Wednesday, December 13, 2017

One Step Closer

I'm one step closer to finishing the neverending project. I have one more scene to revise, then there's the epilogue to tackle. When planning out revisions, I decided to add an epilogue, but I was torn between two possible options for the closing scene. I've pretty much figured out now what I want that scene to be - it doesn't have to be long and elaborate, but I want it to reflect their new life happily ever after. Anyway, once I have the body of the book fully revised, I'll write and revise the epilogue in one time bloc. It seems like the most sensible way to do it.

I recently took a workshop on planning and productivity with the intention of gearing it toward my writing. I'm still on the fence about whether or not it was helpful or discouraging. I don't mind routine and ritual, but sometimes a process can be too complicated and that's what I thought of that workshop when I walked away from it. So I did what I always do. I went to Amazon and started looking for another book on productivity.

I don't know how many Kindle books I've read on the subject of writing productivity, but I'm willing to bet I've downloaded and read at least twenty of them just this year, from both known and unknown authors. None of them quite hit the mark when it comes to what I'm looking for. I waste entirely too much time per project, and I wanted that to be one of my major fixes in 2018. See, I'm already looking ahead to the New Year. However, I don't need a book that tells me to go to bed early, get up at 5 am to write, then to get plenty of exercise and mind my diet.

Just for the sake of those who would tell me, "But Cora, I promise you, getting up at 5 am will make you productive..." No. That is not how it would work at my house. When my husband is on days, he gets up to leave for work at 5 in the morning. If I got up at 5 am to write, it would never happen because I'd be fetching socks for hubby, making coffee, letting dogs out back to do their doggy business, and all our kitties would be yowling at me for an early breakfast. That would probably take the better part of an hour, and then Mini has be up at 6:15 to get ready for school. Getting up at 5 am in an attempt to write would just end up an extra hour of mommy-go-fetch before my morning routine usually starts. It is completely improbable and impossible for me to get any writing done at that hour. 

I need more of a project based productivity system. Something along the lines of "today we're gonna do this", and the end result will put us thereabouts here on a chart of project completion. And, if I'm behind that point, the guide gives me tips that will help me catch up without losing too much time. It doesn't need to be an exact science of steps, mind you, but if a guide can help me plan out my project in that sort of way where I can break it down into more manageable, actionable steps, that's what I need. It's what I'm looking for. And, so far, I haven't found it.

Before I go... Today's clip art is "christmas tree toys" by Keistutsis over at OpenClipArt.org. I think it's cute and festive. Okay, then. That's all for now. Until next time, happy wishes! 

Friday, December 01, 2017

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Xmas

It's December! Can you believe it?  It's been an extremely tough year for me, so I'm glad things are calming down, and we're heading into a new year. I'm ready for the change in energy that's supposedly coming in 2018. Now to just get through the holidays without wolfing down all the sugar cookies and icebox cherry cheese pie. I'm craving the stuff like you wouldn't believe!

At the moment, Hubs is sick. Mini just got over the crud, and now Hubs has it. He went to the doctor this morning and they gave him steroid shots, a CBC, chest x-rays, a breathing treatment, and a stack of prescriptions. Oh, and they took an EKG. Mercy. All he went in for was to get some antibiotics for his croupy cough. He's feeling better after the shots, which is great. He was joking around with MiniBeast this evening, so things seem more like normal around here. He's been mostly sleeping and going through fever-chill cycles for the past three days. It's been very quiet.

With a quiet house, what better to do than write? I have only a couple of scenes left to revise for Chasing Moonlight and it will be finished. Keeping a writing journal while working on the book has helped me figure out a couple of issues with my process, so that's one thing I'll be doing book to book from now on. On this current project, I've noticed when revising, transitions between scenes are what give me the most trouble. No idea why that is, but I spend a lot of time revising the transitions. Also, the loves scenes. They're fun to read, but difficult to write. I usually make extra editing passes through those to make sure there are no extra wandering hands or impossible positions going on.

I read a book just last week by a NYT best selling author where the hero was holding the heroine's hands above her head while he kissed his way down her body before settling in to "pleasure her". Throughout the entire scene, he's still holding her hands above her head. While reading the scene, I had this image in my mind of his arms getting longer and longer and longer the further he kissed his way down her body.

Yeh, my brain works like that. The scene was kinda funny, kinda creepy at the same time. It went from romantic to unintentional mutant sex within two paragraphs. Ah, well, it happens to the best of us, right? No book is perfect, certainly not my own. That said, I do try to be extra diligent when revising and watch for stuff like extend-o arms, extra legs and the like. If any other author could end up with unintentional mutant sex in a book, I certainly qualify as a valid candidate.

Before I go, just a quick mention that today's adorable, Christmas cottage clip art is by Inky 2010 at Open Clip Art. And....that's all for now. I hope you all have a lovely weekend. Until next time, happy wishes!   

Friday, November 24, 2017

Brainstorming On Black Friday

I skipped Black Friday shopping this year. There's nothing that weirds me out quite like getting caught between people warring over the last microwave on sale and such. During my lifetime, I've done my fair share of waiting outside in the cold for that crazy midnight sales to get the latest Ninja Turtle toy for Oldest, but these days, I'd rather shop online and skip the added anxiety.

Instead of shopping, I stayed in and cleaned the house, then I worked on a couple of books. I've got a spot of editing left to do on Chasing Moonlight, and I've done a little more brainstorming on Seth's book. (Werekind Series) Since he's a pre-existing character, I already had a good idea of what I wanted the story to be about, the themes and events it would touch on, so that's been kind of fun, playing around with his character. He's very rough around the edges, and I love reading about heroes like that when they're the ones who fall in love. I picked out the cover for his story today, but I'm still on the fence about the title.

Speaking of books, I've been driving around with a box of used books to donate to the free section at the library for a couple of months now. It's there sitting on the backseat of my car. I see it every time I go to run errands, but then I always get sidetracked before I make it to the library and forget to drop them off. Well, maybe there was a subconscious reason for that. Or maybe I'm just reaching. Anyway, I thought I had my hoarder shelf pared down, and that I'd boxed everything I wanted to cull, then last night I went on the hunt for a paranormal romance that I'd bought years and years ago, and I found even more books that needed to go to the library. They're not even in genres that I gravitate to. I think some of these are books I was given, or I bought intending to read them, but never got around to it...because, well, they're not in genres I typically go for. Seriously, there are so many here, I need to get another box and go through the shelves again. A second pass, if you like. I figure this will be the feather that tips the scales for me. I need the backseat of my car for errands and hauling stuff around, so I very well can't drive around for months with two boxes of books on my backseat. Right? Right? *challenge accepted* We'll soon find out.

I don't know what it is about certain books, but I develop an attachment to them. Yes, it's very OCD of me, but I am that I am. I would never part with my Dell Abyss books, or my Piels, Feehans or Laymons, but the keeper shelves have reached ridiculous proportions. I have kept many books even though I know I will never, ever read them again. They've really got to go. Before Santa arrives, they've really gotta go. So, that's one more thing to add to my Christmas to-do list.

That's all for now. Until next time, stay safe out there in Black Friday shopping land. Best wishes!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

School is out, and MiniBeast is home with me this week. He's got a cold so we've been staying indoors, taking cold meds and watching movies. Other than a cough and sniffles, he's his usual cheery self. A total joy to be around. Hubby finished up his shift rotation today, too, so we're all chillaxing around the house and enjoying the time off. I just wrapped up a series of doctor visits on Monday, and I don't have to go back until January. It feels like a big burden has been lifted from my shoulders.

On Thursday we're having dinner with my Mom and Dad, and exchanging Christmas lists. My current obsession is scented markers, I kid you not. I've been editing with them lately and really enjoy using them. There is a pack that has "movie scents" like buttered popcorn and rootbeer. That's the set I want. So that's going on the list for me. The only other gift I know for sure is on anyone's request list is for Dad. He wants a drone.

Onward to writerly things. I have one more chapter to revise, and an epilogue to write and revise, before this revamp of Chasing Moonlight will be ready to upload. It's slowly coming together, but I purposely saved the most challenging section for last. I want to make a few passes over it this week, but I find it nearly impossible to work with the guys home (too distracting). Even so, I'm going to try to make the first pass over the full chapter tonight just to see what's in there and what is missing. I know at least two of the scenes need expanding/fleshing out, but I won't know how work intensive it is until I get in there and start sorting words.

I'll be glad to see this one published and off the table, so I can focus 100% on something else. I have another project waiting in the wings, and I'm ready to tackle it and make it my priority piece. I had thought about making it my NaNoWriMo story for this year, but I ended up skipping NaNo to finish the revisions for Chasing Moonlight. C'est la vie. Maybe I can do a fast draft for December, instead?

That's all for now. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Until next time, best wishes!     

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Word About Writing Project Logs

Only three chapters left to revise. *confetti* Then I can finally start working on something else. I'm more than ready to stick a fork in this one. (!!!!)

It took a lot longer to revamp this novella than I thought it would, although I'm pretty sure now where my initial time estimate went wrong. When I set out to work on it, I didn't intend to add so many new scenes to the reprint, but once I got into it, it made sense to fill in a little more here and a little more there, and boom--a medium size project because a super sized PITA. Lesson learned! 

About half way through the revamp, it was taking me so long to get a chapter reworked, that I created a project log "ebook" in Vellum to keep track of how much time I was spending doing what. I've learned so much about my own writng process by doing this, that I've continued using it daily, and I plan to create a new writing log when I start on my next book. It's been that helpful for me.

Each morning, before I start editing, I create a new chapter in Vellum using the date as the chapter title. That way the dates always appear in the left sidebar, so I can see exactly what days I worked, and how long I've been working on my project overall. It would be easy to set up the same sort of log in Scrivener, if someone preferred to use that program. It wouldn't even be necessary to use a template.

At the end of each day that I work on my book, I write a short summary covering the changes I made to the work, and note everything that I struggled with, and any possible solutions in mind to tackle the problems. I also make a note of any plotholes I find, and if I've learned anything from the process, I write that down, too. 

Chapter by chapter I do this, and what a difference it make in terms of productivity. I started seeing all these little writing quirks - particularly revising in circles, going over the same page a dozen times. Spending X amount of time playing with word choice, agonising over changes to the lurve scenes...

It turns out that it takes me three times as long to revise a love scene as it does a regular scene. No joke. That can make for some tedious editing when you're working on an erotic romance!

I won't say that keeping a writing log has made revising any easier. However, I could see exactly where my time and effort was going, and I was able to adjust what I was doing to get more out of each editing session. After the first two weeks of logging entries, I became better able to estimate how long a chapter would take me to finish.

By keeping track of the time in my writing log, I was able to find my peak writing time (mid-morning to early afternoon for me). All I did was make a simple note in my log everyday mentioning the time, for example 9:15 AM or 12 noon, or whenever it was that I sat down to work for the day.

After about a week, I noticed a distinct pattern showing my most productive hours. This allowed me to settle in each morning, make a log entry, get a scene revised and polished, and dog it off for the day, usually around three--before MiniBeast makes it home from school. Basically, I was able to give myself a daily quitting time. For me, that alone made the logging process worth keeping. No more trying to wrestle with a story at the end of the day just to try to get a few more paragraphs polished, while everyone is home and wanting my attention. That cuts so much stress out of the writing process, I can't recommend it enough.

While project tracking may not be for everyone, if you're struggling to get anything written or revised, or it seems like you're writing or revising the same pages over and over and nothing is getting done, keeping a log may help. It has definitely helped me get a grasp on the problem I've been having with this novella, and has helped me pick up the pace. Too, it's one of those things that's cheap and easy to do. It can be done on computer in Vellum or Scrivener, or even in a spiral notebook, and what you decide to track can be easily tailored to suit one's own personal writing needs.

That's really all I had to say for today, but before I go...

Yes, I took down one of my friend connect widgets from the blog sidebar. I didn't do it to alienate anyone, so please don't think that. I took it down because it had stopped working for some reason, and new people weren't able to join it when they clicked on it. I tried to unsubscribe from it myself using a linked account, and it wouldn't let me do that, either, so I got rid of the darn thing. No sense in dealing with that kind of frustration.

If anyone does want to follow me, I suggest following me on Google+ instead. I'm not super active on any social media at the moment, but I do get notifications for Google+ whenever I go online and use Chrome.

Until next time, best wishes. xoxo 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

27 Years and Life Calming Down

Hubby and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary on October 27th. He had to work that day, so we stayed home and watched horror movies to celebrate. It turned out to be a lot of fun. We don't usually have the house all to ourselves, so that in itself was a rare treat.

MiniBeast stayed with his grandparents that night so he could go to a festival at the church. He went on a hayride, visited with his great aunt and uncle, and ate like a little piglet. He brought home a ridiculous amount of candy...that I've been doing my part to help him finish off. As Eek! The Cat would say, "It never hurts to help!" 😉

Mom called me the morning after the festival and let me know she was bringing Mini home. The usual. But then she mentioned in passing that Dad kept calling MiniBeast "Chris" all weekend. That struck me as kind of weird. Chris is my older cousin.

That sort of name-mix up thing happens to a lot of us at some point or another, especially when we're thinking about them, so I put it out of my mind until Dad and Mom arrived with Mini. That's when Dad told me the full tale. After calling him Chris for probably the fifth time, Mom had pointed out, "That's not Chris." Dad told me he was confused for a moment, and said to mom, "Well, what's his name then?" Mom told him, and then he remembered. That's when he broke down crying.

As Dad is telling me this, I looked at Mom like, Why didn't you tell me?!  I kind of need to know this sort of thing. Mom just shooed me off and said, "Don't worry, I'll take care of him." Boy, that's not worrying or anything, ya know? 

Other than that little slip, everything seems the same as always as far as the parentals are concerned. But I told Mom she needs to mention it to the doctor the next time Dad goes in for his checkup.

Whew. Moving along to other topics...

All is as to be expected on the writing front. Things have calmed down enough that I'm back to revising Chasing Moonlight. I've added a few scenes to it, and I'm roughly half way through the book. This one has been like pulling hens teeth. I'm not exactly sure why, other than having a new personal crisis dumped in my lap every other day. I'm not even kidding about that. I just thought this one would go faster for me because it was previously published.

Revising this book has taken way longer than I thought it would. Way way way longer. Mercy. If I'd had the money and foresight early on, I could've--and should've--hired a freelance editor to mark it up. I didn't do that, though, so here I am months later, just now picking up the pace after a long stall. If I gained nothing else from that project, aside from 8 pounds, the stress, and my hair falling out in gobs, plus the fear I would never get back on track with that book, it at least forced me to step back and take a look at my process.

Writing out a work log has helped point out where I've been spinning my wheels, and it helped get me back making actual progress. But, it sort of feels like it's just dragging on and on at this point. I'm ready to stick a bloody fork in it. I'm trying very hard to be patient with myself and the project. It is what it is.

Okay, that's it for now. I need to get going and start dinner. After that... for Halloween fun, a marathon covering The Lost Boys trilogy. 🍿🍺

One more thing before I go. 505 and 606. I've been seeing these numbers everywhere. In the car, in town, on my shopping receipt, and on my phone. It's been kind of tripping me out, like, what does it mean?  I should google it or something. I just thought it was worth mentioning. Random weirdness, who knows?  Maybe someone can use that sort of thing in a story.

Until next time, best wishes, everyone. 

Friday, October 06, 2017

Wish In One Hand

I wish blogger had an app. If there is one for iPhone, I couldn't find it in the App Store. My red laptop isn't reliable enough to blog with due to the chronic freezing since updating to Win10. I can't write using that comp anymore  either, so I keep it for junk browsing and Neopets. That way when it inevitably freezes up, I haven't lost anything.

All of my writing is done on MacBook now. But it's an older computer so I don't use it for social media, so I'm not as "connected" as I once was. In the past I might've felt that was a bad thing, but these days the news is so stressful and depressing, I'm probably better off. I've managed to cut my browsing down to a little YouTube and Bing searches during the day. It's amazing how freeing it is to not need the net every waking minute of the day.

But that's not why I'm writing today. An astrologer on YouTube that I like to listen to once a month as the new scopes roll out recently recommended a book called The Science of Getting Rich. It was written in 1920 or thereabouts, and it isn't what you think it is just going by the title. The book is .99 on Amazon, but you can listen to the audiobook version on YouTube free since the book is in the public domain.

It's about living creatively, for the most part, and that really resonated with me. Those who know me well, the closest friends, know I'm not a competitive person, and when I read in the book about creating from a creative place not a competitive one, I knew this was the book for me.

It's very freeing to read something like that, about how creating comes from source, and how that frustrated feeling we all get with writer's block is the source, or the muse, trying to express itself through you. I read that book cover to cover and finally the words are flowing for me again.

Anyway, I wanted to take a minute to blog about it, in case someone has been mucking about in creative quicksand right along with me. There is a way out. I just had to keep reading and searching and writing until I found what worked for me. Hang in there.

I hope this post is readable. Kind of hard to tell from my phone, but I thought I'd try it. A quick mention also of Tom Petty's passing. Oh man, how sad. Another beloved artist has received his wings. Hubs told me about it and I had to go hide in the bathroom a few minutes til the onion eyes stopped. I can count milestones in my life by Tom Petty songs. Surely I can't be the only one. He will be sorely missed.

That's all for now. I have a couple of things to take care of before MiniBeast gets home. Until next time, hugs and best wishes. xoxo




Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Writer's Block: Tea Time Edition

Woot. A tech guy from AT&T came out and fixed our internet service this evening. We haven't been able to do any streaming for weeks, and it was a challenge just to get a standard webpage to load without crashing. We thought it was the weather at first, all the rain we've been getting, but when the problem persisted, Hubz got enough of it and called in for service. The tech guy found a line down the street that was almost severed, probably from tractors riding over the ground there or whatnot, and once he replaced it everything was back up and running peachy. Worth the service fee, IMO.

Hubz told me that the tech guy was surprised we'd had any service at all with the line like that. Anyway, I'm glad that's all fixed, because Hubz doesn't really know what to do with himself without his favorite TV series. Now he has something to do in the evenings other than tinker around on his phone. 

As for me, I've been doing a lot of reading lately. Mostly writerly craft books, with some inspirational titles, and older pop fiction books in the mix. A couple were great. A couple weren't worth writing home about. Once the net was back working, I added a few books (from the ones that didn't suck) to my Goodreads, the books that I could remember without going back to Amazon and doing a search through my digital history for the past two months. I'm not as dedicated to reviewing as I once was, especially since I tend to look to Amazon when seeking reviews that might sway my purchasing decisions. But don't get me wrong. I don't mean that in a crabby sort of way. Overall, I'm simply not as engaged with social media as I once was. I figure I'm really not an interesting enough person for social media anyway. But I digress...

Instead of sinking my time into social media, I've been writing a little bit here, a little bit there. Not for the sake of word count, but to rekindle the joy I used to find in writing. Straight up "fun" writing to break through the writer's block. That's a big deal, because enjoyment has been wholly lacking from my process for a several years now.

On top of that, and undoubtedly compounding the writer's block issue, I've been having craft related problems that I couldn't seem to find the answers to. People I've personally asked haven't been able to help me. None of the favorite, top ten list, top twenty list, writing guides have had the answers for me. Then a couple of weeks ago, I listened in on a screenwriting lecture, and there it was, the missing piece of the puzzle. I wasn't expecting it; it dropped right into my lap. The reason why my stories were running out of gas midway through, and why the conflict never seemed to be enough, and why the hero and heroine never seemed to be quite on the same page in the story. All these things came into focus, and all of them go back to weak characterization and failure to properly set up the conflict. So now I'm back in the saddle, playing around with the new techniques I've learned. Not trying to rush, but rather just trying to enjoy the process and master the techniques.

There was another writing guide I read recently with big impact like that (I'll have to check my Kindle notes to remember which one). The author talked about someone who was never blocked as an artist because they'd do the same thing over and over everyday until something changed. That really spoke to me, and I don't know...it's like a huge weight was lifted when I read that. The weight of expectations, maybe. Whatever the case, that little snippet of wisdom made a big difference in the way I view my own work and the writing process.

Alrighty, then. I'm about to go make a cup of tea in the hopes it will kick this headache that won't seem to take a hike. I hope it's just eyestrain related. I've been having eye pains/pressure in my right eye for about a month now. I'm scheduled to see my optometrist soon, and I hope the pain/pressure is something they can address in-office.

I guess we'll have to wait and see. 👀 

That's all for now. Until next time, happy wishes. xoxo

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Answer is 42

Bedford bag and my wallet. I love it.
I wish the pictures (best 1 out of 10
shown) would turn out "true to color",
but the lighting in my bedroom is way
too dark and yellowy. C'est la vie.
Yes, yes, it's the obligatory birthday post. In the morning, a Monday no less, I will be the magical age of 42. *confetti*

I've had a couple of people (including my hubby) ask me how I feel about being over 40, and if I'm cool with celebrating an over 40 birthday, and I have to say I truly don't mind it. I really don't feel any different than I did when I was 35. Maybe that's just me, but there it is. 

Since Hubz has to work tomorrow, we're actually holding off having cake and ice cream until Tuesday. That way everyone can be there at the party. We're having it at my mom and dad's, of course, after Mini gets home from school. 

This year, I specifically told everyone not to bother with gifts. Rather than have everyone else spend money on me, I treated myself from my wishlist. I knew exactly what I wanted, and it wasn't something I could ask family to buy for me. I wanted a new handbag. Not that I need another bag, but ladies, y'all know how that goes. I wanted a 2005/2006 Louis Vuitton Bedford vernis handbag in the color framboise. Specifically in framboise. I have a French wallet / French coin purse in that color that I use it all the time. I wanted a matching bag to go with it. 

Alrighty then. That's enough of that. A weird blog post so far, now that I've read back over it, but I guess in terms of everything that has been going on lately, blogging about a new handbag is as good as it gets. 

It feels kind of weird that Oldest isn't here to celebrate birthdays together, but he's grown now, living half way across the country, and off doing his own thing. He recently landed a new job, so there's a plus. I miss him, but at the same time, I know he's doing what he wants. That makes all the difference. 

Hey, Bub, if you happen to drop by the blog today - Happy Birthday. I love you. Be safe. 💕 

That's it for now. I hope everyone out there has a good Monday. Until next time, best wishes! 

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Heads Up, A Rude Letter, and A List of Answers

I've been away for several months due to ongoing health issues, and for that same reason I've put off a lot of things internet wise. This post is just a heads up on what's happening with me, and why I decided to come in and post today.

First things first, I'm blogging today because I received a letter from Grammarly asking me to remove the links from a review I wrote for them in back in 2014. It was easier to just delete the review, so I did. I no longer use the service anyway.

Back in the day, I did open beta testing for Grammarly and was asked to do a blog review. I did. In exchange for the review and the beta testing, I received free service from Grammarly for a year. Thanks, and no prob. Now they not only want me to remove their links, the clincher is that they expect me to email them back to let them know the links are down. No, darling. I'm not emailing you back. If it's important to you, you'll check my blog to see if the links are down. Fuck you very much.

Receiving app/web service in exchange for open beta is nothing out of the ordinary. I've happily worked on open (and closed) beta testing projects for many, many companies and startups since 2006, including website builders, writing software, gaming apps, photo editors, and other grammar checkers similar to Grammarly. However, this is the first time I've been asked to remove links so a company can "clean up their backlink profile."

Oh, I know what it is. Don't get me wrong. That's neither here nor there.

The Grammarly staffer who wrote to me said that they weren't necessarily "questioning the quality of my website" (which is bullshit, since there is NO question of the "low quality" of my website - this is a personal blog.) Oh, and by the way, the whole purpose of cleaning up your backlink profile is to get rid of "bad links" that hurt your Google rankings. (Do you hear that, Blogger?)

While I do still work on open beta projects (I recently fixed a JavaScript error for a company with a platform similar to Grammarly), this is a prime example of why I no longer do independent reviews or link exchanges for startups and companies. I won't be doing any in the future, either. I'm putting this out there because even though I haven't blogged in months, I still get offers weekly from sites just like Grammarly looking to exchange products or services so they can kick off their business using word-of-mouth reviews.

Moving along. As I said, I don't know when I'll be back at it like before. Maybe never. I'm extremely behind on my personal emails, but I'm gradually making my way down the list to the oldest ones. I'm sorry it's taking so long. I've had a lot of people email or message me to ask what's going on, where I've been, and what's going on with my books and my writing.

I've answered as many of those questions as I can via Facebook messenger, although I'm not on Facebook much anymore. In a pinch, it's the fastest way for me to respond to people I know personally. If I don't have you on Facebook (note that I have trimmed my list significantly since last year), it will take me longer to respond via email. It is what it is. If you need to reach me over something super important, you can try to PM me on Facebook, but if the message goes to that other weird hidden folder, I may never know about it. I never check that thing.

To try to speed up the process, here are the most common questions, unapologetically answered:

  1. I've been away because I've been ill. I don't know when I'll be back full time.
  2. No, I'm not dying. No, I do not have cancer. Yes, prayers are welcome.
  3. I still have a Facebook, but rarely go there. I mostly use messenger to speak with family.
  4. Yes, I deleted my Cora Zane twitter. No, I don't regret it. 
  5. Yes, my email is still the same. I can also be reached through Google+
  6. Yes, I deleted my website contact form. 99% of the messages I received from it were spam.
  7. Yes, comments on the blog are disabled. I've been away, and I didn't feel like coming back and having to reject 500 spam comments for counterfeit sunglasses.
  8. Yes, I let my RWA/PAN membership lapse. No, I don't have anything against the org or any of the members. I've met some lovely people through RWA. The reality is that I've published more work in genres other than romance. While RWA has it's perks, there are members like me who fall through the cracks. I may rejoin in the future, but it makes no sense to rejoin right now when I'm not benefitting from being a member of the organization.
  9. I no longer write an author newsletter. I haven't for some time. I was doing double duty with a blog plus a newsletter, but the truth is I get a substantially higher number of hits to my personal blog than I do from a newsletter. Blogging is simply more feasible for me. 
  10. For email notifications announcing new releases, you don't have to wait for me to post on my blog or website. It's better to click the follow/subscribe buttons on my Smashwords page, and my Amazon page. These pages will send out notifications when new books are uploaded. It's reliable and spam-free. Note: I'm also on iBooks, but I can't link to my page there because I don't have iTunes on this laptop. For now, I publish more often on Smashwords than Amazon. Everything I post on Smashwords is uploaded to iBooks once it's approved. 
  11. Yes, I'm still writing, but I'm slow about it. Slower now that my health has taken a hit. I'll have new material up as soon as I'm able. Pinkie swear. Thanks for your patience and your continued support.

All that aside, I hope everyone is having a fun summer. I still haven't been able to go to the lake or the beach yet. Now here we are, it's almost August, and I'm crossing my fingers I'll get to make one trip to the beach before school starts again. *ocean waves*

That's all for now. I'll blog again when I have new news. As always, thanks for dropping by.  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

RIP J. Geils : 1946 - 2017



A couple of days ago, I heard on the news that J. Geils passed away on April 11th at the age of 71. Few groups take me back the way the J. Geils Band does. I regret now that I never got to see them perform live. I loved the song Centerfold from the moment I first heard it at the Granbury skating rink sometime around 1981 or 1982. My parents bought it for me on 45, and I wore it slap out on our living room console stereo. Great times.

Although we didn't have MTV in the early 80s, the videos for Freeze Frame and Centerfold were popular on the Video Music Break and Video Jukebox type music promo "commercials" that came on between cable movies. The only time I got to see that sort of thing was when I was visiting my grandparents in Ruston. They were the ones with cable tv. Mom, Dad, and I lived out in the sticks where cable wasn't available at the time, so it was a special treat whenever I got to see the videos of my favorite bands. It was total brain candy.

Centerfold used to play in heavy rotation along with songs like Mary Buffett's My Boyfriend's Back, Bob Welch's Ebony Eyes, Mickey by Toni Basil, and You Might Think by the Cars. While I was too young to fully understand the risque lyrics of Centerfold, I loved it, and I loved the video too. Hip band guys, pretty dancing girls, and then there was J. Geils himself - the epitome of new wave cool with his feathered hair, razor-sharp cheekbones, and red striped shirt under a tough-glam rhinestone jacket. I was hooked.

Listening to that song now, it still jams. The video, too, is just as fun as it ever was. If you ask me, the intro to Centerfold is probably one of the top ten catchiest and most memorable song intros ever recorded. I'm terribly sad that J. Geils is gone. Nevertheless, it's safe to say he has left behind an indelible musical legacy, one made ever more influential and enduring due to one unforgettable song. #RIP

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

DNA Testing: 23 & Me Follow Up

My 23&Me test results are in!  They've been in a couple of days now, but I've only posted about it on FB up to this point. I wanted to share it with a couple of relatives I'm connected with there who were curious to see what my results would be.

I didn't screen grab the biggest read out with the genes all color coded. It's TMI, but not only that, the read out is waaay too big for my laptop screen. I have to zoom out to see the whole thing, and at that size, a screen grab makes it unreadable. That's okay, though. I actually prefer the ancestry timeline that shows when the relatives you inherited genes from where alive, and in roughly what generation. That makes it easier for comparing with my family tree on the FamilySearch.org site.

Out of my ancestry composition, I'm mostly British and Irish. That was my largest "slice" of any grouping, and not surprising. Mom's paternal side of the family is Irish and Scottish. The second largest percentage was French and German. The French is from Mom's side, the German from Dad.

I expected to see waaaay more German in the mix since we can trace Dad's side of the family back to the original village the family line originated from. But it was only around 14%, combined with the French markers.


Next in the mix was Scandinavian. That was kind of surprising but not really. I'm guessing this comes from Dad's side of the family. Unless, this somehow counted toward Mom's Scottish roots. My Scottish great grandmother was a Murdock, and allegedly there are Viking origins to that name? I'm totally guessing, so take that with a grain of salt. At any rate, I'll find out whether it's from Mom or Dad soon enough, since they're both getting kits for their birthdays. Dad's kit is already on the way.

Eastern European showed up in my results after Scandinavian. That undoubtedly is from Grandma on Dad's side. Half of her line was from Czechoslovakia. (Which is now, separately Slovakia and Czech Republic.) I believe there was some Irish and Hungarian mixed in there as well.

Next on the chart was South Asian, which is definitely from Mom's side of the family, although I haven't found anyone in my family tree who was specificially South Asian. The markers shows up in even stronger percentages in some of the GEDMatch databases, and breaks it down even further as something like 20% Caucasus Region/Baloch/Gedrosia/Near East/India.

I think I know which ancestor the South Asian refers to, but she was allegedy Native American. She had several sons, which are mom's grandpa and great uncles, etc. The family lived on and beside the Kaskaskia reservation in Jackson County Illinois, and after the land was taken away, they moved to Missouri and lived on and around the Peoria reservation. When that land was taken away, the family branched off. Some relatives went to the Peoria reservation in Oklahoma, where it is today. Others moved to Texas. It's all fairly well documented.

23&Me didn't pick up any American Indian results or traces, but I don't know if that's because they have smaller reference groups of that type to work from, or what. Using my raw genetic data downloaded from the site, I uploaded it to GEDMatch and got positive hits from two of the World databases. In one of the oracles, the admixture was 6% AmerIndian and the other was 2% AmerIndian, and that's separate from the Caucasus/Gedrosia which triggered the South Asian results at 23&Me. All that said, having 2-6% AmerIndian makes sense if framed in a birth/living timeline estimated between 1710 to 1830 for my ancestor.


Lastly, I'm not sure what the aqua colored wedge from the World9 is. It's listed as "Southern". Maybe Southern European? In my 23 & Me results, I had a very tiny mix of "Broadly Southern European" that doesn't even show up on the Ancestry Timeline. However, if that's what Southern is in the GEDMatch stands for, that particular database pulled a much larger segment of Southern European from my raw data. Maybe they just had a larger resource population to reference from?  I'm not sure.

Moving on to other elements from the DNA results, I ended up with 54% fewer Neanderthal ancestry than most 23&Me testers. That's how it served up the information, as compared to others who have been tested. Anyway, apparently, this neanderthal DNA is where my height comes from (I'm 5'ft / 5'ft1" thereabouts), and it is the reason why I don't have a hairy back. (In case you ever wanted to know, lol.)

One of the GEDMatch databases has a fun eye color predictor (based on genetic information from my raw data). It returned that my eyes are a mix of brown+amber+gray with a gray limbal ring, and starburst pattern around the pupil. It even gave me a little picture of the prediction...which I can't seem to find at the moment. But it was fairly correct, minus a few small details.

I will give it this...the results were especially true of my eyes when I was younger. They looked very much like the site reference image when I was in Kindergarten, but now, in my 40's, I'm losing some brown pigment. My eyes are more of a dark honey color now, and I have several dark freckles on the iris, many yellowy nerve rings, and faintly greenish color pockets when looking extremely up close in good lighting. The pigment loss is almost certainly genetic. My mother, and her mother's, eyes went through the same change late in life. I can pretty much look at Mom's eyes and tell what mine will look like 10 to 20 years or so down the road as the pigment loss progresses.


That's a macro of Mom's eye I took last year. That's her natural gray limbal ring - no circle lenses worn. I have it, too, but my limbal rings are thinner, possibly due to the fact my eyes are still relatively dark where hers have lightened considerably. Her irises are no longer dark brown like they used to be. They're more of a hazel/amber now with green rings.

For now that's all the DNA results I've managed to pull together. Dad's kit is on the way, and I'll be picking one up for Mom in a month or so. I still need to pull together some funds to order it. I can hardly wait to link up all our kits. 23&Me will allegedly be able to tell me what genes I pulled from what parent. Also, we'll get to see what Dad's haplogroup is. Since I'm female, I can only test for my maternal haplogroup.,.which, as it turns out, is T1a1.

I've researched T1a1 since the tests came back, but there's little written about it outside of  handful of sites. The info from one of the larger sites seems to be duplicated in other places. Apparently, it's not as common a haplogroup, so it's not written about as often. Maybe that will change as more people have their kits done and the reference pool grows.

Anyway...fun times!  I thoroughly enjoyed reading through the results. The test was totally worth it. The wait time for results, which for me was from the first week of February to the last week of March, was a real doozy though. There's a time marker on the 23&Me website that lets you check up on where you are in the testing process, but even as it was moving along, mine never went through all the plot points on the time graphic. That could be why it seemed like such a long wait. Then again, maybe it was just me and my eternal impatience. I've never been a very good sport when it comes to waiting. Maybe that's a genetic thing. ☺

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Waiting Impatiently

March is only days away. Can you believe it? That means spring cleaning is coming up soon. I'm eager to roll up my sleeves and tear into it. My closets and bookshelves need major culling, and I want to do some painting and remodeling in the kitchen and dining room before the weather gets too hot. I just hope I have the energy to do all the things I want to do!

I went to the doctor on the 23rd. A standard visit to get my yearly meds for blood pressure and thyroid issues. The initial check up went well, and afterward, she sent me to the lab for routine panels, EKG, and urinalysis. That, too, went well... until the results came back.

My thyroid and potassium looked fine, and the EKG reading was tip top. My heart and lungs sound "fantastic", and my blood pressure reading was excellent as well. However, my white blood cell count is almost non-existent. It's below the lowest rung on their scale. My platelets are low, too, as well as my sodium level. I'm also vitamin deficient in just about everything including zinc, calcium, magnesium, B6, B12, and folate. My bilirubins are too high, and EOS as well. I guess some of that in there could explain the general fatigue I've been feeling?

I'll find out more on March 3rd, which is the soonest I could get a return appointment to go over my results. On top of the vitamin deficiencies, I noticed on my chart that the doctor mentioned my pallor. That was kind of sad for me to see. Realistically, I am naturally pale. In outdoor lighting, I'm vampire pale. No big deal. But I think maybe she's linking it to possible anemia, which I have had on and off in the past.

At any rate, my labs seem to point to possible anemia, and an underlying infection. I'm hoping it's nothing worse than that. I have a lymph node under my jaw that swells from time to time. My doctor's aware of it, and I've been to a couple of doctors and a specialist about it, but they've always written it off as allergies. But... Swollen lymphs paired with low wbc can be a bad sign. I guess we'll have to wait and see. I have a sneaking suspicion that my results are about to lead to more testing. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

In the meantime, I'm trying to keep busy so my mind doesn't get caught up in the waiting game. I'm not a patient person, and I'm terrible at waiting. lol  Not only am I waiting for lab results from my doctor (meh), I got a notice a couple days ago that my 23 & Me ancestry test is in the analysis stage. Woohoo! So I'm a little closer to seeing what kind of American mutt I am!

Well, I kind of already know my mutt status, since our families are pretty well documented through census, birth/marriage records, Dawes, etc. going back about six generations on Mom's side, and five generations back on Dad's side. Which is a good thing, since it should allow me to confirm what was going on in some branches of the family tree.

I've read online that the ancestry dna goes back only so far generation wise, then the results can no longer tell if the findings are linked to other people by family trait, or just random chance. (Don't quote me on that, though.) Waiting for the results of that testing is killing me! It's sort of like anticipating Christmas knowing that you have an awesome present you really wanted waiting for you under the tree.

My parents are eager to know more about the dna results as well. Mom especially, since the result will tell me more about my maternal line than my paternal. (Can't get dad's haplogroup from me, what with me being female and all.) Mom's side should be fun to see. That side of the fam is a spicy gumbo mix of all the things. Dad is pretty much a mix of Prussian, Northern European, and Jewish. Like I said, we're American mutts. lol  Since Mom & Dad have both stated they want to take the 23 & Me test, I'm going to order kits for their birthdays this year. In the end, it will be fun to connect all our results online and see what we can see!

As for writing, I've been working on two projects. One is in the pre-writing/early drafting/outlining & re-outlining stage. The formulative stuff before I sit down, dig in, and write the first draft start to finish. I have a few discovery scenes written for that one, but I'm still not totally sure about the first two scenes. I keep going back and forth between two potential opening scenes...both of them lead to the same second scene, so I may end up seeking out a couple of test readers for that one.

The other project is Chasing Moonlight. I'm still making editing passes through that one. The going is sooo slow, but I know it's almost there. 🐌🚦 Just when I think I'm finished with it, I find another thing to smooth out. Then I end up making another pass. Meh. But it shouldn't be much longer now before it's wrapped up and ready for uploading at Smashwords.

Alrighty, then. I'm out of time, so I'll leave it there. Here's to March, endless impatient waiting, and (hopefully) good news!  I'll post again when I know something for sure. Until next time, happy wishes! 💟


Ps. Today's graphic is Woman Writing a Letter clip art by SnipsAndClips, courtesy of OpenClipArt.org

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Candy Hearts Day


Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! 

There's a ton of stuff going on for me right now. I've been in the editing cave all week. I recently wrapped up the relaunch of Connection, which is now on Smashwords. I'm happy to have that one back on the shelf. I'm now a couple chapters into copy editing Chasing Moonlight.

Winter Break begins this Friday for MiniBeast, so I'll have a long editing weekend ahead of me - from Saturday through Tuesday - to wrap up the revision and reformatting job. I need to get this one out of the way so I can get crackin' on the next project.

At this very moment, there's a DNA test kit waiting to be sent off on my desk. It's one of the ancestry kits from 23 & Me. I already have an extensive family tree mapped out, but it should be interesting seeing the test results. I hope it will give me what percentages of American mutt I am.

I have no idea how long it takes to get results back, but I'm sure the whole family will be interested in seeing what's in the mix. I told Hubz a few days ago, before my kit arrived, I wanted to order one for my dad for his birthday. He's super interested in our geneaology, and with his DNA mapped, we'll know the family's - or rather, dad's - halpogroup. Exciting stuff!

One last thing before I close, I want to give a special shoutout to one of my favorite people on the planet, my godfather, Uncle AG. It's his 89th birthday! 🎉🎈Every year when Valentine's Day rolls around, he's always the first person I think of, so I'm sending him a big virtual hug, and many Happy Birthday wishes! 💟 

That's all for now. I have errands to run, so I better get going! xoxo  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Connection Relaunch

Cover by Faëdou
Connection, a sci-fi erotica short story that I previously published with Ellora's Cave, is now available at Smashwords in epub format for 99¢.

Gage Davenport is a cybernetic vampire, an AI designed to feed off various energy forms—mechanical, kinetic, and sexual. In charge of critical systems maintenance aboard the Stargazer Orbital Community, he's used to having unrestricted access to whatever his heart desires. 

Kiri Harmon loves that she and Gage can feel each other's pleasure during sex. It's those tantalizing moments when he slips his fangs into her neck ports that keep her coming back for more. From the start she knew Gage expected a no-strings attached relationship, the trouble is she never anticipated that his electrifying bite would grant him full access to her heart. 

Now that Gage knows her most closely guarded secret, Kiri can’t bring herself to face him. But Gage won't be denied. He has a secret, too. He’s found more than just sexual satisfaction with Kiri. He’s discovered the ultimate connection—and he intends to prove it once he’s back in her bed.

Connection was such a fun, flirty little story to write. If you like sci-fi fantasy erotica, and end up liking Connection, you might also like my short story How to Date an Android, which is also 99¢. It has a different tone and setting, but there is a similar sensuality and underlying theme.

As always, a disclaimer: this short story is written and intended only for adult readers over the age of 18, or whatever the appropriate age legal is for your part of the country. It contains graphic sexual scenes, language, and weird telepathic android-vampire naughtiness. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The Cat's Meow

It's February, the month of love. Or in my case, the month of endless lovelorn cat serenades.

A couple of feral cats who live in the neighbor's barn like to drop by and eat food off our patio. (Along with the other neighbor's bloodhound, chickens, and pet pig, too. I'm not even kidding.)

The cats are usually not an issue since they typically run away whenever we go outside. We're able to pet only a couple of them, since most are very shy of humans.

Well, one of the female cats is currenly having her cycle. *ahem* And alllllll the boy cats in the neighborhood have joined the wandering romance opera troupe that has formed to sing her praises day and night. They like to sit on the ledge outside my office window and yowl to anyone who will listen. And trust me, it's impossible not to listen.

That being the case, I've taken my laptop to another end of the house to write, but I haven't exactly escaped the serenading.

Freddie Cat, our family cat who was initially a feral who decided he purrfered snuggles, ear scritches, and sleeping on the couch, has decided I need to hear his magnificent singing no matter where I go in the house. I guess he hears the TV in the bedroom, and knows I'm in there. At any rate, if I go into the bedroom, he sits out back by the AC and serenades me with the most pitiful, drunken-sounding cat meows.

Anyway, February 1st. Wow. 2017 is moving along at a rapid clip. It seems like the New Year was just a couple of days ago. Or maybe that's just me looking forward to calmer (and quieter) days ahead. Meow.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Moon, Fire Rooster Year, and Hubz's Birthday


All the things are happening. ALL of them. Chinese New Year (which I love), the new moon (new beginnings), and Hubz's birthday, which I would love to celebrate, but he's been kind of down about it, poor guy. For two weeks, I've been asking if he wants to do something special, but he's not feeling the celebratory vibe. Since it's his birthday, we'll play it by his rules...although, I'm going to talk him into us going on an outing and to dinner. We can do that without the bells and whistles, if he's game.

In general I think Hubz's mood reflects what a lot of people are feeling. There is this sort of mixed bag of energy in play right now, and everything feels unsettled. I hope the new moon brings the fresh start it traditionally (well, astrologically speaking) promises. We're all ready to turn a new page, I think. 2016 was such a crap year, and the tensions are still roiling from the election. In part, I blame the transition into a fire rooster year - all that fiery energy and "crowing" from all sides getting everyone riled up, chest puffed up, and strutting. I'm not speaking of anyone in particular, of course, but of the type of energy the sign tends to bring with it. In general, once things settle in and we all get securely nested into our comfort zones in 2017, the energy will flow more predictably, although there will be an increased risk of  easily "ruffling other people's feathers." I wish that wasn't the case, but it is what it is.

Moving on to other topics, lately I've spent most of my free time between playing on Pinterest and reading. Mini Beast is taking an after school class to try to salvage his math grades, so I have a few extra hours in the afternoons twice a week. Pinterest is a big distraction. I should probably try to resist falling into a time sink there, but I ocassionally get some good ideas out of it. I especially like that they have a secret board feature so I can play around with book ideas. What can I say except it's comforting to scroll and pin.

Toward the end of 2016, from about mid-December on, I have been struggling to get anything written. It's been a dramatic ebb and flow for me - the ability to sit and write. The well is just empty. I don't know how else to describe it. In December, I was in the middle of working on a project I was excited about, and then suddenly I found a thread of it that was "off", and from that point on it was like the rug was ripped out from under me. Or rather, it was like I was furiously trying to knit a sweater while some invisible force was unraveling the project from the bottom up. A horrible feeling. I couldn't figure out how to fix it, so I ended up zipping the file and dumping it in my cloud storage.

After that happened, I was left feeling creatively empty. I thought hard about retiring from writing, but even that wasn't working for me. If I thought retiring would make me happy, I would do it, but that's not the issue. Retiring wouldn't make me happy. Just thinking about it makes me feel worse. I do love to write...when the writing is good. This dry spell is what is killing me. So instead of doing anything rash, I decided to simply "sketch write" and binge read until the creative well is full again. Finally, the urge to "get it written" is coming around again - a welcome sign, I tell you that!

Speaking of writing, and books, and binge reading... I'm late to the party, that's nothing unusual, but I heard the Blaze line is ending at Harlequin in July this year. They're replacing it with a new sexy contemporary series with a more explicit tone and different set of tropes, etc. I'm just glad they aren't doing away with Blaze-ish stories altogether because I just discovered a new writer in that line. During my binge reading sessions, I ended up buying everything she has ever written for Harlequin, as well as elsewhere.

The thing is, in truth, I'm more of a Desire reader rather than Blaze, and it was the writer's voice and her characters that sold me on her stories, not so much the fact it was a hotter Blaze-ish romance. When I look at her writing versus what I've been reading from Harlequin, her style and tone is markedly different. I think that's what appealed to me more than anything. Her stories come across as "out of the box" within the realm of category series.

I'm just one person, though, so my opinion on that doesn't count for much. I do wonder what the new line will be like, and I'm crossing my fingers that it will blow my socks off.

While binge reading recently, I noticed a lot of core elements, popular tropes, and themes repeated in certain romances and erotic romance novels. On the whole, that's not a bad thing, not at all, but while in my current creative slump, if a story doesn't feel fresh to me in some way or the characters don't grab me right out the gate, I can't commit to them no matter how hard I try. And that's the thing with romance, part of its strength is that it's marketed based on tropes.

I can't count the number of books I've bought or KU'd from Amazon that I read through the first few chapters and did not finish. It's bad, y'all. I'm stuck in a serious rut, not only with writing, but with reading as well.

It makes me miss the early ebook days with shorter length paranormal romances in the 20-60k range. I probably read ten of those little books a week! It was an exciting new genre for me. I didn't just want to read it; I wanted to write it as well. Paranormal has waned in popularity since then, and I miss the gold rush phase: dozens of new books coming out every week. I know the genre hasn't vanished, but the stories have changed. Evolved, I guess, as genres tend to do.

I'm not even sure if it's the paranormal element I miss so much, or if maybe it's the experimental "new territory" vibe those books and the writing seemed to have,  or if it's just the excitement of waiting for the next big drop of  can't put 'em down books that I miss.

Whatever the case, I'm eagerly awaiting the next big book trends in 2017. I'm ready for there to be another Twilight, Fifty Shades, or Gone Girl - the emergence of exciting new book phenoms and genres, and the inevitable big tide of  "this is my crack" type books that comes on the heels of a popular book trend.

Alrighty, then. That's enough waffling for now. Chin up. Smile. Keep on chooglin'. It's a New Year, a new moon, and time for new experiences. I've officially put on my rose colored glasses and I'm marching onward to a tune from The Beach Boys. Their song lyrics are my motto for 2017:
"Don't worry, baby, everything will turn out alright." 💗

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Ringing in 2017

Happy New Year!  

I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready to put 2016 behind me and move forward into a fresh, new, better year. Woohoo! Let's do this thing.

Wishing you and yours a peaceful and prosperous 2017! #YearOfTheRooster

🐓🍸🎉🎈