It All Started with a House…

Early in 2019, about five minutes after the Department of Defence sent my Air Force hubby and myself over to the other side of the country on a posting, they decided (in their wisdom) that the DH had reached his use-by date and he needed to be medically discharged after thirty years of service.

Now this wasn’t necessarily bad news – the Department of Defence look after their members and in the DH’s case, that meant he would be retiring… just a decade earlier than we had envisaged.

And in other great news, it meant we were moving back across the country to where seventy-five percent of the Gang of Four were still living. (And I had missed them, so very much while we were away!)

Moving back to Western Australia at the beginning of the COVID juggernaut meant we had to hang around for six months figuring out our next move. We had plans to move down south of Perth, to an area we had come to love during our visits with BIL and SIL in Nyamup. Along the way, we kept driving through a little town called Bridgetown, and the drive through the main street always had me thinking about moving there. With six months to fill in, we had plenty of time to consider our options and after mulling over things, we started to study properties.

It was round about then, that I saw this little place – built in 1904, it was quirky enough to amuse me and with half an acre of land and a jumble of sheds and gardens in need of work/restoration, not to mention an interior which was renovated in a half-hearted manner by its current owners – it meant there was plenty of little jobs to keep the DH gainfully employed for quite a while. (And if you knew my darling husband, you’d realize how important it is to have some jobs for him to do – despite his medical discharge, he’s not the kind of guy who sits around.)

What has followed has been nearly nine months of busy-ness – and is one of the reasons I haven’t been writing much. For starters, the vast majority of the interior was painted in colors I hated (particularly the sky-blue which was everywhere). Secondly, there wasn’t a single matching door knob in the house – not good for an obsessive compulsive loon like me.

It’s also meant that while already struggling with writer’s block brought on by all the upheaval of the past couple of years, that block has been further compounded by the upheaval of moving in and commencing the restoration of our ‘grand old dame’.

Somehow though, despite the writer’s block I’m dealing with – the characters who roam around the superhighways in my mind haven’t got the message that we’re on a hiatus. So at any given minute of the day, I have characters popping up and giving me a heads up on their plans for their stories to be heard, and they keep on bombarding me with little ‘bites’ of information. Not enough to nudge the writer’s block out of the way, but enough that I’m considering it a positive start.

Now if I can just get rid of the sky blue paint around the place, I might be on the road to writing something useful…

Madness Descends…

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In my fifty odd years of life, I’ve seen some stuff.  From the Global Financial Crisis, to recessions, to SARS, AIDS, 9/11 and numerous other crises, we have rolled with the punches and I thought I’d seen the scariest things, the worst of humanity.

I was wrong.  With the current COVID 19 pandemic, I’ve seen the worst of humanity come to the fore.  Stores are struggling to keep up with demand as our basic needs are swept up in a rush of panic buying and people physically fighting one another to buy a roll of toilet paper.  Selfishness has overtaken many – and I’ve seen an ugly side of humanity.  I suspect it will get worse before it gets better, but I’ve found a bright side I hadn’t expected.

Writing is giving me a respite from the craziness, the fearmongering, the anxiety I’m struggling to cope with.  My battle with Bipolar Disorder, severe anxiety, OCD and panic attacks is well known, and the situation in the world currently is setting off a whole lot of triggers, which are proving detrimental to my mental health.  My GP has already recommended I stop watching the news and I’ve taken her advice – although that doesn’t mean I’ve buried my head in the sand regarding COVID 19.  What it does mean is that I’m drip-feeding myself with news reports, as and when I can cope with them.  And in the meantime, as I’ve mentioned, I’m writing, editing, planning – and I think that is the thing that will get me through these trying times.

In fact, I suspect that in many ways, being a writer is heaven-sent because it gives me an outlet.  And that makes me a very lucky girl because I have somewhere to be, somewhere to hide out.  The worlds I create in my head are a balm to a scary bloody world that quite frankly, I don’t really like much right at the minute.

Stay safe out there, and remember – be kind to your fellow humans.

Thoughts from the dark side…

Boy. Every time I think I’ve delayed putting up a blog post by months, I manage to break my own record. (And no, that’s not something I’m particularly pleased about.)

I join you in something of a world gone mad – as Coronavirus spreads across the world, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve actually found myself stuck in some crazy movie. World War Z seems to have happened and I’m seeing people stockpiling toilet paper and stealing face masks and alcohol swabs from hospitals.

And I can’t get my head around it. The worldwide panic seems to be happening in a different world to the one I’m living in. I keep reading the reports, and while Disneyland is closing down and football games are being played without audiences, I’m reading that the death rate from the virus is less than 2%. It seems so strange, and I waver between panic and placidity over what’s to come.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complacent. I’ve washing my hands carefully and thoroughly to two renditions of ‘Happy Birthday to you’ and I’m naturally retiring so I’ve pretty much contained myself at home most of the time anyway, but it still bothers me that this is something out of my control. Out of everyone’s control. I’m less worried about myself than I am about the single most important people in my world – the Darling Husband and the Gang of Four. I think the thing that most freaks me out is that having traced the family history, I’m fully aware of the losses suffered during the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918 and I don’t want that to happen to my family, or anyone else’s family for that matter. I just hope this doesn’t reach those same levels of morbidity, because that would be a terrible thing.

So my advice (such as it is). Follow the advice you’re being given. Don’t be an asshole and buy up all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer – leave some for others. And stay safe.

Yep, I’m still alive…

I hadn’t realized just how long it had been since I wrote a blog post, until I checked on this page today.  2019 is one of those years which has gotten totally out of control, not least because the DH (upon our arrival in Queensland in January for a new posting) had no sooner arrived at his new base before he was given the news that he was to be discharged on medical reasons.  Consequently, we’ve spent no time settling into our new home before we began prepping for the trip back across the country to our home state of Western Australia.

I have to say, I’m cheering over this change in our circumstances.  While we couldn’t have anticipated the need for a medical discharge, it means one important thing to me – the opportunity to go back to be reunited with seventy five percent of our family – our three boys, who remained in Perth when we travelled across here.  Not only has it been a wrench for us, but also for our daughter, who chose to come with us to Queensland.  We’re an extremely close family, and being apart from the boys has been extra especially tough – even more so because we went from living with the six of our together in one (boisterously loud) home, to just the DH and I for a couple of months, and now us and our daughter.  I can honestly say it’s been one of the toughest separations I’ve every dealt with, and there will be lots of catch-up hugs, and teasing, and laughter, when we get back home just a day or two before Christmas.

With everything going on, there hasn’t been much done in the way of writing, other than a number of small, practice pieces I’ve written to keep my hand in.  The cast of ‘Tokens’ are particularly vocal, and I suspect there will be one or two new novels coming from the setting of Garrison, Montana in the future.

Right now, I’m up to my armpits in prep work for the move home, but I thought I should pop my head in and say ‘Hi’.  For those who have come across my novels and in turn started following my adventures through ‘The Worlds of D.S. Williams’ – Hello!  Welcome! – It’s great to meet you!

There has been some fun during our whirlwind, eleven month sojourn on the other side of the country, in particular we had a visit from BIL and SIL, during which we visited some of Queensland’s theme parks, one of my favourites being Dream World.  Tiger Island is always fun to visit, and with my brand-spanky-new 80X Optical Zoom camera, I was able to indulge my love of close up photography.  I also realized I apparently have a bit of a ‘thing’ for paws – they pop up regularly in my photo files!

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I promise I’ll try to do better with updates… just let me get back to my home state, where no doubt lots of new adventures will be had as the DH and I settle into his retirement.

A Change of Pace

I’ve been considering this situation for quite some time. Being bipolar means my ‘feels’ are sometimes exploded beyond what is rational, my decisions are spur of the moment, and taken without thought of the ramifications.

So it is with no small amount of consideration that I’ve come to this decision, a decision based on what I think is best for me.

As of this week, I am unlikely to update this page, or my blog page in regard to D.S. Williams and Leah Dempster’s writing work. Promoting myself is something I’m increasingly uncomfortable with, and in all honesty, the effort doesn’t seem to make any difference.

There are so many authors out there. So many. It makes my head spin when I see the amount of writers who are publishing, and trying to get their work noticed. And it suddenly occurred to me, a few weeks back, that what I’m doing isn’t fun. I’ve gotten myself caught in a Catch 22 – I’m publicising to get my books noticed, I worry because I don’t get sales, and in all honesty… it occurred to me that I don’t want to reach the next level. Or the one after that. I don’t want to publicise myself, or my books, or try and cajole people to read them. I don’t want to attend meet & greets, or conventions, or book signings. It isn’t my style, never has been, and never will be. I don’t want to be ‘famous’. I don’t want to be well-known. And in all likelihood, that would never happen anyway, so why flog myself to death trying to achieve something I don’t want?

The past six months, I think, for all writers have been tough. Tougher than I’ve experienced before now. Quarter 1 of this year netted me a grand total of $36… that’s for three MONTHS. I’ve just received advice regarding my Quarter 2 royalties and they amounted to just over $28.00 – again – this is my income from writing books for THREE MONTHS. Clearly, if I’m relying on this gig to get rich, it isn’t going to happen.

And I’ve found, more and more lately, that I don’t write much, and if I do, I write with one eye on what readers are going to like or not like. I’ve forgotten to write what I like and that’s a real shame, because I’m at my happiest when I’m writing from my heart, rather than my head.

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to write for me, write for the fun of it, write as though nobody is ever going to read it but me.

My books will remain available, although I suspect I’ll be following through with a decision to part ways with my publisher at the end of this upcoming quarter. The books will revert to being self-published, available for anyone who has a desire to read them. New books might end up available, if I decide they’re worthy of being shared. But the decision will be based on my heart and gut, rather than a need to please others and with one eye on the bottom line.

The next few months are going to be stressful as we move into a new chapter of our lives. We’re leaving our (adult) kids behind here in Western Australia while we move to Queensland for a few years. There will be lots of changes, lots of new things to get used to, and I hope, new writing adventures for myself without the pressure of being ‘a published author’. In the majority of instances, those pressures are ones I place on myself, but I think it’s time to step back, and take a good look at the direction I’m heading in.

Musings from Over Here…

 

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It’s been a wet weekend here in Perth, and on my walk this morning, the duck jetty was on it’s way to disappearing under water.

Forced myself out on the walk, even though my throat feels as if I’ve swallowed a couple of razor blades, because I have a bad habit of finding reasons not to walk (because I love exercise so much). I always feel better about myself if I force myself out there – even if it is people-infested.

And now that I’ve gotten back home, I’m about to do a Google search for the components and operations of sniper rifles, in preparation for a scene I want to write later today!

 

Cover Reveal – Protective Hearts Rebranding!

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to share the new cover for Protective Hearts with you!  With the move to Creativia, the possibility of having my books translated into other languages has become a possibility, but much to my disappointment, my amazing cover creator Hellvis has moved onto bigger and better things and can’t work with me on covers in the future.

Consequently, this has required a rethink on the current covers, and Creativia have decided the best way to move forward is to rebrand.  I’ve been working with them for the past few weeks on design ideas, and I’m proud and pleased today to be able to share the new Protective Hearts cover.

The next job on the agenda is to rebrand The Nememiah Chronicles – redesign the covers for Books One thru Four, and create a cover for Nememiah 5 – consequently, as much as I would like to hurry up publication of the final book… we’re in a bit of a holding pattern.

At this stage, Creativia and I have chosen a basic cover concept, and now it’s back in the hands of the designers to see what they can come up with.

Although it means another delay on the release of the long-awaited end of Charlotte’s story… I’m feeling enthusiastic and excited about where we’re headed.

And now, I present – Protective Hearts!

PROTECTIVE HEARTS COMPLETE

Writing and Editing and Publicity… Oh My

One of the absolutely hardest things about being a writer, is firstly, the writing.  I watch some of the other writers I know, who publish six to eight books a year, and I take my hats off to them.  I know it involves a great amount of dedication, and more importantly, a lot of self-discipline.  None of which I seem to have in any tangible amounts 🙂

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I started off this year with a bunch of good intentions, and plenty of enthusiasm.  I was going to finish off six… yes, you read that correctly… SIX of my WIP’s.

It’s now May… and I’ve finished one.

What’s the problem? I hear you ask.

That would be Procrastination: and that capital ‘P’ is deliberate.  I can find absolutely anything in the world to do, other than writing a book.  There’s reading, of course, which is a wonderful alternative to actually doing anything constructive.  And then there’s organizing my movie collection.  And photo collection.  And downloading new pictures from Pinterest for inspiration for new books…

You see the problem.

But the thing I find even worse, the most difficult part of walking this path of being a writer… it’s the publicity stuff.  I am so incredibly impressed when my fellow authors announce they’re going to a convention, or doing a book signing.  I think they’re all so incredibly brave!

Me.  Not so much.

But this past week, I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to this writing gig, and my role in the writing world.  I think I’m brave enough now to say I’m an author.  With six published books, and another one in pre-publishing, I guess it’s a moniker that fits.  Even if sometimes, I don’t have the confidence to believe it myself.

But what I need to do now, is commit to this writing gig, believe in myself a little more, and work harder on sharing my stories and progressing and improving.  I don’t think I will ever, ever go down the convention/book signing path (Good grief!  How terrible would I feel if I had a signing and NOBODY TURNED UP!) but I am taking the advice of a very good friend, who tells me I should have a newsletter.

The prospect immediately filled me with fear, because who would want to hear anything from me?  What could I possibly have to say that was interesting?  Although I still have a tonne of doubts, I’ve taken my friend’s advice, and I’m formulating a newsletter to share with my readers.  And I’m telling myself, every day, that I am an author, and I do write things people like to read.

Now to push that procrastination to the side, and get on with those other five books scheduled for 2017…

’til next time,

D.S.

 

Nememiah 5 – Coming Soon!

It’s been a long (long, long, long) time coming, but the final book is now in the hands of my editor and beta readers, and will soon be winging its way to my publisher for final approval and publication.  I know everyone waiting for the book has been incredibly patient, and in many cases, have begun to get frustrated with the long delay between this book and the last one.

I have no excuses, other than the fact that real life got in the way.  No.  I’m not dead.  No.  I didn’t run out of ideas.  And no, I never intended to finish the series where it ended at the end of Book 4.  The fact of the matter is that I had a huge, unplanned blip on my radar in the form of a catastrophic mental health breakdown some two and half years ago, which was followed by a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.  Which actually came as a relief, after years of being diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder which didn’t quite cover all the stuff that went on in my head on a day-to-day basis.

In recent months, I’ve finally gotten settled onto a good level of meds, which has led to my previously stifled creative flow being back in full force.  And so, I’m delighted to let people know that if they’ve hung around for this long, all the answers are going to be revealed.  And I love you and thank you for putting up with an abysmally long wait.  First reactions from beta readers have been extremely positive, and I’m hoping that you (the readers) will be satisfied with the final journey.

Teaser 3 - I was Archangelo's wife...

The Bright Spots in the Mania

In what most would see as complete insanity, I’ve managed to find some bright spots in the current mania I’ve been struggling with.
When I’m feeling particularly anxious, repetitivity is the key to retaining whatever sanity I might have left. Consequently, in the past three or four weeks, I’ve been reorganizing my book collection (I did mention it a few weeks ago… and since then it’s become bigger than Ben-Hur in terms of the battle of Deb vs her books.)
It all started because I don’t like the arbitrary way in which Kindle organizes my books – mainly the fact that it doesn’t necessarily keep my books in the order in which I like them, nor does it necessarily keep series in order. So I went in search of a new program and decide to use Calibre to fix the metadata, and Moon Reader Plus for reading. Yes, yes, I know I could have used Calibre to do both, but Calibre isn’t ‘pretty enough’ for my reading tastes.
So I spent a considerable period of time organizing my books in calibre, placing them together in series, tagging them regarding subject and ensuring that all the names etc. were uniform in their writing. (I’m so OCD currently, I can’t stand initials not to be uniformly punctuated.)
Now keep in mind, I’m a book lover. I have all sorts of books, ranging from old classics (which I’m definitely going to read one day) to reference books for writing and publishing. We’re talking about roughly 1200 books here – although it has been boosted by about another 200 in recent weeks as I’ve struggled with the swings through depression and mania. So this has taken some time.
I was a little perturbed when I reached the ‘transfer the books from Calibre to Moon Reader’ because a lot of my changed metadata got lost in translation. Normally, al things being equal, I would have thought this through more clearly, but being the way I am… I didn’t. I proceeded to ‘tweak’ the roughly 1200 books until they were the way I wanted them in Moon Reader. Which took about a week – day and night – while I’ve struggled with rampant insomnia..
Which was about the time I realized that perhaps I should have thought harder about this and put the books onto my SD card, rather than the main memory on my tablet, which is kind of full..
‘No problem’, I thought. ‘I’ll just transfer all the book files to the SD card, and we’ll be all good. It’ll take a couple of minutes.’
Nope.
Moon Reader lost the plot, I lost the plot, and I decided to start all over again because I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. (I’m nothing if not determined when I’m manic. See? There’s a bright spot.)
So I began again, and noticed that when I returned the books from Calibre to Moon Reader, SOME (and I’m talking a minimal amount) of the books now had the right metadata,. Hmmm. Have no idea how that happened. Proceed to ensure all the book records are now safely stored on the SD card, and proceed with reorganizing all the books in Moon Reader. Again. Which has taken about another week, day and night. (I’m nothing if not persistent when things get in my head. See? Another bright spot.)
Got all the books nicely organized, then decided I might like to have a copy of them on my phone as well. (You know, for those emergencies when I don’t have my tablet and urgently need to read a book on a specific subject.) Don’t laugh. It could happen.
Go to put them on my phone, and realize I’ve got a problem, because now I have them transferred onto my phone… they all need reorganizing again. ‘No problems,’ I think. ‘I’ll just back up from the tablet and restore to the phone.’
It didn’t work. And I screwed up all the files on my phone. And just to make doubly sure I’d screwed up the theory, I managed to bugger them up on the tablet as well. (Don’t ask… this is just a side effect of my Bipolar madness.)
So I’m mooching around on Google, trying to find a solution to this issue (that determination kicks in again, because I’m not good at giving up in these circumstances)… and I come across a little message from some kind soul on one of the forums.
‘Don’t forget that you MUST resave your book files after amending the metadata to make the new metadata overwrite the old’.
Ah-HA!
Set up Calibre to rewrite the files overnight, and after a double dose of bipolar meds, go to bed. And actually sleep, which is such a blessing after weeks of insomnia. (See? Another bright spot!)
This morning, I take my brand spanky new book files, upload them onto Moon Reader… and everything is just about perfect. Everything is there, exactly where I want it to be, other than a few small tweaks to reorder book series which stretch into double figures. I hate them to be out of order, i.e. 1, 10, 2, etc…
And while my tenacity on this particular project has known no bounds… I decided to just upload exactly the same files onto my phone and leave well enough alone.

And in a postscript to those people who are going to come up with some reason why I shouldn’t have bothered, here are my reasons in advance.

1. Yes, I could just forgo the issue and put up with them on Kindle out of order and with incorrect punctuation – but that agitates me no end.
2. Yes, I’m aware that ‘real’ books don’t have the same issues. But they also tend to come in different sizes, and quite often, halfway through a series the publisher changes the ‘scheme’ of the covers, which just shits me to death. So they would drive me just as nuts as ebooks do when they’re ‘wrong’.
3. Yes, I’m nuts. But I think that’s already been well-established. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

And now, at last, I’m off to read a book in peace. And hopefully, get another night of sleep tonight.