My New Book Is Out!

Apparently I have an issue with online classes, and that issue is that I want to take all of them. Two classes I’m taking start this week. One of those started yesterday and I was so involved in it that I was a little startled this morning when I got an email confirming that my new book is now available for purchase!

Wolf Moon exists in the universe of my previous series, Vampire in the City, but takes place four years after the events of the last book in that series. Some of the characters from VitC are actually in it, but the main focus is a new protagonist. One other thing I’ve really proud of is the cover, which I designed myself!

If you’re interested, you can buy it here.

Wolf Moon (my new book)!

It has been years since my Vampire in the City series was completed, but now I’ve finally started a new series! As you can see from my very beautiful cover art, the series is called Werewolves in the City, and the first book is Wolf Moon.

The release date for this book is February 2, 2021, but it’s live for pre-orders now!

Also, to continue with the tooting of my own horn, I also designed the cover for this book (did I mention that I think it’s very beautiful?). Since I’ve been doing a lot of art lately, I had to confidence to make my own cover this time around.

Tomorrow, I will have to get back to work on final proofreading but for today I’m basking in my sense of accomplishment!

New Hobbies in 2020

Like many others, I decided to try my hand at some new hobbies in 2020. I was always under the impression that I had no time for hobbies, but this year seems to have altered my perception of time and now I have a ton more hobbies.

My drawing of a bird!

In the spring, I started gardening and bird watching. In the winter, I am obviously not doing much gardening, but I have plans for next spring. I also started drawing, after wanting to do it all my life but convincing myself I would be no good at it so why even try. Now, I draw very often, and it become very therapeutic for me. (And if you like my drawings, feel free to follow me on Instagram @donna_photo_phylactery) However, I haven’t drawn much in the last month, as I was inspired to finish the first draft of a book I started a long time ago! This is very exciting but I still have a good month of editing, so I won’t talk about it that much.

Actually a portrait of the protagonist of my upcoming book!

These new hobbies got me to thinking about other stuff I have always wanted to try but put off until “later.” One of those things was learning to play the piano. I have no good reason not to play the piano, as we actually own a piano, and my older son has been taking lessons for about three years. I didn’t want to spend any money on hobbies, since I will never become a concert pianist, so I just use a piano app and the old piano books my son has long since graduated from.

My kids walking on a trail.

Since all this was not enough, I decided to learn a language in a game-like setting. I have, in the distant past, taken four years of Spanish. I decided Spanish would be a good language to learn now, since I may remember a little, I live in NYC and a lot of people speak it, I very occasionally come across it at work, and maybe someday I’ll even get to travel to a Spanish-speaking country again. Uno puede soñar!

Reading for a Snowy Day

The weather yesterday in New York City was great if you love snow and cold and wind and want a day off from school but terrible if you hate the snow and cold and wind and have to work from home while supervising two small children. I find myself in the latter group, of course!

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The younger and I watching the husband and elder son shovel. I didn’t want to let him outside because of the 50-mile-an-hour winds (he’s only 29 pounds)!

Being on a conference call while people are demanding juice and Peppa Pig videos is pretty tough, and trying to get through almost a full day inside with minimal screen time while you are working on your day job stuff is tougher. While I was making dinner, I had them clean up about 50 pounds worth of Legos, race tracks, puzzles, and the like. However, during the day the whole house was a minefield of toys.

But, we got through it, and today schools are open again, and while we deliberately went in late to avoid the rush, getting there was not totally terrible. In any case, I wanted to make my first book, New Blood, free for yesterday for snowed-in reading. But, in the stress and insanity of the day, I forgot to announce it. In the spirit of better late than never, it’s free today as well. Please feel free to download your copy here!

 

 

 

 

The most anxiety I have felt about 2 paragraphs

The other day, my child, who is in the second grade, came home with an essay assignment. Basically, he has to write two paragraphs and draw one picture about a holiday that we celebrate as a family, one associated tradition, and a food consumed during said holiday. Of course, this has spiraled into a massive amount of anxiety for me.

We are atheists, so I would rather not mention any specific religion’s holiday. Granted, I know that 95% of the kids, at least, will be writing about Christmas or Hanukah. I looked through a list of non-denominational winter holidays, and some of the possibilities I came up with were Festivus and Decemberween. And who could forget Boxing Day? But I realized that we don’t actually celebrate those holidays, so back to the drawing board.

Then, I thought about the Winter Solstice. After all, that’s what our kids think they are celebrating when they celebrate Christmas. But I got stuck in the facts of this astronomical yearly occurrence, and had my son draw something like this. Then, I remembered this was a writing assignment, and not a science project, so most of that was scrapped.

It’s important to remember that this assignment is of writing TWO PARAGRAPHS, and this entry is already twice that. Finally, I realized I was thinking too much about it, and I think I will encourage him to write about Yule, which is the name I grew up calling the winter solstice. He can write about the days growing longer, and how we like to bake cookies, and then we will bake and bring in cookies. And on the plus side, I already know what we can do for science project this year!

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Happy whatever you celebrate! (photo from 2014)

The magical world in the clouds

I have previously shared that when I wrote my first two novels, I did so on an archaic device known as paper! The only benefit to that was that it made me really analyze the story and do significant rewrites during the second draft process, which included typing the book on my computer. It probably also helped me figure out the process of writing a book, as it was my first time doing it.

When I got to my third book, I realized the hand cramps were not worth it, and switched to typing directly on my computer. It was a real time-saver too, as I can obviously type faster that I can write. But, I sometimes wrote on my work computer, and sometimes on my home computer, so I ended up emailing myself the file several times a week. Apart from being a version-control nightmare, this was really stressful.

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My new book is safe up there in the magical cloud!

So finally, in the year 2017, I have finally realized what everyone else realized a long time ago, namely that if you simply use cloud storage, you will never ever run into these types of problems. I am at home today because my son’s daycare is closed, and I had a moment of sadness that I forgot to save my file of my new book, and would not be able to work on it until Monday. But then! I opened up Google Drive and there it was, right up to the very last word I typed yesterday! Thank you, the magical cloud, for saving my writing!

Trying to pick up where I left off

Apparently 2017 is almost over, and, when it comes to volume of writing, I have done very little this year. After finishing my six-book series of urban fantasy, I wanted to do some personal, reflective writing. I did so, but it took so much more time than I had anticipated.

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My children reflecting on their actual reflections in a pond, upstate New York, summer 2017.

The original, finished but as-yet unedited piece was about 12K words, and that took me more than a year to write. Then I worked on editing it. That took about two months and left it at about 7k words. And now I’m left with a piece that was extremely cathartic to write, but I don’t want anyone to read it, because of the personal nature. But I hate to think the year-long process was just an exercise in journal writing, so I may look to publish it in a magazine, under a pen name.

However, all this said, what I need now is a break from this gut-wrenching introspection and get back to something that’s, at times, only slightly less painful, and that is fiction writing. Ten years ago, in 2007, I decided to take part in National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo), and that was when I wrote approximately 60% of the first draft of my first book, New Blood. When December 1 came, I just kept on writing until I was done, and then put it in a drawer for about 3 years. Because I find meaning in symmetry, I am thinking now would be a good time for me to put aside my personal troubles, and start thinking more about the topic of my next series, werewolves!

Missing both my computer and imaginary friends

If you’re the type of person who likes unfocused, general blog posts, then you will love this one!

So, what’s going on with me? First, I don’t have a computer! That sucks for anyone in general, but if you are struggling to put out the last book in an urban fantasy series, it perhaps really sucks. It’s been over a month now, and I miss having a computer a great deal. However, I just started a new job after being home with the kids all summer (read: not making money), so while I’ll hopefully have one soon, it hasn’t been able to happen yet.

Another thing: I was in two regular RPGs, and now both are on hiatus. I know this shouldn’t seem like that jarring an occurrence, but these were two people who I was very close to, and I do miss them. This happened at around the same time when I finished writing the first draft of Fresh Blood, so I also had to say goodbye to my protagonist. And for those who weren’t clear from reading above, the people I am missing are the characters I played in the games.

Thing of change the third: My older son started attending kindergarten in a public school this fall. He had previously only attended a private pre-k at his daycare. For those who don’t have kids, daycare hardly ever closes. Public school is closed all the time, for holidays I would never have off from work. In addition, daycare gets out at 6pm. Public school gets out at 2:20pm. So it was a bit of an adjustment, to say the least, with a ton of scrambling for childcare. When both parents work outside the home (and in different boroughs) and both kids attending different schools, commuting can be very difficult.

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My son on the first day of kindergarten!

So in conclusion, there have been a lot of changes lately, and I am looking forward to having things calm down a bit, if that ever really happens.

Re-reading the Vampire in the City series

Last week I finished writing Fresh Blood, the sixth and final book in the VitC series. The next day, I left for a vacation to Cape Cod. We were with family, including our two children, who are almost five and just turned one. We stayed at a house on the beach, and spent most of our time outdoors doing stuff with the kids.
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My older son, buried in sand and screaming!

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Me with my younger son, not buried in sand but screaming nevertheless!

At nights, after the kids were asleep, I busied myself with re-reading the entire Vampire in the City series. I wanted to take notes on the timeline, figure out what loose ends might need to be tied up, and just have it really fresh in my head for the edit of Fresh Blood. Somehow, I managed to finish the fifth book the day after we came back, and am now set to start on the second draft. While I don’t have an official release date yet, I’m thinking sometime around October 1st.

While I was re-reading my writing, some of it from about ten years ago, I was mostly struck with how much my protagonist has changed over the course of the series. In the first book she was sometimes awkward to the point of embarrassing me as I was reading it. By the last book she is much more sure of herself and proactive, instead of just reacting to the situations I put her in. Overall, I am pleased with this progression, and I hope my readers will enjoy the culmination of a series that has been very fun to write!

Laser eye surgery — another minimalist adventure

When surgical vision correction came out many, many years ago, I immediately wanted it. But I was young and it was expensive, and a bit new and scary. But I’ve always liked hiking and outdoor things, and when I was younger, I even enjoyed camping, and always thought how much better it would be if I could participate in those activities without having to worry about my contacts. Of course, I also had a pair of glasses, which I wore at nights and sometimes if I was just hanging out at home. But I’m not one of those people who looks good in glasses, and the weight of them was often enough to give me a headache.

So a few weeks ago, I had Lasik performed. What made me go through with it, after contemplating it for so long? I don’t even know. At one point, a few years ago, when I started writing, I thought a good reward for me when I sold books would be the surgery. (Yes, I thought of surgery as a reward.) Anyway, I realized that I had made more in profits than the cost of the surgery, so I consulted a few friends who had the procedure, and went in to find out what it was all about.

One of my complaints was that when I was knitting and/or reading while doing something else that require far vision (watching television or making sure my kids weren’t dying), I would have to lift up my glasses to see the up-close activity. Obviously with surgical correction, I would no longer be able to do this. But they gave me a trial of unequal contact lens to test. In this test, my right eye (which is my dominant eye), would be fully corrected for distance, and my left eye would be under-corrected for near vision.

I tried this out for a week, and it seemed successful, so I went through with the surgery, only a day after my birthday. The day of the surgery was rough. I am a little freaked out about anything having to do with my eye, which I then realized was probably why I put off the surgery for so long. And the place forgot to call my husband to pick me up after, so I sat around for two hours, completely blind and confused as to why he wasn’t there yet.

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Not my actual eye!

That night, I had to keep on these kind of awful plastic shields over my eyes that caused beads of condensation so dense that I could barely see a thing until the next morning. And then of course, there was the endless stream of drops, which will continue for about a month. But I can see! I keep waking up at night thinking I forgot to take out my contacts, but no, I won’t need them again! It’s only been a little while, but I have to say it was definitely worth it, and I probably should have just done it sooner!

So what’s with the title of this post, me calling this a minimalist adventure? Well, there aren’t many people who wouldn’t like to minimalize the amount of things they have to do to get ready in the morning, and I’ve found another way to cut down that list. Plus, I got to donate my glasses, and give away my contact lens solution!