Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

And about time, too.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Wrap-up After NaNo

Congratulations to everyone who entered NaNo! I hope you met your expectations, and that, like me, you’ve donated what you can afford to help keep them going.

For me: Not bad. 62K words at the time RL stepped in, which is the best I’ve done to date. I was (kinda-sorta) fortunate in that I threw my back out, so for more than a week, I could only sit. That corresponded with our Verizon FIOS interface box dying, and being without TV (no loss for me), Internet (got rid of that time-sink at the expense of current news) and ‘landline’ phone (none of those ‘city-state’ calls that mean so much to us).

Therefore, I sat and mostly wrote when I didn’t gobble the OTC meds the Urgent Care recommended. Those had the usual effect⁠—none⁠—but since noticing the opioid epidemic, I guess they’re loathe to prescribe anything that might work, for fear all us mindless dolts become addicted. Oh, well.

Most of the NaNo words went to Dragons Run My Life, which I may make the series title, rather than the book. The Muddy Redhead might work for the book. I’ll see. As for the story, it’s nearly done, at about 82K words. More than I thought it would need. I played with some fonts for the paperback, and printed a copy to review in a week or so.

The balance of my NaNo words, some five or six thousand, went to Low Places, leaving me where I had to do some research to continue writing. I’m doing that now.

In addition, I wrote and posted a review for Emily Martha Sorensen’s Dragon’s Hope (see next earlier post). I still recommend it! Bene nota: her dragons and mine aren't the same!

Also, I edited and formatted Shackled for JE Medrick that I hope will be available soon. I’ll post when I get that word.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review of Dragon's Hope

Four Stars (of five) for Dragon’s Hope (Dragon Eggs Book 2), by Emily Martha Sorensen, with cover art by Eva Urbaníková.

Book Two of this series is almost as much fun as the first one, Dragon’s Egg. As usual with books two, the story line has been telegraphed to one extent or another; wild-eyed excitement at unsuspected things is mostly absent.

No spoilers here, because for all that I said the story line’s been telegraphed, that’s only partially true, and the twists (for which I’m appreciating Ms Sorensen more and more) are delightful. These twists include fun new characters, promising continued adventures for our heroes as the series continues.

We travel another several weeks with our three characters, Rose, Henry and Virgil, and their trial and tribulations won’t come as a surprise to any parent. The perseverance Rose and Henry demonstrate is both touching and necessary, given the responsibility they’ve accepted.

While I was offered an ARC in exchange for an honest review, I chose to purchase it from Amazon instead. My review, substantially the unchanged, will also appear at Amazon and Goodreads.

I read Dragon’s Hope on my MacBook Pro using the Kindle for Mac app. I noticed no typos or other errors of that sort. Based on my experience, I believe there should be no problem using a Kindle. Ms Urbaníková’s cover does deserve a color display.

I recommend Dragon’s Hope to anyone looking for a clean, fun—especially fun!—continuation of a series with three characters whose adventures in life are just beginning.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

For those of you in the United States, at least.

For everyone, take a minute to luxuriate on something in the feast part of our feast or famine lives. Perhaps the small smile on a loved one's face.

I'll be back later with a report on NaNo, a book review and other nonessential things.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Go Vote!


If you haven't yet, and you're in the US. Even in California, the polls should be open. In Hawai'i and Alaska, you may still have an hour or so to wait.

I filled out my ballot 2 weeks ago, in Massachusetts Early Voting.

While I do care who you vote for, I make no pleas, empassioned or otherwise, for my choice. It's more important to me that you do vote for the person that you believe and hope will speak to, and perhaps bring to life, your personal view of where America should be headed.

But don't stop there! Vote every contest; make choices for the ballot questions: they'll affect your life, too, and perhaps more directly.

Have I said it enough?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween and Ready for NaNo?

I hope your trick and treating was successful, however you define that. On TV, some cable channel is cutting the hell out of The Rocky Horror Picture Show...

This quick note is to say, no, I’m not ready but I’ll do it anyway, best I can. However, if you’re having second thoughts, here’s a few reasons why that may not be a bad thing, thanks to Janice Hardy’s Fiction University:

With the mad dash to 50,000 words starting tomorrow, many writers are spending today’s writing session doing last-minute prep work for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWiNo).

But some of you might still be deciding if you want to do NaNo at all. With so many “Planning for NaNo” articles out there (some written by me), I thought it might be nice to play Devil’s Advocate and share some reasons why it might not be a good idea to do NaNo.

Read more at Fiction University. You should be following Janice anyway, but in case…

Best Luck to you, whether you dive into the crystal clear waters of NaNo, or some other lagoon of your choice.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Brief Update, Then Ready for NaNoWriMo

I’ve pulled Nursing Girls from the earlier posts and stuffed them back in the crooks and nannies of my hard drive. If somehow you missed it and want to read it still, a brief email with your return email will suffice.

Obviously, my free books in August were not contingent on anything, but if you took advantage, a review would be appreciated. Thanks.

Since Nursing Girls was posted, I've been to Naples, Italy, for ten days (plus recovery time!), edited and formatted a monthly web serial for a dear friend (five issues so far), done some reading and tried to keep up with the news and events, and of course, the upcoming elections, which can't come too soon! Beyond that, I'll say I plan to vote, I hope you do likewise if you're in the US, and we'll say no more about that.

Because of my lack of focus recently, I have three WIPs under way. Four if you count the photo essay I’m doing of our trip to Naples. (Oh yeah, we had a great time!) I hope to use my 50 000 NaNo words to make a significant advance on the stories. The three are Mark My Dance Card; Low Places, and Dragons Run My Life. The first two are Mercenaries Stories, staring Beckie, Ian and their crew; the last is a fantasy that I hope will be fun to read. So far, it’s been fun to write.

Info I added to the NaNo website for them:
Mark My Dance Card is a rewritten Princess, which went by the wayside when Brexit happened. The plot I'd envisioned for Princess didn't work very well in the new non-EU England, so Beckie and crew are investigating two disappearances, three friends, and an oil tanker.

Low Places is planned to be shorter, following Beckie as she attempts to protect the family of a Mexican prosecutor about to try a drug trafficker. For his part, the drug lord intends never to come to trial.

Dragons Run My Life is a step into fantasy, not yet well fleshed out. The concept is simple: The princess is killed. Tanial is a ringer for the princess: red hair, freckles and all. The soldier responsible for the princess seeks Tanial as a replacement. Their goal becomes wrangling Tanial out of the prearranged marriage waiting for her.

Between the three, today I have a total of about 40 000 words. I’m planning for a total of 200 000 words, so NaNo should leave me in good shape, assuming the muse doesn’t go on vacation!

If you also plan to do NaNo, good luck and sprint! As always, comments are welcome.

Friday, August 26, 2016

How Did the Giveaway Do?

Well, I’m not going to complain. I'll post my results hoping they will help others in their quests, and perhaps, a question or two of mine get answered.

Don’t laugh at the small numbers, please.

As a refresher:
August 8, Sandfall went free, 12 copies d/l;
August 11, Allure, 14 copies;
August 14, Freedom Does Matter, 36 copies;
August 17, Connections, 17 copies;
August 20, Coda?, 15 copies, and
August 23, Discoveries, 38 copies.

Total free books given away: 132.

The blog views are for the page posted that date, and mark when each book went on free. But I didn’t track the page views back to the day they occurred. The downloads, on the other hand, are by day as reported by Amazon.

I’m not surprised by the numbers; I only made one tweet for each of the posts with no other notice. That seems to be borne out by the correlation between the post dates and the higher downloads.

The numbers for Freedom Does Matter and Discoveries are surprising, both more than twice the average of the other four books. Really unsure just why that should be. I also was amused that even though the description for Discoveries recommends—pretty strongly, I thought—that Coda? be read first… Well, you can see the disparity.

Another interesting result is the mismatch between page views and downloads. The tweets pointed to the blog post, not to the Amazon page directly, so if they didn’t click via the blog post, how did they see it? While Amazon advertises Kindle Countdown deals, I didn’t think they did that for Free days. Anyone care to comment on that?

Finally, I’m not sure what pushed the page views of the Allure announcement so high. It’s all interesting; I hope a couple of the downloads actually get read, and that some choose to leave a review.

I apologize for my inability to entice Blogger to fit the chart across the available space.

Any thoughts or insights you'd like to share would be welcome.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Time for the Current Story, Discoveries, to be Available For Free

With this one, the promotion has run its course. Grab Discoveries at Amazon for free, and get ready for the next story (when the characters let me know how it’s supposed to turn out!)

The description:
Beginning as Coda? ends, Beckie Jamse has signed a contract providing protection for an archeological dig in Baluchistan, Pakistan, but even with her experience, it leads her places she never expects. And provides a reward she hadn’t negotiated.

A quiet winter and spring at The Nest allows Beckie to prepare for her baby; monitor the several jobs Ian Jamse, LLC, had already undertaken; provision the new protection contract, and plan an appropriate response to Ian and Kevin’s murders. The calm evaporates like early morning dew when Ralf Jamse arrives, full of sound and fury and other baby specific needs.
Events in Pakistan only seem calm. Unbeknownst to her, the protection contract in Pakistan develops a complication neither she nor the scientists expected: the terrorists of Daesh (Islamic State) are targeting the region.
Even before Beckie’s doctor allows her to leave the hospital, a letter arrives that changes everything.

Discoveries is a thriller with romance, set in an approximation to the real world, intended for readers 15 up. It contains real language. For the most enjoyment, readers should be familiar with Coda?.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these stories. A comment to say what you liked or disliked would be welcome; speak your piece.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Now, Coda? Is Free for Three Days

It’s time for the penultimate (so far) Mercenaries story to be free at Amazon.

The description:
Coda: noun (Music) The concluding passage of a piece or movement
• a concluding event […]

Two and a half years following Connections, death happens. Fighting back, Beckie chooses to go her own way, and it costs her her love. With little to live for, happily ever after now seems like an impossible dream, but she still has family and the team, and San Diego requires saving. Hidden information coupled with her own obstinacy make all her tasks more difficult, but friends help, some by staying, some by leaving. Hurt, confused and grieving, Beckie must push those emotions aside to grow into a role she’s only observed til now.

Coda?, the fourth book in the Mercenaries series, is a thriller set in an approximation to the real world. Real language is used. While it stands alone, readers unfamiliar with previous books may find the history preceding Coda? of interest. It is recommended for 15+.

Note: Due to licensing restrictions (New Directions does not hold British rights to Dylan Thomas' work.) Coda? is not available in Great Britain or other British aligned sales locales. Contact me through email if this applies to you and you're interested.

However, for the rest of us, please enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Time to Get Connections

The third book and my first political thriller, Connections, is available at Amazon for free beginning today for three days.

The description:

The week began most pleasurably. Young Amy believed a letter with a passport would connect her with Abby, her lover. But Abby has a history no one knows of; even Abby’s put it out of her mind.
The man she put in prison has not forgotten; he wants out, and Abby’s the key. The key to Abby is Amy. Connections between Abby and Amy are broken and remade to connect Amy and five men with hate in their hearts.
Can Amy be rescued before a hurricane eliminates her?
The man in prison has another connection: to a South American politician. Though in prison, he holds documents to impeach and imprison her. The connection between Abby, Amy and the documents is as unexpected as an insult on St. Valentine’s day.
These connections define four months of intrigue, love and terror. Will Amy and her friends survive?

Connections, book three of the Mercenaries Series, overlaps the action at the end of Freedom Does Matter; while the story does stand alone, readers may prefer the additional understanding the previous book provides.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Starting Today, Freedom Does Matter, Free for Three Days

The second in the Beckie and Ian stories, Freedom Does Matter, is available for free at Amazon beginning today. If you have downloaded either Sandfall or Allure--or hopefully both--thank you!

The description:
Mid-summer before her sophomore year at college, Beckie Sverdupe is grooming her horse when she receives horrifying news: her fiancé Ian Jamse has been shot.
Leader of a successful mercenary team, Ian’s not only Beckie’s fiancé; he’s her mentor, training her as a team member after she made it clear that, having fallen in love with him, she would make their group more than just soldiers for hire; they’d be more ‘socially conscious’ mercenaries, with concomitant longer life expectancies. The current job, an Egyptian land dispute negotiation, supposedly filled that requirement to a tee. Except it hadn’t: Ian was dying!
Instead of returning to campus for Engineering classes, Beckie kisses Ian’s insensate lips and heads to Cairo to complete the negotiations. It’s her first solo assignment, and she’s determined to finish despite her fears for Ian. Tracking the gunman will be an added challenge spurred by renewed assassination attempts targeting the new mediator: her!
Her quest to gain justice⁠—or revenge⁠—for Ian reveals a conspiracy to incite the final Mideast war by killing thousands at iconic Wembley Stadium in London. As she unravels the plot, she comes head-to-head with one man’s bitter, intransigent attempts to redefine freedom. Will Ian love her again? Can Beckie thwart the terrorist honcho before the attack and eliminate one hateful voice of irrationality?

While Freedom Does Matter is set in the Mercenaries world, it may be enjoyed on its own.

As always, enjoy!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Allure Free on Amazon for Three Days

If you took advantage of Sandfall’s free days, you know Allure is next. Go to Amazon.

The description:
Beckie Sverdupe is ready for April vacation at her church’s Spring Week Camp until Ian Jamse, the only man who had ever depended on her, asks for her help. She still had nightmares about digging out of the sand, but she’d succeeded.
Should she listen to his plea? Of course. Or was it more of a pitch than plea? He had a job, so yes, probably it was. Could she help him? Maybe. Would she?
Beckie’s answer launches her on a three-month journey to save children she’d never met. Along the way, she poses as an exotic dancer in London, a cowgirl in Arizona and an ingénue in Thailand. Each stop brings her closer to her family, her friends and to Ian Jamse, the man who’d believed in her. Each stop brings her closer also to a personal meeting with the man who could end it all, with death.

A romantic thriller set in an approximation to the real world, Allure is the lead book in the Mercenaries series. The events portrayed in Sandfall precede Allure by eighteen months, and introduce Beckie and Ian.

Allure is recommended for Adult, older Young Adult (16+) and New Adult readers for language and mature situations. Real language is used, as are fictional depictions of child abuse.

Bonus: An excerpt from Freedom Does Matter, the second book in the Mercenaries series, is included.

Publishing history: Allure was originally titled Mercenaries: A Love Story and included what is now Sandfall. This edition has a new cover, and is retitled and heavily edited from that version.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Sandfall Free for Three days Starting Today.

On Amazon's Kindle Select, assuming I got the scheduling thing for both Amazon and the blog correct.

Here’s the description:
Beckie Sverdupe, typical high-school student and accomplished equestrienne, has a best friend, an annoying younger brother, and no plans beyond homework and the upcoming pep rally. Then, she is kidnapped to be buried alive. Her strength and resourcefulness impresses the enigmatic young mercenary, Ian Jamse, but she was just a job.

Sandfall is a Young Adult thriller, and part of the Mercenaries series. It includes real language.

Bonus: An excerpt from Allure, the first book in the Mercenaries series, is included.

Publishing history: Sandfall was originally titled “Black Sky, Dry Rain,” and part of Mercenaries: A Love Story. This edition is retitled, and heavily edited from that version.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Review of Dragon's Egg

Don’t forget, my series of books, beginning with Sandfall, go free for three days each, beginning Monday the eighth. In the meantime, here’s a review of a really fun kid’s story.

Dragon’s Egg, by Emily Martha Sorensen, cover art by Eva Urbaníková.

Dragon’s Egg is an enchanting, clean short story that I suspect is targeted for a middle grade and somewhat older audience, even though the protagonists are older than that age group.

Rose is a college student, living at home with an oppressive, though loving, father, an enduring mother, and two younger sisters. She is determined to become a paleontologist over the wishes of Dad, who believes a women’s place is teaching if not in the home.

Henry, also a college student, has far fewer restrictions hanging over his head.

But Virgil James is the interesting one of the three, since his existence should be an impossibility. He may be impossible, but he also has atypical abilities and a definite sense of what he wants and needs. Others' wants or needs? Not so much.

The title should give you the biggest clue about the story you need. I’m not going to spoil it except to say that I dropped my rating to three stars because for me, Ms Sorensen ended the story too soon and then I gave one star back because I liked what she’s done with it. It’s fun, and twisty and begins to develop some complex family problems and solutions, and I liked the heck out of it.

Clearly, I must add more of these books to my budget. And I’m happy to do so.

Disclosure: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review, which you are reading here. In similar form, it will appear at Amazon and Goodreads.

I read Dragon’s Egg on my MacBook Pro using the Kindle for Mac app and (for the epub), iBooks. I noticed no typos or other errors of that sort. Based on my experience, I believe there should be no problem using a Kindle. As you can see, the bright and cheerful cover deserves a color display.

I recommend Dragon’s Egg to anyone looking for a clean, fun—especially fun!—beginning to what I hope is a long-lived series with three characters you’ll want to take home.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Advance Notice: Free Books on a Rolling Schedule

As promised: Your chance to get all of the Mercenaries books during August!

I’ll use the free book promotion Amazon Kindle Select allows to offer the whole series of books, six in total, in order for free on a rolling schedule.

Starting on August 8, Sandfall will be free for three days. Then, on the 11th, Allure, on the 14th, Freedom Does Matter, on the 17th, Connections, on the 20th, Coda? and finally on the 23rd, Discoveries.

If you ever thought you might like these, give them a try. Mark your calendar; follow me on the blog or on Twitter to be reminded. They won’t take up wallet space; they won't even take up shelf space!

Comments are always welcome.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Discoveries is Live

At both Amazon and CreateSpace, once they do their magic.

Find it at Amazon, or the paperback version at CreateSpace.

Look next week for a series of deals to begin, rippling through the six books that make up Beckie and Ian’s story so far.

I’ve enrolled it in Kindle Select, which means I can’t give ebook copies away in exchange for reviews, but if you’d seriously be willing to review and you’re willing to share a physical address, let me know and a paperback can find its way to you.

As always, comments are welcome.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Four Stars for This Short Kid’s Fantasy

I just got the 'final' proof of Discoveries to check over, so here's another review to distract you.

Bianca is the heroine of Fairy Pox, by Emily Martha Sorensen. Not to worry, the story is much more appealing than the title might imply. Still, I’m not sure most kids would be any happier than Bianca at learning about fairy itch and its cause. But Bianca is willing to try anything to keep her friends.

The Fairy Senses series Ms Sorensen has created, of which Fairy Pox is the fifth installment, deals with, so far, the problems of early to mid-teen girls. Problems with self-image, problems with parents and siblings and critically, problems with friends. While I question the too sympathetic characterization of Bianca and Cassie’s parents (on reflection, maybe not Bianca's parents so much), I thought the attitudes and interactions of Bianca and Alfonse (her older brother) and the crew of girls who are Bianca and Cassie’s current or recently past friends were spot on.

I found the characters entertaining, and Ms Sorensen has a gift for turning a humorous phrase. Needless to say, I enjoyed the story. It’s not a genre I frequently read, but I am tempted to pick up a few more in the series, just to see how the girls and the fairies work things out in the end. And to see if any boys begin to show up around the edges, to throw different monkey wrenches into the mix.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of Fairy Pox in exchange for an honest review, which you are reading here. Slightly different versions appear at Goodreads, and at Amazon.

I read Fairy Pox using the Kindle for Mac app on my MacBook Pro, and thumbed through the epub using iBooks. I found only one typo and the formatting looked nice.

I recommend Fairy Pox and the other Fairy Senses books to anyone looking for a clean fantasy set among real world problems and solutions. Preorders are active now, and it should be live tomorrow, July 15th at Amazon.

Friday, June 24, 2016

It's Hard Being an Interior Story

While you're all waiting for Discoveries to appear in paper, here's a review to whet your appetite, especially if it runs to epic fantasy, or action-packed love stories.

The role of the interior novel in a series is to advance the overall arc without giving too much away, while giving enough away that we readers are intrigued, anxious to keep reading. It’s a narrow path, with tragedy and pathos risked with every word the author writes. In Bloodbonded, Ms Davis has done a splendid job in my opinion. She has carried the promise of Ravenmarked through this next installment with aplomb; what this means, of course, is that I, like the others of Ms Davis’ “threes of fans,” will again anxiously wait for the next chapter.

Bloodbonded is the second volume in the The Taurin Chronicles. Building on the events in Ravenmarked, Ms Davis takes us through Mairead and Connor’s struggles as they come to grips with The Morrag and their disparate destinies. But along with them, Braedan, Igraine, Logan, Hrogarth and Maeve all play important parts, parts which are not always obvious.

I’ve followed Ms Davis since before Ravenmarked; I throughly enjoy her wordsmithing, her ability to convey the images we then use to see in our mind’s eye the scene she sets, the characters moving through those settings.

A disclaimer: I received a copy of this book along with a request that I provide an honest review, which you are reading. This review, in slightly different form, appears on Goodreads and will also appear at Amazon's page once the book is released.

Bloodbonded becomes available on July 1; however, hop over to this Amazon page and pre-order it now. Don't wait! I'd say they'll run out, but we all know better than that!

I read Bloodbonded using the Kindle for Mac app; there were no anomalies that I noticed. A cursory check of the pdf and the epub files (if those suit you better) likewise had no problems. The outstanding cover deserves a color display on whatever reader you select.

I heartily recommend Bloodbonded to any reader of epic fantasy, or even, any reader who enjoys an action-filled love story. Then we can wait together for Unquickened.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Discoveries Available Soon

As I said in my last post, I didn't sign up for CampNaNo this year. I still made a small donation (and recommend that you do likewise, if you can afford to). Real life intruded on my writing; I got very few words added to my total. But I did make some progress, getting Discoveries ready for publication, and finishing some other critiquing and formatting efforts.

Today, I published Discoveries on Kindle, so it should be available by tomorrow at the latest. It's in Select, so also available on Kindle Unlimited, like the others in the Mercenaries series.

The CreateSpace paperback is going through the process, which will take a little longer. I have to get a proof copy and review it, then approve it before it’ll be on sale. I'll enroll the ebook in Matchbook then.

The cover:

And the description:
Beginning as Coda? ends, Beckie Jamse has signed a contract providing protection for an archaeological dig in Baluchistan, Pakistan, but even with her experience, it leads her places she never expects. And provides a reward she hadn’t negotiated.

A quiet winter and spring at The Nest allows Beckie to prepare for her baby; monitor the several jobs Ian Jamse, LLC, had already undertaken; provision the new protection contract, and plan an appropriate response to Ian and Kevin’s murders. The calm evaporates like early morning dew when Ralf Jamse arrives, full of sound and fury and other baby specific needs.
Events in Pakistan only seem calm. Unbeknownst to her, the protection contract in Pakistan develops a complication neither she nor the scientists expected: the terrorists of Daesh (Islamic State) are targeting the region.
Even before Beckie’s doctor allows her to leave the hospital, a letter arrives that changes everything.

Discoveries is a thriller with romance, set in an approximation to the real world, intended for readers 15 up. It contains real language. For the most enjoyment, readers should be familiar with Coda?.

As usual, any comments on the cover or the description, or anything else, really, are welcome.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Camp NaNo 2016

Those who are doing Camp NaNo this April are half way through.

I hope all participants are writing and writing and writing, and getting their 50000 words done and, following DWS, ready for publication (See his articles on Killing Myths and Writing into the Dark).

I chose not to sign up this year, thinking I'd have to plead too much other work. Then, as it always does, life comes along, and since the first, I've gotten a 16000 word side story written, and a couple thousand words of rewriting on Discoveries, and then another 4000 words into Princess. So, nearly 25000 words and I would have no time for it! It's not DWS pace of 4000 words per day, but it's more than I expected.

Time will tell if the rest of the month is as productive. I'm waiting for feedback on the "last" version of Discoveries, after those edits it'll be available.

By word count, Princess should be about half done. We'll see when I get closer to the end how accurate that is.

I do not plan to develop a line of adult coloring books (grin).

Best wishes for those doing Camp NaNo! May the experience be the first step to your writing life.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Curling: It's harder than it looks on TV

As is true with most things, I suspect. We went to an introductory session to learn curling the other evening, under the auspices of the South Shore Curling Club. Links to photos are in this post.

My review: 5 stars for fun and 2.5 stars for my ability to curl. Let me emphasize that my ancien body⁠—not that well taken care of, unfortunately⁠—is responsible for this rating, not the club, not the venue, and certainly not MaryBeth and Mike, who did their level best to make curlers out of each of the four noobs they drew. (Luck of the draw, I suppose!)

My right leg couldn’t support me in the classic curling launch of the stone, but this is apparently not as unusual a condition as I feared. Some brooms are made with a bracket on the end allowing the curler to stand and walk, or hurry more likely, to the release point. That meant I could at least sling the stone down the ice.

Nothing made sweeping any easier, however. The club has done this before; they provided us with large wide rubber bands to slip over the balls of our feet, allowing some measure of mobility on the ice. Not as good as the slippers club members wore over their actual curling shoes, but believe me, far better than trying to walk on the ice in the sneakers we had been advised to wear. But the stones have to move pretty quickly to travel the 90 feet (in our rink) or 100 feet (Olympic distance), and I found it hard to keep up and sweep at the same time. Of course, you quickly realize that sweeping can’t slow the stone down, only speed it up slightly, or change its direction, so… Maybe not being able to catch a speeding stone isn’t so bad!

Curling is a genteel sport; sincere handshakes and well-wishes open and close each match. As I said above, five from five for fun, even though I’ll never make a good curler. I’m glad we went, and recommend an introductory session like this to any of you that have watched curling on you TV and thought… I can do that. Perhaps you actually can!

Comments are welcome; thanks for visiting!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Moving On; Word Joiner Update

The Goodreads Giveaway ended on the 29th, and I sent the books to the people that Goodreads selected. I hope they read them, and that they post a review, although my experience hasn’t been all that stellar.

I sent the current version of Discoveries to my reader. Maybe it’s been long enough it won’t seem like it’s all familiar. After her changes, I’ll publish the ebook and fork the paper version. But now, it’s time to go on to Princess, and finish it up.

Word Joiners
A comment on the topic of the word joiner being used to keep em dashes from being split from the word they follow: I haven’t found a good way to search for an em dash without a word joiner. Searching for the absence of something has never been a strong point in the software I’m familiar with. Open Office shows the word joiner character as a shaded vertical line between the letter and the em dash, but while those make it obvious where I have included it, it doesn’t do much for searching. In Scrivener, the word joiner can be detected by moving the cursor (with the arrow keys) through the em dash; the cursor will not move for that one character when the word joiner is detected (since it's invisible, after all).

In addition, I’m not an expert on regular expressions (used by both Scrivener and Open Office) by any means, and I’m sure a search string can be constructed to find em dashes not preceded by a word joiner, but I took the (in this case) shorter path, and searched for every letter followed by an em dash, in sequence.

As always, comments welcome!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Super Tuesday Update

I voted. If you have the opportunity to vote today, please take advantage of it. We don’t want the election dominated (or worse, won) by non-voters.

The giveaway for Coda? over at Goodreads is finished. I have the names and addresses of those selected, and will have their books in the mail in the next week.

A final read-through of Discoveries, and that version will be off to my reader for her comments. I’m hopeful that I’ve cured some of the issues we found during earlier reviews. Also hopeful that it’ll be out before the end of the month.

The next book is about forty percent—37000 words to date. Progress is slower than I wanted, but once Discoveries is done, it should speed up.

That’s it for today. Go and vote!

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Scrivener Tip - Widows and Orphans and TOC

Working on the print version of Discoveries, the next book in the Mercenaries series, and I decided to post on an issue that I've been going back and forth with Scrivener's excellent help staff on. To wit: What do I do when this happens?

For ebooks, you wouldn't do anything to correct the widow, since the reading device will reflow the text depending on the font selected, and the size and a whole lot of other things not under our control as book designers.

For print however,  having two words alone at the top of the page is a no-no; the Chicago Manual of Style denotes this as the classic widow of widows and orphans fame. Having it run into the next chapter's title header block only compounds the error.

Based on what Scrivener support had told me (or maybe, how I interpreted what they said), this error is due to the pdf engine they use, and the only fix is to modify the original text so it doesn't occur. My experience says if the orphan runs into the upcoming heading, it does so when the last line of the section before falls on the first line of the next page.

In this case, I choose to shorten a line by deleting a word that was not superfluous, but losing it won't change the meaning at least.

That yields the following--much better from my point of view:

This look through of the ms should be done as the last step before you upload the pdf file to CreateSpace or whoever your POD printer is. That's because you are going to make minor changes to the text to reduce or eliminate these widows and orphans, so you need to review each page to make sure they meet your standards.

If you complete this step, and then make more changes, you'll need to go back and revisit this check, perhaps undoing some of the changes you made.

Another thing to watch for: When Compiled with the Formatting option Begin this Section on a Recto Page (which begins the specified section on a right hand or odd numbered page), sometimes (although not in this case), the last words falling on the first page of the next section confuses the Table of Contents generator and the relationship between the page numbers and the call-out in the TOC. In some cases, the TOC points to a odd numbered page, but the section actually starts a page later. Sometimes. It's not consistent in my experience, but that's a different post. As above, some judicious trimming seems to do the job by keeping the last line from slipping by the bitter end of a page.

i apologize if this is unclear. Either email me (sidebar) or add a comment if you think you may want to consider this, but find it too obscure in either description or suggestion.

Obviously, you may comment for any other reason also! Well, except the Iowa Caucuses.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Don't Forget

The Giveaway is on now!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Coda? by Tony Lavely


by Tony Lavely

Giveaway ends February 29, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Useful Scrivener Tips

Perhaps some of you are as backwards as I; if so the following about how to use Scrivener may help answer one or two questions which, depending on your level of OCD, may or may not have caused you distress. So, the 'useful' in the title refers to me, and hopefully, to you.

The Word Joiner

 Have you had a sentence in either your e-book or paperback (the pdf for which you created with Scrivener) that, by the nature of the margins and font size and all those other variables, ends split across two lines, so:
“How’s Ian? And Kev? And Amy got back okay? And ev

This may show up when dialog is interrupted. (If you have a problem with the open/close quote mark following the em dash, read on.) In case you wondered, I’ve forced the line break where it normally wouldn’t occur, to create the example.

In like manner, the structure without quote marks is typically used for internal monologue that’s cut off, similar to dialog being interrupted, so:
Probably wasn’t even thinking of that possibility, that she would⁠

The character ending both these examples is the em dash. In Scrivener, the em dash is created by either of two techniques: clicking the ‘hyphen’ key twice (the easy way), or entering (on a Mac, at least), shift option hyphen

To prevent a line break from occurring between the em dash and the word preceding it, someone created the Word Joiner. Using the Word Joiner will force the lines above to appear as you’d hope and expect:
“How’s Ian? And Kev? And Amy got back okay? And
Probably wasn’t even thinking of that possibility, that she

no matter how the page size and margins work out. Note, there is no space between the final letter and the —; the font appears to have a narrow space.

The Word Joiner is entered by placing the cursor between the final character (either the "v" or the "d") and the “em dash.” On the Edit Menu, slide down to Insert, and select Word Joiner. Note that, because it is zero-width, you will observe no change in the text, however, the character count in the status bar will increase. Also, if the change is made where the word and em dash have been split, the word will flow to the next line, coupled with the em dash.

As you may have observed, this addition forces the em dash and the word preceding it to both fall on the next line, so it may affect the way the page lays out. This is more of a concern with the pdf file, since the text on a paperback page doesn’t flow the way an ebook does.

To be clear, I use Find and Replace when I'm finished to add the Word Joiner before all the em dashes, since I can't predict in an e-book where the line breaks will appear.

The open quote where a close quote should be

According to Scrivener support (who are uncommonly helpful and unfailingly polite), the —“ seen when a close quote is entered following an em dash, is a bug in the MacOS text handler. They recommend entering the quote mark following the text, then back-spacing and entering the two hyphens to create the em dash. This works. However, if you’re at all like me, you miss one or two (or even more) of these.

There are three plausible ways to deal with these. First is the one suggested: uniformly enter the quote, then backspace and enter the em dash. Second, finish the word, enter the em dash, and then type the following keys to create a close quote: shift option [
Third, and excellent for one of your final steps in proofing your ms, use Find and Replace to search for instances of —“ and replace them with the correct version.

The Non-breaking Space

A last tip: you may have noticed on the Edit>Insert menu, the Non-breaking Space. This character creates a space which prevents a line break preceding or following it, so that numbers, for example, appear like this:

£30 000 instead of £30
000, which might occur due to line length, page size and font choice. Again, I forced the line break as an example.

There are other situations where you might desire to not have a pair of words split; the Non-breaking Space will allow you that control.

In closing

Google em dash to find suggested usages. In fiction, I find it most useful to signal an interruption in speech or thought, followed by using it to signal a parenthetical expression.

A word of warning, the characters generated with the option key only work (in my case, at least) with the US keyboard enabled. Specifically, when I select the Unicode keyboard, they do not work. Also, while Unicode includes the non-breaking hyphen (U+2011) (Prevent line breaks before or after), and an em dash (U+2014) (Line break opportunity before AND after), it has no Non-breaking em dash, as we would like. Feel free to experiment with these at your leisure. You may find characters like ￯ ([which may also show as a question mark within a square] created, in this case, by typing option ffef [No break zero-width space] using the Unicode keyboard - this appears to be an alternate coding for the Word Joiner [U+2060]).  This isn’t intended to be a treatise on Unicode; just an explanation of the character you might see when entering a code that the character set doesn’t include.

As always, YMMV. I'm using Scrivener 2.7 on a MacBook Pro, MacOS 10.11.2. I'm certain the encodings for these characters (and thousands of others) are available under Windows and for Word users; since I'm not one of those, I recommend a brief Google search, which should fill your screen with more information than you could ever hope for.

Comments, as always are welcome. If you have a similar tip, I'd be happy to see it in the comments.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Giveaway of Coda?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Coda? by Tony Lavely


by Tony Lavely

Giveaway ends February 29, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Advance Notice

Come back on the 15th for information on the Coda? Giveaway at Goodreads. And keep having a great new year!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Not as Productive as...

Well, it’s the beginning of the year. Some people try out new resolutions to help guide their behavior; some try out old ones for the same reason. Most fail.

For me, I don’t do resolutions; I know what I need to do, if it doesn’t get done, I have no one to blame… Or more correctly, I know who to blame: me.

In any event, the past couple three months have only produced a few thousand words for the current WIP. That’s disappointing, or would be if I hadn’t critted two and a half books for my beta reader (the half is one in process now), finished making changes to Sandfall and Allure, the revised versions of Mercenaries: A Love Story, and gotten them and Coda?, the fourth book in the series, done and up on Amazon and CreateSpace.

I also reworked my author page at Amazon, and the back matter for all my books. This clean-up isn’t finished; I want to create new paperback covers for Freedom Does Matter and Connections to match the others in the series, and finish the changes suggested for Discoveries so I’ll be able to release it in March.

I posted the descriptions of the five books at the end of last year. Here I’ll put the books in order again, with the links to Amazon and CreateSpace pages for each of the books. Feel free to peruse any and all of them at your leisure. If you’re moved to purchase one or more, that would be wonderful.

Enjoy your new year going forward; best of luck with your resolutions!

As always, comments are welcome.

The books of the Mercenaries series, in the recommended order. The Amazon links are for Kindle versions, the CreateSpace links for paperback versions. All these books are in the Kindle Match Books program, so if you purchase the paper version, the corresponding ebook is free.

Sandfall at Amazon,                         and at CreateSpace.
Allure at Amazon,                            and at CreateSpace.
Freedom Does Matter at Amazon,   and at CreateSpace.
Connections at Amazon,                  and at CreateSpace.
Coda? at Amazon,                            and at CreateSpace.