Confluence is Here!

As you can see from the bafflingly large (?! wtf WordPress) thumbnail in the sidebar on my homepage, Confluence is out!

Click on the picture to go straight to its Amazon page or visit boomkaartbooks.com/books. Tunerville is also on sale through Friday, September 17, just in case you haven’t read it yet (ebook only).

It’s just the ebook right now—a paperback is coming but not until I go through a proof copy. The preview looked okay, but you never know.

You can watch the trailer below. I have better software now and I think it turned out pretty good. I’m not happy with this being the thumbnail, but YouTube wouldn’t pull one from the first bit, so poo on them; it’s their fault. Neener neener!

I’m not sure what I’m going to do next. My conlang needs a LOT of work, and I want to write something else. I promised to finish this trilogy (and I will!). NaNoWriMo is coming up, but in my current situation, I don’t think I’m in the best place mentally to do it, unless I find a job and a place before then.

Y’all have no idea how bad this is. Really. The system is so broken. You can’t get a job unless you already have one, because if you don’t have one you’re not a desirable employee? I mean, what is that? Why would I need a job if I already have one?

I just need someone to give me a chance. :'( My creativity has taken a hit. All I can do is my best. I hope you enjoy the new book.

Confluence Cover Reveal!

Behold, the cover for Confluence, Book 2 of the Tuner Trilogy!

If you follow me on Twitter at @DameWritesalot or at @BoomkaartBooks, now you know why I kept tagging it with a hole, haha.

There will be a paperback, a bit later but the e-book is imminent. I need time to order a proof copy of the PB to make sure everything prints properly. I did not do that with The Shiny Folk and was disappointed, but oh well, no one is buying that anyway. Anyway, my beta and hard-copy edits are done. Layout is done. The paperback cover is done—I can’t usually do that until I know how many pages it will be, since I have to use a template.

I am nervous, y’all. Ner. Vous. Even though I’ve done this twice now, I’m always scared I messed something up. But I can fix it. I have that power.

No sword, though. Alas.

Also, I think WordPress has jacked up their editor again. I can’t see headings now. They’re trying to force me to pay to upgrade and that is NOT going to happen. It can’t; I still do not have a day job.

I will make another announcement when the e-book goes live on Amazon. See you then!

Confluence: We’re in the Home Stretch Now

Greetings, programs!

Image: Disney / twincitiesgeek.com

Betas are finished. Feedback is good. I have printed, hole-punched, and bindered my hard copy. The latter involved digging through my storage unit for the office box that contained my hole punch and manuscript binder. You see, I packed them, because I assumed I would be in my own apartment and UN-packed by the time I needed them again, but as we all know, the ‘rona is still borking everything up.

At least I think it’s the ‘rona. It could just be me. :P

LOOKY LOOKY, IT’S MY BOOKY

Photo: Elizabeth West

Don’t pay any attention to the word count; it’s not final.

At any rate, we’re rounding third base and headed toward home now. I recently finished the book trailer for Confluence and I cannot WAIT to show it to you. You’ll get it when the book goes on pre-order. I have better software. It’s so good I can’t stop watching it.

In fact, it’s so much better than the other one that I actually redid and replaced the second Tunerville book trailer. It’s exactly the same; it just plays and looks much smoother overall. Since that video is linked to my portfolio, I decided I’d rather have a better-quality version, instead of the one I made in PowerPoint. Embarrassing!

The next thing you’ll get from me is probably a cover reveal. I will do that before I drop the trailer. Now to make the inside as spiffy as the rest of my materials, haha.

If I can stay off Iceland’s Geldingadalir volcano feeds, that is. I may be slightly obsessed with this thing. But can you blame me?



Book 2 is with Beta Readers and I’m Anxious

It is almost July! Still no job! Fuck everyone and everything! Burn it all!

Now that’s out of my system, it’s not all bad. I’ve had a couple of interviews, including a second one (although that company hasn’t contacted me yet; I plan to follow up on Monday but I suspect they went with someone else). I also actually DID get hired for a contract job in March, helping Alison Green of Ask A Manager get her pages and pages of December updates sorted.

And…

I took the CompTIA test—AND PASSED IT! I’m Project+ certified! I don’t ever have to take that test again!

We do the dance of joy!

Burying the lede; Confluence has been sent to my two beta readers. I still have to do a hard copy edit, but I didn’t want to do that until I received some feedback, in case I have to move or delete anything. I haven’t even looked at it since I sent it. Instead, I had to study for the test.

Since I passed the test and don’t have to study for it anymore, the project activity list in my WBS (jargon, heh) looks like this:

Conlang (depending on how extra I decide to be and how far I decide to take it, it could be just an artlang or a whole-ass separate thing).
– Beta edits.
– Hard copy edit.
– Trailer:
– Video edits.
– Audio edits.
– Assembly.

A note here: I know the first trailer was laughably amateurish, and the second wasn’t much better except for the fabulous voiceover. I’ve been watching a lot of professionally produced videos on Twitter and elsewhere and I noticed I’m seeing shots now instead of just content. Seriously, there’s nowhere to go from here but up!

– Back cover layout (I’ve got the front cover the way I want it). I can’t do this until I know for sure how many pages the paperback will have, because Amazon templates depend on page count.
– Inside layout (easy; I already did it with Tunerville and all three books will be the same).
– Set up pre-orders (if I can figure it out) and submit to KDP.
– Paperback proofread.
– Get a damn job so I can find another distributor because Amazon

I have a world compendium too, but I haven’t decided yet if that’s just for me or if it will be for you too.

Assuming I did a halfway decent job and anyone will care.

Image by Hassan Nawaz from Pixabay

I am so, so tired of job hunting, y’all. Even though working again will mean less hours in the day to write/produce, I think having my own space again will help a lot. The current situation is not good for my mental health, and that does affect my creativity. I’m hoping for a change of scenery far away from here, but we’ll have to see what we get.

I’m very anxious about what my betas will say. The extra outside edit with Tunerville has not happened this time. I just want to finish the story, but I want to give you the best version of it. I was hoping to have Confluence out and Book 3 started by now—between the CompTIA class and the Momergency, it’s just been crazy. (Once again, know the signs of a stroke; when in doubt, call 911 immediately.)

But I’ve begun to move into Book 3 headspace. So the machinery is ramping up again.

Although I’ve tried to make Confluence a self-contained story as much as I can, in the vein of The Empire Strikes Back, it’s still a middle bit. Obligatory plug: If you haven’t read Tunerville yet, get it here.

I’m excited about Book 3. I really am. It’s gonna be FUN.

HEY YOU GUYYYYYS!

Sorry it’s been a while since I posted. Still no job, still no new place.

This week, I finished a rough cut of the trailer for Confluence and the IRS dropped the $600 stimmy into my account (finally), so I sent off the contract to my voice-over actor. The trailer is much smoother than the first one because I used Movie Maker instead of PowerPoint this time. Making these is kinda fun, I must admit.  

I can’t wait to show off my cover! Seriously, I’m really happy with it. Now I’m combing through the manuscript again before I send it to beta readers.

In other news, Mom got Moderna COVID vaccine number one a week or two ago through the county health department. She’s set to get her second shot at the end of this month. She had NO side effects whatsoever, not even a sore arm. I signed up through the health department and a different healthcare system. The latter contacted me first for an appointment.

So, as of yesterday:

You get whatever flavor they have—in my case, it was Pfizer. Side effects so far have included sleepiness (I went to bed at 10:00 pm last night, unheard of for me), a sore arm this morning, and a little dizziness and fatigue, nothing serious. I do have a bit of a headache. But it’s difficult to tell if that’s vaccine-related or because it was very windy yesterday and we’re into allergy season.

My microchip doesn’t seem to be working. I look nothing like the Winter Soldier.

Keep wearing your masks and get your vaccine as soon as possible, folks. I recommend signing up via various platforms and also using a vaccine spotter like this one to snag an appointment when your state opens eligibility. Outside the US, check with your local health authorities. If you’re in Brazil (I have at least one reader who is), please, do your best to stay safe!

Confluence will probably go on pre-order, something I didn’t do last time. I will definitely let you know when that will happen. Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet read Tunerville, grab a copy now—you’ll have a much better reading experience with Book 2 if you read it first.  

The Shiny Folk and other stories has come off expanded distribution, as it’s not selling, the royalty is much lower, and I need every penny I can get. So for now, you can only get the story collection in the U.S. I’m exploring options other than Amazon’s platform but that will have to wait until I find work.

The dream of traditional publishing has not died. As writers continue to practice their craft, they get better. Once I finish Book 3 of the Tuner Trilogy, I have another fantasy waiting in the wings. It’s all outlined and ready for me to start work. I’d hoped Tunerville would be the one, especially since I got so close. Maybe The Catalyst will. Who knows? If not, you’ll get it the indie way, unless I massively f*ck it up.

Always a possibility.

Short post is short since I’m feeling vax-tired. Till next time, keep reading. It’s not like there’s anything else to do in the (hopefully waning) days of a global pandemic.

JanNoWriMo 2021 – Day 1

I just realized I forgot ALL ABOUT THIS (see previous post, the Bad section).

My progress will be slow due to the need to study for that exam. But I just opened a new project in my SmartEdit Writer program, and I have 1,961 words already, mostly from jotting down bits of scenes and dialogue here and there.

Plus, I also wrote some that I thought about putting in Confluence but realized they’d fit better in a third book, and I saved them. I wasn’t going to give myself a word count target; however, the program has set it up at 20,000.

Hey wait a minute, I have 1,961 words already, I SWEAR.

That gives me a 645-word target per day. I can probably manage that. Even if I get behind, I should be able to catch up. A good writing session for me can hit 2,000-plus words easily.

This one’s going to take a while, folks. I don’t have a title for Book 3 yet, but we’re off and running! I’ve dropped a small meter in the sidebar at the right of the home page. I’ll post weekly updates (not daily) because I’m busy.

The Difficult Middle Bit

Confluence is off to my editor! It toddled out of my computer on September 26, as a very rough second draft.

They grow up so fast.

Image by Comfreak from Pixabay 

This book series completely ignores what is going on in the world today, because it has to. I wrote Tunerville before tRumpledneckskin and COVID, and it would wreck everything if I tried to shoehorn in either of them. So I made an executive decision to leave it out. Plus, you don’t have to think about either of those things while reading it.

I sent it off early because I wanted to avoid the issue I had with the last book. By the time I found someone to do a really thorough edit, I’d done so much polishing I almost had to tear it down and rebuild it. This time, it’s rather loose, so I can shuffle things around more easily.

Writing a book is tough. Writing the second book in a trilogy is even tougher. I didn’t start out intending for Tunerville to have a sequel, but here we are. A middle book has to bridge the gap between the first book and the last and still hold up on its own.

I got some great advice from the writers on the podcast WRITERS/BLOCKBUSTERS. Although it’s a screenwriting podcast, I learn something about storytelling every time I listen. They talked at length about this in their Infinity War episode. Both this film and The Empire Strikes Back were complete stories in themselves. That is, characters had definite arcs and those arcs had resolutions, even as they led into their respective sequels.

He did it.

Infinity War pulled all the threads of the MCU together and propelled us to the majestic ending in Endgame. Nobody here is getting snapped, but I drew something out of Tunerville and some shit is going down.

The ghost tuner opened up a can of worms for the characters. They’re suffering through it, and it isn’t their fault. They’re facing some strange and terrible things. But I hope they’ll find the strength they never knew they had.

Stay tuned for updates; you can follow me and my press, Boomkaart Books, on social media. I’m on Instagram but as it’s primarily a platform for pics and video, I don’t have much to post there. Nobody wants to see the four walls I stare at every day.

Once I’m out of this dungeon, that will likely change; I want to produce some video and audio content, but I can’t alter this space and my family member seems to be on a remodeling kick (yes, in the middle of a damn pandemic!). The noise level and inability to set up recording space have curtailed that for now.

Back to worldbuilding; have a good weekend and be safe. Wear the damn mask!

Pandemic Brain and Last Day for a Free Book

If you are reading this on Labor Day, you can get the Kindle edition of The Shiny Folk and other stories for free, through midnight 9/7/2020.

Y’all, I have seriously neglected you, and I’m sorry.

I have pandemic brain. Yes, you understand it. We’re all suffering from it. Time has no meaning. Days blend into one another. If you’re working, you’re either stressed from worrying about contagion or stressed from navigating your job at home, maybe around family members also working from home, kids, pets, etc.

If you’re not working, as I Still! Am! Not!, you’re stressed from that.

FOR THE LAST TIME, DEXTER, MY COMPUTER MOUSE IS NOT A CAT TOY!

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

Last post, I mentioned I was going to republish a third and final edition of The Shiny Folk and other stories at Amazon. You can read my explanation for that move at Boomkaart Books’ Media page. Honestly, I wish I didn’t have to distribute there, but IngramSpark is too expensive. It costs me nothing to publish with KDP, even for print-on-demand. Of course, that’s by design; Jeff “Greed Dragon” Bezos makes money off me, though God knows I’m not making very much. If it’s free for you, then you’re the product.

Again, sorry my pandemic brain forgot to come over here and tell you I’d launched it, and about the free book promotion.

I’m extremely happy with the new book cover, however. I think it turned out great. It’s miles better than the last one.

This is the paperback cover. I just now noticed it’s basically the same layout as the Tunerville cover. Apparently, I can only learn one thing at a time.

I added a couple of stories—one from this blog, one I published previously in a now-defunct literary journal (that I’d put on the blog), and one brand new story, “MathLex.” If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how difficult math is for me, so guess where that one came from? The cover is black because a couple of the stories fall into the horror genre, particularly “Jack and the Bean Sprout,” which I’ve never been able to sell since it’s straight-up disturbing.

Have I been writing more stories? Well, yes and no. Short fiction isn’t my favorite medium; although I like reading it, I’m not so fond of writing it. “MathLex” is new. I started a promising work about werewolves, but honestly, I don’t have the bandwidth for it right now, between revising Confluence and job hunting.

I said January 2021 for the release of Confluence; I may have to push it out a little depending on the timing of editorial feedback. Once it’s out, I can write the final book in the trilogy—it’s all laid out in my head, and I’m toying with the idea of writing it during this year’s NaNoWriMo.

The Catalyst is on hold for now, although it’s completely outlined. I’m not worried about that one. I just don’t want to pull a George R. R. Martin or Patrick Rothfuss on y’all, or leave you with an unfinished trilogy if I should get the ‘Rona or my head explodes from all the stress.

He only teases you because he loves you.

By Henry Söderlund – Pre-Hugo Portraiture is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

I tend to work better if I have something to work around. Like a job.

And may I just say that if a person goes to all the trouble to prepare for an interview, i.e. looking up the company website and info, setting up a nice space, dressing up, logging into Zoom, etc. etc., they at least deserve a rejection email. If you ghost me, you go on my shit list. FOREVER. And no, an email a month after the date you told me you wanted someone to start doesn’t count.

In the meantime, I’d better get back to it. There is no rest for the self-employed, and that includes writers, who don’t get paid until we actually finish the work. In between bouts of app-centered self care, that is.

And pondering whether Happy Color’s Marvel coloring books are actually worth $2.99 each, or in-app purchases are for suckers.

Updates on Book 2 and Other Assorted Nonsense

How’s it going, y’all?

I hope everyone is safe, and your families too. A lot’s happened since I last posted. Well, in the world; not for me. Still no job; still a basement dweller.

It would help if it were full of wine.

Image by Tania Dimas from Pixabay

Some updates:

Screenplay

The screenplay continues to grind along very slowly. I don’t think a massive online open course where people can proceed at their own pace (i.e. fall behind) is best for beginners learning a very interactive writing process. There are so many people in the class that no one can connect. The platform doesn’t allow you to follow anyone to see their progress. This is massively frustrating, since we’re required to give feedback to other writers. I would have preferred an in-person class with more interaction.

Even Zoom would help.

Image by Jagrit Parajuli from Pixabay

Critique is useful, but I’m tempted to just proceed on my own. I downloaded all the videos and lectures. Although I think it could be shot on a fairly low budget, I highly doubt I’ll ever do anything with it. It’s fine; this screenplay is only for learning anyway. Your first anything will never be your best.

Book 2

I’ve set a release date of January 2021 for Book 2. And — I have a working title! It’s Confluence.

If I hustle, I should be able to revise and find an editor (and then revise again after that). Setting a deadline will hold me accountable. I really wish I could go somewhere else to work — the library would be good — but Missouri’s caseload keeps going up, so no.

I’m in your state, being a little bitch.

Image by Pabitra Kaity from Pixabay

Meanwhile, I took some time yesterday to mock up a layout of Chris’s house from Tunerville, where his maternal grandparents lived. When they died, his mother sold the house to him to keep it in the family, since Chris intended to stay in Martinsburg. Paulette and Alan moved to St. Thomas close to Chris’s brother Adam, his wife Carmen, and their grandchildren Mags and Henry. (Martinsburg and St. Thomas in Missouri are both fictional.) If you haven’t read it yet, you can get it at the title link.

Here’s the ground floor and the basement.

Image: A. Elizabeth West

Here’s the upstairs and the attic. I did these in Word, which sucks. I need to find some cheap (or free) easy-to-use room layout software.

Image: A. Elizabeth West

It helps me to have a representation of the space. When I’m writing, rooms tend to shift around in my head. During Book 1, the living room kept changing places with the dining room and the parlor / study. And the downstairs bath didn’t even exist! Chris’s bedroom also moved from the back to the front. But the kitchen has always been in that spot.

I don’t care if it’s not perfect. This is how it looks in my head. I need a solid image of the space for a pivotal scene.  

Workshops

In June, I attended two online workshops — How to Write Fights and Action Scenes, and Act Like a Writer — with comic book and NYT best-selling novel writer Jonathan Maberry, author of V-Wars and the Joe Ledger series, among others.

He presented scads of useful information and even took questions. Jonathan is very accessible on Twitter and prices his workshops affordably, a great help to little starveling writers like me. The proceeds from both went to an affordable housing organization, so coughing up $50 felt worth it in every way.

The Shiny Folk and other stories

I’ve taken my story collection down from the Boomkaart Books website temporarily. WordPress downgraded my ability to sell it directly from that platform unless I purchase an expensive Business account. I can’t do that presently, so the only alternative is to sell it via Amazon (ugh, I know). To do that, I have to raise the price a little and burn one of my ISBN numbers, so I’m including new content and a brand new cover. This will be the last edition of the collection. When it’s ready, I will let you know.

Conlang / Worldbuilding

Again, plugging away. I finally settled on place names for the world that goes with it. Of course, anything can change at any time as I plunge deeper into grammar, etc.

I also made a map using Inkarnate, an online map maker any Dungeons and Dragons players reading this will probably recognize. I like it despite the free version being somewhat limited. Should I stay on the high fantasy kick, I might pony up for a (very reasonable) Pro account.

Here’s a teaser:

That’s pronounced BETTHH-rah, by the way. In this language, ss is pronounced as the th in them. That’s all you’re getting. I’ve already said more than I probably should.

I’ve never gone this deep into fantasy before, and I’m not sure it will be a success, but it’s fun, so I don’t really care. If you enjoy the story, that’s all that counts.

I’ll leave you now to return to job hunting and revision. Stay safe — wash your hands, wear your masks, and avoid all the germy people (most of them).

And don’t forget to register to vote!

Diversity in Tunerville and I Promise to Finish the Series, Y’all

Yep, I wrote a sequel. Yep, that’s the one I finished in December 2018. Yep, there will be one more.

Last year, I got into a discussion with some people who were reluctant to buy into book series because they’d previously been burned when a writer bailed and didn’t finish. I understand how frustrating it is to get invested in something that disappears (Firefly, anyone?), but traditional publishers will ditch a series if the first book doesn’t sell.

Since this is my enterprise, I’m free to plunge ahead regardless. I don’t know if anyone beyond my blog or my friends will read my current work. Even if that list is small, everyone on it deserves the best and most complete story I can give them.

With that in mind, I formally declare my intention to FINISH THE DAMN SERIES.

yelling cat sitting on a tiny polka dot sofa

Whether you want it or not!

Image by Deutsch / pixabay.com

Now that Tunerville is out and you may have read it already, I want to talk a little bit about the characters in the context of diversity. If you have not read the book yet and would rather not know anything, you might want to bail on this post now.

If you haven’t read it yet, you can get Tunerville (and my story collection, The Shiny Folk) here. I’m not sure that Amazon is shipping physical books currently; due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re focusing on supplies. Paperbacks might have to wait. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can get a free app here. It works on everything.

Consensus seems to be, rightfully, that lived experiences are best and most authentically portrayed by those who have lived them. The controversy around Jeanine Cummins’ recent novel American Dirt is a case in point. The linked article contains a quote from actress Eva Longoria, who points out:

“There’s a bidding war over this book, which means all the publishers wanted this book. And they wanted some sort of way in to a different community. The problem with that is that the publishing industry is 80% white, from agents to editors and publicists.”

I don’t think it’s impossible for a white, cisgender, straight author to write about a culture or identity to which they don’t belong. However, because the majority of white, cisgender, straight authors are divorced from anything other than our own experience (and this is by design in a white supremacist society), if we choose to, it falls on us to approach it carefully.

The LGBTQ characters and those of color in Tunerville function in the book’s close orbits admittedly without much friction. The Crew is inclusive; they coalesce around their shared interest in ghost hunting. Gabriel, who is black, is the one who started the Ghost Crew. His wife Ann-Marie is a law student. Josh’s new boyfriend Trevor is welcomed, his extreme disengagement the only eyebrow-raiser.

While Chris’s impulse to help ghosts is laudable, it takes him a while to grasp the real meaning of the saying “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” The media attention around Chris drives Josh to remove himself from the Ghost Crew for his and Trevor’s safety. In a stinging diatribe, he serves Chris a blunt reminder of the latter’s selfishness — and his privilege:

“[…] just because you don’t hassle people for being who they are doesn’t mean everybody is so enlightened. You don’t have a clue. You can walk down the street holding somebody’s hand and nobody throws a beer bottle at you.”

An invisible hand clamped over Chris’s mouth. Neither Josh nor his last boyfriend, the other victim of that attack, had wanted to report it, lest they invite more harassment or scrutiny.

“Nobody objects to where you live,” Josh continued. “Nobody leaves nasty notes on your car. Nobody tells you, ‘You better keep away from my kids if you move in here.’” He choked on the last word. “You got what you wanted. I’m trying to have what I want. And I will not lose this relationship because of you.”

Chris faces a public shaming directly after this conversation. It’s a hard lesson for him. The tuner is a great leveler — a reminder that everybody dies. But the questions it raises bring out the tendency of people to judge and categorize. The ghosts of all demographics find themselves reduced to a novelty, their humanity the subject of endless debate.

The viewpoint in Tunerville remains grounded in that of the white, straight characters — Chris, Hannah, and Hector, with a brief sojourn into Dean’s head. Of these, only Dean could be considered marginalized; as an incorporated ghost, he’s well aware of the prejudice the newly resurrected face. He’s not only out of place but out of time.

I think she can understand that.

I wanted to make a point there about Chris’s self-indulgence beyond the longing that drove him to invent the tuner in the first place. He’s a creature of privilege whose ability to indulge his own desires without question has never been challenged. When it is, he bristles, but since he’s good at heart, I let him embrace the opportunity to widen his view, which is what we all should be doing.

ESPECIALLY RIGHT NOW. Viruses have no nationality, y’all.

As a cishet white woman (who isn’t a ghost — yet), discrimination is not likely to affect me. Nobody is profiling me or trying to deport me. My only experience of marginalization is being female in a male-centric world and dyscalculic in a math-centered one. I don’t face death and abuse every time I walk out the door.

I couldn’t leave out people who aren’t like me entirely, because they exist, in my world and in Chris’s. When I wrote this book, I knew less than I do now, and I know less today than I will tomorrow. Every day is a chance to learn.

For now, staying in my lane felt like the safe choice and the most respectful one. I’d rather hear those stories from the people who lived them.

Book 2 will feature more Hannah. And lest you think I fridged Josh, he will return. I have plans for him.

At some point, I’ll have a job again and when I do, perhaps I’ll have enough money to do a Goodreads giveaway. They charge for that and it’s not cheap.

In the meantime, listen to the Toilet Paper Knight — stay home and stay safe!!

He’s not the hero we deserve, but he’s the one we need right now.