All posts by Heather

Quick Update On The Doll Collection

I’m taking a quick lunch break from working on the FINAL story for The Doll Collection–“Trystan”. This is one that has been inspired by one of the Morris Museum’s (Guinness Collection) automatons that I discovered in their viewable storage department a week ago today. I’m still waiting on pictures to work from, but in the meantime, the story is moving right along. If I do not finish it by the end of the day, then tomorrow for sure. “Mephistophelissa” was finished a few days ago!

In regards to the length of this volume of The Doll Collection–Yes, you read that right: THIS VOLUME!–there are 13 stories, but as I need to move on to getting Darling Orphan finished before the end of June, I feel I need to cap this volume with the completion of “Trystan”. Otherwise, and as I already have 2 more stories of this nature in the queue, The Doll Collection could easily just go on forever. It’s terribly exciting to have more ideas for it coming in such rapid succession, but I have some clearing of the docket to do. Besides, I think another volume will be nice to have. These stories have been hard-hitting emotionally, and I need to be sensitive to the fact that they may be so for the readers as well. I do want people to actually finish reading these stories, so smaller doses may be easier to take.

One last point about this project before I grab food and get back to writing: I’ve commissioned out the first 3 illustrations of the 13 it will have. Felix Eddy (who did the beautiful cover art for Lord Spencer: The Case of Matthew Sterling) is picking up at least these three. It is my hope that she will want to do all 13, as I adore her art and it’s such an honor to be working with her again! My excitement to see what she does for these is almost too much to bear!

At the moment, and now that the completion of the first draft is coming to a close, I’m projecting an October release for the book. Stay tuned!

Social Media Does Aspiring Writers Little In The Way Of Favors

(Posted this morning on my Facebook page)

Twitter has been notorious for memes and tweets about how “hard” and how much “work” writing a first draft of a book is.

Are you kidding me??? Maybe I’m doing it wrong then because that’s the sweetest cake walk I live! Sure, I have moments where the muses are stubborn and don’t want to talk, but with several dozen works in progress going at any given time, someone is always talking–I haven’t had the problem of not being able to come up with material to write for quite a while now. It certainly does not fall under the description of “work” or “hard”. So I totally do not understand these posted deterrents–and that is exactly what they sound like. Deterrents aimed at aspiring writers. It’s not a fucking club. Anyone with the passion to write should be encouraged to do so. They can decide as they navigate their path what is hard or what is work.

That said: being able to be patient to get through life’s other obligations until I can write again–That is hard. Being able to be satisfied enough with my manuscript while or after editing to let it move on to publication–That is work.

But first drafts? And even the first pass edit–those parts of the process are some of the most exciting moments of my life–that’s where the forgotten treasures are. If other authors want those stages to be hard or work, I am sorry for what they are missing out on.

Maybe it has to do with external expectations. I don’t make a living on my writing and I don’t care if I ever do–I get to write anything I want, whenever I want, on whatever book I want. Do you know how freeing that is?? It makes being true to myself in all aspects of life just a little easier, and it’s nice to be able to wake up every day and know that I can face that in peace. It has certainly taken long enough to arrive to this.

(Brought to you by the first chai latte I’ve had in several weeks.)

Time to go and PLAY! The final pages of “Trystan” are calling!

Post-AutomataCon and I’m Pretty Sure…

…that I am not the same person who walked through the doors of the Morris Museum yesterday at 10am!


As I warned via Facebook, I will need a few days to process what I’ve just come away with, not the least of which is two more stories for The Doll Collection. If I do not hurry up and get these two done, and get through the editing for the entire book–like, STAT!–this book may just go on and on and on…. Like I said in my last post here, I’m perfectly fine with doing a second volume, but I’ve got to have time to get this one going and off of my plate first! It will end with 13 stories (it Has to, or I’m seriously never going to get back to the books that people have recently been clamoring for! I’m not prepared for angry mobs!), and I’ll do my best to make sure I get the notes down on paper or in my computer so nothing gets forgotten. Seriously: this stuff is too good not to share! Just not yet.

What I can talk about are the amazing artists who were there at the show, demonstrating some of their brilliant work: Dug North, Brett King, Tom Haney, and Jim Casey, just to name a very few. I included the links (click on their names to get you started, if interested. The Morris Museum link is below) so you can see some of their work. I am lousy at taking pictures–so I didn’t–and to try and describe them would not do them justice. Please visit their sites! 

The lectures were incredibly helpful, as I went in knowing pretty much nothing about automata other than from an aesthetic and fantastical perspective. It’s safe to say that I now have quite a few more wrinkles in my brain. And also, I adore my gift for writing, but wish I were also more mathematically and mechanically gifted. Not in this lifetime, I guess.

While at the event, I also had the pleasure of speaking with Jere Ryder from the Morris Museum about two particular pieces that are in the viewable storage department. (I got a pretty good look at them, as a matter of fact–enough that I did and still do get chills from their images–and photos of both will be on their way to me soon, so I can incorporate them into these last two tales–see the last paragraph of this post for more on that.) I am incredibly grateful for Jere’s time and knowledge! And, it goes without saying, so insanely excited about what is going to come of such precious access! I am totally seeing stars over this–yes, it has hit me that hard!

Last writing news bits before I go and decompress and just revel in the mental fruits of this recent experience:

“Wanted” and “Babees” are finished. “Loyalty” is on hold for the second volume, and “Mephistophelissa” (story #12) is under way. The final piece that will go into The Doll Collection doesn’t yet have a title, but I’m sure that won’t be an issue once I get going on it–you know it never is.

All right–hold fast! I’ll be back soon with more…

Progress on the Anthology

Time has been flying and so have the words from the deep recesses of my brain. The semester officially ended for me last Saturday, and I have been working ever more on The Doll Collection. Since my last post, “Marioncide” and “Sisters” have been completed. I’m currently working on “Wanted” and expect to finish it up either tonight or tomorrow. That leaves just two more stories: “Babees” and “Loyalty”. That is, unless any new ideas pop up while I’m in the editing process or before this book is completed. I’m not opposed to doing a second volume, should more and more ideas present themselves, but as I said previously, I’m really eager to get back to Darling Orphan. Lots of loose ends needing tied up there. And also, again, As Fate needs a swift kick forward. Another illustration has arrived, so out of 8, I believe I now have half of them–and only 2 of the vignettes are completed. Well, eek! to that! I am grateful that things are holding steady though, and my muses are being kind enough to let me complete some projects before invading with new ideas. Though, book 6 for The Case Files is starting to edge in more and more. At least I can say that it’s a trickle there. My muse for Aya Hauke showed up in a dream this morning, however, and if he does that much more then I am going to find myself caught up in the thick of book 6 and without much choice in the matter. (Not a bad thing–just trying to really wrap up some old before getting into some new!)

AutomataCon is next weekend– !!!!! I’m starting to get a little on the ridiculous side with my excitement about that. I have no idea what to expect, but I’m just happy that I am so looking forward to it. It’s something totally new and I can’t even imagine what I will really see there–more so, what I will come away with! How does one prepare for that??? I suppose I should just be sure I really do have a good, clean notebook and several pens with me! And probably some cash.

Spring is blooming, and so are the stories

Since my last post a month ago, I finished “Fantasia”, “Ease”, “Storms”, and “Destiny”–all for The Doll Collection. I just started “Marioncide” this morning and am guessing it will be done in the next two weeks. I will have four more after that. I keep getting more ideas for additional stories–totally not a problem!–so there may be even more than the planned dozen at this point. I’m not sure when I’ll make it to the Philly Doll Museum, but am booked to attend AtomataCon next month, and the Harrisburg Doll Museum in early June. There is, of course, always potential for more inspiration for this project.

The semester is a week away from finishing and as far as that work goes, I just have 2 finals to do. This means time is opening up to write, and with the weather finally getting better, I expect that things may really start booming. Not that I’m in a hurry to get through The Doll Collection pieces, but I am a bit anxious to get back to Darling Orphan and finish it–it’s well overdue to be done and I need for it to be done.

I’d also like to get back to the As Fate vignettes, as the illustrations are slowly trickling in. They have been a challenge to write as all inspiration depends on my ability to attend the right sort of social functions. There haven’t been nearly enough of those for it, but that is also slowly on the climb, so more to come soon and with any luck.

There’s the bit of an update. I have about an hour to get something done on “Marioncide” before I head out to one of said social events.

Stories Blooming

Spring break ended far too quickly to suit me, but the upside is that it’s now closer to the end of the semester. Sort of a bad attitude to have about school, but the past 2 semesters have really infringed on my writing time, and I don’t appreciate that. I finally went from two jobs that killed my soul to one job that I do enjoy going to, but instead of having more time to write…okay, you do the math.

While my writing time has indeed been much less than desired, I have still managed to squeeze in a few little sessions–one recent one courtesy of a snow day. I do also find that if I can get my homework done for the week by Saturday (which it happens to be), I can usually write on Sunday. Well, I have an intimidating lab assignment for astronomy still to face today (and I will be getting to that shortly), but my fingers are crossed that tomorrow will be another good day to create.

What’s in the works:

The first three stories (“Mama”, “Secret”, and “Part’n’er”) for The Doll Collection are done (sans editing on the last two). I have two more in progress (“Destiny” and “Fantasia”) and, should my ambition hold up for both getting homework done and tempting my muses, “Fantasia” may be done by the month’s end. I think this may be my favorite piece that I’ve ever written in my 33 years of the craft, and that’s saying something because I have had other favorites prior to its awakening. In addition to those five stories, I have ideas and some notes for five more. At the rate that the word count is unfolding (and it’s a total guess as to what it will end up being) I’m looking at about 100-120 pages. Since I’d like this to be a bigger book than that, I guess the ideas had better keep coming! I have it in mind to visit the Doll Museum in Philly some time just after the semester ends in early May. I think traveling for research is going to have to start getting scheduled (in addition to my vacations), since my authoress appearances are lighter than I care for them to be right now. That said, my next appearance is in May–the 16th–at the Midtown Scholar, 7pm.

Time to get to work so I can get to play!

Pre-Spring Note

Old business:

Her Majesty made it in time for FarPoint after all–BARELY. What a bunch of unnecessary stress and nonsense. Seriously: I’m so done. Contracts all around for future artwork: period.

Newer business:

The semester started and, sure enough, the workload is just as heavy as the last one, though in different ways. Writing has taken a back burner for the most part, though I am now on spring break and determined to get a thing or two done (plus getting my home back in respectable order and whipping up a few sewing projects, maybe). I’m thrilled to be able to write anything at this point, but my three focuses are: the second story for The Doll Collection anthology, a piece for another anthology put together by Crazy 8 Press, and to make a dent in what’s left of Darling Orphan. Yes–that’s a lot. I do have other deadlines for the second and third of those three pieces, that go beyond the end of spring break, but getting something done on all three in the next several days should be more than doable.

Non-writing business:

FINALLY, after too many years, I have two vacations planned. They are no obligation, no stress (within reason), no rushing vacations, and both are during summer break so I should truly be able to focus on writing during those times. One in June, one in August, and I will be close to the water both times. I can hardly wait. Now, to have my muses cooperate with the timing!

Sewing business:

Last weekend I was introduced to two semi-local fabric stores I’d never heard of, and bought two fabrics for 1910’s style dresses, and three other fabrics to make Victorian riding “skirts”–which are really pants. I’m excited about these (especially the pants since I can wear them whenever), though I do already have a mountain of sewing projects to get through–most of which are part of my daily wardrobe. I’m not trying to delay things there, but adding to it isn’t exactly the way to get stuff done! Oh, well! There will be some sewing today: a very simple a-line dress of green plaid homespun. Part of the whole Lagenlook I’m building. At least it’s all comfortable!

Time to move on to some morning writing.

The pains of speaking too soon

Yes, I did–I spoke too soon.

The cover art for Her Majesty did not arrive early, nor did it even arrive by the given deadline. I am still working with the artist to get details as I want and need them, and to get the coloring right. It’s extremely frustrating business on my end, as there was five months to have dealt with all of this (which would have allowed more than enough time), but here we are. The chances of this book being present at Far Point are slim to none. I’m still trying, but I do not have my hopes up and I have asked that it be removed from the launch party list. Thank heavens I still have Starbright for the event so I don’t look like a complete flake about my promises and intentions. It still really sucks though.

This unfortunate experience has prompted two very loud future circumstances: I will be using contracts with cover artists from here on out. I will also be practicing my own art skills more diligently so that I can bypass the use of other artist’s work as much as possible. That will probably knot up a few pair of knickers but the track record for positive artistic reputations/professionalism/attitude is much lower than the negative at this point–at least in my experience, and at some point a line has to be drawn. Why should I continue to take the blows to MY reputation because other people can’t get it together? No. I am done with that. I have some tactics for future business arrangements that should protect me from this sort of disappointment and inconvenience–and STILL protect the reputation of the artist. I guess that’s something that will always be lopsided in my life–no matter how much I look out for myself and my interests, I’m still going to look out for other people too. It’s a flaw, but there it is. I suppose it’s in line to expect some gratitude, whether I’ll see it or not. Most likely, not.

On the upside, I am currently working with a different artist for the images/illustrations for the As Fate Would Have It vignettes. I’ve worked with her before and have been pleased with both her work and her ethic, so we should be good there. I’ve already seen one of the 8 sketches for the book and I’m both pleased and amused. I can’t wait to get the rest of the stories finished for it. Maybe by this time next year, depending on how the muses perform.

I’m also working as much as possible on Darling Orphan. By the end of tomorrow, I will have (I hope) added 50 new pages since the first of the year, as was my goal. The new semester starts Tuesday, so delays may or may not come again. I will keep at it as I can so the book can release around October. I already have plans in mind for the cover art on that one. More information on that as time goes on, and maybe sneak previews, if all goes well.

Maybe Two Leaps Ahead

A few days ago, I got my proof copy of Starbright and other than a few formatting issues, the book is DONE! I’ll be ordering another proof prior to making an inventory order, just to be sure all is in fact as it should be. Along with that, I am hoping to also order a copy of Her Majesty: The Case of Alexandrina Victoria. Yes, that’s right: it looks like all is on schedule and I should have TWO new releases in time for FarPoint in February. Am I excited?? How can you doubt it!?

With the semester being over and with just slightly more than a week left until the next one starts, I have been slowly adding more to Darling Orphan: The Case of Lucy Stewart. I haven’t been able to shift gears quite as quickly as I had hoped from academia to novel writing, but any little bit that I can get done is a plus. I am signed up for Astronomy and Major English Writers for this next term, so here’s hoping I will be able to slip in some time for working on my book/s. This past semester was so work-heavy that any of my creative endeavors really had to be put on hold–even my two train trips did not allow for anything but working on research papers.

Speaking of papers: there is something about the creative life that gives more opportunities and tools for dealing with the ugliness of other people than your regular, non-creative world. Long story short: a really abusive review was left on Amazon for Empress Irukandji. It was so obvious that it was a personal jab (and yes, I know the reason behind it and who prompted it–timing gives you away, people. Get smarter about your bullying!) and the book was never read. Nor was the other (Awakening Alice) that also got a nasty review. A few things about the latter: Awakening Alice was described as “Pretentious. Too flowery. Impossible to read.” Seriously? This is an Alice in Wonderland sequel, written in the style of Lewis Carroll’s voice. Lewis Carroll’s work falls under Classic Literature, which I admit takes some patience and skill to read. If it was “impossible to read”, perhaps it’s the “reader” who should examine her skill level and choose something more suitable. Not everyone can get through classic literature–even I struggled with Jane Eyre until I got used to the style. Hardly impossible though. As far as the erzatz review left for Empress: “Luckily I got these for free. Just awful. Masterbatory. The entirety of everything I’ve read by this author has been to stroke her own ego.”

1. This person can’t spell (it’s MastUrbatory).

2. This person has no clue what goes into writing a book. If my work comes off as stroking my own ego, what does that mean, exactly?? That I wrote something that I would have liked to read? That it was too hard to put down? I don’t know for sure, but I’d say those are good things. After 30+ years of writing: I’ve earned the right to stroke my own ego. It’s called pride: GET OVER IT.

3. She never read any of my books. The time between what would have prompted her to read my books and the time when all reviews and ratings (There were FIVE, by the way–three of which were only rated, not even reviewed. A normal person would have stopped after disliking the first or second book. Way to go, liar) was a single day.

It just so happened that I had a paper to write for my Philosophy class at the same time that I discovered this inept round of cyber bullying, so I wrote my paper about it, skillfully and accurately–that’s called talent, not ego–connecting it to the subject of the assignment. My professor had a few things to say about it (my apologies that it is so small–screenshots, you know):

To save you from having to get a magnifying glass:

“200/200 100% Individual Feedback:

This is an excellent engagement in the problem of unpopularity that goes beyond the chapter of DeBotton. You nicely wove Socratic ideas into personal and cultural anecdote and example to make this idea come to life. Well done, and very nicely written.”

Yeah. Thanks for giving me something to write an A+ paper on, little troll. It’s advisable not to engage in a battle where your opponent is better at the game than you. I guess she thought those reviews would break me–make me run off with my tail between my legs to hide and so I’d give up writing forever. Yeah, SO sorry to disappoint you.

Do I think she’ll learn? Of course not. Am I done with her? Yes. I hope those with whom she’s connected are done with her as well, but birds of a feather and all….Anyway–more important things:

I just added Shore Leave to my events for this year. That’s in July again, and if you’re able to make it, I’ll be at FarPoint in a little over a month from now. I would love to have Darling Orphan done in time for SL, or even a new anthology that I hope to be inspired enough to work on: The Doll Collection. If that sounds creepy, well, it is. One story is already done and is appearing in another anthology in the meantime, with the works of other authors. I will rerelease it and hopefully with illustrations. I have an illustrator in mind (someone I’ve worked with before!) so once I actually have a few pieces done, I will make the proposal to her. Those are the big projects on the burners at the moment, unless I can get the next As Fate vignette finished in the near future. It seems that my series have all been holding fast around #3, but with the completion of Her Majesty (a #4!) maybe that’s a sign that things will move forward.

I sure hope so! My head is getting full!

One Leap Ahead

I finished my first pass edit on Starbright a few days ago, and one of my beloved editors already sent back the first 192 pages (out of 299) with her notes. There were a few little snags to sort out, but all in all, it wasn’t terribly painful to get through. If all continues to go smoothly (and as long as I can get the cover done!) Starbright will be done before the end of the year. There will be an official launch party for it at Far Point 2018, but don’t think you can’t order it ahead of time!

I have been working hard on my homework in order to get ahead just enough that I can have this coming weekend to not even think about it–it will still be tough, as I have a paper due next Wednesday… OHHHH, how I hate writing papers! I am taking a train up to Stockton, NJ for River Reads, and it is my hope that I can devote the time on the train to working on a new piece of writing (or two), or just spend the four hours round trip staring out the window. It will be dark upon my return, so I’m sure I will be writing then.

There is probably more than I could say, but after having just finished up a not-so-great paper this evening and submitting it to my professor, I don’t think my thoughts are really much into it.

Carry on.