Too. Much. Information.

Yeah, that’s how I’ve been feeling these past few weeks. I am super-excited to be launching an indie career over the next few months. I’ve been writing professionally since 2008, and my first two works of fiction will go live on September 6.

That means lots of research. Over the years I’ve read my fair share of books on writing craft and the writing biz, but for some reason I’m starting to feel overwhelmed by all the information I’m trying to process. Maybe because I feel like I finally have to make choices with that info. Information such as…

  • You can’t write a cohesive first draft if you don’t know at least the basics of your plot.
  • You can write bird by bird, scene by scene, one word at a time.
  • All first drafts are crap. Revision is your lifeline.
  • Revision is for suckers.
  • All good books have a three-act structure.
  • Three-act structure is an artificially imposed construct. Feel free to ignore it.
  • KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited are going to make you a fortune.
  • Run as far and as fast as you can from KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited.
  • If you write quickly you can make a living writing short fiction.
  • No one makes money writing short fiction.
  • If you’re going indie, you need your own imprint.
  • Starting a publishing imprint for your self-published books makes it look like you’re trying to trick readers into thinking you’re not self-published.
  • You shouldn’t…
  • You should…
  • You’re doomed if you don’t…
  • You’re doom if you do…

Head. Exploding. Too. Much. Information.

You seen what I mean, right? So here are a few things I’ve learned so far:

One: Most of what I learn as an indie author will be trial and error.

You can’t necessarily replicate someone else’s results. So much of what I’ll learn won’t be from reading someone else’s blog post but from my own experience.

Two: If someone gives you a hard and fast rule regarding process, it might not work for you.

Just because outlining has worked for another author for twenty years, that doesn’t mean you’ll get there by outlining. And just because another author has written by the seat of his/her pants for twenty years, that doesn’t mean you can. Process is highly individual, so do what works for you.

Yes, all that information is still giving me a headache. And I will probably spend the next few years sorting out what works from what doesn’t work. Or the next few decades. (Seriously, I hope not.)

Lastly, a brief ROW80 check-in…

Writing: Did one last read-through of The Faerie Key and sent it to the proofreader. Starting a second draft of White Wolf, Red Cloak, a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. My goal is to finish that draft this week and get that story to the editor soon, and then start revisions on Spellfire’s Kiss.

Reading: Finished reading Twilight Guardians. Loved the world. As always, Maggie Shayne’s writing was excellent. Love her books. Currently reading Garden Witch’s Herbal by Ellen Dugan, which is packed full of flower, plant, and tree lore and magical correspondences.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? How do you handle conflicting writing advice? What are some of the contradictory pieces of advice you’ve received over the years, and how have you sorted them out?

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Sunday Summary

I’ll keep this one brief. Not much happened this week, just a whole lot of editing.  I finally finished a manuscript critique for someone and sent my comments, so the next few weeks I can dig into my next writing goals: Revising my novella Spellfire’s Kiss and writing a couple more novelette-length fairy-tale retellings.

I’ve been trying to reconnect spiritually, and I had a great full moon ritual this week. And I finally started my Book of Shadows. Here’s a peek:

IMG_20160721_185356

Long evening strolls on which I’ve made a few discoveries—a pine branch the perfect size for a wand, and a pristine bird’s feather—have helped fuel my creativity and helped me connect to the divine.

And lastly, this week’s ROW80 check-in…

Writing goals: Edited White Wolf, Red Cloak and sent to critique partners. Edited Spirits of Embers and sent to beta reader. Line edits on The Faerie Key. That one needs to go to the proofreader, but I think I need one more read-through first.

(Oh, and my author website now features a Coming Soon page, where you can learn about upcoming releases and get sneak peeks of covers.)

Reading goals: Read Heinlein’s Rules: Five Simple Business Rules for Writing by Dean Wesley Smith, which I found helpful. I’m currently reading Twilight Guardians by Maggie Shayne, which started a little slow, but has picked up and has a really fascinating world. (Basically, humans are hunting vampires instead of the other way around.)

Life goals: Some exercise—long walks, playing Frisbee, and partner yoga one evening. No work on painting the house. I had time Saturday, but painting the kitchen is going to be such a chore that I just…didn’t. Sigh.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? How do you reconnect? What are some ways you maintain your creativity outside of your writing practice?

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Realistic Goal Setting

It’s been one of those weeks that’s been fast and slow at the same time. Fast in the sense that it’s just sort of flying by, and slow in the sense that my goal progress hasn’t been super impressive.

One thing I’ve struggled with most of my life is setting realistic goals for myself. I often think I can accomplish twice as much in a given timeframe as I can. This month is a perfect example. I planned to write a first draft of a novelette in one week; it took me two weeks. I thought I could revise a novella in one week. That, also, looks like it will take two weeks. And that novel I thought I could revise this month? Yeah, I’m not getting to that.

Part of what slows me down is that I have some health issues, and I never know when they’re going to flare up. During a normal week, I can accomplish a lot more than when my energy feels drained and I’m struggling to meet my goals. It goes back and forth. That’s just life, I suppose, and a limitation I have to learn to work around as best I can. And I need to learn to cut myself some slack during weeks when my health just isn’t where I want it to be. I still expect to make progress, but I won’t be flying through goals.

So, a midweek ROW80 check-in…

Writing Goals: Did some editing to White Wolf, Red Cloak, including rewriting the last scene from the hero’s point of view, and sent that story to critique partners. Did some line editing to my story The Faerie Key in preparation for sending that story to the proofreader.

Reading Goals: Finished reading A Little Night Muse by Jessa Slade and continued reading Twilight Guardians by Maggie Shayne.

Life Goals: Took a long walk Tuesday evening and did some partner yoga with hubby. I should probably start tracking my calorie intake using My Fitness Pal again, since I found that helpful. I also need to do some more cardio—maybe jogging again? No progress on the home improvement front, although I hope to do some painting in the kitchen and dining room this weekend.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? How do you set realistic goals for yourself? How are your goals coming along this month?

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Summer Grillin’

Tofu GrillinLast fall, for hubby’s birthday, I bought him a grill. We moved into our house last August, so this is the first time we’ve been able to have a grill. And this summer that thing has paid off. We used it last night, when my in-laws came over for a cookout, and tonight we’re making teriyaki tofu and vegetable kabobs.

It’s just one of the many things that has changed since we became homeowners. We lived in our apartment for eight years and never grilled once, although there were a few grills and picnic areas in our complex. Now, we grill at least once a week. I think this might be the third time this week, actually.

Do you grill? If so, what are some of your favorite things to make?

ROW80 check-in…

Writing: Wrote 6,187 words in White Wolf, Red Cloak, a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. That one is finished and I’m about to send it to my critique partners. I’m a little behind on where I want to be in terms of weekly word counts, but I’m still finishing projects, so that’s something.

Reading: Read Her Wicked Wolf by Kendra Leigh Castle, which was fantastic, and am currently reading A Little Night Muse by Jessa Slade, which I’m enjoying so far.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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Inspired by the Storm

After The Storm 120296 by Sandy Matzen Dreamstime

After the Storm, by Sandy Matzen, Dreamstime.

I’ve been obsessed with storms lately. I blame my current WIP, White Wolf, Red Cloak, a contemporary fairy tale retelling that takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains in the middle of what the media has dubbed the Storm of the Century, a wicked blizzard that leaves the characters snowbound in a log cabin.

As I pen this blog post, the sky has darkened, and thunder rumbles in the distance, a little louder each time. Storms make me want to brew up a pot of tea and read Agatha Christie novels as the rain or snow falls and the wind howls.

I don’t know what it is about storms—something primal, a kind of peace amidst the chaos of rapidly falling snow or the drumming of rain on the roof.

Lastly, a midweek ROW80 check-in…

Writing: Wrote 2,112 words in White Wolf, Red Cloak (formerly Red in the Woods), a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. My goal is to have this story finished by the end of the week so I can send it to my critique partners.

Reading: Continued reading The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2, edited by Trisha Telep. I’m also doing a manuscript critique for someone; I hope to finish that by the beginning of next week and get it to back to the author.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? Do you find storms inspiring? What inspires you?

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Tiptoeing into Indie Author Land

I mentioned months ago that I planned on starting my indie author journey this year. Not my writing journey. That has been going on since…well, since I can remember. But this year I am making that leap into new territory: the life of a published fiction author.

And it got real this week. My first story came back from the proofreader, and I entered her corrections. And then a voice inside me spoke: You know you cannot change this story anymore. This is it. This is the version.

Whew.

I also contacted a graphic designer to get some covers for my first two books, two novelettes in a series I’m calling Into the Faerie Forest.

And then it dawned on me, how much I have to learn. I’m already playing with learning how to format a file for Kindle, which isn’t super difficult (so far—knock wood), just a little tedious at times, and I want to make sure that I don’t  mess it up and leave readers frustrated with the reading experience. But that’s why I’m giving myself plenty of time between now and release day—so that the reader’s experience of the story, whether the words themselves, the cover that hints at them, or the formatting of the text, is a positive one.

I still have to learn about keywords and categories and a bunch of other stuff I haven’t even thought of yet. There’s probably a lot I don’t even know that I don’t know.

But you know what? What I’m feeling isn’t the fear I would’ve expected.

It’s excitement.

Here it goes…

Lastly, a Sunday ROW80 check-in…

Writing: In terms of word count, this past week wasn’t stellar. I wrote 6,138 words, below my target of 10K/week, but still not bad. Most of that was in Red in the Woods, a novelette-length retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. I did a lot of other little stuff too. Mainly I received corrections back from my proofreader, entered her changes, and began the process of learning how to format a book for publication, including how to create a table of contents. I’ve also been working with a graphic designer on some cover design for my stories.

Reading: It was a busy reading week. I read Reflected Desire by Kendra Leigh Castle, a short, steamy story about the Man in the Mirror from Snow White. I also dug into a couple of books on writing—Writing into the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith, which, if I can follow his process, could allow me to avoid the massive rewrites I end up doing even when I outline; and Self-Publishing Attack! by James Scott Bell, which was helpful, although a lot of it repeated info I already knew. Still, it was a good refresher. I am on track to meet my goal of reading 65 books this year, according to Goodreads.

Goals for the upcoming week:

  • Finish a first draft of Red in the Woods—and come up with a better title. (Any suggestions?)
  • Read-through The Faerie Key, edit, and prep for proofreader.
  • Edit Spirits of Embers and send to beta reader.

A Round of Words is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? How are your writing goals coming along? What has surprised you on your writing and publishing journey?

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Round 3 Goals

ROW80LogocopyRound 3 of A Round of Words in 80 Days is here. For me, this round is going to be all about getting some stories out into the world. My novelette The Beltane Kiss just came back from the proofreader, and I’ve added her corrections and started formatting the document. Yay!

By the end of the year, I plan to have several books out. How many depends on my ability to streamline the revision process and how quickly I can get books to my editor and proofreader and on their schedules. If I am able to proceed with the publishing schedule I want, I might need to have multiple editors and proofreaders so I’m not monopolizing someone else’s time.

I’ve also decided to start submitting my fantasy short stories to magazines. I’ve found a few that pay decently and I would get to keep the rights to my stories, meaning that after a certain amount of time I could self-publish those stories or put them in short story collections or anthologies.

Ideally, here’s what I would like to publish this year:

  • The Beltane Kiss, a novelette
  • The Faerie Key, a novelette
  • Spellfire’s Kiss, a novella
  • A Prince in Patience Point, a novel
  • Five fairy tale retellings (novelette length—about 12-15K each)

That seems like a lot, but most of those stories are pretty close to finished; they just need some editing and polishing. The fairy tale retellings have a way to go, but I’m hoping that in July and August I can finish first drafts of those stories and get them to beta readers and critique partners.

All of that being said, here are my goals for this round. I’m also a sponsor, so I’ll be keeping up with those duties as well.

ROW80 Round 3 Goals

Writing Goals:

  • Write first drafts of five fairy tale retellings, including Winter Faerie, Red in the Woods, and Silver Waters.
  • Write a second draft of Goblins and Grimoires.
  • Revise, polish and format for publication later this year…
    • Polish and format The Beltane Kiss and The Faerie Key for publication in September.
    • Revise A Prince in Patience Point and send to editor.
    • Revise Spellfire’s Kiss and send to editor.
    • Revise Spirits of Embers and submit to magazines.

Reading Goals:

  • Read four books on the craft/business of writing, including…
    • The Anatomy of Story by John Truby
    • How to Craft Short Fiction by Damon Knight
    • On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel that Sells by Leigh Michaels
  • Continue with my goal to read 65 books this year.

Life Goals:

  • Exercise three times a week.
  • Paint downstairs, including living room, kitchen/dining room, hallway, and closet.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? What are your goals for the next few months?

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