Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's going on...

**And I said hey eyy eyy eyyyyyyy hey eyyy eyyy I said hey. What's going on?**

Anyone? I just had to look up which band that is. For those who were wondering it's 4 Non Blondes.

Anyway, this is just an update on my tiny little piece of the world. To start with, here's what's going on with Blade's Edge over on JukePop Serials:

Blade's Edge has been having an awesome month over on JukePop. In April it has earned 120 +votes which has more than doubled its total number of +votes since March. Considering that I only added five chapters in April (so up to 16 from 11 in March) that's a whole lot of increased support. In addition, it has gone from being 119th out of all the serials back in March to being 86th overall (the overall total number of novels on JukePop is estimated to be over 600). On top of all of that, it has also been chosen as an "Editor's Pick." I'm not sure what the duration for the editor's picks are, but I get the impression they change every 2-4 weeks. So, all in all a banner month. If it manages to stay in the top 30 for the month through midnight tonight (which seems likely, but is by no means assured) then it will officially become a JP30 novel which should be a huge help for gaining readership, and might even earn me a tiny bit of cash. Yay!

My sincerest thanks to everyone who has taken out of their lives to read and support Blade's Edge. Increasing my readership at this juncture will be huge for all of my subsequent novels, and on a website like JukePop more readership begets more readership so your support is hugely helpful towards me making this writing career a thing. Thank you!

A behind the scenes note for Blade's Edge fans: The next chapter you read will be the first Chapter of Part Three. This means that I need some time to make a lot of continuity edits across the whole third part to make sure that the story doesn't take any wonky turns. We also have guests visiting through the weekend so I predict that the next chapter will arrive between Wednesday and Friday of next week. Sorry for the delay, but it's important to me to provide quality writing and what stands for Part Three from the first draft needs a lot of work. Thanks for your patience and understanding!

In non-Blade's Edge but still writing related news: The project that I started for CampNaNoWriMo this month has sat sadly neglected due to a number of reasons (keeping on top of my Blade's Edge chapters, working on my final revision of Gwendamned, actually doing my full time job). However, fear not, for it has acquired a happy future: It is to become a series of novellas that will be my first foray into self publishing! I am taking a course on series writing that requires writing to a deadline (the way I work best) and does not require, but gives perks to, authors who choose to self publish that series during the course. I am very excited about this, and I look forward to telling everyone more about it as the project moves forward.

My final revision of Gwendamned needs to take top priority for a bit, so I think I'm going to make it top priority for the next few weeks. It's difficult balance between current projects, new projects and actually finalizing this older project. Which reminds me, I should really go work on Gwendamned instead of this blog post...

Well, I will leave you with a picture:

For anyone who has ever asked me where I get my ideas: Please note that I spend a lot of time in some of the worlds most beautiful places. :-)

I had a couple of completely non-writing related notes to add to this post, but I think it's long enough. More tomorrow!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A New Chapter and What I Hate About Borders...

Chapter 16 (Part Two: Chapter 9) of Blade's Edge is up and ready to read over at JukePop Serials. Still hanging in the top 30 for the month over there (sitting at number 30 right now) so it's an excellent time to read and +vote the newest chapter.

In other news: you will all be happy to hear that I have received a clean background check from Spain and am consequently one step closer to being able to submit my application to Canadian immigration. (I know you were all worried about that one.)

I'm still waiting on my background checks from Japan and the US. For those that were wondering, remember that impromptu trip to LA that I took back in March?

(The trip that led to this awesome picture...)

That was for the SOLE purpose of going to the Japanese consulate which insisted on seeing me IN PERSON in order to file the paperwork for my background check. Which, after driving eight hours in each direction just to get my butt to LA to hand over in person, takes TWO FREAKING MONTHS to process.

Sometimes I hate bureaucracy so much I want to scream.

Ahem.

At least we had wonderful friends who were willing to put us up (and kept putting us up/putting up with us after our car broke down and our departure was delayed by a number of days). So we made the most of it, drove up the coast a bit, and enjoyed the hell out of our involuntary visit. (We just felt really bad for abandoning Corey's parents who had come to visit us for a week and leaving them to their own devices for the majority of their stay.)

Spain was much simpler, but still gets bonus points for the following ridiculousness: They will allow you to apply for your background check entirely via mail (thank you reasonable human beings) with a notarized copy of your passport and the proper paperwork. No worries. Also, they have a very reasonable fee (thank you 3.64 euros). However, the only way you can pay the fee is to find a bank branch that processes Spanish tax forms (nonexistent in Sedona) or to do a wire transfer straight to their account. Ok, that's annoying but not too bad... Until you realize that your bank charges you $35 to wire funds internationally. So, you wind up paying $35 just to wire 3.64 euros to Spain. (For a tidy total of about $40 US.) 

Luckily, the US only requires a fingerprint card with my personal info and a $18 fee, so that's not too bad. Still waiting to get that back though.

I suppose it's my fault for living in so many countries as an adult.

So, once I get back all of three background checks I can then SUBMIT my paperwork to Canada (along with a giant hunk of money). Which then starts a months long waiting game while they first approve my husband as an eligible sponsor and then me as a reputable applicant for permanent residence. 

All of this so that I can continue living with my husband in his country of origin. Don't get me wrong, we had to do it for Corey to move to the US too, we just lucked out and had an expedited process because we applied through the US consulate in Tokyo. But I think it's equally lame that he had to go through all of that in order to move here. Why does it have to be such a pain in the ass for us to live and work in the same country even now that we're married?

Oh well. Many people have it much worse; Immigration from other countries can be even more of a trial. And when it comes down to it, we are so fortunate in so many ways that complaining is downright silly. 

So, big picture: my life is wonderful and I have absolutely nothing to complain about. Teeny tiny temporary picture: wah, wah, moving to another country can be a pain in the ass. 

Someone get me a violin.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nostalgia, a New Chapter, and One or Two Stats...

Well, let's get the important part out of the way. I know you're anxious to read it, so here's Blade's Edge Chapter 15 (Part Two: Chapter 8) Enjoy!

For those who love stats: Blade's Edge is still holding at #24 for the month of April and #94 overall over on Jukepop. Woot! Thank you dear readers, for making that happen!

In other news, thinking about Japan (as I often do while revising/rewriting Blade's Edge as it is loosely inspired by feudal Japan) makes me think of the amazing adventures that Corey and I had there. Today that reminded me of this adventure:


Japan sure knows how to put on an historical reenactment! This picture is from spring of 2010 taken by Lily Lam (I think). Anyway, turns out the Kawanakajima Battle involved a small band of western mercenaries, so we got to participate in the battle reenactment. (We got to run with torches through a river and then die valiantly in a giant crowd of people.)

History can be so much fun!

Anyway, just thought I would throw that out there to brighten your Thursday a bit. Hope everyone is having a lovely day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Another Chapter, and an Official Announcement!

First things first, dear readers, Blade's Edge Chapter 14 is up and ready for your enjoyment!

Please read and +vote the newest chapters if you haven't already. Your support on this project makes a huge difference to me in many ways. First of all, it motivates me to keep revising/rewriting this story and getting it out there for people to enjoy. Second of all the effect snowballs, the more support I get from my current readership, the more likely I am to pick up new readership and that is really my primary reason for trying out JukePop Serials to begin with.

Thank you so much, to everyone who has read and +voted the story so far. It really means a lot to me.

And now, the official announcement that I have hinted at periodically over the past couple of months:

Back in January corey and I decided that we were ready for something new in our lives. We love VVS (our current place of employment/home) and we love the Sedona area, but we have both gotten itchy feet and decided we need to move on. To where you ask?

Why to Winnipeg, Manitoba of course!

Yep. You read that right. We're moving from Arizona (land of sunshine, warmth and gorgeous rock formations that one can hike, climb or scramble to the top of) to Winnipeg. If you're not familiar with the area, check out a google map. It's a lovely place, but it's pretty cold in winter, and rather ummm... flat. So a lot of our friends (even the ones who already live in Winnipeg themselves) are looking at us like we're crazy. Which is a distinct possibility, but hey, that's never stopped us before.

Corey has insisted that we will take up the great art of curling. Here is a picture to let you know how I feel about that:

*Actually, I kind of like the idea, but don't tell anyone, it ruins the picture.*


"But Virginia," you say, "what will you do in Winnipeg? Do they need Spanish teachers there?"

The short answer is probably not, and I don't care if they do.

Why, you ask?

Because I'm going to start writing FULL TIME!

Let me type that again, because it was so much fun the first time: I GET TO WRITE FULL TIME!!!!!

Ahem. Sorry about that, I got a little excited.

Corey has a few things lined up that he predicts he can support us with, and in the meantime I get to write full time. Hopefully, it won't take too too long before I can bring in some income of my own that way. It's going to require a lot of hard work, but I've never been more excited about a job.

Probably because it's what I've wanted to do since I was thirteen.

In addition, I don't have much choice in the matter until my Canadian PR card goes through, because you know, before that it will be illegal to work in Canada.

So I will happily be writing away, getting paid in the US for my writing.

Woot!

We move this summer, after my contract here wraps up for the year. We are both extremely excited. Hoping that this post finds all of you well.



Monday, April 14, 2014

A Quick Stat Update, New Glasses, and Some Behind the Scenes Info...

Good morning dear readers! (At least it's morning here so roll with me.)

To start with, for those who enjoy numbers here is a quick stat update regarding Blade's Edge:

  • Blade's Edge is up to 22 votes for the month so far, which is great, and has it holding steadily at #45 for monthly votes
  • It's at a total of 141 votes overall which takes us up to #108 out of all the serials currently published (approximately 600).
  • The elusive top 30 is currently at a threshold of 37 votes (ie the current number of votes for the #30 slot is 37 so to bump it out of place I would need 38)
  • Getting a single new reader who decided to read all of my chapters would put me just shy of that number.
  • If everyone who has ever plus voted at least one of my chapters came back and read (and plus voted) the rest of the book I would have 312 votes!
So those are some fun stats. Thanks to everyone for the support that has made those stats possible! It's really fulfilling to know that someone out there is being entertained by your work.

Recently one of my readers asked me where I was able to find this data and I realized that those of you who are readers only on Jukepop are not privy to the interesting author backend that we have. Jukepop compiles rankings of its authors, which only authors are allowed to see. In addition, it compiles reader statistics (or at least it has done so since February) and Authors have access to those statistics as well. The idea is to let authors know how well their serials are doing at keeping their readers engaged, chapter by chapter, as well as how close they are to hitting the elusive top 30 for the month (actually it only shows the top 50 for the month so this is the first time Blade's Edge has even made the rankings for me to know how it's doing).

Anyway, for those of us who like numbers, and occasionally get competitive about them, it's fun.

In other news, I ordered some new glasses. This is nothing particularly interesting, but I ordered them online from a store called Zenni Optical and for $28 got frames, prescription lenses, a UV protectant, anti-scratch coating, and shipping to my door. No, I did not forget a zero on that number. I was, as you might guess, somewhat skeptical as to the quality of these glasses prior to their arrival (but hey, I was only wasting $28 if they sucked). However, they arrived on Saturday and they are awesome. Clear, perfect lenses, frames that looked like I expected (they have a little app to show all of their frames on a picture of your face that you upload) and a free case and wipe cloth thrown in. So, for all of my friends, family and readership who wear glasses and are tired of spending hundreds of dollars every few years, I enthusiastically recommend Zenni Optical.

I for one, have decided that glasses this cheap mean that I can have multiple pairs that are fashionable (not something I usually bother with) because I can buy three pairs for under a hundred dollars!!!

For those who are curious here is a shot of me and my new frames:


Note that the second picture exists to show off the DRAGONS!!! Yes, that's right, I ordered glasses with dragons on them. Why you ask? Well, when I first decided I liked the frames I had only seen them from the front and I liked them but was debating whether they were better than this other pair when... I clicked on the bigger image of them and saw that they had dragons on the sides. Deal. Sealed.

DRAGONS

On my glasses.

Life is awesome!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Quick Update on Stats

Hey all, Blade's Edge is now ranked 109th out of all the novels (up from 111th yesterday) and is now up to 46th for +votes this month (from 50th yesterday). Thanks so much to those who have taken time to read and vote since yesterday!

If you haven't had a chance yet, but get a little bit of time today, here's the link again: Blade's Edge 

Thanks for your support!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Chapter 13, Some Cool Stats, and a Little Something Special...

Chapter 13 (aka Part Two: Chapter 6) is now live on Jukepop Serials! One of my readers has already informed me that it is the "best suspense writing I've ever 'read' you do."

In addition here are some cool stats from over at Jukepop:

  • Blade's Edge is currently ranked 111th out of about 600 serials.
  • The JP 30 (jukepops monthly top 30 serials) is now organized only with the votes from that month. Blade's Edge currently has 17 votes this month, which makes it #50. With your help it could push into the top 30 for the first time since it was published!
  • To push into the top 50 overall serials Blade's Edge would need 504 votes (it currently has 136)
  • To push into the top 30 for the month Blade's Edge would need 35 votes (it currently has 17)
  • In the last week I have picked up at 4 new readers! Most of whom are people I don't even know. 
All of those things are exciting and motivating for me. In fact a large part of why I was able to get the enthusiasm to get Chapter 13 up (75% of which is brand new material written today) is because I got a big surge in +votes over the last 24 hours.


In case there was any doubt: yes, +votes are very encouraging and help keep your author going!

Still, I know there are some of you who are hesitant to head over to Jukepop because... well, I'm not sure why, but maybe just because it involves clicking a link to a site you don't know, or you're worried that they'll force you to create an account against your will, or steal your soul when you find a story you like...

Whatever the case is, I've decided to help you out by posting Chapter One here on its own page on my site. (Safe within the confines of this webpage.)

If you like it, the link at the end of the page will take you to Jukepop Serials where you can (after risking your soul to create a free account) read the subsequent chapters. :-) If you don't like it, no worries. Jukepop will never know.

Just click this link.

Or you can find it on the Completed Works page.

Or you can copy and paste this into your browser: http://virginiamcclain.blogspot.com/p/blades-edge-chapter-one.html

So there you go.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this blog and/or my stories. I hope that everyone is enjoying Spring. The cacti here are in full bloom.




Monday, April 7, 2014

Chapter 12, Other Ramblings, and a Silly Video...

First things first: Chapter 12 (aka Part Two: Chapter 5) of Blade's Edge is up and ready for your reading pleasure! I didn't have a chance to get any of my first readers to take a look at it before posting, so it might have a higher number of typos than usual. Still, it is about 1/3 previously written text so it should be decently clean.

In addition, I can now edit previous posts, so if you'd like to contribute comments on comma splices, typos, and sentences that don't make any sense, etc. please do! 

Sorry this chapter didn't make it up last week, but I'm hoping to get another chapter up by Friday of this week to make up for it. Thanks for your patience rolling out this series, working full time at teaching and writing consistently are hard to pull off together. Consequently, and you may have seen hints of this on various parts of my internet presence, I am looking into switching to writing as my full time gig. more details on that in a later post.

In other, but related news, I have a new project that I've started working on (a full length sci-fi novel and possibly series of novels - exciting as it's the first time I've considered writing a series) AND I'm doing a major and 'final' rewrite of Gwendamned (the novel that I've got a publisher interested in). 

I have made the deadline for myself regarding the Gwendamned rewrite the end of April. So in the first week of May I should be sending Gwendamned off to the publisher and crossing my fingers. 

That's a lot to balance along with my full time job, so we'll see how well I pull it off, but I have high hopes for myself and I really want to have my ducks in a row come June.

June when I finish teaching. June is when I will step back from ten years of full time teaching and focus on writing for a living. It's difficult to restrain myself until June. A very large part of me wants to let go of teaching right now and just focus on writing, but that would be unfair to my students and colleagues and so I resist. Just barely. I resist.

To keep myself sane though, I am writing as often as I can, and revising as well. It's important to me to keep Blade's Edge going, not just because I love the story, but also because I have made a commitment to my readers to keep that story going. 

And here's the part where I ask for support: I know you're all busy, and I know it takes time to read a story, even one that's only published a chapter a week over months at a time. Alternatively, I know that many of you prefer to read a story all at once and find it frustrating to read a chapter a week. (I am the same way and thought I would find it incredibly frustrating, but I have found a few serials on JukePop that I enjoy and I have actually found a surprising gratification in the weekly installments.) If you have a few minutes extra during your lunch, or once you get home and are decompressing from work, or during your daily commute (remember there is a free Jukepop app for both android and iphone), please take a moment to check out Blade's Edge.

Remember: Jukepopserials are entirely free to read (they do require taking two minutes to create a free account)! Plus voting a chapter raises the authors chances of a. being read by people who are unfamiliar with the author b. getting paid a dividend of that months revenue on JukePop if they make it to the top 30 +voted novels. The top 30 are calculated every month for only the votes they receive that month, so the month to month rankings can change drastically.  But, really, I am not looking to make much money on this project (if I were Jukepop - a free publication- is not where I would have decided to publish this book the first time), this is really an exercise in gaining readership, which will hopefully create a solid base for my future endeavors. 

My point, dear readers, is that I would really appreciate your readership on this work that I am currently putting a lot of energy into. If you read a few chapters and decide it's not for you, no harm done, no offense taken, but please at least give it a look. It's a project that matters to me and one that I hope to use as a stepping stone on the path to making my writing support my life.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and hopefully taking a look at Blade's Edge. Without readers I have no chance to make it as an author. I appreciate your time and your willingness to let me entertain you. 

I hope this post finds all of you well and gently warming with the beginnings of spring... Here is a little tidbit of winter ridiculousness to help you bring in the spring.

Does Artemis actually like sledding? Hard to tell...


video