The Writer Plays For Time

Hello, this is Sarah, from the command deck. Your chapter will be typed in as soon as this is done. The oyster hasn’t sent promo links, so I’m going to guess none of you scamps sent him books to promote.  If you have any, you might consider it.  They don’t have to be new.

This week, I got a lot of stuff done, but most of it little stuff that had slipped while I was sick, and a bit more (but not enough) on Through Fire.  At least Through Fire isn’t fighting me anymore.  (How can a story fight you?  Are you really going to ask that?  It can fight you by refusing to fall into your plot and then reading stilted and odd.)  I was a little slowed on this though because as much as I’ve typed over the years, my hand decided NOW was the IDEAL time to get carpal tunnel.  At least the thumb, index and middle finger went numb, which is classical of carpal tunnel.

I should be more explicit.  I’ve had the beginnings of carpal tunnel before, though not so bad that I couldn’t walk it back.  This one is at that level too and not as severe as the one I had twelve years ago, where I had to wear a brace and my fingers hurt.  But I had to be a little more careful.  Part of the issue is that for reason of cat, I’ve been typing with no wrist support.  That’s been corrected. I also acquired Dragon Naturally which I’ll endeavor to train.  I told the Mathematician it wasn’t worth it, since well, the last time I managed to train it perfectly it took me twenty hours and then the computer caught fire (long story) and I lost it all, and since  then I haven’t had time to train it so that it compensates for the accent.

BUT he says it’s must better now, and maybe it is and it will work – this was 14 years ago.  And if not, Robert can get it so he can dictate.

Anyway, so that’s on deck for my copious spare time in the coming weeks.  For now I’m just making sure my wrists are supported.

The problem with being sick for a whole year, when you work for yourself and only get paid when you finish the work (even if you occasionally get a generous advance-pay from your boss.) is that it both puts you in dire financial straits AND creates an enormous backlog of work that you have to catch up on.

Not all of this is what you’d think.

Of course my priority is to get three books to Baen, two of which are very late, and the third of which I’d like out next year, to capitalize on the omnibus of the Shifter series – and the first of which is fully paid for.  The first must get to Baen because I owe it, the second because it’s late, fans are waiting, and if we don’t have it out there we’re going to hit bottom on the account, and the third because that will bolster the account enough to move (hopefully.)

But it’s like… Well, if you’re a housewife or ever had charge of a similar task, you’ll get this.  When I was in the hospital for eleven days, when the kids were little, I came back home and of course my greatest priority was to rest and recover and after that to reconnect with the boys.  Except the house smelled…  We’d had rotating teams of babysitters through while Dan stayed with me at the hospital.  And two messy boys, one and four.  So, for my own peace of mind, I had to get out the carpet cleaner and run it.

After which my friends got stern and formed a team to clean the house.  Unfortunately it’s impossible to do that with the reading/writing tasks.

Except for Inheritance, which is waiting for final copyedits because my copyeditor got ill, everything else that needs to be done, from entering changes in Witchfinder to the final go over on the Magical British Empire, to setting things to print depends on me.

Which means I feel frantically guilty over not getting subscribers and people who paid their e-arc (only mine is corrected.  I’m only calling it that because I suspect I’ll get lists of typos as soon as they have it, so the final version two/three weeks later will be cleaner.) the copy of Witchfinder.  And I’m upset over not having got subscribers copies of the books I have out with Goldport.  See, the problem is that rather than mail three copies (e, mobi and RTF) of those to all the subscribers, what I want to do is set up a secret page on my website and tell subscribers how to download their preferred version.  (Or all three of them.)

The problem is that anti-hacking measures prevent my uploading files onto my website.  Which means permissions need to be changed, yadda, yadda, so it hasn’t happened.

On the other hand, the website got done for the first time in a year and a half.  Which is good, because it’s sort of the equivalent of running the carpet cleaner: I couldn’t live with it like that anymore.  There were pointers from various pages, and I kept getting pings from people telling me it was done.  Also, I need to make Hun t-shirts for subscribers, and t-shirts for the various series, and those will have a link to my website underneath… which didn’t work if it wasn’t up.

So, that’s done, and it’s in a format that will be easy for me to maintain.  There are some minor glitches, like its soliciting comments (they won’t show, but it shouldn’t have that line there) but the only way to remove it is to re-code it and that I can’t do.  The boys can and – oh, frabujous day – they have the next week off, so hopefully one of them will find time to do it.

So… frustrating week, but things ARE progressing.  Also for the first time in… eight? Years, I feel like I’m awake and there are no holes in my memory.  Yes, I’m trying a supplement. No, it was nothing sudden – I’ve been taking it for two weeks, and it’s been gradual, but two days ago it felt like that first day the kids let you sleep through the night.  “What is this feeling?  Oh, yeah.  I’m awake.  I didn’t remember what this felt like.”  And there are fewer instances of hitting a total blind spot in my mind and going “there used to be information here.” – this is roughly the equivalent of a 404 error. – I realize such aren’t unusual for a woman at my er… time of life, but for someone who makes her living with her mind they can be devastating.  So I hope this supplement keeps working and it’s not the placebo effect.

So.  Now I go and do the chapter, and leave you with this muddled state of the writer post to er… throw tomatoes at or something.


138 responses to “The Writer Plays For Time

  1. Linnea Caldeen

    You are a fierce, dedicated person. I can be patient ’cause that’s MY job.

  2. Waiting– and this week hasn’t been the greatest for me either. The hubby is sick– if I could just get him to a doctor. And then if the doctor would just give him an antibiotic. I am so frustrated about this–

  3. And, um, well, I know this is probably obvious to you, but your fans (or at least, this fan, would rather you be healthy and have their new shinies a little bit late than to have you stress yourself out working on all these things at once. “If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything,” and all.

  4. And people wait for the name of the supplement ….
    Is it gender specific or generic?

    • I think it’s gender specific. And I’ll give it privately, but it’s rather specific to other symptoms — and also, I’m still trying it out.

      • I found that I have some low iodine issues– doctors knew, but didn’t explain (enlarged thyroid), anyway I am taking some kelp supplements. Plus once again I am low on B vitamins, which is normal for a person with an auto-immune disease. It makes me cranky– Anyway these things happen to even normal women during this time of life– *sigh

  5. No official news, but _Hubris: Rebirth of the Azdhagi_, is in final formatting checks and should be available at fine e-retailers everywhere on Wednesday. And _Elizabeth of Donatello Bend_ is in copy edits for a mid-May release. I’ll send links to the Honorable Oyster as they become available.

    My sympathies wit the carpel tunnel. I have a mild form (can get by with braces) and it’s still a real pain.

  6. It would make a great nasty review: “This book reads as if the writer’s friends had gotten together to finish it for her.”

    • LOL. Actually that’s been done in the field a few times, and I took part in one of them, but yeah. Usually, if you’re good, people never know. But I’d only ask for that if I were dying.

      • Or you can be Linda Evans and publish without finishing the book. Her explanation, not mine, as to why the book was cut off without a good ending.

  7. Updated website looks good.

  8. I’ll send it to him as soon as it gets released Boss.

  9. Glad you’re feeling better!

  10. For distributing eBooks, try one of those file hosting services like DropBox. I’ve never uploaded to one, so I don’t know the details, but other than being used extensively by pirates… they do have legit uses, and generally, if you don’t have the link to a file, you don’t know it’s there. They don’t have any search functionality.

    • Reread their TOS

      • Husband said for 5 or 6 people dropbox is fine. Awful for more.

        • Hubby here: the “free” version of DropBox also has a fairly low (2GB IIRC) upload limit before they want to charge you for more.

          All in all, it’s an excellent service for sharing your vacation photos and not recommended for anything you expect to make a living with.

      • Never read it before. But there are others, like Megaupload.

    • Husband uses DropBox at his work. He’s in It.

    • Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) is another option, and perhaps lower-friction than DropBox (since anyone who has a Google account is already in it). It’s pretty straightforward to add viewers — you can just paste in a comma-separted list of email addresses.

      • Not for thirty some people. And again, I have the space in my website, etc — it’s just a matter of my husband changing permissions. Why I don’t have them is beyond me, but I think he did some default thingy.

        • MmHm. Those default thingies. Always tripping people up.

          I try to sweep them into a pile and use a dustpan, but they’re elusive…

        • I’ve done twenty or so before at my old job — it wasn’t too hard. You just keep a separate text file that looks like:


          When you want to create a new shared doc, you just copy that list and paste it in. Doesn’t take more than a couple of seconds.

  11. Tomatoes…tomatoes…had some earlier…where’d the tomatoes go?

    Gonna make a marinara.

  12. Two weeks ago Beloved Spouse had useless (as in “currently obsolete, especially with modifications made to complementary components” useless) and malfunctioning parts removed from chassis, so I spent all free time at hospital. This week I started a new (and likely to be long term) job, father spent one evening in ER for BP that peaked below where it should properly bottom, and finding time for more than five hours of sleep seems problematic. Also discovered that East Coast Wings has delicious potato chips (of which I cannot consume more than three little ones, but on which Beloved Spouse and the Daughtorial Unit can indulge, permitting vicarious carb consumption.)

    I miss my times spent here, but suspect greater indulgence might entail not missing lamp-posts, bridge abutments and other vehicles. [Brief pause while I pity myself. Pause over]

    I can understand why the carpal tunnel is afflicting middle finger, but must s’pose thumb and index are engaging in a sympathy strike.

    • Take care of yourself and your family, dear wallaby. We have missed you and will, but… our aim is improving! 😀 Do what you need to, friend; we’ll still be here when things mellow out for you.

    • Well wishes, kind thoughts and general good vibes winging (oscillating?) your way. Focus on the missing of lamp posts and abutments, let the other drivers beware, and know you’ll be missed as RL keeps you busy.

    • I’ll put in a good word for you and yours with my deity of choice. You’ve been missed, but Spouse, Parents, and Offspring (or Awfulspring, as the Red Parents put it) come first.

    • You have all my sympathies– you and your Beloved must get well.

    • Get your wife well. We’ll store up the tomatoes and zucchini (wait, how did THOSE get in this basket?) for your return.

    • Been missing that marsupial accent myself. Take care and best wishes to you and yours.

      • Thanks for all the warm fuzzies — now the swifter needs a fresh pad!! To be clear, I hope to not be gone, merely to lurk and — hopefully — spend some weekend time cavorting here.

        Odd as it may seem, mine is not the sort of sense of humour corporations tend to seek in their accountants, so I need a venue to vent the accumulation. I am confident that SPQR will acclaim the stench of many of my punnish efforts, and won’t embarrass others by naming names.

  13. Well, in interests of having stuff to promote for the oyster for future weeks — having fried my brain while playing with Photoshop and being unable to judge:

    Please tell me whether you think any of these covers are attractive. And if you can see egregious design errors in any of them.

    • The “Images” album is the only one with the possibilities.

    • The only one that I had reservations about was The Sword and Shadow (?). I think the title needs to go on the top– I could be wrong though.

      • My artistic training says ‘no’, there’s a convenient (mostly) negative space at the bottom and it grounds the entire scene. Having said that, my artistic training rarely agrees with cover design and cover design is a discipline in itself. So you may be absolutely correct and I’m wrongheaded and crazy.


      • I’m not happy with that one myself. The thing is, it’s really hard to put it up top and make it visible.

        Note to all writers considering doing their own covers: situating the title so it can be read is a lot harder than it looks. Especially when you want to do it in a color that won’t clash with the rest of the scene. What looks like negative space at first glance is often busier than it looks once you plop text on it.

    • Quick impressions:

      I (embarrassingly) am unfamiliar with your writing, so maybe my cues are wrong. But I scan those as dramatic historical fiction and/or classic fantasy (with the exception of The White Menagerie which my brain wants to see as — maybe mystery?) . I find them quite attractive and engaging. The first Fever and Snow scans as more idyllic and the second has a darker tone, for me.

      The Emperor’s Clothes; The Princess Goes into the Forest; The Manor, the Maze, and the Unicorn; Sword and Shadow and Here There Be Dragons strike me as visually linked, connected by type or series (at least initially, it could also be a strong connection for publisher or author, much as Baen’s cover-style is fairly uniform across most of their catalog.)

      Any of those might entice me to peak inside, though The Emperor’s Clothes; Here There Be Dragons and the first Fever and Snow would be the least enticing, for me personally. Just aesthetic reaction. Tagline/author familiarity/other would have me breezing right by that hitch. (I don’t like most Baen covers, forex.)

      I quite like the artwork for The Mermaids Song and The Book of Bone might I inquire about the original piece?

      Just quick thoughts from someone with no training whatsoever in cover design or cueing. All quite impressive and professional in appearance.

      • ” But I scan those as dramatic historical fiction and/or classic fantasy (with the exception of The White Menagerie which my brain wants to see as — maybe mystery?) .”

        Bingo. All of them are classic fantasy. High fantasy. (Well, The Princess Goes Into the Forest is a portal fantasy, but the portal is — odd.)

        • I think with a shelving/tag cue that would come across quite unambiguously for me. Wonderfully done.

      • “The Emperor’s Clothes; The Princess Goes into the Forest; The Manor, the Maze, and the Unicorn; Sword and Shadow and Here There Be Dragons strike me as visually linked,”

        A certain fondness for the works of Warwick Goble and a certain luck in finding suitable images, once ripped off a little. You can see more here:

        • Thanks for the link, I’ll go wander awhile…

          I do think the connection could play quite well as an author recognition cue: “Ooohh…I bet that’s the new Catelli!! Must grab.”

          • OTOH, there is the trap of running out of art work. And other writers have ripped him off — one of the Sword & Sorceress anthologies, for instance.

            • Yeah, the artwork limitation is a tough one to beat at this stage in his career. Other authors — could go either way, I suppose. If you grab some new readers, all’s to the good. If they feel misled…

        • Thanks so much for the link. I like to keep a pile of links to lovely art, for ideas and inspiration.

        • Mary,
          You might also google the great fairytale illustrators for anything that smacks of fairytale.
          The (probably) safest way to do it is go to Gutenberg and look up Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac or Walter Crane.

      • “I quite like the artwork for The Mermaids Song and The Book of Bone might I inquire about the original piece?”

        Waterhouse’s “The Mermaid”

        • For the other Waterhouse’s “Crystal Ball”

          Which is probably the least indicative of the contents of any of these. The story does include magic books and bones and I think a crystal ball, but they don’t add up to any scene like that. Oh, well. As our hostess alerted us at another time, the important thing is that it looks good.

        • I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, I’ve liked those Waterhouse pieces I’ve come across in the past, without being enough of a devotee to recognize the work on sight.

          Perhaps if my artistic evaluation skills had received more practice in the intervening years (or I’d spent more time in art history) I’d be better able to mark his style.


          But, thanks!

    • I prefer the 2nd Fever and Snow to the first although both are good. The first has a more formal and conventional character. The Mermaid’s Song is excellent as is The Book of Bone. The one I like least is The White Menagerie because 1) it is too cluttered visually (with all the beasties scattered about) and 2) it lacks the author’s name. The others are quite good, but they are all old fairy tale illustrations. They promise a content I hope you mean to deliver (I love fairy tales btw). That’s the trouble with a strong cover, it makes a promise that the reader (meaning me) hopes the book will fulfill. Good job.

      • The second I think gives a better idea of the story. 0:)

        I’ll eye “The White Menagerie” to see what can be done. Perhaps I need to find more paintings to rip off use.

        • again, Gutenberg. Arthur Rackham particularly is useful

        • White Menagerie choice I found jarring / un-connected from the other choices (I appreciated the others, felt they showed good connectivity and sense-of-being [?]). Could be a good thing, if it is distinctly different in style and such, but as a matter of brand-building I think trying for something closer to the other offerings would be better.

          • I’ll take a look. But then again, given at the moment I’m limiting myself to prepping twelve stories — covers, blurbs, giving the manuscripts a pass to spruce them up — I also have to consider having enough covers for them all when I really get rolling.

            (And four of them are being difficult. My biggest problem is The Wolf and the Ward.)

    • Thanks for the help. I am now closing the album. But I may be back for more advice.

  14. Well, since I missed the Oyster Boat, let’s try this manually:
    One the Squee side of things, Amazon is about to pay me my first set of Royalties. On the not so squee side, it’s about $6. And this month I haven’t sold a single copy in any market, except for one UK copy, so my rank is down to somewhere in the 3/4 million mark. And I still have yet to sell a Canadian or Australian copy.

    • My first month was $12 — when I had only one short up. Please do get rid of the “eyes” it makes it look like a cartoon thing. email me at my hotmail address, would you?

      • Finally got another sale after exactly a month. It always stuns me how much that makes the rank jump, from just over 800,000 to just over 130,000.

        And thanks for the help with the cover. It will get better.

  15. What kind of microphone do you use with Dragon? And do use the automatic punctuation feature or do you dictate punctuation. Most of those I read about disabled the auto punctuation feature, but I found out that I don’t think in punctuation. I think it would take me longer to train myself to consciously think, “put comma here, put period here,” than anything else about training Dragon.

    • Logitech 800 wireless. Because the point is to dictate while cleaning/painting walls/whatever.
      Yeah, I might let it either auto punctuate or add punctuation later. I think thinking of dictating punctuation would destroy my storytelling flow.

  16. Somewhat off topic: Why isn’t there a link to Mad Genius Club in your blogroll?