The Merry Month of May–CoronaLife Day 789

Last week, I was in the middle of several projects.

My genealogy book, The Campbell Family of New York City, New York, and their Ancestors is now available in both paperback and hardback! The cover thumbnail is still not showing up, but I have been informed that it can take up to 6 weeks for everything to show up on the retail sites properly.

I realized I had been procrastinating on editing The Curse of the Pharaoh’s Stone because I was reluctant to make the edits in the chapter I was facing. But I finally pushed through that chapter and the rest was easy. So I finished that and sent them off to my co-author.

It’s been a busy week for me, with multiple school-related meetings to prepare for and attend. I have also been deep into a genealogical puzzle helping someone locate their biological family.

It’s hard to believe that in just a few days we will be halfway through May. The end of the school year is always weird. Days can seem long, but the weeks often seem quick. It is a strangely “bumpy” feeling this time of year.

Bumpy or not, the weather is finally feeling like spring!

Onward!

At the Halfway Point—CoronaLife Day 782

You know the old saying, “She doesn’t do things by halves?” Well, apparently I do…at least this week.

I am halfway through my edits of The Curse of the Pharaoh’s Stone. I’m moving pretty fast because this is a polish of a manuscript that has been edited multiple times. A tweak here and there, but nothing major.

The first chapter had more issues, as will another later chapter, but even those are relatively straightforward. Hopefully I will send it to my co-author early next week to settle on the final form.

Then we will decide if we want to try the traditional route again, or go straight to self-publishing. We have submitted earlier versions of this book to agents before, but not this version. The last time we tried was several years ago, and it’s a much different world now.

My other half-accomplishment has been the  public release of my mother’s genealogy book, The Campbell Family of New York City, New York, and their Ancestors. The paperback version is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, if you search by title on their websites. I am hoping that after a few more days it will pop up on Google searches or under my author name. At the moment neither listing has the cover, either. So I will check back on that in a few days.

The hardback version of the book is not out to the public yet. I am having technical difficulties with the distribution. The algorithm is flagging it as a duplicate title, rather than a different version (paperback vs. hardback) of the same book. I have never had that issue before. The other issue is that I want it to be US distribution only, but it is insisting on being worldwide (which I do not want to pay for). I have also never had that issue before. I am working with their tech support, so things should be resolved soon.

My projects are halfway done. Hopefully by next week both of these will be complete and I will be on to something new!

April 2022 Wrap Up–CoronaLife Day 775

Spring Break is over, and we are back to the hustle and bustle of life. For me, that means moving forward with a few writing projects.

I finished going through my co-author’s edits on The Curse of the Pharaoh’s Stone. It wasn’t hard, since I agreed with virtually all of them. Now I am doing a read-through, to see if there’s anything I see that needs polishing. After that, I will make my suggestions for the first chapter, and we will make final decisions on that.

I am also eagerly awaiting the print copy of the public version of my genealogy book, The Campbell Family of New York City, New York, and their Ancestors. It was mailed this weekend, so I expect it any day. Once I make sure it looks good, I will open it to distribution channels. My proposed On Sale date was always May 1st, so it seems it will be right on time.

With April coming to an end, several of my projects are also coming to the end of their current phases. But as with every ending, there are also new beginnings, and the progress continues.

Spring Break 2022–CoronaLife Day 768

So it’s been a fairly productive spring break, all things considered.

I am close to solving a genealogical mystery (or reaching a total dead end).

I am nearing completion of a document about a family Bible my husband’s family has. I will then post it on ancestry sites so others in the family can access it.

I am going to finish the first pass of the edits on The Curse of the Pharaoh’s Stone.

My co-author Jeff Pero sent me his suggested edits a few weeks ago. I was finishing up my genealogy book, so had to put off looking at it until this week. I imported his Open Office Document, and first Word said it was corrupt and couldn’t open it. Then it said if I trusted the sender, it would open it and see what we got. So I did. All of Jeff’s comments were there, but all his Track Changes were not. Sigh.

First I went through and read/addressed the comments Once that document was “clean”, I opened the original file I had sent to him. Then I merged the two into a new file that would show the differences between them, essentially replicating the Track Changes.

I’ve been working through them, and should finish tomorrow. Then I want to read through it myself, and see if there is anything I would like to polish, since it has been some years since I looked at it properly, and I have learned more about writing since then. I know we need to work on the first chapter, but I have a few ideas to talk over with Jeff.

The rest of the book we are happy with, so once we get that first chapter to where we are satisfied, we’ll move ahead toward publishing. Not sure yet if we want to try for an agent (again) or just move on to self-publishing. We shall see.

So, are you on Spring Break? And if so, what have you been up to?

The Madness of March–CoronaLife Day 747

The weather here has been crazy. Nice and warm and spring-like, then BOOM! Snow squalls and below-freezing temperatures. Is it any wonder that I am having trouble finding my rhythm, when Mother Nature herself is out of sorts?

In spite of it all, this has been a fairly productive week. I have completed the interior file for the public version of my genealogy book. After cutting out the living people, it was 5 pages shorter.

Next, I will get the cover templates for the hard cover and the paperback, and create those. With only a 5 page differential, the cover template size may not change. If that is the case, I can use the same files I used for the family version. Either way, it is not much work.

Then, all that remains is to order the print proof and then have it go live once I approve it.

I also received the latest edits to my middle grade novel The Curse of the Pharaoh’s Stone from my co-author. We have been trying to find a home for this book for years, but it is not in a “hot genre” so it has been a hard road. We are going to try the traditional route once more after this clean up, and if we cannot get traction, we will self-publish. We believe deeply in this book, we want to get it out to the readers.

So getting to those edits is the next project after the genealogy book is done.

Speaking of genealogy, my mom’s DNA sample is “processing”. Fingers crossed our unorthodox method of collection doesn’t cause problems!

How is March wrapping up for you?

Marching Ahead–CoronaLife Day 733

After a couple of rather hectic weeks, it’s back to the routine grind.

The good news is my mother’s genealogy book arrived prior to her surgery, so I was able to give it to her before.

Allow me to introduce The Campbell Family of New York City, New York, and Their Ancestors:

That edition is the “family” edition, which contains details down to the present generations. My next step is to trim out the information on living people and create a “public” version. That version will be for sale through the usual distribution channels, same as my other genealogy book, The Warren Family of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Their Ancestors.

So that is my March project. Hopefully I will have that done by the end of the month.

Sometimes I lament at how slow my progress seems to be. I need to remember that slow progress is still progress, and learn to accept that this is the best i can do at the moment.

With that in mind, I choose to celebrate the publishing of the family version and enjoy sharing it with my Campbell clan!

Genealogical Proof—CoronaLife Day 670

Ask and you shall receive! I got my proofreading copy for my genealogy book back last weekend, so I have been diligently making or rejecting changes.

There’s a lot to look at.

Some are genuine mistakes. Some are things perfectly clear to me that confused readers who have not been immersed in this for 20+ years. Some are things I decided not to change because they weren’t actually mistakes.

One thing I should have explained to the proofreaders is that ages and spellings are elastic until after 1900, and even sometimes then. Many people were illiterate, so spellings were at the mercy of whoever was taking the dictation. I once had someone write an ancestor’s name as “Eva Murray”, leading to a long chase for an Irishman in early 19th century Germany. Turns out her name was Eva Marie, and her immigrant husband’s heavy German accent was misheard by the clerk.

Ages floated a lot, too. People lied to go to war, to get married, to appear younger than their husbands. Many people honestly didn’t know their exact birth year. Until Social Security, it really wasn’t necessary to know. So genealogist get accustomed to a certain amount of drift in ages. Ancestors are simultaneously 40 and 37 and 52—it all depends when you look.

Schrodinger’s relatives.

Still, the proofreaders did a fantastic job. I am inching my way through. I have 4 more chapters to do, then all the photo and graphic captions. I hope to have it completed by Monday.

I will still have to go in and edit it severely to bring the page count down. I hate to lose so much fun historical stuff. So I am considering keeping the longer version and making it available as a PDF giveaway with purchase of the book. We shall see.

How is your new year kicking off?

Wrapping Up October – CoronaLife Day 229

The last week of October is always hectic and stressful for me. Several family celebrations plus Halloween makes for an unhappy introvert. And this year all the political turmoil added to the pandemic strain piles on the anxiety.

So I haven’t been very productive this week. Just have been exhausted and scattered. Which isn’t to say that I have done nothing. I have been thinking about my Veritas re-write, and as snatches of scenes or paragraphs I want to insert come to me, I have written them down. It’s fits and starts, but it’s progress. I hope to get those words into the computer before the week is out.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will know that we have had a rather adventurous time trying to keep guppies alive in our small 5-gallon fish tank. We’ve been through 8 fish. The last one died right before the lockdown in March, and our tank has been empty since.

We’ve begun “cycling” our tank again to get the ammonia and nitrate levels to zero before adding fish. It’s a slow process and currently leaving me scratching my head, but we seem to be getting there in spite of ourselves. Once we get the water right, we’ll get new fish, and hopefully keep them alive for a decent amount of time. Of course, the way coronavirus cases are rising in our neck of the woods, we will probably be ready for new fish right when we get closed down again!

So I have written a paltry few hundred words on my novel, and have been watching bacteria grow. Exciting times. But the end of October is always like this for me. I know come November I will be able to take a deep breath and feel some weight come off my shoulders.

I am not crazy enough to do NaNoWriMo this year. I do not have the headspace or emotional bandwidth for it. But I do want to try and at least get into a rhythm, dedicate some time each day to writing. We shall see.

Are you doing NaNo? If so, good luck!

Have a happy and safe Halloween, everyone!

Beginning…Again – CoronaLife Day 201

I’ve mentioned my on-again, off-again work on my YA sci-fi Veritas. When last I mentioned it, I was using Lisa Cron’s Story Genius and her Scene Cards to try to organize my thoughts, deepen the story, and not lose track of the emotional through line. This has been a struggle for me, but I felt I was finally starting to see something.

This week, even though I have not finished the Scene Cards for the whole book, I went in to massage the first 10 scenes, which I had done the cards for. I needed to see how the changes I pondered felt in situ, and see how it changed the flow and tone of the story. This amounts to the first 10,000 words of the story, but I think I need to really get this right before I can go much farther.

I like what I see. While that actual changes to the scenes are relatively minor—added lines here, deleted lines there—the story feels different. By more fully understanding Cron’s third rail—the misbelief that has driven my protagonist for so long—I was able to refocus the scenes and drive the story in a whole new way.

I am a long way from finished, and I will undoubtedly revisit these scenes again. This process is time-consuming for me, and sort of hurts my brain. But I feel it is reaping some rewards for me already, with more to come. I hope that this is like doing a large jigsaw puzzle—at first, and for a long time, it feels like a struggle to find pieces that fit. But as the number of pieces dwindle, they come together faster and faster, until in one burst of puzzling it all comes together.

I’m still at the beginning of the Vertias puzzle. If I get this right, though, and take my time going forward, the story should roll faster and faster on its own, and come together all at once as I near the end.

At least, that’s the dream.

What are you all working on? Are any of you at the beginning…again?

Routines and Revisions – CoronaLife Day 187

This is my daughter’s second week of remote learning, and we are settling into a routine again. Unfortunately for me, every school-time routine means I don’t get enough sleep. No matter how hard I try, it is always later than I want it to be before I get to bed, and that alarm goes off awfully early in the morning.

However, a routine is helpful. My daughter is old enough now that she does not need constant help with her schoolwork. Unlike the spring remote learning, where we were all simply trying not to drown, her teacher is online live with her and the class for 4 straight hours (with small breaks in between lessons so the kids can move around, go to the bathroom, etc). Then a lunch break, then my daughter goes back up to her “art studio” to do her Specials work and anything she hasn’t finished in class.

Since she also makes her own breakfast and lunch, that leaves my day more open than it has been all summer. It’s still hard to concentrate, because my daughter pops down at every break to chat, but I can get some work done during the daylight hours (if I can stay awake!). As a result, I have been able to work some more on revising Veritas later in the afternoon and evenings.

As I said in a previous post, I have been using Lisa Cron’s Story Genius to revise, but I got hung up on what she calls the third rail—those competing desires that fuel the inner conflict of your protagonist. I wasn’t quite understanding it, or at least I could not clarify it enough to find one that felt “right” for Veritas, until I spoke to my friend Kathryn Craft, who is a wonderful developmental editor. She reframed the idea for me, coming at it from several other angles, and at last I “saw” what I needed.

I have spent the past week chipping away at the rest of Story Genius, laying the groundwork which will both support and propel the story. I feel like it’s finally coming together. This is a major revision of an already well-polished story, and what I am finding is that all the pieces I needed were already in the story—I just have to put them together in a different way. So, yay to my subconscious for knowing what needed to be in there, even while my conscious brain missed the point.

My plan from here on out, now that I think I grasp what I need to do, is to use Cron’s Story Cards concept to examine my existing scenes and align them with my new insights, and figure out if any more need to be added (or deleted). We shall see how it goes.

How are you settling into your fall routine? Is it much different from your summer one?

WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien