Wednesday, March 7, 2018

IWSG: March and A Broken Race Gets A Facelift

What? It's March already? Did someone fast forward my calendar, or my life, for that matter. Ugh. There's just not enough time.

I used to do surveys for points. This was years ago. I don't remember what service it was, but on nearly every survey, toward the end where they ask you about your demographic details, there were always these questions. Do you feel the world is moving too fast? Do you feel the internet is overwhelming? I though they were the silliest things. Overwhelming? The internet is awesome! How can the world move too fast?

Well guess what? My answers these days are: yes. OMG yes.

I've reverted to playing solitaire on my computer to unplug from the internet. The internet is stealing my energy and my ambition. There is too much out there I should be doing: networking, marketing, learning, researching. Even though I'd hoped to blog more and I have plenty to talk about, I'm stuck on too fast and overwhelming. And no, this post isn't a challenge to see how many times I can use that word.

Here's one fun thing I can share that's quick and easy. A Broken Race is being re-released very soon. It has a new cover and additional content actually in the book rather that only here on my blog. I received the rights back from the publisher a couple weeks ago, and as soon as I get the all clear from Createspace, the new version will be ready to order.

And now it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post! 

How do you celebrate when you achiever a writing goal / finish a story?

When I reach a writing goal, such as finishing a chapter or a number of words, I go off and do a quick reward to relax. That might be watching an episode of whatever I'm currently binging on Netflix or going out to work in my yard or garden.

Finishing a short story usually means taking the rest of the day off from writing while I ponder potential edits.  Finishing a novel means taking a couple days off to let my brain decompress. Holding a whole novel in your head takes a lot of energy and it can be very distracting. All that thinking about motivations, backstory, what would this or that character do or say and twisting all the plot and subplots together into a tight thread. When I'm mid-novel, that's all going on at once during all the minutes of the day (and sometimes, night). Finishing a novel means I get a clean reboot. I go vegetate on a yard project or a season of show, or read a couple books. Of course, in the back of my mind, I'm now starting to contemplate edits, covers, blurbs and all those sorts of things.

If we're talking holding a finished book in my hands, I'd love to say I do something huge to celebrate, but honestly, I'm probably already contemplating which project to work on next. I don't know about you, but my writer brain doesn't seem to take anything more than long weekend vacations. No rest for the wicked.

How do you celebrate your writing victories?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

IWSG: February

 It's a new year, and it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post! 

This month's question is:
What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

I enjoy the 'what if' aspect of speculative fiction.

What if humanity had to evacuate Earth, after a long journey on one of the first seed ships, you finally arrive, only to discover other evacuees are already there and established, and you're outdated and irrelevant? 

What if you were told to kill the person you loved because they were guilty of a crime (and they are, but you feel their actions were justified) to gain the support you need to save your homeworld from an enemy? 

What if you wanted to have a child, but society says you don't qualify because if your ancestors' health history, even if you're perfectly healthy?

Sometimes I set out with a what if in mind from the beginning, other times it comes to me in the opening chapters when I'm contemplating the plot or during edits when I'm trying to refine the plotlines or character motivations. When what if questions cross and multiply, that becomes a fun bit of chaos to sort out, but I try to only do that with novels. Short stories tend to focus on a single question at the heart of it all. 

In other news...

Sorry about the lack of responding to comments and visiting blogs lately. I do read and appreciate them, really. Outside of writing, I've been dealing with aging Mother-in-law health issues - as in she may need to move in with us very soon. She's been falling more often and is no longer resisting the idea that she should probably not be living on her own. Several of us family members live within a ten minute radius, but when everyone has their cell phones on silent at 4am, and you fall when you get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, distance isn't the issue. While, we now have an app for that, I'd much rather know she's safe in bed. If that means we need to make room for another body around here, then I guess that's what needs to happen.

This week's fun was summed up with my sister-in-law taking her to the ER because her leg that was bruised from last week's fall swelled up due to poor circulation and the fact that she refuses to keep it elevated no matter how many times I tell her to do that when I'm over there. The more fun part was that she had no idea where her ID or insurance card was and was positive that I had it. I didn't. She put it...somewhere. Oh the joys of getting old (she's eighty-seven).

On top of not sleeping well (half-anticipating another 4am phone call), and not feeling quite right (daughter brought home some illness from school), I haven't been ultra productive outside of work, because paying the bills is top priority with what energy I have. Unfortunately, all things book don't pay the bills. So back burner for those items for the most part.

The 30in30 challenge is creeping along. That's my progress level. Creeping. My brain has been too scattered to be very productive even on my rewrite project. 

How's your February shaping up so far?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

January updates on the resolutions and writing

January has been a flurry of activity toward my one word goal for the year: Speak. First up, a fun interview at The Contents Page where I discuss noisy chickens, my writing process, and Sahmara.

With book 4 of The Narvan wrapped up and in incubation, I'm preparing (by which I mean procrastinating until the last minute) to dive into a rewrite of Not Another Bards Tale this February. I've joined a 30,000 words in 30 days writing challenge. You might be saying, "but wait, February isn't the month for that, being only 28 days and all." True enough, but what's another 100 words a day? Stay tuned for updates on the 30in30 challenge.

My 2018 author event calendar is filling and plans are fleshing out for the two events I'm organizing this summer.
March 10 - Herrick Library MiFi Writers - Holland, MI
May 4-6 - Penguicon - Detroit, MI
June 9 - Fandom Fest - Benton Harbor, MI
July 6&7 - Michigan Authors at the Lakeshore - Muskegon, MI - Tentative
July 15 - Detroit BookFest - Tentative
August 4 - Michigan Authors at the Lakeshore - Holland, MI
September 9 - Kerrytown Bookfest - Tentative

After a meeting with the publisher of A Broken Race, I'm regaining the rights to that book and will be publishing a second edition with additional content in the coming months. The Narvan contract is still up in the air as of this moment as they are restructuring/refocusing and have offered options. Updates to follow.

That meeting also spawned the idea to gather all my previously published short stories into an anthology. The print rights on all of those have returned to me so now its just a matter of sitting down and making that my free time.

How are you doing with your resolutions?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Best Writing Advice Of 2017

As I creep into the new year, I'm still working on a project from the old one. I'd hoped to have it finished, but the story isn't quite done with me yet and I'm pondering where to end it. I think I got that figured out yesterday, but I'm guessing it will be at least another 10K to 15K before I get there.

What I wanted to talk about here though, is a little line of advice I read last year that helped me get to this productive point where I've cranked out 95K in just over two months. I'm sorry that I don't remember where I came across it so I can't credit it properly, but it comes down to this:

Touch your writing every day.

You don't have time for a two hour writing session every single day?  Take a few minutes to touch your project. Read the last paragraph, write a couple sentences, read over the last scene, write a paragraph, sit with your words and consider what you'll write next.

The problem many of us have is we get a new sparkly idea. We binge-write until the sparkle is gone. Then the real work of maintaining plot, pace, and character sink in. After that, writing a chore, it's work, the words might not come as easily. We have to stop and think more, plan ahead, consider, contemplate. All of that takes time. Time were we may not be actively pouring out words, where we feel like we're not accomplishing much of anything and maybe we're wasting our time. Time most of us don't have much of to begin with.

When the urge isn't there or other obligations swallowed your usual writing session, make yourself sit down and touch your words.

Make small steps until the story starts to flow, ideas start to click and the plot and ending reveal themselves. Percolate. Stay familiar with your story.

Don't give in to the urge to set aside your writing for a day. That day turns into two, and three, and a week, and on and on.

Having practiced this for a couple months now, I'm having a much better time making the writing happen. I used to mostly write in the morning and call it good. Now I've added touching my words at lunch and sometimes after work or dinner. Writing once and touching here and there, it's made my time in front of the keyboard much more productive. I hope it will help you too.

What's the best writing advice you came across last year?    

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

IWSG: January and 2018 Goals

 It's a new year, and it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post! 

This month's question is: What steps have you taken to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

My publishing schedule has been rather up in the air all last year and I don't foresee this year being much different as a good deal of it depends on my publisher. There have been editors coming and going, restructuring, a new backend interface, a move, and  other delays for various reasons. Ah, the joys of working with a small press. If I had to sum up last year in one word, I'd go with frustrated.

As to writing related things under my control, I do have a schedule. I write every morning Monday - Friday and quite often on the weekends too. I try to touch my WIP at lunch and again after work. My goal is 1000 words a day. Coming out of NaNo, where I managed roughly 2K a day for the month, half of that feels quite doable. December saw goals met and we're onward into January. How that will play out once I get this current rough draft completed, time will tell. 

February is slated to be a 30 in 30 month (or 30K in 28 days in this case... or 28 in 28, but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it.). I hope to be working on rewriting Not Another Bard's Tale, a silly fantasy story. The problem is I went all experimental with it originally, and while it's a fun character piece, there's no cohesiveness. It needs a much stronger plot to pull it together.

At some point, likely the point with the worst timing, I'll be getting edits back on the first book of The Narvan. 

I'd like to get NABT and at least book one of The Narvan out into the big world in 2018.

As to other goals, that brings me to my One Word for the new year.

Speak. Mostly speaking up when I've had enough. I started in on this already at the end of November, by asking for help for next year, outsourcing, delegating. I'm also hoping to organize an author event in my town with my local writing group, and perhaps assist with another nearby. In May, I'm going to Penguicon and sitting in on some writing panels. On a smaller scale, I'd like to get back into my weekly blogging schedule. 

Past One Words have been:

2012 was the year of Less. This helped me overcome my habit of over obligation.

2013 was the year of Me. In which I focused a little more on myself instead of doing everything for everyone else.

2014 was the year when I said I would Write. Shit happened. Goal denied.

2015 was sort of a do over year. I tried to work toward solving my problem from the year before by choosing Time. Making time to do the thing I wanted to do: write. Because, well hell, no one else tells you to sit down, stop doing all the things, and write. You have to do that yourself.

2016 was the year of Relax.  That went pretty well and started my morning routine of time in my comfy chair.

I tried to Enjoy 2017. I'd give it a solid meh. I made an effort, but life, work, and finances often got in the way.

What's your one word for 2018?