Monday, March 5, 2012

Free Expressions (my new gig) and other things


Why hello out there! I'm filled with exciting news!

I recently accepted a position with Free Expressions as a part-time marketing assistant/minion. Now, I know a second job (third if you count novel-ing, hah!) might not sound exciting, but this really is an awesome opportunity. Not only is my boss super awesome, but I'm working for a company that I'm really passionate about. Free Expressions runs the Breakout Novel Intensives that I raved like a crazy woman about, so it's a natural fit to help promote things I've enjoyed. Not to mention, Lorin is a stellar editor. I'd recommend her to anyone! (And not just because she's paying me to do just that!)

So, if you feel so inclined, check out the Free Expressions site. If you're on Facebook, you can like us here.

In addition, Erik and I should be closing on our first house this month! All that's really left is some paperwork. I'm also taking a work trip (day job related) in March back east and visiting the family while I'm there. When I get back, it's time to move, all before the end of the month.

Also, I should hear back from Clarion West in March. I'm doing my best not to fret about it, but it didn't help to read that they go a record number of submissions this year! No surprise there, really, not with G.R.R. Martin as an instructor and his huge popularity right now.

Beyond that, I've been enjoying a relaxed writing schedule this last month (which means I've done a little brainstorming and little writing, but no hard writing deadlines) but the longer I go without really writing, the stronger the itch.

But first, the most important thing happening in March: Mass Effect 3.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

ASHFALL IS DONE!

Wooties! :D

Here are some stats on ASHFALL:

· The basic idea was born back in like 2003. Over the course of like a year I fiddled around and wrote maybe 30k?

· I pulled the idea out of the trunk for 2010 NaNoWriMo, and after re-reading and editing, got the draft up to around 75k during that month. I stopped working on it because I was bouncing between projects.

· In July 2011, I committed to Ashfall as my next project, the next manuscript I was going to finish and send to my agent. I gave myself a goal of January 2012 to finish.

· I finished the first draft August 30, 2011, which came in at 123k.

· On September 7, 2011, I finished a rough edit, cutting the draft down to 119k, and sent it off to my betas. I gave them a month to read, and since they’re so wonderful, they all got back to me by October 11!

· I spent about two weeks organizing my notes for my betas, asking questions, brainstorming, and plotting out a revision plan.

· I created my draft 3 doc on October 24, 2011 and started working. Most of this work was rewriting almost EVERYTHING. I think maybe 20k survived from the original draft.

· November 11, 2011 – Skyrim released, and I’m ashamed to admit it, but I played for about three weeks straight, and didn’t do hardly anything on Ashfall.

· December 1, 2011 – I realized that playing Skyrim is not going to finish the book. (Crazy right?) So I did some hard math, and set aggressive goals to get myself back on track for my January goals.

· I finished the rewrite during the first week of January 2012, except for the last couple chapters. For most of January, I’ve been line editing, consistency checking, etc – which I did on paper. Then, I spent lots of hours keying these changes.

· Last week I finished line edit inputting, and yesterday I finished the ending rewrite.

· Today, January 29, 2012, I finished my third manuscript, which clocks in at 125,038 words.

This is good. I know this manuscript isn’t quite a perfect example because I started the idea like a decade ago. So, not counting that brainstorming/concept work/little bit of words in 2003, it took me about eight months to finish ASHFALL. And since Skyrim won’t ever be coming out again, I think I can safely say I’m capable of writing a book in about seven months. ;)

My goal is to do the next one in six months.

Now, if I know myself, I’m going to spend today super excited, tomorrow super anxious, and start working on my next book the day after that!

Other fun facts:

· Before my line edits, ASHFALL’s highest word count was close to 150k.

· My main character’s name was originally Alacrity, and is now Caylix. Changing her name was super therapeutic, and helped me change her character as the novel required.

· My first draft had one POV. The current draft has three.

· I had seven beta readers for the entire draft this time, the most I’ve ever used. I’ve learned that number is too high, and I don’t think I’ll use more than five in the future.

· I’ve rewritten my synopsis for ASHFALL at least 15 times. I think I like my current one…

· ASHFALL was my Clarion West submission material. I’ve haven’t looked at the first two chapters since sending my application in, and I don’t plan on it!

· The first two chapters have been read by like 16 people. Some multiple times!

· Don’t tell my other characters, but I think Dust is my new favorite character.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone out there had a great holiday season!

While the holidays where pretty quiet for me, I did get a wonderful Christmas present. Erik and I are now engaged! Very very exciting news, and happy holidays to us!

Needless to say, suddenly I feel busy now that I'm planning an August wedding. Beyond that, the day job has picked back up now that the holidays are over, and it looks like I'll be travelling for an article in March, along with visiting my family and friends back east. I'm also applying for Clarion West and finishing up Ashfall so I can send it to my agent, both by the end of January.

Between writing and editing, I'll be trying on dresses and tasting fancy cupcakes! I'll let you guess which one I'm more excited about...

So last year went out with a ring (get it?) and this is year is off with a bang.

Now I just need to rewrite these last few chapters, and pick out invitations...and taste cupcakes. Lots of cupcakes.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Put time on your side.

So since my last post I've been having quite a bump in productivity. One reason seems to be standing out more than others.

Tracking, plain and simple. I'm documenting exactly how long I spend with my butt in the chair actually working. Not on facebook, twitter or doing anything else on the internet. If I do that, time comes off my total.

My daily goal is still 3500 words, including new words and revised scenes. And I'm still keeping myself accountable to that goal. As a result, it's also very easy to stop when I reach that goal.

But when I exceeded the goal after only an hour and a half of work on a Sunday? When I had no other obligations and no day job that day? Suddenly it looked like I hadn't done shit, quite frankly. So I worked for another hour and ended the day at almost 8000 words added to the draft. And that felt damn good.

But a little part of me was thinking I should have started earlier in the day because only two and half hours. That's not that long... :)

I recommend tracking your writing time to everyone. When you're ready to throw in the "I've written enough today" towel, check out the actual time you've put in. Then ask yourself if that time (considering all your other commitments and the priority level you put on your writing) is in line with your goals.

When you do the math - in this case, add up the time - it can really improve your output. It's working for me! In five days, I've added 24k to my draft.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Math – it does serve a purpose for writers!

I know we all cringe at the dreaded math. I know I do! My boyfriend is a programmer, so I’ve gone as far as asking him to do division for me in his head so I don’t have to bust out my Windows calculator.

But math can be really important to help you keep track of what you are and aren’t doing when it comes to your writing.

I have to confess, I’ve been a bad, bad writer this last month. Skyrim came out and the gamer in me won. I played a lot – much more than I really needed to. And I convinced myself that as long as I was opening my document every other day, I was doing enough on my new draft of Ashfall.

Um, no.

I knew I was getting dangerously behind. I say dangerously in reference to my personal goals, as I’m not on a contract like a lot of writers out there. I still have the luxury to play games (excessively) when I should be writing, and hurt nothing but personal goals in the progress.

So I divided my current WIP count by the number of days I’d been working on it, which put me far below the hard numbers (word count per day) that I know I’m capable of outputting. Then I did the math to plot out when I would get done if I continued working at such a lame pace. Not good. Not even close to what it should be if I want to get this new manuscript to my agent in January.

I wasn’t even hitting the NaNoWriMo pace. We're talking under 500 words a day. I know that 500 words means different things to different people, but for me this is LAME. So then I plotted out where I would be if I used the 1666 words a day goal post, which I’ve done in the past and know I can easily met (since I won’t be playing hours of Skyrim anymore). That put me at the end of January – but that’s not good enough, because then I won’t have time to go over the draft for grammar and typos and shining before hitting send.

A friend recently pointed me to this post, which I think has a lot of truth to it, especially when it comes to documenting your time spent writing.

It’s very easy to kid yourself that you’re making progress (how ever you define it) every day just because you sit at the computer and stare at the doc for an hour.

But progress is different for everyone, and writing has a different priority level for everyone. So also see this.

I let writing slip down on my priority list this month, which for me, is not okay considering I want to make a career out of this. No one to answer to but myself, but there you have it.

Now, my goal is to 3500 words per day so I’m done by the end of December. Considering these two links and my past writing trends, it can be done. (By the way, this daily count includes scenes I revise and keep from the previous draft).

Yesterday I added 4416 words to my draft. All inspired by a little bit of math and some honesty with myself and how I’ve been using my free time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Good thing I had a coupon...

So I went to B&N because I had a coupon. I wanted to pick up the next book in the Earth's Children series. They had copies in trade paperback and mass market.

In a moment of complete OCD, I bought the entire series to make sure my books match when I put them on my shelf.

In a related note, I know I'm like thirty years to late, but I really love this series. I'm almost done the first book, Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel.

Noms.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In which I poke my head out of the cave

Hello! Long time no post. That seems to be my new trend - about two posts a month or so.

It works for me, as getting a second novel to my agent is currently my priority. That, and I think the blogging community for writers is a very dynamic thing. When you first start out, you're flying blind, trying to find answers and learn from others experience. I was there when I started this blog in 2008. I had a dream, but I didn't really know shit. We all put ourselves out there, meet other writers - some of which become invaluable beta readers and friends - and sometimes, forget that we started the blog because we love writing.

Being part of the blog sphere has been great for me. I've entered contests, picked up beta readers who I'll never let get away, and felt welcome and part of something bigger in the vast interwebs.

I've seen posts where people complain that once writers get an agent, they stop talking about stuff regarding their experience in publishing. I think this is true, though not always, and I think the reason is two-fold.

One, there are certain things you shouldn't post when you reach the stage of submission and even of querying. You don't vent publicly about query or submission frustrations, and the world probably doesn't need to know every single step in your process. I was pretty forthcoming about my experience querying - after it was over and I found an agent. I'm still willing to share my experience if anyone felt inclined to ask. Email away if you are. As for submission? Well, things have gone from dreams to reality and business, and being in business (which writing for publication is) demands professionalism.

Don't get me wrong. I hem and haw and whine as bad as anyone, but I do it privately, as nearly all writers who blog do.

Second, is that writing has shifted from something that can be put off when I'm just not feeling like writing, or when I want to play video games, to something that needs to be a priority because there are now expectations on me. I might be out on submission, but that's not the end. I need to have my next project ready to go as soon as I can. For me, it's not only about having a backup plan if my first novel doesn't sell, but also about proving to myself that I am ready to make writing a career and that I am capable of outputting on aggressive deadlines (even if now they are merely self-imposed).

The short of it is that I think writers cycle in and out of this community as it fits their current needs. For me, I post less because I simply don't have the time or the draw to focus on blogging when I need to be focusing on writing (and you know me - those sneaky video game binges).

The great part about this community is that everyone seems to understand that. We come and go as we need to, posting more and posting less, and followers might come and go, but the environment, for the most part, remains the same.

A welcoming, supportive and fun place for a writer to be, no matter what part of the journey they're on.

So, now that all my long-winded thoughtfulness is out of the way, thanks for still following a slightly less active blog. I've got about 5k in the tank on my current revision on Ashfall, and I've got lots and lots to go.

:)