Wednesday, October 25, 2017

October Update: Slowing Down and Gearing Up

My stats this month are kind of sad, but I'll start with them anyway.

Wordcount updates:
  • Words written so far in October: 4,581
  • Words written so far in 2017: 100,164
  • Words written so far on SoM: 51,007

Agent query updates:
  • Rejections: 39
  • Closed (no response): 19
  • Outstanding: 1

So yeah. I have hit my October slump.  The writing has slowed down. Book three has all but ground to a halt (I wrote a thousand more words on it last month but haven't touched it this month). The words I wrote this month were brainstorms for a couple of Cafe stories that I didn't write and a couple queries I've put together for publishers for book one.

Because the queries for literary agents is wrapping up. Just one left, and I should hear back from her within the next couple of weeks. I finally got passes on both agents with partial manuscripts, which was even more devastating than I had been expecting. Having hope makes that kind of thing hurt even more. I'm not sure if I would have been more or less depressed if I hadn't gotten any partial requests at all. Maybe more, because it'd be obvious the book and my query sucked. But maybe less because when I never expected to get interest in the first place, my path forward would have been more clear.

At any rate. Nobody wants this book.

You know what, though? That’s ok. I understand and I don’t take it personally. Diana is hard to like. Urban fantasy is a hard sell right now. And yes, the book is really, really long, for both genre and debut author. Sure, I’m bummed to hell about it. I’m hurt and upset about the rejection and feeling defeated as far as my goals to become a full time writer someday.

But I’m not going to quit.

I kind of subconsciously decided to take this month to mope and lick my wounds, recharge a bit. And next month I’ll attempt NaNo, see how that goes. Then I’ll line edit book two so I can give it to Aron for Christmas and maybe finish up that Cafe story from last December, but then I’m done until January.

And then I'll move on to the next phase of the plan. Next year, I will query a few publishers with book one. While waiting on those, I will focus on finishing book three and editing the first Druid Wars and the first Pandemonium.

But I need to reassess my publishing plan. I knew it was aggressive, but one thing I didn't take very well into account is that I can't keep up summer pace all year.

I always get overambitious in September. Or rather, I have the last two years. I see how well I’m doing and forget that things slow down in the winter. I called my writing icy sludge on Twitter once, and that's an apt metaphor. It’s a river that flows rapidly, eating up obstacles with ease during the spring and summer months. In fall, it slows a bit, but keeps up at least a bit of momentum. But at some point in the winter, ice freezes it solid and nothing gets through. Depending on the weather, it sometimes breaks up a bit and a few things trickle, but I can’t expect the movement in the winter that I get in the summer.

The good news is, that it all balances out. In theory. But I do need to revamp my goals. There’s no way I can write 200k a year. I think 150k might be closer to possible, and even then, maybe more optimistic than realistic. But I can’t let that stop me. I just have to adjust my goals and expectations.

And I have decided I'm not allowed to make a new publishing plan until book three is done. That's just good business. I shouldn't be trying to plan the release of a product that doesn't exist yet. As much as I'd love to release the first two books, since they're mostly done, the trilogy has to be a unit. I have to have all three books done and polished. I have to have the money saved to cover and edit all three. I don't always have to do it that way, but I think it'll be easier on me if I look at it that way.

And besides. If I do end up querying Druid Wars and/or Pandemonium, it may end up that my agent or a publisher wants to know what else I've got. I may not be able to debut with 125k, but maybe if I have another series that does well, I can go back and traditionally publish MystWatch.

I do need to fix up Online Dating for Demons. I realized that it has a greater chance of being picked up not just because it's a different genre and a little bit more strange (although maybe not as original as I had thought at the time), but also because it could be stand-alone. Yes, there is series potential, but the story wraps up, and future books would take place years later. So if an agent or publisher wanted just one book, ODD would hold up.

One final note. I will add that I might be trunking my adventure series. It breaks my heart to have to do it, because I love that character so much. I’ve been working on her since 2004. She’s even older and more dear to me than Diana. But I might need to let her go. To be fair, I was never entirely certain she’d be anything, anyway. I came up with her stuff as a distraction when I was burned out on other things. But it’s getting harder to make myself finish adventures. Also, with the invention of the earbud that can translate something like 40 different languages in nearly real-time, her gift almost seems to be obsolete. I'm not making any permanent decisions on that right now, but I'm not putting her on the schedule for next year. I may end up getting to a Camp NaNo and decide I want to visit her, but I really want to focus on my bigger novel projects next year, not novellas that I will probably never be able to publish.
 
Anyway. All of that is getting ahead of myself. For now, I just need to relax and write. Focus on NaNo. Try to write every day. Don’t be hard on myself when I don’t. I will feel stuck and yucky sometimes, and that’s normal. It usually means something is wrong or I haven’t plotted something out well enough. I've gotten better at getting to the root of the problem and fixing it when that happens.

The stuff with agents and publishing and all that? It doesn’t matter. I’m not ready. I want to be. I want to live the life. But it’s not my time. And there’s no rush. I don’t have to do this by 40. I know that was my goal, but I made that goal to light a fire under my ass so I’d get moving. And I’ve been moving. Every book I finish is another step in the right direction.

That being said, I’m disappointed that I will not achieve a lot of my writing goals this year. I know the first half of the year I was bogged down by depression other stuff. But I have to keep in mind that these years, right now, are kind of a way to assess what I am capable of in a given year, ups and downs included. It gives me some perspective. Without crazy deadlines, I can settle into a natural writing routine, and tracking that for a few years will give me an idea what I can realistically expect of myself. That will be extremely useful if I decide to self-publish, but also will be nice to be able to tell an agent if I ever get representation.

The last seven years have really been about seeing what I can do. I may not get published by 40, but I went from a hobbyist to serious about writing. I've finished novels, learned about the industry, and even submitted my work. I will have a record of what I can achieve in ten years. That will help me from getting bogged down in the small-scale ups and downs of each year and really focus on what I can accomplish.

That is also getting ahead of myself. At ten years, I will have to go back through this blog and make a huge "where am I going, where have I been" post. But I can hit snooze on that for now. I still have some time. Three more years. I can get a ton of stuff done in three years. Maybe not All The Things. But I've come a long way, and I'm not stopping now. I'm picking up steam and finally going places.

It's a slow process. But it's worth it. And I've proven to myself that I am well-equipped to hunker down for the long haul of it.

But for now, NaNo!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

September Update: Stats, The New Plan, and Waxing Philosophical

Starting with stats last time was fun. I think I will do that again.

First, word count updates:
  • Words written so far in September: 18,874
  • Words written so far this year: 93,606
  • Words written so far on SoM: 50,072

I ended up writing over 20k words in August. I got 6k more words written on SoM before the month ended. I finally hit 50k on SoM. My minimum goal before October was to hit 50k, and I waited to update this blog until I hit that point. Now every day I write, I'm that much closer to halfway. It's unlikely I'll actually hit 60k unless I have an epic week (which, who knows, I very well might). I would have to write 1,000 words a day just on SoM to hit it. I've been working on other things, including a Cafe story and a brainstorm for my upcoming NaNo novel. I dunno. It's do-able. But I'm not going to kill myself for it. I'm really happy with my progress, so anything beyond this point is gravy.

Here's an update on where I'm at with literary agent queries:

  • Partial requests: 2
  • Rejections: 33
  • Closed (no response): 20
  • Outstanding: 3
The partials are at 104 and 63 days, respectively. I have no idea when/if I will ever hear back from either of those. I will probably nudge the 104-day one when it hits 120 days, and it sounds like the 63-day one is behind because of traveling but is looking at partials requested from about a month before mine at this point. I'm really hoping to hear back from both of those before the end of the year, because there's a very well-respected small press that will be open to unagented manuscripts during November and December. I really want to submit to them, so fingers crossed I have answers on all my queries by then. That may mean that I don't send it to that one last agent on my list (she opened to queries early, I'm so mad about that), but that's ok. Of the last three outstanding queries, I expect to hear back from one in about two weeks and one in about a month. The last one I may never hear from and will therefore close out at 90 days. Oh. I did get a 119-day rejection on one of the submissions I had closed out.

So that's where I'm at as far as stats.

Here's where I'm at as far as my plan. I will throw my book at two or three publishing companies (two if I don't make the Angry Robot open door window). That will probably take most of next year. I know Tor and DAW both take like, six months or something like that, and they are exclusive, so you can only send to one at a time.

But I think that's the only submission I will be doing next year.

It took a lot of reflection and at least three months' worth of this writing blog to realize...that I need to take next year off and just focus on writing and editing. I want to spend a year without the distraction of submission to just write more books and clean up existing books. It may well be the very last year to just be creative with no pressure to do more.

And then, if all of the agents and all of the publishers have rejected MoL, I will spend 2019 finding editors and cover designers and will begin the self-publication process. I should have enough saved to edit and cover all three books. And then, I will begin to release them in 2020.

I will have a release every other month, putting out the whole trilogy in one year, with short stories between them. The shorts will be about my supporting dudes--a Makai story that's already written (although it's only 4k now, so I might work to stretch it out to 5k) and a Shane story that goes between books two and three--and then at the end of the year, collect them all and put out a box set.

In the two years it takes me to write, edit, and prepare the Huntress trilogy for publication, I'll focus on writing books two and three of Druid Wars. That way, in 2021, I will follow the same formula and put out the Druid Wars trilogy, with shorts in between (one being a story I wrote for the Cafe that I will probably tweak). Hopefully by then, I will have a reliable editor and cover artist so I won't have to wait too long to get stuff back from them.

And then, in the year that those are going out, I will work on writing books two and three of Pandemonium. Hopefully I'll get book one cleaned up in my year of writing and editing next year. And then starting in 2022, I might....MIGHT...release book one and then start releasing a season of Sally Prescott between each book. If I write two to three adventures of SP a year, I should be well into season three, if not finished with season three by then. The idea behind that is to have more time to write the Pandemonium books by putting out other stuff I've already written. But, hey, if things go well, maybe I can follow the same formula with that series instead (I already have an idea for one of the shorts), and potentially just release two seasons of SP a year and then put out the SP novel. I dunno, though. Three years of Sally Prescott without anything else might be a bit much. I might have to ask my mentor (Rachel!!) what she thinks.

And after that? Who knows. That's five years of doing a new NaNo novel every year, so I will, in theory, have other worlds to choose from.

Although this year, I'm using NaNo to get out of my comfort zone to write something that's magical realism instead of urban fantasy. And it'll probably be stand-alone. So. Erm. I dunno where that fits, or if it'll even be a decent book that I can publish.

Anyway. As I've mentioned, I want to keep doing NaNo every year so I have a month to do something fun and outside of the box. Without the pressure of it having to fit into my regular genres or be marketable. Although of all the agent MSWL I've read, many of them want the next Practical Magic, so hey, maybe I'll get an agent based on this book I have yet to write. Or maybe it'll go under my pseudonym. Or maybe it'll go in the trunk. Regardless, I am planning to have fun with it. It's all witchy and October and kind of grown-up and literary. I want to spend lots of words describing things about fall and evoke some feelings and...I dunno. I want to be a middle-aged woman, I guess.

That has been a worry of mine lately. Am I getting out of my New Adult, fantasy setting type novels? I hope not. I'm kind of relying on writing at least four series in that genre over the next ten years. And I had always planned on going back to Fractured Worlds in my 40s, when I feel like I might be better able to build other fantasy worlds. I can't be done with fantasy yet, can I?

And the answer to that is probably no. But I've outgrown a lot of my new adult angst. I've mostly accepted Mom's passing. I've mostly gotten past relationship drama and very intense young person ideas of love. The kinds of things that appealed to me when in was in my 20s doesn't necessarily resonate with me anymore. That doesn't mean I can't still write it. I probably will.

But maybe the next five years' worth of NaNo will be my chance to explore more adult, middle-aged issues. Maybe my protagonist in this year's NaNo will actually be married instead of just having a girlfriend. Or maybe not. But I want her in an established, healthy, supportive relationship. An adult relationship where they learn about things and each other together. It's a journey they go through as a couple, experiencing everything along the way. She's not discovering her sexuality or falling in love, she just is in love and is a lesbian, and that's part of the story but not what the plot is.

Anyway. That was a serious TL;DR tangent.

I waxed philosophical.

Back on track, now.

Yeah. I made a schedule for my self-publication. It's a bit aggressive. It relies on me being able to write about 200k a year. I may not be able to maintain that. Although I did find out at work today that I can drop to 32 hours and still be considered full time. I could actually take Fridays off and still get full benefits. I wouldn't get the eight hours of pay, and that would add up, but. If I was making a supplemental income from selling books, I could maybe afford to take that extra day to write or do freelance editing. It's something to consider. And I am in a workplace that I think would entertain the idea. But in two or three years...I may not even have this job anymore, depending on funding. So. I can't rely on that eventuality. Also, if Jack ends up quitting his job to go back to school, we might need me to work full time and publish books to make do.

So yeah. Lots of things to think about, but I'm not going to worry about any of them now. Having given myself next year to just write and edit has really taken a great load off. I have been super productive since then.

And while part of me may want to query Druid Wars next year, I may not do it officially. I may do Twitter pitches and throw it at one or two of my top agents, but probably not. It's hard to not jump in fully after dipping your toe in the water.

Seriously. Querying is like gambling. It's addictive.

I'm gonna wrap this up, now. The big takeaways from this month are that I'm still waiting on agents, I have made great progress on book three, and I may even get my fifth Cafe story for the year turned in.

Oh, that is one last thing I was thinking about. I may drop down to only three stories next year instead of six. I'll keep it running, but I mostly want to write things I can monetize eventually. Although putting out a short story collection might be a nice way to fill gaps in my publication schedule...

Haha. Ok. Really am done now.

Until October!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

August Update: Stats and Plans

I'm going to start this entry with some stats, just for funsies.

First, some word count updates:
  • Words written so far in August: 14,005
  • Words written so far this year: 68,684
  • Words written so far on SoM: 30,362

So that's coming along.

I even wrote a Cafe story this month, so I've now written four stories for the Cafe so far. Only two more to meet my goal for the year.

Here's an update on where I'm at with literary agent queries:
  • Partial requests: 2
  • Rejections: 31
  • Closed (no response): 21
  • Outstanding: 5

The longest I've waited for a response so far was 82 days. The fasted was two days. I've closed a couple out at 121 days, but mostly I close them between 60-80 days. It's been 76 days since the request for 100 pages and 35 days since the request for the first 10 pages.

I expect to be waiting on the partials for at least another 1-3 months.

I still have one more I want to query when she opens in October, and that will make 60.

After that, I have some decisions to make.

Or rather, I've made some decisions already, but after all that, we'll see if they stick.

One thing I've been worried about the whole time querying MoL is that it's too long. It's too long for the genre and too long for a debut author. A rejection I received yesterday confirmed that.

And while I know all that is arbitrary, and if an agent truly loves the project and my writing, word count is something they will either overlook or plan on working with me to pare down. But I've thought more than once that it might be what's keeping me from finding an agent for this book.

I just keep coming back to the fact that this book was the book of my heart. Yes, I could cut it down to meet some arbitrary industry standard. Truth is--and call me a diva for this--but I don't want to. For better or worse, it is what I want it to be. Everything I left in I felt was important to the plot or the larger world or series.

So maybe I don't debut with this novel. Maybe I debut with something else. Maybe, once I've gotten a "no" or gotten no response from all 60 agents, I trunk it. Trunk the whole series. Not forever. Maybe just until I write a few more books in different worlds that are shorter or don't have vampires or whatever else they keep passing on it for. Maybe when I have some fans, maybe an agent, I can say, hey, any interest in this complete trilogy with series potential? It may not be a best-selling series, but it might make us a few extra bucks. And they can be like, sure, we liked your shorter stuff. Let's see how this longer stuff does. Or if they don't want to take the chance, then I'll self-publish it.

And maybe they're right. Maybe it's too long. Maybe people won't read it. Maybe Emily and Aron and the girls and Jack are the only ones who will ever actually like it because they know me and they know Lawrence.

But I can't see having three books finished and ready for a professional editor as ever being a bad thing.

So. My goal for the next couple of months is to get as much of SoM written as I can. I know after NaNo I'll lose momentum and it might not get finished until next year. But. If I can leave it at 50k-60k, at least I'll have a solid foundation to work from. My first goal was to get it to 30k. It's harder to walk away from something that big. If I can double that in the next month or two, I will feel ok about setting it aside for NaNo and the holidays.

And hell, if I hit November 1 and it's still going like it has been the last week (I had a 4k day today and a 2k day a couple days ago and a couple 1.5k days before that...although I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that most of the month, I had mostly zero days and a few 250-word days), I may not want to stop. I may skip NaNo and my Something New to finish this up. And that's ok, too.

But I've learned my fucking lesson with this. No more 125k-word books. At least not that I want to query.

Although Druid Wars 1, my next big project I plan on querying, is too short, coming in at less than 70k. Oiy. I just can't win, here. Online Dating for Demons I think is even shorter (although I have plans to beef it up in the dev edit).

Why can't I just write the books I want to write and tell them in however many words they need to be told in?

I guess I can if I self-publish. Yet another compelling reason to skip traditional publishing completely.

That being said, I may not revisit the self-publishing idea for another year or two. I don't have to do this all now or even next year. I can take my time.

That's kind of been the theme of the last few updates.

I've got time.

I just need to relax and just write.

I still have over three years to reach my goal. I'm only 36. And hey, if it takes until I'm 41 or 45 or even 50, so be it. There's no rush. The longer I wait, the more I have ready to publish.

So just relax and write. And keep writing.

No matter what, just keep writing. That's the only part that really matters in all of this.

Friday, July 21, 2017

July Update: Ups and Downs

It's been something of a rough month.

I finally settled in and wrote a bit on Scions of Mythos after my last post. About 3,500 words. Then I started Camp with a strong 1,500 words on the first day. Then I went on vacation mode and didn't do anything. Then I had five amazing days of writing...wordcount-wise, anyway. The story just wasn't moving. Things still felt broken and I couldn't get into the story. I felt like I was going through the motions. There was no excitement. No love for what I was creating.

So, I spent about a week not writing. And feeling terrible about not writing. I finally sat down one day and did a bunch of brainstorming. Part of my issue was figuring out what order do things happen in. So I did a projected outline for a couple of different ways, and what would cause things to happen that way. And I really had to look at what the heart of this book would be. And I figured some stuff out. I still didn't write for a few more days, but stuff percolated in my mind. And then I had a few productive writing days.

Sadly, it's not enough to save Camp NaNo. I had to lower my wordcount goal. Which kills me a little bit. I still can't shake the feeling that I'm so far behind on writing this book.

But it comes when it comes. My writing friends keep reminding me of that.

And it's been hard to get motivated to write in general, if I'm completely honest. I've been wondering what the point is a lot lately. After the initial rush of an agent asking for a partial manuscript, a string of rejections made me lose hope again. I'm down to sixteen outstanding queries, and a majority of those I will probably never hear back about. I've amassed 29 rejections and closed out eight more. Soon to be ten.

Actually, yesterday I was about to close out one--one I really was sad about, because he sounded amazing and reps a lot of my favorite authors--and then I got an email from him.

My book sounds intriguing to him, and he'd like to read the first chapter.

There may have been some jumping up and down and screaming followed by hugging my poor puppy who had no idea what was going on with her human.

That's two, friends. Two agents....two out of my top five agencies...who have shown interest in my book.

It's affirming in a lot of ways. I had resigned myself to the one agent being kind of a one-off. Not necessarily a fluke, but maybe more just like dumb luck. But now there's another one! And the second agent had a one-page plot synopsis as well as the query. So it's good to know that that's ok. I never even had anyone look at it.

Two huge agents from hugely respected agencies. My query, my synopsis, my book...they don't suck! I'm really, really happy.

And it's amazing what that happiness can do for someone's muse. Don't get me wrong. It was distracting. Even knowing it was unrealistic, I checked my email a dozen times after sending my pages to see if he'd gotten back to me yet. Hah.

The thing is, I had gotten to a point where I was like, I have maybe two fans plus my writing group. It's hard to motivate myself to write a book just for my brother and sister. I don't necessarily have to write it. I already know how it ends. I know who lives and who dies. I know how everyone's stories resolve. I'm not writing it for the sheer discovery of it.

But thankfully that changed yesterday. I let go and just settled into the story, and scenes I hadn't expected came out. I'm not moving my characters from point A to point B hoping they'll do what I want them to do. They're doing their own things. It's nice. It's a thing I love about writing.

So. I'm only 16,000 words--about five chapters--into the book. But it's finally coming alive. And while I may be "behind" or more accurately, not as far as I wish I was, it's ok. I've got all the time in the world.

I'd like to be done with it before November so I can write something new for NaNo and then take a break for a month or two, but even if I don't, it's ok.

I may not even know if these two agents want my book in six months, so there really is no hurry to self-publish. As long as all three books are written and at least first draft edited by the end of next year, I'll still be in good shape. For whatever happens.

Also, one more little tangent. I stalled out on my adventure novella series earlier this year. I was suffering from lack of planning and my character's lack of agency. So I put the episode I was working on away. The other day, I went back and read over the episode before the one I'm working on, and it was really good! Like, I surprised myself a little. The ending was a little rushed, but I know it was because I was anxious to get it done and move on.

I feel good about that series again. I know the first two adventures are a little rough still, but I'm not sure how to fix them. But after that, they are great. I really hope that someday I can put them out in the world. Hell, if I end up with an agent, I can pitch the series and maybe they can help tweak the first two adventures. Although I kind of wonder if those won't probably always be just for me. They're slowly amassing. I have the first season done out of five. But I only get maybe two done a year, so it's still a long time before I can do anything with them. I always said I had to have the first two seasons done before publishing, but I think I need to plan on having at least three seasons done. The publishing plan there is to release two seasons a year, so unless I increase my pace, I'd need five years to write the last two seasons.

Now, if I could write a season a year, three seasons would be enough of a bank. That'd be a year and a half. Trouble is, a season is basically a whole second book a year. I already determined that I'm hard-pressed to write more than one book a year in addition to starting a new NaNo project.

So for now, I just toy with it between projects to clear the palate and have some fun. It's back-burner for now, until I'm done with Scions of Mythos.

If ever.

Ugh.

Becoming a published writer is such a slow process. Even self-publishing is limited to how much product I can produce and if I can get into editors and find cover artists. I really, really want an agent to help me find a publisher so I can mostly just focus on writing and promoting and working my day-job for awhile longer.

Oh, in other news...and I can't remember if I mentioned this con or not, but the Midwest Reader Con I was going to help run in October has been canceled. The woman running it is having some family and health issues. I'm sad, in a way, but also relieved. I really don't want to be front and center in a convention again until I have a book out.

Last but not least, I should have another editing project or two over the next couple of months. Kevin is finally done the second book in his Village Alchemist series (YAY!!), and I might be editing another anthology for Sean with Pine Float Press. I truly do love editing, so I'm looking forward to both. Rachel won't have anything else for me for a few months yet, but then I should have another Cupid story.

I think that's it for this entry. Hopefully I'll have more news as far as agents by this time next month. I'm guessing most of my news will be more rejections and still waiting on these two agents.

I'm excited, though. The excitement had worn off. I really needed this. I'm beyond delighted. I'd be thrilled to death to be represented by either agent. I feel so lucky to have gotten their interest. They've rekindled my hope.

I think I can do this.

I just need to keep writing.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June Update: Agents and Dreams

Big news! I had an agent request a partial manuscript. I sent off the first hundred pages to his assistant a couple weeks ago. And now I wait.

I also have collected 25 rejections and closed out five more, so I'm halfway through my list of 60. That's more than I originally planned to send out, but hey. A lot of the interviews I've read have said somewhere after 50 was their magical number. Me, I'm hoping 24 is still mine. I really, really want this agent to represent this book. Like, more than anything. And I can finally admit that. I was trying to play it cool, but I am not cool. I am freaking out.

Anyway. Finger crossing and positive vibes my way are much appreciated.

I have fairly little news outside of the query quest, though.

ConQuest was fun. We hung out with Jonathan Maberry. He is a fantastic human being. He tried to convince me gin is tasty by inviting me to try his gin martini. I still remain unconvinced, but hey, I got to take a sip out of Jonathan Maberry's drink. I also won Story-in-a-Bag for science fiction. That was a pleasant surprise. I've now won once in all categories. I feel like I can retire, now. Plus, I may have outgrown it at this point. I did it this year because I decided to revert back to fan rather than participant for one last year, with the idea that maybe next year I'd have a book published or close to published or something. I dunno. Until I have something to promote, I'd really rather attend cons as a fan. Since I do not have the credentials to sit with some of the folks on editing panels. At this point, my only contribution is hire a good editor. Just not me.

Anyway.

I published my Cafe story, but I'm not writing one this month.

I should be editing a novella for Rachel this week or next.

I did some edits on the first Druid Wars book. I'm excited for that one! Jack is, too. He's been doing a bunch of druid research, so the timing on this is about perfect. I have no clue what I'm doing for book two, but hey. Book one is awesome. If a bit lean. It was only 64k words. It's only 67k words now, so I'm hoping Jack can tell me where it needs more. I have two scenes I want to expand after this most recent read-through, so that should bump me up to 70k. I'd like to see it at 75k at the least, but anything about 70k is within industry standard.

And this whole update is a TL;DR: I have not been working on book three.

I think I'm ready though. I did some more brainstorming yesterday. I read over my outline, and it's actually pretty solid. There's a few things I still need to figure out, like where certain subplots should go, but I know how to wrap up almost every character and I have the final battle figured out.

I just need to write it.

I'm hoping to throw some words at it when I'm on vacation next week. And then I'm doing July Camp NaNo with it, so hopefully I'll get about a thousand words a day. I'm going to aim for 10k by the end of June, which only puts me, what, 50k behind?

It's ok. I've kinda scrapped my project timeline. I know what order to work on things. It was useful when I wasn't sure. But things have fallen into place and it's clear what to work on in what order. Right now, anyway. Book three is first priority. Druid wars book one is second priority. And third priority is to spend this November writing something new for NaNo. The next adventure novella is lower priority, but I would like to get episode 2.1 finished by the end of the year.

In order to achieve my goals, I need to be writing a book a year. I wrote most of Towers of Kansas last year. This year is Scions of Mythos. Next year probably Order of Osiris. That's my general goal, for now. One book in one of my big trilogies per year, one to two novellas for the adventure series for fun, and a new project every NaNo so the well never runs dry.

I'm not sure if short stories fit into that or not, but I am going to keep trying. The Cafe is important to me. I will keep writing for it as long as other people keep writing for it. And I have short stories to tell within my existing worlds.

I'm also not sure where publishing fits into this. I had a super long private blog post the other day about my plan for that. Those plans haven't changed yet. But they may if this agent actually likes my book. And where one agent out of 30 has asked for pages, it stands to reason that at least one more might out of 30 others. I'd written off the chances of representation for this book. But now it's back on the table. Or at least, there's a possibility of it going back on the table.

I'll spend more time talking about my self-publishing plan in a few months. Once I know for sure whether or not an agent decides to represent me.

But, in short, the idea is, in two years, to put out all three MystWatch books over the course of one year. Every two months, then the box set. Then the year after that, put out short stories until I can release all three books of the Druid Wars series in one year. And then a year of other shorts until I can put out all three books in the Pandemonium trilogy. And then I'll either go back to MystWatch and do Scion Slayer, or maybe look into doing the Dante novels, of which there may be anywhere from three to five, depending. There's also the adventure novellas I could potentially do, although maybe not under my name, so that may not help. I also have a second-world fantasy series that could potentially come next. That's going to be six books as I have it planned right now.

I'm really aiming to do a trilogy a year, every other year, for as long as I can sustain it. I figure after ten years of doing that, I'll meet my goal of being able to quit my full time job at that point. And why stop there? I'll have ten years' worth of new ideas from NaNo each year to work with, too, in theory. And undoubtedly could write more in the MystWatch world, if I wanted.

And then maybe I can do a trilogy a year instead of every other. But at that point, I may not have to.

The too long don't read version of all that is, I probably won't have a book published for another two years. Which is fine. I still think I can reach my first goal and get a book published before I turn 40. And once I do, I'll pick up momentum and not stop until I can quit my day-job. Which should take about ten years, by every calculation I've done.

So hey. In twelve years, I should reach my second goal.

I can only imagine the third goal will follow within the next ten to fifteen years after that if I keep the writing up.

And considering I've been writing since I was in middle school, I have faith. In myself and in the plan. Even when I've claimed not to be a writer, I've still been a writer. I have three decades of history being a writer, so it stands to reason I will keep it up for another three decades, at least.

I see it working for Rachel. I truly believe she'll be in good shape in four more years, which would be the ten-year mark for her.

This thing is achievable.

We just have to keep writing All The Books.

So that's what I'm going to focus on. I'm done querying agents for a few months (I have, like, three more I want to try at some point, but I'm not in a hurry there). I probably won't worry about Cafe stories or adventure novellas until after book three is done. I will have some editing projects, but that's it. Maybe a beta read. Potentially beta reader feedback for book two.

But all of that has to take a back seat. I've procrastinated long enough.

It's time. I will spend the next three to four months writing book three. I'm going to stop telling myself it's late and that I'm behind, because I think that's also stressing me out. I'm right on time. The time is now.

You can't see me, my time is...

Dude, John Cena, get out of my head.

I'll check in next month and let you know how all that is going.

Happy Summer Solstice (and Litha)!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May Update: Finally feeling motivated

I don't have a lot to add this month that I didn't cover in last month's update.

Line edits came a week late, so I did them this month instead of last. But! The book is out and it is glorious and Rachel dedicated it to me and made me cry.

I shouldn't have any more book-length projects this year until Kevin gets me his book. Rachel has a few short stories and novellas to throw my way, but those don't take long at all. I should be able to mostly focus on my own stuff the rest of this year, with short breaks to edit for Rachel and Kevin throughout.

I am still querying book one of MystWatch. I'm up to fourteen rejections, with queries out to six at the moment. That puts me a third of the way through my agent list. So that's coming along. More and more I'm thinking this isn't going to be the book that lands me an agent. It's a good book and there's a small group of friends and family who love it, but I don't think it's going to be a huge commercial success. But querying it is good practice. It is also something to make me feel productive while I work on book three and try to clean up other novels.

I haven't done much in the way of working on book three, though. I did spend some time brainstorming some ideas for the YA trilogy in my MystWatch world. I have another scene partially written and I'm solidifying more characters and what the motivation of the big bad might be. That's been a fun one. I'm really no good at YA and I don't read much of it, but it'll be a nice change.

I've been working on a Cafe story this month. My first in a couple of months, so that's good. It's writing, even if it's not much. I'm having fun with it. The prompt was to write a story based on song lyrics. I've always wanted to do "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" so I am, finally. Only I'm kind of making him a good guy, because he's actually hunting werewolves. I've had the song stuck in my head for days, of course. But I still chuckle when I think of it.

I've all but abandoned my adventure series at this point. I want the whole thing to be written because I really like the character arcs, but getting there is painful right now. I haven't quite gotten the formula for each adventure down yet, plus I keep changing the formula even when I nail one down. I also keep trying to write these stories without enough research. I've really pants'ed the last two, and when I got to this one, as fun as it is, it is also going to require more research. The whole series needs research and I'm too lazy at this point to do it. Or maybe less lazy and more disinterested. Other things are more interesting.

Like druids! I really want to push ahead with Druid Wars. Most of book one needs minor tweaks. The first chapter needs a rewrite (my first chapters always do, grr), but the rest are minor things. A few lines here and there. Now, it still needs a beta read. So more might be needed after that. But. I can't even get people to beta read book two of MystWatch. So I'm a bit stuck. I'm hoping the husband will look at it when he's done school. I'm pretty sure that's the next series I want to do.

My Pandemonium series is really original and awesome, but the first book is such a mess. Every time I go in to fix it, I get overwhelmed. Eventually I'll make a to-do list and just do one thing at a time. It's just figuring out where to start. Some things will affect other things. Every time I start pulling on a thread, all of it threatens to come unraveled.

What it all comes down to is, I wish I had more hours to dedicate to writing. I am at a computer for 40 hours a week for the day job. And when I have freelance projects, it's more like 60 hours a week. With the precious few hours I have left, I have to eat and sleep and hang out with my family and walk my dog and read books for fun and get in touch with nature. Therapist appointments and massages and friend/writing group obligations. There's just too much and it's hard to prioritize.

Once I get my writing career rolling, I'll be able to look forward to the day when I can focus more time on it.

Not sure if I've mentioned my goals here, but I plan on being able to write full time within ten years of publishing my first book. And within twenty-five years, I plan on having made a million dollars writing. I'm keeping track. I have a spreadsheet. I just added another $2.50 for the story I sold to Empyreome. I think that puts me at $275 so far. Wooo!

I really thought coming here to talk about my lack of progress for the last month would leave me feeling depressed. But amazingly, I feel more motivated now. I do have a plan. And even not having written a lot, I am still taking steps toward my goals.

And hey. ConQuesT is this weekend. That always recharges my creative batteries, too.

It's May. It's my time of year. I should be able to get back in gear and make some progress after this weekend.

Y'know. As long as life doesn't do anything else to completely derail me. Knock on wood.

Friday, April 21, 2017

April Update: Slow Month, but Gearing Up

It's been a slow month as far as productivity. My least productive month so far this year. I still have another week to throw words at various projects, so I may at least end up on par with last month's word count. But. My writing mojo has taken a hit the last couple of months, obviously.

It doesn't look like the first adventure in the second season of my adventure series will get done by the end of Camp NaNo after all. I do hope to get it done by the end of this year, but it probably won't be until later. I don't feel too bad about putting it off, though. I'm still not certain anything will ever come of this series, so for now it's just supposed to be a fun palate cleanser between larger projects.

I have been gearing up to write book three for MystWatch, though. I've poked at it a day or two without adding much to it this month, but I did tweak the first chapter so I'm not stuck anymore and added stuff to the outline. I should be ready to start seriously writing starting in May.

Still, this month won't be a total loss, even if I don't write any more words. I did a developmental edit on Rachel's next book from Bottle Cap Publishing. I'll probably get line edits for that sometime next week. I have also started to query the first book in my MystWatch series again. I'm back to following my original plan there, where I'll send it out to five or six agents at a time until I get through all the agents on my list, then switch to publishers. I haven't ruled out self-publishing, either. Rachel has been very encouraging, saying that it's a solid enough book that I should do well either way I decide to go.

I had a bit of a job scare yesterday. More and more of my coworkers are being laid off. After spending about an hour looking at potential job prospects, I got really, really motivated to kick into a higher gear as far as my writing career. I can't face another admin pro job, and editing jobs, especially locally, are few and far between. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I haven't been serious about getting a book published--after all, that's been the primary focus of this blog since its inception six years ago--but I've definitely increased my urgency. It's time. The first book is ready. I'm ready. Let's do this.

Of course, this also means getting back to actually writing. I need to work on the third book. And other books, in case this series doesn't land an agent or publisher. I have two other potential book series that may do better, I just need to edit them and clean them up for submission.

Anyway. My plan for this month is to write as many words as I can for episode 2.1 on my adventure novella and do line edits for Rachel's book.

For the rest of the year, my plan is to write book three over the next three or four months, give episode 2.1 another go, write a couple of Cafe stories, then try something completely new and different for NaNoWriMo in November.

Also important to note...I've left my Decembers open for relaxing on my updated project timeline. After NaNo and around the holidays, I'm no good at working. Maybe that'll change this year, but I'd rather look forward to a scheduled break than realize three quarters of the way through the month that I'm not going to get anything done. It's bad for moral.

And as I discovered at work yesterday, low moral equals low productivity. It's a vicious cycle.

One I intend to break when it comes to my own work any way I can.

Monday, March 6, 2017

March Update: More Progress (and some rambling)

I continued to gain momentum through the rest of February and through the first few days of March.

I finished up the adventure novella a couple days into March (although who's keeping that close of track, right?).

I also wrote and submitted a March Cafe story. I'm two for two this year, woohoo!

But since finishing up my February stuff, I am leaning toward a slump. I have a couple of things I could work on this month, but I haven't settled on anything, which means I haven't actually done much work on anything.

I really wanted to dive into the developmental edit of Online Dating for Demons, since I'd finally come to terms with the work it needs and did an editing treatment for it. But. When I sat down with my notes, that all to familiar feeling of disgust and exhaustion hit me.

I don't think I have it in me right now to do the massive edit this beast needs.

This poor novel. It keeps getting pushed back and moved up and then pushed back again. I know from my experience with Monsters of Lawrence that the first edit is always the hardest. You have to really break a novel and put it back together again, and that is scary and torturous.

I keep wondering if this novel will actually ever get there. With MoL, it was definitely a labor of love. I still love that book, even after half a dozen editing passes over five years. ODD...I have always hated it. I hated it when I was writing it. I never wanted to look at it again after I finished. When I got beta reader feedback for it, I made a list of things to do, and then trunked it.

I wonder if it should stay trunked? I mean, I know I was enchanted by it when I read through it to do the editing treatment. So there's something there that I love. I mean, part of it is that I'm daunted by the amount of work it needs. But it honestly doesn't need any more than Towers of Kansas did. I gutted that thing more than once to get it right.

Anyway. That book was slated for this month, but instead I'm working on the first episode of the second season of my adventure series. For a few days anyway. I should be getting a book to edit pretty soon.

So this month will be a bunch of poking at various things until I get that, and then some more poking until Camp NaNo starts in April. I'm planning on finishing up episode 2.1 in April, regardless of what I do in March.

I'll probably write a Cafe story, too. My goal is to do at least six stories for it this year, so if I can get them out on slower months, that'd be ideal.

Maybe I'll try to do more reading this month, too. I'm really struggling with my reading goal for this year. Nothing has really captured my imagination, so everything I've been reading has been a slog. I hope to find something good, soon. Otherwise I'm going to keep plodding through awful books that are short just to add books toward my goal.

Oh, one last thing before I end this for now. I did revamp my project timeline today. I do that when I want to feel like I'm doing something writing-related but am not actually writing. Hah. I now have most of the book projects I want to start on the timeline, including the whole adventure series, so I know when I can start releasing it. At my current rate, it'll be a few years yet. That's probably better. Gives me time to write, edit, and maybe find someone who I trust to proof them for me. I keep thinking maybe I'll throw them at Carina. Sure, the romance doesn't end with a HEA until the very last episode (oh, spoilers and stuff), but that is the over-arching plot. I could probably sell it as urban fantasy, even though I kind of consider it action adventure fantasy. Maybe even mystery, because there is one in each installment. It's basically Indiana Jones meets Stephanie Plum.

I really should save it for myself. I'm getting a bit obsessed with the idea of being published, so I'm endlessly tempted to throw everything I can at the wall to see what sticks.

But writing isn't like making spaghetti. I need to wait until something is completely done cooking before serving it to people, otherwise they'll get salmonella or something.

I still have three years and change before I had hoped to reach my goal. I can take my time at this stage.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February Update: Measurable Progress!

I did finally get past my funk, found my mojo, and have gotten back to work on things. Yay.

I got a line edit done on Monsters of Lawrence. It's as polished as it's going to get without a second pair of eyes. I'm going to start querying it again soon. Sometime this month.

I picked up the adventure novella I bailed on last year. It's not done yet, but it's coming along. I hope to have it finished by the end of February.

I submitted a February story for the Cafe, and I've started working on one for March.

I've brainstormed ideas for two different worlds. One is a high fantasy world that came from a dream. The other is, strangely, straight fiction, and came about the same way Monsters of Lawrence did, just without the fantasy elements. I asked myself, what would I do in this situation? And a book idea appeared, from start to finish.

I dunno if I'll ever do the fiction book, but it's there in case I decide I want to. It's full of cliches and tropes, but so am I, so that's fitting, I suppose.

The writing group and the Cafe have undergone some major revamping over the last month and a half. It's been stressful since I don't like change, but I know it's for the best. The growing pains are mostly past.

We're decentralizing responsibility in the writing group, emphasizing that we're more of a meetup slash co-op than a structured writing group. We're encouraging people to get in there and do what they want, and that leadership of the group just maintains the framework for that to happen. My friend and I are working on a FAQ and a new banner. I'm excited but have some trepidation. I don't know if it's going to work or even change anything.

The Confabulator Cafe got a facelift. Things are updated and more streamlined. We used to be a blog, and it looked like a blog. Now we are essentially a magazine, so it looks more like a magazine. I wasn't completely convinced it needed a change, but I do like the updates, and several changes make my job easier.

I'm still struggling with depression and chaos in various relationships, so I still have days where I literally cannot work, despite the desire to (or days when I have time to work, I just don't). But I think, more often than not, I'm making progress in the ways I can. I count brainstorming ideas, researching literary agents, and editing as progress. I don't have to be writing to be making strides toward my goals, even though most of my goals are word-count based these days.

I am still tracking projects and word counts (and editing hours) on the tracking spreadsheet I developed, but I also joined MyWriteClub with a few of my friends. It's a good way visually see the progress I'm making on my various projects.

I keep plugging along, through good days and bad. Hopefully my funk is gone, for the most part.

Until next year, probably. Sigh.

Just gotta make the time in between count for more!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

January Update: Accomplishments and Goals

I didn't manage my "where am I going, where have I been" post last month, so I decided to do a recap of 2016 and a look ahead at 2017 for my January post.

The bad news first. I never got my writing mojo back last year. Three months I was dead in the water. I never finished that dream story for the Cafe. I did find an ending for one story I was working on, but haven't written it. I managed to pull out a story the day before the post went live on the Cafe about something completely different, so I didn't let the Cafe down. But it wasn't the story I wanted to tell.

I didn't keep with my timeline for 2016. I had planned on finishing up Book 3 this month, but I still haven't written more than a couple thousand words on it. And I never did finish the last episode of the first season of my adventure novel.

I did not participate in National Novel Writing Month for the first time since I found out about it over a decade ago.

I missed several writing meetings, write-ins, and get togethers.

But. Good news. In 2016, I:
  • Finished editing Monsters of Lawrence
  • Finished writing Towers of Kansas, which I started back in 2012
  • Did first round edits for Towers of Kansas
  • Finished writing episode three of my adventure series
  • Wrote episode four of my adventure series
  • Started episode five of my adventure series
  • Finished writing the first book in the Druid Wars series
  • Did an editing treatment for Online Dating for Demons so it's ready for dev edits
  • Wrote a flash fiction for the 24-hour writing contest, which is currrently on submission
  • Wrote seven stories for the Confabulator Cafe
  • Managed the Cafe so that it had at least four stories every single month in 2016
  • Spoke on six panels and did a reading at ConQuest
  • Wrote a story-in-a-bag for ConQuest
  • Attended my first WorldCon
  • Wrote twelve blog posts for the year (even if it wasn't one a month, it was close)
  • Overall, wrote over 115,000 words on various projects and spent countless hours editing
  • And even though it wasn't ready, I did query Book 1 with six different agents

In addition to all of that writing, I also edited two novels and three novellas for three different clients.

I had a solid year. I made the project timeline. I followed it until the last couple of months. I cataloged all of my stories and found ways to fix them all. I made concrete goals and good progress toward them.

So. This year, my goals are to:
  • Write Scions of Mythos
  • Sell or self-publish Monsters of Lawrence
  • Send Towers of Kansas to beta readers and incorporate their edits
  • Finish the first season of my adventure novellas
  • Start the second season of my adventure novellas
  • Write at least six stories for the Cafe (and keep the Cafe running)
  • Edit Druid Wars Book 1 for beta readers
  • Start writing Druid Wars Book 2
  • Do dev edits for Online Dating for Demons
  • Help run Reader Con in October
  • Write a blog update every month, even if I have nothing to report.

It's ambitious for me, especially since it's a lot more of the same, which is stuff I've been struggling to work on for the last three months without any luck.

But I did learn some valuable lessons. One, timelines are great, but they have to be flexible. Two, I will get burned out, so I have to work hard during the good months and go easy on myself during the tough ones. Three, NaNoWriMo is time for new projects, not continuing old ones. I need to keep expanding the various worlds I have at my disposal, and I will do better with a clean slate than trying to continue in other worlds for NaNo.

It seems daunting now, in the depths of my SAD, but I know I won't be in this pit forever. I will write again. And I will see one of my books in print this year, even if I have to put it out there myself.

And thus begins year six of this blog! Only four more years.

It's crazy how time flies.