2019 in Review

It's crazy how the year starts out with optimistic goals that ebb and flow when met with life's realities. Health, family, changing workloads, and challenging situations all play a part in what actually gets done...or doesn't.

First a look at what didn't:
  • Love's Intensity has yet to be issued in print - I'd hoped to get this done in 2019 (reality check: I'd hoped to get this done in 2018 but stuff happened) in time or the October book festival in Collingswood, but proofreading has taken much longer than expected. Here's hoping for a 2020 printing.
  • Posting on this blog every month - Too many obstacles. Maybe 2020 will be kinder than 2019.
  •  If It Kills Me and Danny R.O.S.S. were never edited. Instead, they were both released back to me by a publishing company due to unforeseen circumstances.
Celebrating the tasks that did:
  • Merged scenes from loose files for the two new stories and the prequel and sequel of Love's Intensity.
  • Tweeted and posted to my FaceBook Author Page more often.
  • Attended the 2019 USVI Literary Festival and Book Fair in April.
  • Landed an impromptu in-person interview at WSTX radio in Gallows Bay, St. Crox at that time.
  • Participated in Career Day at the Samuel M. Ridgeway School in June.
  • SciFi 2030 battle scene in Battle of Kitee (posted on the Small Wars Journal site) made it to the semi-finals of the Mad Scientist Fiction Writing Contest 2019.
  • Entered five other contests for stories and poetry. I'm glad I made the leap even though those didn't place.
  • Finished the first draft for one of the new stories, #ZnT, with 62,500+ words in 287 pages a week before Christmas. It's now out with the Beta reader.
  • Completed first edits for If It Kills Me.
So, as 2019 comes to a close, I raise my glass of sparkling apple cider to all the things I accomplished and all the hardships I pushed through to do that. Looking forward to an even better New Year.


Updating the PHP

Updating the what now?

PHP is scripting language called Hypertext Preprocessor, but, to me, it's the thing, if not updated properly on one's website, can render it unreachable and useless.

In the spring, during my first attempt at updating cassandraulrich.com, I made a mess of things. Monumental sized. Not only was an error message popping up every time I tried to access any page on my site, but I could also no longer update/change/fix my error. Talk about a Rock and a Hard Place.

Thank goodness for my site's host, Inmotion Hosting. They had my site up and running within a half hour. Website life was good once again.

Then, the dreaded reminder came months later to update the site's PHP again in order to protect against all the known nasty web invasions. Eeek!

Do I call for help this time or try updating by myself again? They are only an instant message away if I mess up, right?

For those of you who know me, I'm not a quitter and I don't like not knowing/understanding how to do something or how I messed up the last time. I can read and follow directions, can't I?

So, I click on links, take notes, and talk my brain through the steps. Took me an hour to do that and download the needed apps to backup my site, something I hadn't done the last time--yes, i was panicking back in the spring. And, wouldn't you know, I did it! My site stayed up, ready for visitors to check out my latest posts.

I understand that not many have the stamina for this type of stress, but I'm a writer with a technical background. I refuse to let the web trip me up. I'm not a glutton for punishment, though. If indeed I encounter an issue best left to professional IT folks, I have no problem letting them at it. It's just really fulfilling to do something I was never trained for on the job.

Don't underestimate what you can do.


Why I Downloaded a Voice Recording App But Never Used it

Upon hearing how many scenes my brain creates while I'm driving, many of friends have suggested using a recording app on my phone. Besides not legally allowed to touch my phone while driving in my state, the characters go quiet the instant my voice goes live. So, the scene stops and my brain goes blank. I am basically the note taker. I have no other part as the scene unfolds in their voices. I write what I see and hear and how they react to scents and touch.

So now you know. I must write with a pen, pencil, or typewriter when creating fiction stories.

Hats off to those of you who are able to talk away into an app that can type for you.


Battle in the Mind of an Author - The Aftermath

It's been three years since the big fight, and I'm just finishing up the scene that caused all the raucous. Unfortunately, things didn't bode well for the male character. Oh, don't worry. He's not leaving the story. He's merely a bit disgruntled at the moment, but he'll live.

So what happens now?

I keep writing. With 171 double spaced pages already completed, the ending is closer than ever (Goal? December 2019). However, this is the part that makes me a bit nervous. I want the ending to be as interesting as the beginning, so the reader doesn't want to put the book down until the last punctuation.

In the meantime, I'm having fun negotiating scenes with my characters. Nothing like having them change my mind with respect to how the scene should go.

I better go before he notices I'm not working on his manuscript. 😉


"Billiard Buddies" Relaunch

https://www.amazon.com/Billiard-Buddies-Cassandra-Ulrich/dp/1080432841/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1567277775&sr=1-1Change in inevitable. I remember the joy when "Billiard Buddies" first landed a contract after experiencing three rejections. It's been quite a journey achieving a cover that fit and receiving positive feedback from many readers. Those positive ones helped me get through the not so great ones.

I persevered.

Recently, the publisher released the book back to me. At first, my gut clenched and I sighed...a lot. Once I got over the initial shock, I set to working on placing my logo on the cover, re-reading the book for any errors, and reformatting the print version so it matched "A Beautiful Girl."

I just received a copy of the print version today and I am thoroughly pleased. I hope many more people read this story and leave reviews. It was a lot of fun to write.



Mid-Summer Push

With the warmth of summer making an appearance, the inclination to spend more time relaxing on the porch or going to the beach with family and friends increases. Despite that, I've maintained the writing momentum started back in January. The three works in progress are coming along with respect to merging additional files containing individual scenes into the appropriate location in the chosen story. From time to time, new scenes come to mind that help to fill out the plot. The way my brain creates never ceases to amaze me.

I did received a couple rejections for poetry contests I entered earlier this year, but that, I've learned, is the journey of a writer. I'm waiting to hear from a few more contests. Hoping for a winner.

I've also carved out some time to work on my website. There's much to do. Hopefully, I'll catch up by the end of summer and begin a repeatable rhythm.

That's all for now. Back to writing.


What's been happening so far in 2019?

Not a whole lot of posts, that's for sure. It's crazy how life (health, job, family, pop ups) can redirect the best of intentions. I really thought I'd be posting at least once per month this year. (Oh, well.)

I did manage to do some writing in the midst of the chaos, though. With my 2019 SMART goals in place, I began merging scenes of three stories into the appropriate files. It's much like working on a thousand piece puzzle three times over. (Ha!) This, I have discovered, is one of the side-effects of being a panster. (Remember the typing I did from all those loose sheets and notebooks back in 2017?) See my Accomplishments in 2017 post.

I've also been shaking up my tweets a bit, some by way of my FaceBook Author Page. It's been challenging, but fun, to think up new things to say besides quoting scenes from my published works.

Then, I had the opportunity to travel to St. Croix for the 2019 USVI Literary Festival and Book Fair in April. Teaching students about self-publishing and visiting Arthur A. Richards Junior High School were the highlight of that trip. My visit to the school was cut short due to plumbing issues that still plague the islands post the hurricanes in 2017. I also participated in Career Day at the Samuel M. Ridgeway School in June 2019. Reading scenes from a couple of my stories for the students was a blast.

And, during my trip in St. Croix, I landed an impromptu in-person interview at WSTX radio in Gallows Bay. How fun was that!

For the not so great news, two of my stories were released back to me. That means the contracts were cancelled. And that other story I'd hoped would land a contract? Well, that's not happening. Time to figure out what to do next.

In the meantime, I continue to enter writing contests, hoping for another winner. I took a chance late March on a SciFi 2030 battle scene in Battle of Kitee and made it to the semi-finals. I only had one week to pull it off, so I wasn't even going to bother until two co-workers convinced me to go for it. Receiving positive feedback from folks in the military made my year. As for a win with another story? We'll see.


Happy New Year! It's 2019.

After a busy year rebuilding my website, winning a poetry contest, winning a spot in a short story anthology, being interviewed on the radio, releasing Adelle & Brandon, and being named Writer of the Year, I'm ready to see what 2019 has to offer.