Release Day: October 31, 2020
Check-out the blog next week for more about creation of the cover and in the upcoming weeks for excerpts and snippets!
Release Day: October 31, 2020
I used to have a hang-up(s) about yoga. I never thought I would be one of those people. In my head, people who did yoga filled out to a caricature of expensive cloths, expensive classes; naturally skinny people that go to yoga and then brunch. I never begrudged them the brunch--I will never begrudge anyone brunch, brunch is great. It’s probably easy to tell the hang-up were mostly my own insecurities in that yoga seemed like a black box. I wasn’t flexible. There were so many kinds, and I’m not a huge fan of group classes to start. It’s also fair the craze that swept the nature originally likes to call back to roots of a practice that is part of a Hindu religion. What I’ve found on the score shows mostly what we practice here in the U.S. is only loosely based on what is practiced in the religions--but, still a name is a name is a name.
All that to say, I didn’t get it. I didn’t want to get it. Then I hurt my knee and was worried about the high-impact running causes on the joints. The physical therapist had cleared me but I still was slowing working my way back up to doing any exercise besides walking. Then I went and watched the Chicago Marathon. Definitely, an endorphin rush, and I wasn’t even the one running. So I decided I’d get back into this running thing. Then the pandemic happened. Chicago, rightfully so, closed down the lakefront trails, the parks, people were encouraged to stay indoors. Then it rained. I needed to do something and I figured yoga would be a low impact way to trick myself into doing something and I could work my way up to other stuff. Whew, boy.
I started on youtube and found a playlist with thirty days of yoga (yogawithadrienne to give credit where credit is due). It took me two months of listening to my body and working my way through moves that were unfamiliar to me and yet also shapes I had done in other ways. Then I continued it. Another thirty days of daily yoga practice. Now yoga in some fashion, energetic, or stretching, 15 minutes and up is something I like to do every day, and with a few exceptions, I’ve met it. I think I’ve been able to stick with this practice, even with everything in my life and in the world, in that it continues in the soft vein and I’m also seeing results. Not just in ways I thought, liked increased flexibility, but also in less wrist and back pain. The amount of actual muscle tone is also a surprise. When this is all over, I’m still not sure I’m quite over my block about in-person class, but I think it’s skills and an activity that I want to continue.
Hope wherever you are that you have been able to find new ideas, practices, activities to help your well-being!
One of my first courses in earning my degree at library school brought up ethical conundrums a librarian may face. Having never really considered this before, I was surprised by the many different ways librarians are challenged. From the books, and other media, to possible restrictions on sites that may be accessed by computers, all are ways to either help or create barriers to community.
I recently thought back to those as I am fact-checking my current historical fiction. Needless to say my search history would not give anyone pause, but it was interesting to reflect that before the internet my searches--some already frustrating--may have been even more so. My searches have led me as far as afield as when tea, and what kinds, would have been available in Britain during the 1810s--which lead me down some rabbit holes and I now know more about the Opium Wars and how that interacts with the larger history of trade. I now know more about gin, champagne, and bourbon as well. Those led to more interesting results.
But what my searching has shown me, is there are a lot of really passionate people in this area. A lot of the culture, clothing, housing, has come from blogs in addition to other sources. A lot of digital archives of census records and museum archives has helped provide detail and depth in ways that surprised me. The internet has helped make a lot of passion projects reality. In thinking back to my librarian training days, I am reminded that the ability to access information is a privilege hard-won whether that information is on the popular form of decorating or on accurate maps.
My wonderful readers, I have updated my Coming Soon page here on the blog!
Mainly because the muse is the director, and I can only sort of quietly nudge her back into the lanes I thought were mapped out.
To that end, the third and fourth books in the Ravanna Series are drafted. The third, Bone Marrow, is more or less complete--yet I am struggling with moving it forward. When I wrote the story the plot went in a particular direction. Those books in general are written in an odd way, and it did so sort of wild. I am struggling what to do with it. Until, I get it planned out, there can be no third or fourth book. So they are planned. They will continue--just without any definitive time.
The second book in the New Devils has a title, and I really thought I would start writing that second book immediately. That’s what I did with the Ravanna Series--in fact I really wrote straight through books 1-3. That has not happened so for now there’s a title, I am excited for that universe--just not right now.
So the big news actually, is the next book is (tentatively because this year has been a mess) scheduled to release October 2020. I’m pretty confident where I’m at with it and hope to stick to my guns. That means watch this space for the cover reveal and teasers and count down! The book, Middle Ground, is a historical romance. I can’t wait to hear about what you think of Eveline and her story!
In general, I’ve been sticking to one book published every two years. A part of me would like to go faster, but then my brain tends to decide it doesn’t what to write, and also kind of would like to talk to other people. As always the book writing, editing, formatting, proofreading, cover designing, all happens around everything else.
More details soon!
The image is a quote from Rebecca Solnit’s book, “The Mother of All Questions,” which is a book of essays. I’ll admit, I haven’t read all the way through the collection (I’ve read her indomitable, “Men Explain Things to Me,” if that helps?).
But the quote, which literally is in the first essay, I immediately stopped and wrote down. Truthfully, I think you could swap “woman” in the quote to read for any label or identity. The heart of it remains, how do we ensure we are living our own meaningful lives? How do we go back not just rejecting the restrictive nature of a question, but no longer even debating the question itself? Have we actually sat down and thought about what meaningful means to us? There is a trajectory so many of us expect to be on when we’re young, and I often look around and go, what is that unsettled feeling?
The quote was excellent prompt for me to actually sit down and write out what I wanted from life. I had been wrestling with this for quite some time. I think anyone attempting to balance passion projects against full time careers, relationships, children, knows there can often be a reckoning. Without careful attention, bitterness can seep in.
So instead, I sat down to actually process (I know so healthy!) my emotions and go, what do I want? Not what the world tells me I should want.
Because there is the steady rhetoric that we should all want to work at what we are passionate about that we should all have extremely fulfilling careers where we enter that “flow.” We should want any of our “side hustles,” to also make us money where we can turn down the corporate ladder. We should want to make a living as a travel blogger. We should want to make our van into our home. We should also want to climb the ladder--to be the boss. All that and we should also have a beautifully decorated home--that we own--along with a partner (preferably married) that fulfills us and some kids. Also a dog. Possibly a pet fish.
The contradictory nature of what makes life meaningful is its own head spin. The fact that our thirties are set up by the decisions we make in our twenties even more frightening of a prospect.
Some of that may be true. But Solnit reminds us to look at the question--and to an extent the questioner and then refuse as needed.
So what do I need? (I fully admit that my Western bias is showing as I focus on the individual) What do I actually want out of life?
The answers to the list were actually illuminating to me and they helped steady me. I’ve wrestled at different times and in different ways that I may never make money from my books and therefore may never be able to commit to writing full-time. It’s also true that I am a bit of a risk-averse person when it comes to financial security. The day job checks a lot of boxes. The doctorate I am currently pursuing may not be in the field I thought I would be in, but I am learning, I am growing, and at the end it can’t hurt only help.
The list also showed me there are things I want, things I can work toward. Like continuing to explore working in print arts, like letterpress printing, like bookbinding. Maybe even paper-making or working on sewing or quilting.
Refusing the question is a process because the rhetoric is so often structurally built in. The first step is in acknowledging the question that tries to restrict you.
Last week was a bit of a heavy blog post. It’s fair to say it’s a topic I could stay focused on, but it’s also true this blog--written mainly for me, let’s be honest--helps catalog my creative output. It’s own privilege to be sure. But I think I’m walking a fine line these days with the mental well-being. Hope is its own dangerous tool, and I am trying my best to cultivate it. To be fair, we will probably go adrift to other topics, because no one lives in a vacuum and I feel that way certainly with art. All that to preface, the blog will still stay mainly a space focused on the writing and other projects. All that to say, I am trying to take my joys, my gratitude where I can, and attempt to acknowledge and work through the guilt my current privilege affords me.
My joy of the week, of the month, of the year was my first ever review! I got the notification and literally braced myself for a bad one--for someone who didn’t like my work, or rated it with only a star and no comments.
Instead, deep breath, a person actually out there in the world somewhere took time to a) read my book, and then b) actually write a thoughtful, positive review. I am still floating!!! Like they had a favorite line and everything!!!
For those who are even remotely curious, yes, seeing those reviews, heck just getting the reports that people actually download the books, yes, it makes my day. I know my work isn’t perfect, but sending it out into the world just fulfills me so much as a person and knowing other people are seeing it makes me want to run and hide but also scream for joy.
Any bright spots for you this week?
I’ve been quiet on the blog. I’ve been quiet in general.
If I was prone to melodrama, I might say our country has been barreling toward this moment of reckoning since the United States was founded on democracy for some but not all, equal rights for few, but not many was codified. I might say that, but in a way that also cheapens and lessens the many, many voices, and lives, that have spoken out and risen up to challenge at every step of the way as the systematic injustice and oppression were built into every foundation. In this maelstrom of injustice, people are losing their lives. People are fighting to be heard.
And here I am, in a rural part of the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began to surge. When I linger on my privilege, it is to ensure I am putting in the work on my own life. My own misconceptions. When I look to what I can do, I’ve focused on donations to organizations who have been fighting this fight for a long time. When I wrestle with how and where to speak, I do so wanting to ensure my voice is not becoming louder then BIPOC community.
Yet it is also true that staying silent on any platform available may be seen as complicit, as not actually making a stand, as waiting for it all to go back to “normal.” It is also true that this fight is not only for those of the BIPOC community. Injustice, discrimination, is a threat to us all. It impacts everyone.
To combat that this post now exists to stay firmly the views of this writer, which is black lives matter.
I will never understand, but I am trying to show up in the all the ways I can.
Back in June (almost a year ago now), I gave an update on my next project with an oblique reference to a historical romance I was crafting and wasn’t sure I would end up finishing. With the world we ended up in, and the amount of energy to focus on world-building versus stepping into one I had already crafted, I ended up turning my focus back to the historical romance story. I’m happy to report I finished my first rough (very rough) draft last week. My mom asked if this one had a happy ending. [Spoiler Alert] I can say this one does in a much more unequivocal fashion then my some of my other works.
The image I’ve included in the post is one I found on Pinterest originally and has been one of my inspiration or mood pieces for the characters. It evocates a lot of my characters and helped orient me back into the feel of the novel. Before posting the image, I did some further research and believe the image was taken by Michel Brodsky in 1959 of Romy Schneider and Alain Delon. Schneider and Delon were actors and partners for four years but had a relationship/friendship that apparently spanned decades.
In working on stories, I sometimes do stumble on images that ping in my braing connecting it to the story I’m working on. I try not to get too attached to other’s images though as I tend to get disappointed that I can’t use them for my cover art. For the past few works, I also have created playlists on Spotify to help with the plotting. I usually can’t listen to music when actually writing, but it can help on the walks I take to plan. By the end of last book, Don’t Belong to No City, my playlist had about 60 songs to it. The current WIP has abut 45 and may end up getting a few more songs added to it.
It’s true to say writing can channel emotions from disparate parts of my life and what is in the novel may not truly reflect my own state of mind or experiences. However, to fully enmesh in their lives can carry a weight with me that can occasionally catch me unawares. I turned back to the historical romance because I needed some softness in my life. I am about to undertake the editing process, and there is an ease in working through already created work too.
However you are processing this time, I hope you are giving yourself leave to shift focus to other projects, to new projects, to old worn-out stories you have passed the time with in happier moments.
Take Care, Lovelies!
My friend bought me a Rocketbook Everlast for Christmas and ended up not giving it to me until about a month ago. I loved the fun surprise of an unexpected gift. I also share that because a) all opinions here are my own; b) I had zero expectations of the product going in.
My friend did have quite a few expectations. She thought the notebook would record everything written, no extra steps needed! This notebook is not quite like that.
Rocketbook Everlast is designed with two functionalities in mind: Reusable Notebook; Scanning pages to live on in perpetuity.
The reusable notebook part works well. You have to use the special erasable pens. One comes with the notebook (yep, just one) and my friend also bought me markers. Rocketbook tells you to only use a special brand (Pilot Frixon) to work with the product. I haven’t felt a need to try any other erasable pens.
You write with the special pen on the special paper. To erase, you wet the microfiber cloth (just one) that came with the notebook to wipe down the pages and then dry. My beef with only getting one cloth is they also say very clearly to only wipe down and dry off the notebook with the included microfiber cloth. I tend to write quite a few pages before I want to stop and wipe off each page and then dry them. Wiping down the pages tends to bleed edges through the page so I don’t risk only wiping off some pages and leaving others. Not drying the pages also means I have ink remnants on the page. If I wipe down three or more pages at a time, I essentially have to use another cloth. So far I haven’t seen any negative effects of it and I may break down and buy a second cloth.
The actual reusable quality of the notebook works well with only those minor annoyances I’ve mentioned.
The pen itself is not my favorite to write with. Erasable pens have come along way, but the ink is still different and the amount of pressure you need is still different. If you’re particular like me, this may be anywhere from a minor to a major aggravation. I found the makers actually work better in terms of ink flow.
When it comes to the scanning though, you can only use the darker colors. The brand of pen and markers aren’t Rocketbook so take from this what you will in review of the product of a whole.
For me, I’ve noticed my handwriting tends to get sloppier the longer I write which depending on what you need the notes for could be a problem.
The scanning is where you may need to check your expectations of the product. Downloading the app is a quick and painless process. You then use the app to scan the pages. The app uses the QR code to and grid pages to orient to the camera lens. The app can’t tell if it just scanned a page for you, so you need to keep an eye on it once it’s processing. I started numbering my pages (it comes pre-numbered, but that doesn’t show up well to me on the scan) so that way I know where I’m at.
Once you’ve scanned you can upload the scanned pdf to another application. As part of the set-up for the app, Rocketbook will have your email and default to that. I also have Dropbox setup because that’s my usual go-to. It uploads as a pdf, or depending or where you’re sending it to you could send it in a different format.
Where you send it impacts the option you have. Rocketbook does not (currently) have it’s own converter for your notes to text. That limitation is what has driven how I use the notebook the most. Rocketbook integrates with apps that have that function to convert to text (think Google), so your quality is still the same. Plus I do arrows and things when I write that don’t come up well.
I will say the scanning of the pages and upload has gone off without issue. Definitely easier then trying to get similar quality from just your phone’s camera.
So with that, what do I actually use Rocketbook for? I use it take notes. I’m currently in school and the notebook is great for me to take notes on my reading and then upload them into Dropbox to have reference to. I used it for my creative writing once, but since it didn’t convert well to type-written, I still had to transcribe it and beyond that didn’t see a need to have pdfs of the pages so I’m sticking with the old-school notebook for that.
Now that I’m working from home, it’s taken place of my whiteboard at work. When I need to draw out schedules, timelines, process mapping, Rocketbook works well to write through and then send to my work email as my first draft.
If I ever traveled for work again, I could also see me bringing it along. Less rude then having a computer up to take notes, but I could get them up and in the shared folder again.
The transcription factor continues to hold back the usage of these sorts of notebooks, but the reusability factor and scanning both work well.
Overall, it’s become a useful addition to my processes.