A lot to get done on my vacation

Phew!  After a visit to my family, I left myself 5 days at home to get stuff completed.  I’m working on my “purge” to get rid of anything in my apartment that I’m not actually using (my desk drawers are on my living room floor, awaiting sorting) and I’m working on things for my committee positions with my professional organization. There are also several things on my “Author” to-do list, and none of them have been addressed yet.

The two biggest things I’m hoping to get done before I go back to work on Tuesday are getting Butterflies up for sale on Amazon and putting together a short story collection for sale on Smashwords.  Amazon and Smashwords are currently having technical difficulties, so I’m going to use Amazon’s own ebook publishing option to get Butterflies out there and available.  This requires some changes to the formatting, which is why I haven’t completed it yet.  I also want to pull the three Butterflies-related stories that are currently on Serial Central and make a little collection that I can sell on Smashwords.  Again, it’s mostly a formatting thing, so it shouldn’t be too difficult, but I haven’t completed it yet.

I also need to peruse the marketing guide on Smashwords.  I’d like to sell some more copies of Butterflies, but I think I need to do a bit of broad-base marketing for it in order to boost sales.  This is the part of self-publishing that I find the biggest challenge.  I don’t mind participating in someone else’s plan, but creating my own marketing plan is not something I currently have in my skill set.

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Steps to a Story: In Conclusion

This series of posts started in October, when I started writing With Honor to post on Serial Central.  With the epilogue posted yesterday, the story is complete and so this series is as well.  Theoretically, you could now read the entire story and the entire Steps to a Story series and you could experience the short story and the process of creating it as well.

The series was a fun one for me.  It was often interesting to think about my process; how I created the story and characters, the struggles that I went through, and blogging about it kept me involved in that self-discovery.  I hope you enjoyed it as well.

For those of you who are dying to know what happens to Matthew and Charlotte after the story ends, I’ll share with you this.  It is the second paragraph of the prologue of The Queen’s Butterflies.

Matthew Lewis paced the front porch of his family’s farmhouse.  As his daughter’s first cries pierced the quiet of the country, he looked up at the sky.  The smile that had begun to spread across his face quickly turned to a look of concern as he realized that the moon was the color of blood.  Shaking off a quick shiver of fear, he raced into the house to ensure that this omen was not for him.  He opened the door with a sense of dread, but issued a sigh of relief instead as he saw his smiling, exhausted wife and new baby girl on the bed.  Matthew sat gingerly on the edge of the bed as Charlotte handed him the carefully wrapped child.  “Let’s call her Gretchen.”

A lot more happens to Gretchen (one of the main characters) and her family, but I’ll leave that for when you get to read The Queen’s Butterflies.  🙂

Moving My Stories

I’m considering moving my stories over from Serial Central, or at least putting copies of them here.  It’s just a matter of figuring out the best way to handle it.

I could post them here as serials again, as they are in the right format from Serial Central.  The trouble is that those of you who wanted to read them in serial probably already have, and if you haven’t read them you probably don’t want to wait week after week if you can just go read them in their entirety on another site.

I also don’t want to take up weeks of Sunday posts with old serials.

I could just add them as pages, or post them each as their own huge post with an old date, so that they are available here but not really in the way.  It seems like the best way to handle it.

The biggest challenge now is all the cutting and pasting to make it happen.  🙂

An Update on Serial Central

If you’ve been reading my serial story With Honor on Serial Central, it will now be switching to this site only.  The other authors that were contributing are working on novels or other projects, so we have taken a break with the blog.

I will be finishing With Honor here, so if you’ve been enjoying it, you can continue to read it here.  The other three stories I put on Serial Central (Burden of Knowledge, Bonded, and Gilded Cage) will be remaining on Serial Central and you can still visit the site to read them.  After With Honor is finished, I may also take a break from my short stories to focus on The Dragon Pendant.

And, as requested, I will not being using my With Honor post on Sundays as my only blog post.  I’ll continue to (try to) add another post then as well.  🙂

Steps to a Story: The Benefit of Deadlines

I really haven’t worked on With Honor much this week, although to be fair I haven’t really written much this week.  It has nothing to do with being blocked.  I started the next section of the story earlier in the week, but it isn’t finished.  The real reason for this is because I have been a combination of two four-letter words: busy and lazy.

This is where the beauty of deadlines comes in.  Tomorrow is Sunday.  Sunday is the day I post the next section of With Honor, generally around 8am on Serial Central and 9am on here.  (Really, I have to post it in advance and schedule it for those times, which means the deadline is even sooner.)

The looming deadline demolishes the four-letter words.  If I’m busy, I make time to finish the section.  Laziness is no match for guilt and the expectations of others; it simply vanishes in the face of a deadline.  Fake deadlines don’t work; they must have something riding on them.  In this case, I have readers who might call me out if I am late.

Last night I worked on the section for tomorrow, and I plan to finish it shortly.  Deadlines are my friends; without them, I might or might not get any writing done.

Steps to a Story: Inspiration at Last!

It seems odd that working on an unrelated story might get me back on track for With Honor, but it’s true! 

I got stuck without inspiration, characters silent, for a while.  I fortunately had the first few sections ready, so I could post them on Serial Central, but then I hit a wall.

Recently I’ve been inspired to return to Dragon Pendant, a novel with its own random history of stops and starts.  I’ve listened to the characters and finally started working on that story again, putting With Honor on the back burner. 

Apparently getting the creative juices flowing in the direction they wanted, as well as no longer trying to force With Honor, was exactly what I needed.  Today I found a way to deal with the difficult scene that had me hung up (which I’ll be posting another Steps to a Story on soon) and hopefully getting past that hurdle will open up the rest of the story.  🙂

Important lesson: don’t force it!

With Honor, part 3

With Honor

by Leigh Townsend

Part 3

Matthew shared a quick glance with the two scouts who accompanied him as they entered the village of Klais. These two were part of the troop that had been stationed here for months, and even though they were on foot he appreciated their presence.  They were familiar with the people of the village, and would be able to spot if someone was behaving oddly. 

Klais was situated on the very edge of the foothills of the northern mountains.  It had taken another day and a half after the fire for the troop to reach the spot where the rest of their company was bivouacked; Klais was the closest community to their encampment.  Although they were in their own country, bandits had been known to hide in a village in order to harass the troops.  The villagers usually cooperated with the brigands only when threatened; if someone was acting strangely it could be an indicator that there were bandits in town.

Today there was no sign of trouble.  The people who the soldiers passed gave them only a cursory glance before continuing about their business.  As he rode through the village, Matthew noticed that most of the homes they passed were well-built; it seemed nearly all of them were a single story with a thatched roof.  One larger building stood out in the center of town, a sturdy, two-story structure with wooden shingles in place of thatch.  This was the village inn; the first floor was a tavern and the second would have a room or two to let.   As in many small towns, the tavern also served as the primary meeting place for the locals.  It would be an excellent place for Matthew to start.

With the ability to read as well as basic arithmetic skills, Matthew was often called upon to act in the stead of the company’s quartermaster.  The army brought a majority of their supplies with them, but it was always worth an attempt to secure a local supply of fresh food items when they were available.  Today Matthew was in search of a possible source for several items, including fresh produce, milk, and eggs.  The two scouts with him were going to stay at the inn, ostensibly to relax and play dice but also to attempt to gather more information on the bandits.

Matthew tethered his gelding outside the inn and started talking with the locals.  Sergeant Lewis had found that people were more inclined to talk if you were at their level, rather than staring them down from the back of a horse.  Within just a few conversations, he discovered that produce might be a bit difficult to come by due to some minor bad luck with weather earlier in the season.  He had no trouble securing two providers of milk; not enough for the whole company to drink, of course, but plenty for their cook to use it in his recipes. 

It only took a few more questions before he got an answer about the eggs.  “Go see old man White on the edge of town.  His wife Sarah’s got a fondness for chickens; always trying to find someone to take eggs of his hands.”

With a grateful response, Matthew saddled up, left the scouts in the inn, and headed in the direction of the White’s farm.

*** 

When he rode up to the little farm, Matthew knew he was in the right place.  The garden in front of the house was full of clucking and strutting chickens.  He dismounted and tied his horse to a sturdy fence post.  A path led through the garden and up to the house; although the family was likely working the fields he hoped someone would be home at this time of day.

After knocking, Matthew gave the property a quick scan out of habit.  He turned back toward the door just as it opened.  A young woman near his age stood in the door, her eyes slightly downcast.  “May I help you?” she asked.

Nodding, Matthew replied, “Perhaps.  I am looking for Farmer White.  Do I have the right farm?”

Until she smiled up at him, Matthew hadn’t really noticed the girl.  She looked similar to every other farmer’s daughter he had encountered.  At the question she met his eyes and gave a small grin; the intense green color of her gaze gave him pause.  Her words broke the moment, though, when she answered.  “That’s my father.  He’ll likely be in the barn about this time; you can go on back and find him.”

“Thank you,” Matthew said, and found the small path that led around the house to the small barn.  Farmer White was busy milking the cow, although he looked up when Sergeant Lewis entered.  “What can I do for you soldier?” he asked, and the two began a spirited discussion of eggs.

A short while later, Matthew swung back into his saddle and rode back toward the town.  Pleased with securing a source for fresh eggs along with the milk providers, he gathered up the two scouts and the three returned to their encampment.

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