Archive for the ‘The Writing Life’ Category

Q and A at Publishing Spark!

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

I have a Q and A at Publishing Spark today. Hop on over and check it out.

What is Publishing Spark, you ask? It’s an email/newsletter list provider. If you’re an author, it’s a super easy version of MailChimp. Right now I have email lists on MailChimp, Mailer Lite and Publishing Spark, and I’m testing each out for various lists. I started over on MailChimp, and I really like them, but as my subscriber base grows I’m just in a place right now where I really want the automation features but my writing income, um, still needs work and MC is a tad on the high end for my needs. Enter Mailer Lite and Publishing Spark, both of which offer automation on their lowest tier or free trials. I’m trying out both over the next twelve months.

At the Publishing Spark blog today, I’m talking about my new book, PICTURE IMPERFECT, how I use my mailing lists, and basically offering some writerly advice. I hope to see you there!

Travel Bug

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

It’s been a week since my husband and I returned from a month-long trip to Australia. We had a marvelous time! Caught up with family members in Melbourne, met family we haven’t met before, stayed with friends in Perth who we met on our trip to the Galapagos two years ago, and did tons of exploring on our own. Even met up with an author pal from California who just happened to be in Sydney during the same time.

I am exhausted.

Traveling is a blast, but work piles up while you’re gone. So I’ve been slowly tackling the paper pile on my desk while trying my best to combat spring fever (it’s sunny out – I want outside!). The jet lag this year is killing us, possibly because, on top of losing a day on the trip there and then gaining a day on the trip back, we switched time zones within Australia itself four times. So that was six time/day changes in total in four weeks. Almost immediately upon our return, we needed to go out of town overnight, this time to somewhere fairly local, just as beautiful and intoxicating as Australia but different. Lakes instead of oceans. Trees instead of red rock and desert.

I fully intend to blog about this trip. I intended to blog about our trip to China last year to see our son, however, time and family events got away on me. So I might blog about Australia and then blog about China. We’ll see. First, I need to upload my pictures and sort through them. Well, before that, must continue clearing off my desk and then return to the writing project I last looked at in late February/early March. It’s been a long time since I had a new release. A new book is coming, the release date of which is dependant on editing schedules, and then I’ll return to writing the Love & Other Calamities short story series. Before all that, indeed very, very soon, is a little treat. If you haven’t yet read my books, stay tuned!

The Life of an Indie Writer

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

I originally tried writing this post on my iPad several days ago, when I was deep in polishing and proofing BORROWING ALEX for re-issue. But the iPad kept putting the entire post in as the title, so I wound up whining on Facebook instead.

I actually came here today to write about something else, when I saw this post still in draft. Clever moi, on my desktop I was able to cut and paste the post from the title to the body of the post. So I figured I might as well post it and you can come back tomorrow for Close Encounters of the Bambi Kind, the post I sat down to actually write!

The Life of an Indie Writer

It’s not all glamor and quaffing chocolate!

You know when you run your manuscript through a program that’s supposed to help you spot errors and then the next time you open the manuscript in your word processor all your italics have switched to a different font, and, by the way, so has some random text? And no matter what you do to update the styles, the irritating font that you don’t want keeps springing up seemingly at random? And then the font keeps backtracking and eating your italics? So you have to save your file to Notepad and do a “nuclear purge”? Which necessitates earmarking all the italics in the manuscript through some stupid method you dreamed up? Then you have to open a new document in your word processor, cut and paste the nuclear purge into it, and reapply all your styles meanwhile continually making and remaking a dumb mistake until you finally recognize your non-brilliance?

And THEN you have to painstakingly re-do all the italics before re-reading the manuscript, emailing it to your Kindle to read again, before you can hope to listen to said manu on audio software, because listening on audio catches mistakes your eye can’t see? And all through this process, you become addicted to question marks?

THAT.

~~~~~

That was where I was several days ago in the process of re-issuing BORROWING ALEX, my romantic comedy that was originally published by Amber Quill Press in 2007. I have now moved through that process and read and re-read the manuscript countless times. Despite that the book was professionally proofread by Amber Quill Press and that the only couple of errors that crept into the published version were caught while proofing the audio edition by AudioLark in 2011, I had done a lot of heavy editing plus written two new scenes, and, in doing so, had introduced new errors. I thought some of you might find my proofing methods helpful, especially if you’re a writer yourself. But that’s a post for another day. For now I’m getting this one out there and on to writing Close Encounters of the Bambi Kind.

P.S. I am at the cover design and formatting stage for the BORROWING ALEX re-issue! Woot!

An Awkward Thing Happened on the Way into the Bookstore

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

First, I love my new Gunnars! Thanks to the weird yellow lenses cutting the blue glare of my desktop screen, I can finally get productive again! Which is very good. Because I’m behind in many things, including updating both my websites.

Second, writers are introverts. Most writers are, anyway. And I’m no exception. We spend the majority of our time tucked away in our offices, spinning stories from our imaginations. Before the Internet, we rarely interacted with the public (unless we were famous, which most of us weren’t—and aren’t). Along comes the Internet, and it’s easier to interact with our readers because we’re still sitting in our offices while doing the interacting. Most writers, if asked by a publisher, to go into a local bookstore and sign copies of a recent release, will be hesitant to do it. In fact, most of us have to force ourselves to do this sort of thing. There’s something weird or a bit off about trumpeting one’s own writing. Other artistic endeavors, like singing, dancing and acting, the idea is to be in front of an audience. Writers like to hide inside our books.

Now, most people who know me in “real life” would never believe that I’m an introvert. That I was a shy child. That I had to force myself to learn to come out of my shell. And that shell is a very comfortable place. It just so happens that I have developed the knack of being a social introvert.

So…a couple of weeks ago, Penny (nickname for my “pen” name, check the blog legend in the right sidebar if you’re confused), had a new release, an excerpt of a single title erotic romance included in a multi-author anthology with several other Canadian erotic romance authors. Until now, all of Penny’s publishers—and all of mine as Cindy—have been based in the United States. And because I live in a smaller town not near any large urban centers, I’ve never seen my—nor Penny’s—books in a bookstore except for the one time I briefly had, as Cindy, copies of the second edition of HEAD OVER HEELS available on commission in a local independent. Then that independent went belly-up, and it took me several years (I know, the horror) to try and arrange another bookstore consignment for my Cindy books. I am in the process of attempting to get that done now.

But Penny, that little devil, likes to jump ahead of me in such matters. So, with the release of the multi-author erotic romance anthology in mid-February, Penny found her way into a local independent bookstore (different from the one that went belly-up). The publisher of the anthology asked me a few times if I had plans to pop into the bookstore and sign copies of the anthology or—agh!!!!—arrange a public booksigning. He was quite persistent, so I agreed that if the “sales team” let the independent in question know what was going on, that I would appear this week or next to sign the copies on the shelves, or in the warehouse if desired. Anything to get out of a public signing and being asked directions to the Dr. Seuss aisle.

Being the brilliant sort that I am, I decided that if I had to torture my introverted self by waltzing into the bookstore and asking to sign copies of the anthology, I might as well get all the pain over with at once and bring along trade copies of HEAD OVER HEELS and WHERE SHE BELONGS for the possible consignment sales. But first, the signing of the anthology needed to be accomplished.

As it so happened, the manager of the bookstore, a lovely young woman, approached me when I entered the store. I thought, “Better make sure they have copies first.” So asked, “Do you have copies of ANTHOLOGY TITLE?” (If you follow that link, you’ll miraculously learn it). She said yes and took me toward them. I was happy to see that they had about ten copies on the shelves. But! At this point I should have been jumping up and down, ecstatic to finally, after all these years, see one of my books on local bookstore shelves that I hadn’t placed there on consignment (even if my name wasn’t on the cover, as there are about twelve contributing authors so only the editor’s name is on the cover). That moment was totally lost to me. I didn’t take a picture. I didn’t kiss the books. Instead, I had to tell the manager, “This might sound a little weird, but I’m one of the contributing authors in this book and my publisher asked me to come down and sign copies. Do you want me to sign the copies?” (Because, well, maybe she didn’t). I think the manager was as surprised by the question as I was by my need to be there so I could tell the publisher that I had followed through with his dastardly plan to extricate me from my office. I took along a copy of another book WITH Penny’s name on the cover, to sort of prove that I was who I said I was, but it turned out she believed me because apparently no one in my town has ever waltzed into the bookstore claiming to be an author in a particular book when in fact they weren’t. I guess that’s not something Canadians like to lie about.

At any rate, we took the books into the back office, and I signed them away from the unknowing crowds, and then she placed them back on the bookshelf. It was a little embarrassing, because the publisher had said something along the lines of how the sales people had informed local bookstores that authors in the area (being me for my area) might be stopping in to sign the copies. But the manager in my independent didn’t know a blessed thing. I don’t know who told who, but no one told her, not even me, because I could not bring myself to call before going down first. No, I just had to buck up and fill the car with recycling and shopping lists, and pop in.

I was home and removing the groceries from the trunk before I realized that I hadn’t fully relished seeing ONE OF MY BOOKS ON BOOKSTORE SHELVES. For the first time ever without having placed them on consignment. Because of my nerves, because of my natural inclination to rather sit home and write, I totally missed on that once-in-a-lifetime experience. So now I’m hoping I’ll run across the anthology in another Canadian bookstore. Then I’ll have my giggle and chuckle. After all this time, I’m on Canadian bookstore shelves (on behalf of Penny)! That feels really great.

Newsletter Issue Fixed. Phew.

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

Thank you very much to my Gmail guinea pig! It turns out that, yes, Gmail users CAN join my newsletter. Something wonky was going on with a specific reader, but that reader has now successfully signed on, too.

Remember, the way Yahoogroups works, you enter your email address in the sign-up box on a website (like mine in the sidebar of this blog) or by clicking a link that opens your email program. Do not put anything in the subject line. Just send off the email.

You will receive a confirmation email that you need to hit reply on, or Yahoo won’t subscribe you to the newsletter. Keep a look-out for this confirmation email, because it might go into your spam box, depending on your ISP’s settings.

Over and out!

Newsletter Issues – Any Gmail Guinea Pigs Out There?

Friday, May 25th, 2012

A reader with Gmail let me know she’s having difficulty signing up for my newsletter at Yahoogroups, which I send out when I have new releases or major news. I’ll have occasion to send out a new issue mid-June, so I need to get this sorted out and am looking for a couple of Gmail users willing to help me out. The reader can’t seem to sign up for the newsletter from my website, and when I sent her an invitation from Yahoogroups, she didn’t receive it. A reader with an ISP email address tested signing up for me and she had no problems. So I’m wondering if Yahoo and Gmail are having some sort of argument, and they very well might be. I just checked the membership list and there isn’t one single Gmail subscriber on there.

If you’re willing to help me out but don’t really WANT to belong to my newsletter group, have no fear, I will not behead you if you unsubscribe after letting me know that you’ve successfully signed on. This isn’t a campaign for more subscribers (although that would be nice), but an attempt to help the reader having trouble.

So here’s what I need you to do.

If you’re with Gmail, please attempt to sign up for my newsletter either through (a) Yahoogroups, (b)OR by inputting your email  address into the Newsletter Sign-up box at the top right of my blog, (c) OR by clicking the Sign Up For Cindy’s Newsletter graphic on the lower right of my home page (just above News) and then following directions (you’ll need to confirm that you want to sign up). Clicking that graphic should bring up the subscription address in your email program and you hit Send on a blank email from there. There should be no message in your email. Just the subscribe to address in the Send To field. (d) OR, there’s also a click-able link on my Contact page that should also bring up the subscribe to email address in your email program of choice.

See? Four ways to do it. I’m nothing if not accommodating, right?

After signing up, please email me privately and let me know that you’ve tried to subscribe. I should get a notification from Yahoogroups if the subscription is successful, but I have no way of knowing if you’re signing up because you want to receive my newsletters or if you’re signing up to help me with the Gmail issue. So please don’t forget to drop me a note and let me know you’re with Gmail and have tried to sign up.

If I get a couple of successful Gmail subscribers, I’ll let you know through private email that you’re on the list and then you can unsub if you want. Not an issue there.

Thanks!

Cindy

Ahhhgonomics

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

A few posts back I said I’d give an update on my shoulder condition and my quest for the perfect keyboard. First, I’m not convinced there is such a thing as a perfect keyboard, because to make it truly perfect it would have to be custom made to your specifications. However, I am very happy to report that I am making progress with my rotator cuff injury and have found a keyboard/mouse combination that seems to work for me. I have had both installed for about a week. I am still attending massage therapy once a week, and I still can’t undo my bra behind my back (when I can do that again, I’ll know I’m healed), but I am no longer attending physiotherapy AND massage once a week. I am doing exercises to strengthen the supraspinatus muscle up the whazoo. If you check out the link, that’s the muscle responsible for lifting and the one in which I received a cortisone shot several weeks ago. I also learned I had what they call a cortisone flare, which is why I was in such pain for two days.

The keyboard that seems to be working for me is the Kinesis Freestyle keyboard with the VIP attachment. Here are a couple of photos from their website. The Freestyle Solo is the basic keyboard, and there are a number of ways you can adapt it (check out the website for more information). Basically, it comes in two pieces that you can arrange in the split design to suit your needs. It doesn’t have a number key pad on the right. There are still numbers on the top set of keys and there is a number key pad of sorts that you can access under the U, I, O letters and so forth, on the right hand side of the keyboard. You just have to hit the function key first. Take a look:

The advantage to not having an embedded number key pad is that: (1) I rarely use it because I rarely input data, so I don’t miss it, and (2) it helps with my mouse overreach issue, because with my traditional Microsoft ergonomic keyboard I had to reach OVER the number key pad to reach my mouse, which was on a little drawer that pulled out to the right of my keyboard drawer. Now, my mouse, which is a Logitech wireless trackball, sits just to the right of the keyboard, on the same shelf AS the keyboard, which is a lot better for my right shoulder.

I’m the sort who needs wrist pads, so I ordered the Freestyle VIP attachment. Here’s a photo, although not set up the way I have it. This photo is showing the maximum splay of 15 degrees:

I have the wrist pads attached and I have the legs on the back, but I only have them set up to 10 degrees, which works for me. My two keyboard halves are also attached at top (the tether you see there allows people to set up the keyboard in a variety of ways).

I’m pretty happy with the Logitech wireless trackball, too. The wireless receiver is super tiny, because it’s a trackball, I use my thumb instead of my finger, and because it’s a trackball I don’t have to move the unit around like I did with a traditional mouse. The only thing I’m missing is a little wrist pad, because I’m so used to having wrist pads and I really like them. I’ll have to pick one up for the mouse.

This system is good for me because I can work with a lot less discomfort. The trackball is a little tricky to get used to, but I can’t go back to a regular mouse so I’m giving it a good shot. At first it was really weird to use my thumb to move the ball, but I’m getting more accustomed to it.

Do you have ergonomic issues? What’s the best set-up for you?

Summer Daze

Friday, August 12th, 2011

After a July that was mostly, well, like March, summer has finally found its way to my neck of the woods. We can’t count on it hanging around for long, so I’m trying to make the best of it. Recently, I enjoyed two back-to-back long weekends, one with my dh at my parents’ lake house to celebrate our anniversary, and then last weekend we took the boys to Whistler (where the 2010 Winter Olympics were held). In between, I’ve been madly meeting deadlines for Penny.

The Whistler weekend was spur-of-the-moment, as Eldest Son is moving to the Middle East to teach school for a year. He’d just finished his summer job and Youngest Son had a few days off work, so we packed up and drove several hours to the mountain resort. I haven’t been to Whistler in over a decade, and we had a blast. Last time I visited, the group I was with went mountain-biking. This time, my family and I rode the Peak to Peak gondolas that travel between Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, tried out ziplining for the first time, and E.S. went bungee jumping! My God, that kid is fearless.

I don’t have photos of the ziplining, but I did buy the bungee jumping CD. So here, in pictures, is a taste of my summer. How’s your summer going?

Out to dinner in Whistler, E.S. and Y.S. (left to right):

Whistler view from our hotel:

The husband et moi in the Whistler Mountain gondola:

At the Whistler summit (the chair lift ride from the gondola drop-off helped me kinda overcome my fear of heights…but not by much!)

View of Whistler as we’re descending in a Blackcomb chairlift after riding the Peak to Peak gondola:

Eldest Son bungee-jumping:

I asked what his thoughts were on the way down. He said, “Big river!”

Bungee-jumping is now on my Bucket List. I figure if I can zipline, I can bungee-jump. Except I need a couple more ziplining experiences to confirm it. And I don’t plan on repeating the experience any time soon! I was lucky I could manage a wave.

Lost and Found

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

I recently returned from a holiday to Newfoundland. My husband and I had a great time. I took along my netbook and had intended to blog during the trip and post pictures, but it didn’t work out that way. Now I’m digging myself out from under the 4.5 hour time change and ensuing jet lag while preparing for the RWA National Conference in New York City that begins in a couple of weeks. I’m flying in a few days early (cross your fingers for me, because Air Canada is on strike, and I have no idea how it will affect travel in ten days), so I’m also in “conference prep” mode.

I will eventually post pictures of our trip and share some storiees, but I need to get my focus back first. While we were gone, I received the cover for WHERE SHE BELONGS, my December release from Five Star Expressions. I love it. It totally captures the mood, and the photo the art department found for the waterfall that’s featured in the story looks very much like the real waterfall on which I based my fictional waterfall (if that makes sense).

I’ll post the cover in a day or two.

I wasn’t the only one to receive a cover. Penny also received the cover for the electronic release of A LITTLE WILD, coming from Samhain Publishing in November. The original release date was for early October, but because I’m gone twice during June I asked for a postponement. This cover is amazing, too! Both covers feature the heroines only—not a hero in sight! I find that rather amusing that art departments of two separate publishers interpreted my Art Fact Sheets to create heroine-only covers, but both these stories are heroine-centric, as in the story is more the heroine’s than the hero’s. In each book, she has the most baggage and issues to work through.

Again, when I have time, I’ll post Penny’s cover, too.

Even though Penny’s release date has been postponed, I just received edits from my editor and want to work through them and have them back to her before I leave for NYC. I also received back the blurbs and tag lines and need to give them another look. So I’ll pop in here when I can, posting covers (for which I expect much oohing and ahhing) and pictures and stories about Newfoundland and Labrador while prepping for Conference and working through my edits.

More soon, promise!

Wednesday Wound Up

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Er, make that “round up.”

In the I Can’t Find Enough Hours In The Day department, otherwise known as What Have I Been Up To?, I thought I’d pop in with the following:

Paint colors aren’t nearly as exciting as recent TV advertising would have one believe. At least, if you’re painting the interior of a mud room closet white, they aren’t. White is white, and such a delight. But, in the end, it’s just white.

I’ve decided it’s The Summer of White. I hereby pledge to paint every white room and piece of white wainscoting and white trim in the shared areas of the house (ie. the mud room and one hall, plus the kitchen wainscoting and trim. Okay, and some outside of doors. The parts that face into the hall). It’s way overude. I mean overdue. (Overude sounds over-rude). I figure if I only paint something white every couple of weeks, I won’t aggravate the bicep injury I created in the fall doing too much outdoor painting.

Nearly ALL the white sundeck trim I painted last summer has peeled off! White is a complete PITA sometimes! Or maybe it’s the rain/roast days of summer we “enjoy” that’s the PITA.

Come to think of it, where’s the summer? Okay, summer technically doesn’t start until June 21st, but this is ridiculous. One day it’s hot enough for air conditioning, the next I want My Liege to light a fire.

And none of this has anything to do with writing.

So, in the Writing Department, Penny has received a tentative release date for her erotic romance single title (sometime in the fall. I actually have a more precise idea of when in the fall, but I’m  not ready to announce it yet. Things are “in the works,” as they say). Because Penny loves to sit around on her lazy duff all day, this means I have to fill out her Cover Art Information Forms and write her cover blurb. I’m doing that this week.

As for Cindy, I’ve been working on my romantic comedy short story series and doing a lot of E.S. Just Moved Out post-cleaning.

I overindulged in peanut butter cups while awaiting the Rapture.

And I’ve been serving as a mentor for the ChickLit RWA on-line chapter. Me! A mentor. Imagine that.

I’m working with a writer on the other side of the pond. So far it’s been a pretty cool experience. I just hope I’m not piling too much “help” on her. I just figure, we only have two months to do this (May and June), and I’ll be out of town twice in June (I employ big, burly housesitters), so we don’t have as much time to work together as we should. So I’m giving it. And hopefully it’s helping her.

I would have loved a mentorship program like this when I was first starting out (I wonder if there’s such a thing as “when I was lastly starting out”?). But that was in pre-Internet days. I remember joining the RWA Outreach Chapter, which conducted all its business through the mail. That’s how I connected with my first critique partners. I still critique with one of them from time to time. My critique partners were my “mentors,” and I acted in the same capacity for them. I guess we were peer mentoring, because none of us were published at the time.

I’ve hooked up with other critique partners over the years. A couple of CP’ships lasted several years and were profitable for both sides. I still consider some of these writers very good friends. But sometimes “Real Life” interferes, family needs change, careers take off, and one or both partners needs to take a step back. Deadline Pressure is a real killer.

What else?

I haven’t had time to blog-hop the way I used to. It’s far easier to keep up with people on Facebook.

Speaking of Facebook, I’m thinking of canceling my MySpace account. I never go over there anymore, so why bother? Penny is thinking of having me cancel her account as well.

Eldest Son is now fully moved out but Youngest Son’s summer job doesn’t start until June. So May continues to be an “in flux” month, much as April was. So, lest any of you think the reason I haven’t been blogging is because I went back to South America, no such luck, I’m here. Just wound up from trying to find time to wind down.

All aboard the Get ‘Er Done! train. Leaving the station… Now!