You Can Read DDsE by Blog (Again)

BlogLogoRedo2018It’s a recurring story of my life. To see the value in something, I have to stop, leave, turn away from it.

It, such as publishing the DDsE daily serial blog.

Once upon a time, I had a blog that published the daily diary entries of Ella, a 16-year-old who had just entered a horrible strange amazing phase of life. Ella filled three books with her secret, hand-written diary entries and I posted the entries on the DDsE blog.

[OK, I admit it, I’m the one who has been writing Ella’s diaries and I’ve loved doing so. Although I’ve never had mind-to-mind contact with a feral cat, nor run away with a boy who wasn’t human, nor been chased by unhuman monsters, I can so relate to Ella. I’ve been a teenager all my life.]

Ella has kept writing her diary but I stopped posting entries on the DDsE blog.

I stopped because I’d been bitten by the publishing bug and my agent said that she couldn’t shop DDsE if I was giving it away. So I compiled Ella’s first three books into a single volume and my agent began to shop DDsE to big-deal publishers who took forever to say that they loved the story but didn’t like Ella. Or vice versa.

I discovered that I’ve changed.

Long ago, publishing my novel Was It A Rat I Saw in hardcover with a big-deal publisher was very important to me. Nonetheless, I stopped writing for a couple decades and when I resumed, it wasn’t because I wanted to build or re-build a writing career. I resumed writing because I missed writing.

When I resumed, I joined the self-publishing revolution (and it really is a revolution) but I maintained lingering fantasies about some sugar-daddy publisher who would make the publishing grind easier for me.

I’ve come to realize that I write to connect: with myself; with my readers. To realize this, I had to shut down the DDsE daily serial blog then miss it.

But re-starting the blog seemed impossible. Embarrassing.

At some point, I withdrew DDsE from the big-deal-publishers shop-around and began to self-publish it. Each book of Ella’s diary became an individual novella on Smashwords. (6 individual novellas so far – 3 to go.) I compiled Ella’s books, 3 to a volume, and published those volumes on Amazon (2 compiled volumes so far – 1 to go).

I continued to miss the blog. So. Tupac the impossible embarrassing. The DDsE daily serial blog is back. From now on, every day that blog will publish a new diary entry by Ella.

However, the new entries will resume with the current diary, book 7, because the DDsE blog features Ella’s newest entries, the ones that haven’t been published elsewhere. While the blog was on hiatus, books 4-6 got published elsewhere. Sure, they are compiled on the DDsE blog, and you can read them there. But the newest entries are in book 7.

Saturday, Feb 16, the DDsE daily serial blog will resume daily posting of Ella’s newest diary entries, starting with entry 260 from book 7 of DDsE.

Now would be a good time to catch up on books 1-6 and to begin following the DDsE blog.

Note that I usually keep my blogs separate so if you follow this blog – awesome! thank you! – you won’t get any DDsE posts. You have to click over to the DDsE daily serial blog to follow Ella’s diary.

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Ready for More Frame Travel?

I’ve just added another story to the Short Fiction menu of this blog. Boredom Fighter is a FRAMES story. It shares the narrator and worlds of that series of novels. However, Boredom Fighter is stand-alone (and turned out funnier than the novels). You don’t need to read the novels to understand or enjoy it.

Chronologically, Boredom Fighter comes after the first two FRAMES novels. So the order is:
Nica of Los Angeles
Nica of the New Yorks
Boredom Fighter
… several more stories
… two more novels.

At least 3 more stand-alone FRAMES stories are in the works*. I’ll probably finish those before I complete the remaining two novels in the series.

* That is, in my head and on various scribbled notes. With a bit of effort, one can even compose an iphone note as though it were scribbled.

Flash and Other Short Fiction: Git Some Here!

Lots of creative peaks for me these days. I’m writing daily, with results I’m excited and proud to share. I’m getting into drawing – and cartooning – and some of those pieces may see daylight soon.

I love the creating and I love the sharing of it.

But. Every day I wake up less enthused about marketing and promotion. As long-time blog followers can testify, these have always been sticking points, so by now my enthusiasm is in minus territory.

Until now, I haven’t minded the formatting demands of self-publishing. The list-making, i-dotting, t-crossing parts of me have enjoyed it, sometimes.

However, given my current creative spurt, I am way way behind in making my work available as ebooks or print-on-demand volumes and I don’t expect the situation to change any time soon.

And yet. I want people to read my writing. So. I’m going to post more of it here.

The Short Fiction menu atop this page has now got several stories and I’ll be adding more each week. Ish.

DDsE used to have its own daily blog. I’ll be re-instating that as soon as I finish editing the 7th in that 9-novella series.

Nica fans – coming soon is a FRAMES short story that takes place right after Nica of the New Yorks.

While I was writing this, seventeen bizillion other pieces of writing went on-line. Still, I hope you can find the time to read some of mine. And I hope you enjoy them!

Read Local (A proposal)

On Nov 12, 2018, I held a meeting to start a Read Local movement in our area.  About a dozen folks attended. I’ve annotated this post, and edited the ideas at bottom, to reflect discussion at the meeting. My original post is in black text, post-meeting edits in red.

 

Dear writers of Santa Barbara County (and thereabouts),

Last year I moved to Carpinteria and discovered that my neighbors include a great variety of interesting and talented writers. Too few people know this. I’d like to change that.

Many of you feel similarly and quite a few have already organized your own groups to build community among local writers. Let’s get your efforts more widely known, then grow them by developing a Read Local movement.

Purpose: To increase the visibility and value of local writers by sharing our art and entertainment within our communities.

Important: This group does not exist to promote or sell individual writers, but instead to connect writers with their neighbors; to make people aware of, proud of all our local talent. (Indirectly, of course, this can help individuals…) Well, some of our group do want promotional events. Some don’t. I think the solution is to have each kind of activity, but keep them separate.

Mantra(s): Whatever we wind up doing, it needs to be open and friendly, supportive and fun, honest and transparent, sustainable and consistent. Also, we share the workload or we don’t do it.

Models: We wouldn’t be the first such group. For example…

Next Steps:  We’ll next be meeting in small groups to finalize group mission, purpose, priorities, and scope, then plan and launch the activities that interest the most people. Everything about this proposal is still on the table, open to change. If you missed the first meeting we can catch you up!

If you want to stay informed about our Read Local, make sure I have your email. (If you leave a comment on this blog I will automatically get your email.)

Possible Activities: There are so many ways to take Read Local. Below is a starter set of ideas with simplest at top. (If you have other ideas, we want to hear them!) As you go down the list, the ideas take more resources (people, time, money). (I’ve included my guesstimates on resources.)

To make Read Local sustainable, we need to start small then grow only when enough people commit to tackling new efforts.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Finalize name, regional scope, and purpose/mission for this group. 

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: One time, revisit every couple years.

How many people to be sustainable?: I volunteer to lead the effort but welcome help, input and buy-in from as many as possible.

Set-up efforts and costs: 1-3 meetings, 90 minutes each.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Create a Read Local brand, logo, book sticker. 

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: One time to create. Sticker printing will recur.

How many people to be sustainable?: 1-2. 

Set-up efforts and costs: $2k-ish.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Find out what writers’ groups and kindred efforts already exist. List them. Learn their history, experience, words of wisdom. Over time, help to network them and broadcast them.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing curation of the information.

How many people to be sustainable?: 1-3

Set-up efforts and costs: Canvas local groups, compile the results.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Maintain a Mailchimp database of emails to stay in contact with local writers and those interested in us. Write and send emails sometimes. Make sure recipients are only getting the emails they want to get (ex only send promotional emails to people who want them). Update email addresses as needed.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-3

Set-up efforts and costs: Learn Mailchimp. Input existing emails. Put emails in groups according to interests (ex, writer? reader? wants to hear about author promotions?)

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Live readings modeled after Out Loud Santa Barbara. Solicit then select submissions to feature 10 varied writers per reading, arrange venue and publicity.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Occasional. Every 2 months, opposite Out Loud schedule?

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-3

Set-up efforts and costs: Purchase (then store and schlep) sound system, advertise for submissions, read and select (fairly! transparently!) submissions, publicize event.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Add bells and whistles to the live readings. Record the readings then post them? Let the performers sell books for cash-only? … Eventually add credit-card sales? Involve local TV?

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Occasional.

How many people to be sustainable?: 3-5 + treasurer

Set-up efforts and costs: Depends. For recording: equipment? For sales: bookkeeping, bank account, credit card reader and app.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Write and email a newsletter. Include free excerpts of local writing. (Can recycle this content for web page or columns, see below…) Solicit contributions, monitor them to uphold group purpose.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: occasional — monthly? quarterly? annually?

 How many people to be sustainable?: 2-3 with contributions from many

Set-up efforts and costs: time to do writing and maintain consistent, engaging presence

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Provide free excerpts and short pieces of our writing, as well as blurbs about our writers. On a website/blog? In a newsletter? Maybe in a column in the Coastal View News?

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: regular, on-going, once a week or once a month.

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-4 with contributions from many

Set-up efforts and costs: time to gather writing and distribute it.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Publish an anthology of our writing. In print and as an ebook.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: One time or very occasional.

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-4 with contributions from many

Set-up efforts and costs: time to gather writing, format, edit. Cost of publishing (depending on length, about $5/paperback via Amazon’s print on demand services.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Create and maintain internet presence Web page/blog? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Google Plus? This would include upcoming events, author info, free excerpts. Would likely have one set of content then link or copy to the other social media. Would have to monitor to uphold group purpose.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-4

Set-up efforts and costs: time to do writing and maintain consistent, engaging presence

 ===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Build, steward, and contribute to Little Free Library stands.  There are about 2 dozen stands in south SB County. If we want to add our books we should be good custodians of the system. Investigate coordinating with the littlefreelibrary organization? Maybe Carp Arts Center would fund and host a stand that features local authors? Maybe the books by Read Local authors could have a Read Local sticker?

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-4 with book donations from many authors.

Set-up efforts and costs: $… $$??

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Fun freebie events such as geocache treasure hunts with giveaway books as prizes; special themed events (ex a family reunion contest plus a showcase of local memoirs).

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: One-time.

How many people to be sustainable?: Each event needs 2 people.

Set-up efforts and costs: Wildly varied. Will always need publicity and freebies and venues.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Pop-up bookstore. How might we include ebook sales?

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Occasional

How many people to be sustainable?: 3-4 + treasurer. Credit card sales require bookkeeping and bank account.

Set-up efforts and costs: Venue, publicity, signage. Solicit books and materials for sale. Permits and permissions. Book and equipment schlepping, set-up, take-down.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Annual Writers’ Fair like the spring 2017 event in Carpinteria. Add credit-card sales (which requires bookkeeping and bank account).

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Once a year but takes effort for at least half the year.

How many people to be sustainable?: 4-6 + treasurer

Set-up efforts and costs: venue, publicity (digital and hard copy), tables and chairs, sound system, planning, schlepping, credit card sales?

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Become a non-profit or not-for-profit. Set up a leadership group? Appoint a treasurer? Open a bank account? Go after grants and other funding opportunities for our events and their marketing?

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing.

How many people to be sustainable?: 3-5?

Set-up efforts and costs: Considerable? Lengthy?

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Have a table at local farmers’ markets. Sell books of local authors. Provide handouts that include excerpts, newsletter copies, links. Transparent bookkeeping. Establish a rule: If you want us to sell your books at a table, you need to volunteer to man the table and for every X hours that you volunteer, you get to sell your books Y days…

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: One or more days per week?!

How many people to be sustainable?: 6-8 + treasurer.

Set-up efforts and costs: Schlep and store table, books, signs, printed materials. Handle money. Requires bookkeeping and bank account.

 

FRAMES for free for 1 day

Download it for free on Amazon on Wednesday July 25.

NoLAnew4Noisetrade

When rookie private eye Nica takes on a mysterious case, she enters a world of multiple dimensions called Frames, where buildings and lawn chairs can be sentient, a stray cat has great powers, books can be killers, and clouds can be spies. At home, Nica solves missing person cases; in the larger reality of the Frames, she gets swept into an escalating battle with stakes that could not be higher.

That describes the first novel in my FRAMES quartet.

Those who’ve read it will be happy to see that the new cover features Monk and Miles…

Download it for free on Amazon for one day only, Wednesday July 25.

A Girl, a boy, a feral cat, pursuit by unhuman things.

ddse-series-cover-smashwordsI’ve got a new series of books called DDsE and you can start reading for free; download an e-version* from Smashwords**.

DDsE is a teen/YA (young adult) paranormal horror romance that will ultimately be 9 short volumes. Books 1 and 2 are now on-line. Books 3-5 will be available within weeks; the remaining 4 are coming within the next year.***

What’s DDsE about? Here’s a blurb:

Being sixteen is Tupac Eminem. Ella has no one to talk to except her new diary, which she has to hide from Ma and Pa Warden, the foster parents she’s stuck with since her family got flattened in a car accident. Now that she lives with the wardens, she has to switch to a new school, where people act like her tragedy is contagious. Her new suburb is just as boring as the last, and offers no hope of secret passageways or magic. But life is not all bad. There’s an interesting boy at the new school – although his family turns out to be impossibly dangerous. And there’s a feral cat, living in the suburb’s only open space, a pitiful excuse for woods. Sometimes the cat invades Ella’s mind. She tells her diary, ‘I’ve gone a special kind of crazy, a split personality. And my other personality is a cat, not a person.’

* Eventually, I’ll compile the short volumes and make them available as paperbacks, too.

** Soon, DDsE will also be downloadable at the Apple iStore, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Noisetrade. Eventually, it will come to Amazon, too.

*** Some of you may say, “Wait, I thought you were sending DDsE to publishers, is that effort kaput?” Still in progress. Three have declined. The first two liked the story but didn’t like the narrator. The third one loved the narrator but didn’t like the story. (I forgot how maddening this process can be.) Other verdicts are still out but apparently I don’t have enough patience (nor, perhaps, enough decades) to grind through the submission process.

DDsE: Easier Except for Being Harder

Back in 2008 or so, when serialized fiction returned to vogue, I decided it wasn’t for me as a reader or a writer. I mean, I don’t even like Dickens, probably the most famous serial writer of all time.

The latest wave of serial authors seemed to publish with little or no editing. No, thanks! I want to read your best – not your first – writing.

Many writers will tell you that editing is the most important part of writing. I’ve always been in that camp. I edit my own novels heavily. This painful tedious work yields little of the satisfaction of writing but almost always improves my drafts.

And yet.

There’s no denying the power of spontaneous ideas, nor the impacts of intuition. All my best ideas materialize, simply and suddenly. Perhaps I tap the unconscious and they rise up. Perhaps they drop from the wild blue. I include countless spontaneous ideas in my novels but I’ve never let them steer a project – until now.

A few months ago, I was miserable about my writing or lack thereof. I’d been editing the second book in the FRAMES series for what felt like forever. Weird about that. Even in rough draft, I knew Book 2, Nica of the New Yorks, was stronger than Book 1 – and I’m quite proud of Book 1, Nica of Los Angeles. Yet Book 2’s editing was interminable. No wonder, when so many pages went like this:

editing

Edits to a page of Nica of the New Yorks (Frames Book 2)

No matter how many words you change, though, editing doesn’t feel like writing; and as the editing went on, the way I missed writing became as physical as a toothache. But I couldn’t risk starting a new project that might derail or distract me. For the foreseeable future, finishing FRAMES is my main event.

Meanwhile, I became a fan of an amazing improv comedy group, The Improvised Shakespeare Company, which invents 2-hour plays on the fly. Watching those plays inspired me to write more improvisationally. I began writing short bits (about 300 words) daily. For the first time, I wrote without planning or conscious knowledge of the story, characters, themes, format, or genre. Just let it go and see where it takes you.

The writing was joyful and easy at first. But as the installments added up, I realized I liked them. A lot. Then a varied group of beta readers responded with enthusiasm — and the stakes changed. Suddenly the outcome became important. I wanted to stop and plan, I caught myself pausing to ponder. I wasn’t stuck, mind you, but I had begun to fear mis-steps. My conscious mind was trying to regain control, to follow the usual procedures, make a map to a destination.

But I’m not ready to end the experimental wandering. So I’m forcing renewed focus on the journey, not the endpoint. My experiment has become DDsE, a young adult paranormal horror romance. Each installment is a diary entry by Ella, a 16-year-old who despises her life until two mysterious allies enter it: a strange boy with a dangerous family and a feral cat that seems to get inside Ella’s head.

And now I’d better get back to writing DDsE. I’m very concerned about where I left Ella yesterday…