February 25, 2022 A Milestone Reached

Friday, February 25, 2022

Last night I sent Homicide on the Range off to my beta readers. This was supposed to happen Tuesday, but I ran into two glitches that had to be fixed before anyone except me saw the book.

The first one was that I had repeated much of the same information in two different scenes. This happens on a fairly regular basis with me. I have some incident or description or clue that seems just so good, I don’t want to forget to use it. But somehow I forget that I put it in chapter three and use it in chapter twenty-seven, too.

This is something I pick up in the revision stage. It’s not quite as straightforward as that, because by that time I’ve been over the book several times, and I’m never sure whether it’s actually in there more than once or I just remember it from the last time I read that section. So I have to search through the manuscript and find out which it is. Then, since the two occurrences aren’t exactly the same, I have to merge the information in both of them together. And decide where this gem should really go.

The second issue was more difficult. Toward the end of the book, I wrote this fascinating scene where one of the major characters has a change in direction in his or her life. (I don’t want to divulge who it was, so that’s why I’m writing it that way.) The thing is, even as I was writing this fascinating twist, a voice in the back of my head was saying, “That wouldn’t happen in a cozy mystery.” To which I responded, “So what? I love that development. And it’s written so well.” And the voice replied, “Wasn’t this supposed to be the series where you remained true to cozy conventions and didn’t go off in an unexpected direction?” “Well, yes, but this would be so much fun!” “You know you’ll lose some readers because of it.” Stubborn silence ensues.

In the end, I knew the voice was right, and so gave the character a different twist, something much more in line with cozy readers’ expectations. But it wasn’t easy.

Which is why I’m writing and posting this the next morning. I was too worn out from arguing with myself to do anything else last night.

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February 20, 2022 It Wasn't a Day of Rest

Sunday, February 20, 2022

I make it a practice to take Sunday off from writing tasks. Everyone needs a day to recharge and focus on other things like worship, reading, and sometimes going somewhere I don’t usually go during the week. But my goal was to send Homicide on the Range to my beta readers tomorrow—Tuesday at the latest—and I wasn’t through with revisions yet.



I really had to finish them, which I did in a way. I now have a stack of pages with red marks all over them. But I have yet to type them into the Scrivener documents. I don’t have enough energy to do that tonight, so it will have to wait another day.



Then Amazon rejected the cover on “Return to Rainbow Ranch”. I thought I’d adjusted the margins on the paperback enough to pass, but obviously I hadn’t. So early this morning I was tweaking that again. Now I’m waiting for it to pass review, which I hope it will be tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I got a new phone last weekend, and I’ve been procrastinating on setting it up because I know these things never go easily. But I have a deadline to return the old phone for credit, so I thought I’d better bite the bullet yesterday and switch over the phones.

Humph!

I knew I was in trouble when I found three (maybe four) slightly different sets of instructions on how to make the swap. That’s not counting the times my computer and/or phone didn’t respond with what the instructions said it should. I got to one of those points, and the instructions for the new phone told me to make a call to support on a different phone for assistance.

Except the only other phone I had was the old phone, which a previous instruction had told me to turn off or terrible things would happen. Back in the old days, I would have used my land line, but who has a land line now? So I turned on the old phone since I already had a problem and I had no other way to get help.

Of course, in walking me through what to do next, the support person warned me that I’d get cut off during one step. When that happened, I was supposed to turn on my new phone and follow the prompts there. She told me she’d call me back in 30-45 minutes.

What she didn’t allow for was that the changeover stopped to upgrade the operating system on the new phone, which made it unavailable to take any calls during that time frame. Anyway, after the usual aggravation, I now have the new phone operational and the old phone ready to ship back for credit.

Which is why I need some downtime tonight instead of making revisions.

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February 16, 2022 Moving Right Along

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Today was a good day, if you define that as making progress on my Work-In-Process. I am more than halfway done making revision notes on my printed copy of Homicide on the Range, and I should be able to finish up tomorrow or Friday.

Then, of course, comes making the actual changes to the Scrivener version. Scrivener is what I write in, for a lot of reasons which I won’t go into tonight. I must have written a blog post on it sometime in the past. If things work out, I should be able to send the book off to my beta readers no later than Monday, which is right on schedule.

I should have been able to do this sooner, but I struggled all of last week with applying myself to the task. I had no enthusiasm for the job and, as a result, procrastinated on sitting down to actually do it. And was easily distracted every time I began to work. The solution to that problem came in Sunday’s sermon at church.

I know, that sounds rather odd, and if you’d ever told me that church sermons would be good for mystery writing, I would have arched an eyebrow as I looked at you. Naturally, that wasn’t what the pastor was preaching about, but one short sentence from it worked for me. That sentence was:


Life is not “have to” but “get to”.


Now, I’ve heard other writers express this idea in a slightly different way and a very different context, but this sentence did it for me. You see, I kept looking at the revisions as a “have to,” i.e., I have to get those revisions done. A chore. With a deadline. Something I’d rather do anything else than.

But when I changed the task to I get to do revisions on my novel, it suddenly became something positive. I realized how lucky I am to be able to do the thing I always dreamed of doing. I am a novelist and I’m soon going to publish another book!

Almost all the obstacles to being successful are mental. I know that. But often it’s hard to come up with the exact way to change your attitude in order to overcome them. Fortunately, this week someone else did that part for me.

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February 11, 2022 - Revisions

Friday, February 11, 2022

Today was one of those days where it seemed like I was doing a lot, but at the end of the day (which I think is now), I didn’t accomplish very much.

First on my list was getting to those revisions, but since it had been a while—meaning more than two days—since I last worked on them, I had to start from the beginning again. And it was slow going during both sessions I put in today. I learned a lot on my research trip, but that meant there were sections that couldn’t possibly work the way I initially wrote them. So I made changes. And then I got further into the story and realized maybe they should work the first way. Where’s a ranch hand when you need one?

On the ranch, of course, but I’m in my apartment and neither of my cats has a clue as to what the answer should be, although Spenser keeps talking to me.

In between my revision sessions, I caught up on laundry. Yeah, the mundane takes a lot of time. And I dealt with some reader correspondence, and watched a short class video, and did some internet research that I put off when I was writing the story to begin with.

I’m hoping to have a better day tomorrow. And that’s it for tonight.

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February 9, 2022 - Time to Breathe

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

I think I need to take a few deep breaths. You may have noticed (or not) that I haven’t posted in a while. That’s because I took a combination vacation and research trip last week without my computer and with almost no internet service and now I’m trying to catch up on everything. I’d tell you more about that, but I’m planning to do a complete write-up for my newsletter next week. If you don’t already subscribe, I’d recommend going to my website (https://www.elisemstone.com/) to sign up for it now.

Believe it or not, I had a few other things that became a priority when I got home. For instance, the Tucson Festival of Books takes place on March 12th and 13th, and I had to check my paperback inventory and order books from Amazon if I wanted them to arrive in time. And, yes, it takes that long to get author copies. Those don’t get the priority that a customer ordering a single book does.

There was an online class I’d signed up for that started last week. Remember that no internet? So my first day home I had to watch all the videos and do the assignments in one day in order to hand them in on time.

There were bills due. And it’s tax time, so I have to start that soon. The cupboard was bare (on purpose so things wouldn’t spoil while I was away), which made a trip to the grocery store mandatory. And I had to pick up Spenser and Agatha from where they had spent the week. Of course, they insisted on some lap time to make up for being abandoned.

Also high on my priority list are revisions to Homicide on the Range. I really tried to do some of this on my iPad last week, but I’m too used to working off a printed copy and making notes in red pen. Which meant actually printing out the manuscript, a task I’d been dreading because the drum in my laser printer needed replacement, a task that terrifies me because I do it so infrequently, it’s always a new challenge. As it turned out, after procrastinating all afternoon and evening yesterday, it went very smoothly this morning, so I now have a stack of pages to work on this afternoon.

There’s more, but I don’t want to bore you any more than I already have. Besides, I should have lunch, exercise, and get back to work.

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