December is come

It is the end of the year.

Jeez, that’s intimidating. The end of the year. We’ve got not a lot of time to get caught up with our writing progress and start thinking about next year’s goals. Also it’s the time of year when the “Best of” lists are coming out, which means I need to get my thinking cap on and review some of the magical worlds I’ve experienced this year. Look for my own best of list in the next week.

But first, let’s look at what has been accomplished this year. I’ve written a minimum of 60,000 new words of fiction this year, as well as all of my weekly blog posts at about 1,000 words a week. I know I’ve been productive. But have I met the goals I set out to meet? Let’s take a look.

  • To make this marriage thing stick. To get the wedding plans planned and then let it go to be what it will be. To continue to remember that relationships are work and require cherishing just like any other small, precious, hopeful thing. Remember that time I got married? I did that. It was awesome. It’s like getting to know one another again right now in some ways. So much of our lives were on hold for the wedding, and now there’s free brain-power to figure out what’s next. But I think we’re doing pretty well with it, so I’m marking this one off. And I did this, and yea it was done, and it was good.
  • To find us a home and plant it with flowers and fruit and all good things. To experiment with growing sweet potatoes and lemon trees and mangoes, because I can. Okay, the only part of this I’ve done so far is the sweet potatoes. I KNOW YOU’RE OUT THERE, HOUSE!  We’ve got a house! And I live in it! We need to do a lot of landscaping. And I planted some sweet potatoes, but I need to harvest them now that the frost has killed them. Success!
  • To attend all these conferences I’ve signed up for, and most especially to make it to WFC in San Antonio in October. Selfishly, I’m most excited about seeing my family there, but also super jazzed about Martha Wells being the head honcho for this go-round. I survived many of the conferences, and just remembered I still haven’t made reservations for WFC. Oops?  I did it! I so much did it! Wow that was an awesome accomplishment, actually.
  • To finish Daughter of Madness and get it to my readers, sometime this year, no matter that I’m behind. To not feel guilty about that behind-ness. To give you an outline of next steps with this, I need to: finish the rough draft, send it to beta readers and/or an editor for a look, and then do second rewrites as well as deep line edits. I’m also in the process of doing the cover design which will hopefully be finalized this month sometime, so be looking for that! (I am focusing on being excited, so excited, to bring this book to you and not intimidated by all the to do’s that still need doing.) Marking off half of this, which seems appropriate considering the timing. Check out my post from last week for more updates! Okay so, I’ve got a whole separate post on this you’ll get soon. Suffice to say that things are moving. And it is good.
  • To re-issue Child of Brii, taking it back to my original vision for it, before I got caught up in word counts and mess. I sort of did this. The book is back out there, anyway. I feel pretty okay about that. Did I mention I also made a print book of this? 
  • To start something new – either the last Creation Saga book, which I’ve honestly already got about 10,000 words of from cuts from Daughter of Madness, or the Child of Brii prequel I’ve got planned, or maybe both. Ideally I’d get the roughs for both finished this year but realistically it’s probably one or the other. And maybe… Eek, I have not done any of this. Okay so this one is complicated. I am mentally drafting the 3rd Creation Saga book, title TBA around the release of Daughter of Madness, but I can’t really strike it.
  • To start something entirely new – it might happen anyway if I’m being honest, because I’m excited about a great many projects right now. There are octopuses and mermaids and werewolves and princesses and warriors all begging for my attention at the moment, so you’ll know as soon as I do what I pick up next. Marking this off, but don’t consider it over. There’s more new stuff longing for passage through my pen. Yeah, about that more new stuff. I started a new book, and it was neither octopuses nor mermaids to my surprise….but witches. You’ll hear more when it’s time, but I am so excited about this project.
  • To put honest work into querying a project that I have previously referred to as ‘The Zombie Book’. This requires putting together a synopsis, since that’s the last element I’m missing, and updating my agents list for queries. I’d also like to finish the spin-off story from that novel, and hopefully find it a home, or maybe hold onto it until it’s time. I did this part, at least. And it was fun times, my friends. Now to do the rest. I have not gotten much farther on this, but I want to. Mostly DoM rewrites have really bogged down the time I can healthily spend not writing. That and moving. I did accidentally query a whole other project through PitMad, but that didn’t end up going anywhere even though it helped me to clarify some issues with that project.
  • To love and care for those important to me. To visit my brother finally, and to make time to travel with my soon-to-be husbandOh, we traveled. Did we travel. And more to come! And my brother is still cool, and we had many awesome drinks and foods.
  • To never stop believing in myself and my work. To continue to try to find homes for my short stories. To write new ones, as the mood takes me. To write for the sake of writing. This is an ongoing goal, especially the last bit. And it is a hard thing to do, every day. But I love writing, friends.
  • To take care of myself. To make sure I eat well and exercise, which is hard, and that I get enough sleep, which is easier but still doesn’t always happen. To climb some more mountains, and float some more rivers, and spend some time under the stars. I can’t mark this off because I want to do more of it! I climbed so many mountains! Also taking aerial silks has been a great way to meet my fitness goals.
  • To fear less and try harder. Basically, this is an ongoing life lesson, and I’m not afraid to work on it forever.

Man, this was such a huge year. So much got done, and if there are a lot of things that didn’t get done, well, my goals were pretty ambitious honestly. Now it’s time to meditate on what I hope for the future, and come up with a new list for next year!


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Daughter of Madness progress update

The subtitle of this blogpost should be: the good, the bad, the ugly, for reasons that will become apparent, but I didn’t want to bulk that up too much. Suffice to say, publishing a book, no matter how you go about it, is a complicated process. When you are self-publishing, that process becomes vastly more complicated.

I’ve talked on here previously about what exactly goes into publishing a book. This is a good chance to dig into some of that and really give you an idea of where I am and where I’m going. Stick to the end for a treat!

I started writing Daughter of Madness officially in August of 2015, so about a year and a half ago. In December, I printed out a zero draft when it became clear that, as written, DoM didn’t actually have an ending. With some major outlining and reworking, I was able to put together a functional blueprint, which I began writing to ASAP. On February 4th I finished what I would call the official rough or first draft of the long-awaited sequel to Mother of Creation. Over the next few days, I typed it up. Then I printed it off and cuddled it to my body.

This is where we take a moment to celebrate, because hell yeah. That’s right I finished that book. Damn straight.

celebration

At this point in time, DoM stands at around 93,000 words, 61 chapters, or roughly 270 pages (before formatting). That’s a lot of pages and a lot of chapters for something that is, at this moment in time, largely a labor of love. Once my euphoria wears off, it’s time to buckle down. There is still plenty of work to do.

While I’ve been rewriting the draft, I’ve also been working with my cover designer. Every good book needs a cover, and covers are not created in vacuum. I use Design for Writers for all of my novel covers, and they are absolute gems to work with. In order to create a good cover for my book, these folks sent me a giant questionnaire. I’m talking about fifty in depth questions, many of which require multiple paragraph answers. I worked on this through the month of December and have continued to work on it in January. Once I finished the questionnaire, Design for Writers used it to create the cover art for my book, giving me marketing material for its eventual release. The first part of the cover is at the bottom of this post!

In the interim, now that the book is finished it will need initial rewrites. Then it will need to sit, unseen by me, for a couple of weeks while I try to forget all about it. Think of this as a time to let the book cure, as it were. At this time, I will send it out to my alpha readers, the people who typically read something that is essentially hot off the press from me. They will tell me if the book is a hot mess or not. I will attempt to fix any glaring issues they point out after they have given me their initial critique. Alpha readers are mostly family and friends in my world, so this is not designed to be a deep edit necessarily, just a “wow that thing was a mess” read or “oh no, you’re on the right track!” Good times.

Next, I will read the book one more time to make sure it makes sense. I will do read-thrus for things like: word choice and anachronisms; setting/climate consistency; timing of various events; consistency with the previous book in terms of setting and characters and plot. That part is actually not terrible, though it’s not super fun. Meanwhile I will shop around for beta readers or an editor – someone who doesn’t love me who will lay the hammer down. This person or persons will read for decent writing and plot consistency, world-building, and all the good things that make a book. Different writers use different methods for this bit, so this is what works for me. So far I don’t have a dedicated editor or beta team that I use every time. No doubt this piece of my process will evolve. Once comments come back on the semi-final draft in terms of edits or issues, those will be incorporated, or not, at my discretion, because that is how this writing thing works.

The least fun part is my last editing pass. This pass is for typos. I have a particular thing I do for this pass – I read the manuscript backwards. Aloud. It takes forever and it is miserable. I usually catch a metric boatload of typos.

At this point I hate my book, and also feel quite accomplished. I format it (this is also hard and mind-numbing, but, as is not always the case with other tasks, at least has clear signs of completion). The formatted copy goes into various epub proofing programs, which I then glance over one last time to make sure I didn’t screw anything up. I fix any issues with the cover (not the copy, but the print cover measurements) with my cover folks if I need to. Then, at last, I have a book.

At some point during all of that magic, I am marketing in some fashion (perhaps a blog tour, Facebook event, or signing, for example). For Daughter of Madness I have some cool graphics planned for Twitter and Tumblr, but that’s a ways down the road still. Right now I’m aiming for June/July as a release date, though given the wedding that may get complicated.

Hopefully I’ll have a couple of other small projects to release this year as well to tide you over, but dates are hard to firm up at this point given the whole getting married thing. Just trust that I am working away on all the things and that as soon as I have a date, you will have a date.

In the interim, I’m excited to see you all over the next few months as I travel to conventions! And no, I haven’t forgotten that I promised you a bit of cover. Are you ready?

dfw-am-dom-cover-proof2-2

Ugh, I love it so much.

Tune in next week for part two!

Summer slump and life changes

Did I mention that I have a new job?

The job is awesome. It is closer to my house, for one, so I can (and have, once) bike in. I get a bike stipend if I do it enough times as congratulations for offsetting my carbon footprint. This is pretty much my jam. It takes me five minutes instead of 45 to get to the office by car. The amount of energy I have without an hour and a half of car time every day is stupendous. The job itself involves doing something I love and that I am very passionate about. This is not to say my previous job didn’t involve interesting things that I was passionate about, but I am more excited about this stuff as a rule.

That said, changing jobs is definitely a taxing experience. There are all sorts of things I don’t understand about what I’m supposed to be doing here. There’s this weird system of tracking hours on all of the projects I have. There are all of the projects I have. There was the sudden rush to finish all of the things at my old job and now there is a sudden rush to know all of the new things at this job. Part of my day every day is just shrugging. And emailing people asking desperately for enlightenment.

Plus, it’s summer. Literally birthdays every other weekend that I can’t miss and so much tempting hiking and kayaking to do.

Given all that it has been incredibly difficult to focus on anything to do with my writing.

Ideally I don’t have time to get bogged down in the minutiae of my day-to-day existence. Eating? Working? Pffft. There is a book I want out by winter. Realistically? I don’t have the time to not get bogged down in these details. Writing, sadly, still does not pay the bills. It will probably never pay the bills, at least not until I am pleasantly retired. (And at that point aren’t the bills still being paid by the work of the day job? So yeah, maybe never.)

That said, I spent last night typing up some of the words I have managed to scratch out over something like the past month. There weren’t a lot of them, but glacial progress is still progress. And I feel connected to the WIP for the first time in weeks. Now it’s just a matter of deepening that connection and climbing back on the wagon.

The advantage, too, is that I have all this aforementioned time freed up from the lack of commuting. Which is like…the best. A changing schedule means my normal writing times have also gotten rearranged, but once I can get that figured out I am sure that I will have more consistent time for this book. Which should breathe life into my stalled out publishing timeline.

And, happy thing, I’m starting the process to get a cover for this book a little early, meaning now! This is going to be a great thing from a promotional perspective, because I can use it for cover reveals and giveaways. So be looking out for updates on that!

It’s going to be great, folks. I just have to be patient. And stop spending an inordinate amount of time playing in the sun on the weekends, maybe.