Wednesday, November 23, 2016

November Update: Disappointed

I've put off writing this update because...I don't have much to update.

I made it three days into NaNo before I gave up. Scions of Mythos just doesn't want to be told right now, and I didn't have the heart to try something different. By the time I realized I couldn't write it, it was too late to start something new anyway.

I'm still pretty depressed and unmotivated.

The election didn't help. Everything went to hell when I was already in a bad place, so I've mostly been trying to just make it through each day however I can. Even if that means staring at the TV and not moving from the couch for hours, not writing.

I thought maybe NaNo would get me back into writing, but it didn't. The first year in over a decade that I haven't done NaNo. Or at least, quit before I hit more than a couple thousand words. I'm disappointed in myself, but I keep reminding myself that even though I can't write it now doesn't mean I'll never be able to.

I pushed myself pretty hard this year. I took advantage of the good months. I don't want to become complacent, but I feel like I've worked hard enough to allow myself some down time while I need it.

I did send my flash fiction back out. It's a slow market, so they haven't even gotten to it yet, but that's ok. I don't have to think about it much, so that's nice.I threw a few more words at a couple different stories. I had a dream that I am trying to turn in to a Cafe story. I only have a few more days before I need to finish that up, though, so hopefully I can write more than a hundred words on it over the next few days.

I don't even have that editing project I was expecting this month. I'm not the only writer suffering right now, apparently. I'm equal parts relieved and bummed. At least fiction editing I still feel confident about. Although I'm in such a funk, I don't know how well I would have done.

I really hope the holidays will knock this funk loose. I found a new therapist, I'm working on taking better care of myself, and I do love Christmas, as stressful as it is. If I can get myself feeling better emotionally, maybe I'll be able to write again.

For now, I'm taking baby steps. I'm going to try to write for the Cafe for the next few months. That's it. No novellas. No novels. No editing projects. Just....a short story a month for awhile, until I feel less overwhelmed by the bigger projects.

I got a lot done in 2016, even though it was the worst year ever. I can't lose sight of that.

Next month, I'll probably do a summary of my accomplishments and talk about my goals for next year.

But right now, I'm prepping for Thanksgiving and trying to keep my head above water.

Hope your holidays are full of happiness and love. Take care, my friends.

Monday, October 24, 2016

October Update: Stalled

I don't have much to report this month.

I went out of town the first weekend of this month and wrecked my rental car. It wasn't anything major. No other cars involved, nobody hurt or anything. Just bumps and bruises from me. But that, among other things, has sucked my creativity dry.

I made it through an edit of ToK. I need to do two or three minor things to it and it'll be ready for beta readers.

And that's all. I was supposed to finish one of my adventure series stories. I was going to try to write for the Cafe. Instead, I got nothing. I also finally got my rejection from Flash Fiction Online. It made it to the final round, but still didn't get accepted. I haven't had the heart to try to send it back out.

I haven't even been able to read. I've started reading probably eight different books now. Bookmarks are sitting in two of them, and the rest have gone back on the shelf or in the box to donate.

I know sometimes writers need a break from writing. We need input to continue our output. I just feel like I've stalled out this month since I'm not even putting things in right now.

Next month is NaNo. I'm trying not to be too hard on myself right now, since I have to try to start the final book in the trilogy I'm writing next month. But I'm losing hope. I'm getting discouraged.

The forward momentum had been amazing. And now?

I don't even know what I'm aiming for anymore. The small press I wanted to submit to closed its doors. I still haven't gotten the line edits I was hoping for. I don't even care about the characters in my books anymore.

I know I'll get my writing mojo back at some point. I know that just because I spend a month not writing it doesn't mean I'm not a writer. I'll get it back.

But I still feel sick and listless about it right now. I'm not sure what to do.

Which is sad. October is my favorite month. And it's been a good month overall. Just terrible for writing. I haven't even been to the office.

Hopefully NaNo will do what NaNo is great at: get me back into a writing practice.

Until then...I have a week left of October. Maybe...maybe I'll just let myself relax without the pressure of having to create. All my worlds, all my characters, will still be there when I'm ready.

In my experience, I'm never able to stay away for long.

Sorry for the downer, friends. But maybe it's hopeful. All writers go through this. We're not alone when we feel this way. And it's temporary.

Monday, September 19, 2016

September Update 2: New Worlds and Plans

Here it is. A little later than halfway through the month, but it's a second update for September. It's pretty exciting and encouraging to me to have enough to talk about in two separate posts for a month.

Some of it is just a continuation of last post. But there's been some shifting and changing of plans, too.

First, I submitted my 24-hour short story contest story to a flash fiction magazine. It's been about a month and still no news, which I consider good news. They didn't outright reject me, anyway. I'm hopeful. Warily hopeful, I guess. I had kind of stopped submitting short stories for awhile there because I was going to put out my collection. Plans changed on that, as they often do, though, so I've been toying with submission again. My writing friend Dianne told me about The Submissions Grinder, which is a free market tracker. I started an account and have been enjoying looking at the stats and stuff. I've got a couple out and other market I'm waiting to open back up to submit to. I'll let you know if anything comes of any of that.

As far as my project timeline, I got about 5k words written for my adventure novella, and then came to a bit of a standstill. And I still had about a week before my editing project. So I read back through a couple of my previous novels. I have a lot (A LOT) of trunk novels. I have ten years' worth of NaNo attempts under my belt, after all. And I'd say of those ten, I may have maybe four pretty solid books (MoL was not written during NaNo in November, FYI. It started as a Camp NaNo and was finished in the months following that camp).

After spending a few days in a novel currently called Online Dating for Demons (NaNo 2011 that I started writing two weeks after finishing MoL), I realized I was really excited about it. So I began an editing treatment on it. I read through it in something like two days, writing an outline and making notes of things that need fixing and where. This book has already gone through beta readers, so I know what it needs. I worked through some of the missing backstory and figured out how to fix a couple of plot holes...but that's as far as I got. I realized I didn't have the energy or the time to do the massive edits it needs. It also needs quite a bit more written. Which I guess I knew going in. It was only around 56k words when it was finished.

But. The good news is, after five years, I no longer hate that book. I know how to fix it, and I even know what I can write about for the sequel. It's a relief, because this book has a lot of commercial potential. It may be the one to land me an agent.

So I wrapped that up and got news that I wasn't going to be getting Rachel's short when she originally thought. So that gave me a few more days to work on my own stuff. I panicked. I wasn't ready to work on ODD, and I also wasn't ready to go back to my adventure novella. But I didn't want to be idle, so...I read back through my NaNo from last year.

And it also sucked me in. I'd already done an editing treatment on it, so after reading through it, I began with a few small tweaks and worked my way up to writing something like 8k additional words. It still needs something like 2k-5k more, but I'm feeling really good about it. Pieces are coming together. It's a really clean draft. It's well-written and exciting. It's not going to need too much more work before it's ready for beta readers. Another few days, probably.

Of course, I now have my editing project, so I have to poke at it during the day when I'm on breaks. Progress has slowed down considerably.

I am also feeling a bit defeated because even when it's ready, I don't really have anyone to beta read it. All of my really good beta readers are on deck to read ToK next month. So. I will likely have to trunk this one until the MystWatch series is done.

This is both good and bad. It's good because hey, I have two other books that start two whole new series ready for me when I'm done MystWatch. It's bad because they're going to be on hold, back burner projects for awhile. I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to focus on them on a front burner again.

I hadn't realized how much I needed to visit other worlds. I thought two different worlds would be enough. Turns out I'm more like Brandon Sanderson and have to be dabbling in a number of different worlds in order to keep my forward progress. I've already written more this month than I have in a month in the last several. I feel refreshed and creative and inspired.

It's done a number on my timeline, though. Not in a bad way. But opening up my time to all of these different projects is going to make scheduling infinitely more tricky. And probably put off publication for awhile, too. I'm ok with both of those things, though. I'm in a hurry, but not really in a hurry. I would love to be able to write full time, but for now, it's like having this little secret from most of the world. Only my writer friends know it.

Someday the world will know I am a writer. But for now, it's just this blog and my writing group.

I am so thankful for this blog. It allows me to talk about this stuff when I know the husband and my friends are tired of listening to me.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September Update: Con Recap and Optimism

I usually wait until the middle of the month to update, but I have a lot to say about the second half of last month and what I'm looking at for the first half of this month. Maybe this will be a part 1 for September. I keep talking about having multiple updates a month. Maybe this month that'll finally happen!

First up, I didn't win anything for the 24-hour short story contest. Apparently they were not looking for humor. I didn't even get an honorable mention. Which breaks my streak, sadly. I thought about doing the fall contest, but I'm not going to have time this month.

I do have the story I wrote for the contest on submission, though. It may not win me prize money, but maybe I can get it published somewhere for a few bucks. We'll see. It's kinda quirky flash fiction, which will make it tough to place. But at least it's unpublished. That should help.

Second, I did go to WorldCon, despite my misgivings and last-minute vows to stay home. It was a grand old time. I got tons of free books (the free book line was probably my favorite part), I spent a ton of time hanging out with Dianne, which was a blast, and I got to meet a ton of cool authors and editors. I even spent about an hour sitting at the same table, talking with John Scalzi. He is a totally awesome dude. I got to hear lots of other well-known authors talk: I'm now a big fan of Charlaine Harris as a person, along with Gail Carriger, both of whom I plan to give their books another chance. I may have even landed a possible slush pile reader job if I can ever vag up and contact the lady.

There were horrendous and awful moments, too, like That Panel and barfing forever in the middle of the night (not even because of drinking). But it was a five-day con. It's not all going to be roses. I had a great time and would definitely go again someday. We're thinking New Zealand in 2020, hehe. I should have things published by then!

I am still on track with my project timeline. Ahead, actually. I fixed the first chapter of MoL and made a few other tweaks to it so that it is now officially ready for line edits. I turn it over to Rachel in mid-September when she kicks me her novella for editing. I also finished my in-depth first-pass edits for ToK. I've passed that draft on to the husband for alpha reading. Once I get it back from him, I'll do a bit more tweaking, then kick it out to a few beta readers. Hopefully by that time I'll have line edits back on MoL, so I'll have the pair ready for reading.

Both are out of my hands, for now, though.

So I have two weeks before I get my next freelance editing project, and I have nothing to work on. My timeline said that August and September were for MoL and ToK. So I'm toying with throwing a few words at my next adventure novella. Not sure I can get a whole adventure written in that time, but if I get a solid start, that leaves my October open to finish it up and finish any final tweaks on the MystWatch books.

Oh, and freelance edit the next novel-length project for Kevin!

So yeah, October is shaping up to be a conglomeration of various projects, kind of like August and September so far. But that's ok. Keeps things interesting.

And prepares me for starting to write book three in November! Aaaaahhh! I am hella nervous for that. It's the last book in the trilogy, so I have a lot to wrap up. I'm a bit intimidated and I'm not totally certain I know how it ends, or at least what the climax looks like, but hopefully I'll figure it out as I start to write. I have the first several chapters mapped out, at any rate.

And while we're getting ahead of ourselves, I have officially added "commission cover for adventure series" to my project list. I decided that once I have two "seasons" complete, it'll be time to do that. And as long as I stay on track with the project timeline like I have for the last six months, that should be around this time next year, weee!

I am making great progress and I'm feeling optimistic.

Of course, that feeling can change on any given day. But. The fact that I've been able to keep pushing myself, keep working even on the bad days, I really truly believe that I can make it. That I can do this.

I am going to make this happen.

Friday, August 12, 2016

August Update: Project timeline and publishing plans

I still haven't heard back about the 24-hour short story contest. I'm getting antsy about it. Should hear in another week or two, probably. I might do an interim post once I hear.

An interim post would be good, too, since that'll be right after MidAmericaConII. Which is less than a week away. I am completely overwhelmed and stressed out. But. My friend Dianne will be there with me. We've gotten to be good writing buddies lately. We're both very much on the same page as far as writing career, on the same trajectory, with her being maybe six months to a year behind where I'm at. We talk a lot about writing and ideas where with our other friends we talk about non-writing things more. I'm glad to have someone to trek through the wilderness with, because while having Rachel leaving us signs about the trail ahead on the path, she is sometimes so far ahead of me I can't hear her yelling back to me anymore, only see evidence of her passing.

Yeah. Weird analogy. I'm clearly deep within my right brain these days.

So, last month, I finished up the adventure novella. I'm not a hundred percent happy with it, but it is another adventure in that series written, so I am on track with that. It was also one I had been hung up on for awhile, so between that and ToK, I am in good shape as far as finishing my shit.

This month I'm working on editing my shit so it's not as, well, shitty. I spent the first week cleaning up some of the earlier adventure novellas and working out a more detailed series outline, and when I couldn't find anything else to do, I switched back to the MystWatch world about a week early.

No regrets, though.

I have ideas for a new opening for MoL. I haven't written it yet. I am having a hard time going back to book 1 with book 2 so fresh in my mind. So. I dove into ToK edits instead. That mostly consisted of a read-through taking detailed notes about all the things wrong with it. Now I am going to percolate for a few days before I dive in and start fixing it. And by a few days, I mean probably, like, a day or two. I'm actually really excited to start tearing it apart. I was overwhelmed a few times while reading, but there is a lot of really good stuff and the not as good stuff won't be too terrible to fix. I hope.

It's going to take some time. I will probably need all of next month, as I planned. But, with the rest of this month and all of next, I'm doing what is hopefully my final tweak on book 1 before sending it to be line edited and then doing my first extensive revision of book 2 to get it ready for beta readers.

Beta readers won't come until book 1 is clean, though. One or two of them have expressed desires to read book 1 in its edited form, so I want to be sure to have as clean a copy of that as I can.

And...once it's clean...I will probably start submitting it to publishers. I have a couple of smaller, hybrid presses in mind, and I will probably also kick it to the big ones: Tor, Daw, Baen. It will be nice if I can get on with Jolly Fish Press, which is one I found and just fell in love with, but if I don't, then putting it on submission with the bigger houses will give me more time to write book 3 and edit book 2. I'm in no hurry, really.

Except that I really am. I feel so far behind Rachel. And I only have four and change years left to reach my publishing goals. I'm on track to do that, still, so I know I need to relax. After really looking at my project timeline, and rearranging things a bit, if I follow it as well as I have been following it the last five months, it will be around summer of 2018 when I finally should start being able to reap rewards of the work I'm doing now.

Which seems like forever, but I know it'll go fast. The rest of this year is dedicated to final edit for book 1, first revision of book 2, and writing of book 3. Next year I should be done writing and editing all three and will have a complete trilogy on my hands.

Or rather, hopefully in someone elses hands. But if not, that's ok too. I will start self-publishing at that point.

Druid Wars will probably come next. That's what is on the list next as it currently stands. I also have Online Dating for Demons and Hero of Hunker City on deck. Those are both mostly written, unlike the first Druid Wars book, which is missing a huge chunk in the middle and probably a few connecting scenes, not to mention needing an entire rewrite of chapter 1 and maybe 2. It'll probably depend more on mood than size of editing project when the time comes, though. And somewhere in the hole, as the baseball analogy goes, are the Dante novels. But they are low down on the list for many reasons, first and foremost because the first book is not finished. That's a big project, when I finally clear my plate for it. I'd like to do it someday. It has the potential to be a five-book series. But that's for Future Sara to deal with.

In the meantime, I'm deeply entrenched in the MystWatch world with the occasional jaunt into my adventure series to give me a break. Fatigue is a real thing. So is utter revulsion at how terrible everything is sometimes. Thankfully it passes and my motivation to keep plugging comes back.

I'm like...this is HARD! It's too much! I'm so overwhelmed! And then I'll have a drink, joke around with the husband, go to bed, wake up and be like...oh hey! Puzzle! I wanna figure it out, now.

And then I do. Whether it's by letting my mind wander while I walk/drive/lie in bed or talking it out with friends and family, or just writing and rewriting stuff until it works, I know now that I will always figure stuff out. Sometimes all it takes is a few days thinking about something else, and the problem will solve itself. Sometimes it takes months for things to finally fit together in a way that makes sense.

I did actually read more since my last post. So that's good. I realized I hadn't had spent much time in input mode lately. It was all output. So, I am, as they say, breathing in. I'm reading books and watching Firefly again. Hopefully WorldCon will also give me a battery recharge.

All good things right now. Not saying it's easy, but I'm working hard so that things will continue to go well.

Although I think I'm going to need a long nap at some point. Maybe in October. So I can be ready for three months of writing book 3 starting in November!!

Monday, July 11, 2016

July Update: It's done! (and other stuff)

When I created my project timeline, I made it pretty intensive. It's a no-nonsense, stop screwing around and get serious, write as many days as you can sort of timeline. I admit, I was a little skeptical about whether I'd be able to keep up with it. The biggest challenge to that was whether or not I'd be able to finish writing Towers of Kansas--a book I've been writing on and off since 2012. I was starting to have my doubts it'd ever get done.

Well, it's finished. On the last day of June, I wrote "the end." Towers of Kansas is finally written.

Of course, when I say "finished," I do just mean written. It will need a great deal of editing work before I can even solicit the help of beta readers. But. Thanks to Brandon Sanderson, I've come to accept that I am a discovery writer. Even though I do plan a bit, a lot of stuff, like theme and underlying message, don't come to me until the very end of the book as I'm writing. So when I outline, I know I have to hit point, A, B, and C, but not sure how or why. I figure those things out as I write. Which sometimes adds extra time to projects because I sit and stare at the words for hours or rewrite a scene three or four times because it's not quite right.

All this means that when I rewrite, I go back and add a lot of things earlier in the book (and take out anything that contradicts what I'm trying to do) so that things at the end have a more inevitable, expected feeling. Makes the payoff better. Makes readers feel like, yeah, ok, I see where she was going in the beginning, and it only could have ended this way.

Brandon Sanderson's lectures have helped me identify a lot of the things I already do as a writer (not to mention advice on a lot of things I need to be better about), which means I can do those things with more intention instead of relying on instinct and happenstance.

At any rate. This month I've switched over to a novella, and it's been a breeze writing only about a thousand words a day instead of three thousand. I'm debating on whether I should throw another short story in to this month or if I should try to work on an editing project. Clearly I do not need a full month for these shorts. Although it might be good to include a bit of down time. I was feeling pretty fatigued after writing almost 45,000 words in June.

The project timeline is definitely a work-in-progress. But it's been a great motivator so far to actually get projects done. It feels good to be marking things off my list.

I even took a break over the weekend and participated in the Writers Weekly 24-hour short story contest. I never do summer. I always do fall. But. I'm super happy with my story. It's cute and fun and if it doesn't win money, I will be disappointed. Either way, I'll make sure to post it somewhere. Probably try to work it into a Cafe story (as a leftover at the very least).

That's been my one regret the past few months. I haven't made time to write Cafe stories. I've had ideas for the prompts, but one of them was a story within the world of my novel, so I decided to save it. The other I wrote a few beginnings for but then ended up writing a few hundred words in response to another story just for giggles. Luckily, the Cafe is continuing on without me. I still coordinate all the things, but we have enough other participants now that I don't have to feel like I have to write every month. It's equal parts sad and freeing.

I imagine I will feel the same about National Novel Writing Month in November. I officially resigned as ML for the Lawrence region. I think more and more I will have to stop doing things with and for the writing group as I focus more on my writing and publishing. It's both sad and exciting. The LFK Writers will always be my friends. I never would be the writer I am without them. They are my roots. But I am slowly pulling away from manager duties. Delegating things, letting more people take over things. It will always be the group I helped start. It will always be home. But I don't have to be in charge forever.

This entry took a sad turn.

I'm happy, though. I'm excited and anxious and motivated and ready.

Next month is WorldCon. I'm going for fun, but the husband is going to be on six panels. A few with famous people. I don't even know what to do with that. I'll probably talk more about it in next month's update. I just wanted to put that out there as something fun I was looking forward to.

This month...I'm going to try to read more. I've been slacking on reading lately. Now that I'm not trying to finish a novel, I have time to read. Yay reading! Because otherwise, what's the point of all this?

Monday, June 13, 2016

June Update: Convention Talk

Another ConQuesT behind me. I had a lot of fun, even if it didn't recharge my creative batteries as it usually does. The short version is that I drank too much (although Boulevard's raspberry chocolate ale is amazing) and that four panels in one day is to many.

I am an awesome moderator, though. I'm better designed for asking questions and prompting discussion and keeping people on task. It's what I do for the writing group, so it makes sense that I'd be good at it on panels. The NaNoWriMo panel was my favorite. It was a lot of fun. The LFK Writers panel was my second favorite. It was the first panel of the con, and we got a great turnout and people had great questions. The Writing Prompt panel was a bust, with only three people who showed up. The Publish Like the Pros panel was nice because it was the four of us from Bottle Cap talking about what we do. Lots of great questions there, too.

Then there were my two tough subject panels. The Creativity and Mental Health panel went about as well as it could have, although I regrettably didn't get much of a chance for audience participation. Everyone was very respectful and I think the audience really related to all of our panelists. The Creative Isolation panel was really tough. I didn't have many good questions for it, but it ended up generating some important, if difficult, conversations. Those panels were draining, but again, I feel like it's important to talk about those aspects of creativity.

I went to a few other panels, but found that I much prefer being on the speaking side. Maybe that would have been different if I had had a chance to see any of the guests speak. I think next year I am going to try volunteer behind the scenes rather than on panels, though. I've been toying with the idea of doing a literary festival in Lawrence sometime in the next five to ten years, so I'm trying to get involved in con planning so I know what to do.

Speaking of which, I have been pulled into planning the Midwest Reader Con with a lady I got to know at ConQuesT. This event is going to be HUGE. There's nothing really like it around here, so I am excited about it. But man, planning a con is a ton of work. I'm really glad my partner in crime, Kathleen Collins, is at the forefront, telling me what to do right now.

As if that wasn't enough, I still want to try to put out the vampire short story anthology (hopefully releasing it in time for the Reader con next year), and still keep up with the breakneck writing and editing pace I've set for myself.

Speaking of writing (since that's what this blog is actually supposed to be about), I am around the 85k mark for ToK, so that's coming along. Just gotta put some ducks in a row before I take off at full speed for the climax. I have two weeks left to finish before Camp Nano hits and I'm supposed to change projects. Dunno if I'll make it or not, but finishing this book is more important, so I'll keep at it until it's done.

My current plan is to write the final book at the end of this year, and then spend next year editing the last two books up. Having the completed trilogy before getting any of them published (whether traditional or self-published) will help a lot. I am never going to be able to write two books a year, so I have to rely on my back catalog, as it were, to sustain me once I start publishing.

I'm really doing this, friends. I still feel like I'm playing at this writer thing a lot of the time, but things are getting serious. I have a finished, polished novel. I have an almost completed sequel. I've freelance edited four novels and three collections. I have six short stories published (or will this fall). I'm involved in conventions. I'm starting my own publishing company.

I've come a long way in five years. I'm excited to see what the next five years brings.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

May Update: On Track and ConQuesT 47

All right, friends. All kinds of news to share. I really should start updating more often.

First, I won Camp Nano and finished the story I was working on. Second, I am back working on Towers of Kansas. The rest of the book is outlined and I'm making decent progress. Most days. This is exciting news because that means I am still on track with the huge project list I made. I'm optimistic that I will get ToK finished by the end of June. July is the second session of Camp Nano, and I have another nearly novella to write for that. I think I can do this. I really do.

Only partially furnished at this point.
Third, WE HAVE AN OFFICE. Jack and I went in with Kevin and Rachel and found a tiny office in a suite of offices downtown. It has a skylight and room enough for three or four workstations. There are bathrooms and a kitchen area and even a waiting room. It's pretty posh. We're doing a six-month lease as an experiment, see how much we use it and how productive it will make us. I am hoping many a novel and short story are written there. It's still in a state of partially furnished, but we're slowly working on getting desk and chairs and, y'know, internet up and working. We have a coffee pot in there. That's probably the most essential thing, right?

As a quick follow-up, I am still firm on my decision to retire as a freelance editor. I just finished what will probably be my last freelance project for awhile. It makes marketing myself weird, since my main website is still my freelance editing one, but I figure over the next year, I will make the transition from freelance editor to writer and editor for Bottle Cap Publishing.

Ok, ConQuesT 47! I will be there. I am moderating five panels. I will be doing a reading. I will probably go to a few panels for friends and colleagues, but also potentially spend lots of time at the bar.

If you are reading this blog and want to know where I will be when, here are my panel titles and times (and a couple lines about them):

Friday

3:00 PM - Writing Groups: This panel is hosted by the LFK Writers writing group and will discuss how to find the right writing group for you.

5:00 PM - Writing Prompts: This panel is also hosted by the LFK Writers, who contribute to the Confabulator Cafe, a website where we write fiction to a new prompt every month. We'll talk about all the different kinds of prompts there are and how to generate story ideas.

Saturday

10:00 AM - Publish Like the Pros: Bottle Cap Publishing will talk about how to self-publish your books.

1:00 PM - NaNoWriMo: A panel talking about the who/what/where/when/why/how of writing a novel in a month.

2:00 PM - Creativity and Mental Health: A common stereotype is that creative types all have some sort of mental illness. Sadly, there is a lot of truth to that. This panel is designed to raise awareness to reduce stigma and also talk about productive ways to work past those illnesses.

4:00 PM - Creative Isolation, Balancing Creativity and Relationships: This panel is designed to open up a dialogue between creative types and their loved ones to make sure everyone is getting what they need, whether it be time, space, or support.

Sunday

1:00 PM - Reading: Not gonna lie. This is my first time doing a reading in public. I am nervous. But. I will try to delight listeners with a short story from a recent publication, an excerpt from Monsters of Lawrence, and some of the ridiculous magnetic poetry I've written.

For a full schedule, check out the ConQuesT Sched website. There are lots of other interesting panels hosted by amazing people.

I shouldn't make promises, but I will try to post a wrap-up post-con when I get back. I am sure I will have lots of thoughts and feelings.

And hopefully more news as far as my writing!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April Update: Big Decisions

I'm starting to think I might need to update here more than once a month. I never think I'm going to have enough to talk about for a whole blog post, but then I look back at the previous entry and realize how much ground I've covered.

Which is why I do this blog. I lose sight of my progress if I don't check in.

So, first. Monsters of Lawrence. My theta reader says it's done. All of the things have been fixed (although we're still scratching our heads over what to do about the first chapter, which apparently still sucks). She is going to copy edit it for me, and then I'm going to send it out to a few more agents (I have already received three rejections out of six queries, which crushed me more than I like to admit).

I am not banking on agents, though. At this point, I think I've decided to self-publish the Mythos series. At least Diana's trilogy. I don't know that I am prepared to do any more substantial editing on it, and I know that an agent and then potentially a publisher's editor very likely will ask me to make more changes. It's where I want it. Like it or not, this is the story it is. It is the story of my heart. So. If I don't land an agent in another few tries after I get copy edits done, I will put it out through Bottle Cap Publishing.

I have several other more marketable story ideas and partially completed novels to work with. If my self-published trilogy can make me some money while I work on polishing and querying, all the better.

Towers of Kansas is at a standstill again, but I did get over ten thousand more words written on it after finally getting the scene order right. It's not perfect, but it's a mess because I've been writing it on and off for the last several years. I think once I sit down and write the rest of it, it'll be more cohesive. I am never leaving a book like that again. It's been a pain to match my tone and remember where I was going with stuff. I like ToK a lot, but I'm ready to be done writing it so I can get started on Diana's conclusion.

Because I made a HUGE project list the other day. I have tentatively scheduled what I should be working on each month through October of 2018. I may deviate from it, but for the most part, I'm hoping to work on the Mythos books, Online Dating for Demons, and the Druid Wars trilogy over the next couple of years while doing an episode for my adventure series between each larger project. The adventure series will go out under a pen name sometime in 2018. I love the stories and the characters, but I don't necessarily want it to be associated with the more serious brand I am trying to develop.

And speaking of brands...I've decided that I am going to retire as a freelance editor. It lasted barely a year, but I've decided I want to focus more on my writing career, and I don't have enough free time to do both writing and editing. I will continue to be the primary editor for Bottle Cap Publishing, but no more begging for clients for me. I will probably take down my website once its renewal comes up. I have one last freelance client to do at the end of this month, but then I won't take on any new clients going forward. I suppose I may take on a project here and there--small ones, at any rate--if the project sounds interesting to me. While the few grand a year will be sad to say goodbye to, I'm hoping before long I can make up that difference with writing.

Oh, and the hunt for office space is on. Bottle Cap Publishing has decided that we all need an office. Rachel needs it during the day. I need it for when I need to get work done and the boys are being distracting or the puppy is or the messy state of the house is. I need to be able to get away and do some work without the interruptions or the guilt that I should be doing something else. With Rachel and Kevin's help, we should be able to afford a small space somewhere in town. If we can get anyone to call us back.

Ok, I think that's enough for now, even though there are other things waiting to be told. I still haven't talked about music, but I can save that for another update. I want to talk about the vampire anthology I want to coordinate, too. I also need to talk about Conquest, but I will probably devote some time to that next month before I actually go. Just as a little teaser, I am going to be on SIX PANELS. Five of those are panels I suggested. Yowza. I am equal parts excited and terrified. Luckily, Jack, Rachel, and Kevin are on most of the panels with me. I can do this.

Monday, March 14, 2016

March Update: Ephemera and Agents

Beware the ides of March!

Only not really. Honestly, this ides of March promises to be relatively uneventful.

Unlike the last month.

I got my freelance editing work done, which was great, but then Jack and I both got sick. He has pneumonia and is still fighting, but I finally feel better, at least. We're slowly getting back into things.

Mostly these days I've been dealing with mud from giant puppy paws. Come on, spring. Give me a break here. I really, really need an office so I don't spend so much time sitting at my kitchen table thinking about doing dishes and mopping up after the puppy.

But it's not quite time for that yet. I'm making progress as a freelance editor and aspiring novelist, but I still have a long way to go before I can justify an office.

Which brings me to novel progress. The bad news is, I haven't done much work on Towers of Kansas. Once I got the scenes in order and wrote detailed notes about what to put in the next chapter to make it fit into my outline, I put it away.

The good news is, I am basically finished with Monsters of Lawrence. I have done the huge structural edit based on beta reader feedback. I read back through it to make sure all those changes fit. I went back through it yet again to copy edit it so that it's pretty damn polished. As long as my two theta readers don't call me out on anything glaring, it's done. It's ready.

And I have already written a query letter, a short synopsis, and sent queries to five agents.

I felt like I was going to throw up for a few days after that. It's been a week. I know the next 5-7 weeks are going to drag on forever while I await the inevitable rejections. But. I have started the process. Monsters of Lawrence is that much closer to being birthed into the world.

I need to figure out what project to work on next. I will probably hold off on ToK for a little while. As much as I love my characters for the world of Mythos books, I am feeling quite a bit of fatigue. Which I guess isn't surprising, since I've read MoL at least ten times, ToK at least five so far and it's not even done. Well, it's done in my head. I just need to write it. And ideas for the third and final book (tentatively Scions of Mythos) keep coming so that a lot of the book is planned even if I don't know exactly what all happens yet.

But. I'm thinking about writing another adventure novella (once I have five of those, I'm going to start putting those out under a pseudonym and see what happens), and then it's either Online Dating for Demons or Druid Wars. Probably Demons. I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle Druid Wars yet.

For the record, the Shadowhunters TV series kinda makes me want to gouge my eyes out. Not because it's bad, but because every week I'm like...shit. MoL totally looks like I wrote Shadowhunters fanfiction. And not even the sexy kind. It makes me depressed. I can only hope that because the show is doing so well that maybe agents/publishers will want more of the same kind of thing.

If not, I'll just self-publish it and hope I have better luck with one of my other novels.

Can't ever sit still. Gotta keep writing. Gotta keep editing.

Wow, this entry got a little long. Next month maybe I'll spend some time talking about music and writing. I paid for Amazon Prime and I've really been enjoying all of the music. I've been building soundtracks for different writing projects. It's been fun. And inspiring.

Friday, February 12, 2016

February Update: My overflowing plate

Things have really picked up since my last update. I made it through developmental edits for Monsters of Lawrence. It's currently on the cooling rack before I do one final pass. And then I will start submitting it. So I need to research publishers and agents and figure out how to write a query letter and synopsis.

But my editing load has also picked up, so I'm not sure when I'll do that. I have a short story and a novel coming from Rachel, Kevin's debut novel, beta reads for two friends, and a new client starting in June.

In there, I have a work trip to Portland for the ACES conference, ConQuest, and an audition for Listen to Your Mother.

http://www.hawkin.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/800x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/E19844_800.jpgI have an overflowing plate.

On top of it all, I've been trying to make headway on Towers of Kansas, the sequel to Monsters of Lawrence (and the second book in Diana's trilogy). I wrote a new beginning for it, reorganized scenes and rewrote some more, and then tore it apart and reorganized it again. I'm still not sure the scenes are in the right order, but I have it pretty close, I think. It's like one of those slide number puzzles. Every time you move one of the tiles, it changes where all of the rest of them are. But I've got it close enough that I think I can start writing forward now. I've added around 8,000 words to it, although I've also taken away at least a couple thousand.

But I feel like it might have to take back burner while I make it through my paying editing jobs. Which, don't get me wrong, I'm excited about. But it's also hard, because over the last two months, when I haven't been busy at work, I've been working on writing and editing my own stuff. It's exciting and terrifying and also a little sad, because I know it'll probably be at least another decade before I can quit the day job and follow the dream of being a full-time writer and freelance editor. If ever.

I'm also still writing a short story for the Confabulator Cafe each month. I've stopped submitting short stories for publication now, deciding that my time is better spent on novels at this point. I'm also relieved I put the collection on hold. Bottle Cap isn't doing a table at ConQuest anymore, which was a majority of the reason I wanted to do it in the first place. That was a solid decision.

I also started a reading blog with a fellow writer. We're doing a re-read of the Shannara series by Terry Brooks. If you want to read along with us, we do about five chapters a week. Check us out at The Paranor Review!

I feel incredibly lucky to have so many fun things I am a part of right now. True, it's exhausting, and sometimes I spend a few days introverting and goofing around without working, but those days help me recharge. I am also fortunate enough to have an amazing group of writing friends who make sure I get everything I need, from emotional support to idea sounding boards.

Living the dream, friends. Halfway to my end goal of being published by the time I'm 40, and I feel like I've made hella progress. It's been a fun ride. This year has been huge, and looks like it will continue on out of control, picking up speed, until it's a runaway train.

Rachel did promise me a Crazy Train to Awesome Town. Here we come!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January Update: Seasonal Depression and Changing Goals

While I've only been regularly updating for the whole last year, the one reoccurring theme over the last five years this blog has existed is my eternal struggle with winter. I've finally admitted to myself that I suffer from pretty acute SAD (seasonal affective disorder). The dark, cold months at the beginning of the year send me to an even darker place inside of me. Half the time I don't even realize I'm there. One of the biggest challenges with this mood downturn is it affects my motivation, not only for day-to-day things like chores, but fun stuff like hanging out with friends and writing.

The first week of January was lost to this mood, until one of my good friends checked in on me, and the rest of my friends helped dig me out. I'm doing better now, although I'm still fighting with a cold, hoping it doesn't turn sinus infection.

In the midst of this low mood, I dug into Monsters of Lawrence, as I had planned to do this January. That first day was terrible. I skimmed through the first paragraph of the first twenty or so chapters, and was shocked and sickened by how mundane and downright poorly written it was in so many places. This is not a novel that showcases my writing talent. So during that day, I almost quit. This novel needed so much more than the quick cleanup job I thought it needed.

However, the next day, I tore into it. Ok, so it needs more work than I expected. I know what it needs, at least. With my sharpened editorial skills I've honed over the last two years, I began intensive surgery. I cut apart chapters, I spliced chapters together, I breathed new life into dead scenes and sentences, all the while working to implement the changes I had discussed with my beta readers.

I've been working on it nearly every day for the last week now. It's slow going, folks. But, I already feel a thousand times more confident about it. It's still a mess. I compared it to cleaning a closet: you have to pull everything out, creating a gigantic, disorganized mess before you can start to put things back in a more organized, logical way. It will take at least another pass once I'm done tearing this draft apart to clean up any scars I've left, make sure I didn't leave any surgical implements inside the body. But it should be better, faster, stronger when I'm done rebuilding. The bones are good. Most of the second half of the book only needs minor adjustments.

In light of this project, though, I got to thinking about my collection. The little collection that could. My sad attempt to be part of the cool kids table at Conquest. It's not meant to be, friends. I examined my reasons for wanting to put it together, and the work doesn't justify the end result. So, for now, I will continue to write short stories each month for the Cafe, and maybe someday, once I have a novel or two published and some fans who like me, I'll self-publish a collection.

The only thing I lament after coming to this decision is that it will be that much longer until my gorgeous cover sees the light of day. So I am sharing it here, so at least it is out there. Enjoy, friends. You saw it here first.