It can only go up: My eldest son and family couldn’t make it for the Christmas Holiday; for health reasons, I’m rethinking what I want to do from now on; and although, I finally published, An Artificial Christmas, in paperback, the e-book will have to wait, and so started 2022 on the “down-hill-express.”
Even though the keys aren’t clicking, I’m taking care of “stuff” around the house that I’ve neglected in the latter part of 2021. So, I don’t become a total vegetable: I’ve mended fences, painted the porch, and worked on the garden and lawn to keep me active.
My Book Advertising on Amazon
In a word: “Nada!”
Significant book descriptions and financing changes in previous posts are overdue if I’ve not mentioned them. But I’m letting things “ride” in January. Meaning: I haven’t figured out what to do to increase sales.
The “clicks” are there, but the fish aren’t biting. Doing some cruising on the web for solutions seems to point to, again, better “book descriptions” and finding the “right niche,” easier said than done.
There’s nothing more to say — oh, yes, I forgot — last night, an idea came to me for my next teen novel. It’s not much, but hey, it’s worth a try.
All I can say is that it’s a fantasy (for now, maybe horror as well) and takes place at a zoo. Once I get more down on paper, I’ll be better able to determine if I should write the story.
Moreover, I can tell you that our main character is a heroine-of-sorts who discovers she can become anything she wants to, so long as she…
… Sorry, that’s all I have…
I’ve got an inspiration, got to go and jot down a few more story ideas for this novel.
With somber tidings to all, may 2022 bring us better times? We pray it does. I for one, intend on re-evaluating what I’ll be doing professionally next year. The book publishing division within Jacabo Studio is not happy with sales. And my best guess, they’ll be cutting back on advertising and investment in publishing and are refocusing on their core business: Art.
So, in 2022 I will have to put the second book in The Potter’s GraveYard Trilogy on hold for now. Fear No Evil If You Dare, the first book in the horror novels is gaining traction, since it was published in October 2021 but not enough to warrant another book for next year. Unfortunately, new “pickings” will be limited for James O. Youngcliff in the coming years.
I Guess, I’ll Be Dusting My Drawing Skills
My artistic juices want to burst and writing is not doing it for me! And so, I plan on picking up where I left off five years ago by using my pencils and charcoals to let my writing frustrations out. However, I’m not sure that will happen for my oil painting: sad but true. Oil painting takes a big chunk of inspiration and dedication, which is the only way to go, and I don’t feel it — not just yet!
Sorry, if I’ve totally depressed you by now?
A Couple of Bright Bits
My eldest boy and his family are coming to visit us for the holidays! They’re bringing my two beautiful granddaughters, both handfuls, mind you, but nonetheless wonderful news. With Covid-19 and my heavy writing schedule this and past years, we’ve cut back on the traveling and they’ve grown a lot since our last visit. So, my wife and I are preparing for their visit this month.
Which, gives me an easy segway to my next piece of news: An Artificial Christmas, my first children’s Christmas novel, is on my do list for this week. The manuscript was returned from the editor last month and it came back in bad shape. Not surprising. I jumped on this story too soon after my previous novel, in order to take advantage of my artistic high, and because of poor story planning, it is in need of changes–big changes!
I normally write down two or three-page outlines on every story I write before I sit down and start the full-length novel… This time, I didn’t. I banged on the keys and out flowed whatever…
And after re-reading the manuscript I’ve not touched in weeks, I’m now forced to sit down and fix it! Not a good practice, but hey, it is what it is, a struggle to get it out before losing all interest in the subject. I’m sure I’ve lost sales because of the delay. “But better late than never,” is all I have to add.
You wouldn’t believe the stress level that comes with publishing three novels at a time. I certainly didn’t, until now! So no need to go over all of the old war stories and report; all I know is that I enjoyed writing it for my young readers in hopes they will enjoy this BluBerrie Kid’s adventure into the world of plants and flowers too.
Also, I want to let you in on one little secret: I did all the illustrations in a new software program from Affinity (Designer) instead of Sketchbook. It was a difficult transition for me after three years of using the previous app.
One such challenge arrived as no surprise. My drawing tablet’s drivers (Picasso from Penpower) would not ultimately work with Designer when using the stylus for pressure sketching. In addition, Window10’s drivers couldn’t access the handy buttons on the tablet. It took some time to get used to the handicap.
Creativity Became An Issue
Drained after finishing Fear No Evil If You Dare, a fantasy/horror novel for nine to eleven-year-olds, and the corrections and rewrites that came after my editor returned my manuscript, and then, I had to jump into the illustrations for BluBerrie–ouch!
One mitigating factor in all this, I had another novel in the works that I threw together at the last minute, with all of the crazy stuff happening. This story came to me one night while sleeping. Yes, it sounds corny but true. It was a short novel, but I had to tell it.
This novel has many Spanish phrases and dialog, hoping to extend my writing to show more diversity and understanding of my culture, struggles, and hardship we and many have endured when leaving their homeland for a new and “better” life.
It’s all about Christmas and one of the happiest times of the year for most. But I wrote it not intending any criticism, only to point out the old tale: that if you think things can be greener on the other side, it isn’t. Anyway… I feel I showed a balanced perspective that youngsters can easily understand. So please check it out; it’s coming soon.
Deadlines, Deadlines, and More Deadlines
FNEIYC’s deadline was set for Halloween, and have no fear; I made it. Although, I wished I had published it a week sooner. This novel is my longest yet, with great hopes of becoming one of my most popular novels yet. Also, check it out at: amazon.com/author/jamesoyoungcliff.
Fear No Evil If You Dare published: October 2021
BluBerrie: The Botanical Garden published ahead of schedule: December 2021. Available now (See link above.)
Untitled, (Christmas story) publishing: Thanksgiving 2021 (Keeping checking for viability.)
Long Post, But I Had A Lot To Say
Well, I’m heading for a great breakfast. My dear loving wife has prepared for me to celebrate my successes. I hope you check out these new books for your children’s holidays and wish the best for every little one and a big one in your family, a wonderful and joyous time of the year.
“I’ve been on a stress ladder for so long; I got to watch my step in fear I might fall off.”
BTW: If you are one of the early ones who get a copy of Fear No Evil If You Dare, there is a FREE Offer at the back of the book that you’ll enjoy. Hurry, and be the firsts to take advantage…
Given the Covid-19 “detour,” I’ve found succulents growing in a dark corner of what most consider a lack of inspiration. So, I can now report that my current fantasy/mystery/horror manuscript for YA is in its last phase of rewrite.
“Whee, for me!” you say? Thanks. But not so fast. The worse is to come. Since I publish my own work, the problematic aspect of book publishing still awaits. For those who are familiar, I won’t go into too many details. And for those who don’t know, I won’t burden you with my laments and only say, “I hate it!”
The New Manuscript, Title, and Cover?
As far as the manuscript goes: I’ve got 60 pages to go with 37,000 words thus far typed. A bit high in word count, but who’s counting? [FYI: I like to do my editing after I’ve physically printed out the manuscript and use a pencil to make my corrections. A little “old school,” I know, but that’s how I can get the most juice out of my oxygen-starved brain’s creativity pool. While I reread the corrections, I may change what I wrote or add more changes to the story.]
In a word: Struggling. It’s been through many major/minor changes. I rather not say here what or its many alterations, but I will say that I’ve made this work a series during the many changes. So, this will be the first book in a fantasy/mystery/horror series. (I’m dying to tell you the title, perhaps I will at the end of this blog—stay with me.)
One more thought on the title: I understand the industry is all about short and catchy titles —mine is not— I guess it’ll doom my novel from the start. Perhaps not. I’ll let sales determine that for me.
It’s for young adults, and once again (See The Pickled Man), I’ve dipped into the old genre of horror covers with a “touch” of psychological/Hollywood mix. I’ve used black, purples, and stark contrasts for the background and white, pale yellows, and light blues for some text and paragraph titles.
I’ve included a central “mystery figure” to dominate, placed inside a graveyard scene, including tombstones and an easteregg. I know, I know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Since you’ve stuck around this far, here’s a detail for those who are interested.
You might think me a bit too paranoic with my stuff, but you can’t blame a writer/artist for protecting his work before publishing. And you know what, it’s not just that… I’m not yet “sold” on the cover, so there’s no sense in backtracking later if I decide to change it.
Any More to Say? Yes…
Trust me, I won’t go on for much longer. With a promise to write another manuscript for YA like this in the future series, I must take a break from it and get back to illustrating BluBerrie: The Botanical Garden. I have the cover, and one illustration started with nine or ten drawings remaining. Summer is here, and the artist who will help me out with the more “scientific” plant illustrations (i.e. posters throughout the book) can fit me in her schedule with more illustrations. A special treat for me demands I don’t miss this window of opportunity.
For sure, I will publish my new manuscript in time for Halloween, October of 2021. At least that’s a projection I can live with if the editor I like can get the final editing done in time for the holiday. As far as the next BluBerrie adventure? Happily, last quarter of this year—more than likely Christmas. We’ll see…
In summary, I’ve been fortunate to have had a relatively fruitful inspirational spell so far this year—as ideas go. And what it lacked in getting off my butt and putting to “pen” those ideas remains a lick and a promise to do better.
Yes, I’m still alive; Covid-19 hasn’t hit, thank God, and the Moderna vaccine. I have just dropped out of the blogging gig for a while. Personal issues have taken quite a bit of my time lately. But everything is fine now, and so is my writing.
The final chapters of my current YA fantasy/horror/mystery novel are coming along and after that, what’s left to do is a fresh edit from the start. Then off for editing bids at Reedsy.com.
New Story Ideas
In the maze of confusion, I did manage to jot down several new ideas for an adult novel and one for young adults that I liked. But unfortunately, my illustrations for my next BluBerrie manuscript are on life support. James O. Youngcliff the writer, is draining all the creativity and won’t share it with the artist/illustrator in him for inspiration.
Not Much More to Share
Yes, there is one more thing: the Stimulus Checks from the Dems have really helped me out. Because book sales have plummeted for James O. Youngcliff–but no worries, I plan on taking a part of the Stimulus money to help with advertising. Problem is, I don’t know where I can get the most bang for the bucks? Amazon? Google? (Let me know if you have any idea which is best on a limited budget?)
I wished Amazon hadn’t stopped their Author’s free Give-A-Ways. I had great participation for a modest investment. I might consider doing “something” like that on a smaller scale.
Having several different hats available to wear i.e. writer, artist, publisher, etc., seems difficult enough but at my age, I’m not sure if I’d like to split my time up anymore. That much effort requires more energy than my vitamines can offer. And I certainly don’t enjoy the “business” aspects of self-publishing.
Even securing an agent or an outside publisher makes me want to puke at the time it would take (if they would consider my work) to find reasonable and affordable help.
CYA, soon. Stay safe. And don’t forget, “Life is but a dream, don’t let it slip away…”
It’s true; I’m almost halfway through writing a new novel for youngsters. And yes, I have some hints about what’s in the manuscript: It’s a fantasy, mystery, and horror novel all roll into one—what else? I guess that’s what happens when an author enjoys telling scary stories to kids.
And, as is my favorite choice of theme in my works (and I’m not going to disappoint), one character, Larissa Blake, will face challenges and life choices in the world of the supernatural beyond her control.
Is that going to be a lot to digest for a young mind? Not really. Lately, I’ve had many a surprise at the level of their understanding of the story process. First hand, I can report I’ve seen these gifted minds in action among my grandkids.
I can tell you that this novel will place our leading character, Larissa, in direct conflict with supernatural powers. She will require independent thinking and logical problem solving to master an escape from her dire predicament.
Like Todd Paul in my earlier fantasy/horror novel: The Pickled Man, there is a moral lesson in my books that the young reader can, if not at the end of the read, certainly later in life, take away. But trust me, it won’t be boring.
And so, be on the lookout soon; I promise to get this new work published by summer.
What About BluBerrie?
Most of my BluBerrie fans are probably wondering when my BluBerrie: The Botanical Gardens will be published? Sorry, I’ve not had the inspiration to finish illustrating the manuscript. Maybe if enough fans request it, I’d get motivated?
That’s it for now. I got to get back to finishing my new story. Remember: Don’t put off what you can do today, for tomorrow may never come to get it done… (Not sure if that’s the way this saying goes? LOL.)
The budget for the newest children’s novel, BluBerrie: The Botanical Garden, is adequate for a possible pub date in December. The better news: It’s already edited; the bad news: the ten or so projected illustrations are not complete. Ouch!
Two reasons for the delay, one, I’m also the illustrator, and making the switch from writer to artist takes some “breathing room” before starting. And second, I need motivation; without it, the ten or so drawings that I need to get done won’t happen. At least, they’ll suck if I go at it without inspiration.
I’m shooting for after the Thanksgiving Holiday before I can sit down at my drawing table, put on my artist’s cap and bring back the BluBerrie gang to life again!
One Parting Political Poke
Thanks to my fans and those who are not who voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for president. Now rebuilding our nation begins. The road ahead won’t be easy the way we see things going thus far.
Not wanting to poke a hornet’s nest (but I can’t help myself), I must admit, I’m dumbfounded that the 70 million people who voted for this “loser” president couldn’t care that they voted for a racist, sexist, and liar—a man who, at every turn of his miserable presidency, has broken his promise to us. And who has failed to uphold our constitution and the principles of America for his selfish gains? I don’t get it? Do you?
Nonetheless, I’m hopeful that Americans will unite around our new leaders: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris; if we don’t, may God have mercy on us all.
It is strange, if not in fact, illogical that after almost four years of tearing down America, many Americans can still back the most tyrannical president we’ve had in modern history!
What’s more frightening is the fanatical and cult-like obsession Republicans or Trumpeters have with voting against their best interest. It’s like they have a death wish for themselves, and America and they think it’s a good thing, so long as they win.
A plea for a sane vote goes out to each and every American. Do the right thing for the future of our kids and wonderful country–vote blue!
In this tragic final days of this W.H. administration, Americans can and will prevail from this Covid-19-like-pandemic we are facing by voting out this President and his Republican Senate supporters. Americans need a vaccine to fix what ails us. And the November Election is just that vaccine!
I’ve taken that vaccine–I voted by mail; whatever your political views, you know in your heart that Americans cannot take another four years of abuse and sickness like the ones we have lived through in the past. Please join me in saying we believe in American values, decency, and our Constitution’s principles.
I know it’s hard taking medicine, but you must vote to start getting better. Millions have jumped on the road to healing…
BluBerrie: The Botanical Garden manuscript is finished and edited, so what’s the publishing holdup? The illustrations are not done, and I cannot get motivated, more like, inspired to finish. I’ve finished illustrating the cover (see below), and that’s it. I know. “Ouch!” Perhaps I’ll start next year. I’m hoping…
I’m looking forward to writing another more serious work, it’s in my bones, I know it; once I find the right story, it will not drag. The energy is building up, and so is my desire to tell it–I don’t know what it is at this time. I need a little inspiration during these dark times to bring the story out. Perhaps I should start with a title? We’ll keep you posted…
Sorry for not writing more often; I didn’t feel I had much to say to my fans.
So far, my family and I have escaped the Corvid-19 epidemic. But we have quarantined ourselves, followed social distancing, and we’ve kept our masks on whenever we’ve we go out for essential needs. We urge that you do the same until it is “safe.” Many officials and politicians would have you believe that the worst is over, please think it through. Don’t fall victim to the hype. Do the research. Listen to the news from medical experts. And then, and only then, think what you are risking before exposing you and your family to this terrible epidemic.
That’s my opinion on the matter. I don’t know your circumstances and so, I can only offer you a pray and a hope that you stay safe.
I leave you with this comment from BluBerrie, “Eeeeeeee! Eeeeeeee!”