Sycorax’s Daughters

How time flies!!

Am I still around? Of course! If you’re a writer, you’ll still write. Maybe… not as often as I did years ago, but it still continues. And why is that? Well…after completing a goal, or a dream, knowing that it can be done, things then become, well, quite relaxed.

You get sidetracked keeping up with all the wonderful TV series like: Once Upon A Time, Westworld, Walking Dead, Orphan Black, The Originals, Expanse, Dark Matter, American Horror Story, Game of Thrones, and some least satisfying series like Colony, and The 100. That’s just a few of the sidetracks of indulgence. There’s also work, raising offspring, and day-to-day maintenance of life.

Years seem to go by, and it’s still on your mind to do some updates on your blog, or website, but you just don’t get around to actually doing it. LOL!

Then, one year, you get invited to do a collaboration effort with other authors, that actually completes and goes into fruition! And the following book was born and available on Amazon and several other places, January 2017!

A list of the authors and their poems and stories are at the ISFDB Site. I’m the only novelette on the list: Perfect Connection. I guess I was a bit long. LOL!!

History….

Kinitra Brooks contacted me through my Facebook, and my LinkedIn, and my Twitter, in March 2014. I guess she wanted to make sure she covered all areas and didn’t miss a communication with me. LOL! I’m pretty sure she got my name from author Alicia McCalla, because Alicia did an interview on her website of me back in 2012.

Alicia had changed her website so it lost all the comments that were in response to the interview, but it’s still up there–Guest Fest: Deana Zhollis Discusses Sexual Slavery in Her Cinderella Fairy Tale.

Thus Kinitra Brooks wrote to me…

I am writing a critical monograph, Searching for Sycorax: Black Women in Contemporary Horror, for a university press, examining the unique positionality of Black women horror creators as subversive pioneers in both Horror studies and Black feminist literary theory….

Searching for Sycorax excavates and illuminates a Black women’s aesthetic of horror—applicable to literature, film, and/or comic books—that uncovers and privileges the multiplicity of subversions that are made manifest in the lives of African diasporic women. ….

I am interested in possibly including an analysis or reference of your work in Searching for Sycorax and would appreciate it if you would send me an electronic file of your books….

I was happy to support, especially with an educational direction, and sent copies of my books.

Then in June 2015, Kinitra sent me an invitation letter to invite me to join the Anthology work that she wanted to do. And I had until January 2016 to write up a selection of work that fit what she had in mind for the Anthology.

In October 2016, she did an interview, and dropped a coin to mention the project: Interview with Dr. Kinitra Brooks, Who Teaches a Class on Beyonce.

Funny…. The way that each of these women define what I write isn’t exactly how I looked at it. Sexual Slavery? Horror? Because of them, I had to rethink the category of my work. Naive me was thinking that all my writing was simply some Erotic Science Fiction writing.

Horror? I definitely wasn’t thinking in that category at all!

When I wrote to Kinitra that’s how I thought of it, she spoke on her idea on the Anthology: “..the premise is that Black women redefine horror when they write it.”

I was like, “Huh.”

I kinda liked that idea. Redefining Horror. So, I told her…
Count me in!



New Cover for Tirna Magique

I’ve never liked the idea of changing my covers. I really, really, really like my covers the way they are! But, sometimes, one must do what the majority has decided. And the majority has decided that my cover for Tirna Magique was just too “young” looking for the content of my novel.

Sigh… I really liked that cover!

So, I went back to my cover designer, who, unfortunately, is no longer working full time for authors, but is still available for long term loyal clients. THANK GOODNESS! Even though it might take her a bit more time to produce, since she now works full-time for a major company, I’ll wait forever for her art!

The first suggestion from my cover designer was that she felt that what was saying “young adult” the strongest was the colors and the fantasy creatures. So, she added a black border around the characters.

Original Cover
First Suggestion Update
Tirna Magique 2nd Color Tirna Magique rough draft

But I LOVE my fantasy creatures!! Next, idea was to aged the women. I wanted something to show a bit sex appeal and suggested daisy dukes. I know. I was desperate LOL!! My cover designer basically said, “Oh no!” She never sees grown women wearing daisy dukes! LOL!! Honestly, she suggested, let’s just skip that idea. LOL!!

2nd update — She gave the purple and turquoise shirts, Tank-tops; added a bit of cleavage for the red shirt; a bit of belly-showing on the green shirt; took off the backpacks (though in the novel they did use them, but backpacks make them look younger); and darkened the background.

Original Cover
Second Suggestion Update
Tirna Magique 2nd Color Tirna_magique_firstupdate

Still…it just wasn’t meeting the criteria. My cover designer said again, it was the “visual cues” that was missing the target. She finally came up with the answer.

In the Tirna Magique cover, people are taking the visual cues of color, i.e. purple trees, and the fantasy creatures in the background that we psychologically associate with children and stories for a younger audience when they are trying to interpret the intended audience for the book. But since you really don’t want to lose those aspects, my thought is to remove the women from that environment and set them in a more informational neutral background which will help break the association of the characters with the young adult vibe and works with the whole traveling between worlds part of the storyline.

Original Cover
Final Redesigned Cover
Tirna Magique 2nd Color TM_Final

Yes! Yes! and more Yes!

This definitely helped in what was needed!! It’s probably not completely away from the “young adult” feel, but it’s close enough. I get to keep my unicorn and mermaid, and the characters also have a background and image of looking older. It also gives that vibe of going from a bleak environment to a radiant one, which is the theme of all my books. It definitely fits!!

Here again is my wonderful new cover! I’ve already uploaded to Amazon and Zhollis.com

TM_Final

And, you know…? I actually like this one just as much as the other one.
Lesson learned: Changing doesn’t hurt as bad as I thought.

Until Next Time!bite


See the previous post for Tirna Magique’s (FIRST) Book Cover design steps.
See the previous post for Creations’s Book Cover design steps.
See the previous post for Jetta’s Book Cover design steps.
See the previous post for Irid’s Book Cover design steps.
See the previous post for Ruby, Flesh and Heart Cover design steps.
See the previous post for The Made Cover design steps.
See the previous post for The 9th Symbol design steps.



Whatcha Doing?

ProjectsSept2015I haven’t posted for awhile, and I decided to add something to this blog site after an email accidentally went out displaying my old content. And why did that happen, you might ask for those still subscribing to this site? Well…. What happened was….uh…. LOL!!

Changing Hosts!
Just kidding. What happened was that I was changing host sites. I’ve been with ICDSoft for hosting my website for years, and finally changed to Hostgator. Why did I change, you might ask? Well, I wanted another .com (domain) website, but I didn’t want to manage it with a completely different control panel (cpanel) and login and password. Hostgator has the “addon” feature, where I can create, thus add, another .com (domain) website and manage it within the same control panel (cpanel) as my other .com (domain) website. Get it? So, basically I want to manage two different websites under one management tool. ICDSoft didn’t offer that option, so I decided to change because…

…I kinda likes that feature!

So what’s the other .com website? Well, it’s just some of my (what some people would call) strange beliefs, which I had posted on this blog site. But it really shouldn’t be on here. Two different subjects should be placed separately. I’m a snail, you know, so I do make changes slowly.

I ran into some problems, as usual, with making such a huge change. Even though I went back to Guru.com to find someone to move everything for me, problems arose. I got a 500 Hostgator error on all my .php pages. I found out I had to change the permission on the files. Previously, they were 0644 on ICDSoft. On Hostgator, I had to change them to 0755. Then, some of my images, just didn’t show. But when you click them, I could see the image. I just replaced each and every picture link that had the problem. That required going through the entire blog and finding them. It wasn’t all the images, so that was good. Why that happened, I just couldn’t find an easy answer.

And why am I updating and fixing errors when I paid someone on guru.com to do the move? Well, I wasn’t quite precise on what I wanted and the job required a lot more time and effort than the description I gave. So, to make up for that, I just went ahead and fixed the little problems that did arise, though it took my hours to figure it out through searching in Google. Nonetheless, it got done.

Another Anthology Project
I’ve been asked to be part of another anthology. I’ve got my 2nd draft done, and I’ll get it edited soon after one more look over. The deadline for the completed work is January 2016, so I have time to get everything done…with my slow self. I have been asked to do an anthology before, but it unfortunately got canceled. That’s how I ended up with Tirna Magique. With this new project, and new short story, I figured if things don’t go as planned, I’ll just make a book of short stories. I have plenty of them just sitting around for years and years and years, so why not put them all together and share them with the world! Even if this anthology project doesn’t get tanked, I figured I should put together those short stories anyway. That will be my next, easy, project to complete, since novels take much more time these days.

Another Irid book
I’m currently working on another book within the Irid world. Have I mentioned this before? I don’t remember… Anyway, this one is placed a few hundred years after the first novel. It’s coming along…uh… I’m half way through it…being that I started it around November 2013. Yeah…I’m slow.

I’ve got one more thing I’ve finished working on, and its been a long time coming. But, I’ll post that update later.

Until Next Time!bite





Continuing Self Goals

Participant-2014-Twitter-ProfileAfter being self-published for so many years (mine started around 2008), the train’s steam could start to wane…or just be a trickling consistent stream.

That’s where I am.

There’s a lot of writers who’s steam has run out. The Gold Rush for self-publishing, and making lots of money, seemed to almost now end. There’s no longer those amazing, immediate stories out there like there used to be.

Nothing to keep you PUMPED UP!

These days, all the news is about Amazon and its deals, and how all of this will effect the future of the sales and prosperity of the written word. But the world of the distributors and sales, though quite important for today and the future, isn’t as heartfelt, and close to home, as the news and stories of your fellow authors.

Here’s to changing the way of thinking about these days!!

Today, things have just settled down to the normal life of an author, which is being the Lone Self-Publisher. And that’s alright. Just keep remembering to look forward to each completion of the next book, and be happy with, yet again, that one, single, next buy.

And, more importantly, continue to keep the fires burning with socializing with your fellow authors….like NaNoWriMo.

Even with NaNoWriMo, I’m not quite up to par with the word count. I still continue to set my own personal goals, and that would be just to get past that 10,000 word count (which I’ve done. HURRAY!!!). Of course, the main goal is to complete the 50,000 word count by November 31, which is similar to the goal for most authors which is to be famous and/or make a living from writing alone. But sometimes, life makes sidetracks where you can’t quite reach the goal….for now. The main goal is still there, but to get there just might take a bit more struggle and much more hard work…and time.

With time, one does achieve one’s goals.

I did reach the 50,000 word count my first four years; and, at one time I received thousands of downloads of my book; and, at one time, I had a steady buy of three (3) books a month, but that is all now done…for now.

The good days come and go, and they come again. The bottom line is to continue on to reach them all.

Until Next Time!bite





Too Big, Too Late

LateA couple of things happened these several weeks that was pretty fun! Unfortunately, these events should have been posted here BEFORE they started, and not AFTER they end.

Ever been to an Online Conference? Well there was one for Indies on Feb 25-27th. IndieReCon was a fun and interesting event that answered Indie’s questions and gave solutions. I heard about it through David Gaughran’s blog. As long as I have been doing the Self-Publishing thing, there is always something new to learn. The GOOD NEWS about this conference? You didn’t have to attend to still get the information. It’s all still there, so you can head right over there and see what went on during those fun days. Just click the links on the schedule.

The second fun thing that happened was the 2014 Smashwords Read an Ebook Week promotion, which took place March 2-8. I had quite a few books downloaded and purchased for FREE, and also, surprisingly, a few books that were discounted where I did get a royalty fee. If you are an author that has your books on Smashwords, you probably got the email, as I did, and had the choice to option in. I did. For those of you who haven’t put your books on Smashwords yet, it’s definitely worth it–if only to place your eggs in different distribution baskets.

So, even though these things have already past, what you can take from this blog is to make sure you keep tabs on what’s going on out there. Subscribe to other author’s websites, like The Passive Voice for news, or the site I mention where I learned about the Online Conference. Login from time to time on writing forums like the Kindle Boards. There may be months that you don’t hear anything new, but from time-to-time a jewel is dropped that would be worth your while.

Things slow down, and things speed right up! It’s best to try to keep in touch with….well…just about EVERYTHING!

Until Next Time!





Price Massaging

treasureI decided to use a suggestion called “price massaging” where you change the prices of your books from time-to-time to see if it would help raise or lower interest.

My experiment was a failure.

Before I continue my story, I must say Happy New Year! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, and experimenting with price massaging is the reason why.

I’m continuously trying out things that may help my book sells, and after my experiences, I tell my story here.

I’m thinking if I had a faster current flow of buys, then playing around with my prices wouldn’t have hurt so much. As many of you might know, I don’t have much in sells, but yet I’m quite happy (and content) with what I do receive. I quite enjoyed my three (3) buys a month, but when I tried increasing the price of my books… I lost it.

I was horrified when my three (3) and only precious, wonderful, adored, and admirable buys, in my eyes, went to: ZERO, Zip, Zilch, Nada, nothing…………GONE!

I finally placed my prices back to what they were, and then the buys went up to… ONE (1). And it’s been quite hard to accept that the one (1) buy is all that I have these past few months.

I’ve lost the small treasures that I had. 🙁

So, I’m back to trying to find another way to regain the months of happiness that I once had. Somehow, someway, I must find it again.

And when I do, you’ll be the first to know.

Until Next time!



Writer’s Block and Getting UnStuck 3

JoyofWritingYep, I’m one of those bad writers that seem to not write when she’s suppose to. I’m supposed to complete one (1) novel a year, but here it is, going into October, and I haven’t written anything!!


I’ve kind of worked on editing some older work, but that was only a few times this year. Ok. Ok. Just three (3) times this year I’ve looked at the novel which has fifteen (15) chapters and I’ve edited up to Chapter 10–on three different days.

I’m pitiful!!


I wish I was all HAPPY about writing like the woman on this blog picture, but I’m not. And what gets me even more depressed is that I know my writing skills, with every day of NOT writing, is going down the tubes!!

So… I went online to figure out how to get me back into writing.

A few things suggested were:

  • Take a break
  • Read a Book
  • Attend writing functions
  • Join a Critique Group
  • Write fun stuff!

I think my break is Loooooong enough.
I did read a book. Sex Zombies was a fun read.
I attend the Houston Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers monthly dinner via Meetup.com
I don’t have a Critique Group anymore

And writing FUN stuff? Uh, duh. I DON’T WANT TO WRITE!

Thus…sigh…I still don’t write.

My next thing was to go to Google for MORE help!

I love the writing contests that give either a topic or provide a small portion of the story that should be used in your story. One of them is WriterWeekly’s 24-Hour Contest. The story has to be completely written within a certain time frame, like 24-hours, and thus the story becomes unique and original. This site you have to pay $$ for though….

I also love NaNoWriMo which happens during the month of November, where you have to type 1667 words a day to meet the 50,000 word count by the end of the month.

I’ve heard of other writers talk of Write or Die where, on a serious level, the program starts deleting what you write if you procrastinate too long. The Web App is free, but for $10.00 you can buy a desktop version.

If you like pictures of kittens, after so many written words, you can have a cute cat pop up every time you meet your writing goal word count. Written? Kitten! is the place for that.kittens


Lots of fun stuff on the internet for online tools to boost those creative juices!


Hopefully something will help you if you’re in the same mess as I am. As for me, I’m still trying…..


I think I’ll wait until November. Hmmmm.


Until Next Time!!



Why I LOVE the GURU Website!!

timeworrylateNo knowledge? No Skill? No Time?

a) One of the above?
b) A couple of the above?
c) All of the above?

That’s exactly where I was with two (2) of my websites.

One of the websites has been sitting on my mind for YEARS, and the other website, yeah, a few years too.

They needed to CHANGE!!

Website #1

I had typed up these really specific details for Website #1 which was on the Movable Type platform. When I first started looking for places to put blogs, I thought Movable Type was the best option…until I started working with it. Then I wanted to discard it, but then used it anyway. I kept HURTING myself for no reason! I even mentioned in this blog: WHY did I do this Movable Type AGAIN?!! And I had NO IDEA. Besides, just trying to get something to work that was already created and activated, there was no sense on continuing with it. It was a HEADACHE! So much so that I LOST all my comments on it by accidently deleting the WRONG THING!!! UGGGGGGGGgGggggggghhhhhh!!!!!

I needed Website #1 to be moved from Movable to WordPress, and the information on the internet looked too hard and too time consuming for me to do it myself.


Website #2

I tried to quickly put together a website that was REALLY informative, but use a FREE template website design to create it. All those hours of making How-To videos for Website #2 was just wasted on a very, very, ugly, unsightly, silly looking site.

But I just didn’t have the time to convert Website #2 to a better look and feel.

Da-dada-Daaahhhhhh!!!! GURU to the RESCUE!!!



I don’t know WHY I didn’t do this before! But I was talking to a friend of mine on how he could update a business website, and make it look really professional looking. I gave him the advice to use GURU and FIND someone to do it for him. Well, he decided to use templates and a lot of time to try to fix it himself. I kept telling him to use GURU, and he simply refused–still peddling along trying to do it all himself.

Then it clicked! I’ll SHOW him how EASY it is to just get someone else to do it for him.

WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS BEFORE???!!!!



So, I started off posting a project for Website #2 on Guru with a title: WEBSITE UPDATE. I explained what I needed, and how HORRIBLE my existing website was, and I got over 40 requests with ranges of costs from $100.00 to $2,000.00. The time I would have taken to try to redesign the website myself was placed into the time to go through the suggested cost quotes and resumes of the skilled WebDesign companies and individuals. Actually, it was a lot less time. I simply took my time to go through them.

Guru has change A LOT since I had been on the site and found my Cover Designer and Editor. Using the Web Design category this time, I got quite a slew of requests–mostly from India. Not only did I get so many responses, I also got the same requests sent to my Facebook Page, my LinkedIN, my Twitter, and my personal email!!

MAN! I understand persistance, and trying to stick out from the competitions, but that took the CAKE! They had looked at my website I wanted to redesign, got my contact information from i,t and found me on every platform they could find to send additional contact information on their interest on re-designing my website.

Needless to say, I developed an elimination strategy. Grrrrr!!!

  • Those who called me: Dear Sir (eliminated!..If they would have included “Madam” in the title, I would have left them on the list, but NONE of them did)
  • Those who just sent general “canned” information about their company and nothing specific containing information about my website (eliminated!)
  • Those who just sent two-line sentences that basically said: We can do that project (eliminated!)
  • Those who quoted above the $0-$250 range that I submitted (eliminated!)
  • Those who did not have samples of previously designed websites or references (eliminated!)
  • Those who sent me a list of websites and I couldn’t connect to them (eliminated!)
  • Those whose profiles stated they were based in the United States, but when I went to their websites, they had signs that they were NOT in the U.S. (ELIMINATED! — I don’t like misrepresentation!!)
  • Those who couldn’t reply to my questions in a way I could understand them or replied without answering all of my questions (ELIMINATED!!)

Next, was to rate the quotes of the ones I wanted to take a 2nd or 3rd look over their designs. Then, I took into consideration their price quote. Finally I settled on a designer.

I was so excited about getting my Website #2 redesigned that I remembered Website #1, and how I wanted to changed it to the WordPress platform.

I started another project with the title: Movable Type to WordPress–Blog Website

All-in-all, I paid $250.00 for Website #2 (which I could have gotten done at a lot lower price, but I decided I wanted to work with this particular designer because I liked his designs, and he was going to give me the files, like I wanted, for me to continue updates on my own via Dreamweaver)

I paid $160.00 for Website #1 (which, again, I could have gotten lower, but this designer answered all my questions, wanted to do EXACTLY what I wanted, and got it all done within a DAY!!).


Here is Website #1. Before and After. It doesn’t look like much now because I need to go find a cool skin that I want to put with it, just like the skin on this current blog that you’re reading now.

Before After
oldBlogWebsite NewBlogWebsite
Take a look at the actual Website #1



Here is Website #2. And it looks AWESOME compared to what it looked like before. I’m just SO VERY happy for this update. Also, now, I don’t feel so sheepish when directing people who saw my YouTube video and then went to my website, only to see some silly-looking, amateurish website that wasn’t very easy to navigate. It looks SO VERY PROFESSIONAL… NOW!!

Before After
OldToolsWebsite Mock2
Take a look at the actual Website #2



So, the moral of the story??? Get the extra help when you:
Don’t have the Time.
Don’t have the Skill.
Don’t have the knowledge.

The relief to get something COMPLETED… FINALLY! was one big Awesome SIGH for me!!

…and my friend? Well, I told him my story and showed him the results.

He’s still twiddling with his business website.


Until Next Time!




When You Don’t Give Up…

GoogleAlertMy previous post talked about all the doom and gloom that’s been going around with self-publishing, so I wanted to give a little pick-me-up about what happened to me recently.

As those of you know, I can’t scream and shout about big numbers of sales or how I can even pay a single bill. I get about three (3) sales a month, which, I’ve always stated, is a great steady and wonderful thing for me because I’ve surpassed family friends and I’ve got people buying and reading my stories–without even really marketing, mind you. I always wanted strangers to read me, and that’s what continuously happens with my peanut sales. 🙂

Then there’s those months that might go by when I didn’t get those three (3) buys, or maybe just two (2) or one (1) or none (0)…something happens that makes those down months very uplifting!

See my picture up top? That’s my Google Alerts email. Google Alerts is something that will send you an email based on text someone would type in the search engine. I’ve put my pen name in there–something that was advised to do some time ago when I first started self publishing–just to see when someone is talking about me. Well, an alert popped up doing one of my down months and made my day! It was a Science Fiction website that put my 3rd book of the Calling Series as a suggestion for people to read. I don’t know who looks at this site, but someone took time to post my book’s image on it and it’s a link to something I’ve created.

And That’s Awesome!

Then something else came about. I found out from the Kindle Boards of the Writer’s Cafe that there’s a season where novels sales are really low or where novels aren’t bought at all, and that season is Summer. From Mid-May to Mid-September is that time period where new self-publishers shouldn’t fret about sales, and it’s talked about by an experience author, Dean Wesley Smith. This is knowledge that should be passed on, and that’s what I do with this blog. Because having that extra help of information always creates that sigh of relief.

From one Lone Self-Publisher to another….

Until Next Time!




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