How The Writer IS

Okay — so I figured it was time for another update on this weird thing that is the life of a writer.  I’ll admit part of this is because I’m not in the mood to do much or deep thinking.

It’s been an interesting week.

As you know, I brought Witchfinder out this week.  I also put a link to it in the sidebar after one of you nagged me enough — you know who you are.  And, oh, thanks.

Of course, under the course of indie publishing can never run smoothly, so I have not yet uploaded the files for the book version of Witchfinder.  I’m hoping to do it tomorrow morning, before starting work on Through Fire.

I’ve figured out what is wrong with Through Fire — no.  That’s not exactly right.  I found out what was wrong with Through Fire two weeks ago, and I know exactly where it’s going.  The block broke too.  It wasn’t block, apparently, but the final recuperation from whatever last year was (a breakdown seat to music?  No, wait, there was no music.)  It seems — she says in some surprise — that when I run myself down tot he point that I’m getting continually sick, I can’t write, or at least I can but there’s no emotion in it.

Another point of problem with Through Fire was that in chapter three the viewpoint character has … well, a conference with Lucius.  I knew Lucius needed to be an outright b*stard to her, and a manipulative one at that, but after a full book spent in his head and knowing his motives, this was really hard.

Never mind.  that’s been conquered, and all of the beginning has been rewritten, and I know exactly how and where this book is going to go.

However, writing it is still being way too hard.  And I figured out why.  My issue is that I’m between steps again.  How do I put this?  Visualize writing as a staircase.  When you’re between steps, you can see the step below and everything that’s wrong with it (has no one dusted this staircase?  And what’s that cat fur?) but you can’t see the step above, yet, and you’re feeling tentatively for it with your foot, so… it’s an adventure.

But i is getting done.

And in my spare time, because you know what the last few years have been job-insecurity wise (for once not for me) I’m trying to get as much of my back list up there as humanly possible.

Orphan kittens is waiting to be published.  It will probably wait till I finish all three books I want to send to Baen ASAP.

A Death in Gascony to be republished under its original title of The Musketeer’s Inheritance, is edited and in my hands, but I haven’t had the two hours to go over it.  Hopefully I send Through Fire to Toni by Monday and then I do that.  (Or might be Wednesday, because the final typo hunt always takes a couple of days longer than expected.)

So… Where is the writer?

Well… Witchfinder has sold, to date 225 copies.  Not amazing, but we’ll see how it does going forward.  I’ve always been aware the initial push would wear itself out, and then as people read it and word of mouth (and some reviews — if you have a blog and want to review it, I’ll send you a clean copy!) hits, the sales will pick up again.  I’d very much like to see 1k copies in a month among other things because it would make this moving project much easier.  But of course, I have no way to force that.

Oh, wait, there’s a way to goose it — maybe — and tomorrow I’ll have An Answer From The North for free on Amazon.  When it hits I’ll link here, so ya’ll can get it if you wish.

Of course, I set it to go for free, and then looked at the cover.  Tore my hair.  Made another cover.  Then fixed the interior.

When number one son comes on vacation, I’m going to teach him the publishing routine and programs, so he can replace the horrible covers of my early short stories.  It’s an endeavor that really doesn’t need my time spent on it, but… should still be done.

Again, though, a free story doesn’t guarantee sales for other things (though for me, at least, it usually works that way) but it’s worth trying.

And I’m working on Through Fire while Darkship Revenge tries to write itself in my head.

So, I’m very busy, which is my favored state — as you guys probably know.

Now, if I can manage to dig out from the accumulated pile of work from last year, maybe I can manage “busy but sane.”

It’s something to shot for.

One way or another, you guys get to watch it in real time.  If I start going nuts, I’ll yell for you to throw me a rope.

Let me know which way you’ll pull ;)

114 responses to “How The Writer IS

  1. Well, I certainly know the feeling of too many things pulling on me from all different direction. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone. (Well, according to the voices in my head, I’m never alone!)

    And does anyone have any suggestions how I can learn graphics to the point of cranking out cover art? Without going to a community college or similar? (Yeah, and I just complained about being too busy!)

    • check out filter forge. No, seriously. No, I don’t get a commission. I bought it after downloading a sample because I was bored.

    • Well, I learned them by playing about with public domain art in Photoshop and a few web articles. (the important points I picked up there were size and fonts.)

      Also running them by the Huns for opinions.

    • What genre, BTW?

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    “Throw you a rope”?

    Sarah, I’m not going to help you hang yourself. [Evil Grin]

  3. If you’re real lucky we went toss it over a limb, first ;)

  4. So, it seems that Our Lovely and Talented Hostess needs some help summoning a mystical beast named “Through Fire.” I’m in. I will be hosting the summoning ceremony in the park down the street.I can prepare the circle, I just need you guys to stop by to help with the chant.

    Hmmm… This type of summoning circle is best drawn in salt. I can get that at the grocery store. My Flaming Kilrogg is in the garage. I’ve been using my dragon tooth as a back-scratcher so I know where that is. Now, if I can just find my cockatrice feather and eye of newt…

    • Newt’s eyes are old are you sure they will still work?

    • So is this the Biblical quote about people’s stuff being burned up, and them being saved “as if through fire”?

      Sorry, I got working on Beatus again, and I’m seeing Bible quotes everywhere. Although everybody seemed happy to find out that having so much food it was coming out your nose was Biblical. And if I’m not seeing Bible, I’m seeing Latin declensions.

      • Not that I know. And I say this as a regular Bible reader in various languages — I don’t remember that quote. (Of course, I tend to remember things in Portuguese.)
        It’s sort of a bastard side bible quote. It’s about putting children through… Oh, heck. Here’s the opening: When humans believed in gods who were glorified versions of themselves – only faster, smarter, stronger – there were tales of children of the gods given to normal humans to raise; and tales of humans who put their children through the fire, burning them alive, to send them to live with the gods.
        Neither worked well.
        My name is Zenobia, which means spirit of Zeus, and the men who created me as the female clone of Jarl Ingemar, a legendary hero on two worlds, might very well have thought I was a child of the gods.

        • So much meat that it would come out of the nose? Also that it would be found loathsome. That would be Numbers 11:20, during the Exodus, when God provided the thankless and constantly complaining people with the great flock of quail.

        • Hum… First Corinthians 3:15? Starts about 3:12, with building on a foundation, and then being tested through fire. Actually goes pretty well with your opening. King James “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

          • Weird. I figured it was a reference to a long and hard struggle, as in, “I’ve been through the fire”.

          • Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble.

            On Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 1:34 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

            > nothermike commented: “Hum… First Corinthians 3:15? Starts about > 3:12, with building on a foundation, and then being tested through fire. > Actually goes pretty well with your opening. King James “If anyone’s work > is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, ” >

      • I’m still giggling about that….

        Although it makes me wonder: is the bird of paradise flying up your nose then a low-level disrespect of holiness? Say, like referring to the color of Mary’s cloak as a curse….

    • I’ve got horn frog blood if you need that. It’s a renewable resource, paperwork’s good to go.

  5. What’s there to pull on when we’ve thrown the rope to you?

  6. Now, if I can manage to dig out from the accumulated pile of work from last year, maybe I can manage “busy but sane.”

    What a novel concept. Have you ever managed it? If so, might you please be so kind as to point out the path to the rest of us?

    Note: Should I ever have to taoss a rope your way I would pull towards the shore. If possible a stretch with smooth sand and minimal rocks. (Now, mind you, it would also be towards a land which you know comes with much in the way of troublesome bugs, pollen, and rather schizophrenic politics. That is because that is where I am, and I have never figured out how to push with a soggy rope. :-) )

    • Hey, I could use the beach, right now.

      • mikeweatherford

        CACS — we have a beautiful beach here, with dunes and waves and everything. Now it’s a long walk to the water, but… 8^)

        • Land and climate wise I generally like the state I live in now. We also have pretty good roads. We range from Canadian Spruce Pine forests at the highest elevations to subtropical on the southern coast. From where I am I can daytrip to either. Moreover, we also generally have ample rain. Admitedly, the summers can be a bit hot and humid, and the winters are occasionally icy, which is far worse than snow.

  7. Good to hear you’re getting back into the groove*, as it were. Hope the transition to the next plateau is as smooth as possible.

    There’s an interesting dichotomy: Being “in the groove” is supposed to be a good thing, but being “in a rut” is bad, but the two terms are very similar.

    • Metaphors take on a life of their own.

      But, whether or no the phrase be philosophical, there is no doubt that it became fashionable. Mr. Webb on the Socialist State, Mr. Wells on the Great State and afterwards on the World State, and all the sociologists who moved in the spirit of that school or phase of thought, were particularly eager to explain that they were nothing if not constructive. Earnest youths met in Piccadilly and said to each other eagerly, “Are you constructive?” Aristocratic hostesses observed, “You must hear Wobbles. He is so constructive. To be constructive was to be truly of the twentieth century, as distinct from the nineteenth. It was to be scientific, evolutionary, Shavian, futuristic, and generally living in the middle of next week.

      And yet I suppose it would have surprised those young pioneers to be presented to a pious old lady just come from listening to a parson, who should fold her mittened hands and say, “I have listened to a most edifying discourse.” They would not feel in perfect sympathy with the parson if he rebuked the the novels of Lydia Languish by saying they were “hardly for edification.” They would not be profoundly impressed if he suddenly began to address them in the parlour with a sermon that was intended to edify. Yet the word “edifying” is exactly the same as the word “constructive.”

    • Birthday girl

      Well I don’t know from vocabulary, but doesn’t “groove” just sound slimmer and more focused, while “rut” sounds like something you might lie down in and loll about? So groove would be more productive … ?

      • I don’t know about uses anywhere else, but generally a rut is where the soil has been mashed down in the middle and pushed up on the sides, by driving on it while wet, and now that it’s dry, it keeps you moving in the track you are in, making changing directions very difficult.

        Presumably, the “groove” is keeping you moving in the direction you want to go. It seems to be a matter of which you want to do, as to which you choose for the metaphor.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          “In the groove” also has the connotation of “doing it the correct way”.

          When you’re “out of the groove” your actions don’t give the proper results but when you’re “in the groove” your actions give the proper results.

          IIRC “in the groove” is often used in connection with bowling and target shooting.

          • And record players. As in “ah blast, it jumped the groove.”

          • Have no documentation to substantiate the premise, but can’t help but suspect that “in the groove” hies back to the days of crossbows when to fly true a bolt had to properly lay in the channel or groove carved into the top of the bowstock.

      • When I do it I’m in a groove. When you do it you’re in a rut.

    • I think “in the groove” has to do with record players; “in a rut” has to do with plowing where the blade is in a deep gash and you cant’ quite work out of it without getting your ass in gear. Hey, it’s not a dirty word. It’s a donkey.

      • I suspect “in a rut” has more to do with wheeled vehicles, but I’m not certain.

        • That was always my impression also, you plow a “furrow.”

        • That’s also possible. Can you tell my relatives were farmers? Farmers that read…a lot. Had plenty of time in the winter.

          • From Dictionary.com:
            Idioms & Phrases

            in a rut

            In a settled or established habit or course of action, especially a boring one. For example, We go to the seashore every summer.

            we’re in a rut, or After ten years at the same job she says she’s in a rut. This expression alludes to having a wheel stuck in a groove in the road. [Early 1800s]

  8. I bought and am reading your cozy mysteries. I started writing one and got side-tracked on updating my medical biography (collection of essays, etc). Anyway I wanted to get the feel for cozies again. BTW I am really enjoying the interaction with the character and her gay friend. It adds humor to the mystery.

    • My cozies aren’t the best example of the lot. Written when I was REALLY burned out. Should I do a blog on cozies to read?

      • Oh yes– that would be good. Even if you were burnt out, the first one (I am half-way through) is a lot of fun.

        • They’re funny — the plot just is odd… Then again, it’s a cozy.

          • lol– I used to read a lot of cozies after I dropped sci-fi– and then the cozies started to get strange. Of course I don’t remember when … cozies were dropped (I could find them in used bookstores only) and then it was police procedures. I am glad cozies are making a comeback.

            • Too many of today’s cozies are PC and sometimes have political lectures in them. I can deal with dodgy science but PC lectures make want to throw the book at the wall. Maybe they are supposed to be jokes but they don’t strike me that way. I do believe I’ve become a grumpy old woman. I don’t mind political lectures when they’re my flavor of politics and they fit well into the story.

              totally ot: Huzzah! I made a new recipe of stew last night and my husband liked it. I worry that that he won’t like my cooking even though he usually does. anyway he liked it so much that he used the leftovers with something else to make his own dish. what did we do without crock-pots?

              I love kitchen electrics! bread machine, crockpot,George Foreman (counter top grill), microwave pasta cooker and microwave! We love gadgets and convenience products. Making dinner with a crockpot is very easy and more filling than convenience food.

        • Burned out or not I am found of our esteemed hostesses’ cozies. I have, more than once, openly admitted I am in love with E.

      • YES!!!

        *catches six foot long stick the Duchess is charging around with*
        *ignores yelling*
        *blocks yearling Baron from getting another bruise on his forehead*

        Could use some “cozy.” Re-reading Vathara’s Embers, but while it’s close to what my soul hungers for, it’s not quite there.

      • Birthday girl

        I don’t care that you need to be self-deprecating about them … I enjoyed them and recommend them around now. :)

        • Birthday girl

          Oh and the April Fool prank disappointed me once I realized it was only a prank … I was hoping for more … not to put any MORE pressure on you … sorry about that.

          • Orphan kittens. She lives two doors down from Dyce (Next to Ben and Cas.) Her husband is a mathematician and she has two teenage children, the girl, who is a poet and the boy who is a mathematical genius. And both drive her insane. Oh, and Ben tries to mother hen her.
            Autobiographical? WHAT DO YOU MEAN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL. Robert isn’t a girl…. :-P

        • Well, thank you. I am hoping to continue the series, because if I’m healthy they should be easy writes, but… some people form their idea of my ability to plot based on this, and it makes me want to scream.

          • And why should you be concerned about said … individuals? Are they likely to buy your finished stories, let alone your unpublished manuscripts? Fie, FIE on them! Do they not understand that different genres have different paths to follow? Write, publish and let them all go hang!

  9. Reading this immediately called to mind the image of a horde of huns furiously PUSHING on the end of a rope with you at the other end.

    • ‘s about it. But I love you guys. As I told my kids yesterday “You are so strange, but I love you so much.” Same goes for the huns ;)

    • With liquid nitrogen many things become possible ;-) We got enough Mad Science running around here to, if not *warp* space and time, at least give them a jolly good sprain. Plus plenty of Sanctified Liars to come up with excellent excuses/alibis/shaggy dog stories to keep law enforcement entertained and quiescent.

  10. maybe I can manage “busy but sane.”

    Ummmm . . . . Sane? If you were sane, I doubt we’d love you so much (~_^)

    Like minds and all that ya’know

  11. Um… er… please ameliorate my ignorance. What is a “cozy.”

  12. questionableprovenance

    Re: sales of Witchfinder

    Waiting for hardcopy to purchase. Do most of my non-technical reading in bathtub, don’t own reading device other than desktop computer. Which abhors high-humidity environments.

    Besides, the way I read – front, back, middle, then finally plow through linearly – does not work well on reading devices.

    • I read like that too ;) Yea, yeah, I’m uploading the pback as we speak, but I’m ordering a proof before I approve.

    • I said the same thing up to Christmas.

      Turns out the cheep-o style Kindle fits perfectly inside of a ziplock sandwich bag, smooth and snug as you please. I trim off the top and tape it flat, then put the whole thing in the cute little case Elfie got me.

      For future consideration.

      • YES. Same here. The reason I use it is that it’s safer than books, while I’m cooking… or scrubbing floors. Yes, I read while doing those. Like you don’t!

        • Audio books…also good for driving as well.

          But, due to personal experience, I recommend that one avoid Tony Robinson’s readings of Pratchett when driving. It kept me wide awake driving home from the mountains late one night, but the convulsive laughter did not make for proper control of the vhicle or maintenance of a safe and steady speed. It is a wonder I got The Daughter and myself home in one piece and unnoticed by law enforcment.

      • THANK you. I was wondering if that works. But… I have the kindle keyboard, so who knows. It’s NOW the cheapo version, but dunno if it’s the one you mean…

    • It may not work well, but it can be done. (Another non-linear reader.)

    • Once upon a time, books were scrolls, that had to be rolled and unrolled through the story. Then they invented the codex, with its pages. Christians loved it, pagans hated it — as in, digs find libraries with 90%+ of the Christians works in codices, and 90%+ of the pagan as scrolls — and I have actually heard people attributing the triumph of Christianity to it. Certainly didn’t hurt.

      E-books are scrolls, not codices.