Time for Some Changes.

This week has been exhausting. Lots of things going on. Lots of decisions being made.

I've been battling to catch up on my writing, following three months of bronchitis at the beginning of the year. The end was in sight. Almost there... One ebook finished. Two finished - and published. One week of a book blog tour and then I'm on the final writing spree.  Just one more...

Then came the September Trifecta of Terror. A month of hell. Two weeks of ear infection, and side effects from yet another course (two this time) of antibiotics (I'm allergic to most these days, so I don't have much option). I picked myself up and continued writing.

September ended with a definite clanger - a double barreled attack. The first was totally unexpected. Regular readers will know how much I love my garden. (Here are the latest pics of the front yard)

I have an organic mixed vege-flower garden and am proud of my bees - my hundreds of bees. I've lived here for twenty-five years, incident free. Until last weekend.

It's been over forty years since I've been stung by a bee and had a reaction (the doctor said it was a very good thing it had been so long. Or else...) Now, technically the bee didn't sting me. As far as we can gather, it most likely brushed up against my coat and dropped its stinger on it. About an hour later I brushed my arm against my jacket when I was at the shops. Yowsers! The pain!

Two staff members came to my aide, not sure what had happened. I grabbed some antihistamines and a cold bottle of water from the shelf and limped home. There was a little trepidation when my lips tingled and my heart fluttered - was it a reaction or just anxiety? The doctor arrived and dosed me up with Prednisolone and strict instructions not to get stung in the near future.

Two days later I still had a lump on my arm (right) and all-over itchiness! Next month I'm off to the specialist to see if an epipen is in my future. I'm still having joint pains, headaches and exhaustion.

The second dredged up my worst fears - electronic failure. I was taking steps to avoid such a disaster and purchased a super-duper external hard drive to save all my writing, art and video work  - in case of a computer demise. On Tuesday I turned on my computer to try to get some writing done. ...
All my research files and some book files were nowhere to be seen - not on my laptop, not on the new external hard drive!

This time the heart palpitations were definitely an anxiety attack.  My Dearheart finally found them and we are now trying to recover them and confirm they are all intact. (It looks promising.) I did lose the pre-formatting I had done for the upcoming paperback, so that will all have to be reconstructed. And all the time, I'm trying to write two blog posts a week.

Now I am retracing my steps, with (hopefully) not more than three or so weeks writing time lost. I have now adjusted the publishing date for the final eBook and paperback, in the Viola Stewart series, to some time in November.

And those changes I mentioned?
I've had to reassess my writing scheduling. It looks like the summer bronchitis (from dust allergies) will be a yearly thing. This was my third year. That means I will lose at least one month (it was almost three this year) of writing time. Right now I am struggling to stay awake. The doctors aren't sure how long this will last. I need to add more 'fudge' time - time to recover from unexpected crises, panic attacks, allergic reactions, and computer betrayals.

I have so many stories that are fighting to get told. I need to focus on writing and publishing those stories. I've had a heart-to-heart with some fellow writers and have decided to cut back on blog posts and concentrate on writing stories.

What does this mean?
Currently I write two blog posts a week: Photo Fridays and a weekly Sunday blog post. I'll be cutting back to one Sunday blog post a month (there may be occasional bonuses depending on how I'm going) and I'll post at least one Photo Friday a month. You can also subscribe to my monthly newsletter for updates, events and sneak peeks of upcoming stories. The time gained will be channeled into writing stories - both short and a new book - for you, Dear Reader.

Photos ©2017 Karen Carlisle. All rights reserved.

Book Blog Tour Stop#3: The Illusioneer

And now for a quick stopover back in Adelaide before heading out for the next leg of the book blog tour - and a bit about my books for those who are reading about me for the first time. I'm currently finishing off the third book in my Victorian steampunk mystery series - The Adventures of Viola Stewart.  You'll find out more about the characters on Friday (Australian Central Standard Time) in my final stopover in this tour.

The Illusioneer & Other Tales: The Adventures of Viola Stewart Journal #3 (paperback collection of all three stories) is the final set of Viola's adventures in this series and is currently scheduled for publication late October. There are three novella-length stories:

  • 'From the Depths' - Viola needs a holiday. But even at the beach, things are afoot.
  • 'Tomorrow, When I Die' - A knock on the door could change everything. It's just a matter of time.
  • 'The Illusioneer' - Seeing is believing. Or is it?

 

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'From the Depths' and 'Tomorrow, When I Die' are currently available as eBooks. 

Find out where to buy your copy.


Here's an exclusive excerpt from: 'The Illusioneer' ©2017 Karen J Carlisle

Chapter 1: Promise

The limelights hissed and flared into life as the audience dribbled into the hall. Boots clacked on the wooden floors. The echoes of voices faded as the hall filled, coalescing into a background murmur.

Viola wove her way through the crowded aisle, around huddled clusters of eager on-lookers jostling for the best seats. She paused, waiting for Henry to catch up - and to avoid catching Lady Calthorpe’s eye. She had been particularly attentive to Viola’s state of affairs since Christmas. Too attentive.

Viola stepped into the shadow of a rotund gentleman, deep in conversation with his friend. She glanced over the man’s shoulder at occupied seats in the front row. Lady Calthorpe would be there - no doubt - keeping watch on the aisle, having secured front row seats for both Viola and Henry next to her and Lord Calthorpe.

Rank had its privilege, and Lady Calthorpe was always offered the prerogative to exercise that privilege. Viola bit her lip. That was unkind; Lady Calthorpe had every right to her privileges. There were few women who would not accept such concessions, nor welcome respect from the male establishment.

Warm fingers wrapped around Viola’s hand. She turned to see Henry’s brilliant blue eyes smiling at her.

“Tell me again, why are we here?” she asked.

“I thought I’d present you with an alternative detectiving challenge. One less perilous than your usual fare.” He winked at her.

Viola sighed. “You know what I think about hypnotists, Henry. Poking around in someone’s subconscious will only lead to no good.” It was a woolly science at best; outright quackery at worst.

“Then, see if you can solve how the trick is done. The Mighty Alessandro is supposed to be the fastest hypnotist in London. His record is twenty subjects at one assembly.” He patted her on the hand. “And it could be fun.”

“Fun?” Viola raised an eyebrow.

Henry nodded in the direction of the front row. “Lady Calthorpe is here.”

Viola turned to face the stage. Lady Calthorpe grinned from under a massive orange bonnet; its feathers jiggled as she waved them forward.

“Doesn’t she know it’s all just an act?”

Henry shook his head. “She’s been talking about it for days. I do hope they ask for volunteers. She would not hesitate to offer up herself as a subject, if given the chance.” His moustache twitched. “Wouldn’t you adore seeing her cluck like a chicken?”

Viola tugged her hand free from his grip. “Henry, don’t be so cruel.” She slapped him on his wrist. “Lady Calthorpe is a very generous woman and is always willing to offer support.” She leaned closer to Henry. “They don’t pick subjects at random; they only use paid volunteers placed amongst the audience. And Lady Calthorpe would never agree to humiliate herself in front of society and friends.”

Henry's moustache drooped. “You can be a stick-in-the-mud, sometimes.”

“I don’t want to encourage them.”

“Them?”

“Charlatans and fraudsters like this Alessandro.”

“Perhaps their methods could be useful. There have been some studies in France. A doctor there has postulated its use to manage patients in the asylum.”

A gaggle of socialites squeezed past them. Viola grabbed her skirt and tucked it behind her.

“He also said hypnotism was a manifestation of hysteria,” whispered Viola.

“Ah.” Henry waved on the socialites’ top-hatted companions.

“And I suppose you believe in fairies as well?” asked Viola.

Henry dropped his gaze.

Lady Calthorpe beckoned them closer and patted the seat next to her. Lord Calthorpe closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Viola and Henry made their way toward the front seats.

“Do we have to…?”

“No,” replied Henry. “But we should. Lady Calthorpe did invite us.”

Viola examined Lady Calthorpe’s enthusiastic face. Her cheeks were blushing and her eyes sparkled. Viola would never hear the end of it if she absconded. She took a deep breath and edged past a tall gentleman standing at the end of the front row of seats. Henry followed her along the row.

Lady Calthorpe jumped to her feet. “Doctor Stewart, you came. And you brought Doctor Collins. Excellent. Do sit.”

Henry leaned forward and shook Lord Calthorpe’s hand. “Congratulations on your appointment as Commander of Windsor Sky Cannon and Armoury. Her Majesty will be in good hands.

Viola nodded, settled into the leather chair and straightened her skirts. She glanced in the direction of the stage. Shadows bobbed up into the light as the stage hands skittered around the front of the stage. One remained at the foot of each light fixture.

The stage curtains twitched. The hall lights dimmed. The drone of the crowd hushed. A crack appeared in the centre of the heavy curtains; its corners lifted and peeled apart to reveal a tall, black-clad man, his face hidden in the shadow of his top hat. He extended his hand toward the audience; his cloak hugged his arm, revealing a brilliant ruby-red lining.

Violin music wafted up from the orchestra pit.

The man stepped forward. The gathered curtains dropped behind him with a soft thud. He lifted his chin and smiled. The stage lights brightened, until they glinted off his cravat pin.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.”

***


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With a Twist of the Nib.

If I have to read that one more time…

Edits. I hates them. But not why you think.

Yes, they take for... ever. Hours scribbling on paper, crossing out words, adding others, checking references. My back burns, my eyes ache and that niggly tickling pain creeps down my leg. (Sciatica sucks.)

I've lost count of how many times I sift through my thesaurus looking for that one word - the perfect one - to describe a character's mood, to show how they feel; stomping down the hallway conjures up a completely different image to inching down the hallway. (In this case: her footsteps padded on the carpet runner...)

But rewrites and edits are one of the most important steps in writing. They can take longer the first draft (depending on the quality of the first draft). Some of my stories have three rewrites; others - such has Tomorrow, When I Die - take up to eight or nine rewrites. It depends on how well the story was planned out, how much research was done (or needed doing), whether the story had taken a left turn and wandered off into uncharted territory or, in my case, how ill I was when scratching out the first draft.

There is nothing more annoying - or disappointing - as reading a story with dangling plot lines, sloppy writing or bad grammar. I've seen whole sentences repeated on occasion. I just don't understand how such stories get published - even by the big publishers. It seems to be an acceptable way of cost-cutting for some. <Insert heavy sigh and enormous sad face here.>

But what's the real reason I hate editing?

When I've read through a story for the umpteenth time, the fun and games seem to lose their gloss. It would be different if I could just enjoy the adventure - but no - I have to examine, judge, decide. I have to keep count of how many times a character has 'raised an eyebrow', whether they are sitting down or standing up and ask myself: 'can she really see that if she's hiding under the desk?'

It gets to a point where the manuscript gets slapped on the table and the house shudders with: "I can't take this any more!"

And that's when I know. It is done. It is time for my editor to check for commas and spelling mistakes. I press send and await her report.

I pour myself a cup of tea, nibble on a piece of chocolate and catch up on that series I missed... but not for long.

There's still one more story to finish. A new story. One last adventure for Viola and her friends. I'll miss them. They've taught me a lot. (The good news is the editing funk is not permanent; when I go back and read the stories next year, it will be all new again.)

Now, where are my notebooks for The Illusioneer?