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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Even the Sorrows are Gifts

I don’t mind admitting that it has been a brutal year and I am certainly glad to see it go.

There were good moments. Some great, in fact! But, at the same time, it has been an uphill struggle for a better part of the year and with little to show for it.

This year felt like being stuck in a bad marriage to a traveling salesman: cheap, boring, with enough simmering resentment to fuel bad poetry.

I exaggerate, of course. I am a writer. I have an inherent need to dramatize, to tweak, and then to give it a noir shine…

If I simply told you that there have been some challenging months where all I did was apply for dozens of jobs (full time and freelance) and got little yield… Who cares? Everybody has a period like that. But a bad marriage to a traveling salesman? You’ll remember that!

So, yes, there have been lean times, but also awesome opportunities, creative surges, and hope that everything will balance out in the end.

At the end of this strange year, I am grateful for freelancing to keep me afloat, creative juices to keep me writing, and great friends who make the journey so much more fun.

I’ve pulled some shorter works from the online bookstores (the works still exist in compilations). I have reformatted every book and added updated back matter to all.

For those interested, there are a few new covers:

I also reformatted the cookbook (e-book version only) and I think flows better. It is slightly re-edited, but the recipes remain the same.

The biggest update has been in reference to the Food Goddess blog. I have created companion pieces for some of the entries (it started with the piece about butter). I’m still working on the updates to the blog itself, but you may find new and fantastic curated boards here (you can click on each image to link to it):

Happy holidays to those who celebrate and here’s hoping 2015 brings us all health, fortune, and more joys than not! And the sorrow? Make art out of the sorrows!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Managing Bookmarks

In my research, during my travels, and as part of different ongoing projects, I will sometimes come across articles, blogs, books, periodicals and other resources that I may not need immediately but will at a later time.

With Chrome and other browsers, you can type in a word into the address bar, and get a list of relevant bookmarks and possible search options. To match your bookmarks, it is contingent on you making sure the search terms are part of the link’s name (because the thing you are looking for may not always be part of the URL).

I know somebody who literally collects bookmarks “for future reference.” There is nothing wrong with this, but if you do not curate your lists, you will make it virtually impossible to find what you need. Ever.

I have hundreds of bookmarks! If I need something, I cannot open each and every link. That’s not efficient. And you know after the first dozen, if you managed to stay focused that long, you’ll lose your train of thought.

The best thing, I find, is that if you use good SEO in filing and naming links, you’ll need not spend much longer than if you Google it.

At the moment, I have folders on Writing, Business & E-commerce, E-book Marketing, Learning, Research (General), and Resources (Art, Cover, Fonts). There are more, but not all writing-related.

Each new project I start gets its own folder, so that I can refer to my personal repository of data when I need it. I also create a document with links (but am not as consistent about maintaining it).

I have also created Pinterest secret boards of links that I will use as research for current and upcoming writing projects. I’ve written about these, and suggested that you may release these after you publish (for fun, for book clubs, as part of the ongoing conversation with your readers).

If you prefer to synch your data, you can save bookmarks to Google.  

For a few minutes every once in a while you can be your own sexy librarian.

I find it particularly helpful to review my bookmarks from time to time – create new folders, move links, check the viability of sites and content, etc… Clean house!

Sometimes in managing your links, you will find new content to bookmark. You can let go of the lessons you’ve already mastered.

Do you have to do this? Of course not! It is, in my opinion, an excellent aid to help you reach clarity in your search for inspiration and help you feed your creativity.

This is also possible in the midst of chaos. It’s just a different experience and a whole new story. 

How do you manage the variety of articles, sites, artifacts, blogs, pieces of art or music that you use for each book?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December is for Revisions

Another year, another 50,000 words. This year it was a little difficult to get through the last 10,000 words. It tripped me up a bit.

I have December to revise and tie it all together, maybe release it as an introduction of the character before I send her into space. The 50,000 words I wrote kept my protagonist earth-bound.

Digging through my early notes when I first chose to do the story and I had different names for the characters and I need to decide whether to keep or change them. I have to say it enough times to see if it sings to me.

Then there is the second volume that follows. The planning for the writing needs to start soon. It helps with continuity (and there is no rule that commits me to it).

Was it fun? Yes. Was it maddening and insane? Yes. Will I do it again? Oh, yes!

It’s about commitment and discipline, confidence and creativity and a combination of craziness and adventure.

No day job doesn’t make it easier. In fact, it may fracture your loyalties in ways an 8-10 hour a day job might not. This is because you spend so much time weeding through job boards, updating resumes, tweaking the CV and cover letters…

Then there is the freelancing. I’m thrilled I can get some business, but if you are going to freelance, it requires a thick skin (you will write and rewrite proposals and submit dozens that will never get any response).

These activities take a lot of time and energy!

That does not mean that you let the writing slide. It means you have to readjust to what time you have for yourself and dedicate some of it to writing. But write you must: it is therapy and escape.

It is also a way to hone your craft, so you keep doing until you come close to a high level of excellence.

December is for revisions in other ways too: besides tweaking NaNoWriMo manuscripts, it is the last ditch to salvage the year or improve on the good stuff to end the year on a high note!

Do all your holiday shopping at Smashwords and Amazon

I need to release new work, and I have plenty of work to do: some writing, mostly edits, and a lot of transcription! But for those new to my work, I did create new PDFs for Justified, One Night with B.B., Chronicles of Ash, The Scent of Honeysuckle, Remembrance of Dingbats, and Kali, The Food Goddess: Volumes 1 & 2

Authors ready to publish: if anyone needs help formatting manuscripts to electronic formats (EPUB, MOBI, PDF, etc.) for submission to Smashwords (premium catalogue), Kindle, CreateSpace can check out my professional services page or contact me through elance.

Keep me busy! Help me keep the economy going!