New Additions to the Site

As anyone who’s recently visited this site may have noticed, there’s a new addition to the navigation menu: The Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe Character Profiles.

I was finally able to upload character images to go with most of the profiles I’ve created thus far. Please feel free to check them out. I will also be doing some “Meet the Characters” videos on my Youtube channel in the near future. (read: before the end of the year, hopefully.)

Here There Be Dragons

Ruth, the white dragon from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series.

I’ve finally been given the go-ahead to talk about the art commission I’ve been working on since last year. I’m doing the art for the face cards of a 5-suit Dragon Poker set based on Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern books. This is an authorized card game to be published by Antiquarian Boardgames. (The link is to their FB page, as their website is currently down.) It is in conjunction with a Dragonriders of Pern LARP.

Ruth will be the Joker for the deck. The Kings will all be Weyr Women, the Queens will be Weyr Leaders or wing seconds, and the Jacks will be crafters or holders. The aces will be a dragon in the each of the five dragon colors from Anne’s books: gold, bronze, brown, green, and blue. The dragon for the aces will also be miniaturized for use as the pips on the numbered cards.

I already have all the art done in pencil and have started the inking process. In addition to the cards Antiquarian Boardgames will be selling, I am authorized to sell prints of the artwork. I plan to have some sort of purchase link set up for the prints by convention season next year. I will keep you all updated.

“Young Queen and Rider”, which I did for Dragon*Con 1989, was the artwork which earned me this commission. This print was signed for me by Anne at a book signing in Longwood, FL for the release of Masterharper of Pern.

I’ve been a fan of all her books and various series ever since the early 1980s, when Donna Akehurst (then Varner) gave me a copy of the Harper Hall trilogy.

I even found my first publisher, Gypsy Shadow Publishing, because of Anne, indirectly. I saw their Facebook post about publishing the back list of Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, who wrote the Peytabee and Acorna the Unicorn Girl series with Anne. That led to looking them up, querying them, and the eventual first publication of my Waves of Darkness series.

As I said above, I will keep you posted about the progress on this project and my writing, as well.

In Passing

The teacher who originally inspired me to major in print journalism has passed.

I hadn’t thought of the man in years, then I saw his obituary in yesterday’s newspaper. I did the math to make sure it was the same man I remembered and verified that I was one of his pupils the year he retired from teaching (but not from sports writing).

Farewell, Coach Johnson. you’ve more than earned your rest.

 

Chugging Right Along

The latest news on the re-release of the Waves of Darkness books: I’ve chosen 5 or 6 potential cover designers from Fiverr.com to contact. My next step before doing that will be to revisit my original manuscript and reformat it for print with possible revisions and at least a new forward. The designer I finally pick will need the actual page count in order to get the spine the correct size.

I will probably pick one of the designers who offer an ACX version along with ebook and print cover sizes. I really want to get the books out in audio format, too.

My art commission is almost done for the 1st phase. I’m shading the last pencil sketch. Next up will be inking them. Color may or may not happen. That has not been decided yet. I will ask my commissioner if it’s okay to reveal what this project is. More on that later.

Sometimes It Pays …

Sometimes it pays to be paranoid, or at least highly skeptical.

Today, I received a call from a “senior acquisitions specialist” for “the only award winning hybrid publisher” about evaluating my book to present to one of their “book investors” and possibly add it to this year’s portfolio. (I was just sitting down to eat before getting ready for work, so I let the machine get it.)

To her credit, the woman, identified only as Sunshine (no last name stated), did pronounce my first name correctly. She failed, however, to actually identify the publisher she represented. I found out from my caller ID it was called Stratton Press. The call back number matched the one she called from, which seemed to add a touch of credibility.

The thing is, I haven’t sent out any queries since early last fall. I keep a board of who I’ve queried and when. This publisher was not on it. I am assuming the fact I’m an author, and my contact info was culled from my FB posts on various author and book promotion groups, then Google-fu for my phone number, which I don’t believe I’ve posted.

So, I did a little Google-fu on my own. Sure enough, there was a post about this publisher on SFWA’s Writer Beware.

Yeah, I’m not calling Sunshine back.

I’ve been a published author for 9 years and a regular attendee of the writing tracks of several conventions, so I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about naive new authors and even veteran authors falling prey to the somewhat dubious business practices of some vanity and/or fly-by-night publishers. (Yep, the terms acquisition specialist rather than editor and hybrid publisher had images flashing in my head of Robbie the Robot flailing its arms and repeating “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”)

So my advice to my fellow authors out there is do your research when looking for an agent or publisher, be suspicious of unsolicited offers to help you publish, especially if the one’s offering want money from you, and don’t be afraid to ask more established authors for advice or recommendations.

Concentration, or the Lack Thereof, and a visit to the Land of Oblivion (aka Walmart)

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Having not worked for the past 4 weeks, one would think I’d have made extraordinary progress on all my book and art related projects. One would be wrong. I haven’t even attacked the blasted house in a cleaning frenzy.

Instead, my attention has been all over the place, and I’ve been fighting a lack of ability to focus.

What have I been doing, you ask? Pirating my little black heart out on my favorite old Sega Genesis game, Uncharted Waters: a New Horizon; watching both good movies, such as The Greenbook, Best of Enemies, The Bird Box, and Blinded by the Light, and either cheesy or fun eye-candy movies like The Naked Gun, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Cannonball Run II, and The Dark Tower (which was actually pretty good if you don’t compare it too closely with the source material). My husband even got me to binge watch the original Omen trilogy, something I’d only ever caught glimpses of here and there over the years and never actually watched all the way through before.

I have also been reading on The Chronicles of Amber series by Roger Zelazny. I picked up a couple of audio books out of the series on a freebie table at a convention a few years back then came across the entire series in hardcover at an estate sale about 2 years ago. I figured this was as good a time as any to read them. Currently, I just started book 5, The Courts of Chaos.

I’m finally getting myself back on track with the art commission I received last summer.

Also, before I forget to mention it, LibertyCon has been cancelled for this year and moved to June 25-27, 2021. While it was set for mid-June this year, the venue cancelled the contract due to being tagged by the state government as a potential COVID-19 overflow hospital. While some have griped about so many conventions getting cancelled or postponed this year, I will not do so. I know of at least two convention friends/fellow authors, who’ve tested positive already. I also know how virulent common Con Crud can be, therefore how truly devastating this nasty new bugger would be on the fandom community. A large majority of my tribe are in their 50s or older with sometimes severe underlying health conditions. I would rather wait a year to see them, than see them now and risk never seeing them again.

As to the visit to the land of oblivion: while I have seen a few people wearing masks in Walmart on the occasions I have to go for cat supplies and groceries, there are many, many more I see without them (all ages, too). Plus, I still encounter the Oblivious Shoppers as much as I did before all this mess. I call them this, because they move and act as if THEY are the only ones in the store or with a right to be in the store. The levels of rude are astonishing, and there is very little evidence of social distancing. Usually, I only achieve these heights of anxiety while shopping during the Holiday season. If you wonder how high, I sometime wish I could either legally use a cattle prod while shopping or borrow Freddy Kreuger’s gloves to clear a path. I realize that sounds horrible, but I do NOT like having my personal space invaded during normal conditions, let alone when something this contagious is lurking about and being spread by asymptomatic people. at least I carry sanitizer in my car and wash my hands often enough to need lotion for the dry scaliness this causes.

So, to all those out there reading this, stay safe, stay healthy, and be patient.

An Island in the Sea of Madness

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It is clear that life and the world as we know it have drastically changed in the last few weeks and days. It is also clear it will quite some time before any semblance of normalcy returns, if it ever does. It would not surprise me if our definition of “normal” is forever altered because of the current pandemic.

That being said, I realize it will probably be sometime next year before I get to reune with my tribe at any conventions, as I foresee all such gatherings getting cancelled possibly into fall or beyond. For those whose livelihoods depend on such events, this year will be particularly rough.

As a way to mitigate this problem, I invite my readers and followers to visit my Smugglers Cove and Hucksters Haven page and it’s satellite pages.  There, you can find everything you would encounter at a convention dealer’s hall as well as authors and artists of many genres. I’ve recently updated and added listings to every page in this set.

For those of you new to my site, I collect business cards and contact information at every convention I attend and post it in my little virtual dealer’s hall. I do not receive any compensation for this, monetary or otherwise, save for possibly more traffic on my site. No, I do this to support the community of creators and businesses I’ve come to call my second family.

Writer’s Flow

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Lack of the ability to concentrate over the past few weeks had slowed my writing down drastically. I just couldn’t focus past all the distractions. Add to that the need to rewrite/replot in the middle of the manuscript for Hunting the Dragon, the 8th book in the Waves of Darkness series (and the start of a new story arc). Yes, I’d plotted the book out; heck I’d gotten a basic guideline made for the entire 7-book arc. (That’s right kiddies, not only will I get the first 7 books back into publication, I will write 7 NEW books in the series.) However, the plot I had turned out to be easily accomplished with a novella, if not a novelette.

That was/is not acceptable.

Finally, the battling ideas of what event to place where and what plot points to add have sorted themselves out. The writing has begun to flow again. I’ve even found a way to start off one of the secondary plots for the story arc a little earlier than I’d thought.

I love how unplanned characters not only pop up but give new insight and depth into the overall story. I am a “plantser”, a cross between a plotter and a pantser, in how I write my stories. It works for me.

Actually, this is the most similar book writing experience to that of writing Blood Curse (book 1) I’ve had since I started this series of novels. I had an overall idea for the story arc and a jumble of scenes and ideas, and I almost wrapped it up in 17 short chapters. With that book, too, I had to find a way to stretch/fill it out without making the added material read like unnecessary fluff.

Can you tell I’m enjoying my revitalized creative productivity?