The Growth of a Popular Scam

I love blogging on WordPress. It’s introduced me to many great people whose blogs I enjoy reading and learning from. From time to time, I’ve also entertained the idea of adapting my books into screenplays. Screenwriting interests me, and understandably, many authors would love to see their books make it to TV or movie screens.

WordPress has raised my profile, apparently enough to attract the attention of unsolicited emails from strangers offering to promote my books. Some of them even take the time to mention my latest title, Knock Knock. But I’m also seeing more unsolicited offers to help turn my books into movies. Hmm. Sounds a little too good to be true, right?

fraud-alert-sign[1]According to Victoria Strauss, who’s written a really informative piece for Writer Beware®, there’s been an explosion of “book-to-screen scams”, which offer to help authors turn their books into movie deals. Some of the packages are rather elaborate, not to mention expensive, but they quite enticing.

This scam isn’t new, Strauss notes, but it is increasingly prevalent, which is why she wants people to understand how it works. Strauss adds that it’s debatable if any of these services, regardless of who provides it, actually get the desired results for authors. I also know that I’m regularly approached on LinkedIn with a similar type of offer.

If you’re approached by a service that sounds too good to be true, please exercise due diligence, and read Victoria Strauss’s blog HERE.

Maybe we authors should prepare a list of legitimate sites that assists authors, although perhaps one already exists somewhere.

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Production of The Blade Man in Full Swing

self-publishing[1]Just over a month ago, I blogged about getting the changes back from my editor for my sixth Casey Holland mystery, The Blade Man. I’ve been working on the book every day and the edits are now finished, although I’m still revising the all-important back cover blurb. With my editor’s help, I’ve just about finalized it, and am putting the blurb away for a few days before taking another look.

Happily, there were no substantive changes to the manuscript, which is why the process went so quickly, but I did write several drafts to create a plot that won’t have logic or continuity issues. Most of the edits involved changing the occasional sentence around, choosing a different word, and catching typos. She’s also pointed out favorite words that I use repeatedly (Find and Replace are my favorite editing tools in Word). I’m also enduring a lifelong battles with commas.

I’ve been working on answering that 5-page questionnaire the jacket designer, Deranged Doctor Design, sent me. This week’s task was to look at other mystery novel covers to see what types of covers I’m drawn to. A search on Amazon provide to be an interesting exercise. It clarified for me things that I really like about covers and things I don’t.

I was also asked to visit DDD’s website to identify some of my favorite covers, which I did. By the way, if you’re curious, visit derangeddoctordesign. They produce a wide variety of covers in different genres. They always respond to my emails promptly and are courteous, patient people.

The cover reveal likely won’t be happen until the latter half of December or possibly January, which is fine, given that there are plenty of other production tasks ahead, not to mention some personal events that include my daughter’s wedding in three weeks and their move into a new house.

Soon, I’ll start formatting the book, which won’t be as daunting as it was with Knock Knock, since I already have the template set up. It’s an exciting, productive time, and at some point I’ll nail down a cover reveal date and a launch date. Stay tuned!

5 Things I Learned From the Great Telus Email Crash of 2019

email-me-clipart[1]As I write this, Telus has still not resolved its email issues after one entire week of trouble. Thankfully, I don’t depend on it for much of my writing business. Every once in a while, I’ll receive notification that money’s been paid by Amazon or D2D, but otherwise most of my emails are blogs and newsletters. A small percentage of emails are from family, though they can text or phone anytime. The rest are review requests or writing event notifications. Of course, another small percentage is spam.

So, I’m looking on the positive side of the great Telus crash, and have learned a few things:

  1. Patience really is a virtue. I can’t control anyone’s inability to fix technical problems, so I’m not losing sleep over it, although I feel terrible for those whose businesses depend on it Telus’s email.
  1. I’m not nearly as dependent on emails as I thought I was. I’m far more dependent on the net in general, and my phone, or even my car. Thankfully, they’re working just fine.
  1. I have a gmail account, which I’ll start using more often. This one sends emails to my phone, so I’ll get them quicker. Not that I want to read blogs and newsletters on a tiny screen, but if someone’s trying to get hold of me, I’ll respond faster through gmail.
  1. Telus’s mess allowed me to catch up on all the blogs and newsletters that regularly fill my inbox.
  1. I’m getting more editing and organizing done.

Because I follow a lot of blogs, it usually takes me a whole week to read them all, and even then I skim quickly or skip the topics that don’t resonate. This week, I took the time to read each one carefully, and even commented on several.

Since I’m spending less time reading newsletters, I’m spending more time editing and organizing files and articles into binders that I’ve been talking about doing. Yay! So, it’s not all bad. Crap happens, but I’m finding ways to make the best of it.

Returning to a Favorite Pastime

ink_flower_by_denadavis[1]Creative people fascinate me, and they have long before I became a writer. One of the most interesting things I’ve learned (aside from the fact that most of us have sleep issues) is how frequently writers delve into other art forms to express themselves, especially through painting. I’ve met several terrific artists who also write fiction and nonfiction. Multi-faceted creative folks isn’t a surprise, though. If you allow yourself to open your mind to possibilities and take the time to explore, it’s amazing what will come.

This weekend, while working out at the gym, I started thinking about writing and painting. I also thought about how I would spend more of my free time once I retire from the day job in a few months. Sure, I might write a little more, but given that long periods at a keyboard aren’t healthy (after four decades of typing my posture’s not great and eye strain’s a problem) I’ve decided that extra physical fitness is a good idea, and one that I happen to welcome.

But another idea has come to mind, and it’s based on something that very few people know about me. A little over three decades ago, when I was working on my first novel and pregnant with my first child, I was working on pen-and-ink drawings. (The drawing above isn’t mine, but I think it’s beautiful).

I don’t remember how many pictures I drew, but I still have my sketch book buried beneath stacks of paper in my office closet. I used to draw graveyards and stark, leafless trees, which I suppose isn’t a psychological stretch from the mystery thrillers that I write today. But you know, I’m now thinking about pulling out that sketch at some point to explore the possibility of going back to drawing.

Several months ago my hubby the accountant returned (after a long absence) to painting watercolor landscapes. He too, has trouble staying asleep, so each morning he awakes very early, goes downstairs, and experiments with color and design and ideas before he leaves for work. He loves it. It feels like it sets a positive tone to his day. It’s also given him a new appreciation for the nearly forty years I’ve devoted to my passion for writing. We talked about goals and satisfaction and pushing through tough times until perseverance slowly turns to habit.

I’m not worried about not finding enough to do when I retire. I worry more about having time to do everything I want to. There will be more goals—brand new ones—and although I’m not ready to remove the sketch book out from under all that paper today, it’s now on my radar. We’ll see what happens.

So Many Head-Spinning Images

As I wrote the first draft of this week’s blog on Monday, the TV was filled with images of two mass-shootings. This is Wednesday and the images are still capturing attention here in Canada and around the world, I expect, as they should. While I try to stick to writing-related things on my blog, it’s sometimes impossible not to acknowledge tragedy in its many forms. My heart hurts for all those who are suffering right now.

The world of fiction is not only my passion and my profession, but let’s face it, it’s also escapism from real-life frustration, sadness, and tragedy. When you’re a professional writer, escapism and reality, however, have a funny way of merging.

self-publishing[1]Now that the production process of The Blade Man is underway, I find myself becoming immersed in pre-production issues. Aside from the final edits, which are almost finished, I’ve been in touch with my jacket designer, who wisely requires clients to complete a detailed 4-page form about cover specifics. It’s a crucial part of the production process that takes a fair bit of time. My form isn’t due until mid-November, so I’m glad I’m starting now. This will give me many weekends to work on it a little bit at a time.

One of the things I’ve started to look at are the stock images offered on a couple of sites that my designer uses. Because my mystery series focuses on my protagonist’s work on buses, the covers typically portray a public transport theme. Today, I’m discovering that there are thousands of bus images out there, nearly 6,000 on Shutterstock alone, yet most of them don’t fit my needs for The Blade Man’s cover.

There are school buses, double-decker buses, blue buses, damaged buses, bus interiors with smiling faces, empty buses, and so on. It’s mind boggling, but as I search, ideas and visions for what I’d like to see are starting to form.

Book production is a journey. There are a number of steps and decisions to make. The process reminds me of when we renovated our kitchen a few years back. The initial ideas and decisions were fun, but as more was required of us and the process was well underway, our mindset slowly became, come on, let’s make a final decision already, without blowing the budget. I want this thing finished!

Productions of any kind require patience, perseverance, some creativity, and serious budgeting. So, back to the image browsing, to see what I can come up with.

Well, It Was Almost a Balanced Week

It’s always a struggle for writers to juggle family life and day jobs with their creative lives. In fact, most of us don’t spend nearly as much writing/editing time as we’d like for numerous reasons, although this past week I came close.

I’m one of those weird folks who actually likes Mondays because that’s when I’m at my most energetic. Mondays means that I can get a fair bit of writing and editing done before and after the day job. On a really good day, I’ll then put in a half hour on the treadmill while catching up on reading. Yeah, I’ve been a multi-tasker for years.

By Wednesday afternoon, my energy level seriously fades. Thursday’s often a struggle to write, and Friday’s almost a complete write-off when it comes to stamina and concentration. Usually I can squeeze a little more writing time in on the weekends, but this past weekend was different.

Shower prep-2A few weeks ago, I volunteered our house for my daughter’s bridal shower. Given that this is summer, I figured we’d have a dozen guests at most. My task was to clean the house and provide platters for the food that the bridesmaids were bringing. I spent most of Saturday and early Sunday, cleaning the two bathrooms, tidying, dusting, etc. while my hubby and son swept the patio, cleaned the outdoor table, moved the BBQs out of the way and arranged furniture.

Bridal shower, group photoOnce the bridesmaids arrived, I watched in awe as they brewed jugs of different flavored teas, laid out food, decorated, and arranged flowers with an efficiency that had me in awe. As you’ll see from the photo, my twelve guest estimate pretty much doubled in size. (I’m in the blue dress in the front row, my daughter to the left, and my sister on the right.)

The shower was great fun and the bridesmaids were just as efficient with the cleanup and take-down as they were in setting things up. By the time every had left by 4:30, though, I was exhausted. My plans to do a little more editing that evening fizzled away.

Still, a good week of editing, followed by awesome family time, could be considered a balanced week. The only problem was that none of us felt rested by Monday morning. That’s okay, I have major rest and relaxation planned for this upcoming long weekend.

CakeBy the way, the delicious lemon cake in the photo was hand made by one of the bridesmaids. She brought fresh flowers to decorate the cake with! She also made a cheesecake with blueberry sauce, and earl grey cookies, which were amazing. As her wedding gift, she’s making the wedding cake, along with cupcakes. Now that I’m totally in wedding mode, I can’t wait for the big event in September.

 

The Edits Are Back and It’s Go Time

Types_of_Freelance_Writing_Services[1]It feels like a long time since I released my fifth Casey Holland mystery Knock Knock, in November 2017, but a heck of a lot has happened since then. Through it all, I’ve been slowly editing draft after draft of the next installment, The Blade Man.

I reached a point in May where I felt that I’d completed as many drafts as I could, and it was time to send the manuscript to my editor. I was in no rush, but as it happened, my editor had a sudden opening in her schedule, and she finished the edits by mid-June.

Last week, I began making the editorial changes. I’ve also acquired ISBNs for the print and ebook, and have contacted my designer, who’s slotted me in for December. I don’t have an exact launch date yet and probably won’t for a while. There’s plenty of prep work to do in the meantime and when it is published, I will celebrate.

This book has been a long time in the making. I remember first meeting the person (over a coffee at Starbucks) who became my technical advisor on bus-driving issues. That was over seven years ago. At that time, my publisher was working on bringing out book #3, Beneath the Bleak New Moon. Book #4, The Deep End, was probably on its fourth or fifth draft, and Knock Knock was still in its early stages.

I therefore knew it would be quite some time before this book would be published, but finally that date is on my radar.

A Casey Holland novella won’t be too far behind (I hope) which will be completely unlike any Casey story I’ve written. It explores the lighter side of her transit security work in all it’s raunchy, awkward, and humorous glory. But I’m getting ahead of myself…stay tuned!