Field of care

A ghost rose in front of me this morning and gave to me a “field of care.”

Yes, this is going to take a little explaining.

It’s apparent to most people who talk to me, follow my blog, or generally interact with me in one way or another that Loki writes the stories through me. I’ve said before that I’m not clever or funny enough to write his stories. I’m glad he chose me to be his author.

And I’ve often said that I trust the process of writing. Again, I’m just not clever enough nor do my plans ever work out as I make them, so there is no way I could have plots come together like they do. I’m always trying to get words down rather than make them up.

With all that out of the way, let me get to what happened yesterday at the convention.

I was talking to a lady about Diane Wynn Jones because she had a Calcifer shirt on. She told me she had ready the book, Howl’s Moving Castle. So we chatted for a bit. (PS come see me today at FanX Salt Lake)

This morning, I was wishing that I’d mentioned Enchanted Glass to her, another book by Jones which was published shortly before her death. It was probably one of the last books she saw. In Enchanted Glass, the main character inherits a “field of care” from his grandfather. Throughout the story he spends time walking around his field and overcoming obstacles. Only once he has full accepted his “field of care” does he come into his full power.

Here’s where the ghost comes in.

Continue reading

FanX Salt Lake 2018

I’m currently out at FanX Salt Lake. We’re still an hour away from the show’s official start with VIP’s entering.

I hope I’ll get out to walk around tomorrow, but for now I’m sitting at my booth trying to get myself psyched up for the day ahead. Yeah, I was ready for this a week ago (grin) and now I want to be out adventuring instead. Maybe that speaks to my vibe being off.

Oh, I’ll get there again. I always do. I’m ready to rock this. I have new titles on my table: 1-800-CallLoki (the Loki Adventures omnibus), Let’s Make A Deal, and Space Ninjas Aren’t Real. I guess Prince of the Ruined Land is new to this show too, so if you have the first 3, you better come get #4.

I forgot my hat. That makes me a little sad. I wonder where it went because it wasn’t with the rest of my show stuff. As I wrote that, I wonder if I had taken it home. I think I did because I’d been planning on re-packing my shirts in there as soon as I had the dry cleaned. After I did that, I went to plan be and forgot my hat. Yeah.

Outside, the crowd cheers. They are really getting worked up. I hope the attendees have a great time.

It’s time to show some fandom love.

Let’s get this game on!

Progress – August 20, 2018

img_6134
View while I’m walking of the college campus

While taking my lunchtime walks this week, I finished up listening to Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s audiobook, The Freelancer’s Survival Guide. It’s interesting to see how things have changed in the 5+ years since this book was written as posts on her blog, then published. While there were many good gems in this book (brilliant advise I wish I’d had ages ago and some that I will be delving into myself over the next few years), there was one thing that really struck me and I want to share.

Don’t make the words fancy. Translation into other languages translates the story, not the words.

These were my notes, so I’m certain I paraphrased for me to remember. So often, I know I try to strive for just the right sentence or word. All too often, I feel like I’m just using the same words over and over. Oh look, another THE. How about and AND. Yes, I’m oversimplifying here, but that’s how it feels some days. It’s if I’ve just taken every word I learned in first grade, probably when we were pasting words into the sentences on our sheets, thrown them into a bag and shook them, and now I take them out one by one and line them up all in a row just like I did then.

I remind myself that my purpose it to entertain with a good story, not fancy words. I don’t want to mire my readers in a deluge of words to get through. No slough for them to cut through. 

Continue reading

Progress – July 2, 2018

Greetings, fellow adventurers.

One of the things about traveling through time and space is never knowing what germs you might come up again. Generally, I found that the Wellness Formula by Source Naturals is wonderful for keeping me healthy (note: these are affiliate links). I swear by the stuff and never leave home without it.

However, in my latest travels, I came across the Bratlitski Sa Mucus Flu, or at least that’s what the physician at Bayllor told me. She recommended tripling my Wellness Formula (see, the stuff is even recommended on other worlds), doubling my intake of doTerra’s On Guard formula (yes, I do recommend doTerra’s essential oils — I’ve tried others, but doTerra’s is truly better than any of the ones I’ve tried — PS. I hate MLM’s, so for me to be a part of doTerra’s system says something about my belief in their oils. I can sell them, if someone wants to get them through me, but I’d rather be out playing in time and space, so I don’t get aggressive about selling doTerra. Besides, that’s not why we’re here today),  taking some Slippery Elm along with some of Source Naturals Throat Spray (that stuff is wicked but does seem to work well), and decreasing my activity until my body demanded that I just sleep. I still went and walked for over a mile that day, but come afternoon when I got home, I crashed. I slept, broke with bouts of trying to eat and drink some, though it did make me nauseous at one point, so I just went back to bed.

The next morning, I woke with a hoarse voice and my head is still terribly congested. Bratlitski Sa Mucus Flu is a lot like major head congestion. Not fun. It certainly put a dampener on audio work because I couldn’t hear what I needed to fix in my audio.

Fortunately for me, I’d gotten a lot of things done early in the week, so taking this time off didn’t hurt me so badly, unlike last weekend where I had to get all my words in during those two days.

I have been trying to get back to painting all week. Before I came down with the Bratlitski Sa Mucus Flu, I got my palette all set up, went and dug an easel out of storage, and even prepared a couple canvases. I’d like to have some more quick pieces done for my shows. I even watched some YouTube videos to help inspire me. This one guy I found talks about doing paintings in 10 minutes — haven’t I always said that you don’t need a whole lot of time to take baby steps toward your dreams? He is definite proof that once you have the skills for your creative craft, you can certainly increase your production. I think an 8″x10″ in ten minutes (sometimes a little longer) is fast painting. Someday I hope to get there. At least he’s inspired me to do it.

Now we fall into July which is going to be a busy month. I have two shows (Salt Lake Gaming Con (booth #58) and Boise Wizard World), bike rides, company coming, other obligations, plus my usual travels through time and space. I am so excited, even though I know it’s going to be busy. The next busy month will be September. Guess if I was going to get the Bratlitski Sa Mucus Flu, now is a good time.

Well, it’s time for me to go take a round of my medicines and rest some more. I want to recover fast. Much left to be done before the quickly approaching Salt Lake Gaming Con.

Take care, fellow adventurers, and never leave home without your Wellness Formula.

Fiction words written last week: 4,357 words.

Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written:  1,697 words

Weekly word goal reached for 5 weeks.

Writing month to date total:  27,348 words for June, 621 words for July.

Writing year to date total: 170,330 words – halfway done with the year and over halfway towards my goal.

Drawing/painting last week: I set up my palette and did some sketching, but that’s all

Audio: I spent 3.5 hours editing audio.

Progress – May 21, 2018

Oh, shiny!

That describes this week. At least partially.

I started off pretty good. Then I read a blog and it’s accompanying comments that irritated me. It was a writer’s blog by someone I respect, and even though my name wasn’t mentioned I felt as if this writer was taking a shot right at me and some of the things I’ve been saying on my blog lately. I felt as if I was being told that I was completely wrong, I’d never make it as a professional writer, and I might as well give up and quit wasting my time.

I really wanted to fire back with venom, but I listened to the wise little voice inside me which said not to, that I shouldn’t take on this battle, especially since who knows what inspired that writer to start taking fire. Did I really want to play Whack-A-Mole? No, best not to pop up my head.

Let’s face it: I’m probably not even a blip on this writer’s radar. Why take it so personally?

But my irritation stayed with me all day. Later that evening, still unable to shake it, I sat down with one of my oracle card decks and asked why I needed to have that experience.

I got two cards. The first said to remember that Love was the best teacher. The second said to view the situation with Love and see what it was trying to teach. So I did just that. I asked myself why I had to get angry over the lesson being spoken in this blog. Why was it hard for me to accept? Did I view it as true but I couldn’t admit it to myself?

I got an interesting answer.

Continue reading

Expanded creativity

I haven’t shown any of my paintings for a while. Mostly because I haven’t painted in a couple months.

However, recently I had a friend purchase some of my artwork and I’m fortunate enough to see how she used her own creativity to expand upon what I had done.

Sally had this extra frame she’d purchase, but she hadn’t known just quite what to do with it until she saw one of my blogs on my artwork. She asked me to show her what paintings I had for sale. Happily, I brought in my box for her to dig through.

She picked two which really spoke to her (as is a great way to pick art — gee, imagine that: you buy art that you want to look at. Simple. *grin*).

Here’s how she put it all together:

img_5694

“I like hidden things,” Sally told me. “I like things that make you think.” She said that my paintings reminded her of The Secret Garden and that she wanted to know what was behind the doorway. In her mind, it goes to a place hidden away where the swing is.

img_5695

Listening to her talk about it reminds me why I like to paint: I get to create my secret place, my hide-away. Writing gives me a place where I can have people dealing with strife. But painting is where I am completely alone in my own little mental exploration. I’m never alone on my writing adventures, but I am when I’m painting.

img_5696

It’s great to see something that I created be part of a larger piece of someone else’s creativity like this.

Thank you, Sally, for letting me share!

Progress – May 7, 2018

Can I just chalk last week up under the category of “Strange & Bizarre” and move on?

Yeah, let’s do that.

But because of events of last week, I haven’t quite been feeling myself. I’m okay, but at the same time, something is off. It’s like an annoying slightly pulled muscle, the kind where you twisted your ankle or something and it hurts just mildly enough to let you know it’s sore.

Yeah, it’s weird.

And, it sent me into designing covers mode. You saw the cover for Tangled Magic. After I finished that cover, I went back to the cover design for the 6th Loki novella. I hope to have that finalized this week. I also have design ideas for Dragons of Wellsdeep and Walk the Path (what I am going to call the 2nd Onesong book — more on that in a moment). So here I am with stories I’m working on and covers already in process. I have to admit that it feels a little strange and bizarre — in my new processes of being more prepared for the publishing side of the work, it just feels weird to have titles and covers so early, before the manuscripts are even completed. That’s just unnatural for me. I’m glad to see it, but there’s still the part of me that’s screaming, “BUT WHAT IF YOU CHANGE SOMETHING?” I hate it when the critical voice shouts at me, especially in all caps.

As most of you know, I started Onesong as part of Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month held in November). I finished the 50,000 words and had almost a complete novel. Afterwards, I realized that I really had two novels that I’d been writing at the same time – an interesting feat that probably is also under the category of “Strange & Bizarre. Half the novel was Rivic’s story, which I had titled Onesong. The other half was part of a novel I’d actually been writing nearly 25 years ago now. I only have a portion of that manuscript — most of it has been lost to time, mail, bad events, floppy drives, who knows. I still have the general plot in my head and I was trying to recreate it without having to suffer the agony of rewriting a book I should still have — yes, I do have another one of those stories (a complete manuscript called Enchantment’s Flame of which I have only the first three chapters of and which probably suffered the same fate as the one previously mentioned. I’ve tried to rewrite this manuscript based on what I have and new parts I want to add and it’s frustrating. I have cried over the loss of this manuscript.) So, yes, I was subconsciously rewriting a new story which would take over my heart and allow me to release the old draft like a dying phoenix to let the new rise from the ash. Honestly, when I realized my Nanowrimo manuscript was really two, that previous metaphor is exactly how it felt. Oh, it was painful making the split because the stories were like conjoined twins who shared organs.

I haven’t even gone back to the section that I’ve split off yet because I don’t know how much patching I will have to do. But if I’ve learned anything this last year, it’s that I can sew Frankenstein’s monster back together and make it live.

I’m really not sure how I like the idea of conjoined twins being compared to Frankenstein’s monster in regards to my manuscripts, but it feels appropriate.

After a discussion about what the title of the first book for Onesong should be, and agreeing that it had to be Tangled Magic, I soon realized that of course it had to be called Tangled Magic because it’s twin book was already called, Wild Magic. Yes, that’s the title of the story I’d started writing 25 years ago. And, I have this feeling that once I sit down to write it, the manuscript will be of similar length and needing divided into two books. I don’t know what the series title will be, but I’m certain that the second book in that series will be Blaze the Path.

Onesong               Unknown series title

Books #1:   Tangled Magic                 Wild Magic

Books #2:    Walk the Path                Blaze the Path

I know the missing information will fill in.

I suspect, even though I haven’t started designing them yet, that Wild Magic and Blaze the Path will also have similar covers to the Onesong stories. Oh, and before you ask, yes, Wild Magic and Blaze the Path take place on the same world as the Sacred Knight and Onesong stories. The Wild Magic story is about a set of Plenelian twins. (And now you begin to see why I say that the analogy of conjoined twins is appropriate – grin.) And, if you’ve been following Sacred Knight and understand who the Plenelians are and what the deal is with twins, then you begin to see the inherent conflicts in this story. Oh yes, this is going to be fun.

What I don’t yet know is if Wild Magic is before Onesong or after it. I know my brain has been working on it because over the weekend it was spitting ideas like slinging mud at a barn wall to see what sticks.

See, the main issue I have with placing Wild Magic is that I know I have to allow room for Elliot’s story. (You ready for this tangle? Strap on your seat belts and make sure your tray tables are in the upright and locked position because this is going to get messy otherwise.) You see, Elliot’s story is actually the aforementioned story called Enchantment’s Flame. I have the general plot, again, stuck in my head. Both Wild Magic and Enchantment’s Flame started off as fantasy romance stories. Both had major plot issues. Both had publishers request them from my synopsis and sample chapters and both were rejected. Enchantment’s Flame was written first. Wild Magic I was just finishing as the idea for Quest for the Three Books came to me (and yes, that also use to be a fantasy romance, and Keteria was the heroine in the original drafts). At the time, none of them had any relations in their stories.

But then I realized I was working with three timelines in the Sacred Knight series and it all exploded. Suddenly, I knew that the castle that was in Wild Magic was actually in Dubinshire. I also knew that the continent where Enchantment’s Flame took place was on the same world as Sacred Knight. When Ithanes mentions (I believe) in To Birth a Destiny about his father taking him to the northern continent, that’s the setting for Enchantment’s Flame, which I’m now calling Elliot’s story.

So, I’m essentially rewriting my own books, taking them out of fantasy romance to be this colossal, epic, sword and sorcery fantasy which is bigger than me most of the time. In those moments of overwhelm, all I can do is stand back, breathe, and remember to take one step at a time.

Yet its frustrating because I can’t just fix up two of these stories that I’ve already written.

But after a week of doing whatever I can to avoid working on Let’s Make a Deal (a story about an ice nymph that I wrote about 20 years ago), I can say that it’s not always easy to rework a story you wrote so long ago. If I was smart, I’d write a blog about that someday soon.

This has been an exceedingly long post, so let’s get to the numbers, shall we?

Fiction words written last week: 3,561 words

Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written:  2,785 words

Score a big #4 for my weekly word count streak.

Writing month to date total:  22,718 total words for April, 5,756 words for May

Writing year to date total: 124,251 words

Drawing/painting last week: Zip, zero, zilch – I so need to get back to painting though.

Audio: I spent 3 hours editing audio.

Struggle to write or write to struggle

To those who are readers and not writers, please stay with me. I am mostly addressing writers in this blog post, but I hope it gives you a little insight, plus I have thoughts you might enjoy at the end.

While I was on Facebook within the last week or so, an ad for a writers’ conference came up. The following quote led the ad:

“I do not so much write a book as sit up with it, as a dying friend. I hold its hand and hope it will get better.” — Annie Dillard

I literally stopped and sat there staring at it, dumbfounded. Seriously, people felt this way?

I went to look at the comments and so many people agreed with the quote. I really wanted to blast back with my own comment, but I refrained. (Especially since the little voice in my head said, “Don’t you have a blog for that?”)

I have struggled with books, yes. I have even struggled to write when I was at a strange season of my life (hormones?). I have ripped them to shreds and pieced them back together again hoping that no one would realize that I had created Frankenstein’s monster. But I have never had a book lie there dying while I am praying for it to live.

That, to me, is writing to struggle.

That kind of sentiment says, “Flail me now because I’m not worthy. I must be tortured and tormented. I am ‘an artist’ and I must suffer for my art.”

Here me loud and clear on this: that is a myth and if you are following it, get off the path now and go find something you enjoy!

Seriously.

Life is too short to torment yourself. You are meant to thrive, not survive in a bog. If you aren’t having fun writing, if you aren’t giving it your heart and soul while screaming with your hands in the air, then neither are your readers.

Now, I realize that Dillard is a literary author, but my point remains the same.

Struggling to write might mean forcing yourself to put your butt in the chair and do the work. It might mean getting through tasks so that you can sit down. For me, a lot of times, it means waiting not-so-patiently for that next moment when I get to write. I will snatch every spare moment I can. I’ve been known to write while standing in the line at the grocery store because I need to write NOW.

But writing to struggle is a whole other thing. Put your hand to your forehead and sigh. Oh, you are such a martyr. A victim. Fall to vices like drugs and alcohol because that’s what writers do, yes? I write, therefore I starve. Come, gentle reader, I will hold your hand while hoping you will recover. Aren’t we pathetic? Sob, sob. Choke, choke.

Yeah, please, lie down on the path now and let me step over you.

No, I don’t carry such ‘romantic’ ideals about writing. My vice is coffee because I like it and I like to have a cup (hot or cold) beside me while I write — it’s just a brain thing. I don’t write to be cherished forever and ever. I don’t want people having snooty discussions about the ‘meanings’ of my books (not to say that I haven’t already heard some quite inventive ones, and some of them might have been intentional). I write to tell a good story. I write to entertain, I write to give someone an escape and an adventure.

If you want to write, the choice is ultimately yours, but do know your reason for writing. Do you choose to be the drama queen who gets little done because you’re too busy letting your story be a victim to your tragic accident  of deciding to write a book? Or do you want to go from ride to ride, getting new and different thrills each time?

Readers: now I’m going to address you as I promised. Let me ask you which you think is better. Now, I do believe literary fiction can be quite fun, so I’m not going to nit-pick at literary fiction, which is usually the one that gets hauled out as an example of dramatic writing where writers are known to struggle. But, I think you know even in a genre (that’s your categories like romance, sci-fi, fantasy, western, etc.) fiction when a writer’s heart isn’t in the story they are telling. We’ve all seen flat stories. I bet you can name several. That is the novel as a dying friend where there is no hope.

Don’t you want hope?

Don’t you want people to enjoy reading the story with you?

Don’t you want to root for the characters?

I do. I also want more people to read and I think that one of the reason that people don’t like to read is because they think every book is this snooty piece with lots of ‘meaning’ to it that it takes an English teacher to decipher for them.

I, for one, want people to pick up one of my books, have a great ride, and decide they want to reach for another adventure (whether it is mine or another writer’s). It’s the story that counts. It’s always the story.

Notice in the quote that Dillard says book. Not story. That too may be a critical difference. She knows she is writing a book and I focus on telling a story (then I rip the book to shreds and put it back together – grin).

So, am I going to the writers’ conference? Heck, no! If that’s their ad, then I am better off staying home and writing my next story. The attendees at that conference can sit around and wonder why they aren’t writing. Meanwhile, I’ll be doing it.

Progress – March 12, 2018

I lost my word count writing streak on Wednesday. I was so depressed that I really wanted to quit. I had no energy left. I went to bed. After spending all afternoon holding back the tears, I really wanted to cry myself to sleep. Of course, then the tears wouldn’t come.

It’s truly devastating to be told that the last 13 years of your life have been hijacked by a company who won’t play nice because you’re going to take your business away from them. I’ve spend less than $100/year with them between all my domains. Certainly this small amount can’t be worth that much to them. They can’t possibly be making that much after paying the domain Registrar for the renewal. Really? You’re going to be a baby over a few dollars at most?

But I have learned a very important lesson — never let someone have full control over the name on your domain (the Whois listing), and never let them be able to lock your account without you being able to unlock it. Yes, I will be doing things differently in the future. I’ve learned my lessons. No matter what happens, I will take those lessons with me. And, if that little piece of advice above helps someone else, great. If you own a domain and you have no idea what I’m talking about there, go dig around in your site and learn. Purchase a domain from someone else just to see what features they give you or don’t. Teach yourself, learn, observe, Google questions that arise. Don’t let all your domains be held by one company. Read the Terms of Service.

Yes, I am working on a backup plan. If I’m going to have to rebuild, I rebuild. It means that all writing is probably coming to a near-complete stop and that really is bad (in fact, if you’re a reader who really needs me to put out more, this really ought to upset you). I have to focus on Prince of the Ruined Land. That is quickly becoming priority one. Then, I have to rebuild the interior links all of my books as well as on the covers – print and ebooks. I have to redirect websites. I have to go into a ton of websites and update email addresses. On the bright side, this is probably a good time to set up the imprint lines I began considering at the end of last year — I considered this for the different age levels of my books. Since I’m getting so many, I don’t always remember what age they are appropriate for when I’m under pressure at a show and have a million questions coming at me at once. There’s also my newsletter to update. New banners. Business cards Updates to all of my websites — new directs for them (books, comics, art).

Do you see now why I was so depressed?

13 years.

Continue reading