Tag Archives: I went out and achieved anyway

2016: A Checklist

  1. Get divorced
  2. Sell the house
  3. Move home
  4. Clock my last day working as someone else’s employee – be it when I leave my current job to move, or 6 months after I move in with family and save as much of my salary at a new job as I can to afford a period without steady income
  5. Formally start my own business (website up, registered as LLC – to be done only after I am divorced and back in the state where I will be living for the foreseeable future)
  6. Finish updating my wardrobe (a process I started last spring, and am about halfway done with)
  7. Figure out the proper make-up to go with my various magic lipsticks (file this one under shit my mother should have taught me, but couldn’t because she’s not that sort of woman)
  8. Find at least a couple scents to start my “perfume wardrobe” (perfume/added scent is an aspect of femininity I specifically eschewed because my ex mister gets migraines easily, sometimes triggered by fragrance, and specifically asked that I not use perfume)
  9. Finish writing Anything But a Gentleman (even if it means re-writing from the top yet again…god forbid)
  10. Write at least one non-romance short story, because the ones I’ve written previously are what I consider my best work, and I never meant to stop working in that direction
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Progress Report

I am finally at the part of my novel revision where I am done writing entire scenes and chapters from scratch and am able to integrate part or all of a given segment from my original draft. There will be a few new scenes to write, simply because the current of the story changed a little from its original course, but for the most part the new words are generated. Now on to the endless evaluation, trimming, and restructuring of the 75,518 words left in my doc of the original draft that is not yet integrated into the new one.

I have no idea how long it will take me to make this revision a cohesive whole. Hopefully not too much longer.

The last few weeks (month, even? Basically since I kicked the bronchitis finally and recovered my life equilibrium) I have moved things forward at a good clip. Keep it rolling, keep it rolling, keep it rolling.

Last night I was trying to remember when I actually started writing on this revision draft. Had to check the create date on my Word doc, because I didn’t make a good note of it inside the doc, nor did I make a note of it here anywhere. January 7, for the curious. Basically 5 months ago.

I’ve written 35,000 in five months. Okay, fine, SOME of them were already written, but I am sure at least 20,000 were brand new words. Which is, yeah, okay, not fabulous, but also not that bad when I consider just how little time and energy I have had to devote to this project. I will be happy with my stat’s if I can finish revisions on the rest of my first draft by the 6 month mark.

July 7.

That’s 23 days from now. If I do the same amount of work every day, that’s 3283 words a day moved from the old draft to the new (with necessary trims, additions, and reworkings). If I count it by chapters, it’s a little more than one chapter per day on the old counting (because I am up to Chapter 15 of 42 in the old draft).

Those measures are not unreasonable. They are not unattainable – provided I touch the project every day.

Eye on the prize. Keep it rolling. Come on, muse, just hold your shit together for 3 weeks and 3 days….

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Now THIS Is a DIY Cover

So…after nearly 11 hours of work, off and on, what I have under my metaphorical Christmas tree is a book cover.

Yes, I just spent my entire day fiddling with the effing cover. A lot of this was the learning curve of not just Gimp but also how Gimp-created images do (or do not) play well with other programs. Next time I will know how to render these graphic elements a lot more quickly.

Anyway, I am quite proud of the cover I put together, especially considering just how do-it-myself it was:

  • I made the clothing seen in the picture, the jacket specifically for the purpose of Regency novel covers…from an original pattern based only loosely on Jean Hunniset’s costuming book for the period
  • I had to rearrange the furniture in my house to get a suitable set-up
  • I took the photo OF MYSELF with a delay on my digital camera
  • I spliced together three different photos to make a “scene’ (the couch and figure, the baseboard, the wallpaper) and rendered it into something closer to a painting than a digital photograph using a free program I’d never used before
  • I created the cover graphic (“a Regency novel”) and had to create a separate graphic for the title in order to achieve the text depth and orientation I wanted
  • I put the cover layout together myself using three different programs because none of them alone would quite do what I wanted (Powerpoint, MS Paint, and Gimp)

I am sad I am not hitting publish tonight but, y’all, I am bushed. And in the end the only person I’m letting down with my publication schedule for this book is myself. I can look myself in the eye and say “I did the best I could” without cringing and knowing the words for a lie. Maybe if I go to bed sooner than later I’ll be up for a little coding in the morning and submit this beast before work. If nothing else, after wrestling with Gimp for so long, a series of MS Word hoops are going to feel laughably easy.

In the meantime, I present you with the cover to my newest novel, A Christmastide Courtship.

courtship with title

 

Thursday morning postscript:

Reading back over my post from last night, I feel I should clarify my out-of-pocket expenses for this.

(1) $35 (approximately) for the jacket – 2 yards of fabric, thread, buttons. (Part of me doesn’t even want to count this since I know have a cute little jacket I can wear out and about!)

(2) $59 for the font, which is “Respective” by Mans Greback, from http://www.aringtypeface.com/ (which I plan to use as the cover font for all my historical novels, so the per-cover use will drop with every book I publish. Right now it’s about $20 because I’m about to re-make my covers for the Twelfth Night books).

That’s it. Everything else was just time. (Soooo much time, lol.)

Granted, I made a lot of use of items I had to hand for other reasons. If you don’t cosplay…if you don’t have a good digital camera…if you don’t have old-school furniture to pose with and a fabric stash to make wallpaper out of…then you might have a higher expense list. But for me, it was <$100 which is a pretty nice price tag. I can spend that on myself for Christmas since hubs & I don’t do gifts so much as time and food. 🙂

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Filed under Artwork, Publishing

If There’s a Right Way and a Wrong Way, Trust Me to Find the Hard Way

My Christmas present to myself this year is publishing my Christmas novel. The one I’ve had ready to go, textually speaking, since October. I haven’t sat down to make it into a proper ebook with all the bells and whistles before now because I both haven’t had all the elements ready and also haven’t had both time and mental energy to sink into that type of thought for long enough to get a book ready to go. Somehow, it seems the sort of project (to me, at least) that should be done in one fell swoop rather than in pieces, probably because I don’t know the whole process well enough to be sure I’m doing everything if I stop and come back to it later.

As the title of this post alludes to, I am also making this job extremely hard on myself. What can I say; I don’t do anything by half-measures. I could have put a plain and unadorned book with a plain cover out back in October. I chose not to, because I would rather have a professional quality book with hoops and adornments. I have been somewhat constrained by a lack of money here…many of the websites that offer graphic and visual elements require a licensing fee for commercial use that is not worth the minuscule effect they would have on the book as a whole, which left me at ask a friend or do it myself. Same with the cover art.

For…reasons…I find myself in the position of having to do it for myself if I want it done at all.

I spent an hour on Saturday cutting graphic elements out of black card stock and photographing them so that I could have my mistletoe (versus holly, which apparently 95% of graphic designers don’t know are different things) adornments. While I was at it, I made holly just in case, and a masquerade mask for my Twelfth Night novellas, which are about to get an upgrade to my new standard for ebooks. I hauled out my old calligraphy pens – both the marker-like pens and the old-school type that gets dipped in an inkpot – and spent an hour practicing forming letters before I made the “calling cards” for the new Twelfth Night covers. I played dress-up with my spencer jacket (finally finished it, will post on the end of construction later) and various skirts I have made for other costumes until I found a combination I liked, and took test shots with various gloves and without any at all. I stopped in at the plant nursery a few blocks from me and scored a huge stalk of mistletoe for free because they were 5 minutes past closing and the whole wheelbarrow full of it was already wilting.

Sunday I rearranged my living room to show only the oriental rug and chesterfield couch, with a sheet hung behind  it so I would have a blank backdrop, and spent about 3 hours taking photographs of myself in costume on the couch and then standing against the sheet. Let me tell you, figuring out how to balance a little hand-held digital camera on top of 5 books on top of a chair on top of your coffee table is not easy. I ended up having to pin the wrist-strap into the front of a writing journal as a bracer. But it worked. I got some really awesome shots, at least a couple of which could almost be slapped onto a cover as-is. When I see the thumbnails I have to do a double-take to be sure it’s not a picture of a book cover. Unfortunately, the wrinkled green sheet in the background just doesn’t look like wallpaper, so I have to manipulate the image (original plan was to have someone photograph me in an historic hotel with appropriate decor and then just run the picture through an oil painting filter in Photoshop…you know, an hour and an hour and done sort of thing; plans change).

Alas, poor Lily, for the rest of Sunday’s project time did not go so smoothly (“smoothly”) as the picture-taking. I don’t have Photoshop, and I don’t have access to it this week, so I am stuck using a freeware program. I chose Gimp because I have a friend who uses it (unfortunately, it’s a guy I work with so not someone I can just outsource fixing the cover to), and several places online claim that it’s actually more powerful than Photoshop…once you learn how to use it. That caveat needs to be 10 inches high and in red, because Gimp is NOT an MS-based program (I know Adobe is a different company but they mimic the “logic” of MS commands, which is probably part of why they have become/stayed ubiquitous as the go-to photo-manipulation program). I had to find a tutorial merely to open a picture in the program!, and I do not consider myself either stupid or ignorant of computers in general. I spent another 3 hours trying to change the background color and just figuring out a little of how Gimp works in hopes that I might be able to get a working knowledge of it. No such luck, on either count. I finally put my computer aside in abject frustration, resigned to the fact that I would be using tutorials specifically and only for the tasks I needed, and therefore there was no point until I had the pictures all taken (I still needed my “wallpaper” – fabric out of my sewing stash for the win!- and the Twelfth Night pictures, which I needed to take outdoors in daylight) and could just work on the actual cover instead of a practice picture. This was the point where I looked up and realized it was 9:30 and I hadn’t eaten anything since about 11 that morning, and, oh, yeah, I’m not just feeding myself right now.

Monday was a long day at work, and I came home too tired to do anything. Yesterday I got home around 3 and took my Twelfth Night pictures, had Christmas Eve cocktails with my husband, and went to bed early.  He’s back at work today, and I am blessedly off, and so today I embark on the following tasks:

  • take my fabric pictures
  • load all three sets of pictures to my husband’s computer (I don’t have our camera reader installed on mine) and transfer them to my own via Dropbox or email
  • crop out the ugly green curtain from around the couch and replace it with proper wallpaper
  • run the manipulated picture through a filter to make it look more like art than photography
  • add the title/attribution
  • make proper graphic elements out of the mistletoe, holly, and mask .jpegs
  • buy a license for the font I’ve settled on for all my historical romance title needs
  • create graphics for my title page and chapter headings with the font (bc otherwise I have to fool with embedding it in the file and…just no)
  • learn how to hyperlink inside an ebook
  • copy the novel into a new document with appropriate style sheets
  • add the front and back matter
  • add the chapter headings, first line treatments, and graphics section dividers (if I decide to use one instead of the traditional  * * *)
  • make my table of contents
  • do any other html code fiddling (such as defining the size of graphics if necessary, etc.)
  • convert into .mobi and .epub files
  • load to my distributors

I am not in a rush to do this by a certain time today. It’s the only project I have to do, and I doubt anything is showing up in an online store for a day or two after Christmas. Just a hunch, somehow, if any human element whatsoever is needed to make files live.

So there it is. As presents go, it’s kind of a doozy, even if it’s a helluva lot of work to get to the point of presenting it to myself with a nice little bow on top. 🙂

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Filed under Housekeeping, Publishing

Le Fin

I just typed the last five words of my first long-form novel.

20 months of writing, on and off.

245 single-spaced pages.

132,444 words on the roughest hewn draft I have ever produced.

1 subplot to remove from the first half of the draft.

1 plot point to re-envision.

5-10 scenes to rewrite based on the dropped plotline/new scene.

1 scene I intentionally skipped when drafting.

1 epilogue to write and then decide whether to use.

The novel is by no means FINISHED, but I am finished writing the thing.

Tell me, and, remember, this is for posterity, so, please, be honest: how do you feel?

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