May 2016 wrap-up: ouch, arg, yay
So those three words (ouch, arg, and yay are words, right?) pretty much sum up May, or at least the last half and the first part of June.
For starters, sometime around May 18 I did something to my back. It started with stiffness, then progressed to pain and spasms so bad I would lie awake in bed at night, unable to sleep, crying because it hurt so bad. What was worse, we were supposed to go take care of our 3-year-old granddaughter for a few days (more on that in the "yay" section) and I just didn't see how I could do it, in as much pain as I was having. It also made it very hard to concentrate on getting any work done. I knew it was just muscular strain, most likely a combination of new shoes that weren't right for me and some awkward bending, but wow, it really hurt. Finally, the day before we were going out of town to tend Kylie, I did a search on stretches to help with back spasms, and found a site with some things that looked helpful. There was also a book, a $5 Kindle download, so I bought it and tried the first few stretches, and wow. I hesitate to say "miracle cure," but after I did just those first beginning stretches the pain was sooo much better and as I continued with the program my pain went away. The site is here: lowbackpainprogram.com. Of course, I'm not a medical professional and if you're experiencing unusual, severe, or persistent pain you should see a doctor, but for simple muscle tightness and strain, I wanted to share what really helped me.
So that's the "ouch" part and, fortunately, it's much better now. As for the "arg," I spent the second half of May (and some of it is still ongoing) wrestling with some frustrating problems.
First off, I was horrified to discover that on certain Kindle devices and apps (that use the new Enhanced Typesetting), all the paragraph indents were stripped out in all my books published since Nov. 2014, including the entire Daughter of the Wildings series and the two box sets I've released, Love and Magic and Daughter of the Wildings Books 1-3. I was absolutely mortified to see how terrible this looked. When my readers pay their good money for my books, even if it's only 99 cents, they expect and deserve the highest-quality, most professional product I'm capable of providing. And a book with no paragraph indents does not meet that standard. With some detective work and some help from the good people at the Kboards Writers Cafe, I discovered where in my formatting process the problem was coming from, a program I use that apparently doesn't play nicely with the Enhanced Typesetting. Fortunately, it's a step in the process that, it turns out, is unnecessary; I was afraid it was a problem in my html coding and that I would have to re-do all my coding or change my formatting process completely. But all I had to do was run my html files through my process again, leaving off that last, unnecessary step, and everything turned out fine. Then I had to re-upload everything and get Kindle Direct Publishing to make the new files available to customers who've already bought the books, which kind of turned into its own comedy of errors (somehow, some of my correspondence got handed off to CreateSpace, which does paper books, not Kindle books >.>) and I lost a lot of writing time wrestling with all of it, but it eventually all worked out.
If you bought any of those books from Amazon and had an unsatisfactory reading experience because of the paragraph indent problem, you should be able to delete the book(s) from your device (NOT from your Amazon account!) and re-download it to get the corrected file. But apparently Amazon considers a complete lack of paragraph indents to be a "minor" quality problem <.< and so won't automatically push the corrected file to people who bought it.
Then, while I was dealing with that, I noticed some suspicious activity with the fanworks archive site I own. I couldn't track down what exactly was going on, and the only help I got from my hosting company was "change your password." >.> I ended up moving the site to private hosting owned by my older son and his wife (I trust them with my site security more than the company it used to be hosted with), but I'm still getting the domain name and pointing sorted out.
And, this whole time, I've really been wrestling with the second Daughter of the Wildings series. I was going merrily on my way, well into the third book (of a projected five), then I realized I was bored and unhappy with what I was writing. The magic and fun of the first series just weren't there. Some serious thought on the matter revealed a couple of problems. Mainly, I've been very concerned with some current social and political issues, and that was making a heavy appearance in the stories. I don't try to keep my books entirely free of my basic convictions and world view, but pounding on issues the way I was doing, making the books *about* them, does not make for good books. It was sucking all the life out of the books. I also realized that the fun of the Old West setting, the magic, and the Silas-Lainie relationship were all missing as I was telling this bare-bones story that was, really, just a thinly-disguised rant on the issues I was concerned about.
So I refocused on what the Wildings books are really all about, magic, adventure, and romance in a fantasy world inspired by the Old West, made note of the stuff I needed to change, and set aside what I had of book 3 and started over (I didn't change anything in books 1 or 2, just made notes on what to change, in case I changed my mind again. Which turns out was a good thing <.<).
But I was still unhappy with it; now Silas and Lainie were all whiny and depressed because everything was awful and all these terrible things were happening to them. Which brought out the other major flaw in what I was writing. Silas and Lainie weren't *doing* anything. Things were just happening to them and they were just going with the flow, whining and moping and feeling guilty and depressed about it. Which, you know, maybe you win literary awards for stuff like that, but I can't stand reading or writing it.
So, finally, last Friday and Saturday, I sat down and rewrote the entire series summary, looking for the flaws in the plotting, where I was making things happen just for the sake of having something - anything! - happen and where I needed to focus on the heart and soul, the reason for being, of the Wildings books, and re-outlined the entire series beginning to end. The good news is, I'm not going to have to throw out everything; most of book 2 is still good (though with severe editing for political ranting), but the whole second half of book 1 has to be pretty much rewritten, and while the basic structure of book 3 is okay, the characterizations and reasons why things happen have to be totally redone. The bad news is there's a lot of work to be done to get back up to speed, and it's going to make my daily word-count tracking more complicated, since I'll be doing a combination of copy-and-paste (can't stand rewriting material I've already written if it's at all usable) and writing new material. But I finally feel better about where this series is going, and excited about it again.
And now for the "yay" part. First off, I've been invited to participate in some projects that I'm really excited about. They're still in the early planning stages, so I don't want to give any details yet, but I promise you'll hear all about it when the time comes :D
Even better, I mentioned earlier that we went out of town to help take care of our 3-year-old granddaughter for a few days. Well, the reason we went and did that was because her mommy was in the hospital with a new baby! Our second granddaughter (first one born to us; her older sister came to us when our older son married her mommy, and hopefully the adoption procedings will go through soon) was born two weeks ago. Her name is Lily Dawn, and she is absolutely adorable, just like her big sister. Between taking care of Kylie and helping out at the hospital (our d-i-l had a c-section and had to stay a few extra days; she had a rough couple of days, and she'd had serious complications after her first baby so my son was really concerned and wanted to make sure she was never left alone at the hospital) I'm still pretty worn out, but it was worth it. It was really fun, and wonderful to welcome this precious new child to the family.
Hopefully (knock on wood), things will settle down now and I can start getting some more work done. I've got a series to re-write, two books to revise, edit, and release, and a short-story collection I'm getting ready to publish (have been for the last month >.>). We've got a big week-long out-of-town family reunion coming up later this summer which is looming menacingly over me (I don't travel well, especially when flying is involved, and I love my family but don't have a lot of energy for too much togetherness) but in the meantime I will try to ignore it and get back on track with my writing routine and schedule.
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I am Kyra Halland, author of tales of fantasy, heroism, and romance.
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