Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Planning a relaunch: The Hounding

I did get a tweet from one designer about possibly designing a cover for my mystery. I decided to use my own photo and go ahead with what I have on hand, at least for now. Money is the issue, or at least an issue. Another is that I want to get this done because I have other projects standing in line, tugging at my sleeve. When I first published this novel it was the best-selling mystery novel for a major distributor of the year. As an eBook. We were WAY ahead of our time in 1999. An eBook Reader cost almost $300 and hardly anyone had them. Of course, the book was available in CD-ROM, but who wanted to read on her computer? A laptop weighed several pounds at that time. The great thing about revising this novel and spending so much time with it over the past few weeks is: I've fallen in love with it all over again. "The Hounding" is an homage to the Sherlock Holmes series. I grew up with Sherlock and loved his methods and his eccentricities even more than I loved Nancy Drew. After I moved to Portland, I often thought of Sherlock and his London. I always felt I learned so much from the character of Sherlock about observation, about noticing my surroundings, deducing what had happened in a room before I walked into it by looking at what I saw. These methods have greatly contributed to my abilities as a writer, IMHO.
One day, when I worked downtown, I was walking across busy 5th Avenue, when suddenly I had the idea of having a female detective named Shirley Combs who would have been teased about her name, but in spite of -- or maybe even because of that -- became the world's greatest living detective. One day she meets her Dr. Watson. A young naturopath, Mary Watson, who becomes Shirley's sidekick and narrator. In the beginning I thought I would write a series of their exploits. So far, I've written only the one, beginning with the curse of the hound of the Baskervilles. It isn't too late for this to become a popular book, and to spark a series. And I have no end of ideas. The characters are plenty interesting to me to keep me writing about them. And if not, I have plays to write, poems to write, and a garden to which to tend.
By the way, I also run an editing service, and am all set up to help you get your own works e-published. I'm using Scrivener for that purpose now, which can work with any word processing format you might use. Have you considered e-publishing your short stories for 99 cents? Lots of Kindle readers are looking for those. Check my rates:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Editing my own work

Today I spent the day inputting all the changes I so painstakingly made by hand awhile back to my mystery novel. I am eager to get these changes made on computer, and finally online so I can relaunch my ebook. I am always an early adopter of new media, and this book came out in 1999 as an ebook published by a press that is no longer in business. My reader at that time cost almost $300, and hardly anyone had one. Hardly anyone bought ebooks either. My novel was the best-selling mystery novel (ebook) for 1999, so that tells you how many were sold that year. Ha. Especially considering that it wasn't even published until October! Still, it did get good reviews, so I have high hopes for it in its new life. As it was written so long ago, it definitely needed to be brought into the new millennium, with cell phones and so on. Otherwise, it holds up. I'm going to need two more full days to finish the uploading.
I also want a new cover. And a marketing campaign. This will not happen overnight as much as I would like for it to. Why can't things happen more quickly? Life is too short, and yet things take too long. It has been ever thus.
Do you write mysteries? Do you have a designer you want to recommend to do my cover? I have someone in mind, but they don't specifically do mysteries. I'm open to suggestions.
Leave a comment.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Irish unicorn

This is a photo from one of my favorite trips. Five years ago this coming May, I spent three weeks in Dublin visiting my artist friend (please check out her gallery). We did the largest women's athletic event in the world: an annual 10K. She ran, I walked. It was my first and only so far. I made it it 1:59 hrs. She ran it in 1:01. She was aiming for under an hour, which she had done before. And probably has done since several times, especially since she had joint replacement since then. After our training week, then the run/walk, we toured around Dublin sight-seeing, and ventured out to County Wicklow for nice walks and taking of photos. That's when I found this Irish unicorn. She must have lost her horn in the grass somewhere, or perhaps hid it in the nearby pot o'gold, waiting for us to pass. I've done lots of writing IN Ireland, no writing about Ireland. Have you?

Chime: A new play is born

It has been head down, butt in the chair for the past couple of weeks as I wrapped up the first draft of my first full length play of the new year: "The Stars Are Our Ancestors." Along the way, I also lost one of my best friends. RIP Ginny Foster. She died Saturday night February 4th. She and I were writing buddies for more than 20 years. I am now her literary executor, a great honor. Her works will be archived with the International Centre for Women Playwrights Collection at Ohio State University (as will mine, some are already there). So, there was Ginny's memorial to attend to, and I learned another friend of mine had also died 10 months ago without my having heard, and then two days later another friend died suddenly, shocking many of us. Rough week. In times like these I am especially grateful to be a writer.
"The Stars..." is a satisfying first draft. It did everything I wanted it to do for me, it surprised me, it came together when it should and as it should. I'm feeling pleased with it right now. I know I need to have a reading soon so I can hear all the places it needs rewriting (they always do need rewriting), and at the same time, I'd like to just be in love with it for a few weeks. This is my science play. Not terribly heavy on the science at the moment. I'll leave that for the rewrites. It has a simple set, only four characters, all women, one young, one old, two in their 40s. There is a love story, mother/daughter stories, it addresses adoption, different ethnicities, but it is never an issue play. It is a character-driven play about love and how we are all one, how we are all the stuff of stars. I listened to all kinds of music while I wrote this play: classical, rap, country, rock, blues, jazz, and opera.
I wrote when I didn't feel like writing. I would stop and think, well that's it for today. Then I'd look at the page number. And I'd say to myself, no you have to write ten more pages. Ten more pages? It's already 5 o'clock. Or whatever time it was. And then I'd kick my butt and keep writing. One day I did something I've never done before. I snacked while I wrote. I ate crackers while I was writing! It was past dinner time, I was hungry, and I was unwilling to stop writing. So. Crackers. And water. No dinner until I got those pages finished. What a task master! And guess what? It worked.
Do you ever write this way? And if so, are you pleased with the results? Surprised? Please tell me.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My first time ...

So guess what happened to me last night? I got stuck in an elevator! With NINE other people. I went to a writing workshop, and afterward, got on the elevator which was already crowded, and then 3 more people got on after I did, the door shut, the elevator started down and then just stopped. We had gone 3 feet down. But it would not open, would not budge. And no one would come to fix it. We were put on hold, TWICE. So we called three times. Finally, we called 911. The firefighters got there. The elevator repair people never did arrive, although we had been told they were "almost there" a couple of times. The firefighters opened the door, one of them stood back in the hall with a bowl of candy from the reception table (from the workshop) stuffing his face, and the other (in full gear) reached a hand down, expecting us to haul ourselves up the 3 foot drop somehow, or be pulled up by our arms. I yelled up to the young woman from the workshop, who was dripping sweat from going up and down the stairs to deal with everyone, to get us a chair to climb on and she did, and then we older folks climbed out via the chair. I then beat it the hell down the stairs and outside. We had been in the elevator for an hour. I was hot because it was too crowded in the elevator, plus my hands were full, so I didn't take off my coat. Once outdoors I cooled down quickly and got cold. I had just missed my bus, didn't have hat or gloves and the wind was up. I called my daughter and asked her to pick me up downtown, then walked to the Hawthorne bridge and met her there. It was about a mile's brisk walk, and my ears were burning with cold by the time I got there and she picked me up. I was so glad to get home.
I had a couple of frightened moments on the elevator, but really just didn't let my mind go there. Instead, I struck up conversations with the other writers around me, asking them what they were working on. All the women have strong female protagonists -- even the YA writer. There was a young woman at the back of the elevator who isn't a writer, but is a broadcaster. She had been dealing with brain cancer. Is now looking for work. She seemed bright and optimistic, certainly was poised in our situation. I hope she finds work soon. We writers shared our current projects' stories with each other to pass the time. I was struck by the creativity and promise of each one.
All in all, I'd have to say I probably got as much from the experience in the elevator as I did from the workshop. Which is not a diss to the workshop -- I liked the interaction in the elevator is all. Plus it was free, and had the bonus of great relief at the end.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Busy, busy, busy -- writing!

I procrastinated for one day, then dove in to my writing projects so hard I forgot to come up long enough to blog about them. I completed revising "Asylum No More" for the umpteenth time, but this time after seeing it performed before live audiences, receiving feedback from thoughtful friends, getting on-point questions from the director. Sent it out before deadline to an important festival. Was also referred by a director to a theatre company that produces works with African-American casts. It would be lovely to have the play read there as well.
Now I'm working on writing my new play: "The Stars Are Our Ancestors." This has meant listening to a book on tape which I read years ago -- "A Brief History of Time." Listening to it means I can listen to it again, until I understand the concept. When I'm reading, sometimes the pages are like Teflon -- my eyes keep sliding off. My play contains dark energy, dark matter, black holes, and stars. My protagonist has to have ideas, thoughts, and something to say about these things. So ... So do I.
Meanwhile, I'm also studying for a job that's coming up. Memorizing material. I like challenging my brain for that as well. I alternate my projects. Work on one thing for awhile, go away and work on another.
Keeping busy also keeps me sane. How do you take care of yourself?