April in Summary

April was a wonky month due to life rolls (my husband lost his job) and workshops.  But it was a good month for learning and a decent month for writing, though I fell short of my ever lofty goal of 100k words.

Here’s the stats:

Ebooks published: 2

Money earned from writing: 68 (48 from ebooks, 20 from reprint sale of a short story)

Words written: 52,307

May is going to be a busy month. I have another neo-pro interview lined up (should be up in the next week), I turn 30 (oh noes!), and I have three novels to finish, two of which should go up in May depending on cover art.  I will hopefully have a couple more short stories online as well as possibly a collection.  Clarion funding is coming together thanks to a couple of angels in my life, but I’m still going to try a Kickstarter project to get the rest of what I need so that I can maybe lean on my angels a little less.  Besides, my Kickstarter project idea is just neat, it’d be a shame to not at least try it.

That’s that for April.  I learned a great deal this month and I’ve learned some new ways to study as well.  I hope that going forward my writing will be even stronger.  My toolbox certainly has some new additions for me to play with.  May will be a good month.

Learning and Spring Plans

I’ve been reading some really good stuff on story, plotting, and outlines lately.  I have always felt, personally, that plotting is where I run into issues.  I can handle simple plots (straightforward quests, zomg must run or die now sorts of things) but don’t really have a handle on how to write something super epic or how to keep things so tight the reader can’t breathe for fear something will happen in the book and they’ll miss it on the exhale.

But I’m learning.  I don’t like not knowing things so I’ve set out to fill in some of my writer knowledge gaps.  As always, I have a plan. (Am I the only one who hears Black Adder in my head whenever I say that or hear someone say that? No?)  Book 1 in my Law & Order with swordfights series is almost done.  After that, I’m going to try to get the other three done and to the editor before Clarion.  Hopefully I can manage to get the second book in the Chwedl duology finished by Clarion also, because I’d like to focus solely on short fiction while there.

So here’s my modified schedule for this spring:

Avarice – finished by April 10th
Wrath- finished by April 30th
Hunger- finished by May14th
Vainglory- finished by May 28th
The Raven King- Finished by the time I leave for Clarion (around June 25th)

As for plotting, here are some of the books I’ve been reading:

Save the Cat and Save the Cat Goes to the Movies by Blake Snyder

The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist by Thomas McCormack

Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

How to Write Killer Fiction: The Funhouse of Mystery & the Roller Coaster of Suspense by Carolyn Wheat

I got Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel and the Breakout Novel Workbook out of the library as well.  I also picked up The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction by R. A. Salvatore and Philip Athans because I heart Salvatore and wanted to see what he said about writing the fantastic.  So far the book is very basic, but interesting.

I mention all this because I know that when I do bother to blog, I tend to talk about goals and numbers more than the actual work itself and what my daily job entails.  But, personally, I find the details of what I do pretty boring.  I mean, I get up, I read some stuff, I write some stuff, I read more stuff, I might make notes about things I want to work on or some such, etc.  It’s… well, a job.  Writing is fun, but the creation part is the fun part and it’s hard to talk about that in any real way because it’s easier to just point at the created work and be like “yeah, I did that”.  But I think just posting goals and such leads to it looking like I’m sitting in the dark beating up a keyboard.  There’s a whole lot more that goes into me writing and improving my craft besides the practice part.

Now, mind you, all the study in the world won’t improve my writing if I’m not doing the practice and putting in the writing itself as well.  It’s like what I pointed out with Starcraft 2 a while back.  I watch tons of SC2 games and can talk the theory with the best of the best (you know, same as any dedicated sport fan *grin*) but I can’t PLAY SC2 worth a damn because I haven’t put in the practice.  Writing is the same way.  Read books, soak up knowledge, and then GO USE IT.

That’s why I’m trying to get four books written before the end of June.  I want to take these things I’m studying and put them to use.  These books are a good way to do that since they all will require tight plotting, are set in worlds I already have mapped out and researched (so I don’t need to lose any writing time on world creation) and I’ve got the basic stories in my head already with characters and structure, so they should be fairly quick to outline once I get my new methods worked out.  The books are for study, the novels I’m writing are for the practical part.  I think of it as Class Time (reading about writing and studying other novels that have worked) and Lab Time (putting what I have learned into practice through practical, hands-on application).

So that’s the plan and I’m (maybe) sticking to it! ;)

February Wrap-up

Short month, went quickly.

I started, deleted, started again, and didn’t finish a novel this month. But I’ve solved how to finish it and now need to start over one final time. This annoying process underlined how important having the right point of view in a book really is (the POV issues were what was stalling me out in the middle, thankfully I figured that out before giving up forever).

Words written this month: approximately 72,000
Words discarded/deleted this month: about 34,000 (this number will GO AWAY next month. Seriously going to stop doing that. Seriously)
Ebook earnings: 22.75 (just slightly less than last month, yay!)

For March, I’ve got two novels to go up as e-pub. I need to get on the POD/Createspace thing and learn how to do that and get print copies out. I’m also going to start the sequel to a book while working on the SF novel (now that POV issues are solved). I’m behind on the Write one/Sub one challenge, so I’m going to try to get seven or eight stories done this month as well to catch up. And I’d like to finish one of the romance novellas. I’m debating on waiting until all eight are done to start putting them up, but we’ll see. I might wait until I have three or four, then start putting them up every couple weeks.

Meanwhile, today I’m going to be approving copy edits and generally taking it easy. Just got back from an amazing week of workshops and really need a little brain break before I start writing for the week.

Gotta Know When to Fold’em

To date this month, I’ve written just under 60,000 words.  Most of that was on my SF novel project.  However, nothing seemed to be coming together with the novel and I kept throwing out whole scenes and chapters and starting again and again trying to make the plot gel.  I kept doing this until the fun was gone and all I could do is sit and write and then delete and try again and hate every second of it.

So I’m sort of quitting that novel for now.  Not forever.  Just for now.  It’s a complex plot, more involved with more POVs and more threads than I’ve ever tried to write before.  Which is a good thing, since I think it’s healthy to stretch my writing muscles and make myself deal with something I’m weaker on like complicated plotting.  But beating myself up about it not coming together wasn’t helping anything.

It’s really hard for me to admit I need to take a step back from this project.  I follow Heinlein’s Rules, after all.  Rule 2 is “finish what you write”.  When stepping away from this, I had to ask myself honestly if I wanted to put it down for now because that’s the healthy thing to do? Or am I just walking away because this is difficult?  It’s one thing to set something down and let it percolate a little more.  It’s another to start forming a habit of dropping a project the moment it gets rocky.  I don’t want to form a habit of not finishing things, because nothing will kill a writing career faster than not finishing, except maybe not starting.  (If I don’t start, I can’t finish, if I don’t finish, I can’t submit, if I don’t submit, I can’t sell…see?)

So I’m making a compromise with myself.  I’m stepping back from this novel.  I’m still going to keep up my writing streak and go for my necessary 3,000 words a day and a short story on weekends (the numbers I need to hit my annual goals).  And I’m designating Mondays as the day to work on this novel (minimum one page/250 words).  If I have to just write it scene by scene and take 40 weeks to finish, I’ll finish.  Meanwhile, the rest of the days will be devoted to other projects that I feel more comfortable with.  I figure that this is a good compromise.  I’m not quitting this novel entirely, but I’m giving myself breathing room on it while hopefully continuing to develop my skills enough that the sort of complicated plot I want to construct here will become an easier thing for me.  I’m tired of second guessing myself and deleting words and basically letting my critical voice eat away at me.  I’m a better writer than that and I should know better.

So that’s what’s up with me right now.  I’m turning to short stories while I get a couple of novels formatted for e-publishing and then I’ll be back to novel writing in March (working on a fantasy novel with a nice straightforward quest/romance plot and only one or two POVs, thank god).

I’ve fallen behind on the Write 1/Sub 1 challenge by 3 short stories, so I intend to catch up this week and next.  Also next week I have two workshops back to back, so I think that will help recharge my batteries and be really interesting and amazing as always (but especially with the changes in the industry right now… being around multiple professional writers for an entire week is going to be very, very educational).

15 Days

This novel (currently standing at 7,300 words) is due on the 15th of this month.  15 days.  (I’m shipping out the query package tomorrow).  I need about 72,000 words more to have it be a decent (re: marketable) length.

15 days. 72,000 words. 4,800 words a day.  Go!

So yeah, I’ll probably be fairly absent from my blog for the next two weeks.  But some cool things are coming (more interviews, a fantasy novel released via Doomed Muse Press).  Meanwhile, I gotta write.

The Streak Begins

So the writing in shifts thing has been working out pretty good except for one tiny issue.  I keep working on one thing.  Despite my brain being fully capable and willing to write two (or ten) things, apparently once I get into my groove, it wants to finally settle down.  That’s not a bad thing at all.  I am learning my limitations, however.  Like that it takes me realistically six weeks instead of four to write a novel because I like to goof off and procrastinate and do all manner of things that aren’t writing.  Or that I don’t really like working more than 4 hours a day (some days, I do.  Some days the words and flowing and I’m on a roll and don’t want to stop, so I don’t).  Four hours (broken up into a couple shifts) of writing brand new fiction feels pretty good.  I usually get 3-5k words done in those four hours, which is a totally acceptable pace for my goals.

So I’ve decided to start a streak, a writing streak.  I’m going to write every day for at least 20 minutes.  I find writing is like exercise, I don’t necessarily feel up to it instantly, but usually once I’m doing it I feel pretty good and want to keep going.  I’m usually less focused and more distracted on weekends (weekends being when my husband and cat and stuff want my attention most).  But I’m going to keep my streak up.  Every day. Every. Day. 20 minutes minimum.

I’ve also decided what I’m going to do during my streak.  I’m going to focus my efforts this year on the various novel series I already have going.  I’ve set up a calendar of novels and deadlines because I work best to deadlines.  Most of these books are already outlined.  I intend to use weekends for short story writing so that my short story submissions don’t fall behind and because shorts are awesome.  One and done.  One day (sometimes two) and I’m finished.  They are very satisfying.  When stuck in the middle of a novel, it is nice to remember what finishing something feels like, so I like to do short stories to mix things up.

So here’s the rough deadline schedule:

Wrath (Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division Book 2): March 19th

The Raven King (Cymru that Could Be: Book 2): April 29th

Delilah in Paradise: June 10th

Beyond Casimir (Lorian Archive: Book 2): July 22nd

Casimir Rising (Lorian Archive: Book 3): September 2nd

Hunger (Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division Book 3): September 23rd

The City is Still Hungry (A Remy Pigeon mystery): November 4th

Vainglory (Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division Book 4): November 25th

Delilah in Hell: December 30th

The Slow Beat Down (A Remy Pigeon mystery): February 10th, 2012

Sindra’s Storm (possibly a duology): March 23rd, 2012

So that’s the schedule.  Unless, of course, a giant wrench gets thrown in it due to either success (like a contract or two) or disaster (but hey, I could still type in a hospital bed, so I’m good, right?).  And of course keep the streak up and hopefully get 52 stories written and submitted.  I’ve done two shorts so far this year.  I’m a little behind.

Go go gadget streak writer *grin*

2010 Recap

This is the obligatory post where I look at my goals from last year and then see where I stand on them now, a year later.

Goal 1. Write 4 novels and submit them
Well, I have three submitted. So that’s not a total fail. I’m short one novel, but will have it ready by Feb.

Goal 2. Have at least 30 short stories in my folders and keep them out on markets until they sell or have nowhere to go
This is a win. I have over 30 short stories in my folders and have been pretty good about keeping them out until they sell (and some have even sold, crazy!).

Goal 3. Finish everything I start
This is a fail for a couple reasons. I started a Middle Grade novel back in June, got about 12k words into it, and quit. I don’t know if I’ll return to it because I just wasn’t feeling the love with the story. I mean, I like the story, but I wasn’t so keen on that whole “middle grade” thing and kept wanting to do horrible things that young people probably don’t want to read about. So it might turn into a weird novella for e-publishing.
I also decided to work on beginnings this fall and toward that end started a bunch of short stories without finishing them. I will finish them at some point (probably during the story a week challenge next year).

Goal 4. Submit everything I finish
Win. I’ve been crazy good about getting stuff into the mail.

Goal 5. Keep track of receipts and other things for taxes (I was abominable about it this last year, sigh)
Mostly a win. I know I’ve lost track of some receipts and I wasn’t sure about what counted or not for others, but I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping track of the big stuff (putting it all into a spreadsheet soon is going to be scary. I don’t want to think about how much money I’ve spent at the post office and on workshops etc…).

Goal 6. Try writing at least three things outside my genre comforts (mystery, horror, erotica, something…)
Win. I wrote an entire mystery novel, I’ve been messing around with erotica, and I’m about to start a romance novel. I’ve definitely been writing outside the comfort zone.

Goal 7. Keep going, never look back, never surrender and all that
Well, I haven’t given up yet :)

Basically, I did pretty well this year. I sold three short stories, got a Semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future contest, learned how to put stuff up on Kindle, and wrote almost 350,000 words. I missed my word count goal by about 100,000 but I ran into snags this year that I couldn’t foresee, so I don’t feel that annoyed. I got a lot done, by any measure. And next year is going to be even bigger. I’m just getting warmed up.