I offer this a little shyly, because – I don’t know, I worry that it may come across as lame promo junk, but…would you like a holiday card from me?

The idea is that old fashioned writing and cards are fading, and I find that I miss the days when I had a ton of pen-pals – I admit, I love and often prefer email because it’s faster, but sitting down and writing a card, and then getting a real piece of mail in your box that you can put on the mantle or something – that’s pretty awesome.
So, if you would like a holiday card from me message me — I have a gmail account, and my email is clspeer – your address. I will use it only for this card and not keep it in any way. Nor will I use your email, unless I need to ask you a question pertaining to this project. If you like, you can tell me what you celebrate so I can word it appropriately, and if you have a blog or online presence, send me the link so I can think of something vaguely intelligent to say. You can even ask me that burning question you’ve always wanted to, even if you’ve only wanted to ask it since…um…now. *grins*

This won’t be a card advertising a book – I may send a coupon if I think to ask my editors, and I may include a book mark. But then again, I may not. This is just a happiness thing, a thank you thing. If you WANT either of those things, don’t be afraid to let me know. I’ll sign the book mark, with my not at all famous and only slightly legible scrawl. XD

So yeah. Let me send you a card. Let me thank you for being awesome.

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I have been working on The Chocolatier’s Ghost. I am having a hard time settling down to actually write…struggling with being tired, with trying to find time for fencing and helping the practice I run…it is hard to balance everything. I also have troubles with…I read reviews, and see what people like and I am like, “OH! We must make sure that people who liked that get more of what they likes!” sort of thing. And then I get worried that it won’t be good enough, all that nonsense a writer is probably not supposed to confess to. Oops. But I will work hard and take my time and know that all will be perfectly fine in the end.

I think, also, the changing of the seasons is making me a little low. I used to love winter, but that was when I was a hermit/editor, and did not have to go out. All winter I wait for spring and the lovely flowers and the freedom of being able to drive without worry, summer and the sweetness of homegrown fruits and the richness of tomatoes and fresh vegetables. The fall then becomes bittersweet…I love the smell of the air, the impossible blue of the sky, the beautiful color of the leaves…but I know then that the time of easy driving and going out to parks and walking around and seeing things is almost at an end.
Ah, well. More time to read and drink tea and actually…I don’t know…actually get writing done?

And it is time for new telly! In one room I have NBC and its attendant ancient repeat station, Me-TV, in another, sometimes in another room I have ABC and that secondary repeat station. I also sometimes get PBS. But mostly, I end up waiting for the DVD’s and Netflixing. Right now I am watching last season of Bones and Sleepy Hollow…I kind of wish that streaming worked all year for me, streaming usually does not work well for me this time of the year, and by the time streaming is not a huge bunch of frustration the episodes are no longer stream able…legally.
Yeah, I would do pretty much anything for a better internet connection.

OK, enough of my randomness. I hope all is well with you.

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I really am worried about the Net Neutrality issue…Cable Companies could choose not to let you see my books, my site…my voice would be smothered.

Yours would be, too. No one has a right to tell you what to read, (though we can beg charmingly) watch, hear. By controlling this for profit, the try to control what you think, what you buy, where your money goes.

Please join us in telling them this is not something you will allow.

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So, first of all, The Chocolatier’s Wife is on sale for .99 on Kindle.

Wishes and Sorrows, my short story collection, not due out until October, is actually on pre-sale right now, so if you can’t wait until October, snag yourself a copy for Kindle…it will be gone soon, I think.

Right now I am an Amazon best seller, which is always fun. And I am 31 in the best-selling fantasy author category, listed right between Terry Goodkind and Robert Jordan. I know that as a merit system it is rather fake…as soon as the sale is over I will be much lower…but the three year old within me is like, “Hey! I am higher ranked than NEIL GAIMAN. WOOT WOOT!” because I am very much about getting amusement where you can, even when it is momentary. (And especially if it is harmless.) I never really take ranking super seriously, because I don’t see the writing world as a zero-sum game. When you are done reading your marvelous book by Neil Gaiman, you will put it on the shelf, and then need something else to read. There is room for everyone.

But it does make trying to get people to read your book easier when you can say “See? A lot of other people have read it! They even *liked* it.”

Summer fencing prep — I went to Pennsic and actually helped command a large chunk of the rapier army that hit the field — split my focus a bit, but now as we get ready for the students to return to the university, William and Tasmin are poking me once more, saying, “We have been patient while you pursue your hobby, young lady, but now you need to turn your attentions back to us, thank you.” so I am warming myself up and getting ready to work on the second draft of the Chocolatier’s Ghost again.

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So, anyway, Scrivener has won me over. I like Kings Soft Writer a lot, but the files for each chapter are all separate. It didn’t make a difference to me in some ways, because hey, you can call them all up anyway, but I like the compact nature of Scrivener. I have it installed on a USB drive, so I can take it to work and write during lunch and home to write there, too.
I also use Liquid Story Binder, but that’s primarily to collect data from the series into one place. Yeah, lucky I got them discounted from doing Nanowrimo! It also fits on a USB, but I find…I need simplicity. Trying to write in LSB was too much for me somehow, I don’t know why. Maybe I did not try hard enough.

Anyway. I was working slowly on the sequel (Chocolatier’s Ghost) and not getting anywhere, so to amuse myself (hell, I wasn’t getting any writing done) I separated the Word file into Chapters and color coded them. Dark blue is a chapter from William’s POV. Pink is Tasmin’s. Why pink? Because I wanted a watery red, because Tasmin wears red a lot in my head. William, well, he wears Naval blue. This is great because, as you can see, there is a lot of re-arranging of chapters to do so the story flows evenly between William and Tasmin. There are also chapters from other POV’s…and I have to decide how to handle those. I don’t want too many POV’s, it would make the flow less smooth and the story too cluttered. So, ideally it should be Tas, Will, Tas, Will, someone else, Tas, Will…etc. So, there you go. The “chapter titles” running along side are not spoilers, or even set. The titles are so I can find the scene I need quickly, and will be changed.

I am also trying to decide about letters between the chapters. They need to have a purpose if I do them…early in the story I introduce two very separate mysteries, and only one I intend to solve in this book, but it would be clever to run the secondary mystery along the chapter beginnings, through letters. *squints at story thoughtfully* But I don’t know. Probably not.

scrive screen shot

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So, to warm up my writing mind, I’ll post here a bit. Also, I am avoiding Facebook because the football trademark thingy is gonna blow up bad.

Finally, Netflix was able to send me the first Disc of The Hollow Crown. I had watched…bought, actually, the Joss Whedon version of Much Ado About Nothing, because that’s my favorite Shakespeare Comedy and because I thought it would be fun…Whedon reminds me of John Wayne, because my father used to say, “When the Duke works, everybody works!” because the actors would over lap so much.

I…couldn’t watch it. I was bored to death. I couldn’t believe it, this was JOSS WHEDON. I love EVERYTHING he does. Buffy. Dr. Horrible. Firefly. Etc.

So, I thought, maybe my Shakespeare is broken. Both thoughts made me quite unaccountably sad.

When Richard II arrived yesterday, I was both excited (I heard good things) and worried. But I didn’t have to be…Ben Whishaw was amazing as Richard, sometimes mad, sometimes regal, even a little ethereal, though that is balance out by his baseness. The sets were wondrous, the costumes inspiring and James Purefoy was beautiful even if he was only on the screen for all of five minutes.

See? Isn’t he purty?

I am eagerly looking forward to the rest of the cycle…the most important thing for me, about the show was that…some shows come off as people spouting pretty words. In this movie, the pretty words that the Bard composed actually sound like real world dialogue, which made it really a wonderful experience for me. Shakespear’s work should sound like real words people would say. Just really prettily put.

What else, what else? Put together out little outside sitting area. Broke my chain saw cutting on a holly…it just stopped, which is weird, because it had all the gas and oil it needed and etc, and it’s only what? A month or two old?

The big project that I keep putting off is the blacksmith shop. Its now a large, empty space (mostly) and if I replaced the bad wood it would be a nice safe space to store stuff I don’t want to store in the house. And I go, and I look at it, and I think, This might just slightly be beyond me, and I walk out of the building.

And I remind myself, nibble away. Just nibble away. It doesn’t have to look nice…I already know the job is going to look like crap because I just want it done (totally using any old tin I can find for the walls) it just has to be secure enough for me to store stuff.

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I am back from my two week road trip, but still suffering from that odd heaviness, the surreal feeling of not quite being there that always accompanies long vacations.

The coolest name I encountered was Bat Cave…I think it was in North Carolina. I also liked Luck, which was near Trust.

The coolest hotel device: the pancake maker. Waffle irons, any traveller will (probably) tell you, are owned by the Devil, and are possessed by little evil spirits. This is why the pancake maker I encountered was the bomb. You put your plate down at one end, press a button, and in a couple of minutes two perfect pancakes will fall down onto it. No guessing. No trying not to burn yourself as you peel your waffle out of the iron. Just two lovely, happy rounds of pancakey goodness.

Best beach: Sanibel island was AMAZING. I am also fond of Flagler, because the pulverized shells made the sand golden instead of white.

Best tourist trap: Monkey Jungle. I fed monkeys and marveled at their tiny, dark little fingers, and felt very happy. I also thought Flamingo Gardens was rather pretty.

Also, if you ever go to Florida, go to the Springs. Homosassa, anywhere. Springs are really pretty…the water is so, so very blue…and a nice contrast to the beach. If you go to Homosassa you will even see manatees…they have two all the time, but in the winter they have tons, apparently.

The thing I learned that made me happiest: Swimming with a straw hat is the best. Thing. Ever. Yes, you look like a weirdo, especially if you are also wearing a tee-shirt (I put one on after awhile because I felt burned) but you can SEE, and it’s like carrying around shade into the ocean. I might have lost cool points in the eyes of those around me, but I felt like the experience was totally worth it.

So, this week I edited the first draft of The Chocolatier’s Ghost and now know where I need to go and fix. Lots of work…this second draft will probably (hopefully) double my word count, because I fell into the rush, rush, rush trap.

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I finally updated my Authorgraph Widget on my webpage so that people can, if they want, get any of my eBooks signed. I’ve never done it before…anyone want to be patient zero for me? *tries to look charming*

I like the idea…any idea…of connecting with readers because I am extremely fond of my readers. If I can find a way to make them happy I will.

Anyway, if you care to, take a look, and get your book signed! I’ll even try and come up with something clever to say! WOOT!

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Not a very exciting day, really…but a weird one.

It started when I woke up this morning. I screamed, apparently…my mother, in the next room, came running to see what happened. “What’s wrong?” she asked.

I looked at her blankly. “I…why are you up?”

She explained to me that I had screamed…I looked at her, shrugged. “Bad dream, I guess?” But on my arm, my left arm, where the skin is pale and soft, something had scratched me, once, the single red line jarring somehow. What had I scratched myself on? Maybe I did it, in my sleep?

The day has been surreal every since. I dropped files…I don’t know why, I was standing in the office one moment, the next I was looking at scattered papers on the floor. Outlook told me that I had a meeting in ten minutes, I nodded, hit snooze by accident, then turned to prepare…and when I looked back, Outlook told me that I was ten minutes overdue. Ten. How did I lose ten minutes turning around to get my purse?
But it’s the hash marks…or tally marks? That throw me. The blossom on my arms like a garden of madness. Lines in groups of five, made with sharpies, highlighters, blue pens, red pens, black. It’s as if I grabbed whatever was at hand and marked my skin.

It’s weird, and every time I see another one, I get a little more frightned. I feel like someone is standing right behind my shoulder, staring at everything I do. Even now, as I type this, about my day, I feel like I’m being watched. My shoulders go back, as if invisible fingers are on my spine.

But I know it’s not. There is no monster in the shadow behind my shoulder.

No one is staring at me, quiet, patient, and hateful.

A red pen is in my hand, and I don’t know why. But there are three marks across my knuckles now.

It must be something important, it must mean something?

But it is the end of the semester, and you know, trying to get everything tied up before graduation can be very stressful. It’s probably just that, some manifestation of some inner need.

Just through my door, I can see a student, raising her hands to her face, marks all across her hands. She’s crying, and she’s frightened, and I know I should get up and see what she’s staring at, but something weighs me down into my chair, the weight of my own fear is too strong.
And then ohgodi cansee.mmust truy hitsendnwithoutloo kin the silence is here

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing the edits for the final draft of Wishes and Sorrows.

For me, doing edits is a several step process.

First, you download the file and read through the comments. Wince. A lot. Say things like, “UGH.” And “Oh, but I thought that was clear.” Hate life a little.

Then close the file. I do this to get the whine fest over quicker. In all seriousness, it is painful to see edits, but also good…I trust my editors. They always make the stuff better…if they don’t get something, or if something doesn’t work for them, it won’t work for you, either. And I want it to work for you. I want anyone who is kind enough to read my stuff to be happy.

Then, after a few days (or more than a few…I got a hideous cold that slowed things down a ton) I sit down and start.

Awhile back I was reading a collection of short stories and Neil Gaiman said that he hadn’t edited a couple stories too much out of respect for the author he had been, even if he wasn’t as polished. That’s paraphrasing, and at the time I thought it was a really sweet idea. I get that, and like that…the idea of honoring the writer you were.

I did not do this. BOY did I edit some of the older stories. The writer I was when the oldest of the stories was written was much different. She in or fresh out of University, and she had a much more literary tradition in her veins, which meant her stories were sometimes purposefully unclear, or the voice was a certain way.

The writer I am now is not a less intelligent writer…when I say literary I am not speaking about intelligence or being snarky, rather…there is a training you receive in universities that makes your writing very different. But over the years I’ve found out what a general reader, rather than a university professor, wants. I’ve become more polished, I’ve become better, more experienced. So I needed to use that knowledge to make my stories better.

And my editor’s comments ended up being very useful. As always, I’m grateful for the second set of eyes.

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