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Past and present

Past and present

So, what’s new this time?

Well, last Thursday, I FINISHED BOOK FIVE  in the mystery series.

What happened on Friday: I STARTED BOOK SIX  in the mystery series.

This whole project has been some sort of miracle. When it’s ‘there’ it’s ‘there’. When you need down time, you “need down time!”

I had left off on book five a year ago (I worked on other things, tho). And one day in March, boom! It Was In My Head. And when it’s there, you go with it; ride the wave; hang on tight.

And in three weeks, or so, the book was done.

Now the aftermath…drained; flat; diminished, illness. The creative process takes a physical toll. I have no internal reserves left at the moment (they are all in the dad gum book! LOL). It takes a while to refill the wellspring.

I had no intention of starting book six. But, it was there, in my head, and I whipped off 8 pages, even in the exhaustion.

And I have other writing projects started, that could be being worked on. But this is where my head is at. So, it’s what I work on.

I’m ready for music to roll around back to the front burner. It’s been dormant for awhile now. But if the writing is the thing that ‘needs’ doing right now, and if ‘accomplishments’ are happening, then I’m gonna ride with it, and not worry about the rest. (Easier said than done, –the not worrying part,  I mean.)

…And writing a whole book: That is a Huge Accomplishment! I have to make myself take a step back and say…wow. Because…in my normal pattern, it’s like “I haven’t gotten enough done. There are so many more things to be worked on…”


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So, what’s new? You asked.

I’m glad you asked.

In the last three weeks, I’ve written half a novel.

I had the first half written during the last writing jag a whole bunch of months back. Three weeks ago, or so, the book popped in my head-as one that I wanted to read – as a reader. Trouble was, it wasn’t done yet. I read what was there.

The next part popped in my head. And boom! We were off and running. It is exhilarating, but sooo draining. You pour so much of your soul into these things.

And also during April, I was sick for over two weeks. I had a ton of ‘life crap’ to deal with (which cuts into your creative time). But when the creativity is there, you ride the wave.

I expect to be able to finish the novel in a reasonably short amount of time. I won’t put myself on a deadline or limit.

This is book five in a mystery series. My goal is to take this series to a major publisher, gain an international platform and ride this wave to the top of the charts.

I believe this is the series that can get us there.


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The musical – finalized; finis; accomplished, completed, done and done!

The musical, which I have referred to as P/P is finished! This was a relatively short gestation period, perhaps 2 years.

I got the initial draft and composing done in February (where it just poured out of me in one of those miracle things where you say “All I had to do was to hold the pen!” …which, these days is a metaphor, because it’s more about the computer keyboard LOL.)

Then, once the initial draft is done, I ‘put it away’, and let it gel. Then you come back to it with fresh eyes, and evaluate.

So, in this last week, I have worked and fixed things and recorded and evaluated and built.

I hoped to be finished by June 30. When this happened, it happened quickly.

So, all week, I ‘shored up’ demos that needed ‘more’. There were so many steps, I can’t seem to even remember them all.

I pulled an all-nighter night before last, just working the steps, but I actually got the musical DONE. Who knew?

This one is complex. The story isn’t just told in dialog. The songs add to the story, advance the story and tell the story.

The project feels fairly tight to me. 15 songs – 13 of which were newly written specifically for this project. 2 I had already written in my catalog and were able to be incorporated.

This musical has 4 main cast members, 2 male and 2 female. Each role must be a true singer (and actor and dancer) (The men especially on the dance part). The scene settings are house/bar/house/bar/house/bar. So, I envision a lot of visible, on-stage quick scene changes, where people carry in tables and chairs and we wheel in a bar, and boom! The scene change has happened.

This one will be fun to see. You can dream up these shows in your head, but when it comes to staging them, the possibilities of what you can do – are endless.

I spoke to an acquaintance yesterday, who asked me what the musical was about. It’s a grown-up subject matter. And while I have completed the musical – the writing and composing; I have not completed the ‘sales’ things you need -, the synopsis, the character description, the descriptions you need in order to ‘pitch’ it.

What’s next? I have no idea.

That statement works on two levels: What’s next for the musical? I have no idea where it goes next. I will pitch it, and pitch it, and pitch it. As with our last major stageplay, my plan is to “Wallpaper the universe” with it =  send it every place that I can.

What’s next on the creative forefront? I have no idea? Honestly I didn’t expect this musical to be ‘done’ so quickly. I am ahead of the game time-wise, and I have no idea which project will come to the forefront next.

One thing’s for sure: I have expelled so much creative energy (and gone without sleep) I can barely stand up straight. Pushing that much of your own life force into a creative project, in order to bring it to life, it takes the stuffing out of a human. I need to recharge.


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#pitmad – _Suspicions_ An A.J. Chaney mystery novel by Amanda Ball

June 4, 2015 is #pitmad, which is a twitter event designed to connect writers and agents.

Therefore, I announce that I have a mystery novel all edited, completed, proofed and ready to go. It’s called Suspicions.

Suspicions is a contemporary mystery manuscript featuring female hard-nosed PI, A.J. Chaney.

A former cop, A.J. now earns a living as a PI. When hired to find out if a cheating spouse is actually cheating…A.J. finds herself in over her head.  Suspicions is a wild and crazy ride, full of twists, turns, betrayal, humor, friendship and stolen moments of love. Backed up by her former cop partner, Bobby, and with the strength of her former police department in the wings, A.J. gets swept into a whirlwind of a case.

Suspicions is the first book in the A.J. Chaney mystery series. I have several more books written. First person. Contemporary. Not Boring! Un-put-down-able.

Designed to have no slow, filler, middle spaces, this book keeps you on the edge of your seat, and leaves you wanting more.

The whole goal of this book: To Entertain You!

Synopsis found here


To the readers: Nope! Sorry. Not published yet!

To the industry professionals: I am seeking an agent and a major publisher, so I can move the writing portion of my career to the next level. I have had good success in my last few years in the industry. Now, I’m ready to move up. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve worked the farm teams. It’s time to move into the majors.

I love mysteries. I have a mystery series all ready to go. Several books are written and ready and waiting. I am a former librarian. I know what readers like. I know what I, as a reader like. I know story. I know about beginning and middle and end; plot and character; action and entertainment.

As an author, what makes me different from everyone else out there? The strongest quality in my work, (no matter what creative field: music, books or movies), is that I am an empath. I understand the human condition. I can imbue that quality into my work. People _get_ my stories–because they are full of life and emotion. My characters aren’t dry, boring caricatures, who only exist in black ink on a white page.

My characters leap off the page and into the reader’s hearts and minds. As a writer, I have one goal: to entertain you.

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Poetry: Black is the Night

“Black is the Night” published in The XZBT.


Wow, what an honor to be published in a literary magazine! I love poetry. I’d love to be poet laureate of something! How’s that for a goal? (One more goal on the list of impossible goals I’ve been trying to achieve!) LOL


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World Poetry Day



Watching your fingers
Watching your eyes
You connect to the guitar
You evoke its essence

It becomes part of you
an extension of your body
and extension of your hand
a demonstration of your heart

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Anatomy of a Cover Art

This current cover art progress has been interesting. I thought it might make a good blog post.

I work with a professional fine artist, Karen Ball and she has been kind and gracious enough to do my book covers. Each time we start this journey, I tell her an idea of what I want, and I say that whatever she does will be fine. Then I turn into a raging diva, trying to hammer and hammer on the project to get it right.  Some publishers will allow a writer to submit their own cover art for consideration. Some publishers will not. But, I want to have this available and ready, in case they do allow me to submit. The artist assured me that, even if we do all this work, and we are not allowed to submit our own cover, she is fine with that outcome. (I don’t want her to feel she is wasting her time.)

So, the current book project I’m shopping is a mystery series featuring a female detective named A.J. Chaney.

The first book is called _Suspicions_. So, without giving too many details away, what would make a good cover? There is a Quonset hut near the lead character’s home, along a walking path she uses. Why not have the cover be a Quonset hut?

I know just what I want: When I lived in Stillwater, there was a white, concrete Quonset hut that housed one of the art studios. But, I go and do research and a white concrete Quonset hut is…unheard of. So, I go find a silver round top (as they are called in this part of the country) and take a photo for a study. (Photo sent to KB 11/22/14)

Quonset hut photo for study

Quonset hut photo for study

I sent instructions about what I want:

Quonset hut notes by me, with placement instructions.

Quonset hut notes by me, with placement instructions.

She builds draft 1. (Sent to me 12/23/14)

Quonest draft 1

Quonest draft 1

We go back and forth with several types of instructions. I dislike the placement on the page. She informs me that her support (the paper she is creating the art on) is bigger than the piece of art we need. So, we don’t have to start over for placement, she can paint into her white spaces on the edges and we can adjust the position that way.

I’m not fond of the watercolor base. It seems to washed out. She is using mixed media on this project, with a watercolor base and colored pencil for the painting.

But, this is too bland. I could ~ probably, live with it, but she would like something better–something more. She says that if I can describe what I wanted, we can build something else.

I say that I have a photograph I took, that is _more_.

Before the storm. Original photograph by me.

Before the storm. Original photograph by me.

(This was one of those “Grab your camera – quick” shots. This is at the other end of my street, looking back to the north towards my house. The storm was evolving and changing so much. But it was a dramatic shot, and I loved the light play there.)

I cut out the Quonset from the first draft painting, and make a mock up with my idea of placement, etc. (I sent to KB 1/31/15)

susp cover draft 3

Cool, huh? By now, we both get excited. This could be _something_. Dramatic. Extraordinary. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but if we had something like this (and not something green and light colored and washed out looking) that’d draw attention, right?

Cover draft 2, mockup with text.

Cover draft 2, mockup with text.

Okay, so if we go this route: then that’s gonna mean a dark background with white text. I am not a fan of inverse. Am I okay with this?

We both like it, so we proceed with this plan.

Quonset draft 2. Blocked in.

Quonset draft 2. Blocked in.

She sent this to me on 3/4/15.

I like the cloud. I am *picky* about the curvature lines on the Quonset. I mean, super-picky. These are not exact enough yet. She had a bunch of questions for me. I had a bunch of instructions and thoughts. She was considering d/cing this and starting again. But that cloud is super good.

I ask to proceed with this draft, if she’s okay with it.

Draft two, next phase.

Draft two, next phase.

She sent this to me 3/9/15.

I HATED the white around the base of the Quonset. I gave specific instructions not to paint the lamppost until we could agree on placement. I asked her to cut one out of paper, and tape it on the painting, so we could both judge placement.

I create a mockup with my idea of lamppost and placement.

Draft 2 - next phase.

Draft 2 – next phase.

I HATE the white-ish holes in the foreground. I ask her to fill in. I colored in the white around the base of the Quonset, and ask that that be done. By now, the curvature lines on the Quonest are spot on. I love the cloud. (somewere in this, I asked her to fill in a tiny bit of white into the blue, at the top of the cloud, so I’d have room for my subtitle. She did that.)


Foreground blacked in.

Foreground blacked in.

She sent this to me 3/11/15.

But – note the shadow on the left side, next to the tree. She says this shadow is not visible by the naked eye. But it shows up every time we photograph this painting. I had asked her to fill in the tree more back to the right. But, she worked and worked on that shadow.

Cover art with lamp 3-15-15

Cover art with lamp 3-15-15

She wants to darken part of the right side of the Quonset, so that the light appears to come thru from the left. I veto that.

I want the white-ish ground spaces put back in, between the lamp post and Quonest – to give a vertical offset, and make some differentiation, since the painting is so dark. During all the back and forth (and believe me there has been a TON of back and forth), I mention that the painting probably photographs darker than it is. She came back and said the painting photographs lighter than it is.

I get what I wanted! I am done!

It’s what I wanted! I am done!

I ask her if she’s done. She is done! (3/16/15)

Now we need to get me a high res scan of this, so I can have it available.

But, just for fun:

Let’s take a look-see, shall we?

Suspicions - the cover art

Suspicions – the cover art

I cannot imagine ANYONE who would be willing to spend this much time and effort, working this hard on a project. When we do these, I turn into an absolute DIVA. But, for some miracle, beyond my understanding, she still puts up with me. (And she acts like she enjoyed the process!)

You may have noticed we share the same last name. When we’re not working together – she’s my mother!


PS: I asked her if I could do a blog post about this. (She might not want those ‘in progress’ works seen out in the world. )

She replied:

<<Sure, but how are you going to know the steps?  Like…the sky is a turquoise that I didn’t like…then a light covering of indigo blue…and the violet blue.  Each one was melted with turpenoid.  The only reason you have as light a photograph as you do is that the turquoise shines through.  The original is really dark.  Every time I worked on the left side after I took it back down to the support, I did the same steps over again, except everything was gone over with a watercolor wash to take out the shine.  That’s how I brought down the black foreground to a mat finish. >>

That, my friends, is a true artist! It’s a language completely over my head. But, somehow, she translates what I want, into this magic!

Gracias! Mi madre.


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