Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October 2017

Hello!  A lot of behind-the-scenes action going on.
First and foremost, on October 2nd we welcomed our little 9lb pumpkin Enzo.  He's our little zen baby, and he brings this peaceful aura wherever he goes....though of course, that simply may be the contrast of newborn baby vs. our tornado of a toddler.

Before Enzo was born, I was able to get the Centernia sequel into the hands of the beta readers.  I've received some of the feedback already, and overall I'm really pleased with what people have to say. There are minor adjustments to be made, but overall it sounds like the story had its intended impact and readers were happy.

While waiting for feedback, I've taken on other overdue projects.  Most notably, I wrapped up a new redesign for my art portfolio site, www.RoseCatherine.com

Now that the book is approaching release, I can switch my focus from writing back to art, including Centernia art.

Kaity Cosette 2014 vs 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

September 2017

Misa fanart from Ling Tang

The second book in the Centernia series is finally in the hands of beta readers!  The book was sent out to fourteen readers earlier afternoon.  They have until October 31st to provide their feedback.

I went blog silent for a few months because I knew I had to put all focus the book. If I didn't finish it before my son's arrival, I was looking at another year delay, and I refused to accept that! After I receive all the feedback, I'll tweak parts of the story then send the book to my editor.  There's a strong possibility that we will be having a pre-order, if not launch, for the holiday season.

My hours have been scarce between working part time and chasing my daughter. Almost every single toddler nap for the past year has been dedicated writing time.

As of this moment, I'm still awaiting my son and my tumor treatment, but with a lot less stress!!! Hah hah....it's just giving birth followed by brain surgery.  Somehow finishing this book was a little more monumental.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

So I have a brain tumor....

My Tumor

This is a very odd post that seems more like the stuff of fiction than fact.  I have a tumor growing out of my 8th cranial nerve, pressing on my brainstem.  Also, because that isn't exciting enough, I'm pregnant with my second child.

The Path to Diagnosis

I think it's important to share this story.  A vestibular schwannoma is a tumor that is apparently growing in popularity, despite Google classifying it as "very rare".  Symptoms can be confused for other things, such as anxiety and migraines.

My first clue something was amiss was in July of 2016.  The right corner of my mouth felt wet and cold, even though it wasn't.  The odd wet feeling came and went over the course of a week, then vanished.  I didn't see a doctor since it went away on its own.

A month later, I was vacationing and enjoying some amazing coastal shellfish.  The right side of my tongue started going numb and I was convinced I developed a shellfish allergy.  For the next several months I avoided shellfish.

In January, I found out I was pregnant with my second child.  I was very happy, until the weird mouth feeling came back accompanied by cold sensations on the right side of my face.  I saw my GP, who basically said, 'I don't have any idea what's wrong with you, but I'll give you a referral to a neurologist'.  While waiting for the neurology appointment, I developed subtle tinnitus in my right ear.

The initial neurologist I saw was terrible.  He insisted I didn't have MS repeatedly, even though I never asked about MS.   He said I couldn't have a tumor because the symptoms wouldn't have faded.  He said if I wasn't pregnant, I could have an MRI immediately, but since I was, I had to wait until after I delivered in September, (once again, this was January).  He proceeded to rattle of a long list of causes ranging from vitamin D deficiency, hormones or a dental issue.  Then he stated nothing was really wrong with me because I only had one symptom.  My MRI was scheduled for October and I was sent on my way.

Not happy with this lack of diagnosis, I explained my concerns to my midwife at my appointment a few weeks later.  I was told I could absolutely have an MRI, and it was one of the safest scans you could do during pregnancy, (without contrast of course).  She referred me to a perinatal specialist and also cleared me for a dental xray.  I had my dental xray, which showed nothing wrong.  I met with the perinatal specialist who referred me to a neurologist.  I waited another week and a half.

The second neurologist thought my symptoms warranted investigation and scheduled me for an MRI. Two weeks later, it was revealed I had an acoustic neuroma/vestibular schwannoma.  Growing out of my acoustic nerve, it's about the dimensions of a large grape.  Though the tumor itself is usually benign, the location is very nasty, placing it alongside of the vestibular nerve, the trigeminal nerve, and next to the brain.  As you can see from the MRI, mine is encroaching on my brainstem.  Being pregnant, my treatment is delayed, though I'm under close monitoring.

What can fans do to help?

I don't need any sort of fundraiser to pay for treatment.  What I really need is patience from fans.  I know it's not atypical to wait two years for a sequel, but it's been hard on me because I really want to tell you the rest of the story.  The first book was 115,000 words, this one is already pushing 170,000, and I can't wait to share the story.

I have already received kind messages about Centernia. I appreciate the emails, comments, and fan art.  It means a lot to me!  If you would like to do something more active to help, take the time to write a review on Goodreads, Amazon or any other outlet that reviews books.  These reviews help Centernia grow!!!

If you happen to be a convention dealer or artist and would like to help sell Centernia, please contact me.  I won't be able to do as many shows in the next year.

I'm editing every day.  At the moment, I'm grateful that my symptoms are very mild.  I'm much more fearful of my treatment, which can cause deafness, facial paralysis, vertigo and balance issues.  I'm really, really, trying to finish this book before I get to that.  I also could be lucky and have minimal side effects.  We don't know if the tumor will grow in the next several months and how difficult it may be to treat.    I'm going to remain optimistic, simply because being miserable really won't help anyone.  I appreciate the everyone's concern and understanding. :-)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tora Con Panel: World Building

This weekend I had the honor of delivering a panel at Tora Con on World Building and Indie Publication.

During the lecture, I spoke on the process I use to create a world.  As promised, here is the checklist of elements a creator needs to be aware of when building a believable fantasy universe.  By establishing and understanding these components, you'll ensure that your reader is immersed.

Social World

  • Economy & Trade
  • Tradition and Superstition
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • History
  • Prejudice
  • Distribution of Wealth

Physical World

  • Technology
  • Housing
  • Environment
  • Creatures
  • Everyday Annoyances
  • Hazards

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Centernia Q & A: Characters and Editors

Teren and Savina, forever apart but always together

Q and A: Questions from email and conventions

1. Who are your favorite characters?

I love all of my dysfunctional children, making it difficult to select a single favorite. Each character has evolved over the years, revealing their flaws and hidden strengths.  If really pressed, I would select the two characters who have never changed, Teren and Savina.

Savina has always been an arrogant antagonist, loyal to Aurumice, a pain in Jessi's side, and forever in love with Teren.  An outsider to the castle, she was brought to the castle under what was supposed to be a temporary arrangement. She has a rich Galbrian accent and constantly reminiscences of her childhood on the sea.

Teren has remained the cold and distant gentleman.  He is happy to share a bed with Savina, but never believes that she truly loves him.   In earlier drafts of Centernia, his mage strength was tied to his skills with a violin.  He could entrance a crowd by playing an aria. In later drafts, his emphatic abilities emerged.  With empathy and the ability to change a person's emotions, a greater loneliness emerged in Teren. He could see and feel love all around him, but questioned the sincerity of emotions anyone projected towards him.

2. How did you find an editor?

Centernia was to many different publishers in its inception in the late 90s.  Not surprisingly, it was rejected. In retrospect, it was a well-deserved rejection because the story was shallow, barely better than a cheap Disney knock-off.  There was no grit, no darkness and depth. The government of Trabalis was lovely.  The paradoxical Holy Circus did not exist.  Jessica lived a middle-class lifestyle with happily married parents. The castle was beautiful and pristine.  Nico was boring. It was just garbage. Ugh.  As I grew older, the story became darker and more unique.

I started doing conventions in 2013, only selling artwork. When I was approached about a table at NYCC for October 2014, I was psyched. I wanted to sell more than fan art.  I hired two editors, one prior to NYCC and one after, (more about those editions here).  I paid for the editors with all of my profits from selling art the previous year.

Years ago, I would have been uncomfortable with the idea of hiring someone to proofread my work (even though I knew it needed it), but I had impostor-syndrome.  'I'm not a real writer, I'm crazy to spend money on a real editor'.  I'm grateful that in my work as a graphic designer, I had already been hiring copy editors for client projects.  Editors were worth every penny.

I had checklists and spreadsheets on Return to the Castle, but the sequel has a more robust checklist. My two biggest sins the last time around were commas and word repetition, failures I'm not too eager to repeat.

I'm reviewing every single chapter and passing through each category separately for a total of 23 readings of teach chapter.  For those of you interested in editing your own works, here is the first column of the editing spreadsheet. :-)

Spell Check
1st editing
Pronoun reduction
'The' check (reducing the word the)
First word check (adding variation)
First word paragraph check (adding variation)
Repetition check
Comma usage check
Second Spell Check
Read Aloud
Character Voices
Day Time
New character intro description
Character twitches
Definition of unusual terms
Telling vs showing check
Conflict level
Action or Passive?
Reveal intensity
Viewpoint character?
Characters present
Time since previous chapter