Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Dec 11-17, 2022

Happy Hanukkah (ongoing), and happy solstice (tomorrow) for those who celebrate! Here’s my gift to you: informal writerly learnings. Yeah, I share them every week, and you know what, every week they’re gifts 🙂 Enjoy!

Ann Marie Nieves answers your book PR and marketing questions about what to do on a budget. Then, Kathleen McCleary is facing down fear. Jim Dempsey explains how to make the most of your writing goals. Then, Barbara Linn Probst takes a closer look at how writers use beta readers: who, when, why—and does it help? Writer Unboxed

Can all monsters be traced back to Tiamat? Monstrum | PBS Storied

Lori Freeland offers five tips to boost your professional writing cred. Then, Colleen M. Story explains how to decide what you really want from your writing career. Stefan Emunds helps you tap readers’ subconscious to engage them in your story. Writers in the Storm

Why death magic is evil. Tale Foundry

Beth Kephart presents a quiet manifesto: blurb matters. Then, Allison K. Williams shows you how writing your synopsis can fix your book. Eva Langston shares what she learned from 90 queries. Then, Sangeeta Mehta interviews Susan Chang and Julie Scheina about what you need to know before hiring a developmental editor. Jane Friedman

When the world becomes small. A philosophical turn. Ze Frank

Lucy V. Hay reveals how to use real life to inspire your fiction. Then, Jami Gold explains how and when to use foreshadowing. Writers Helping Writers

On her own site, Jami follows up by explaining the difference between foreshadowing and spoilers

Nathan Bransford shows you how to write a character who’s adrift.

E.J. Wenstrom shares four lessons learned over a decade of author platforming. Then, Sara Farmer shares her favorite mystery shows. Kaira Rouda shows you how to use a setting you know to set your characters free. Later in the week, Monica Cox shares five tips to get unstuck from the murky middle of your manuscript. DIY MFA

The hidden meaning in the humanity of others. Like Stories of Old

Adeena Mignogna exposes common misconceptions about satellite orbits. Science in Science Fiction | Dan Koboldt

Tiffany Yates Martin is showing up for the good stuff. Fox Print Editorial

Angie Hodapp shares seven tips for writing powerful endings. Pub Rants

What to do (and not do) with your NaNoWriMo novel. Reedsy

Chris Winkle unpacks five tropes that require low realism. Then, Oren Ashkenazi explains why the Save the Cat! novel beat sheet won’t help you. Mythcreants

Angela Misri: Vivek Shraya proves kids’ books can help us explore messy truths. The Walrus

Thank you so much for visiting. It’s like your gift to me! And I appreciate it. I hope you found something to support your current work(s) in progress.

Until Thursday, keep staying safe and well, my writerly friends.

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Oct 9-15, 2022

Another week, another batch of informal writerly learnings!

LA Bourgeois says, imagination, engage! Then, Stephanie BwaBwa shares some marketing systems and automations to support your self-publishing career. Olivia Fisher is tapping into the hearts of kids: crafting authentic voice in middle grade. DIY MFA

Ann Marie Nieves answers your PR and marketing questions, part IX: do you twerk? Then, Jim Dempsey wonders, is your book any good? Kathleen McCleary is out of character. Kathryn Craft on story and death and life. Then, David Corbett is crafting an unforgettable villain with lessons from Louise Fletcher’s portrayal of Nurse Ratched. Writer Unboxed

How this became the sad girl era. The Take

K.M. Weiland shows you nine positive characters arcs in the Enneagram. Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy shares five fun ways to take advantage of your characters’ fears. Then, Ellen Buikema lists ten ways to start your story. Later in the week, Julie Glover discusses the hardest book she’s ever written. Writers in the Storm

Hank Quense helps you build your own digital planner with Scrintal. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Gaia, the mother of creation. Fate & Fabled | PBS Storied

Sue Coletta helps you construct the skeleton of your story. Then, Angela Ackerman says that the key to a successful NaNoWriMo is using October wisely. Later in the week, C.S. Lakin says less is more when it comes to describing setting. Writers Helping Writers

Jessica Bell points out the key elements of eye-catching book cover design. Joni B. Cole: you have a great idea for a story. Where do you start? Catherine Baab-Maguira explains why it’s better to write about money, not for money. Jane Friedman

Preptober tips! Do these ten things before NaNoWriMo. Reedsy

Nathan Bransford answers the question, “When should I stop sending query letters?”

Kristen Lamb considers motivation and how what drives us defines us.

Tiffany Yates Martin: how to speak as well as you write, part 1. Fox Print Editorial

Chris Winkle considers movement, the 2,300-year-old story principle. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories undermined by their epilogues. Mythcreants

Roz Morris: becoming you—how to develop confidence as a writer. Nail Your Novel

Overcoming perfectionism as a writer. Shaelin Writes

Sahar Arshad: from Never have I Ever to Bridgerton, the Desi girl era is here at last. Teen Vogue

Matthew Vogt: pantheon of superheroes. JSTOR Daily

Joyce Kinkead recounts the 5,000-year history of writer’s block. The Conversation

Jordan Pruett wonders, what counts as a bestseller? Public Books 

KC Hoard conducts a roundtable with designers: book cover confidential. The Walrus

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you found something to support your current work(s) in progress, whatever stage they’re at.

Until Thursday, keep staying safe and well.

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, May 29-June 4, 2022

It’s tipsday! You know what that means. It’s time to get your fill of informal writerly learnings 🙂

LA Bourgeois: victory celebration required. Jeanette the Writer explains the difference between writing and editing. Then, Lori Walker interviews Rebecca Scherm about writing the near future: climate change and big tech. Carol Van Den Hende lists three benefits to speaking at industry conferences. Later in the week, Angela Yeh shares five ways to develop a creative ritual you’ll want to keep. DIY MFA

Fight me! Jill Bearup

K.M. Weiland: understanding the normal world of a story’s first act. Helping Writers Become Authors

Tom Bentley: this pretty much (book) covers it. Kasey LeBlanc provides some tools to help you on your querying journey. Donald Maass: your microcosm, our world. Grace Wynter interviews Mel Todd about going from fanfiction to $150K. Then, Liza Nash Taylor triple-dog dares you to make a pass: revising your draft. Writer Unboxed

Shaelin reacts to writing advice from Twitter. Reedsy

Eldred Bird says that if you’re going mobile, you need a mobile media kit. Then, Janice Hardy shares ten ways to un-stick your novel. James Preston wonders who’s in charge of your story? Writers in the Storm

Becca Puglisi wonders, is compassion fatigue is relevant to your characters? Then, Lucy V. Hay helps you avoid writing stereotyped female characters. Writers Helping Writers

Mapinguari: fearsome beast and protector of the rainforest.  Monstrum | PBS Storied

The horror genre: stories of life and damnation against uncanny, supernatural, and ambiguous monsters. The thriller genre is a blend of action, crime, and horror stories. Story Grid

Kristen Lamb suggests writing fast and furious to outrun Spock brain.

Nathan Bransford explains how to utilize exposition and context in a novel.

Closeted bullies are all over our screens. How real is this trope? The Take

Barbara Linn Probst tells you what to remember, do, avoid, and expect when getting book endorsements (blurbs). Jane Friedman

Chris Winkle explains how to create moral dilemmas that are actually moral. The, Oren Ashkenazi points out the difference between relatable and mediocre heroes. Mythcreants

Ten kids’ books by Canadian Asian authors to read in honour of Asian Heritage Month. CBC Books

David A. Robertson curates this list of 48 books by Indigenous writers to read about and understand residential schools. CBC Books

Emily Pullen recommends new LGBTQ fiction for Pride 2022. The New York Public Library

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe, my writerly friends!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 25-May 1, 2021

Welcome to the first tipsday of May 🙂 Get your informal writerly learnings while they last (just kidding, the archives are always accessible)!

Kim Bullock: what your protagonist’s Spotify playlist might reveal. Elizabeth Huergo recommends Kathleen Acalá and the extraordinary. Then, Sophie Masson shares her experience writing an exclusive audio novel. With apologies for the earworm, Lisa Janice Cohen says she’s “losing my ambition.” Milo Todd wants you to read outside your lane. Writer Unboxed

Tim Hickson: on writing great character descriptions (and he shares one of Shaelin’s). Hello, Future Me

K.M. Weiland delves into the king’s shadow archetypes in part 12 of her archetypal character arcs series. Helping Writers Become Authors

Shaelin Bishop shares three great writing tips that no one ever talks about. Reedsy

Janice Hardy explains why you should know who your narrator is speaking to. Fiction University

David Kadavy promotes mind management, not time management. The Creative Penn

On her own channel, Shaelin shares her short fiction writing process. Shaelin Writes

Tasha Seegmiller shows you how to build your own MFA experience. Then, Eldred Bird lists five writing tips we love to hate. Later in the week, John Peragine discusses serialized storytelling (part 1). Writers in the Storm

Yara-ma-yha-who: Australia’s Regurgitating, Blood-Sucking Monster. Monstrum | PBS Storied

Susan DeFreitas shares three key tactics for crafting powerful scenes. Then, Catherine Baab-Maguira wonders, what if it takes 12 years to get an agent? Jane Friedman

The paradox of cottagecore. The Take

Richelle Lyn helps you create your own virtual writers sabbatical. Then, Amanda Polick explains how to ignite tension in your story with food and natural disaster. Gabriela Pereira interviews Rena Rossner about weaving together history, folklore, and fairy tale. Later in the week, Finola Austin lists traps to avoid when writing in first person. Then, Angyne Smith shares five tips to make your writers’ circle sing. DIY MFA

Jenna Moreci shares ten self-care tips for when you’re busy AF.

Angela Ackerman explains how to write emotion well: know your character. Writers Helping Writers

Bunny and Svend Phillips collaborate on this list of five tired tropes about teenagers. Then, Oren Ashkenazi explains how Revenger fails at technology. Mythcreants

Kristin Nelson is not a fan of publishing house mergers: a non-love story. Pub Rants

Ashawnta Jackson introduces us to the haiku of Richard Wright. JSTOR Daily

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe, my writerly friends 🙂

The next chapter: June 2016 update

Welcome to July! Half of 2016 is already past 😦

Let’s get right down to business.

June was a good month. As far as revision goes, I focused on Reality Bomb. It was another pleasant surprise. I didn’t hate what I wrote. This was just the first pass, and I’ve identified a number of things I need to work on, but I wasn’t writhing as I read 🙂 I don’t know if this means I’m a better writer now, or if I’ve just become inured to my failings (!)

I approached RB as I did Marushka before it, reading, mapping, editing, and making notes as I went. RB was my 2015 NaNoWriMo project and my second “win.”

I finished the first pass on July 1st (yes, Canada Day—the fireworks were for me, too) and the draft comes in at 282 pages and 67,808 words. Not bad for what I still consider a rough draft.

I’ve moved on to Gerod and the Lions, since. Early days, but not hating this one, either 😀 I should be finished this first run through of GatL in early August, just in time for another break—for WorldCon!

Since I’ve been a part of Gabriella Pereira’s Launch Team for DIYMFA, I’ve had extra blogging to do each weekend. As a result, I more than doubled my blogging goals for the month. I’ve also had some guest posting opportunities come my way, which has been another, validating surprise.

I went to the Canadian Writers’ Summit from June 17th to 19th and took a wee vacay from revising, blogging, and, in fact, most social media. It was a nice break.

My query, synopsis, and opening for Initiate of Stone have been revised and querying continues.

I’m starting work on some short fiction. It kind of just happened. It’s a good thing, though.

This is how the month settled out:

I achieved 128% on my revision goal with 48,009 words.

I achieved 207% of my blogging goal (yes, even with the vacay) with 12,013 words.

JuneProgress

The summer office is in operation, and I’ve been enjoying our lovely, lovely weather (so far). The garden is growing, though I haven’t been able to keep up with the weeding 😦 Still, we’ve been enjoying the fruits (literally) of what labour has been done and have had strawberries every day for the last three weeks. The raspberries are ripening. Phil’s been harvesting lettuces and herbs for the occasional meal.

It just makes you feel good to eat food out of your own garden.

In other news, I’m walking a little more, and getting some minor health issues sorted. I’ll be getting a new pair of glasses, not because my prescription has changed, but because my current pair is in disrepair. It’s time for a new perspective 🙂

Phil’s in good shape, now. He and his doctor have sorted his meds and he’s feeling well. All of his labs are showing results in the acceptable range, as well. I’m glad. Through the first few months of the year, it was not a good situation. Very stressful.

And that’s what June brought into this writer’s life.

Next weekend: I’ll be back to Ad Astra 2016 reportage.

Happy Independence Day to all of my American friends!

I’ll be back to work tomorrow.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: May 2016 update

The year of revision is progressing steadily.

MayProgress

I finished my first run through of Marushka, which ended up at 75,473 words total, 33,258 of which were revised in May, and moved on to Reality Bomb. I revised 17,624 words on that manuscript.

I achieved 136% of my revision goal for May with 50,882 words revised.

All my writing was on Writerly Goodness, and, because I joined Gabriela Pereira’s DIYMFA launch team and have been posting twice each weekend, I’ve achieved 181% of my writing goal for May with 10,474 words on the web.

In other news, I’ve let my querying slip. I’ve received enough form rejections that I have this feeling I need to return to Initiate of Stone and give the manuscript another run. I’ve come up with some ideas to improve my first pages (and other stuff) as a result of working on Apprentice of Wind and I’m not sure I should burn any more agent bridges . . .

At the same time, I want to continue on the chance that I haven’t presented IoS to the agent that will love it. I’ve had success pitching the novel in person to both agents and small publishers, so the idea has merit. It must be the execution that needs work.

Accordingly, I’m probably going to take a break from revising RB for a few days to focus on reworking the first chapter and query of IoS and then get back at it.

I’ve booked my flight to Kansas City in August. I’m one step closer to WorldCon and a visit with a friend who lives in KC. So looking forward.

In the meantime, the Canadian Writers’ Summit is taking place in less than two weeks. I’m looking forward to that, as well, but the scheduling is a bit strange. Because the

CWS is a joint conference between a number of professional writing organizations in Canada, some of the sessions are overlapping. It will make things challenging, but I’m also going to get to attend a great session by Robert J. Sawyer, as well as key note addresses by Jean Little, Kenneth Oppel, and Nalo Hopkinson.

If I had more leave, I might have gone down Wednesday evening to see Lawrence Hill, but I had to make a choice between the CWS and WorldCon/friend visitation. Seeing a new city and an old friend won out 🙂

A new short story idea is brewing for an anthology call later in the year, but I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to short fiction this year, as was the plan. We’ll see if I can keep the idea from blowing up into a novel-sized concept and premise.

I’ve signed up for another online course, this time from one of my favourite authors/writing craft experts, Kate Weiland. It’s another thing I’m looking forward to. We’ll let you know how things go in future updates.

And that’s it for now.

I’m doing too much, as usual, but enjoying every minute of it. I’m really not happy unless I’m learning something/pushing my boundaries.

Hope everyone has a productive, happy-making month!

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: March 2016 update

In my 2015 year-end update, I said that 2016 would be the year of revision. To this point, I’d only ever revised the one novel, Initiate of Stone. I revised IoS eight times and I recently got a few ideas on how to improve it further as a result of my first run through of Apprentice of Wind.

In the first few days of March, I finished that first review of AoW. I’m going to return to it again, but this time, as I mentioned last month, I’m going to apply what I hope to be improvements to IoS and then move on to AoW.

My idea is to reinforce my voice over the two novels, which is quite different to the other novels I’ve drafted so far. Most of those are in a modern setting. Urban fantasy of various stripes. Though I’ve worked with IoS for so long, when it came to reviewing AoW, because I’d drafted the five other novels in between, I found I’d lost touch with the voice of the series and its characters.

We’ll see how that turns out, later in the year (I hope).

YTDProgress

Year Goals and Totals page

The current draft of AoW stands at 119,590 words. So 120K, which is reasonable for an epic fantasy.

I then moved onto Figments, my YA urban fantasy. It’s considerably shorter, nineteen chapters, and 53,536 words. I know I’ll have to punch that up a bit, but I have a number of ideas to make that happen.

Both of these novels were drafted, let to sit, printed out, read through, mapped, let to sit again, read through again, and then reviewed. I just changed some of the major things, POV, character deletion, consistency over the novels (in the case of AoW), and notes for future revision.

I don’t think I’ll need as many drafts of either AoW or Figments as I needed with IoS to finish them to my satisfaction.

I’m trying something different with Marushka, which I moved on to in the last few days of March.

My revision plan so far has been to review a chapter a day, which was challenging for AoW and Figments, because a number of the chapters of both were several thousand words long. I often found myself up until midnight on a weekday trying to get my work finished before I went to bed.

Marushka was the first novel I drafted using Scrivener and it really changed the way I drafted. The chapters are comparatively tiny (1000 to 1500 words so far) but there are a lot more of them (54).

I didn’t print Marushka out. I didn’t read it through or map it. As I review each chapter, I’m reading it through for the first time and mapping it as I go.

We’ll see if this is more or less productive than printing the draft out, and reading and mapping it out prior to my first run through.

I’m approaching this year of revision as an opportunity to experiment. My process is in continual evolution and, as I learn, from both success and failure, I’m seeing improvement in my process and in my writing overall.

I’m not looking for short cuts as much as efficiencies. I’m not doing any less work, I’m just doing it differently.

Again, we’ll see how it goes.

So here’s how the month breaks down.

MarchProgress

MarchProgress1

Want your own Writing and Revision Tracker? Visit http://jamieraintree.com/writing-revision-tracker

  • AoW – 7,334 words revised
  • Figments – 53,536 words revised
  • Marushka – 4,737 words revised
  • Blog – 8,436 words written.

I achieved 141% of my writing goal and 177% of my revision goal.

At this rate, I’ll finish the first run through on Marushka part way through May and move onto Reality Bomb and finally, Gerod and the Lions. Once I’ve got everything reviewed once, I’m going to take a break (which I tend to need in the summer months) and work on my outline for Mistress of Waves, the third book in my Ascension series and NaNo 2016 project 🙂

Then I’ll get back to deeper revisions until November arrives. I may not be able to conquer more than IoS/AoW. Maybe I make it as far as Figments.

Querying continues. I’ve not devoted much time to short fiction recently, though.

As far as conferences and conventions, I’m hitting Ad Astra (April 29-May 1), The Canadian Writers’ Summit (June 15-19, though I’ll only be attending June 17-19), and WorldCon, AKA MidAmericon II (August 17-21). I have paid my fees and reserved accommodation, but it’s all pending leave approval.

I’m holding my breath until I know it’s approved. Once it is, I’ll be able to book my flight to Kansas City.

My employer asks us to apply for leave every six months. We apply in March for the first half of the fiscal year, April to September, and in September for October through March. Approval is subject to seniority and operational demands (peak seasons).

I should know whether this first round of leave requests has been approved by the end of April.

My plans for fall and winter will have to wait on the approval of the second round of leave in October.

I’ll save those potential plans for a later update.

For the remainder of this month, I’ll be offering some Series discoveries posts (fall season, part two, mid-season follies, and anime) and at least one book review (Jane Ann McLachlan’s second Kia novel, The Salarian Desert Game).

As of Ad Astra, the convention reportage will resume.

So there’s lots of Writerly Goodness to look forward to, and of course, Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday curations will continue through the week.

In the meantime, break a bunch of pencils, you wonderful, creative people.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: October and NaNoWriMo 2015 extravaganza!

In a way, I really enjoyed not posting on the weekends, but I don’t know how else I’m going to share my struggles, accomplishments, and great content like the CanCon 2015 panels I’ll start transcribing next week, unless I resume weekend (and mostly Saturday—today is an aberration) posts.

As I often tell y’all, it’s all writerly goodness 🙂

I’m happy when someone lets me know that I’ve shared something that’s been helpful to them. What’s a writerly girl to do?

Write.

October in a nutshell

My goals for October were to:

  • revise and submit a short story to a contest,
  • resume/catch up on querying,
  • finish Gerod and the Lions,
  • finish my outline for Reality Bomb in preparation for NaNo, and
  • attend CanCon 2015, October 29-November 1.

My short story made it all the way to the short list in Pulp Literature’s Raven Short Story Contest. This was my third ‘near-miss’ this year, having made the short list for the 2014 Friends of the Merrill Contest with one story, and having another short story set aside for special consideration in an anthology call, but ultimately rejected.

I don’t know whether this means I’m improving, or stuck in a rut O.o

I sent out not one, but two batches of queries in October. I’ve also already heard back from a number of agents with ‘thanks, but no thanks’ emails. I’ve decided to give the querying a break for now until the new year. The poor agents will be flooded with hopeful writers and their newly revised NaNo novels. I don’t want to get lost in the inundation. Besides, I have other reasons, which I’ll let you know about shortly.

I didn’t get GatL finished. I did write almost 9k words on the draft and I’m up to the climax, but then I was on the road for CanCon and I figured I’d save myself for the convention and for NaNoWriMo. I’ll resume work on GatL once I’ve finished Reality Bomb. Yes, more news on that coming, too.

I finished my outline for Reality Bomb with days to spare. It was a hand-written free-write in my journal, a ‘draft zero,’ if you will, which I was quite happy with, even though I made one major change that had some interesting cascading effects.

I attended CanCon, with Phil in tow, and, aside from attending a great workshop and two days of great panels, I also booked three blue-pencil sessions and two publisher pitch sessions. Right now, various portions of Initiate of Stone are on under consideration by three (one publisher was unable to attend and gave everyone a chance to pitch electronically after the fact) amazing small Canadian publishers.

That’s another reason why I’m holding off on further querying.

Come the New Year, though, watch out!

My October numbers:

  • GatL – 8,913 words
  • Short fiction – 45 words
  • Blog – 8,444 words
  • Total: 17,402 words.

October was a good month 😀

OctoberProgress

NaNoWriMo 2015

The idea for Reality Bomb was a dream that I’d had back in January.

Short pitch: Physics PhD candidate, Brenda O’Connell, fails to stop a misguided colleague from conducting his experiment to prove that time travel into the past is possible, destroying their reality and hurling Brenda into an alternate reality, nearly a year in the past. Nothing about her life in this new reality is what Brenda knows or remembers, but her former colleague is still heading toward a repeat of his catastrophic mistake. Can Brenda stop him before he destroys another reality?

I’ve decided that I like the free-writing, draft zero kind of outline. I’ve tried both more formal and less formal outlines in the past and I think this method really allows me to flesh out the characters and the ideas in a better way. Also, outlining by hand makes me feel as though the outline is more flexible, less permanent, and it facilitates my process better.

November first, I was still in Ottawa. It was also the first day of the time change, so I basically had an hour to write in the morning before I went to my first session. I cranked 1,559 words out and then spent the rest of the day in panels, blue-pencils, and pitches, drove the six hours home to Sudbury in torrential rain (and in the dark), and kind of crashed.

Fortunately, I’d taken the following week as vacation and set myself the goal of writing 30k words before my return to work the next Monday.

I’m glad to say that I accomplished that goal, writing between three and five thousand words each day.

The reason I wanted to get all those words written was that I knew I was going to be working, and travelling to deliver training, for the rest of the month. The week I was on the road was, as I expected, a low-production week. But I wrote, something I hadn’t been able to do the last couple of times I travelled to delivery training. So that in itself was a win.

NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-Square

And when I got back home I was able to comfortably write between 1,000 and 1,500 words each evening, finishing the month, and winning NaNo, with 55,006 words. The validator missed out on some of the words because I forgot to remove all of Word’s formatting (doh!). Still—writing stuff is awesome!

Including the blog, I wrote 56,994 words in November. Awesome. Indeed.

NaNoWriMo2015

Last year, I only managed 28,355 words while I was working.

What did I do to turn this around?

As I mentioned at the top of this post, I stopped blog posts on the weekends, but still kept up with my Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday curation posts (I couldn’t abandon you completely!).

Front loading my words in that first week off was critical to my success. I figured if I could get the 30k written, that I could ‘coast,’ relatively speaking, for the rest of the month. I would even have room for a day off if I needed it, but I wrote something every day, even if it was only a few hundred words. Also, the momentum I developed over the course of that first week carried me quite far into the month. I never felt stressed or worried that I couldn’t do it this time around.

I didn’t do any much housework. There’s always some of that to do, but I cut back substantially.

I told people. I’ve told people about NaNo in the past, but, with the exception of Phil, no one really got on board. This year, if people forgot, I just told them again. Kindly. Happily. Enthusiastically, even. It kept me accountable.

I wrote as soon as I got home from work and made it my priority before I did anything else. Get your words done first. The rest of life will wait.

Unfortunately, I can’t get up early enough anymore to write before I go to work. So first thing after work is the best I can do.

What did I learn from NaNoWriMo 2015?

I can write 50k (and more) in a month, even while I’m working.

Why is this important? Well, if I get a publishing deal, I’d hope it would be for more than one book, and, generally speaking, publishers want the books to come out fairly quickly (relatively speaking). So I’ve just proven to myself that I can produce when I need to. It’s comforting.

Also, it wasn’t that long ago that I was bemoaning my inability to produce. I was kind of stuck writing very little each day and letting myself get away with the not so occasional day of not writing at all.

I think I’ve been depressed, to be honest. It’s been a very mild recurrence, though. So mild I didn’t even realize what I had on my hands. Having to euthanize Nu back in July probably got to me more that I’d like to think. I thought I was grieving. I was actually shutting down.

Now, thanks to writing, I’m coming back.

What am I working on now?

I’m finishing up Reality Bomb first. I’m up to 58,376 words as of today. I’ve gone back to writing around 500 words a day, but I know I can do more if I need to. About to start chapter 33 of 36, so I should be done soon-ish.

Then I’ll finish up GatL. Finally. Remember when I was saying that about Marushka (last year’s NaNo)? I do finish my shit. Sometimes it just takes a while.

I have another contest to get a short story ready for, and if that doesn’t take me through to the end of the year, I’ll probably get back to work on Apprentice of Wind.

So . . . let’s just take a brief accounting.

  • Initiate of Stone – Adult epic fantasy of about 130k words. In the submission process.
  • Apprentice of Wind – Adult epic fantasy. Drafted at 115k words. Substantial rewrite required to bring it into line with the changes made in IoS.
  • Figments – YA urban fantasy. Drafted at 53k words. Reviewed, mapped, and reverse engineered. Ready for revision.
  • Gerod and the Lions – MG secondary world fantasy. Aiming for a 40k draft.
  • Marushka – YA urban/fairy tale retelling. Drafted at 67k. Awaiting review.
  • Reality Bomb – New Adult science fiction. Aiming for 65k in the completed draft.

That’ll be six novels by the end of this year. In various stages of completion 😉

And I have ideas for another fifteen (or so) more. Oh, this writing life is a good one. And I love it.

See you next Saturday with the first of the CanCon reports.

The Next Chapter

Muse-inks: The dream vs. reality (check)

On my way to London in August, I was listening to the radio when I heard Beck’s “Dreams.” It’s been on my playlist since.

I don’t know if it’s the driving foot-drum or the grunge-y guitar. I love this song.

Dreams have always been a BIG part of my process. I get ideas from them. I percolate writing ideas into concepts through daydreaming. I studied shamanism for a few years wherein the primary mystic delivery system is dream.

Not incidentally, my characters often receive insight from dreams.

I have dreams for my writing career, too. I may have mentioned them a few times on this blog.

Particularly since “winning” NaNoWriMo my first time out in 2013 and subsequently joining the (some would say) cult of word count tracking, I’ve learned that I’m capable of more than I thought in terms of writing productivity.

I share my productivity, or lack thereof, with you each month on my Next chapter updates.

If you look closely, though. I don’t write a heck of a lot.

My daily drafting would probably average about 250-300 words, or around a page. Sometimes I have a good day and I write 500 or a 1000 words, but some days I don’t write at all. I fit it in where I can around work, blogging, television, and the stuff of life like laundry, gardening, family dinners, and housework.

I’d like to think that if I had the opportunity to write “full time” I’d jump at it. But I *know* I wouldn’t be writing for 7.5 hours a day, five days a week. I’d probably write in the afternoons, primarily. I could still get a shit-load of writing done in that time, though.

I think.

A friend of mine shared that she’d written a thousand words in an hour on her current work in progress. That’s impressive. Other authors I follow report similar results, or better. Several of them with much more demanding lives than I have.

Catherine Ryan Howard recently blogged about her year of amazing productivity (watch Tipsday for that post) and I’ve shared a past post by Kameron Hurley, in which she wrote marathon 10k weekends because that was the only time her day job and life allowed her to have uninterrupted writing time.

Can I do that? I honestly don’t know. I’ve never had to.

A couple of other authors I follow (Marie Bilodeau and Jim C. Hines) have recently made the brave leap into full time writing. It takes more dedication than you think it will to make the writing life work.

I’ve been thinking about this again because I’m querying Initiate of Stone right now. If an agent decided to offer me representation at this point, I wouldn’t be able to leave the day job and focus on writing. If my agent was so lucky as to get me a deal contingent on additional novels, I’d have to find a way to bull my way through everything, including my resistance, to get the work done.

Right now, I make the choice to spend Saturday (and sometimes Sunday) mornings with my mom. On my days off, I generally do that, too. It’s not a duty. It’s something I want to do. Tomorrow, I’ll be taking her out shopping. She’s my best bud as well as my mom.

All the social media stuff that backs up during the week falls into the weekend as well. And preparing my weekly curation posts.

I let this happen.

Part of me says this is the way it is. Another part of me says that the day job gives me the excuse/luxury/lack of urgency to be lazy. I don’t need to grind out words to meet a deadline and pay this month’s (or heaven forbid, last month’s) bills.

I’m also thinking about my potential productivity as I head into another NaNoWriMo while I’m working, and travelling for work, during November. My only goal for this year is to beat last year’s 28,355 word effort.

In August, due to my two and a half week trip delivering training, I gave up posting on the weekends. I think I’m going to do that in November, too, even though I’ll have Can-Con sessions to report on. Y’all will just have to be patient 🙂

I continue to discover that I can do more than I think I can when I have the proper motivation.

If nothing else, I’ll try and see what happens.

The dream is still alive despite the reality check.

What about you, dear reader? Will your dreams survive the reality check?

Until next week! *waves*

Muse-inks

The next chapter: July 2015 update

July was a weird month.

I got off to a decent start, determined to finish off Marushka. I revised and submitted a short story to an anthology call. I received a rejection for another story a few days later.

Then, Nuala’s kidneys shut down and we had to make that anguished, final visit to the vet.

While I kept up the blogging, mostly because I had my curation posts already composed, I couldn’t face the page for a few days.

I got back to Marushka slowly on the 14th, and that weekend, I set out my second round of queries for Initiate of Stone. I also revised another story and sent it off.

Since then, I’ve received a rejection on the story and two more rejections—polite though they may have been—from agents regarding Initiate of Stone.

I’ve just today revised my query, signed up for a query workshop with Kristin Nelson, and booked my hotel for Can-Con in October.

So it’s been a busy month, and a productive one, considering, but I’m just on the cusp of my pre-revision tracking best.

July's writing progress

Here’s how the numbers break down

Short fiction: 92 words

Marushka: 7,217 words (And no, I’m not quite done with the draft, yet. I’m at 87% of goal right now. I might make my 40k word goal. This is, of course, in addition to the 30k I generated during NaNoWriMo last year.)

Blog: 9,116 words

Total: 16,425 words

July's Summary

Moving forward, I will continue to revise and submit my short stories wherever I can place them, but, as I mentioned last month, I haven’t been bitten by the short fiction bug recently and will not be drafting new stories for the foreseeable.

Several of my shorts may actually be novels in disguise, so, once I exhaust the available venues, I might see about expanding one and see how that works, but I’ve a way to go before I get there with some of my lovelies.

I’m going to finish Marushka this month (damn it!). I’m only about 5k words from ‘the end’ on this one, and it’s been so long in coming that I really want to put it to bed.

Then, it’s back to Gerod and the Lions. Once that draft is finished, I’ll turn to revision again, but NaNo will probably pop up in the middle of those efforts.

I’m starting to outline this year’s NaNo project. It’s a tasty one.

The blogging will probably simmer down for a while without the convention reportage, so we may see a reduction in word count there, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Work-wise, I’m heading out of town for the day job from August 10-26 and then I’ll be taking on another acting Consultant position. This one promises to be less stressful than the last couple I’ve had, but we’ll see.

Other than that, there’s not much else to report.

I’m keeping on, keeping on.

You do the same.

Until next month!

The Next Chapter