Workbooks and Journals, Oh My

So! It turns out that said journal class I had? Not a class so much as a collection of demos of how to make journals. Ah, well.

And also, the whole thing is kind of obvious in retrospect. There are some good pointers and tips, certainly. But the class is for making journals in Canva (I love Canva, I like to make book covers in it, though sometimes they prove too complicated–To Rule the Stars was made in Canva, for example, but Love Shines Through had to be done in Photoshop) and Canva has changed how it works over the past two years (madness, she says sarcastically) so the actual physical journal making isn’t as helpful as perhaps it would have been.

That said, I’m 14 pages into the first workbook (each section has different exercises, so it’s kind of slow going) and made an entire 98-page journal in about an hour this morning.

Title Page of the Workbook in Canva

Kind of fun. A little aggravating. I just realized one of the fonts I’m using I also used on the To Rule the Stars cover so that’s a bit funny. (It’s a nice font, though, so I’m not sorry.)

I’m not making amazing progress on anything (I got T-boned by a car running a red light last Friday, so a thoroughly-annoying amount of my time has been dedicated to that).

(Everyone is okay.)

But I am done with the major revision on the first nonfic book. And assuming it doesn’t spawn any more companion books (the journal came out of nowhere when I was doing my final organization of the book and workbook, as did a freebie that I still need to make), the workbook should be done by the end of the week. And then it’s on to Common Writing Mistakes (no companion books, hopefully), and then Outlining (probably not a companion book?), which should go a little faster.

How are you today, squiders?

WriYe and Editing

First of all, fantastic news, squiders! They found my journal/workbook class for me! Hallelujah! Words can describe how happy I am about this development. (Now to get on it.)

It’s editing month at WriYe (probably to line up with NaNoEdMo–National Novel Editing Month–is that still a thing? I’ve been in the online monthly challenge community for so long I can’t keep track anymore.) and so this month’s blog circle questions have to do with that.

(While, technically, revision is the process of changing story elements–writing new scenes, removing old ones, changing character arcs, etc.–and editing is technically stuff like fixing punctuation, grammar, and the fact that the character’s eye color went from hazel to brown on page 15, we’re going to follow general convention and equate editing to “the act of changing a story, hopefully for the better.”)

Describe your editing process. What is your biggest challenge in editing? 

I think I’ve talked about my editing process in great detail before here on the blog, but if I haven’t, essentially I do several months of analytical work, looking at plot and character arcs, which scenes are essential and which are not working, if there’s characters that should be removed or combined, if there’s confusing parts or if a prop comes out of nowhere or if some aspect of worldbuilding is falling apart.

And THEN I outline the story, put each scene on a color-coded note card, and start the revision/rewriting process.

That typically gets rid of the major issues, and if the story still needs some work, it’s mostly minor things.

Bonus:
Tell us about your ideal critique partner. What do you look for in a critique partner?

Ha! If we’re going for ideal, someone who reads the chapter/story quickly, who points out things that are good along with the things that are bad, and someone who can look at a chapter as part of a larger story and make insightful comments on character and story arcs. Oh, and someone who is into your writing and loves to get it.

But I’ll take what I can get. If I get feedback eventually and it’s at all insightful, I consider it a win. 😛

Happy Thursday, squiders! I hope you didn’t get bomb cycloned yesterday like I did. (But all the trees are still upright and we didn’t go without power overnight, so it wasn’t terrible.)

Announcing Love Shines Through

Hooray! It took a ton of work, but Love Shines Through: A Fractured World Anthology is now available!

Love Shines Through cover

Here’s the blurb:

The world was whole before the war.

But war is a terrible thing, and terrible things are done in the name of defense and protection. And this war tore the world apart, fractured it, separated families and lives and dreams. The reasons why no longer matter, but the effects still linger. They cause pain, though the war is over.

But despite the monsters and the poisons and the despair, there is a glimmer of light. And hope and love are not gone from the world.

These four stories, set in the Fractured World, explore how light can make it through the darkness. How hope can conquer fear. And most of all, how love can still flourish, even when the world is bleak.

A young woman braves monsters to see the sky.
A reluctant man chooses forgiveness over suffering.
Lovers reunite to save a child and their community.
Best friends risk everything for each other.

Come see the light for yourselves.

I’m so glad to see this done and out! Love Shines Through is available through Amazon in paperback or ebook form, or in your favorite format through Smashwords (and hopefully soon through your favorite ebook distributor).

I had a great time writing my story for this anthology–it was fun looking at Briony’s ancestors and thinking about what could have led them to the point they’re at in City of Hope and Ruin. (Oh yeah, this anthology takes place about 400 years ahead of CoHaR.) And I’m glad to see it come to fruition. The Fractured World was always supposed to be a shared world, so it was great to have some new authors write in it.

I hope you guys have a chance to check it out!

Review: In Search of a Witch’s Soul

Good morning, squiders! Today’s I’ve got an urban fantasy noir story for you.

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Urban Fantasy Noir
Publisher: Ink & Magick
Date Published: March 5, 2019
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Human, private detective Anna Caill isn’t keen on the prohibition of magic enacted by the 18th Amendment, but she won’t deny it’s good for business. The coppers couldn’t care less about the witches’ problems, giving her any number of clients to choose from.
When mysterious witch Jesse Hunt saunters into her office, he and his case will test her limits. While a killer stalks the magical underworld, Anna is hired to find Jesse’s friend, the high priest of an ancient coven.
As her case unravels, Anna is forced to confront her addiction to a dark spell in this urban fantasy noir.
About the Author

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D. writes stories she wants to read. Her love of the worlds of fiction led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University.
When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, crafting, watching anime, Korean television, Bollywood, or old movies. She may also be getting her geek on while planning her next steampunk cosplay with friends.
She lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John) and cat (Yin).
Contact Links
Purchase Links

Review

There’s a lot to like here. I love the world, which is a mixture of historical and urban fantasy. The story takes place in an alternate prohibition time period, where witches (which are tangibly different from humans) are known about and, if not fully accepted into society, somewhat integrated.

The noir elements are well done also, and I didn’t see the twist at the end coming at all (though it is properly foreshadowed–I just fell for the misdirection), so kudos on that. It’s a quick read, and the story moves along well.

Really my biggest issue was Anna, our main character. She’s a great private detective and her voice is fine, but man, does she have a major blind spot a mile high. I know noir main characters need to be flawed, and it is standard to have said flaw be related to their relationships, but it was obvious from the first flashback that she was operating under incorrect assumptions, and there’s no growth in said flaw throughout the book (and, indeed, it gets worse). I liked her well enough otherwise, but this was a major issue for me, and I don’t know if I would read another book following her unless I knew there was some sort of resolution in this area.

Bottom line: great, unique world with fun worldbuilding, fast read. Some characterization issues for me, but that’s completely arbitrary and another reader might not be bothered. I’d recommend picking it up if you like urban fantasy or noir with different-than-the-norm elements.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

So, both the Landsquid books and the nonfiction books are lower down in the priority for the next week, since the Fractured World anthology is coming out in about a week and I have Things That Need Doing (I am in charge of the back cover copy, the inside formatting, and the cover, and somewhere along the way here I have obviously taken on too much responsibility).

But that doesn’t mean I’m not working on them still. I finished the rough draft of the Landsquid book and have drawn most of the pages, and I started researching how one goes about submitting a picture book to publishers, and I have learned things.

I have learned that, apparently, you take the text of your picture book, put it in manuscript format, and send it off. And…that’s it. No artwork. No illustration notes.

Which…what? What? There are a ton of books written and illustrated by the same person–how did they submit? I have pages in my book where there are just pictures and no text–how is that represented in the manuscript format? Is it? Or does what text there is have to stand on its own?

I guess the idea is that publishers want the option to hire their own illustrators for projects, and so they’re more likely to accept a book without any artwork baggage. And, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind someone else illustrating. I am a competent artist but I’m under no illusions about being amazing. I just can’t figure out what I’m supposed to do.

(If anyone knows, please share your wisdom! I’m also going to look into my local SCWBI chapter–it’s been probably 5 years since I last did anything with them and I don’t remember anything–and see what’s what there.)

The journal class continues to be MIA. I emailed a follow-up last night but have not heard anything. Bah. Bah, I say! Meanwhile I’ve gotten a ton of emails from this company advertising OTHER classes they want me to buy, and I can’t say I’m motivated to ever buy anything from them ever again.

(I have Lifetime access on another class I bought from them four years ago, and I went back through it last week, since I also bought that class for the nonfiction series, and it’s not in a great state. Links going to the wrong information, missing information, etc. So.)

I did find a possible alternative, if it comes to that. The other teacher I follow who’s offering a journal/workbook class has a standalone workbook on the subject for $10. It’d probably be better than nothing, but I am waffling. It sounds like part of her class/workbook is figuring out what the workbook should be about, and I’ve got that part down. I mostly want formatting info.

Also, I’m working through How to Think Sideways, which is a class offered by Holly Lisle. I bought it for a lot of money a long time ago (probably 10 years) but never got all the way through it, and I’ve always wanted to get my money’s worth out of it. So I’m going through. I’ve made it past the lesson that tripped me up the first time, and have a ton of new story ideas, which is…well, not terrible. But I’ve got to get some stuff done before I start new things.

(Now, Holly is a woman who maintains her lifetime access in a way that is actually useful. Plus she updates the courses instead of making a new course and then expecting you to pay again.)

(I’m sorry, I’m just really Not Impressed with journal class company right now.)

But, yes, the anthology must be done. If I can swing it, I hope to finish the print formatting today and get the cover done. We’ll see, though, because everything is taking longer today than it should.

How are you doing, squiders?

Plugging Along

Well, squiders–Lord, is that more yellow? auuughhh–there’s been nothing past the initial contact on the journal class. How long do you think before I ping them? Tomorrow? Or do I need to wait until next week?

(I did check out the other teacher’s class, but it’s $100 and I’m especially not spending $100 on something I have already paid for.)

(Also, it’s my turn to make playdough for the smaller, mobile one’s class, and Goddess, there is nothing I hate more in life than making playdough. We picked yellow, which was a mistake.)

(Also, how am I allowed to make playdough but I am no longer allowed to make cute snacks? Is it because we can pretend the kids aren’t eating the playdough?)

I mean, it’s probably no skin off their backs if they ghost me. It’s not like I can call my credit card and ask them to take off some charge from two years ago. Also, I think I paid with Paypal.

So cross your fingers for me, squiders, that I hear from them soon and that it is good news.

I’ve also collated the posts for the first three books (story ideas, common writing mistakes, and outlining) and put together a list of other things to do:

  • Cover design
  • Find reviewers
  • Create freebie for email list (if you want on my author-specific list, it’s here)
  • Check picture permissions and make sure to attribute them
  • Add thank you pages to the backs of the books
  • Research categories and pricing

I’ve been so busy thinking about writing/revision I forgot about the publishing aspect. Ahahahaha. Ha. Ha. Except now I’ve done that, hooray.

I mean, I still need to do the writing/revision but now I have the big picture in mind.

(If you’ve made workbooks/journals previously, squiders, what software did you use? And did you use normal binding, or a coiled binding, and if you did a coil one, where did you publish it?)

(Stupid missing class.)

Also, it’s the end of February and so I find myself needing to think what I want to spend the next month on. The nonfiction books, yes. They will get done come hell or high water. Four years is more than enough time to spend on a project. But then there’s so many other options–the landsquid picture books (going okay, just procrastinating, which is silly, because it is silly to procrastinate things that are your own ideas that you want to do), maybe a new adult project. I should do some editing on other books, but I’m not feeling motivated. And I’d like to get more feedback before I do anything drastic.

Things to ponder.

Spring looms, squiders. Any plans?

The Dangers of Procrastination

Oh, squiders. I have run into yet another road bump in the nonfiction book writing process.

It has been my intention to release workbooks with some of the nonfiction books (so far the idea generation and the multiple project books, but perhaps more as I continue to finalize things) and, seeing how I’ve been working on this project for about four years now, I bought an online class two years ago about how to make journals and workbooks with the intention of using it when I was a little further along in the process.

Well, now I’m further along, and I’m ready for that class, so I logged in to the website I bought it from and…

Nothing.

It’s not there.

There’s a note on the member dashboard about classes older than 2016 (though I bought this in 2017, so that shouldn’t be an issue), but other than that, everything is blank.

I’ve contacted support, but they seem a little confused about the whole thing too. There was the implication that it would be difficult to prove I had bought the class at this point in time but that they would try (I think they might have rebranded a bit since I bought the class).

I mean, I have my receipt, so hopefully everything should get worked out eventually, but I could have, in theory, done the entire class by now. And it’s hard to focus knowing I don’t have access to something I’m going to want, especially since the first book in the series has an accompanying workbook (or will, eventually).

Do I look for another workbook class? Another teacher I follow actually just put one out, but I am loathe to pay money for something when I have already paid for something similar. I mean, I could probably figure out how to make a workbook–I’ve certainly formatted weirder things for publication–but sometimes it is nice to have someone else do some of the work for you. (Especially if you’ve already paid for it!)

Anyway, this is an argument for doing projects quickly and consistently, I suppose. (Though this has always been a side project, so…)

Anyway, I’m kind of at a loss about what to do. Do I work on the books and come back to the workbooks (and try to remember what exactly was in each specific book)? Do I wait and work on marketing and publishing plans and hope they find the class for me in the next 24 hours? Do I flail around and work on something else entirely (admittedly what I have been doing)?

Well, I’ll have to figure something out. How are you doing, squiders?

Nonfiction Books and a Green Mars Update

Hi, squiders! How are you doing? My washing machine is leaking out the bottom and I’m trying to figure out if I need a new one, but it’s kind of a two-person job (one to tilt the washing machine, one to look under it) so I will have to wait until I have another adult to solve that one.

I know we’ve had a lot of media updates lately, but I wanted to let you know that I am working on the nonfiction books. I’ve re-ordered them for release based on the steps of the writing process, so they’re looking like this now:

  1. Finding Writing Ideas
  2. Common Writing Problems and Fixes
  3. Outlining
  4. Writing Consistently
  5. Writing Around Life
  6. Working on Multiple Projects at Once
  7. Submission and Publication

I wrote 6 first, as part of a training course I was taking at the time (kind of wondering if I should go back through the training course real quick), so I’m using that as the format for the other books. Plus, you know, the rest of the books are mostly a collection of blog posts at the moment.

So I’ve started working on the Writing Ideas book, adding in new material and streamlining the posts so they’re not repetitive, make sense, etc. I planned a workbook to go with that one (and also the multiple projects book) so I need to work on that as well.

Any thoughts on the publication order, squiders? I can’t decide whether Outlining should go before Common Writing Problems. Also, if you’d like to beta any of the books, let me know.

Also, I know we were supposed to discuss Green Mars as part of our Mars Trilogy readalong, like two weeks ago–or was it longer?–and I haven’t mentioned it recently, but I am working on it. It’s just slow going. The viewpoints are a little denser than the first book, which makes sense in context, but requires me to pay closer attention when reading.

Also I got eaten by Gemina. (If you’re not reading the Illuminae series and like science fiction + weird typography, you’re missing out.)

So, anyway! Green Mars is still coming, the nonfiction books are making good progress, and I’m feeling pretty good about how February is going in general, even with the sinus surgery.

I hope you guys are feeling pretty good too.

Bunnies and Pom-poms, Oh My

Nobody had school on Monday, so while my instinct is to distract them with things they can do themselves unsupervised (admittedly not much) so I could do some writing, I decided to be a decent parent and plan a craft project for us to work on.

Both the small-ish, mobile ones enjoy crafts, and I’ve been stockpiling them on Pinterest, so I picked two that seemed like they’d be doable and where it wouldn’t be too hard to find supplies for them.

The choices were pom-pom bunnies or glove monsters, and to be honest I’m glad they picked the bunnies, because cheap gloves are very hit or miss this time of year, and this way I didn’t have to deal with any meltdowns if/when we didn’t find them.

(I should probably pick up some gloves when I come across them next. Just in case.)

On the surface, this looked pretty easy. Make pom-poms (I actually grabbed a fuzzy brown yarn from my mom a few months ago for this exact purpose), glue pom-poms together, glue on eyes/ears/nose/tail, ta-da.

The tutorial is here, if you’re interested:

Of course, nothing ever goes according to plan, and I kind of have to just let them do it, because creativity is something I value and I want it to be something they value as well. Instead of two pom-pom guides I had to make four, because the bigger mobile one wanted a giant rabbit, and the littler one wanted a tiny rabbit. And our yarn was too fluffy, so our bunnies look like long-haired guinea pig/rabbit hybrids.

But, whatever. We had fun. And I only burned myself with the hot glue twice.

Here’s our version (complete with $4 worth of tiny birds because they puppy-eyed at me at the craft store, and I already don’t have much craft store willpower):

The bigger one is named Fluffy and the smaller one Purple, because, well, still working on the creativity thing.

(They have red inner ears instead of pink because the craft store was sold out of pink felt. The employee I asked about it said that they were out of pink everything due to Valentine’s Day.)

Done any fun crafts lately, squiders? Tips to help me stop burning myself with the hot glue?

R.I.P. Opportunity

I woke up yesterday to the news that NASA had officially declared Opportunity to be dead, which has made me sadder than I expected. I was working in the aerospace industry when Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars back in 2004, and I remember it being a very exciting time at work.

(I did not work on Mars-related stuff at the time, but it was all anyone wanted to talk about. You couldn’t get three feet around the office without the rovers coming up in one form or another.)

And, to be honest, I hadn’t thought about the rovers in years. Spirit was declared dead a long time ago, and then Curiosity was launched, and Opportunity slipped my mind.

For a rover meant to last 3 months, the fact that it lasted almost 15 years is pretty dang amazing. And NASA did such a good job of getting us all to care about some little (I say little facetiously–neither Spirit or Opportunity is that small, and Curiosity is freaking huge) robots exploring on another planet.

But I will admit I cried a little, when I learned that Opportunity’s last message was “My batteries are low and it is getting dark.” (And it makes me feel better to know I wasn’t the only one.)

I know it’s just a machine, but Godspeed, Opportunity. Thanks for all your hard work.

It seems to me you lived your life
like a rover in the wind
never fading with the sunset
when the dust set in.

Your tracks will always fall here,
among Mars’ reddest hills;
your candle’s burned out long before
your science ever will.#ThanksOppy. I owe you so much. pic.twitter.com/x0i5WqA9sL— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) February 13, 2019

Books by Kit Campbell

City of Hope and Ruin cover
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Shards cover
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Hidden Worlds cover
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