I’m Back!

A long hiatus

I’ve taken a hiatus from writing, especially writing this blog, because I have truly been burned out. I’m hoping to get back into the habit before I find myself no longer in the space to write.

What’s been going on.

Not much has been going on — I’ve given and graded midterms, done casualty simulation (moulage) for a major disaster exercise, troweling fake blood on volunteers. I’ve been tired at night and cozy in the early mornings.

I’ve published Kringle in the Night as of a week ago, and I think you should be reading it. A bit of romance, a bit of suspense, and Santa Claus. What more can you ask for? You can find it here.

This is the cover, for anyone who has forgotten:

I should mention I designed the cover to this and to my previous novel, The Kringle Conspiracy, myself.

What to expect from this space in the future

You can expect pretty much the same meanderings as have always been — tomorrow I suspect I will be trying to evoke feelings about fall (available now in the Northern Hemisphere; waiting for six months in the Southern Hemisphere). And I will try to write every day.

See you soon!



(or, rather, mini-vacation)

It’s time to take my mini-vacation to The Elms!

I don’t care that this vacation, in effect, will be two days. I have been waiting for this little trip for over a year, holding it in my head as what I would do when it was safe to travel after COVID. It kept me going through the social isolation, the online/zoom classes, the inadvisability of eating in restaurants, and the like.

What I have planned

I have a few things planned — very few. I will get some writing/revising in because this is in part my writing retreat. I will get a massage and spend two hours in the Grotto soaking up hot tubs and steam showers and sitting in a lounge chair with an iced peppermint washcloth over my eyes. I will find time in a cofeehouse. I will try to talk my husband for a road trip on the way home to eat Sichuan food.

Happy cry

I’m about to happy cry, I’ve needed this so badly.

Hope is a Verb

I’m working on the principle of hope —

I’m putting together an author’s website (not really a blog like this one). It would be helpful if I get published, either traditionally or self-published. The way I see it is “if you build it, they will come”. This is my notion, anyhow. I won’t post the URL until the site is ready to go live, which will be if something happens on the publishing front.

In reality, right now is a holding pattern. I am waiting for more news on one novel I’ve queried, and I may even query another (the new improved version) before I decide to self publish. I just like to have something to do, to work toward. I like to feel like I’m creating my own destiny. I am creating hope, by preparing for a future where I am published.

Hope is what keeps me going when I am feeling down, as I am in this pandemic. And accomplishing things gives me hope.

Memorial Day

Sunday morning and — No, it’s Monday. Memorial Day, when we look back at all those who have died in military service. 

As a Friend (Quaker), I am a pacifist. We believe that violence, even violent words, is to be avoided. We call this the Peace Testimony, and that is one of the most vital creeds of a religion that has no dogma.

We hold nothing against our men and women in the military; we abhor the system that exploits them for battle. Quakers believe there are no just wars and that there are alternatives that need to be tried.  Wars are fought for geopolitical advantage these days, and in earlier days were fought for land and empire. They were not fought for ordinary folk, but ordinary folk stood as cannon fodder. 

This doesn’t mean the Friends don’t honor the soldiers who have died in war. We mourn them deeply, perhaps more so because we feel they didn’t have to die. 

So Memorial Day is a strange day for me, a reminder that thousands go to war and fewer return. And I would thank every soldier for following their convictions, yet hope they find a way clear from that path.

Hope and Coffee

Sunday morning, and there is not enough coffee to wake me up.

After the past couple days, some good friends on Facebook, and my decision to try self-publishing if I don’t succeed in the traditional route, I feel much better. I am researching self-publishing methods, concerns, etc., right now. 

I will have an author’s website (not chatty like this, but to promote writing, events, etc.). I should have one anyway, even if I’m traditionally published. 

So I will prepare for the possibility, and even if I get taken in on the traditional route, I will have prepared things that will be needed for that route.

This is what hope does to me. It comes to me in the midst of defeat and illuminates my path — but only for the next few steps. I never know where I’m going past two steps ahead.

But I still desperately need coffee.

Contemplating self-publishing

I have decided that I may self-publish if my efforts to publish traditionally don’t yield any results.

This is a big change, as those of you who have been following the blog would notice. I had been strenuously arguing that self-publishing doesn’t give one the strong incentive to improve and requires a lot of work from the author. I would still argue this, but I have been improving and submitting since 5 years ago, and this is a long time to be getting rejections (about 250 or so).

Then I found that an author I follow has been self-publishing for close on two years after her publisher and her agent dismissed her. This was an author who had three books traditionally published. 

It is obvious the industry no longer nurtures its writers. I think this was what I was looking for in a traditional path — some nurturing, because this is all new to me. Not that I would be a victim for fraud — I’m actually good at spotting that. It’s just that I wanted advice and encouragement, and now I know that’s not happening.

So what I’m going to do is let this query run through (I get rejections daily), and I’m going to research the possibility of self-publishing (platforms, where to get cover art, etc.). I might do one more set of queries 6 months from now while I’m working on a plan to brush up my media presence, etc. 

We shall see.

How are you doing?

I have readers all over the world, and I’m curious. How are you doing in this pandemic?

  • Are you isolating? 
  • Are you wearing a mask when you go out in public? 
  • Is your country doing well in fighting back the outbreak? 
  • Are you safe? 
  • Do you have your job? 
  • Are you hanging on? 
  • Are you fighting depression?
I’m doing okay. I’m fighting a bit of something because life lately has been depressing, what with isolation and all. I’m safe at home. I still have my job as a professor, where I have been doing my work online. Just hanging on.

Getting inside Josh

Because I can’t draw my character. Because I can’t post a male nude. Use your imagination here.

I’m still working on Gaia’s Hands, because I don’t have much else to do right now. 

I’m trying to get into Josh Beaumont’s (male lead) head so I can develop and write him more fully. This is a challenge for me, because I’m not 1) male, 2) twenty years old, and 3) a mystic. No, scratch 3); I’ve had some nonstandard experiences in my life. 

I want to be authentic with the character, especially with his sexuality, which is an important part of what is basically a romance novel at its heart. Josh is pretty normal in that category, except for the fact that the object of his affections is 25 years older. And he’s a virgin. As an older woman, I want to make sure this is realistic (other than the age thing, which happens sometimes) and not personal wish fulfillment.

This isn’t a total problem, because Josh is mature for his age (about 25 emotionally) and I think that comes from his being a mystic. Josh has visions that change the course of his life, and Jeanne has been the star of his visions lately. 

So I want to paint Josh as a gentle soul, but with drive. Someone who sublimates drive into poetry. Someone who’s going to finally ask for what he wants when he can’t hold it back anymore. 

He’s my project for today. Let’s see where I can go.

On the Verge of Querying Again.

I have minor corrections to do on Whose Hearts are Mountains today, and then I will query the last 30 agents. Wish me luck.

I don’t know what I’m going to do if these last 30 come up empty. Yes, I do. I’m going to query Prodigies (the improved version) in a few months, and start the cycle again. 

I feel like a glutton for punishment. But at this point, I have documents as good as I can make them, and I can’t not share them. 

Nothing more to say today, but: here’s a cat.

Me-Me, aka “Brussels Sprout”

Writing Gaia’s Hands from Scratch

I think I’m going to start Gaia’s Hands from scratch.

I’ve come to the point where I realize the bones of the book are not sound.The current version of one of the protagonists is not someone typical of men in romances: the 45-year-old cop. A former Navy Seal or Army Ranger. An uber-masculine rancher. A billionaire. In other words, the typical protector of a helpless female. Josh, on the other hand, is a surprise. His non-staid nature is in his writing and his visions. He’s a bit fey, perhaps, but without its twee underpinnings. Instead, he is brave in his emotions and his drive.  I need to be less scared in rendering Josh.

There is not enough buildup of the romance part. The book, I’m told, is a romance, given how two characters meet, discover each other, and fall in love. There’s not enough tension. There’s not a big blowout where they’re sure they’re never going to see each other again. 

I have not written this book the way it deserves to be written. Jeanne is accomplished, but lonely. Josh is young, but determined. There are all sorts of reasons why they shouldn’t be together, but they’re internalized reasons from dominant culture. 

And then there’s the fantasy part. That won’t take too much work — Jeanne’s talent of getting plants to grow + Josh’s attachment to the spirits of Shinto = surprise! In fact, if they develop Jeanne’s talent together, they grow closer. The romance needs to be attached to the accomplishments.

Now … OMG, I have to rewrite this novel. Josh and Jeanne scare me, especially Josh. He’s too close to my fantasies. Yes, I’m an older woman who’s attracted to younger men. And smaller men, too. It’s not like I’m not attracted to my husband, but whereas most women go “wow” when they see Jason Momoa, I say “wow” when I see someone built like a dancer or a lightweight wrestler. 

This fear is what kept me from writing this story this deserves.