Nov 28 2015

Just a walk in the woods…


…That’s all I wanted yesterday.

No Black Friday shopping for me (well, except for one special item online at a killer discount!).   No way was I going to dive into the mob scene of post T-Day shopping.

But hey, Sleeping Giant State Park is quite near me, ready for hiking, strolling, and mulling over story ideas while getting much-needed fresh air and emotionally uplifting exposure to Nature.

Of course, Sleeping Giant is extremely popular, and could easily be as mobbed as the mall.   Even on an average weekend, good luck finding parking at the main entrance.

But — aha! I’m an old hand at this, and know all the less-popular,  and indeed nearly-secret alternate access points.   Plus: free parking.

You probably know where I’m going with this, though, right?

Right. Every single entrance was filled with people who had the exact same idea I did.  Except, they brought their families. Including grannies.  And babies.  Even their dogs!

I liked the dogs.  But I was not prepared to deal with actual humanity.   I was On Artistic Retreat.  I wanted to wander the woodlands, dreaming up plot points, imagining my characters roaming a similar landscape.    Instead: joggers, and guys with fishing poles, and bunches of really, really happy people, and I was quite glad they were happy, but dang!

Well. There were a few moments when no one was in sight, and I absolutely felt my spirits lift .  But then some perfectly nice people would come along, and I’d have to arrange my face into a socially acceptable expression.  (And for an explanation of that statement, check out this previous blog post on the subject.)

Still, it was good to get out into the open air, and stretch my legs.

Also: picturesque ruins.

People tend to forget that most of southern New England used to be farmland.  We see a forest, with no houses, and tend to assume it’s been that way since pre-colonial days.  Not so.

Someone used to live here. I wonder who?

Someone used to live here. I wonder who?

Wherever you wander in what looks like wilderness, you’re likely to stumble upon old stone walls, and old earth basements, and root cellars.  This one had an angle, so I assume it was part of a house at some point.

And then there are structures more recently abandoned:

Eerie ruins...

Eerie ruins…

This was apparently an old mill of some sort.   It’s concrete, so it can’t be all that old.


Had to wait for people to pass by, but some still got in the picture...

Had to wait for people to pass by, but some still got in the picture…

The arches make me think that water actually ran through this at some point, although the appropriately-named Mill Stream is about half a mile downhill from here.   But there’s a sort of dirt-filled run-off further down the hill.   So, I’m thinking that it was water-powered.


Happily, no one has covered it with graffitti.

Happily, no one has covered it with graffiti.

I’ll store up the spooky mill as locale for some future story.   Even if I only use the emotional feeling of the place… it’s all input, as we say.

(There was one entrance on the outskirts of the park that was completely free of any hikers… the one that’s located on a busy road with no shoulder, where the nearest safe and legal parking is over a mile from the trail-head.  That parking consisting, by the way,  of the actual parking lot of the condo where I live.  If you feel like taking a short hike, you wouldn’t even make it to the trail before having to turning back.)

Nov 26 2015

Here I am


Still at it.

Holed up in my beloved office, banging my head against its beloved walls,  attempting to convince this [insert expletive] story to give up its secrets!

Alas, not every day of writing moves swiftly and gracefully.  Or every week, for that matter.  Or every 10 days off from the [insert expletive — but a different and more creative expletive, because we don’t do cliches, do we?] day job.

Well.  On the up side, I am here. In all senses of the word.

As in: here literally, in my office at the keyboard.



Also, here metaphorically, as in: at my post, delving into the tasks relating to my calling.

And here in the largest sense, as in: walking around in the world, existing in existence — thanks to stubbornness, perseverance, intelligence (mine and that of other persons), Modern Medical Science, and the help of friends and loved ones (most especially my amazing sister).

Wow.   I win!

I've lately grown fond of white carnations.

I’ve lately grown fond of white carnations.

I hope your Thanksgiving Day was as lovely as mine.

(Oh, and speaking of cancer-survival poster-girls — you should check out SF author Pat Cadigan’s blog, as she continues  not only to survive against odds, but to actually make cancer her bitch.   As she puts it.  That’s what she says.  And it’s true!)


Nov 20 2015

Inexplicably, a bear.


My writing office is located in a reclaimed and renovated factory complex.   I’m up on the third floor, at the far end.  Several offices at the near end (as you enter) are inhabited by a billboard-advertising company.

I’m usually on site after hours when the building is entirely empty but for me.  But as I passed the conference room the other evening, I noticed this forlorn gentleman:

Possibly awaiting a meeting...

Possibly awaiting a meeting…

The billboarders often have odd bits of marketing material strewn about: stacks of pies in the communal fridge, crates of wine, random containers of candies.   For one whole week the entire building smelled of Atomic Fireballs, the candy of our childhood, if you’re of a certain age.

I can’t help wondering about the bear, however.  I hope they’re sending him to a good home!

Yes, I petted him. How could I not? He was very soft.

Yes, I petted him. How could I not? He is very soft.

In other news: I’m off from the day job all next week.  Since Sabine and I have no family in the States but each other, we don’t do a big holiday get-together in our home.  Sabine usually finds pals to mooch off  visit on T-Day, while I often head off to some Undisclosed Location, taking the opportunity to get far away from the Real World and focus on creative endeavors (or attempt to).

This year, however, I have My! Own! Office!   So, I’m just hanging here.    For the next 10 days,  I’m going to pretend I have no job but this one.   It will be lovely.

I hope your holiday is filled with pals and family and excellent feasts, and all the best sorts of conversation.   (Or quiet time alone with your muse, if that’s your plan…)


Where's the selfie-stick when you need it?

Where’s the selfie-stick when you need it?



Nov 13 2015

Random updates


The sale that started back in September went very well indeed.   The $.99 price brought in a lot of new readers.

At the moment, that price is still in place (due entirely to inertia on my part) and I’ll probably go back to regular pricing sometime next week.  Just so’s you know.  In case, y’know, you wanted to use that information…

Some actual numbers: On the first day of the sale, September 13, my Kindle report shows 1,895 ebooks sold, of which 1,682 were Book 1, The Steerswoman.  That first day was the best, and worth the cost of advertising all by itself.   Prior to that we were hovering around 5 to 10 books a day; and after that one big day, things started  trending downward for the rest of the month.  The average for those days following the peak day came to around 94 books a day, and we ended on 33 books the last day.

In October, the average stayed around 30 a day, which previously I would have considered amazingly good!  And this month (November) we’re back to 10 to 15 a day.

So: well worth the price of advertising through BookBub.  Got my money back, and more.


kindle september sales

It was fun watching this in real time.


And I must say, I love it that Kindle gives me close to real-time sales.   When these books were first published by a traditional publisher (Del Rey/Ballantine), reports on sales would only be available to me once every six months, and even so would only refer to the sales  from about a year before.  So there was no way to tell if any thing I did — like, write a great blog post, do a book-signing event, attend a convention, win the Nobel Peace Prize (hint: I have done some, but not all, of these things) —   had any effect on sales whatsoever.  No feedback, no control.   Until it was Too Late to Do Anything Useful.

And even when things were going well,  you couldn’t be encouraged by it, because you were still in the dark!

Ah, the bad old days.  The Internet changes everything.

Other updates: I continue to plan my escape from the Day Job from the Black Lagoon,  but am still on pause mode, while I undertake some routine medical tests (from which I expect nothing but good news, I assure you).  I need to evaluate their effect on my Escape Fund before I make any startling moves.

(And thank you, Day Job, for switching from Super-excellent-low-cost-health-insurance-that-saw-me-through-all-my-cancer-treatments,  to Twice-the-price-plus-high-deductible-might-as-well-go-on-Obamacare-because-what’s-the-difference?  You have cleverly removed my main reason for remaining here, greatly simplifying my choices!  How kind of you.)

Those of you who continue to ask about helping with the Escape Fund: you are wonderful human beings.   When I decide which way to go — with crowdfunding, or Patreon, or Kickstarter — I’ll make it known to all.  Right now, just knowing you’re in my corner is greatly encouraging.

Nov 8 2015

Slam day



Just hunkering down for some serious keyboard time. I might blog during some breaks, or might not. Might flail into the wee hours, as tomorrow’s not a day job day.

Meanwhile, a nice bit of inspiration from Shia LaBeouf who is a cutie patootie a very talented and perceptive gentleman indeed, with important words for us all:

Nov 4 2015

Catching up


Okay: two weeks of day job fuss, then a weekend off visiting pals in Newport RI, and now catching up on stuff set aside for all that time…

I owe people emails!  And comment replies!   And general explanations and expostulations.

And… I’ll get to that over the weekend.  I do apologize to those who have been waiting.

Meanwhile: here are some nice pictures of water, which always soothes me.

We walked along the cliffs, past many gorgeous mansions. You'd think I'd photograph the cliffs, or the mansions.

We walked along the cliffs, past many gorgeous mansions. You’d think I’d photograph the cliffs, or the mansions.



The mighty Quinnipiac, near my office. My actual own writing office, not the day job.

The mighty Quinnipiac, near my office. My actual own writing office, not the day job.


This IS at my day job. Out past the warehouse, out past the parking lot, out past the loading dock, in a little run-off pond, someone has made a home...

This IS at my day job. Out past the warehouse, out past the parking lot, out past the loading dock, in a little run-off pond, someone has made a home…

Must turn in now… more later.

Bonus picture of water. With yellow-shafted flicker.

Bonus picture of water. With yellow-shafted flicker.