I am currently working on the 3rd draft of the final book in the series. This book is probably bigger than both Fault and Fuse combined, and also the biggest book I’ve ever written. This as been a big undertaking for me as I try to refine my editing process. Right now, my editing process looks something like this…
First draft = word vomit.
Second draft = Turning the word vomit into legible writing so others don’t think I’m insane.
Third draft = Fix all the big story issues (this probably takes the longest).
Forth draft = Grammar and sentence structure fixes. Nope. Nevermind. This one definitely takes the longest.
Fifth draft = Audio. I either read it out loud or let Microsoft Word’s lovely robotic drone read it to me.
Sixth and final is just the polish.
My goal is to finish the 3rd draft by the end of the month and finish the 4th before March. The Audio draft doesn’t take long and is mostly for typos that escaped me… like sever and severe. It happens. Forgive me.
And then I will set the project aside for a week or two while I pull out my very first published novel and dive back into a different apocalyptic world.
The Phoenix Curse
I am very eager to move back into the TPC universe. Part of this republication will mean all the old paperback covers will be taken down and new ISBNs will be assigned. This means new titles, new covers, and my author name will be Debra Rose instead of D.R. Johnson. Since the old covers will be unavailable forever after that, I’ve had quite a few sales on my old paperbacks this month. In fact, the biggest I’ve seen in a long time. I’m really blown away, so thank you to those that have purchased the books that will soon be out of print. I almost feel bad because nothing on the inside will be changing as this is just a cover update, but thank you, nonetheless.
I hope to have the first reprints done and available sometime in March, but this might be a very tight deadline. However, as soon as I have the last book of The Walk finished, I’ll be dedicating all my time to TPC and getting Westgate released as fast as possible.
Here we go! Fuse, book two of The Walk is now live on Amazon in eBook format. I was hoping to have the Barnes & Noble and Apple Books link, but the distribution process was slowed down due to the holidays. I will get those links updated as soon as they are available.
For now, my Amazon readers can get started on the book right away!
I am still waiting for distribution to reach Google Books, but both books should be available by the end of the month (fingers crossed!).
I’m currently working on the formatting of the paperback version of Fuse and should have it finished this week. I will also have to tweak the cover, as it was sized for Fault, and Fuse is a slightly longer book.
Also, as a back burner project, I am working on a hardback edition for each book. This will not be available anywhere to buy except from my own store (which I have yet to launch) and is more a collector item. As you can imagine, this is a low priority at the moment, so if anyone has a particular interest in seeing them right away, please send an email to email@example.com.
Last, we are expecting the audio book for Fuse to be finished around July. Again, very excited about the audiobooks!
This week, I’ll be dedicating most of my time to formatting and getting Fuse into distribution everywhere, but by next week, I should be full swing back into editing of the last and final book of The Walk.
I’m so glad to report that I have been extremely busy and productive since my last update. I’ve been learning new software to help with book formatting, both for eBook and print, and it has been a long, somewhat frustrating journey. This knowledge will help when I begin my reformatting and editing journey for The Phoenix Curse, because I do plan on a re-design of all the books currently published.
On my formatting journey, I first tried Kindle Create. It’s a nice, easy to learn program, but it’s very restrictive. It doesn’t offer much in the way of options or personalizing an eBook, but it’s convenient to use. The file type it exports to is KPF, which supposedly will convert straight to print book in the Kindle upload. I didn’t make it that far. The print book is so incorrectly formatted with no option given to the user to change it, it makes Kindle Create unusable. My next stop at Reedsy resulted in the same.
I then moved on to Scribus, which is a free typesetting program for print books. The program was absolutely baffling to me when I first opened it, so I spent a few days watching YouTube videos to learn how to use it. Not only did I learn that everyone, and I mean everyone, pronounces Scribus differently, I also found out Scribus would give me the freedom to create a print book the way I wanted to, but it would take time. All good things take time, so I got to work.
I learned how to set up my Master Pages and chapter headers just how I wanted them. I formatted my book with proper front and back matter, as well as made sure the beginning of the chapters printed on the proper page (something that Kindle Create and Reedsy lacked.) Things were starting to look promising when Scribus shut down on me unexpectedly.
Hrm… Not good.
I booted up and was able to continue my work, but the unexpected shut down was disheartening. I finally finished the chapter headers so the Table of Contents (TOC) could be generated when I realized… Hey, where did all my italics go? Again, not good. This would slow me down considerably, but it was still possible to go back and add in all the italics, even though it would be incredibly time-consuming. Not a deal breaker. Thankfully, I decided to figure out how to create the TOC, which…. corrupted my file and shut down Scribus. Ehh…
I tried a few times with the same result, so I completely wiped the file and started from scratch. I only edited a few chapter headers to capture in the TOC creation this time and immediately tested it out. No dice. File corrupted and Scribus shut down.
After two days of lost work, my search continued for a more reliable program. That’s when I discovered Affinity Publisher. It’s a paid program, but they offer a 7 day trial with COMPLETE access. So wonderful. Since I had picked up the basics of how to typeset while watching Scribus videos, I only had to watch one quick vid for Affinity before jumping right in. This time, the first thing I checked when I pulled my text over was the italics. They were there! Then I checked the TOC. It compiled beautifully. I was good to go to finish creating my first proof.
Of course there were some learning opportunities along the way, but I ended up with an awesome proof in my hands a week later. I purchased Affinity and now plan to use it to create all my print books.
The downside to Affinity is that it currently only supports PDF exporting, which doesn’t result in a nice, re-flowable text eBook. My search for an eBook formatter continued, because Kindle Create and Reedsy still didn’t offer the amount of freedom I wanted to create my eBook.
This time, I found Jutoh. This program gives you unrestricted access to their base program, although anything that’s exported will have a watermark as the first line. That was fair. If the program could produce the results I wanted, I didn’t mind paying for the cost to the developers.
First time out of the gate, I was able to create an ebook with all my personalized fonts that closely matched the print version. Being able to embed these fonts into the eBook for them to show up in kindle nearly sold me immediately. The TOC compiled well, and the book looked beautiful. Then I got to the last chapter and…. No italics!
So I started over again, this time opening the document as the project instead of a cut and paste. There were some issues with removing the ad hoc styles when doing it this way, but I was able to preserve my italics. Woo Hoo! I finished creating the eBook yesterday, and it looks splendid. I now have both my print and eBook files formatted and ready to go for book one.
I’m currently receiving chapters back from my editor for book two.
I’ve started the rewrites and editing for book three.
Guys. We’re getting close. I can sense a release update coming REAL SOON. So… Is everyone ready to take a Walk?
For the past month, I’ve been struggling to find what posting schedule would be best for the blog. Twice a month? Once a month? I’m leaning toward once a month since I can’t really give any more comments on the writing process except “still editing!”
Turns out that my original schedule was almost met. I did finish the 3rd draft of my book by the end of September, and I have about 10 chapters printed and ready for my editor as soon as he’s able to take them. I just ran into a few rewrites that slowed me down, but in the end will make for a better book. I’ll definitely have all the chapters to my editor by the end of this week.
Then it’ll be time for the cover. I’m looking forward to that as a different way to stretch my creative muscles.
So, now let’s get back to the story of Not so Fun and Interesting Things that Happen to Debra. After the fire, the insurance company took care of us really well. One company came in and took all our hard textiles that could be saved to ‘de-smoke’ them and put them in storage. Another company took all the electronics to test them and save what they could. A third company took all our soft textiles, (clothes, shoes, purses) to dry-clean. Spoiler alert, that smoke smell DOES NOT come out easily. I’m talking washing and rewashing clothes even after we got them back from the soft textile company.
But for everything they could save, there were a lot of items they couldn’t. They wrote off everything in the master bedroom immediately, and other than the soft textile company that went in for the clothes, nothing else was pulled out of there. We had a lot of keepsakes, and some were salvageable, although hard to get to. I did find all my highschool yearbooks and picture albums, but I had to dig through chunks of sheetrock that had caved in from the ceiling. I’ll also note here that the night of the fire, my brother-in-law pulled out all our gaming PCs (my husband’s, my daughter’s, and mine) along with the monitors. Because they were off during the time of the lightning strike, they were fine.
However, we had no place to put this stuff except in our car. Remember my shoulder injury that was slowly getting better? Well, that was about to change. The loading and unloading of all our luggage and computers into hotel rooms, not to mention the digging through debris, killed any progress my shoulder had made from the first steroid shot. It got worse very quickly. By July, I couldn’t raise my arm level out to the side, let alone try to lift it over my head. I couldn’t reach around behind me to put a belt on, and taking off shirts was a struggle. It wasn’t that there was just pain stomping me (and there was a lot of pain), but the muscles in my shoulder had ceased up and blocked any movement.
Back to the doctor I went, and I finally got transferred to a specialist. He gave me another steroid shot and ordered an MRI.
Guys. I’m claustrophobic. This was horrible. I spent the entire time in the machine trying not to panic. My efforts were not in vain because they got some good images. The results were a frayed rotator cuff and shoulder bursitis. All because I tried to carry in too many groceries?
People. Take care of yourself.
The hours I spent in physical therapy were brutal and am pretty sure my therapist was Satan himself, who feeds off other’s tears and pain. However, I learned the right exercises to do to help loosen up my shoulder, although I think the steroid shot was doing most of the work. I no longer see the therapist from hell and have nearly full range of motion back, if not the strength. Daily stretches and workouts with a 1lb weight are helping. I’ve learned to compensate for the injury, so now it only really affects me at night when I’m sleeping. It’s hard to find a comfortable position when your arm refuses to move a certain way. I’m not fully conquered, but I hope some day to get there.
As for reading, I’m currently working my way through The Obsidian Trilogy by James Mallory and Mercedes Lackey. Maybe once I’m finished, I can get a good old-fashioned review up. I do love high fantasy with complex magical systems. Also, this series gets bonus points for talking unicorns.
As for shows, I’m once again re-watching Avatar: The Last Airbender for the 10th time, and eagerly awaiting the season finale of The Boys this Friday. This season has been crazy beyond words, but I’m hooked. If you’ve waited to binge it all at once, (and really, why did Amazon do that?) it’s almost time! Can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts on this season.
Look for my next post around the first of November. I’m getting back into the flow of this blogging thing again and should be able to stick to this schedule. I hope to have more writing news for you then! For now, Happy Reading!
This is the post I don’t want to write. If I think about it, it seems like a dream, something surreal, like I’m an outsider looking in at the events of my life, but if I look at the pictures, everything comes back full force. I won’t be posting many pictures of what happened.
On May 31st, my husband and kids left for a road trip to Florida. On June 1st at about 8pm, there were storms rolling through Dallas, and our house was struck by lightning and caught fire while we were 18 hours away by car.
The feeling of helplessness was immense. Thankfully, we had a house-sitter who was there at the time of the strike, and 911 was called immediately. Also, my brother-in-law and neighbor were there to help out. At the time, I didn’t care about our material things. I figured they were lost. I was only worried about our three cats. The house-sitter wasn’t able to find any of them before the smoke grew too thick.
The strike hit over the master bedroom where the fire burned away the ceiling and spread through the attic. This was normally where the cats would go if they were scared. Without that sanctuary, the firemen found my old man right away. For all his 11 years, Ben has always been a friendly cat, so he didn’t hide. However, this experience has changed him and he’s very shy now. We keep a large dog kennel outside for the neighborhood stray cat, and they were able to get that set up to keep him safe. Our neighbor offered to keep him until we made it home.
Once the fire was out and they declared the house safe to enter again, the neighbors and our house-sitter found Caly that night. My neighbor packed her up with Ben and took them to her house. Caly is short for Calypso, because she’s a pirate (one eye is missing). She also has asthma, and although our neighbor tried, Caly wouldn’t take her pill the whole time we were gone. The smoke also did some damage to her lungs, and she was having asthma attacks daily for a while. The vet did a full blood workup on her and recommended an inhaler, which is the same as mine, but have you ever tried to give a cat a puff on an inhaler? I think the stress on her was enough to induce another attack. Caly has since recovered and is back to her normal routine with only a few attacks when it’s rainy outside.
That night, our neighbor helped us locate a contractor who secured the roof, as there were more storms coming in. The contractor ended up doing exceptional work for us to help rebuild the house. We spoke with him, the fire marshal, and our insurance agent, who all said to just stay in Florida. Our rooms were already paid for, and if we went home, we would just be staying in a hotel, anyway. There wasn’t anything to come back to. Except for one thing. They never found Inigo, my daughter’s cat.
My daughter found Inigo when he was 6 weeks old. That’s too young for a kitten to be away from his mother, but somehow he got into the storage room at the fast-food restaurant she worked at. She said her co-workers went crazy and thought he was a rat, but she had experience with cats and was able to catch him. My daughter promised she would take care of him, pay vet bills, and then help find him a home when he was ready. However, after caring for him in her room for two weeks before we introduced him to the other cats, the option to find him a home disappeared. Inigo had adopted her.
Whatever happened in his first 6 weeks (or that day in the storage room) traumatized Inigo. He has always feared everyone except for us and hides as soon as someone opens the front door. He grew to be a huge cat, around 20lbs of muscle, teeth, and claws, so I warned the contractor that if he found him, he might be in for a fight. The contractor’s team was working in our house those days before we made it back, clearing away debris (the ceiling had caved in all over the house from the water damage) and sitting up huge fans to help dry out the house so they could save what they could and prevent mold from growing. The fans ran on generators and were LOUD. I gave people an idea of where to look for Inigo in the house, but he was probably terrified and didn’t want to be found.
We did stay a few nights in Florida but ended up coming home early. Everyone told us to stay and enjoy what we could of our vacation, but how could we? The good thing was we had so much time scheduled off work, we could use it to help salvage some things and deal with insurance and contractors. When we made it home, my daughter went into the house first while we went to the neighbors, who had also offered to let us stay there until the insurance could get our hotel set up. We figured if Inigo was going to come out, it would only be for her. I gave her a few minutes before going in to check on her, but found her crying in what was left of our living room. She couldn’t find him.
Walking into the house was horrible. It stank. It smelled of rotting carpet and smoke. Most of everything we lost was due to either water damage or the smell of smoke seeping into everything. Not much of our actual possessions burned due to the fire being contained in the attic, but we still lost all our electronics and furniture. We were able to wash and save a lot of our clothes, and most of the hard objects in the front of the house survived. The fans did not stop the mold from growing on our couches or mattresses, not that the smoke smell would ever fade from them. That is not something you want to be reminded of.
We all came in after my daughter’s first search, and all of us looked for Inigo. We couldn’t find him or hear any meows over the sound of the fans. There were windows and doors left open throughout the house to let it air out, and we eventually figured he must have escaped. It was midafternoon and horribly hot, so we went back to my neighbors to get settled in.
Once it cooled off and my daughter had calmed down some, we decided to walk through the neighborhood to see if we could spot Inigo. That walk led us to the back of the house. Even though I didn’t have my keys on me, I tried the backdoor and the contractors had left it unlocked. I decided we might as well sweep the house one last time. We looked everywhere. While I was trying to find a safe way into the attic, thinking he could have gotten up there from all the many holes, I heard my daughter yelling from the master bedroom over the sound of the fans. She had finally found him, hiding underneath the nightstand, at ground zero, in a place that he shouldn’t have been able to fit.
Inigo seemed fine, although it was obvious he had lost some weight. I think once he got under the nightstand, he never moved for days. I dragged the kennel to the master bedroom and ignored the pain in my shoulder. My arm was still in quite a bit of pain and carrying the kennel over the fans and debris that blocked the hallway caused more damage. It didn’t matter, though. We needed to get Inigo out and to a safe place.
I’ve never seen our cats so happy to see us. The neighbor said Ben hadn’t come out from under the bed the whole time, but he came out as soon as he heard us. You could see the joy and relief in their eyes and the way they wouldn’t leave our sides. Even Inigo, who generally only gets close with my daughter, was sleeping in bed with us. All of us were safe now, and we would work out the rest later.
I have a lot left to write on what happened, but this post has stretched long enough as is. I knew it would. It’s a lot of story to tell. Some things that happened were unbelievable, and I’m not sure how much detail I want to get into, but that will be for another time.
For now, it’s back to editing. I’ve gotten a lot of work done these past two weeks, and I’m very pleased with the progress. If it all continues to go smoothly, I’ll be able to start sending chapters to my editor by the end of this week. My hope is to have the final draft, or at least close to it, completed by the end of the month. By then, I should be able to release a few details about the book(s) that will be coming soon.
That’s right. Everything that I started working toward on that fateful day in September two years ago has finally come to pass as of midnight last night. No more papers, no more modules, no more discussion posts, and no more fucking replies. It’s done, boys. I’m done. I wasn’t stopped by chronic migraines or fibroids, or a frayed rotator cuff, or even wild dogs and lightning strikes. It is done.
And today, the story continues.
So where did I leave off? Oh yeah. Chronic migraines and fibroids. So, real quick about these stupid migraines and the medication that allows me to actually function. It’s called topirmate. Side effects may include “mental problems such as confusion, slowed thinking, trouble concentrating or paying attention, nervousness, memory problems, or speech/language problems” (WebMD, 2020). Did I just… ? Yes, I did, but anyway. This means it’s very hard for me to write or spell a coherent sentence. Harder to have a conversation with, but I make it through. I can normally save everything in editing, so let’s keep this dream alive, shall we? Dreamland’s waiting.
My next roadblock hit me sometime in February 2019. This one is interesting because it turned out to be quite painful and debilitating and is still lingering today, yet I have no clue how it happened. I’ve narrowed it down to maybe this being the culprit; apparently I jacked up my right shoulder trying to be She-Ra while carrying in too many groceries at once. I don’t have the power, guys. It didn’t hurt right away, and it was a slow, dull ache that came on over time that just steadily got worse. By April, I begin to notice that I wouldn’t raise my arm straight above my head because it hurt, and after that I favored it more and more, keeping it close to my body so it could ‘heal’. Spoiler alert, this was the wrong thing to do.
I believe it was May when I finally made it in to see a doctor in my general practice. I still had some use of my arm by then, although I couldn’t raise it over my head at that time. My general was too busy to see me, but the doc I did see was great, and she gave me a steroid shot and had an idea that the muscles were ceasing up and inflamed, which was halting the movement. She gave me a few exercises to do that would help get my mobility back. It was working. The family and I had a vacation coming up in June we were really looking forward to, and I was happy that my arm was decently working again. We would leave out May 31st on a road trip to Florida.
June 1st would bring about something that I never thought would happen to us in a million years, and the worst part of my journey. That will be a story for its own post.
Today, though… Today, I write. Without anything holding me back any more, I’m diving in and getting this book ready for you as fast as I can. It’s time.
I guess it’s time for another post. Still hard to get back into the swing of things, so bear with me. It’s certainly a struggle. I’ll take the time to say that whatever you’re out there struggling with, keep at it. I’m with you. I’m here to help you put that block behind you and keep going. Life sucks right now and has the potential to get a lot worse before it gets better, so let’s stay in this together.
As stated in my previous post, the rocks that started rolling downhill on top of me started in late December 2017 went I spent the night in the ER. They were the first signs of the avalanche waiting to come but minor in the grand scheme of things and also something I had spoken about before on my blog. I had spent the week with a terrible headache and couldn’t stop throwing up. Not only was it horrible, but it was terrifying. I was able to get the cat scan that was long overdue and in January 2018 was finally diagnosed with chronic migraines.
Although this was something I had been dealing with for a while, it gave a name to the pain and a pathway to control. I began seeing a neurologist, and although we went through a lot of trial and error at first, we finally landed on some medication that has dampened the migraines’ effects and stopped most all together. Huge win here.
To put it mildly and short, the fibroid they found was benign, thankfully. However, it was the size of a tennis ball and nearly as round. I don’t want to give too much detail, but there was some damage caused, and I had to have a hysterectomy. I had to make the decision to delay my return to college and bump out the course I had signed up for or try to push through the course work during my surgery and downtime. I chose the latter and finished the course with an A. The first step in that journey was taken.
So 2018 didn’t get kicked off to a great start, but I still decided to go back to school. I had to find something flexible since I was still working a 40-hour week with an hour commute, so online was the only option. I researched, chose the school, situated my finances, and enrolled. That in itself was a chore, but I was set to start in September 2018. My yearly wellness check was in August, only a few weeks before my start date. That was when the real avalanche started.
I’ll save the events of 2019 for a later post. I know we’re still playing catchup here, but here’s a flash forward at what I’m currently reading. The Black Prism by Brent Weeks.
It’s been so long, where do I even start? I guess by saying this post has been in my mind for some time as I’ve known what I’ve wanted to say, but when to say it? I even hinted at a few things before my grand disappearing act in 2018, but after the silence had lingered for so long, it was easier to let it be than try to break it before I was ready. Now the question is, am I ready?
But sometimes life is there to force our hand whether we want it or not, and at least this time I’m glad for it.
I’d like to say that over my nearly two years of radio silence that all I’ve been up to is work and family, that the dreaded 9 to 5 has just ate away at me, and it’s all I can do to keep up with that and family. Such has not been the case. Oh lordy, has that not been the case. I have so much to tell you. So much so that this story will require multiple blog postings and maybe a glass or two of wine. At the very least, you may want to get your popcorn ready for some later postings, but for now, I’ll start you off lite.
Although my last couple of years have been terribly rocky, there is one main culprit that has stolen most of my time. In September 2018, I took my ass back to college. That’s right. I’m finally finishing out my degree. Now, because I have a full-time job, along with some other events that happened between then and now, this has taken a little longer than originally anticipated, but I will graduate this year. I can assure you that after graduation, all of that time spent on school will be back to working on my books.
Now I’ve managed to find some meager time to write and work on my new website here and there, it hasn’t been as much as I’d have liked. Right now, writing is like taking a vacation. Also, since I knew this would be a series of posts, I didn’t want to commit to writing on posts, then end up going weeks, maybe a month before I could find time to get another post down. I feel that the next post might be a bit time consuming. However, there has been another unexpected shift in my schedule that I will get into more later that will hopefully free up a little more time.
It does feel good to be posting again, though. For now, I’ll keep it at this and look forward to getting another post up soon.
Another month of furious pantsing behind me. I’ve done it before without a plan. I’ve done it before with a plan, and every time somewhere in the middle, I’m wondering what the hell I’m doing. Not sure if I’ll ever figure it out, but at least I was able to find the will to keep going. That’s half the fight, right?
Anyway, the story isn’t exactly finished, so work will continue on this novel, but here is where I ask for help. I posted a link at the beginning of NaNo, announcing that I would be posting a chapter a day on Tablo. I also completed that… somehow… because apparently I wanted to torture myself by working on two books this month. Oy, I might be a little bit insane.
Well, posting this was hard. This book has only been seen by my eyes so far. No editing. No beta-reading. Just words of barely more than a first draft. However, that’s what Tablo asked for, and now I have a chance of getting this in front of a publisher, but I need help. They are looking at books based on ‘hits’ and ‘active read time.’ The book has been doing fairly well, better than I had actually expected, so thank you for those that have signed up for Tablo and favorited the work! I see you, you beautiful people!
But I still need more to boost the book into the top percent so it’ll be noticed. If you haven’t already, please check it out, and if you already have an account, please spread the word. Trust me, every little bit helps in a big way! I’ve got my fingers crossed.
So today I’m taking a break. A time to breathe before I dive back into that wonderful sea of stories and words. My goal is another 50k in December to try to finish this up WHILE working on Dreamland – Part Three, and that name may change. I’m looking at rebranding, and TPC will probably be the last books published under my D.R.Johnson pen. Future books will probably be under my extended name instead of just my initials. Deets on that will be posted here, of course, but just a warning of what’s coming!