Captain Unobvious

The “Captain Unobvious” hat is a Saturday afternoon panster project made with a freebie baseball hat and left-over chenille upholstery fabric. Could be a yacht captain or airplane captain hat. Depends on my mood at the time.
(Or it’s just a Maytag repairman hat.)

I will often write down several potential blog titles at a time, often with the expectation I will remember what I planned to do with it later. Ha, ha, ha, ha… Pardon me while I wipe the tears of laughter from my face, because that’s not always the case. This clever item is “Exhibit A”.

Most of the time, I could be classified as a planster. I’m comfortable swinging both ways. If we’re traveling on a long-distance road trip, you better believe there are often plans with days of preparation before we leave. However, since we do have some challenges here, it’s not uncommon for a monkey wrench to disrupt my well-oiled machine. The only way for my sanity to survive is by being flexible. Pantster skills do have their uses, and like anything else, improve with practice. (Not to mention age. There had better be some perks for getting older, gosh darn it!)

I started this blog with a somewhat nebulous idea. In fact, I didn’t really have any plans to return to blogging while wrapping up my first book. Only a crazy person would take on additional writing tasks while preparing said book for publication, establishing a legitimate business, and trying to decide how I was comfortable promoting “my brand.” For a few weeks, I managed to be at least two posts ahead of schedule. Now, I’m caught up. When looking at my list of inspiration I came across “Captain Unobvious”. An intriguing title to be sure, but what had I planned to do with it? I couldn’t remember, so I wrote “Resolution Re-evaluation” last week. That one wasn’t even on my list. Pantster skills at their finest, to be certain.

For my mid-week post this past week, I released a sneak-peak of my book cover. (The Big Reveal) Like any needy writer/creative person, I’ve been seeking approval for my work before making it widely available to the big, wide world. My next-door neighbor and two of my critique partners received beta copies. (Thank you for your time Casie, Kathie, and Michelle.) Kathie sent me her notes several days ago, including her impression of the cover. She noted it didn’t suggest a historical romance. Kathie, if you read this, I am by no means upset with you. The beauty of being an indie author is the ability to take risks. Including with your cover art. The design choice is in fact deliberate.

I know I have been meandering down the Yellow Brick Road for a while now, and it’s time for the Wizard to pull back the curtain. At least a little bit. Yes, technically I wrote a Regency Historical. It is what I started with 30 years ago. The story is set mostly in London, England 1816. However, once I got through my first draft, I realized “traditional” just wasn’t working for me. Meaning a trade publisher probably wouldn’t either. From that moment on, I took more than one risk. Starting with the fact, the large star sapphire on the book cover became a pivotal character. In my original draft, way back when, it was just an object in the story. Where would I get such a nutty idea for a “Regency” romance? The Orb from David Eddings’ The Belgariad and The Malloreon. I read both series in high school and my early twenties. They obviously made a lasting impression. It’s only fair to warn die-hard Regency fans my characters don’t attend many fancy parties, and clothing is only described if it matters to the scene. Otherwise, this book is very much about the characters themselves.

When I say a good story is a good story, period, I’m not kidding. I find it a bit frustrating when other authors mention they want to try writing a different type of story from their usual genre, or whatever trend they’re trying to capitalize upon. Sure, you may have some readers who prefer not to be “challenged” by something different. That’s OK, to each his own; but you shouldn’t let them keep you from finding your joy. That leap of faith might yield some new friends, like myself, who prefer not to be contained by a single genre when I read.

Which is all part of my evil plan when I write and design my books. I’ve read many books with compelling love stories, not classified as romance novels. And I have a tiny little problem with labels. They do occasionally have their uses in helping us identify stuff, like say, a bottle of poison. Unfortunately, the large majority of the time, they are used to keep us apart. Not to mention the pesky practice of denoting some types of work as less valuable than others, because of the label affixed to it. (Women’s literature, I’m looking at you.) As a multi-discipline creative, I find that idea highly insulting. I do not, nor have I ever, considered any type of project I undertake as less valuable than another. They all require a great deal of thought, planning and faith to make them reality. That goes for anyone who has the courage to create works of art they are willing to share with others. Even if it doesn’t suit another’s taste, it should still receive respect, period.

I’m at the point where it’s time to release my first book and commit to the second, which I have already started. The downside of self-publishing can be the level of investment the author makes upfront. It all depends on goals. I have more IP identified in my projects than the writing, meaning it’s in my best interest to form an LLC as a production company. Starting with the fact my production work is performed “in-house”. This is a high-concept operation with corresponding support tools. I already have expenses related to the software I use. Initially, continuing to pay for it was an investment in myself, to keep my skills current. (Because one never knows when your circumstances may change.) Now, it’s a legitimate business expense, and it won’t be the only one. Besides the fact this first book has been eight months in the making, I’m not in a position to give my books away in order to find an audience. If any business is to succeed, it can’t begin by operating in the red. Look at it this way. If I didn’t do my job properly, I don’t deserve the privilege of having anyone buy my second book.

Personally, I don’t think any creative, regardless of discipline, should be expected to give their work away to grow their business. Professionals invest a great deal of time and money in education, equipment and the work itself. (Those big boxes of crayons, people.) It may seem to others like we magically produce stuff, much like Unicorns pooping sprinkles. Except there is a great deal going on behind the scenes; including projects which don’t always work out, yet still cost money to produce. I have worked in other fields, including healthcare. I believe it would be safe to say none of us would show up for a job, if a new employer tells you there will be no paycheck until you prove yourself. For those of us born to create, we pay our dues daily and throughout our lifetimes, often starting on our journeys while still very young. We are not second-class citizens whose work is less valuable until someone else owns it.

I made it clear early on in this blog (This is My Brand), why I decided to get serious about taking a chance on myself. I chose Patreon for early public access and behind-the-scenes peeks at my work. It’s a chance for my potential readers to get in on the ground floor. The R&D department really, since I have no problem being honest. They will get opportunities to interact with me in a manner which wouldn’t be possible if I simply throw my first book on Amazon as a loss leader. When all my ducks are in a row, I plan on a wide release, including being available oversees. I am aware some of the visitors to this blog are outside the United States. It would be foolish of me to exclude them from the opportunity to read my book, if they are interested.

There are two current Patreon offers at the moment. How I produced a multi-media book cover, and the first three chapters of my book. Both are available to the $3 tier, and higher, of course. Those who like making things, might want to become a Patron in the higher tiers to receive exclusive opportunities to complete projects from my books with me. (Like your very own Heart of a Star.) At the very least, there may be a few items which might appeal to Cosplay folks or aficionados of Renaissance Fairs. Not to mention exclusive offers for members when my books are officially published. Such as early full releases, discounts or autographed copies which will be available to all tiers at varying levels. (If you want to know a bit about my “hobbies” and potential activities, see the post “The Year of Being Extra”.)

Those interested in supporting me on Patreon can click the link below. I will be adding polls, not behind a paywall, to get more information about how potential Patrons wish to interact with me, and whether or not they want to be part of a community that interacts with each other. Just to name a couple. In case you have doubts about trying it, the polls will allow me to customize an experience which allow you to enjoy your membership. There will be no expectations for anyone to support me for a given length of time. If you try Patreon for one month and don’t enjoy it, there will be no hard feelings. The occasional, fun freebie might appear as well, which won’t be on this blog. Like my playlist of inspiring writing songs and a chapter from my book, which are available now.

For those people who only want to read my blog posts, those will still be available to the public here, no strings attached. Right now, there are 26 posts. If you haven’t read them all, there is enough here to keep someone entertained for at least a few days. This is the work I’m doing to prove myself, and I appreciate the time any visitor gives, to spend it with me. It’s OK to leave a comment. I’m happy to hear from you, and if you’re a fellow blogger, I don’t mind reciprocating. All I ask is that you make it a bit easier on me, since I have a lot of work on my plate. (Including our older daughter’s wedding in April. My husband does want me to spend time with him occasionally, too.) Please provide me with a link to one of your favorite posts. (Real posts, not advertising. I do inspect the links of anything which lands in the spam folder.) I know, they’re like our children, and we’re not supposed have favorites. Though I’m willing to bet you have at least one or two. Unfortunately, I will have to adjust the number of posts I publish here. Writing a book is a very intensive process for me, and number two hasn’t proceeded as far as I would like. However, I do get notifications for comments which aren’t spam, meaning if someone takes the time to communicate with me, you won’t be ignored for very long.

This is your invitation to join Captain Unobvious on her inaugural flight to destinations of wild imagination. These skies will always endeavor to be friendly and inclusive.

Kristal DeJong

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