Breaking Linear

Every writer approaches their stories differently, and not always the same from book to book. I know my methods have evolved (or devolved?) over the course of the Exile series. Which, by the way, is going along swimmingly. The end is actually in sight and the words are flowing at a rate of 2,000 – 3,000 words a day (I write three days a week). I’m thinking the first draft will be done by the end of March. Fingers crossed.

Mad Genius Club

When people ask “Are you a pantser or a plotter”, they often speak of pantsing as though it was a very linear thing – that you start with a beginning and write through to the end, accreting story and meandering around until you somehow end up with a plot in retrospect.

This is not the only way to pants. In fact, following a plot from beginning to end isn’t the only way to do it, either. As Kipling wrote, “There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays, and every single one is right!” (In the Neolithic Age)

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The Year is OVER?!


Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

The image above has absolutely nothing to do with the new year or my general inability to stay focused and get things done. I just thought it was cute. And it’s not like the internet can ever have enough cat pictures.

November came. November went. Lee pulled out her hair in frustration over not managing to get anywhere near her NanoWriMo goal. That isn’t to say progress was not made. No, I wrote about 20,000 words. That’s something, just not the something I aimed for. I did get a few particularly difficult scenes written. They were scenes which could have fallen into the area of overly sappy. I don’t care for that sort of thing. I had to rewrite one of the scenes four times. I don’t demand perfection in a rough draft, but I do wish to avoid leaving something for the editing process which is so cringe worthy that its very existence causes me to lose sleep. I always have this fear that if left to lurk, the vileness of the scene will spread, corrupting everything around it.

I know, irrational. So is my fear of flying or of allowing other people to drive. At this point, I don’t think that’s going to change.

I managed to get a tree up this year. Even decorated it. Wrapped some presents. Worried about the ability to pay for said presents. Vowed to spend much much less in 2020. I believe that will be my main resolution for the new year. My health insurance premium is almost tripling in cost come January, so cutting back on spending is absolutely imperative. I cancelled my KU subscription. I figure if I really want to borrow a book, I can use my father’s account for that. I just set up the last payment for the mattress I bought him two years ago, so that monthly bill will be gone as well. After we finish watching the latest season of The Crown and Lost in Space, I may cancel my Netflix subscription. Between the three, that’s fifty dollars a month savings. I’m on a roll.

My other resolution will be to get this fourth book finished, edited, formatted and out the door to take its place alongside the other three on Amazon’s virtual shelves. I had hoped for a January release, but that’s not going to happen. Going for the first quarter of 2020. After that, I have an idea for a LitRPG story. Of course, being me, it can’t just be someone playing a game. I’ll shed more light on the matter once the current work is finished.

My short story is still awaiting editing. I haven’t looked at it since I wrote it. Handed it off to someone to look over, but they’ve had a rough few months and haven’t had the chance to futz with it. I may just have to go through it and do my best to clean it up on my own. I want to give it out to everyone as a freebie, but I can’t do that if it’s languishing on a hard drive unloved. It’s just a fun little story focused on the twins and a much older Jaki (takes place ten years after the events of the main series). Nothing deep or thought provoking—just entertaining. At least I hope!

Okay, I’ve rattled on plenty. I just wanted to let everyone know I’m still alive and chugging along on writing as best I can. Gonna finish up another scene tonight and then start on a new one tomorrow. Time to kick some slaver butt.

Warm fuzzies, folks! Here’s to a fresh start on a new year.

Release the Hounds!

Depositphotos_9289479_xl-2015I did not manage to get a post done before NanoWriMo started, but here I am just to wave and give you all an update. The first three days were completely unproductive. I’d forgotten that I’d agreed to take part in a Christmas craft fair up in La Pine. La Pine is an awesome town but a little shy on avid readers. I did manage to sell two full sets of my series, as well as several copies of the first book. I’d tried to keep my expectations low, so I was pretty happy a few folks showed interest in my work.

In addition to me there were three other folks in the room. One lady had a lot of Christmas ornaments, some knitted items and some wreaths. To my left, a fellow accountant I work with had all sorts of sewn crafts. She did quite well, which made me happy since she’s a pretty cool person who worked hard to display a large variety of well-crafted items. To my right, was someone I’d heard of but never met. She does pour paintings and jewelry. She turned out to be an amazing person who loves to share knowledge. I learned a lot from her about her style of painting. She even gave me one of her paintings! I have a place picked out for it, but haven’t hung it yet. I’ll post a photo once I get that accomplished.

Once the weekend ended, I buckled down and got a decent amount of writing done. I sent out some email to folks, who’s opinions I greatly respect, to get some feedback concerning a story line I’d intended to pursue, but started to have second thoughts about. Unfortunately, the opinions of all involved split down the middle. I’m considering writing both versions and sending them out to see what people think. The “happier” version has already been completed. I’ll work on the other version tomorrow.

As far as the site for NanoWriMo, they’ve completely redone all of the pages and in the process lost a great deal of data. All of my buddies disappeared as well as my past word counts and my wins. It’s not particularly user-friendly. Took quite a while to find out where to update my word count. It allows you to put in a banner, but doesn’t allow you to make adjustments to the size or positioning of the image. I’ll have to figure out the exact dimensions of the banner and create an image specifically for it.

Well, I’m off to bed. I have to be up before 5 a.m. for work. Please, Great Spiny, let me find no one screwed up the register sales in liquor. Please.


50,000 Words in One Month – Zoinks!

Every year, fools like me, put themselves through thirty days of craziness for the chance to write 50,000 words in that short amount of time. I’ve been participating since 2007, I think. In that time, I have managed to hit the magic number only twice. Even so, I make amazing inroads into whatever I’m working on. I might manage a measly 30,000 words but it’s still an accomplishment.

As a sane person, you might ask, why not write consistently every day and not worry about putting yourself through hell one month out of the year? That is an excellent question and I have a less than excellent answer for you—and a long-winded one at that: Humans need carrots (I prefer pizza). Even writers, who are generally considered loners, need the camaraderie an organized event like this provides to generate the enthusiasm and drive to put out just a little more effort. It’s a competition of sorts, with a few bragging rights involved, which makes it fun to post your accomplishments for your friends to see. They cheer you on and they offer encouragement when things aren’t going well. Seeing what others have managed can also get you to pull yourself up by your typing fingers and fight for that extra thousand words.

I have high hopes for this year. Since I’m feeling so much better, I’m writing more than double each week what I did before my CPAP treatment. When I’m particularly inspired by a scene I’m working on, the word count can leave me blinking in wonder. I did that?

In addition to writing, I’ve been fiddling with the character designs for the next cover. You heard it here first, the characters for book IV’s cover will be Lord Icewind and Lady Culna’mo. I’ve got Lord Icewind down pretty good, but Lady Culna’mo is giving me some trouble. I think I may have hit on a design, though, I’ll work on her more today.

Going back a few months, I wrote most of a short story which takes place about ten years after the events in the Chronicles of Shadow series. I finished up the story and sent it to a kind, patient lady to look over. I’m sure it needs some work. Maybe a lot of work. I haven’t dared read through it since I initially typed it out. At any rate, once it is finally in polished form, I’ll be making it available for free as a gift in return for joining a mailing list. I know. I know. Everyone has a friggin’ mailing list. Unfortunately, it is one of those things the people “in the know” swear is necessary for anyone serious about writing as a more than a hobby. The good news is, seeing as I’m so sporadic about blogging, you don’t have to worry about drowning in a barrage of emails from me.

I’ll try to get at least one more post up before November 1st. Odds are, once the challenge starts, I won’t have the ambition to do anything other than pound keys toward my word count goal. Wish me luck! The more I get done the sooner Book IV will hit the virtual shelves.

Almost November!

Getting excited for the big push! Since I’m feeling so much better this year, I’m hoping I can make the 50,000 word goal!

Mad Genius Club

Are you ready?

Yes, it’s almost NaNoWriMo time!

National Novel Writing Month is an old favorite of mine. Of eight years, I only crashed and burned once, and six of the books I wrote have been published.

Now, that doesn’t mean my reaching the goal of 50,000 words written in November means I’m ready to publish! There’s always editing! Last year’s effort wound up getting interwoven into something else—and published. After a lot of polishing.

But how would you like to have a 50K rough draft on December One?

I use NaNo as a yearly tune-up, thirty days of writing and never stopping to edit or polish. Thirty days of pushing to write regularly.

If you’ve never tried it, do. It might work for you, too.

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Busy Bee


Photo by Kristine Tanne on Unsplash

I meant to write a new post some time ago, but like so many of my best intentions, I found myself diverted by mostly tedious events I’d rather forget. You know, like filling in for someone going on vacation. Only when you get there to do a job you hate even on the good days, you find it’s a billion times worse because several other people have failed to do their jobs properly. This had a lot to do with the fact that the OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) has no sense of humor and refuses to have sympathy for poor accountants trying to deal with the mistakes of others attempting to use the commission’s archaic register software. Bah, enough said.

I did have a shiny moment. I went to see the Downton Abbey movie with my father and a pair of good friends. Some of the critics grumped that the movie was nothing more than an extra long episode. It just so happens, that most of the fans wanted exactly that. The acting was superb, of course. Most of the story wrapped up quite nicely, while a few threads were tossed out there giving fans hope for a sequel. Since the movie has done much better financially than expected, there could very well be a second movie.

I have continued to work diligently on book IV, and I’m happy to say it is about halfway done. A few things have changed along the way. While I create a general outline to get me from point A to point B, as the story unfolds I sometimes find that something I’d originally plotted out would work better either altered or removed entirely. The characters grow, or at least change, as the circumstances they struggle through have an impact on them. I also find I have to learn a few things along the way, right along with the characters. Research is inevitable, even when writing fantasy. I find I know just enough about many subjects, as they say, to be dangerous. In fact, as I type this out, I know I need to go back and rework a scene where Chalice Renoir attempts to explain economics to a couple of new supporting characters I’ve introduced as the architects designing the rebuild of Teresland. They have big – BIG – plans, but Elven naivete leaves them struggling to comprehend why humans won’t simply do what they (the elves) want.

Even with all of that going on, I’ve spent quite a bit of time taking an online class about effectively using Amazon advertising to market my books. I can say at this point, if you are also a writer, it is possible to grow your readership with Amazon ads, but it is not for the faint-of-heart. It is not a fast process either. It takes months to gather keywords, design ads, monitor how the ads do, adjust daily budgets and determine how high to bid.

For those of you unfamiliar with sponsored ads on Amazon, the person placing the ad has to choose how much they’re willing to pay to get their book displayed to a potential buyer when said buyer types in a search word or phrase. You do not get charged unless the viewer clicks on your book to check it out. As a seller, your hope is to get at least one sale for every ten clicks. Fewer clicks is, of course, preferable. In my case, my first book is currently priced at .99, which means I get .35 in royalties if someone buys it. If I’m spending .45 to get my ad placed in front of a potential buyer and it gets clicked (it could be less than the .45, but if I explain every detail your eyes will glaze over and you’ll wake up with keyboard face), I’ve just lost money even if they buy the book. Maybe. The expectation (I should say, hope) is that once they read the first book, they’ll go on to buy or borrow the second and third books creating what is called read-thru profit. Yes, fun times. Fortunately, I enjoy ciphering, so I don’t mind messing with the whole thing.

So, that leads me to two final things.

Starting October 1st, the price of the first book will get bumped back up to $2.99. This is in part an experiment to see how it does at that price with ads running. It will drop back down to .99 at the end of November since I have some email ads set up for the holidays. Just wanted to warn people in case for some reason they’re coming to this site and haven’t already read the first book. If you don’t have KU and don’t want to pay $2.99, wait until after Thanksgiving to pick it up.

The second item is that I took my print books off of expanded distribution, which means Amazon doesn’t require me to charge as much to put them up for sale. It allowed me to lower the price of all three print books by $2. I’d assumed expanded distribution would be of benefit to libraries and such, but as it turns out, the likelihood of libraries stocking indie books is pretty rare (though I did find out one library in Canada has my books – how weird is that?).

Okay, gonna go read someone else’s book now before I go to bed. I hope all of you have tons of fun books to read too. Cheers!

Surprised by Joy

Isn’t this the truth. You have to take care of yourself, otherwise everything else falls apart as well.

Mad Genius Club

I read a lot of posts and comments – not just on this blog, but on writers’ sites all over the Internet – subscribing to a world view which I would characterize as “Live is real, life is earnest, and everything worth doing is hard.”

Well, yes. Can’t really argue with that. But I sometimes fear that with all the comments like “Writing requires butt in chair and fingers on keys,” and “Just force yourself to do it,” we’re lying by omission – leaving out the most important part of the enterprise, as though it were marked TOP SECRET.

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