August 1st, Lammas, first harvest, a time for reaping what we have sown.
And for this blog, I have no more ideas than on July 1st. That means I will take August off also and be back September 1st to evaluate where I am. First though, a little of what July was like.
My biggest question is: Where did July go? I can hardly believe a whole month passed and did it in a week.
The vegetable garden has been so abundant that we are already looking for where we can give excess produce. For July, we moved pasture irrigation pipes off and on. I never did it often enough to get over the pain of the work. This was easier when I was younger. It is important though, not just for the animals but for concern over fire danger. This has been an exceptionally dry and hot summer in my part of the Oregon Coast Range-- worse, there is no promise of rain or cooler temperatures.
We researched our irrigation rights for this place. We knew they went way back but given the dryness of this year, the possibility is very real that irrigation will be cut off at some point. We will do it ourselves if stream flow goes too low, which is why it's been essential to irrigate as much as possible while we still can. Rivers and creeks in Oregon
are way warmer than they should be, which won't be good for fish-- small or big.
That trip or those little trips I hoped to be taking-- never materialized due to work here, reluctance to be gone when it's so hot with concern over fire danger-- and the next paragraph.
This was not a month for original writing. It was editing-- thought by thought; sentence by sentence; and word for word. With two books to be released (August 5th and September 21st), that kind of work has to be done with the hope that when the book comes out, it'll be without errors. Editing, especially the anal type, is not easy on anybody's brain-- let alone their back. Editing full length books is a six or more hour a day job (I see novellas in my future).
While working on a book this way, I do take breaks, but it is not easy work (sometimes depressing when I can't understand how I wrote it that way or made that typo), and there is no way around the work-- short of hiring someone else to do it. Frankly, that's not easy to find-- someone who can understand my intent.
I added an element this time by using Grammarly's free online, check out a segment of your work. The bad part with the 'free' option is they tell you what they believe you got wrong. They do not suggest a fix. For that, you have to look back at the work (to see if you agree) or buy their service (to see if you agree). Grammarly cannot be purchased as software but is a monthly service fee. It is not the only such service out there, but it seems one of the more widely used.
I use Word's editing options all the time but never let any auto-correct as none is not always right. It can totally lose context. No such service lets the writer or the editor off the hook. The question, where it comes to fiction, is whether the grammarian view of what is right works for the flow. I chose to try out Grammarly to at least know what English fundamentalists would find objectionable in my writing. I do know the basics of grammar but I also won't, for instance, use whom every time it should be used because sometimes it just sounds wrong!
The one aspect of Grammarly that most confused me was the times that they would say they detected plagiarism! I can't begin to figure out how they came up with that. In recent years, I've read hardly any romances. This whole year, my reading has been newspapers, research material, and my own work for editing. I'd love to be reading for pleasure (and I guarantee that when I next read a book, it will be for pleasure. I will read nothing because the NYTimes said I should or someone claimed it will enrich my mind or reveal what is wrong with the world. No thanks, I can get that from the newspaper-- boy howdy can I!
Back to the issue of plagiarism, since there is no way possible I could be copying anyone else's work, how do they come up with that? It would be the one thing that could most tempt me to pay the $$ to get their service. The problem with subscription services is you have to remember to end it or you get it renewed automatically. So for now, not going to do it. After all, Word does a pretty good job with claiming my sentence just ran on too long or I split an infinitive.
Where it comes to writing, to give myself breaks from editing, my fun for July (and any month) came in finding and using images to create covers and book trailers. This was the month where I found the perfect guy model for several earlier written books.
Finding an image for ethnically different heroes had been all but impossible. Then along came Vikkas Bhardwaj, from India but currently living in L.A. He offers that perfect mix of handsome, dangerous, and yet with a sense of humor, the kind of guy I frequently like for my book heroes. Not only did I find him at an online royalty-free image site (at a reasonable price), but he actually has his own site-- Vikkas Zone. For anyone who needs royalty-free cover images, check out the link-- likewise for anyone who just likes to look at good looking, interesting, and I think also nice guys.
One of my edit jobs, Echoes from the Past, will be released August 5th, and for its cover, I needed another hero, who was a little different than the average (young men are most prevalent at the model sites). Vince Taggert is in his early forties and toughened by a hard life. He had to look handsome but like a man who would do to ride the river with-- dangling prepositions are no-nos on Grammarly ;).
When I look for covers, I want the two people (when there are two) to look like the characters. I got lucky when I came across this couple. She is beautiful but even more importantly, looking inward, which is the case of my heroine. He is looking outward to the dangers around them. Finding that combination to suit a story where the past is challenging the future, that made my day. I added the lightning to represent fate.
Holly and Vince's story is set in 1901-- Arizona. This was the era where privileged women were beginning to get advanced educations and think of being career women. Holly has come to Arizona with two goals-- one as an archaeologist, in the fortunate position of being economically able to fund her own dig, and the other as a woman haunted by her dreams and anxious to find out if what she has dreamed all these years really exists.
As I have done for all my books (so far anyway), I created a trailer for Echoes. It is part of my re-creation that gives me breaks from the more nitty-gritty work of editing-- which I am back to now, as another book needed some revamping. Will that ever stop being the case???