The Real Delia Podcast is Coming

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Miranda and I have been working on a new project, a podcast that I’ll record and post every two weeks. There will be interviews, book reviews, website suggestions, and some fun discussions with my guest hosts each week. We’ve completed the intro, found our first guest to interview, and are planning on recording later this week. I’m very excited to get it all done, and I hope to have everything ready to post later this month.

I plan to focus my interviews on Fiction and Non-Fiction relating to:

  • Horror
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Supernatural Fiction
  • Dark Fiction
  • Vampires
  • Television/Film
  • Writing/Editing/Publishing

If you would like to be interviewed on my podcast, send me an email to discuss it (deliaremington13@gmail.com). I am now scheduling interviews for May-August.

Making Time for the Good Stuff

My revisions are off to my editor, so in the meantime, I’m taking a little time to rest and relax and do some fun things:

  • To Do: A Social Media Spring Clean – I’m in the midst of this process with the help of Miranda.
  • Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers – Stephen King’s On Writing is one of my favorite books on the subject and is full of sound advice, much of which bears repeating.
  • Spike graphic novel written by James Marsters – Can you hear me squee from here? I’m shamelessly fangirling.
  • This week is the first consistently warm one of the year, so I’ll be starting my garden on Friday. I know this isn’t book related, but I don’t really care. I used to hate getting dirty, but container gardening made the job easy, and nothing tastes better than lettuce fresh from the garden. I do everything organic with heirloom seeds. You really can taste the difference.
  • I ordered a copy of Horror Library, Volume 5 back in January, and I finally have time to sit down and read it. This collection of short stories has been nominated for a Bram Stoker award this year, and though I’m only 90 pages in so far, I can see why. I’ll be writing a thorough review once I’m finished, but if you’re hungry for some great horror tales, I can already tell you that I recommend it.

Pretty Good Days

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By Neil Gaiman’s definition, I’ve had some pretty good days lately.

Well, okay, I took a couple of days off to go on a short trip to Chicago. But otherwise, yes. I’m writing every day. I’m keeping to a routine that works. I’m wrapping up changes to the manuscript to give to my editor and will be sending them off by the end of the week. The work makes me happy. The changes feel good. I’m inspired. I’m looking forward to what comes next.

Like anyone else, I could list off a litany of things that aren’t going the way I would like. However, I choose to focus on what is going right, and my writing is a big part of that.

I’m also working with Miranda, the fabulous, on my social media plan, and that project is also making me smile. She’s been very helpful in helping me focus on what works now and what can be better. I’m really going to miss her at the end of the semester.

Random Things That Interested Me:

Spring Break Boogie

For the university students at the college where I work, Spring Break begins today. While I don’t have the entire week off from work, I do have two three-day weekends in a row, which is almost as  fantastic. This weekend, I’m working on book revisions, learning to podcast, and spending some time with my family.

Family

DadMy father’s 82nd birthday was last week, but due to the bad weather and my laryngitis, we held off celebrating for a week.

The photo to the right shows him six years ago, working on the front porch of my house on a beautiful day in October. My father, an optometrist by day, acted as contractor for nearly every part of the work that was done on my house, from demolition, rough construction, plumbing, wiring, drywall, paint, finish carpentry…you name it, my dad did it. He did the work in his spare time, giving up days off to help me with the job that would otherwise have been impossible and overwhelming. There is not a room in this house that doesn’t have his stamp on it. Words cannot express the gratitude I have or the impact he’s had on my life.

Though he isn’t able to do as much as he used to, at age 82, I think he’s earned the right to relax. Still, he is always looking toward the next project, and that is an approach to life that I aspire to.

Social Media

Back in January, I started working with my intern assistant, Miranda Herod. To introduce her, she and I did an interview together. Miranda is a business major, concentrating in marketing and advertising, and she’s minoring in communications. Throughout the spring semester, she is working with me on my internet presence, helping to analyze and improve my social media use.

As part of the internship, Miranda and I are working on creating a plan for a regular podcast I’ll host, and I’m looking forward to making that happen.

Author Fangirling

Neil Gaiman PosterToday, I got such a wonderful surprise! I discovered that I won a contest for this Neil Gaiman signed poster! Eee!! I opened the mail and almost screamed, but then I realized I was on my front porch still in pajamas and there were people leaving the building across the street. Once I scurried inside though, totally shameless fangirling happened.

Now I just have to find the perfect frame so I can hang it in a place of honor in my office.

I’m not at all an autograph hound, but I have loved Neil Gaiman’s work for the last 25 years, and this poster is definitely going to be motivational for me. His work inspires me every day.

The only other autograph I’ve ever sought out is Anne Rice’s.

To the best of my memory, it was 1995. I was 24 years old and was in the process of writing my first book (which was dreadful, though I didn’t realize it at the time). I hadn’t yet made up my mind about grad school, but I knew that my dream was to work as an author one day. In addition to my academic reading, I absolutely devoured horror novels, especially Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.

A friend of mine from college who shared my interests called to let me know that Anne Rice was on a book tour to promote her latest novel. As a gift to me, she got both of us tickets to the signing event at a bookstore near her house. I remember driving two hours and then waiting with my friend for four more hours in line. The demand for the tickets had been much greater than the bookstore had anticipated, and hundreds of people had come from miles around for the event.

Anne Rice AutographImpatient and excited, I clutched my ticket and my brand new copy of Memnock the Devil until my group was called. As long as my day was, when I thought about how long she had been scrawling her name over and over inside book after book, still smiling and saying “thank you,” it made me even more grateful. She must have been there ten hours that day, and she was just as polite and thoughtful to those of us at the end of the line as she had been to the people lucky enough to get there first.

I was so excited about the autograph that I immediately went to buy a second copy of the novel in order to keep the signed one unopened and pristine. I still have it on the shelf next to my computer, and every day as I’m working in my office I see the book out of the corner of my eye and smile.

My Writing

My brain is full of more ideas than I can contain right now. It’s a good problem, but I can’t write fast enough.

Keeping focused on my top priority, I’m making a few more revisions to Book 1 before I send it off for another round of edits and then shop it.

As for Book 2, I’m about 30 pages in. I’ve put it on hold until my revisions are through, but I intend to be back to work on it in about a month.

In addition, I’m working on a couple of short stories which I hope to complete sometime before the end of the summer. One is a ghost story inspired by a dream I had, and I hope that what scares me will scare others. The other is a detective story with a horror twist.

Finally, I’ve had yet another idea for a YA book, also inspired by a dream, this one a dystopian zombiesque story. I have another YA book about werewolves already begun. I’ve made notes on both books and set them aside for the time being so I can concentrate on one thing at a time.

I love being so inspired. I only wish there were more hours in the day.

Layla

LaylaHave I mentioned that I have the best dog ever? Well, I do. She’s a wonderful writing companion-quiet, relaxed, and patient. Layla also makes sure I don’t forget to eat and stretch once in a while. She doesn’t do any tricks except “sit,” and even then you have to give her a treat for doing it, but I don’t need a dog who entertains me. Layla knows how to love, and that is the best.

Dogs don’t ask for much. They cheerfully eat the same thing every day. They love unconditionally.

Things Layla has taught me:

  • Give the people in your life all of your attention.
  • If you love someone, show it.
  • Ask for hugs when you need them.
  • Be excited to meet new people.
  • Show gratitude immediately.
  • Expect the best, always.
  • Appreciate the little things-warm breezes, soft blankets, belly rubs, tasty treats.
  • Slow down to notice the wonder of the world around you.
  • Take walks.
  • Set boundaries and make sure others know them.
  • Try harder.
  • Live in the now.
  • Share your enthusiasm with others.
  • Naps are good.
  • There is comfort in routine.
  • Be willing to follow someone else’s lead.
  • Never give up on something that matters to you.

And on that note, I’m off to work.

Interview by Thomas Gilson

Back in October 2013, I was interviewed by Thomas Gilson from Central Methodist University’s Eagle Radio about my writing. Tom asked some great questions, and we both had a lot of laughs during our discussion. I hope you all enjoy!

And the Winner Is….

ImageMy awesome intern assistant, Miranda, and I have analyzed my online presence and determined that I need to consolidate accounts. This shift will make my interaction online more effective and streamlined. I’m very excited about these changes.

My Blogger account, however, is going to be one of the casualties of the changes. I will be shifting my blog content and my entire author website over to WordPress.

If you’re already following me here, thank you! And if you’re part of the migration, I hope you like the new digs here. I sure do!

New Normal

If you want to be taken seriously, be consistent.”

I saw this quote yesterday on a friend’s page, and though she was referring to her fitness regimen, it spoke to my beliefs about writing too.

Some of the people in my life, when they heard that I had sent my book off to an agent, said “Oh good! Now you can have your free time back.” And I realized that they saw my writing as a chore, something I undertook as a project, and now the first manuscript is finished, they saw the chore as something I could tick off my to-do list and finally have time for “fun.”

But the thing is that writing IS fun for me. It’s not a chore. Well, okay, there are days when it’s easier than others. Still, writing is something I enjoy. And it’s an ongoing thing. I’m a writer, and that word encompasses the ongoing nature of the action. For me, it’s not something I do once and then I’m finished. It’s part of who I am. It’s something that’s integral to my nature. I’ve always done it. The difference is that in the past it was something I hid from others. It was a private activity that I did late at night after everyone else was asleep. I had this feeling that I wasn’t allowed to be serious about it. I had to have a full-time job and there were responsibilities and obligations and to-do lists of chores. So my writing became like an indulgence. Something I allowed myself to do as a privilege whenever I finished everything else. It was a luxury the way other women dream of bubble baths and manicures and trips to the spa. And I was able to indulge that luxury about as often as most women get to have those other things.

It’s amazing to me that, given the sidelining of my dreams, I still managed to write anything at all. And yet, I have amassed a great deal of writing in spite of all that. I dreamed of being a writer since I was a little girl, but I allowed that dream to shrink while other things took control of my time.

This last year was the first time that I decided to stop relegating my writing to the margins of my life. I feel as though I finally allowed my true self to step forward and reclaim the importance it deserves. It’s the first time that I let myself think of writing as a true vocation.

I’ve been writing my whole life. People just never saw it before now. But I’m through hiding it. This is my new normal. I’m not apologizing for it.

“If you want to be taken seriously, be consistent.” That means setting a schedule. Following through on what I plan. Writing every day not as an afterthought or a late night indulgence but as a priority.

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Here at the beginning stages of Book 2, I have some research to do to prepare for the world I’m creating. I’m not sure yet how much of that research will yield rules I will incorporate vs. those I’ll deliberately break, but I think it’s important that I remind myself what the traditional rules have been before I go making new ones of my own.

These are a couple of the books I’m looking through.

 

I also found some very interesting information from my History of Magic and Experimental Science books (mentioned before here) regarding vampire lore, spanning back to the Greeks and Romans. Fascinating stuff! One passage refers to the Lamias, female vampiric figures I’ve studied before.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the research, and I’m certain that the information will be useful.

_________________________________________

One of the improvements I’ve made since I began work on this series a year ago is the use of Evernote to collect my notes, inspiration, and scraps of ideas for future reference. Evernote allows me to keep all of my ideas together and share them from my desktop to my iPad to my phone seamlessly.  I can use tags to make searching for data simple, and so far it’s really helped me organize my work. Often, I’ll be walking to work and think of something that I might add to my book somehow. With Evernote, I can save it all in one place, and those ideas are never lost. Research, character notes, photos, links…all collected for me. I love it.

Random Interesting Stuff (or How I Cut My Distractions and Got Busy Writing Book 2)

How to Break Through Your Creative Block by Maria Popova for Brain Pickings
I’m working on this. I get easily distracted and sidetracked with to-do lists and social media, and then the next thing I know I’m taking a nap. My solution is two-fold.

  1. This blog is going to be my repository of distracting but interesting stuff. Rather than posting several times a day, I’m going to try to limit myself to a few posts at the beginning and end of the day, saving up interesting ephemera for one single blogpost every day or so.
  2. When I’m staring at a blank page or screen, unsure how to start, I take about 5-10 minutes and do a prewriting just to get things rolling. Instead of worrying about how I’m going to say just the right thing, I start instead with writing about what I’m going to write about. I don’t worry about grammar or paragraph breaks or any of that. Sometimes it’s just a list. But I’m thinking about the scene and what I want to have happen. By the time I’ve told myself what I’m going to tell, it’s easy to start telling it. The hard work is done.

Why Dogs Make Fun Writing Partners by Jennifer Robson for Writer’s Digest
I loved this article, and I couldn’t agree more. Layla needs a break about as often as I need a new cup of coffee, so that’s a partnership that works. Plus, she keeps my feet warm. I keep her bed right behind my chair, though she often chooses to lie down under my desk or on the rug at my side. She’s a good companion since she doesn’t say much but is an excellent listener.

“The Poisoner’s Handbook,” American Experience . WGBH | PBS
My high school English teacher sent me a link to this video on Facebook, and it was definitely worth watching. I’ve always loved murder mysteries and true crime, so it was interesting to me to see the development of this end of CSI work.

Vampires: Folklore, fantasy and fact – Michael Molina 


I don’t think I really need to explain why I find this short video sent to me by a friend so fascinating and fun.

Vampire ForensicsVampire Forensics
I bought this book for my Kindle, and I’m really enjoying the details inside. Though I can’t reveal just how (spoilers!), there are definite ways this book will inform some of the things that happen in Book 2. As a reader, I always like knowing that an author has done his/her homework, so I want to be sure I’m following through on that expectation too.

I’ve got a few more books on their way, and I’ll be doing some book reviews once I’m finished reading for those who are interested in vampire lore and history.

History of Magic and Experimental Science
I bought this set of books at the last library book sale. None of them had been read in 30 years or more, but the title alone is fascinating. It’s an encyclopedic study of how superstitions about witchcraft and alchemy developed over the course of several centuries into what we now call the sciences.

These books are far too lengthy for me to read straight through beginning to end, but they are wonderful to dip in and out of. Vampires and other supernatural creatures are discussed throughout history, beginning with the Greek NeoPlatonists. Creepy geeky goodness. There are certainly ways in which I will be using information found here.

Readerly Things, Writerly Stuff, and Nerdiness

Today, I made a word cloud of the most common words on this blog. There are several online sites that allow creation of this kind of image, but they’re all fairly similar. The larger the word, the more frequently it’s been used.

My common words make me quite pleased, I have to say.

Speaking of things that make me pleased, I’m currently listening to the audiobook version of Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon.

It’s the second novel in her Outlander series, and I’m truly enjoying it. If you haven’t read these books, you’re in for a treat. The writing is wonderful, the characters are mesmerizing, the plot is riviting, and the audiobook narrator does a delightful job bringing it to life, giving each character a distinct accent that truly makes listening a pleasure. I am definitely hooked on these books and will be continuing on through to the end.

And speaking of bringing it to life, I’m very much looking forward to catching the Starz television adaptation of the book series which is produced by Ronald Moore, best known for my favorite sci fi show, Battlestar Galactica.

Now that I’ve seen some of the promos and heard the lead actor, Sam Heughan, say “Sassenach” (see the video link below), I’m certain he’s plenty swoonworthy enough to portray Jamie Frasier. So long as they get the historical details correct, which from the looks of it, they are, I’m pretty sure I’ll be watching for as long as they run this show.

As for why the audiobook version, I’ve linked it with my knitting hobby.

I started with knitting a Doctor Who scarf for myself, and since then
I’ve been making scarves for friends and family.

When I finish the Doctor Who one, it’ll be 17 ft. long. Currently, I’m about halfway through. It’s been a fun challenge. Not all of the original yarn colors were available, but this is my own interpretation, and I’m pretty pleased with how it’s progressing.

Yes, I’m that nerdy. And?

Right. That’s what I thought.

As for my own writing, I’ve sent my manuscript off and have begun Book 2. The outline is complete, I’ve written up plans for every chapter, and I’ve been doing research to get ready for what comes next. I’m really excited with what I have in store, and I hope my readers will be as well. Beyond that, I can’t really say. Sorry. Spoilers.

Shout out to Yellow Dog Bookshop in Columbia, MO. Even though I haven’t been able to get there to peruse the shelves over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking of it and can’t wait to get back.

Other readerly things that make me smile include this from author John Green. I always enjoy his Mental Floss videos. His books, while well written, always make me cry, however. This does not diminish my enjoyment, it’s simply of a different kind.

Goal Setting for the New Year

Since I was a kid, I’ve always been a big list-maker. One of the most satisfying experiences, in my opinion, is making a list of all the things I hope to accomplish in a day/week/month/year and ticking them off one at a time till they’re all done. I love that sense of completion I get from looking at a list upon which every task has a corresponding checkmark. I also learned early on to break up large jobs into small tasks so that I could simultaneously give myself achievable goals and positive reinforcement that would see me through to the end. This system has stood me well as a writer as well.

I have very ambitious long term goals, but the only way I’m going to see them to fruition is by setting a series of short term milepost goals that will lead me in the direction I want to go.

With this in mind, here are my goals for 2014 (yes, I realize this is a long list, but they’re all attainable given the proper planning):

Writing Goals

  • Find representation (In process) for the book series with the goal of publishing Book 1 within a year
  • Meanwhile, write manuscript for Book 2 between January and May.
    • Write summaries for each character’s storyline, with their key scenes detailed
    • Outline the chapters in order, interweaving those storylines
    • Organize the book into 3 acts (30-35 thousand words per part) in order to give the story structure
    • Create the Scrivener project for the book
    • Set a schedule for each week with a deadline for completing each of the parts (one per month?)
    • Maintain a record of words completed each week
    • When first draft of each section is complete, take a couple of days off and then do at least 3 rounds of revision
    • Update outline as needed until the entire manuscript is complete and ready to begin editorial process
  • Write at least 2 short stories in the summer of 2014 (related to the novel? unrelated?) and shop them for publication in the fall
  • Determine what manuscript I want to work on during The Stanley Hotel Writer’s Retreat

Social Media Goals

  • Set a weekly/monthly schedule for regular blogging/posting
  • Learn how to use analytics to determine content goals
  • Find an admin assistant for my FB and Twitter to help manage postings if needed

Personal Goals

  • Schedule exercise into my weekly calendar 3 x per week and take it as seriously as I do my writing goals
  • Expand my container garden to grow more than just tomatoes this year
  • Reorganize my laundry room and consider purchasing new equipment
  • Learn to crochet
  • Dedicate one room for hobbies and organize supplies
  • Spring cleaning during the week of Spring Break to sort clutter, then store, toss, or donate as appropriate
  • Read 50 books using Goodreads to keep track of my goal

Notice that these are goals, not resolutions. Resolutions seem to always be broken. I am going to do these things, not just say I’m going to. Getting out my calendar now to make my plans. 2014 is going to be a good year.

What are your goals for the New Year?