Down the Valley of the Shadow

I’m still sick.

You have no idea how much I did not want to have to start this post with that sentence yet again.

I really thought at the beginning of October that I’d have Diversion finished by the end of the month–I even went ahead and commissioned the cover art, which you can see along with a sneak preview of the book if you pledge $5 or more on my Patreon. When a worsening flare meant work took up all my energy for more of last month than expected, I thought I’d be able to set aside the first two weeks of this month to buckle down and get the book done, assuming I could keep on top of grading well enough not to need to spend much time on it each day.

It hasn’t happened.

What has happened? Fever. Fatigue. Brain fog. Pain. Nausea. Upper respiratory crud. Struggling to figure out what I can eat without spending the day in and out of the bathroom. Struggling to do more than veg out with TV and crochet or computer games or wandering in circles on the ‘Net. The last two weeks have been the worst yet out of this year-plus slog. I’ve barely managed a paragraph all month.

A week from today, I go for what ought to be the final round of tests to get this mess diagnosed and get treatment started. But I have essays coming in this weekend, and grading those is likely to use up all the energy I have between now and the deadline for getting books published through the various outlets I use in time for holiday sales.

Barring a miracle, Diversion may not get finished this year at all.

I’m crying as I write this. I know a lot of the pressure I’m feeling in this regard is self-imposed, but I still can’t help thinking I’m letting you all down by not getting a book out this year. And I’m really, deeply sorry.

How can you help?

  • Buy things I’m selling, whether books or items from my CafePress shop.  Christmas is coming, after all.   Surely you know someone who needs a journal or a mug or a T-shirt or who likes good books, right?
  • Support me through Patreon.  Anything, even a dollar a month, will help.  (I still need to get my backer acknowledgment page set up; it’s on my to-do list.)
  • Help me get the word out about my works.  Granted, I’m horribly introverted, but even if I weren’t, I’m just too sick–and broke, frankly–to do any sort of full-court press of marketing on my own.  Here again, anything will help, even if it’s just a short tweet or a Facebook share. Reviews on Goodreads and Amazon would help, too.
  • Above all else, pray for me.  His ability is far, far greater than my inability (or disability).

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.

Third Blogaversary!

And I’m still sick, but I’m hoping things will calm down enough once the semester starts that I’ll be able to get Diversion written sooner than later. (This is why I don’t do assetless preorders through Smashwords… life has a tendency to get in my way!)

I’m also making plans for the first Loyal Valley omnibus volume, which–the good Lord willin’ an’ the creek don’t rise–will be out in hardcover in time for the holidays. I intend to launch a GoFundMe to fund both it and Diversion soon, in part because, thanks to the excellent suggestion of a couple of people on the AoSHQ Goodreads group, I’ve been talking with my cover artist about including MAPS with this edition!

Thank you all for your support over the last three years. Here’s hoping for better days, more books, and more content here and at The Frontier Calligrapher in the year ahead!

Goings-on

Still sick, and the potential opportunity I mentioned in my New Year’s post didn’t pan out. 😛 But I’m hoping to be able to get cracking on Loyal Valley: Diversion later this month, and I could really use your support on Patreon. Every pledge gets me closer to financial stability and better health!

Spring’s sproinging! The bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush are blooming, and schools are letting out for Spring Break (BCF’s, alas, isn’t until the end of the month). And March 6-12 is Read an Ebook Week, and I’m one of the many Smashwords authors offering a 50% discount on my books this week! You can view the full catalogue here, and my profile is here (enter RAE50 at checkout to receive the discount).

Finally, I was saddened to learn this morning of the death of Nancy Reagan. And of course, this being March 6, I hope you’ll remember the men who gave their lives 180 years ago for the cause of Texas’ freedom.

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!

Coming SOON!

LoyalValleyCaptives_6x9

Murder, especially mass murder, will out. When civilian investigators stumble upon part of Number Seven’s schemes in the summer of 1870, Lt. Col. Clint Donovan and two of his teammates must race halfway across Texas to save their lives and find out what they know. But even that may solve only half of the problem—especially when Clint and his men meet the ladies involved.

Life on the frontier has plenty of risks of its own, however, and not just from the elements. A husband-hunting New York socialite runs away to Loyal Valley, only to discover that dime novels don’t reflect what Texas is really like. And she’s not the only one in danger when an old enemy returns to wreak more havoc of his own accord.

There’s more to war than bullets, wits, and nerve. Who will keep his head and his life, and who will lose his freedom… or his heart?

Yes, Loyal Valley: Captives is now available for ebook pre-orders through Smashwords and KindleDirect! I aim to have paperbacks available by the time the ebooks officially release on Aug. 31.

Also, for new readers, I’m offering the first two books in the series for 99¢ apiece on Smashwords for a limited time! Use coupon code ZB26E for Assassination and DR88E for Bystanders. Please note, however, that these coupons are good only at Smashwords and only through September 9!

Two quick announcements

Llano area folks, if you’re headed to the Castell VFD fundraiser this evening, I’m donating a set of books to the auction!

Also, you may have noticed a new addition to the sidebar. Yes, I finally bit the bullet and set up a page on Facebook! I’ll post minor updates there sporadically, as well as links to my articles on Smash Cut Culture. 🙂

Lord willing, more soon on Loyal Valley: Captives….

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!

Life Happens

What was it Robert Burns said about the best-laid plans?

Yeah, was not expecting to be laid up with “the dreaded lurgi” (mostly allergies but with what I suspect was a viral component as well) for the better part of the last month. And it affected my voice, which meant not being able to make a number of phone calls that I really ought to have made. And my reenacting buddy is dealing with some family emergencies on her end. So I wasn’t able to make it to the Loyal Valley VFD fundraiser over the weekend, and I’m bowing out of Fort Croghan for this year as well.
Blah humbug. But so it goes. That’s life for you.

BUT I am definitely going to be at the Kingsland Library tomorrow for the Friends of the Library meeting and on October 9 for Breakfast with the Authors. I’m also planning still to have a table at Llano Heritage Days–author-focused, but I’ll probably still be in costume and may display some of my calligraphy just as an eye-catcher–and have appearances at the libraries in San Saba and Wimberley the next week as well. And I’m doing more brainstorming on Loyal Valley in the hope of getting unstuck soon enough to potentially have Book 3 out in time for Christmas–no promises, but I’ll try.
Whee, busyness! But so it goes. That’s life for you. 😀