stephaniecain: an ink pot and pen nibs with the word "writing" (writing)
2013-09-21 09:33 pm

What I did on my summer vacation

AKA Adventures in self-publishing...


So a few weeks ago I wrote, edited, formatted, created cover art for, and published an e-book. Wednesday at 8:03 p.m. I posted that my social media and email were going dark, because I had an 8-hour challenge to complete. Sometime in the next hour I started a timer for eight hours and bought a stock photo that I just knew would fit the cover, because I loved it.

That's the cover art I ended up using, because I'd bought it and I ran out of time at the end. If I'd had another 8 hours to search stock photography sites, I might have done the cover a little differently.

Anyway. I've been working on an epic fantasy novel this summer, tentatively titled The Weather War. I know those characters, and I know several of them are good friends. I've even related a couple of "remember when" type stories in the first draft of TWW. But a couple of my favorite characters in TWW aren't getting as much screen time as I would like. Enter the 8-Hour Ebook Challenge.

Two days ago, my friend Laura sent me a link to the blog post where Joe Konrath issues the 8-Hour Ebook Challenge. I didn't have any idea what to do with it, but the notion sat in the back of my mind for a while, and I got an inkling of a plot idea.

I spent the bulk of those 8 hours writing. I drank a bottle of wine during those 8 hours (Sleepy Creek Vineyards' Three Amigos, for the curious) and listened to a heck of a lot of whalesong. Because magic whales.

Sometime around 2:30 am, I realized I really needed to wrap up the story and figure out how to format an ebook. Jane Friedman's Writing Advice Archive came in handy there. I used styles in Microsoft Word to create a filtered HTML file that I imported into Calibre. I used Photoshop Elements to create a cover, and then I spent some time figuring out Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

Not a lot of time.

Amazon KDP actually makes it really incredibly easy for the author to upload her work. So sometime between 4 and 5 am, I finished formatting and uploading the file. I stumbled off to bed and slept for the next nine hours.

 photo StormsingerThumbnail.jpg

When I woke up...I was a self-published author who'd already made one sale. (Okay, so it was to a friend, that still totally counts!)

"Stormsinger" is available on Kindle. Regular price is $0.99, so it shouldn't break the bank. It's 8,400 words, and it gives you a little glimpse into the kingdom of Amethir, where I anticipate hanging out for many years to come.

Stormsinger

Captain Arama Dzornaea thought she was just supposed to transport Crown Prince Vistaren Doth'Mara to meet his contracted bride. As the king's top privateer, she thinks she can handle anything. What Arama doesn't anticipate is storms out of season, an unruly stormwitch, and a strange witchery echo that puts Arama, her ship the Dawn Star, and everyone aboard smack in the middle of a mystery.
stephaniecain: writers write. everyone else makes excuses. (no excuses)
2013-01-06 04:39 pm
Entry tags:

Tired of winter

Really tired of it. Someday I want to live in a place where winter happens every few years. *G* The geography and climate of San Diego appeals to me, though it has far too many people. Maybe the desert. I could live in the desert.

I need to finish my novel. I also need to find a second job. I wonder if any of the gyms in town are hiring. That would give me access to a gym, which I also would really love to have. My arms are flabby, and it's starting to really bug me. LOL

Finished my first book of 2013. Patricia Wrede's The Far West, which I absolutely loved. Spoilers here )
Now I am going to sit and write. I really am. I mean it. >.>
stephaniecain: a young man's face with the name Justin in block letters (justin)
2012-11-22 11:06 pm

Backstory complete

I completed my backstory on Saturday, and on Sunday heard back with approval from my beta-reader. The story answered her questions, so now I have the opportunity to weave the backstory into my novel in several tiny snippets. I finished up somewhere between 21,000 and 22,000 words, which is a lot of writing to never see publication. But at the same time, it's invaluable to me, since it taught me so much about the characters and where each of them is coming from.

Of course, I'm not thinking about just ignoring those words. I'm considering the Writers of the Future contest, if I can tighten up the story enough to fit the word count. I think it's possible, because I always write really long on my first drafts of anything. That's probably a blessing, since I think it's easier to cut words than the alternative.

In the meantime, I'm back to work on the actual novel, have sent chapter 11 to one of my beta-readers, and am excited about moving forward again. I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!
stephaniecain: a picture of a smirking woman with short red hair (Default)
2012-10-24 11:41 pm

I will be so glad to see November 7

Wow, hi LJ! *dusts off blog* How is everyone doing? I have been focused so much on work and novel and SWC blog that I have been almost entirely absent here.

I love my job. Every single day I go to work and feel like I have made a difference to my coworkers and employer, and that I have given an excellent experience to our visitors. I don't think there's any way I wouldn't like a job where the mission statement was to "celebrate and renew belief in the power of the individual spirit to affect American history and culture." And one of these days, I'll even finish reading Ben-Hur.

About three weeks ago I swore off Facebook until the election was over. Too much vitriol from either side of the aisle, and frankly I was tired of losing respect for people I had always liked. Tonight I took a cool quiz at www.isidewith.com and, to no great surprise, learned that I side 76% with Barack Obama. (What surprised me more was that I actually agreed with Mitt Romney about...well, um, anything.) The website had sharing links, so I took a deep breath, bit the bullet and outed myself on Facebook as someone who's voting Democrat this year.

Of course, now I'm too cowardly to go read my friends feed, with its three lonely liberals. Ah, the loneliness of being a moderate. You may get to poke fun at both ends of the political spectrum, but you also have twice the number of people pissed off at you. *G*

Because of a request one of my beta-readers made, I've been spending my writing time this week working on an episode in the backstory of five characters. It's not something that will appear in the novel, except as each of those five people remember it from their various POVs. But the more I work on it, the more I love it, and I'm gaining all sorts of new understanding of these characters I've been living with for...um...over 22 years now. Well, most of them. Poor Ranulf, he didn't show up until draft 3, I think. *G* Anyway, it's fun.

I'm not doing NaNoWriMo this year. I made a miserable attempt at Camp NaNo this summer, which consisted of me signing up for it and promptly refusing to write for nearly two weeks straight. That led to some consideration of my novel-writing process, and I decided that, while NaNoWriMo is awesomely fun, I have learned all that it has to teach me at the present, and I really want to concentrate on finishing my current novel revision. So I'm setting NaNo aside for 2012. I may go back to it in future years, but not this year. NaNo taught me how to plot a novel, and NaNo gave me characters like Zeva and Edmund and Fithian, and I will forever be grateful that I discovered NaNoWriMo. But this year, it isn't in the cards.

In other news, still looking for a second part-time job. Retail and waitressing are out, unfortunately, because as much as I love my job, it requires a lot of energy for someone who is an introvert. I think adding a second job that requires too much interaction with the general public would make me a wreck. And in the meantime, I'm squeaking by financially. I had to borrow $10 from my dad until payday on Friday, but since that $10 is going to keep his and mom's cell phones working along with my own, I think that's okay. And one of these days I'll get around to selling my Gaiam balance ball chair and that Boonton ware I inherited from Gedna and have no use for.

A while ago Eowyn brought me a present, in the form of a not-quite-dead mouse. I'm not afraid of mice, but I don't particularly want them in my bed, so I carried her back downstairs (mouse firmly in her jaws) and put her in a large box. She proceeded to kill the mouse and jump out of the box, leaving the mouse behind to feed me, I guess. I think she's getting the hang of this hunting thing. :)
stephaniecain: a picture of a smirking woman with short red hair (Default)
2012-08-15 02:08 pm
Entry tags:

Random things

I have changed my LJ layout. I'd love to apply that to DW as well, but I can't be arsed to work out if it's possible. :P ETA: Not only is it possible, it isn't as difficult as I'd feared. And actually I decided the layout I made for Innerslytherin was more appropriate for my writing LJ, so that's where I put it. This layout is by [profile] scholarslayouts.

So far it has rained more in August in Indiana than it did in May, June, and July all put together. This is nice for our yard and garden, but I fear it's too late for the corn crops. Soybeans might yet be all right. The resurgence of my allergies has proven that there is, in fact, a connection between how much rain we have and how allergic I am. This reinforces my goal to move to the desert at some point in my life.

I have written a whopping 1583 words in August. >.<

I would really love to put some of my old writing together in a document to sell for a couple bucks on Smashwords. The dilemma is that I don't want to self-publish the things for which I would like to pursue traditional publishing. So I want to self-publish old old writing. So the writing is quite possible (probably) sub-par. But I don't want to take the time (away from my fantasy novel rewrite) necessary to even read it and decide if it's shite. Anyone feel like doing that for me? LOL

My sciatica is acting up again. I'm taking Advil intermittently for it, and I've explored yoga, but I honestly don't have the patience/discipline/whatever to make myself do the yoga every day, so I have yet to see benefits for that. But at the moment my right leg is tingly and my right butt cheek hurts like a bitch, which means I've been sitting at the computer too long and need to do some stretching. I'll walk out to the mailbox as soon as I hit post.

This is Mom's first day back at work. I intended to use the empty house to my advantage, but instead I am sitting here not being productive. Argh.

I got a Starbucks card yesterday. Damn those green coffee lime refreshers!
stephaniecain: a picture of a smirking woman with short red hair (Default)
2012-08-13 11:36 pm

Things going on

So I love my job. Seriously love it. I GET to go to work every Friday and Saturday, and it is awesome. The more I learn about Lew Wallace, the more I adore the man. And it's so much fun to share that love with people who come to the Study.

I am, however, not making a lot of money. As in, hardly any. So I am still hoping that another historic location in town will get in touch with me regarding some part time work.

In have changed my mind about Camp NaNoWriMo and dropped out. As soon as I signed up, I think I got this mental block. As soon as I deleted my profile, I got unblocked. I think I may have come to the end of NaNo's usefulness to me. It's fun, but honestly, I have to find the motivation to write within myself, and I have been, and I no longer seem to need the camaraderie of NaNo to keep my word count up.

Except that I have backslid a great deal this month. Of course, Mom goes back to school this Wednesday, so I am trying to enjoy all the hanging out time and all the accomplishing projects time that we have left. Today we hiked a little over four miles at our local state park. It was awesome.

We saw a yellow-billed cuckoo today. First one we've seen there in years. We saw a cuckoo in Trinidad (a squirrel cuckoo, I think), but it's neat to see the local one. :) Our cuckoos don't really say "cuckoo" though. There's a little "coo coo coo" noise, but the awesome one is the "c-c-c-c-couwl couwl!" It's a fun bird to listen to.

Eowyn has caught five mice in the past four days. Friday night she caught one and we threw it way out in the yard. Saturday night she caught one and brought it upstairs to me. I was at the computer when she jumped on the bed and I realized what she had in her mouth. I carried her back downstairs, mouse still in her mouth, and ended up taking the mouse outside. Then Sunday she wasn't downstairs for two minutes before she had her first mouse. I felt bad for taking them away from her, so I put her and the mouse in a big box and let her play with it for a while. Then Strider jumped in the box, took the mouse, jumped out, and ran for the upstairs. I had to chase him and take the mouse away. These wretched, adorable creatures. They must really want to feed me mice. >.< Eowyn caught another mouse 15 minutes later, but it got away down a hole to the crawlspace. Then about an hour later, we heard growling from the area of the stairs. Eown had caught a mouse, was holding it in her mouth, and was growling around it at her brother to keep him from stealing her mouse!

She doesn't seem to know what to do with them once she catches them though. I let her play with that one until she seemed bored, but the mouse wasn't badly hurt when she was through with it. I carried it well out into the field and dropped it in the beans. Hopefully now that Mom and I sealed up the hole to the crawlspace, the mice won't get back into the house. :P
stephaniecain: a picture of a smirking woman with short red hair (Default)
2012-06-19 05:09 pm

Writing isn't always lonely

When I'm struggling through the nitty-gritty grind of squeezing out word after word, trying to get things just right on the page, it's really easy to forget there's a world out there, let alone other people who understand what I'm going through.

Then I see a post from someone like [profile] kosmickway, talking about some aspect or other of writing, and I'm reminded that Hey! I know other people who do this nitty-gritty grind of squeezing out word after word! And sometimes just talking to them helps you figure out what's blocking you, or why you're struggling, or what your character really wants, or how to portray what your character really wants.

So this is just a shout out to the many, many people who have been helpful to me over the years. Not necessarily people who get paid to put words on the page, but people who do it for the joy of it. People who like to read words on the page. People who ask smart questions. People like [profile] kosmickway, [personal profile] slightlyjillian, [profile] krycek_chick, [personal profile] severity_softly, [profile] resolucidity, Zardok the Amazing Beta Reader, and so many, many others.

Thank you, guys!
stephaniecain: a picture of a smirking woman with short red hair (Default)
2012-03-16 07:46 pm

Random post of randomness

1. I got a new desk chair today. Huzzah! It seems impossible to find cheap rolling task chairs with no arms. The ones I could find were either available only online (I want to sit in it first, TYVM) or $70, and no way am I going to pay that much for a chair at this point in my financials. But the Gaiam ball chair just wasn't doing it for me. I think if I could make myself sit in it properly, it would be okay, but I tend to straddle it more than actually sitting, and it was putting my sciatica-ridden hip even further out of whack. But I stopped at the local Staples on a whim today and found a task chair on clearance for $27! Woohoo!

2. If anyone is interested in buying said Gaiam ball chair, I'm taking offers. *G* I can keep using it as an exercise ball, but it's just taking up space, and if someone is hankering to try it, I have one for cheap.

3. Have been working on the novel rewrite. Open submissions at a small press that interests me starts on April 16, so I'm doing what amounts to a double-NaNo from March 13 - April 15 or so. Double, because the novel is going to be at least 100,000 words. If I'm lucky. The last draft clocked in somewhere around 200K, which is just too damn long for a debut novel. Fortunately it also featured much Pointless Walking (TM) and since I don't want people to call this "the next Belgariad!!!" I need to cut some of the walking out anyway.

4. Working on the novel was difficult to make myself do, when sitting at the desk wasn't very comfortable. Hence a great deal of my excitement at finding a cheap and appropriate chair.

5. I also bought Mom lots of seeds for her garden today. Can't believe it's been in the 80s all week. In MARCH. Geez, if this is how the spring starts, I am worried about how hot the summer will be. Last year the summer was insufferable and we broke a record for days over 100 or something like that. I would really prefer to stay in the low 90s if possible.

6. I got a coupon off a case of Dr Pepper 10, so I went ahead and bought it. Now I am torn, because their commercials offend me, but it really does taste good. I bought a case of Diet Dr Pepper to see if it tastes as good as I remember.

7. I read a novel recently published by a casual friend of mine. As in, a real publisher, a real novel, with advances and royalties and everything. And...I hate to say it, but the novel mostly sucked. I reeeeally wanted to like it. Fortunately she's a casual friend, really just on Facebook terms. So maybe if I don't mention having read it, she won't ask what I thought? :/

8. Had Little Caesar's for supper. Mmm. Happiness for $5.

9. Okay, there is no #9. I just wanted to keep listing.
stephaniecain: a picture of a smirking woman with short red hair (Default)
2012-01-26 12:19 am

Back in the cold again

Well, I'm home, and I'm finally starting to feel recovered from my trip. LOL We had a lot more relaxing time while we were on Tobago, but then we had a 20-hour day of traveling home, flying from Piarco (Port of Spain) to Miami-Dade, seven hour layover at Miami with a last-minute gate change, Miami-Dade to Chicago-O'Hare, then to Indy. We got up around 4:30 to get Piarco in time for check-in and some duty-free shopping (hurrah, two bottles of rum for less than the price of a single bottle in the US). At Miami we had plenty of time to go through a painless passport processing and customs, though it was fun trying to repack one of our checked bags to hold two bottles of rum and one bottle of rum punch. LOL But we did it, and then had plenty of time to kill at Miami. We arrived early in Chicago, so we had about two hours to kill there before our flight to Indy. Thank God Dad was waiting at the gate for us when we got home. I think I would have cried if I'd had to drive home at the end of that day of traveling!

The day after we got home, we were hit with about 3 inches of snow. Bleh. Then over the weekend we had thunderstorms and yesterday it was almost 50. Today we had sleet and snow and then sleet again. No kidding. Seriously, I miss the Caribbean. I've got to find a way to vacation in Tobago more often. In the meantime I've been listening to a lot of soca music and trying to make myself believe it's not bloody cold outside.

By the way, anyone know how to repair a piece of bamboo? I brought home a bamboo pencil holder with a hummingbird and the word Tobago carved on it. Gorgeous little thing, but it spontaneously cracked all the way from top to bottom. I imagine because it's ridiculously humid in Tobago and ridiculously dry in Indiana. :( I just wish it had split down the empty portion, instead of right through the middle of the hummingbird. :(

I haven't heard back from the university. Since they wanted to do second interviews during the two days after I returned from Tobago, and start the new hire this week, I am assuming that means I didn't get picked. I'm not heart-broken over it. Secretary III isn't the best-paying position in the world there, and I've applied for a lot of other clerical positions there. I've also applied repeatedly for Writer-Editor positions, and it's annoying me that I am consistently being passed over for those. How many technical writers can there be in north central Indiana who want to work at the university? And why won't the university give the creative writer a shot? *pouts*

The kitties were pleased to see me return home. Eowyn is, if possible, snugglier than ever. She is also, if possible, fatter than ever. It's not that I object to her being a bit plump, but she is positively obese. That can't be healthy. I'm thinking about scheduling her to see Dr. Jon and get his opinion. She gets quite a bit of exercise when I play with her, and she has never even tasted canned cat food, let alone people food. But I do believe Strider is the dominant cat, and I've seen Eowyn defer to him if he wants to eat at one of the food dishes first. I wonder if that makes her overeat when she does eat. I just hate to have to go to feeding times, since I've always just given my cats free access to the dry food dishes so they can eat when they are hungry. It's the most convenient thing for someone who (when employed) is usually away from the house 8-10 hours at a stretch. I suspect Strider has stayed so lean because he never sits still except when he's asleep. When awake, he's incredibly fidgety, and he's better at entertaining himself than Eowyn is. Anything sparkly and he will chase it, whereas she pretty much restricts herself to strings, which require a human at the other end. She makes an occasional foray into feathered toys, but more often than not, that means chewing on feathered hair clips or dream catchers, which displeases Mommy, for some reason. :P

Mom and I are still posting stuff from our trip over at our Tumblr. She is typing up her journal of the trip. I only wrote a journal for two bloody days, proving once again that I am a crap diarist. *sigh* I also haven't written a thing since we got back. I have a short story idea niggling in the back of my mind, but I haven't put anything down on paper but a couple of concepts.

I can't seem to find any recipes for roti that look like the roti we ate at Asa Wright. It makes me incredibly sad, because I thought it was delicious, especially with the split pea soup over it. I wanted to make some of that for the TNT party we're going to have to show our pictures and whatnot to the family. :/

In other news, since coming home, I've decided I adore the new Sherlock, which shocks me. I've also become addicted to Hart of Dixie, though I can't decide what couple to root for. So many love triangles! And I think I am caught up on Criminal Minds, but my computer's DVR crapped out on me while we were on vacation, so I am not sure. There was "Bittersweet Science", then "True Genius" while I was on vacation, and then tonight's "Unknown Subject", right?

Anyway, I think that's about it for now. Anything exciting happen in your world while I was gone?
stephaniecain: a picture of a smirking woman with short red hair (Default)
2006-08-22 04:45 pm
Entry tags:

Blockhead Writer Report

Story: 4
[livejournal.com profile] stephaniecain: 0

Have just scrapped Draft Three and am working with a new title, new POV, and rather altered plot.


Is it good or bad that I have been staring at the computer and leading [livejournal.com profile] jenw118 astray and trying to write this story, rather than cleaning the bathrooms and mopping the kitchen floor as was my plan for the day?