Editing, Book Signings and Life

OH, MY. THIS WEEK HAS flown by without me even realising it! I’ve been busy working all week on annotating the PDF for my editor, doing a wee bit of advertising and gathering everything I’ll need for the book signing at Jardines this afternoon.

I’ve had a few doctor appointments peppered through the week and am heading out for some fasting blood work in a moment. I hate the “fasting” part … I’m always ravenous by the time they draw the blood! Teehee—usually a great excuse to fudge and eat out, but today, there’s no time. Sigh. Oh, well. I’ll be devouring some yogurt when I get home!

I have a “drama queen” for a neurologist. I do say that in a loving way—he is absolutely hilarious at times … like the other day when I told him I had two events coming up that required me to set up a pop-up tent (well over his 20# limit restriction). He sent me into stitches with his comments, overdramatising of course, to make his point. Fine—I need to scramble and find someone to set the tents up … sigh. I knew what he was going to say, but it never hurts to try a little cajoling to change his mind, right?

So instead, he’s setting up a referral to a specialist up in Daley City (South San Francisco)—that’s an hour and a half drive from where I live (probably more with the crazy traffic up there). No worries. I am a patient driver, but I may try to find a place to stay the night before (or the night of) my appointment, depending on the timing.

So … I am waiting for that referral call, to set up the appointment and I’m also waiting for a call from the local MRI place—he wants to do a repeat MRI. Guess he wants to see if I still have a brain (sniggle).

In the meantime, thinking about today’s book signing: it will be a piece of cake—well, as long as you don’t count sitting outside for four hours in 80 degree weather as a problem. I’m hoping the location of the tables (Joyce and I get two) and the umbrellas will keep the sun off of us. I love that we have been able to find venues to sneak in book signings without having to be part of a larger group (though, those do have a tendency to draw more people … but then, we are vying for attention with a larger group—lots of pros and cons to this book signing stuff.

Well, I do need to get underway, so I’ll leave you with a fond farewell. May this day, this weekend and all of next week be blessed and joyful.

Now, off to visit the “vampire” …

 

 

Back in the Saddle

OH, IT DOES FEEL GOOD TO BE writing—and editing again. Moving forward in life—finally. I’ve finished the first edit of Mischiefmaker—I resorted to printing out the manuscript for my edits (I know—paper waster!!—but this is the best way for me to get things done). I did it when I first started this writing-a-book thing and found it to be so much easier for me than sitting in front of a computer, tethered to (or reliant upon) an electrical/electronic source.

I’ll take the written page over a digital screen any day—whether for editing or reading for pleasure. And, yes … I must eventually come back to the computer, but it’s to input changes and for a quick read-through before I print it out once again for the next round. Occasionally, I find myself forgetting about the written page and discover I’ve read ahead four or five pages without editing/correcting my work. I’m obviously still enjoying reading this story of mine. That’s a good thing, don’t you think?

As I was saying before I sidetracked myself (sniggle) … I am working on inputting the corrections for round one. I will read the whole story again with corrections in place, making notes of where I need additional changes as I go. Then, on to round two. Depending on how awful I feel round one was, I’ll do one of two things. Print it out, and dive into it once again … or, if it’s reasonably sound (not too sure it is at this point), I’ll print out copies for my beta readers to get input from them as I am working on taking the rough edges off in round two—it’s usually round three that goes to the beta readers, but maybe I’m improving enough to speed up the process (finally catching the newbie mistakes in the initial writing or round one) … so, we’ll see.

Maybe it’s the upcoming book signing that has me so jazzed about my editing (which I usually dread), or the upcoming surgery that has me up against a deadline … (yeah, probably the latter—teehee), but I’m thoroughly enjoying the time with my manuscript.

The book signing is a joint venture with my author friend, Joyce Oroz—a mystery writer. The Aromas Country Garden (and Art) Tour is on Saturday, May 14th from 10am-4pm (pick up maps for a small fee at the Aromas Grange)–date was recently changed due to rain. We will be joined by other Aromas Hills Artisans (AHA), peppered along the streets of Aromas in various gardens, waiting for people to venture in to admire the area flora—and our various art forms. Most of the AHA members are oil-acrylic-watercolour painters, ceramic & metal sculptors, jewelers, stained glass specialists, etc … whilst Joyce and I use our talents honing words. If you happen to be in the area—northern most portion of Monterey County, come visit Aromas and admire the flower/veggie and xeriscape gardens. Please take the time to see what the artists will have on display. I’m sure they will appreciate your visits to their booths. Joyce and I will be chatting with those that come through our chosen garden (pretty close to the center of town) and of course, we will have books to sell/sign.

From another page in my life, I’ve just given an okay to my publisher on a revamp of the cover of The Scymarian (and made a few corrections to the interior—errors that none of us caught the first time around) and that will head to production soon. Once I get this manuscript polished and wrapped in a bow for my publisher—and finish up with book four, I’ll begin to reclaim book one (and maybe book two) from my first publisher so Inknbeans Press can proceed with publishing it/them under their name. But that won’t happen until I’ve had a real professional edit done on book one (I do not consider the edit done by that publisher as professional by any means—I ended up going back through and correcting all their mistakes and found many more they’d missed). It’s all coming together … slowly, but surely.

After that, I’ll be able to get back to working on book five. It’s exciting, time consuming, stressful and challenging—all at once. Life keeps me busy—and motivated … … that’s for sure.

Folks, I want to thank each and every one of you that have hung in there and kept faithful in reading my blog and following my business pages (my Writerly and Painterly pages) on Facebook. I’m always open to any feedback you might have to make the pages more interesting, so please feel free to comment—either here or on the Facebook pages. I want them to be interesting for you and can only guess if I do not have your feedback.

Have a blessed day—and weekend.

Mine was going to be busy, as you know … and possibly a little wet—but we need the rain, so I’m not complaining. Though it has been rescheduled, if you’re local, no matter the weather next week, don’t let a little rain stop you from getting out to enjoy the beauty of the gardens … and the art. Hopefully we will see you there!

 

Drawing A Blank…

WELL, THIS IS UNUSUAL. MY BRAIN SEEMS to be blank—at least where my blog is concerned. Well, I do have fleeting ideas, but none manage to take root. Often, when I’m driving around town, an idea comes to me and churns ’round in my mind till it forms into a line of thought. But this week, nothing. Nada.

This is when I consider going through my photos to come up with a pictoral blog. Usually, about half way through rooting around all the pictures, I come up with a nice blog—one of prose. It’s only Tuesday. We’ll see what happens…

And now…it’s Thursday and I’m still drawing a blank. My edit has my mind fully engaged in the story. Working on making it better—with the help of my awesome editor, David Antrobus—with each pass. Surprisingly, I’m having fun going through the edit and re-reading what I’ve written (this does not mean it’s not hard to make the changes needed—unfortunately, it seems that will always be a challenge). I will never get tired of this story I’ve created and the characters (especially the two protagonists) that have evolved. They each have such a distinct persona. I love it. I find myself giggling and/or shaking my head at their antics, actions and thoughts. And, thankfully, they are still developing. Growing. My children (insert huge grin here).

I’ve read somewhere that the characters in a writer’s story are usually bits of that writer’s own persona. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I have drawn characteristics from people around me—and, yes…I guess some from me, too—to make them real, to give them depth. I certainly hope I have succeeded.

Working concurrently on both book three’s edit and the creation of book four has helped keep the continuity of their character…but at the same time it has slowed my progress on each one—trememdously. In addition, writing/editing has made it difficult to concentrate and create this weekly blog. I certainly don’t want to discontinue the blog…but it may get a bit spotty now and then as I struggle to juggle so many different things. For this, I am apologizing in advance. Though I hate to just fill the space with “fluff”—I’ll endeavor to avoid this—at the very least, I’ll try to post a few photos of what life has thrown my way during the week. You may (insert wink) get tired of my dog and cat…and Point Lobos…

I’ll keep you posted on my writing/editing progress, for sure. But, I do have a visit to Gallifrey One Convention in LA at the beginning of next month, so at least one blog will be about my adventures there. For those unfamiliar, I am a Doctor Who fan. It’s a on-going science fiction tv series from the 60s…still going strong. Gallifrey is the Doctor’s home planet, hence the name of the convention event. I stumbled upon it in mid-70s when Tom Baker portrayed the Doctor. I haven’t been to a convention is a zillion years, so this event aught to be interesting…. I’ll probably be one of the oldest attendees (giggle). Like I said…interesting.

Trying to sneak in a book signing whilst I am in LA was on my agenda, but it looks like that’s not going to happen. Perhaps in March—I’ll be back down in Southern California then for a family reunion…I just have to see if I can round up critter sitters for the extended time I’m gone.

So, this has been a mish-mash of thoughts, ideas and an apology. I’ll try to keep my future blogs a wee bit more focused. In the meantime, I hope this next week is filled with amazing discoveries, good books to take you far afield and blessed with friends and family to share your life’s adventures.

 

 

Writing, Memories and More…

I AM UP TO MY EYEBALLS IN EDITING, have a book signing in a week with a list of all the things that need to be done breathing down my neck, today is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake which devastated Santa Cruz, San Francisco and our own local areas…and I just finished a three-plus mile walk after a three week hiatus. Quite a hodge-podge of things in my life (the story of my life—teehee)–always and forever.

But for now, this is plenty. So much to do. I needed a break.

I needed a break from my editing, from my planning…from the craziness I manage to create, so I decided on a walk. A mini-escape. It’s an excellent way to refresh the mind—clean out the cobwebs, so to speak. If I haven’t mentioned it before, Point Lobos State Park is my favorite place to meander. All those trees—and the lovely coastline. To die for. I may have overdone it slightly, since I am ready for a nap now that it’s done. So much for feeling refreshed. (grin)

I dusted off my good camera and found a few things worthy of capturing. I alternated between the iPhone and my good camera as I walked through the woods.

As I walked, I thought about the earthquake that struck our area twenty-five years ago and wondered when the next one would hit. Not if, but when. The science of predicting earthquakes is pretty lame, so after the earthquake, they announced another would come within the next thirty years. The reporters today are saying that scientists are saying another of similar devastation (6.9 or greater) in the next thirty years. What? Thirty years from now?? I thought we had five more years on the first warning. Can you tell I don’t hold much trust in their predictions. I wondered, while I walked what I’d do if one happened while I was on my walk. I decided I’d deal with it when it happened. No need to worry about it till then, so I turned my attention back to my walk.

The sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds, fading in and out, but was never strong. There was a high cloud ‘film’ apparently defusing the brightness. I was looking for rays of light streaming into the forest through the canopy of green to photograph. It did not oblige me. But, the lichen was lovely. Gently waving in the breeze, it was beautiful when the sunlight hit the lacy green sheets of lichen.

Once I get the photos off the cameras, I’ll add them to this post (that’s the plan, anyway…)—when I’m feeling more alert.

Ideas for my book signing at Open Ground Studios (on Saturday, 25th of October) bounced around in my mind as I walked—hope I can remember them later, and my characters sat on my shoulders, whispering in my ears, telling me what they want me to do in book four—I’m excited to see where that book is headed. Then, my ongoing edit tapped me on my shoulder, reminding me that I’ve had enough of a walkabout and it was time to hunker down in front of the computer and get back to business. Such a party crasher. I shrugged off the reminder.

Like I said, I walked a little too far (over three miles) for my first time after three weeks ‘off’, so my edit will have to wait till tomorrow. Tonight, I rest and recover from my wonderful day on the Peninsula. Tomorrow, I’m back to plugging away at the corrections so I can have book three published before the end of the year.

Until next time, folks. Have a blessed week—enjoy the changing weather. Check back later (over the weekend) and I’ll have a few photos of Point Lobos posted in this blog.

 

Just Thought I’d let you know…

WELL, I’VE BEEN BUSY this week. Editing, “housekeeping” for the business, taking care of critter needs (those pesky toenails just keep growing back), avoiding editing, errands, household chores…and more editing. Then there are the night meetings and classes have also kept me occupied–I’ve managed to work in a few a week–oh! And lovely, wanna-pull-off-the-road-and-just-watch-the-whole-thing sunsets…so beautiful! The weather has been ripe for beautiful sunsets and (though I’ve managed to sleep through them) sunrises. Makes me want to chuck all my chores and go traipse around taking pictures! But, that pesky edit keeps tapping me on the shoulder…

Central Coastal California Sunset

Central Coastal California Sunset, just started. Taken on the fly…

And my head has been spinning all week.

At center stage, I am stalled in the editing department.

I’m battling with myself about character point of view. Convention says, stay in one head per chapter…this is so hard as the action is so fast paced and I bounce back and forth between character’s thoughts–all the time…  Apparently, occasional obvious switches are okay…but I have too many. “No, no. Way too many…,” says my editor. For those of you that have read “Secrets Beyond Scymaria”, what do you think?

Sigh.

So, here I am…doing re-writes, which takes time. No mistakes like last time (well, at least not the same ones). I am not going to rush things this time. I’m going to do it right–but at this rate, I may not make my “Spring Release” date.  My already-paid-for trip to Wales means, perhaps a “Early Summer Release” instead. I’d much rather get a quality product out to my readers than rush (like I did with my first book) just so I can meet a self-imposed deadline.

Well, I will just have to see how it goes. I’ll keep you updated, I promise.

At stage left, in the wings, I have an upcoming book signing–on Saturday, March 29th, a simple affair at Crossroads Christian Church (1035 Rogge Road, Salinas CA) from 11am-4pm. If I can get things together fast enough, I will have some of my artwork (and perhaps photography) for sale…and maybe even do a storytelling for the kids. As it gets closer, I’ll keep you updated. Two months seems so far away–yet, not!

I need to roll up my sleeves and get out there, pounding the cement to get a few more book signing and book reading dates lined up…in between my editing (insert eye-roll).  I’ve ordered more books and need to pull together my “Secrets Beyond Scymaria” swag–bracelets, bookmarks, book plates (and I’m looking for some new stuff to add, too–wheeee!).

Never a dull moment, that’s for sure.

In any case, I promise to keep you apprised of all that is happening. If you’re a Facebook fan, you can also see updates at my business Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Creationsbydjamesonsmith–if you “Like” the page, then you will get automatic notifications.

Until next week, have a blessed time exploring what’s right in front of your nose.

Secrets Beyond Scymaria…Almost There!

ALRIGHT…I’VE GOT MY WORK CUT OUT for me. (This post should have gone out before my last one, but that’s okay…I’m a little frazzled…can you tell?)

My teen beta reader agreed.  Definitely:  the second part of my manuscript needs to be split into two  — which is wonderful, but, it means I have some serious work ahead to make both “halves” work.  Three books for my series without having to stress too much.  I like that!

His enthusiastic comments (Facebook message receive on Tuesday) have buoyed my confidence nicely, thank you very much, Thomas!  I received his actual critique yesterday and started anew with my final bit of editing before I can submit it to the copy-editing team at my publishers.  I don’t need to come up with my book breaks yet, thank goodness.  I just need to polish up the flaws that the critiques pointed out — at least, the ones I didn’t already catch (and, there were a few — thank you, my critiquing maniacs!)  Then submit for the Pro-Edit…

I am enjoying this journey, with all of its up and downs and insane craziness (hmmm…that’s a wee bit redundant, but so appropriate…).  And it is far from over.  Professional editing will give me a tremendous edge, allowing me to in turning these pages into a fun and exciting series!  And once it’s in the throws of the publishing process, I will have the next two books to work on…how exciting!

It never stops.  But soon, I will be able to better control when I dive into the craziness and when I can pull back and relax.  Actually take time and spend it with friends — and work on my other loves…photography, art — and just catch up.  That will be nice.

But until then, I really need to get off the internet and back into my cave…I keep sneaking out.  Maybe I should bar the door shut (turn off the internet?).

Until then, have a blessed day!

 

Still Editing, Folks…

STILL EDITING, FOLKS, BUT …  only about 30 pages left — that is, until I get my two remaining part-two critiques (wow…that was a tongue-twister…sorry).

I truly am excited, because I am nearly ready to submit for the professional edit. They will have it for 3-4 weeks (at least, that’s what they said…), which will give me time to concentrate on the cover design, interior layout and an author’s photo for the back.  Oh…and all of the other little blurbs they want me to come up with…
Then, it’s back to me for corrections before I sign it off as ready for publication.

This process can easily be compared to a pregnancy.

Ooh, so easily!

The thrills and excitement during the conception and growth of the beloved story, the anticipation, the waiting, the preparations…the stressful rush to finish, to meet deadlines, exhaustion…need I say more?

Though I’ve only been pregnant once, I vividly recall all of this.  I  remember the last few months, lugging my precious cargo around — and how much I was looking forward to it being in the past so I could start enjoying the next journey that lay ahead.  It was a long and hard journey — one I would have done again, in a heartbeat.

The same is true of the adventure I’m experiencing with this manuscript.  Despite the major hiccups I’ve encountered as a novice author, I’m excited that there will be more to come — with the experience gained and knowing that it won’t take the decade-plus that this one required, there is hope for a complete series (two or three are already in the works) within a year or two!  And knowing I already have a growing interest in my first one, even though it’s not published yet, is truly exciting.

So, as soon as I post this, it’s back to editing.  Can’t keep the readers waiting, can I?

May your day be blessed with sweet anticipations.

 

And Now, My Final Edit…

THE BETA READER CRITIQUES ARE trickling in, allowing me time to review each a little before the next arrives.  Soon, I will have all of their comments and corrections digested, notated and will begin my last edit before presenting my manuscript for the publisher’s editor to carve up.

Yes.  That is how I envision it.  In my mind’s eye, I see red pen in hand, ruthlessly slashing sentences, mumbling under his (or her) breath and shaking the head in disgust…my beta readers are been fairly kind, gently pointing out flaws and obvious errors, making kind suggestions — and some glowing comments — that bolster my confidence.  The professional editor, I am sure, will not be so generous.

But, I keep telling myself, this will make it a better book for you, the reader.  I still feel, after it is all said and done, this is a good story.  One that will catch the readers imagination and will create a desire for more.  And more is coming.

The ideas keep flowing in my mind like an unstoppable flood.  I have affectionately dubbed it my ‘never-ending story’.  I have at least four more plots to work out…and more are forming in the back of my mind as time passes.

I am looking forward to getting the initial editing done, getting it out of my hands and into the hands of the publisher.  Then, my focus can be turned to all the little stuff — cover page, tag lines for advertising…and maybe a little time to myself.  Perhaps a trip down the coast, with my camera to refresh my mind…in preparation for the return of the manuscript — so I’ll be ready to once again hunker down to the long — final — editing session.

I’m still hoping for a Fall publishing date.  As I get closer, I will be able to give an actual date.  Until then, dear readers, please be patient.

May your days be filled with the anticipation and joy of life.

Squeeee — It’s Almost Ready…

Beta Readers copy, part one

Beta Readers copy, part one.

IT HAS BEEN A VERY, VERY LONG time in the making, but finally, I have (at least the first ‘half’) the manuscript ready for my four Beta Readers.  One Reader already has hers, the others will soon be distributed.

In the meantime, with tea at the ready, I continue to work on the remaining ‘half’ of the manuscript.  I want this to be a series and am hoping that I can manage to divide this into two reasonable stories.  (And create even more from there.) My Beta Readers will help me determine if this will be possible.

This is an exciting stage to be at — almost there, yet not quite.  I can feel the excitement welling and find myself spending more and more time (as much as I can tolerate) in front of the keyboard, transferring my written corrections to my electronic copy.  The entire manuscript is edited (on paper) for those pesky typos and grammar.  There were a few glaring continuity problems that I finally figured out how to resolve, thankfully.  As I continue making the changes to the electronic version, I will make those drastic changes to smooth out the continuity issues  (saving at the end of each page — am I paranoid?  YOU BET — and at the end of each day, it goes onto a memory stick!)

It’s interesting that the continuity problems are all in this second ‘half’ — well, it’s probably better to say it’s divided into one-third, two-thirds (over 60,000 words in total, the first ‘half’ is only a bit over 20,000…).  But, like I said, it’s all in the second half.  I know most of this portion was written using the pressure of NaNoWriMo’s “writing with abandon” — the goal being to get the elusive thoughts on paper.  It was an amazing adventure, but somehow (oh, I know how…), I ended up repeating myself a lot.  I still managed to greatly exceed the 50,000 word requirement by the end of the month, then finishing it in February of 2013, using the word war concept.  I’ve edited out a fair portion, gleaning the gems from the chaff to create the strong storyline that is my story.

It is my understanding that the publisher will accept anything over 10,000 as a book.  We’ll see what they say when I submit the first bit.  But, that’s a solid month (plus) away.  I eagerly await the return of each manuscript from my beta readers, to sift through, evaluate their comments and make corrections accordingly. Then, and only then, it will be sent on to my publisher.

Excited?  You betcha!  Anxious?  Of course.

Ready for it to happen?  Absolutely!

Half-Way There!

I HAVEN’T POSTED IN AWHILE, BUT THAT’S BECAUSE I’ve been busy editing.  It’s been a challenge, since Life seems to have a way of butting it’s nose in regularly:  doctor’s appointments, working on getting my taxes done (still not ready for the accountant), mundane house/yard work, meetings, art classes (I’ve cut it down from four to two, and was given permission to play hooky as needed–that made me happy)…and I’ve started to walk to clear my mind and make a healthier me.  All of this cuts into time to work on the editing process.

I have found that (up until this week) my editing has gone smoothly–just minor spelling, sentence structure and descriptive changes, plus adding a bit more depth to the characters and plot.  And, I’ve got a new title for the book — I’m keeping that a secret for now.  Only a few people know it and I’m keeping it that way.  So far, only really positive responses to the new title!

But now, I am at the point where I have a major problem in the story — I was trying to write without having the manuscript in front of me (the ideas hit me at odd times) and am finding all sorts of inconsistencies and timeline issues.  At least I am at the half way point and once these issues are resolved, I’ll be able to present the first half to my four beta readers for their stamp of approval and critique.

As a matter of fact, I think they will receive it — fingers crossed — by the end of the month, barring any major Life intrusions…that alone makes me happy and excited!  Knowing that I am actually nearing the end of the process is what’s keeping me going.  It is truly a wonderful feeling.

So, I will bid you adieu so I can get back to work!  I’ll keep you posted with more personal musings later.

Happy Spring to you all!