Back in May, I happily rode the upswell of business. I had five books under contract with a sixth pending. Editing work flowed in a steady stream. I published a book. Life was good.

As any freelancer learns, a business like this ebbs and flows like the tide. Autumn brought the ebb tide, which one might think would mean additional free time–or at least extra time to work on that next manuscript. Of course, life doesn’t work that way. Editing gigs dried up. I lost a client because I can’t read minds. Additional writing opportunities didn’t pan out or offered far less than I would accept. (I’ve ranted before: I won’t work for pennies per hour.)

Chasing gigs takes a lot of time, especially when opportunities seem destined to put one in one’s place. The voices in my head went silent, then a new crowd of voices spoke and I had to write their story. So, as my publicist kindly reminds me, I did get a story out by year’s end–just not the one intended. The intended manuscript will take at least another month, probably two, before it’s ready for the editor to work her magic on it. And, of course, we got a dog after months of vowing that I didn’t want another dog. (See last week’s post on that.) And I enrolled in a marketing course.

The purpose of the marketing course is to build the freelance business. Of course, every author wants to make a good living from royalties. Very few ever manage to do so. I’ve read statistics that fewer than 10 percent of authors break $1,000 annually in royalties. I’m on track to break that, but the amount certainly isn’t sufficient to provide a living wage. Thus, I must concentrate on the freelance writing and editing business for my bread and butter and veterinary bills.

So, I’m back in “build it” mode. I’ve since learned that “build it and they will come” is a lie. The process goes more like “build it, promote the hell out of it, and they might deign to respond.” This is not a gripe, just a clear-eyed recognition of the vagaries of freelancing.

So, just to break up the boring monologue here…

Update on the younger son: If you’ve been reading this blog, then you know my younger son, Brian, enlisted in the Air Force. He departed for basic training at Lackland AFB, TX in September and graduated the first week of November. Currently stationed at the naval base in Pensacola, FL, he called last week with news of his first duty station: Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, AK. That’s about as far from home as he can get. He’s pleased with the assignment, so I am happy for him, too. I’ve already suggested to family members that silk long johns would make a good Christmas gift for him.

My Christmas gift to you: Instead of working on the sequel to Daughter of the Twin Moons, another story occupied my mind and keyboard. It’s finished and posted on this website as a free download: “Skeins of Gold” is my gift to you. This short story (fewer than 10,000 words) retells the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale from the point of view of the miller’s daughter. It always struck me that the miller’s daughter got a raw deal in this fairy tale: her father’s lie puts her at the mercy of a greedy king, who also lies to her. The imp, who saves her by accepting her paltry trade to spin straw into gold, has his own ulterior motives. In my version, the the imp becomes the hero and the miller’s daughter fully realizes her unenviable predicament–and puts the blame for it squarely where it belongs.

The intended release to Daughter of the Twin Moons is tentatively titled Witchbreed’s Fire. Look for it in the next couple of months. I’ll be running a sale on the first book–$0.99 for the ebook–shortly before Witchbreed’s Fire goes live.