resisted because it’s an even harder career to break into than novel writing. And even if you sell a script, odds are by the time the film gets made–if it gets made–you won’t likely recognize your own work. But I’ve mellowed in my old age–not as determined to not have my work changed in any way–and the market for screenplays, like novels, has many more options available than writers had twenty years ago. And I have a writing partner. Collin isn’t much of a reader. He never has been. But he does love movies and TV. He’s enthusiastic about a possible course correction.

Collin and I may not read much anymore, but we watch a lot of movies. When I write, I write as if it’s a movie. When I was initially pitching Chasing the Wind to agents and publishers, I was told, “This isn’t a novel, it’s a movie.”

So maybe I am a screenwriter. It’s worth a try. And if it doesn’t pan out, I can always go back to novels, right?