Writers and Illness

Last week, I tested positive for Covid and have been living a sequestered life and resting a lot. I picked it up from my husband before his symptoms appeared. The moment he started feeling unwell at work, he masked up, left work, and segregated himself from my son and me once he came home. He ate and slept in a separate room. Used a different bathroom, but it was already too late. My son, who put on his mask the moment his dad got home, tested positive a couple of days later, and my turn came the next day.

My symptoms were nothing more than a head cold, accompanied by a low-grade fever on day one and a headache. Low energy was the only persistent symptom, but I’m a hundred percent better and count myself lucky. As it happened, I’d had my fourth vaccine two weeks earlier, which could be why my symptoms were so mild.

Because I wasn’t bed-ridden and had no problem concentrating, I continued on with some of my writing tasks, as I usually do when mildly ill. Of course, the editing process was slower, but the psychological benefit of creativity was so good that I believe it helped me heal physically.

Balancing work and rest with illnesses and other disruptions is a reality that writers face all the time. It’s also something they frequently need to refine with age. It’s perfectly okay to slow down, as I’ve been doing, but at this time in my life, it’s not okay to throw in the towel and sit in front of a TV all day. In fact, I hope that never happens.

The real downside to illness is that I haven’t see my grandkids for a while and miss them terribly. But that will soon change! Stay safe and healthy, everyone. It’s going to be a bumpy winter.

Still Researching, For a Good Reason

Two weeks have flown by since my last blog, but as you from the previous post, life’s been a whirlwind. Our sunny fall weather has officially become a drought, but as you’ll see from the photo, my hubby’s managed to find some beautiful fall leaves. While he’s been experimenting with photography, I’ve been focusing on editing, which is both calming and challenging.

A few days ago, I learned about an intriguing writing contest called the Unchartered Novel Excerpt contest. This contest was recommended by a writing colleague whose agent is the judge. You can submit anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 words of your work in progress and the key is to choose something exciting to attract attention. It took some thinking as I have several big moments in this 122,000-word manuscript.

I wound up choosing two consecutive scenes that contain action, dialogue, and address the heart of the story. I’ve been working on this section a great deal and will be submitting the piece this week, I hope. If you’re interested in learning more about the contest, and I apologize for the late date, click HERE. They aren’t just looking for fantasy, but mysteries and horror as well. There’s also a good FAQ you can read on the home page for more information. I’ll do a little more research before I hit the submit button.

Research for my urban fantasy has been the other focus lately. Although I’ve read plenty of novels in this genre and books on Wicca and magic, I now find myself needing to read more on shamanism. One of the key characters in my fantasy is a shaman of mixed ethnic backgrounds, however, his shamanic training came from North American Indigenous cultures, and therein lies the problem.

After reading a number of articles about the need for sensitivity and the reluctance of publishers to touch anything even remotely Indigenous, particularly here in Canada, I’m reworking the character and focusing on Celtic shamanism, which is my ethnic background.

I found an amazing book on the topic that speaks to me on a level I hadn’t anticipated at all, but that’s something to reflect on later. At the moment, I’m looking at the issue from a writing/researching perspective and have compiled pages of notes. This particular character doesn’t have a lot of scenes, but the ones he does have are crucial and will necessitate some rewriting in the next draft.

The more I work on this book, the more I learn, and the more things need to be changed. Have you found that the longer you work on a project and the more research you do, the extra number of drafts you create? This whole process would be so much easier if I were writing a novella.

I was listening to the great novelist John Irving on CBC Radio this weekend. He’s 80 years old now and is about to release his latest novel. Wow! The interviewer asked him if he has another novel in the works, and he replied that he does, but it’ll be much shorter. He doesn’t have the time and energy for months of research anymore. I can totally relate to that!

Whirling Through Autumn

Autumn’s always a busy time for writers with conferences, workshops, book launches, courses, readings, and many other events. When you’re launching a book during this period, the activity really ramps up. It’s why I feel a bit like an autumn leaf that’s been swept up on the wind and swooshed from place to place.

To be clear, I enjoyed wonderful experiences in September by meeting writing friends and colleagues, most of whom I haven’t seen in over 4 years. Spending time with them was restorative for the soul. Below is a photo of one of four events that took place last week. It was a joint launch/reading with writing colleague A.J. Devlin, who’s just launched his third mystery, Five Moves of Doom. He’s created a great character in former pro wrestler turned private investigator, in ‘Hammerhead’ Jed. If you’re looking for great whodunits with a lot of humor, check out A.J.’s website HERE.

Joint Reading/Launch, Sep. 28

Writing-related tasks continue for A Gold Satin Murder. I’m currently updating back and front matter in all of the Casey Holland ebooks. I’m also taking part in a query letter workshop through the Creative Academy focusing on my urban fantasy, which is proving to be a great experience. Query letters and a book synopsis require many drafts for me, for most writers actually, but I’ve decided to search for a traditional publisher and both are an essential tools in the process.

Today, I’m taking it easy as I had my vaccine booster yesterday and have a very sore arm and a bit of fatique today. Also, here in Canada, Thanksgiving is this weekend and I’m hosting the family dinner. I can’t wait for family time. I see my granddaughters once a week, and little Abby looks different on every occasion. I’ll share pictures next week.

Ordering links for A Gold Satin Murder:

AMAZON

APPLE BOOKS

KOBO

BARNES & NOBLE

GOOGLE PLAY

I’m visiting JP McLean’s blog today!

I’m delighted to be visiting award-winning author JP McLean’s blog today. JP has given me a great set of questions to answer, so please drop by and check it out!

Visiting Wendy Hawkin’s blog today

Hi everyone, today I’m visiting fellow BC Writer, Wendy Hawkin, where I answer the question, where did Eduardo come from and what was the inspiration for this book? Find out HERE

By the way, Wendy writes terrific fantasy/mysteries with some pretty amazing characters! Please check out her books while you’re there 🙂

Amazon: https://mybook.to/AGoldSatinMurder

Kobo Canada: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Kobo U.S. https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id6443255297

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-gold-satin-murder-debra-purdy-kong/1141951058?ean=2940166433930

Book Launch Prep: It’s a Journey

Whether you’re self-published or traditionally published, promotion and marketing is your responsibility. This means preparing for a book launch far in advance. For me, the task includes writing blogs, newsletters, and making social media announcements. It also involves updating my website along with other platforms like BookBub and mt Amazon’s Author Central page.

Planning in-person and online events is also part of the process. Book signings, readings, and podcast interviews are the norm these days. For some authors, social media ads are a must, although I won’t use them until I better understand how they work, as they can cost inexperienced authors a lot of money with little results. Then comes the launch date itself, plus post-launch date events such as blog tours and book promotion sites.

To keep track of all this, I prepare a publication checklist, which is now two pages long. I use a template that came from The Creative Academy, as I recall, but a quick google search undoubtedly provides many other sources, if you wish to use one. As many of you already know, book launches take a great deal of effort to gain any attention among the millions of published titles out there.

A Gold Satin Murder which will be launched two weeks from today. I’m very fortunate to have been invited to share a launch/reading evening with a colleague who’s releasing his third mystery. I’m doing a couple of other shared events this fall, which is far more fun than going it alone.

Aside from sending out my newsletter, staying on top of social media and updating my website, I’m also faced with the task of updating the front and back matter in the previous six books. When I first started posting ebooks in 2016, no one seemed too concerned that a work of fiction lacked a list of chapter links, but that’s a thing now. I also need to add a link to book #7 at the back of each book. As marketing gurus also suggest, I should also add a sample chapter of the next installment at the end of each book.

As you can see, there’s still work to be done, but the key is to pace myself and enjoy the process as much as I can. Given that I’ve gone through this before, I feel a little more confident, yet something unexpected can crop up and inevitably there’s something I missed. But I’m also learning not to worry about it as much.

To pre-order A Gold Satin Murder:

Amazon: https://mybook.to/AGoldSatinMurder

Kobo Canada: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Kobo U.S. https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id6443255297

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-gold-satin-murder-debra-purdy-kong/1141951058?ean=2940166433930

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Debra_Purdy_Kong_A_Gold_Satin_Murder?id=FxF_EAAAQBAJ

A Gold Satin Murder Pre-Order and Upcoming Conference

LAUNCH DATE – SEPT 8

After last week’s blog and supportive comments, I took the plunge and uploaded A Gold Satin Murder onto Draft2Digital and Amazon. So, I’m thrilled to announce that the ebook versions of A Gold Satin Murder are ready for pre-order.

D2D’s universal link includes, Kobo and Apple Books. As I write this Barnes & Noble (Nook) is still processing the submission. You can find D2D’s link HERE.

Amazon’s universal link is HERE:

I’ll be preparing the print version over the next few days.

Back in the early spring I was invited to take part in a panel at the annual When Words Collide Conference. I was reluctant at first because I knew my daughter’s baby was due within two days of that date, but they persuaded me. I’ll be taking part in a panel called Badges? What Badges?, on Saturday Aug. 13 at 8:00 a.m. PST. We’ll be discussing amateur sleuth mysteries, among other things.

This virtual conference, from Aug. 12 – 14, is free and has a great roster of panelists. The conference isn’t just for mystery writers but for other genres. Fantasy author Terry Brooks is one of the Guests of Honour! Master classes will also be offered plus podcasts of all sorts that you can listen to. If you’re interested, check out the link HERE.

Last but not least, two nights ago I became a grandma for the second time. More on that next week. What a summer!

Letting Go of Manuscripts, or Not

On Monday, I spent three and a half hours poring over the last three chapters of my 7th Casey Holland mystery. It’s one of the many times I’ve gone through this book. I’ve stepped up the final tweaking over the past two weeks because I know I’ll be uploading the book this week to Amazon and other sites. But I’m finding it difficult to let go of this one, and it worries me a little. I might be turning into more of a perfectionist than I want to be. I’ve reached the stage where I’m changing a few words back to what they were before, a sure signal that it’s time to move on.

To be honest, my unwillingness to let this novella go might be because this could well be my last Casey mystery. There are a number of reasons for this, but the primary one is that I’m eager to explore new characters and concepts in different series and genres. It’s tough because I’ve been with Casey for many years and have file folders containing notes for future books. Whether I write another installment will depend on how this one is received.

As some of you know, I’ve been writing an urban fantasy for some time, and the feedback from my critique group will be completed in a few weeks. I’ve also been working on the query letter and synopsis. At 120,000+ words, which still needs paring down, I just don’t see myself self-publishing something that large. Since I’m in no rush to publish, I’d like to venture back into traditional publishing, however we’ll see how it goes. I might think differently a year from now.

Speaking of letter go, about three years ago, I wrote the first draft of another novella mystery. The first two books were published with a small press that has now folded and again, I’m deciding whether to let this series go, or re-read the first draft to see if I should continue on.

Also, several months ago, I began outlining a new paranormal series that incorporates both mystery and fantasy, and I’ve been wondering what to do about that as well. As you can see, this writer’s life could either turn into a productive hot mess or even fizzle away, depending on my decisions.

Happily, with a new grandbaby arriving in a few days and a home reno project about to start, there’s plenty of things to keep me from constantly fretting over writing decisions. I do believe that everything will sort itself out. The goal is to be happy with my choices. It’s just a matter of deciding what fits best with short and long-term goals.

Seeking Host Bloggers

Life’s been a whirlwind of activity since my last post, but happily the sunny summer weather gives my energy gets a boost. Here in Vancouver, we’re enjoying normal seasonal temperatures which is much better than last year’s heat dome, although things could heat up. I feel for the people in Europe and the U.K. and parts of the U.S. Unpredictability seems to be the new norm, so onward we go. Speaking of which,

In a few days I’ll be uploading A Gold Satin Murder on KDP and Draft2Digital, and sending the book off to the printer. I find myself still going over the manuscript, tweaking words here and there. By the end of this month, I’m cutting myself off because launch day is September 8th.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for anyone who might be interesting in hosting me on their blog. Different topics are being prepared now, and I’m certainly open to a Q an A. If you’re interested in hosting a guest blog in Sept., Oct. or beyond, please email me at debra_kong@telus.net. A big thank you to Darlene Foster and Jacqui Murray who’ve already enthusiastically agreed to host me. I love this community of writers!

In case you were wondering, here’s the book blurb:

Transit cop Casey Holland has never met a bus passenger like the charming artist and exotic dancer, Eduardo. The bus driver Lily has certainly befriended him. But when Eduardo’s charged with murder, Lily’s caught in the middle of his legal trouble. Afraid of losing her job and custody of her son, she begs Casey for help in proving Eduardo’s innocence.

Casey’s search for answers takes her and her best friend Kendal to a troupe of strippers known as Man Cave. While the men are busy peeling off their clothes, Casey’s peeling back layers of secrets and betrayal. Nuttier than her usual adventures, the risk is just as deadly in this seventh installment of the Casey Holland transit mysteries.

I can almost hear the questions now, and if you have any topics you’d like me to address, go for it! 😊

This and That, and a Cover Reveal!

Rather than fill your inbox with multiple blogs, this one’s a catchup on events over the past two weeks. First, the Art on the Vine was great fun and a highly successful fundraiser for the Osteoporosis Society. Although it had rained most of June, the 26th was unusually hot and dry, so I wore a summer dress for the first time this year. Townhip7 Winery will be hosting another event on Aug. 28th and I can’t wait. On July 14th, I’m also sharing a table with Western Sky Books at a local farmer’s market, so that should be enjoyable, too. Farmers markets have generally been good places to sell books for me in the past, although the last time took part was in the summer of 2019.

I like that wine is the focus of this photo

If you’re looking for more summer reads, I’ve lined up two more BookFunnel events. The first is a newsletter signup that offers free crime fiction ebooks, including my first Casey Holland mystery. This provocative event is is called Mysteries, Suspense, Thrillers. The Unexplained, which is available HERE.

The second event is offering discounted ebooks with no signup required. My second Casey Holland mystery, Deadly Accusations, is part of an event called Murders, Mysteries and the Paranormal, and will be on sale for $.99 all July. You can find the link HERE:

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve been working on my 7th Casey Holland mystery, and I’m thrilled to say it’ll be released on Thursday, September 8th. This novella is a quick read that’s much lighter in tone than the previous books, and it’s a real change from the typical characters Casey encounters. Stay tuned for more info in a couple of weeks, but for now, here’s the cover!

My daughter starts maternity leave at the end of this month, so my babysitting schedule will be less frequent and more spontaneous. Hubby and I have also decided to downsize our house over the next 12 months, but first up are renos to a couple of rooms in our home. My retirement seems to be picking up the pace, at least for now. Maybe it’s a good thing that I’m only publishing shorter works these days 🙂