2018 West Texas Heritage Days

It’s that time again! West Texas Heritage Days at Fort McKavett is this weekend, May 4-5. We’ll be in the schoolhouse again this year, Mum with her Frontier Library, me with some works in progress for The Frontier Calligrapher and books and crocheted goodies from my Etsy shop. (I’d been hoping to have Loyal Valley: Diversion ready to launch, but since life got in the way again, you might catch me working on it during slow spells!)

Updates and Requests

How is it almost Independence Day already?!

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s been a tough few months, for health reasons and quite a lot more. God’s closed some doors I was really counting on, and I’m struggling mightily because I don’t understand why. But giving up is not an option, and I do in fact have some fun projects and events lined up for this summer:

  • Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my CafePress shop! I just updated it a couple of weeks ago with three new designs and a big batch of new products, and I’m hoping soon to launch another new set of designs inspired by The Dream of the Rood.
  • The Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale starts Saturday and ends 7/31! Loyal Valley: Assassination will be FREE with coupon code SSW100, and my other three books will be 50% off with coupon code SSW50. (This offer applies only to Smashwords ebook sales.)
  • My friend Caitlin is having another book launch party on Facebook this coming Sunday, this time to celebrate the release of her new poetry collection, and I’ll be taking over–probably to do a reading, though whether or not it’ll be live I don’t yet know–at 3 p.m. CDT. And part of what I’ll be talking about is…
  • My friend Peter G. Epps has challenged me to a creative race! The project I’m planning to tackle is a hardcover coffee table book of calligraphed poems, with a section of my own poetry and a section of classics. (I have plans for Kipling’s “The Gods of the Copybook Headings,” oh yesss, precioussss!) I may try a Kickstarter campaign to cover the costs of self-publishing this volume, but I’ll decide on that when it gets closer to being ready to scan and prep for printing.
  • I also hope, sooner than later, to launch an Etsy shop for my crocheted snoods and reticules (and anything else that takes my fancy).
  • And of course, I still want to finish at least Loyal Valley: Diversion, possibly get the first omnibus volume out (which might also involve a Kickstarter campaign), and possibly start to work on the next Order of the Silver Star book.

All of which is the sort of thing I’d love to be able to do full-time, or as close to it as I can get in my current condition, because except on the very worst days, it’s much easier for me to do creative work even when I’m not feeling so hot than it is to focus on intensely left-brained work.

But of course, there’s one major hang-up: I am flat broke. I need to make at least $1000/mo. to make ends meet. As sick as I’ve been all year, though, I haven’t been able to take enough freelance projects to cover the gap between my teaching income and my budget, and what little buffer I had built up in the fall is gone. The school doesn’t pay me in the summers, either, and there are annual expenses like my antivirus program subscription coming up in July. Nor can I cut anything at all from my budget without losing my independence–what doesn’t go to housing and utilities goes to business expenses and student loans. As things stand now, I have to prioritize paying work over creative work… and pickings are slim on that front as well.

If I’m going to make any of my planned creative projects happen this summer, dear readers, I desperately need your help.

Patreon may be the most attractive option if you’re willing to just give me money. It’s a monthly subscription service, although you can make a one-time gift by cancelling your subscription after the first month’s payment is sent to me. Plus, patrons who donate $5 or more per month get exclusive sneak previews of my projects and a host of other rewards. If you’d rather buy some of my work, well, I’ve already given you those links earlier in this post! Or you can hire me as a translator or editor, and I’m open to calligraphy or crochet commissions within reason.

I want to finish all these projects eventually in any event, but it’ll happen a whole lot sooner and with a much happier, healthier me if I can count on your financial support.

Pretty please?

Upcoming (Last-Minute!) Events

Boy oh boy, these last five months have been insane, and not just for health reasons. (Yes, I’m still sick. Yes, I did get a diagnosis from the test I mentioned in my last post. Yes, we’ve tried medication. No, we haven’t found one that helps long-term yet.) If it’s not one thing, it’s another–and a lot of what’s happened has been totally unpredictable, like my HVAC system needing to be replaced and then the A/C going out because the inside unit had developed a hole somewhere, or the replacement heating element in my parents’ oven catching fire. (We’re all fine, and nothing was damaged except the stove.)

So it’s only in the last week that we’ve decided that we definitely are going to West Texas Heritage Days at Fort McKavett on May 5-6. And just today I accepted an invitation to participate in a Facebook event celebrating the release of a new children’s book, Francine’s New Name, by my dear friend Caitlin McCulloch. The event runs this Saturday and Sunday at this link, and I’ll be plugging my wares in the 6-7 p.m. CDT slot on Saturday.

Still working on designs for the CafePress shop, by the way, when I have time, and still working on Loyal Valley: Diversion. Hoping to have those out… sometime this summer? Maybe?

Last but not least, I’ve recently set up a profile over on BookBub. As expensive as their Featured Deals are, I doubt I’ll be able to afford one in the foreseeable future, but you can at least follow me there for info on future ebook releases.

That time of year again…

Work on Loyal Valley: Diversion continues… not apace, exactly, but better than it had been. I think I’m about to the halfway point, if not past it. Unfortunately, that means I’m not going to have it available for this month’s events, but I still intend to have both it and the hardcover omnibus out in time for the holidays and so will be taking pre-orders at those events. More on that as I progress.

Speaking of events, I will definitely be at the Kingsland Library for Breakfast with the Authors on Wednesday morning! About a dozen authors are slated to attend, I’m told, and several of us are planning to give readings as well. (Just FYI, I didn’t discover until Friday that I’m nearly out of copies of Loyal Valley: Captives, and the new batch I ordered won’t arrive by Wednesday, but I’ll take orders at the table and fill them ASAP.) I’m also still planning to have a booth at the Llano Wild West Weekend Oct. 15-16, not only demonstrating calligraphy and selling books but also selling a limited selection of crocheted snoods and reticules.* Unfortunately, between health, finances, and other factors, I’m not going to make it to Fort Croghan or the BCF Holiday Heritage Festival this year, and we’re still not sure about Frontier Days at Fort Martin Scott–the latter will most likely depend on my parents’ schedules and the weather.

Still, as one of my new reproduction copybooks proclaims, “Excelsior is a good motto.” So in the spirit of pressing on: EXCELSIOR!! 😀

* For those who don’t know: a snood is a type of hair net, and a reticule is a purse.

New Year, New Plans

So, long time no blog, eh wot? Joys of chronic illness….

As frustrating as the latter third of 2015 was for me health-wise, however, I’m determined not to let such things hold me back (at least as far as I can do anything about them) in 2016. I plan to finish at least Loyal Valley: Diversion, release an omnibus collection of the first four volumes in that series, and commission audiobooks of everything that’s out thus far. I still plan to participate in Fort McKavett’s West Texas Heritage days (now in May) and hope to do the same at Fort Martin Scott and possibly some other living history events in the area. And there’s a potential opportunity that I’ll share more about if it gets closer to reality.

And you can help make all these things happen.

I’ve taken the plunge and signed up for Patreon, which allows you to pledge recurring monthly support–as little as $1/mo. or as much as you want to give. Various levels of support will receive a variety of rewards, like exclusive sneak previews of book content and acknowledgement here and in print. The more funds I can raise in this way, the less time I’ll have to spend scraping together a living through freelancing and the more time I can devote to writing and research.

(I don’t currently plan to quit teaching, even if I no longer need the money. Teaching is fun.)

I’ve also got myself a YouTube channel now. Not that I know what I’ll do with it yet–it might be more for Patreon stuff–but it’s there. 😀 I’d like to get back to Literature You Should Know over on Smash Cut Culture, too, assuming I have the time and energy.

So that’s what’s new with me. Alles Gute zum Neuen Jahr!

Events and non-events

“You haven’t posted anything in x days,” Facebook nags me.
Well, no, Facebook, I haven’t. I’ve been sick for two months, and it’s been all I can do to keep up with my teaching obligations, let alone other paying work, never mind attempting to do any marketing for Loyal Valley: Captives now that I’ve finally managed to get the cover set up such that CreateSpace won’t resize it incorrectly or attempting to start on Loyal Valley: Diversion. Thanks for the automatic guilt trip!

The joys of life with chronic illness…

Because I am so woefully behind with teaching and fighting such severe fatigue, I’ve decided not to try to make it to Fort Croghan or Llano Wild West Weekend this year. The book sales would be a help financially, but I’m just not up to it. However, I will be at the Kingsland Library’s Breakfast with the Authors tomorrow, Oct. 7, from 9 to 10:30.

Also, this past Saturday, I got to meet and have a lovely chat with Celia Hayes, who also writes about the German Texan experience during the 19th century! We swapped books, and I’m looking forward to making time to read The Quivera Trail, which is set around the same time as Loyal Valley. I’m also looking forward to her forthcoming Tales of Luna City, which sounds like the kind of book anyone who’s lived in a small town will find hilarious because we know all the characters….

Back in the Saddle

*digs out from under RL* Any mail for me while I was gone?

Well, the semester’s over, and my class appears to have been a success overall. 🙂 Now for summer rest and getting ahead as much as possible–which may also involve getting Literature You Should Know going again over at Smash Cut Culture.

Next up: a booth at the Llano Bluegrass Festival this weekend. After that: trying to get Loyal Valley: Captives written and researching for the next Order of the Silver Star book (tentative title: Palamedes Rides Again). There had been other stuff I’d hoped to be able to do over the summer, but right now, I’m thinking school, other work, and writing need to take precedence.

Stormy Weather

…which I like much better as a song, at the moment….

Because the weather this weekend is supposed to be Nasty, the Texas Independence Day Celebration in Granbury has been postponed to March 21-22, coinciding with another previously scheduled local event (General Granbury’s birthday). On the one hand, I’m disappointed; on the other hand, I wasn’t looking forward to sitting out in the cold and rain, especially with both my display and my mom’s requiring having books out!