Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Checking in (writing update)

It's been a bit over a week since my last writing check in. I've had some great days of writing in the last week and Book 18 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds is growing.

Before I even get started writing today, it's currently at 13,500 words. Nine days ago it was at 9,000 words, so I've averaged 500 words a day, although most of that was in the last five days. Last week, I was stumbling about where the characters go next. Then, I figured out what needed to happen and the writing took off again. It's the normal writing cycle, the highs and lows. It'll happen again and I'll work through it again, as I have for twenty years.

Yes, it's been that long since I started seriously writing (Legend of the White Dragon). I'm familiar with the routine, although it never gets easier. You just learn to cope.

So, that's where things are in writing. I'm excited by what comes next, and that always gets the creative juices flowing.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving holiday and every day!

Gratitude grows grace and demolishes wrath. 

Appreciate the little things, or the big things are meaningless.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 18, 2023

It's a Beautiful Day!

This was probably the last nice day we would have for a while. I was determined to get out to spend time with my horse (still have him, going on 8 years). I've had so much trouble getting out to see him this year that half the summer, it was three times a month if I was lucky. If I can get out once a week, I'm doing pretty good (although I would like to see him more often).

Because of the busyness of my life, I had been thinking the last couple days, "Lord, should I sell the horse? Is that what you want me to do?"

Then, I have today. Gorgeous! Almost 60 F, no wind, fairly dry outdoor arena. I had the best ride in a long time! He was so good and flexible, and we still had daylight afterwards, so I trimmed his hooves. He stood almost perfectly for me and I trimmed exactly as I wanted to for the winter. His hooves look good and he's not sore on soft ground.

So, I think I know the answer to my prayer--keep my boy and enjoy what I can of him when I can. He's in a pasture with room to roam and is plenty fat and sassy (although more frequent riding would fix that). He's not lacking for anything.

Buddy from late October 2023, after much of the snow
melted from the Oct. snowstorm.

It was a beautiful, inspiring day. And I had even gotten some writing in before going out to play with him.

Now that I'm home and cleaned up and getting ready to return to writing, I remembered something I had seen some time ago. It's uplifting and fun and pretty well sums up how this day made me feel.

Even better -- I came home to find that Amazon had resolved the ratings bombing of my book! 🥳


Have a beautiful weekend!

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Conversion stories and miracles

Are you missing out on true love?

Do you harbor hate in your heart?

Do you want to be happy but something keeps dragging you down?

You have a mother who loves you. These are some amazing stories of our Blessed Virgin Mother's incredible transformation of lives. Real stories, not fiction. I share these because she has ignited in me a love deeper for Our Lord than anything I have ever realized was possible and I'm nowhere near where I should be. She can do the same for you.

This are just two examples of countless stories available.

Added after this post:

Monday, November 13, 2023

Writing update

I'll keep this brief.

I've had some great writing days on Book 18 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds. I currently have four chapters totaling over 9,000 words.

Once I finish Book 18, I'll edit Book 16 for publishing. Right now, it's looking like February 2024, but we'll see how everything goes. My autoimmunities sometimes get the best of me, which can slow my writing, but I'm taking that into account in my estimation of when I expect to have the next book ready.

Thanks for your patience.

And thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Creating animated images

I worked on it all night and am not fully satisfied, but it is a pretty cool thing to make a still image into an animated gif. I had to watch a short video, but overall the general method was easy in Photoshop. It was getting things to flow even this well that took several hours. And I still didn't get it to flow smoothly. Then the file was too big but I finally figured out how to make it a small enough size to use.

I had intended to write today, but I've also had the idea to make this image for a while (even before I had this exact image). So, I pushed myself to just get it done. It turned out pretty cool and the video version will be great to include in the series trailer that's brewing in my head.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Attack of the haters - the rage mob hits my book

The day has come. My book A NEW BEGINNING has been targeted on Amazon by 1-star bombing for some reason... or Amazon has had a major glitch. 30 1-star ratings in one day (154 to 184 ratings jump since this morning)?! That looks like an attack, a ratings bombing.

I don't know what I can do when my book is sinking from 4+ stars to 3.5 presently on Amazon.

It won't stop me from writing, but it is disappointing. This has never happened to me before. I don't know what I can do, except to beg readers who enjoy the book to leave your higher ratings to counter the attack.

If this is an Amazon error and it gets corrected, I would be relieved, but I've been indie publishing long enough to have seen authors 1-star bombed by rage mobs and jealous authors trying to sink those perceived as competitors... or thieves who steal books and try to sink the original.

Nothing anywhere else, so I hope this is something that can be corrected on Amazon.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Midjourney - Forgotten Worlds - the nightmare

In Book 13, SOUL SHADOW, you get a glimpse of the nightmare that inhabits L'Ni's mind. This was hinted in Book 8, RACING THE ORAST BELT.

It is the evil that Nya and her friends are fighting, the creature that seeks to destroy the universe while promising the Feri a new creation where they rule. This creature manipulates them to serve it relentlessly with lies. Its hiss is the source of its name, Issa.

It wasn't too difficult to get this image, but it's pretty generic. I did have an idea of an amorphous black smoky shape with red eyes like I described as coiling around Nya and L'Ni in Book 13, but the face was not specific. 

Can you imagine what this nightmare would do if it escaped into our universe?

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Midjourney - Forgotten Worlds scenes (Book 14 spoiler)

I have a little time left with a second month subscription for Midjourney. With it, I've been trying to get action scenes for a series trailer.

I also wanted the romantic scenes, and those are probably harder still. I've tried a few times to get a scene of the romantic subplot that came to fruition in Book 14, the final decision of Nya, who hadn't been looking for love. Isn't that the way it usually happens? I had given up when I found the man who became my husband. I've heard the same thing from others. You try to find someone, but it's when you ultimately give up and accept God's fate that you may be single that the right person comes along.

In this case, I brought the same upon Nya. She wasn't looking and she even resisted love. And then it found her. Of course, I knew what was coming and had sprinkled in hints but didn't want to make it the focus of the overall story but incidental. Nevertheless, it was needed for other pieces of the series to fall into place. I could have made things happen differently, but this romance made it undeniable. That's the only hint you'll get. No more spoilers.

Nevertheless, this picture will spoil book 14 for anyone who hasn't read it yet. I fought and fought and fought to get the details at least close in Midjourney, and I still had to tweak in Photoshop for tiny details like eye, skin, and hair color. I still can't get the skin to be colored quite right, but I was able to give the ears the kind of point that I imagined for L'Ni. It's actually barely there. It was never meant to be long pointed ears the way some artists exaggerate with elves, but more like the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movie elves or Vulcan ears.

Working with AI is tricky and frustrating, but once you learn to use it and refine it, you learn that you can get close. Nevertheless, it's never going to be exact, not like working with a human artist. But there are few artists with a style that's suitable and who are available, much less affordable. These images are for my own gratification... and for the hope of developing trailers for the series that are more like movie clips. We enjoy visual stories, and creating snapshots of those stories makes the characters come alive in a different way than mere words.

Truth be told, it helps and hinders me. It's fun to see them come to life, but it also takes away the ambiguity and focus on the internal character that drives me to write them. At least for me, it works that way.

Anyway, here is the image I manipulated in MJ that is a spoiler of Book 14, UNBROKEN BONDS:

My input wasn't for this, but getting characters to look right, much less look at each other is nearly impossible and requires a LOT of work with the AI. But when I saw the expressions on this, it was something else. To me, it seems to be her telling him she wants to help him with whatever it is that troubles him, and L'Ni has a lot on his mind in the series, as Book 13 reveals. Nya is the only person who comes to understand the depth of emotions he feels, which he doesn't typically reveal externally.

I love this wounded and loving connection between the characters. It reveals so much to me.

And I put a watermark on because I did the work with the AI to get this and then still altered it in Photoshop to make it unique and more specific to my characters by touching up certain features.