Deep Space Omega #12

A quick note about my free fiction: this is raw draft with little editing. I don’t know where the story is going, or if it’ll even get completed on the blog. But it’s fun to do.

The clips from this story stay up for a limited time and then they will turn back into a pumpkin. Those available at the time I’m writing this are:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Let’s proceed, shall we?

Deep Space Omega (#12)

“Let’s get him out and to the med bay,” Jadz instructed, carefully letting the cutting torch slip to the floor.

They lifted off the top of the life pod and lowered it to the floor.

Continue reading

A Wise Friend

I recently signed up for a lifetime subscription on a course package offered by Dean Wesley Smith on Teachable. Sometimes I just need reminders on my writing and I love the way Dean phrases things. He’s blunt and honest. Don’t expect warm fuzzies. I like that. It’s an eye-to-eye level approach and I know it sends many people scattering from the room like spitting kittens. Let them go off and lick their wounds. Writing is fun. Publishing is hard. That’s the truth Dean speaks.

Now I’m certain that Dean considers me a new author, and from outward appearances, I certainly am. The truth is that I’ve spent a majority of my life trying to be published.

I remember very clearly a day right before I turned 13. It was Saturday in early spring. I ran out to get the mail and I saw a Writer’s Digest magazine. It had my mother’s name on it.

I was devastated!

I can still remember how shell-shocked and betrayed I felt as soon as I saw that magazine with my mother’s name on it. I was the one writing and telling stories, not her!

Let me step back for a moment here. I remember spending quite a bit of my childhood coloring and painting watercolors with my mother. I always thought I was doing well… until that moment when I saw what my mom had been doing. Her work was stunning. I didn’t even know crayons could look like that. I recall sitting out on the wooden back porch, I believe it was the old gray-painted one before we put in a wider one, and looking at some of the oil paintings she’d done when she was younger. I remember the oil smell of her paint box. To this day, whenever I smell oil paint, I am taken back to that moment when she showed me her colorful world.

And I was insanely jealous.

Now, I did know that being envious of my mother was a dumb thing and so I never said a word to her about how I felt. She had so much talent.

She pitched her box of oil paints into the burning barrel.

That’s where the art she did with me ended up too.

When my brother and I were cleaning out my dad’s house after his passing, we came across some of my mother’s paintings. Now that I’m older and I’ve studied art, I can see that these were definitely student study paintings, but I also see the talent she could have grown. If she had chosen to.

So here I was, pre-teen me, standing with a fabulous writing magazine in my hand. I felt like she was trying to overtake my thing (like how she always overshadowed my attempts at art as if I were already something fabulous – dumb!). I went in and asked her about the magazine.

She smiled. “Well, that was supposed to have been a birthday present for you. Happy birthday.”

It wasn’t for her; it was for me. I was excited. I went to my room and read the whole magazine from cover to cover, including the ads in the back. My writing world opened up. I discovered so many things.

Each month as the magazine appeared, I grew more selective about what I was reading in it. But I learned a lot about the publishing industry. I knew more about it than a lot of the adults that I was attending writers conferences with. I send out so many requests for guidelines with my self-addressed stamped envelopes (SASE’s as they were known and I explained to many newbie adult writers over the years) that I had quite a collection of nearly every traditional book and magazine publisher at the time. I discovered The Writers Market book put out every year and I owned several (I still do, through I did throw some out finally this summer). I attempted to get stories published — okay, how good could they have been from a 15 year-old writer, but I was seriously making an attempt. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I finally got an acceptance letter, followed by several more, “Close, but not quite. What else do you have?” letters.

I always wrote into the dark without an outline. I hated rewriting; it was a bloody waste of time. I cycled, much like Dean talks about, if I was writing a piece out by hand and then making a typed draft which I did on a lot of short stories. Of course, that was the whole story cycled, not just part of it. If you find errors in my blogs, it’s generally because I cycle while I write these too and I don’t proofread as closely as I could; I just caught an error above and cleaned it up, but I’m certain 3 more will slip by me.

Back to my childhood writing. Because of schooling and the things I was reading in Writer’s Digest, I also got a lot of bad training. If I was getting rejected, I would go back to a piece and see what I could “fix.” I fell into the belief that I needed critique partners to tell me what I was doing wrong. Now, I did get awfully lucky here. I managed to find a couple of great writers and we offered each other peer-level critiques. I feel as if we all grew as writers. However, I can also see the damage that we did to each other and our own child artists within us. That’s why I feel like I’m starting over now. Before, I was a raw, untempered metal, but now I have been forged with flaws that must be sharpened out of me.

Hence why I really needed to find some writing continuing education that spoke to me. I am so fortunate that I stumbled upon Dean’s masterclass (and thankful that he accepted me to “come on down”) for the two years I went, and why when WMG had a sale on the lifetime subscription to the large class package, I had to jump on it.

This has been a really long way of getting to where I had originally intended for this post, but I felt it was important that you had the background.

I am currently listening to the “classic” (meaning it’s an older one) workshop on how to edit your own work. I suspected I already knew what Dean was going to say; I’ve followed him for several years now. However, I learn something or am given a swift kick with every workshop I listen to. That’s why I bought the package and why I’m listening to it; I need this.

He started talking about perfection and how deadly it is. Now, I’m about as far from a perfectionist as I can be. I don’t believe in slacking. I do like to do quality work to the best of my ability. I never mean to make mistakes, but I realize they do happen. I can also release it when I do make a mistake. I don’t beat myself up about it anymore. I learn and move on. So, I like to think that I’m in a happy medium here on this scale.

Dean suggested his wife’s book, The Pursuit of Perfection: And How It Harms Writers by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I’ve seen and heard about the book before. I never thought much about it because, again, I’m not a perfectionist. Don’t need to read about it if I don’t have the problem, right?

Wrong.

As part of this workshop, they had a link to the book for free. Well, I had paid for the workshop, so I felt I should download the book. As it turns out, one of the assignments is to read the book and let Dean and Kris know what the workshop participant learned from it. Since I’m taking this workshop as a classic, we don’t turn in the assignments for their feedback. I still decided to take a look at the book, even though I certainly don’t have a problem with perfectionism.

Yes, I do know it is my ego which keeps me writing. My bullish ego doesn’t know when to quit. That I will admit.

So I started reading the book. It’s not a book so much about perfectionism, but about allowing and giving yourself permission to just do the best you can. I got a whole new perspective about critiques too (which is why I can say that I clearly see the good and the damage my peers and I did to each other).

I’m only halfway through the book, but I know what I would answer back to the assignment is I was to turn it in now. I’d say that I got a great reminder about returning the focus to my career.

I was 15 years old and studying Writer’s Digest ever month when I realized that it was impossible to make a living from putting out 1 book a year with a traditional publisher. I saw it back then. I saw back then that it was going to take 8-10 books per year to actually make a living as a writer. And, because I knew that they only put out 1 book per year by an author, that meant I was going to have to have 8-10 different pen names until one of the names gathered a following.

This was back in the 80’s that I realized this.

Now, if you’ve followed Dean as I’ve told all my writing friends to do, you see that having to follow the “write and release” method that they preach is not anything new. I realized it back then. At 15! And it took Kris’ book to really push it all back into place for me.

In the tarot, there is a hermit card with a solitary figure holding up a lantern. It is a shining of the light on the dark to illuminate what was hidden. Kris writes about focusing on the career, not the book. Dean talks about writing and having fun with the book, and then releasing, and he talks about building up 100-300 titles. Yet it was the way Kris put it about building a collection of titles (an oeuvre) that was that lantern in the dark. I knew that it was all there, but I needed it illuminated because I’m so down in the weeds focusing on a few books at a time that I forget to stick my head up and look back at all of the titles. Especially those I have written, released, and they sit out there making either no money or less than $1/year. Not that they are “bad books;” they just haven’t found their audience yet. Yet.

In going out to get the affiliate link from Amazon on her book, I dropped down to check out the reviews. I read reviews on other people’s books, never my own if I can help it. The review at the top when I looked read, “A little book that’s a wise friend to writers young and old.” Very well summed up. It doesn’t get more appropriate than that.

I’m excited to see what comes to light in the second half of the book. But even if it’s not as vivid as this first part, I have learned and grown as an indie publisher. I love this age of going directly to readers and not having to wait a year or more for a traditional publisher to get my book into their chain. I love having the control be all mine.

Someday I’ll have an oeuvre that gets discovered. No, not everything will be perfect, but hopefully readers will see that my work grew and got better. It was always the best that I could do at that moment. Is that what most of my art has always been? Learning as I go?

Thank goodness for my bullish ego which keeps me persisting.

Thank you Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch for your guidance and honesty with writers.

Thanks, Mom, for my subscription to Writer’s Digest.

Thank you world for a new day filled with amazing technology.

Thank you, readers, for allowing me your time. I hope I’ve entertained.

Deep Space Omega #11

A quick note about my free fiction: this is raw draft with little editing. I don’t know where the story is going, or if it’ll even get completed on the blog. But it’s fun to do.

The clips from this story stay up for a limited time and then they will turn back into a pumpkin. Those available at the time I’m writing this are:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Let’s proceed, shall we?

Deep Space Omega (#11)

by Dawn Blair

“We think one of the hits penetrated it enough to depressurize it. He was still conscious when we brought him onboard, pounding at the glass to get out,” the astronomer explained.

Jadz pulled the cutting torch from around her and fired it up. “Stand back. This is going to spark.”

She went along the sems of the life pod hoping that these lines would be where the metal was the weakest. Without protective goggles, she had to cut at a strange angle. Still, every now and then she had to stop put out sparks on her clothes. A couple of sparking cinders singed the skin of her forearms.

Continue reading

Breaking loose

I feel like I’ve been working on a lot of writing projects during late summer and early fall, but for a while it felt like nothing was actually getting done. I felt a bit stuck.

But lately, I’ve been like a mad woman possessed and things are finally starting to break loose.

I finished and published The Unicorn and the Secret. Then, this last week thanks to Thanksgiving (see what I did there? *grin*), I finished the 7th Loki novella. It even got a title! Help Wanted, Call Loki That means the story is real. I even have the idea for the cover.

It will be a little bit longer before you see that as it still needs to go to a first reader for copyediting. I think in my mind I originally had it slated for publication in April 2021, but now that might get moved up. We’ll see just what happens there.

Meanwhile, I’m still working through Walk the Path and Dragons of Wellsdeep, but I feel these projects are moving along now after several months of feeling stuck.

In case you’re curious, this is my current work in progress:

  • 15 novels
  • 2 novellas (this does include Help Wanted, Call Loki)
  • 4 short stories (though I have a ton waiting in the wings)
  • 7 children’s books (all written, I just need to get to illustrating)
  • 3 audiobooks slated after the one I’m currently recording

That’s a list of 31 projects. And my goal is to be finished with 10 of the 15 novels (or all 15 if I just decide to stick some nails in their coffins or just close my eyes and take a leap from the cliff on some of the older works) and all the short stories by the end of next year. I’m tired of looking at all these titles on my list! I’m ready for some new titles.

I’d love to get those children’s books out too. I’ve had them sitting for far too many years, but I need some equipment fixed before I can tackle those. Hopefully, I’m getting closer. It would be great to do at least one or two of them next year as well.

Well, I’m off to get back to those manuscripts.

Deep Space Omega #10

A quick note about my free fiction: this is raw draft with little editing. I don’t know where the story is going, or if it’ll even get completed on the blog. But it’s fun to do.

The clips from this story stay up for a limited time and then they will turn back into a pumpkin. Those available at the time I’m writing this are:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Let’s proceed, shall we?

Deep Space Omega (#10)

by Dawn Blair

“Tell them to get back to the station.” Jadz dropped down into a second chair by Mouse and picked up a headset. “Do you have any visual capabilities within the shuttlecraft?”

Mouse shook her head. “Shuttlecraft, Jadz advising returning to station. Station over.”

“… Trying… station. Situation… critical. Door…”

“There’s got to be some sort of handle. Do you see anything that looks like it can open the pod?” Jadz asked

Continue reading

The Unicorn and the Secret

One question I am often asked is how did Steigan get his unicorn.

I’ve always answered that it happened just like the story said it did: Steigan and Martias ran away to “join” the Palin Wars, Martias sprained his ankle, Steigan found Tyana, they got in trouble, they returned home in disgrace. From Steigan’s point of view, that’s exactly how it happened and all perfectly boring.

Okay, I feel that Steigan felt shame over the whole thing and didn’t want to talk about it. That’s exactly the kind of character that he is. Remember me having to go to Annae to get the other 40 cycles of his life that he won’t talk about?

Yeah.

I realized I’d have to approach another character to get this story. Of course, the only other character there other than the unicorn was Martias.

Well, here’s the thing: Martias wasn’t talking about this time either.

I slowly realized that Martias wasn’t talking about it out of shame like Steigan, but rather because he had something to hide.

While I was writing Prince of the Ruined Land, Martias and I got together quite often to have little heart-to-heart chats. In Quest for the Three Books, he always knew more than Steigan and when he caught on that Steigan was discovering the truth, Martias betrayed their friendship. Badly! By the time I got to Prince of the Ruined Land, I knew that Martias had to have spectacular reasons for doing what he was doing.

The problem with Martias is that he loves attention. He wanted me to know his secret. He wanted me to know that while he was grateful for Steigan’s friendship, he also held grudges against it. The way that Martias views Steigan… well, it’s different. Where Steigan wakes up to the revelation that Martias is not who he thinks his friend is, Martias always guarded his emotions to protect himself.

Finally, Martias dared to let me know that his life changed while he and Steigan were in the Palin Mountains. I knew that the only time they had been there together was when Steigan found Tyana, his unicorn.

Now, I share with you the secrets that Martias shared with me.

I realize this isn’t book 5 in the series as many people are waiting for, but I hope this helps to ease the wait somewhat. And, of course, it will give some insights into what is coming.

I hope you enjoy!

Happy reading.

Deep Space Omega #9

A quick note about my free fiction: this is raw draft with little editing. I don’t know where the story is going, or if it’ll even get completed on the blog. But it’s fun to do.

The clips from this story stay up for a limited time and then they will turn back into a pumpkin. Those available at the time I’m writing this are:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Let’s proceed, shall we?

Deep Space Omega (#9)

by Dawn Blair

She swung the telescope to search for the shuttle. Where was it?

From somewhere else on the station, Jadz heard Mouse scream.

“No, no, no, no, no. Find the shuttle. Find the shuttle,” Jadz chanted.

Continue reading

Finished a story

I finished a novella length story last night. Now I’m trying to figure out what the title should be. Usually somewhere in writing the story the title comes to me. Not this time.

Maybe I’m trying too hard because I know what I want to have in the title but I can’t make it work.

Of course, once I have the title then I can prepare the cover. And get it ready for publishing.

I really enjoy this world of indie publishing. I’m glad that I can write and release stores. As I’ve said before, my job isn’t done until someone reads my story.

This means that even though I’ve finished this story, it’s not done until it’s released. I’m only halfway there.

A defining year

There are defining moments in everyone’s life, events that shape them into the person they are.

I remember as we approached 2020 and everyone was so excited to be back in the “Roaring ’20’s,” I just couldn’t join that excitement. I just had a feeling, even back then.

Part of my problem as we moved toward the new year was that I didn’t want it to have another year which had just been a repeat of the last ten years of my life. I needed something different. I felt it, but I didn’t know what to do about it.

When shows started getting cancelled, I saw that I was going to have some “free time” on my hands. I also saw it as an opportunity to change my mindset. I signed up for several classes on that and practiced and studied just as I was told to do.

The problem is that if you don’t get your live out of the same swamp you’ve been living in, you can’t change your mindset. It will always get pulled back in.

The result was that I started to fall behind in the other areas of my life where I should have been excelling, especially with this “free time” I’d been given.

Two things have become abundantly clear.

  1. You have to know what you want and you have to be really clear about it. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to start second guessing yourself or think that you need something else when the real solution might be simpler and better for you. Realizing that I’d been trying to take a really hard route last year made me see how much time I’d spent going in a direction that I wasn’t even ready for. Realizing that I needed to do something different for the time being even if it’s not what I really want NOW will be more beneficial in a few more years.
  2. Once you’re clear about what you want, you have to put energy into that intention. Again, something easier to understand as a concept rather than a practice. We all what we want now, not an hour from now, let alone a year or even a decade from now. Sorry, life doesn’t work that way, especially if you’ve been working against it. It takes time to turn a ship or an airplane.

Know what you want and build toward it. Okay, that sums it all up.

Wishing, wanting, waiting doesn’t help. Energy has to go into that intention. If you want a garden and you have the land to do it (or initiative to build planters and give yourself a way to have a garden as a friend of mine living in an apartment did), you won’t have a garden if you don’t get out and put seeds or plant in the ground and then tend to them. You can’t just walk up to barren ground and shout, “Give me squash!” It won’t work.

If all the other ducks in the swamp are also squawking, “Give me squash,” then you’re all in trouble.

I’m honestly not sure where that last thought came from, but I do see it as a sign that my mindset is still cluttered, though maybe its a remnant of the cobwebs being swept out.

I know that most people right now are tired of the seclusion, angry even. Nothing seems to be going right. Sean Connery is dead. Alex Trebek is dead. Businesses are going under. Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask. Our world is never going to be the same. Doom is upon us. The end is nigh.

The mindset of the world is a mess right now.

But I don’t have to work on the world, only on me.

I’ve defined what I want in life (having even seen a strange correlation with my writing which I might discuss later) and seen what I need to move into place now so that I have things to expand upon later. I have been putting energy into new intentions, different goals that I’ve had in the past. I’m growing in ways I would have if the world hadn’t stopped because of COVID. Rather than whining about what a crappy year it’s been, I’m using 2020 as a time marker. We all mark time in our lives by events that happened (my mom died in 2011, my dad died in 2017 — I remember events near those years because of those two life occurrences). Now, 2020 will be a new marker and a clearing of the slate in some regards.

Never before have I been so ready to get out of the swamp. I’ve had enough of these demoralizing moments in the muck. My energy is going to a much higher and more challenging intention. If I fail, I will fail forward.

2020 will be a defining year. All because I decide to make it so.

How about you?

Deep Space Omega #8

A quick note about my free fiction: this is raw draft with little editing. I don’t know where the story is going, or if it’ll even get completed on the blog. But it’s fun to do.

The clips from this story stay up for a limited time and then they will turn back into a pumpkin. Those available at the time I’m writing this are:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Let’s proceed, shall we?

Deep Space Omega (#8)

by Dawn Blair

“It’s darker than I thought it would be,” Jadz said, returning to the telescope.

“It’s the sun filters. Lots of molten stars being formed out there. You wouldn’t want to hurt your vision by looking at one.”

Jadz turned the telescope toward a brighter section she saw a larger star came into view, illustrating Mouse’s point.

“If you want to look at something not so intense, you can pop the filter off,” Mouse advised.

The star’s light flashed off of something metal to the right of her view. She swung the telescope for a closer look.

“Are you sure there’s no one else out here?”

“Out here?”

Continue reading