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Posts Tagged ‘priorities’

NaNoWriMo is an annual event in which thousands of writers commit to writing 50,000 words in the month of November. (Actually, why November is something of a mystery to me. That’s a fairly busy, distractable time of year, but I’m not in charge.)

I’ve never done NaNo–and I’m not officially doing it this year, either. Mostly, this is because I know I can write that many words in a month when everything is right. BLOOD WILL TELL was like that.

Blood Will Tell Cover

I think I wrote that entire first draft (probably about 80,000 words) in six weeks. What a roller-coaster ride that was. But I also know that, for me, trying to force the words when something’s not right or the story just needs me to take more time with it won’t lead to anything productive.

But I feel like I need to give myself some more specific–and frequent–goals to really push me on WAR OF MAGIC.

WarMagicBlank

(I really need to go ahead and put the title on that cover.) NaNo breaks down to about 1667 words a day, which should be totally doable.

So, I’m unofficially doing NaNo this month. I’ve committed to posting daily check-ins for NaNo on one of the writers’ forums I belong to. That should help.

Of course, 50,000 words won’t finish the draft. I’m at about 30,000 words now and the previous books in the series have run over 100,000 words. But it’d sure take a big chunk out of it.

Wish me luck.

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Whew! Despite a couple of busy weeks, I’m on schedule to get THE IGNORED PROPHECY (sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE) ready for beta readers next month.

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TIP is now down to 109,000 words. Just a little more cutting to do and a couple of scenes to revisit and it’ll be good to go.

Other than that:

  1. I’ve started the process to get THE SHAMAN’S CURSE made into an audio book through Audilble (ACX). I’ve even got my first audition.
  2. I’m just starting on what will eventually be my new writing space. Digital CameraLots to do before this will be ready, of course. I’ll be working from the top down, more or less. So I need to paint the ceiling and replace the malfunctioning ceiling fan. (I have the paint and the fan.) Then I think I’m going to sponge a pearl glaze on the walls, to cover up some of the unevenness in the paint. Also, you can’t see it very well in the photo, but there’s some sponged acanthus leaves in the corners. I want to add some more of that, too. Then the old carpet (at least fifty years old) has got to go. And finally, I can start rearranging the furniture. Still have to figure out what I’m going to do with that china cabinet. Oh, and one of the closets is going to become a built-in book case.
  3. I’m also preparing to put THE SHAMAN’S CURSE on Kindle Select. In general, I prefer to make my books available as widely as possible, but TSC has been selling orders of magnitude better on Amazon than anywhere else, so it makes sense to give this a try.
  4. Oh, and next week is WriteOnCon and the week after that the school year starts and I go back to work.

Better get back to work.

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I don’t want to speak to soon, but it looks like things might be stabilizing around here.

Oddly enough–and odd things do happen in old houses–it’s possible that at least part of my computer problems may have something to do with variations in the electricity. Both computers (even the one I would have sworn was dead) have improved when plugged in in a different room. That’s how I was able to recover my files earlier this week. Big sigh of relief.

I can’t leave whatever computer (both deskt0p models) I’m currently working on in the other room because the internet connection is here. (No WiFi here, yet.) But, that’s something that can be changed and I’ve been intending to set up an office in the other room anyway. So, it looks like those plans just may have gotten a higher priority.

Also, the reason I’m posting late today is that it looks like I’m actually about to rejoin the ranks of the employed (part time, anyway). That’ll make a huge difference around here. And, not coincidentally, still leave me time for my writing.

There are still a lot of things on my plate, but maybe, just maybe, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

So, now, it’s back to work on my current projects. And next time, hopefully, I’ll be able to actually post about writing.

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November is National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo for short or sometimes just NaNo. Thousands of people commit to write 50,000 words in a month or an average of 1667 words a day. They virtually disappear from any other writing communities for the duration. November is a very slow month on most writers’ forums.

I have never done NaNoWriM0–and no, I’m not doing it this year either. I don’t feel I need to. I proved to myself a few years ago that I can, in fact, write a novel in that space of time if the story is ripe and ready to be written. BLOOD WILL TELL was actually the first novel that was like that for me. It’s a heady feeling when a story comes together that way and writing it feels like opening a spigot and just letting it flow out onto the page (or the screen). But the truth is not all novels flow like that. And, even when they do, when a story is ready to just pour out, you have to write it while it’s hot or risk losing it (been there, done that, too). Somehow, those times when the story is just ripe for the picking never seem to happen in November for me.

In any case, I’m pretty firmly stuck in revisionville this November. I’m working on the second drafts of both BLOOD IS THICKER (about 90% done) and THE BARD’S GIFT (about 33% done). I also have three short stories that need revisions–“Becoming Lioness”, “The Seeker”, and one I can’t tell you the title of because, if I ever get back to it and find a better ending, it may be my next Writers of the Future entry. That one could use some polish but what it really needs is a good ending that doesn’t feel like it just sort of fades off into the sunset.

I expect to go back to writing a first draft at the beginning of next year. I’ve got a few stories brewing in the back of my head to choose from. Will it be the story I already have outlined (and I never do outlines)? Or the shiny new idea that twists all kinds of fantasy staples around and sets them on their heads? Or the fairy-tale retelling? I’ll have to wait and see what’s calling to me when I get there.

So, to all my writer friends out there who are doing NaNo: good luck. And I look forward to hearing from you and reading some of your novels on the other side.

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Well, by now I’d hoped to have e-published BLOOD IS THICKER, which is the sequel to BLOOD WILL TELL. That’s not going to happen until sometime early next year.

Partly that’s because I didn’t get to it as soon as I hoped, because the first draft of THE BARD’S GIFT took longer than expected. Partly it’s because the first draft of BLOOD IS THICKER is just very, very rough. It’s going to need a lot of work and I won’t release it until I’m happy with it, bottom line.

On a brighter note, I’m making better progress now that I’ve decided this first revision pass is going to be strictly to fix plot issues. That decision has freed me up to work a lot more smoothly and not get hung up on things that are basically cosmetics. Not that those craft issues aren’t important; far from it. It’s just that I can’t do everything at once on this one and that was keeping me from making any progress at all. Once the story is right, the cosmetic and mechanical issues will be so much easier to fix.

I have given a little thought to the eventual cover for this one in my spare time. Even looked at a few images. Having found that gorgeous magicl night sky for the background for the cover of BLOOD WILL TELL, I think the next two will also feature other kinds of magical skies–and that’s all I’m going to say about that for now. You’ll have to wait for the cover reveal.

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Well, unless lightning strikes, it looks like I’ll be in revision mode for most of the rest of this year. Being more or less the three-quarter mark of the year, it’s a good time to make plans and set goals.

  1. MAGE STORM: I actually completed the revisions on this ahead of schedule. I’ve got one reader for the revised version and I probably need to look for one or two more. Then, of course, incorporate anything coming from the revisions that I feel is right for the story. I’m feeling really good about this one. So I’ll also need to go back over the query and synopsis. This one is likely to go out to agents again early next year.
  2. BLOOD IS THICKER: I’ve started the revisions to this one. This is actually the first round of revisions and in places it’s probably one of the roughest rough drafts I’ve written in quite a while. I wrote the first draft early last year and had a few alpha readers on it, but I haven’t touched it since last May (busy with the first draft of THE BARD’S GIFT). Now I need to read through it and incorporate as many of the revision notes as I can. Then I’ll be able to see what to do with it next. This is the sequel to BLOOD WILL TELL.
  3. Time permitting, I have a couple of short stories I might take a second look at. “Infected With Magic” is the short story that spawned MAGE STORM. It also got me an honorable mention from Writers of the Future. I won’t undertake another round of revisions on it, though, unless I can figure out a better ending. Endings are still my Achilles heel when it comes to short stories. I can land a novel no problem, but short stories, especially ones under 5,000 words, are just a lot harder for me. I’m more likely to take another pass at “The Seeker”. I’ve gotten some feedback on this one recently and I think I finally have a better idea of what I need to do with it. We’ll see.
  4. There’s also a novelette, “Becoming Lioness”.  I’m going to put this one up to my writers’ group in October. After I shine up whatever they find, I’ll probably e-publish it. It’s an awkward length for traditional publication and it’s already been to most places I’d be willing to send it. It just came back from the last one after 230 days on submission.
  5. Then it’ll be time to get back to THE BARD’S GIFT and get it shined up for the writers’ group to read in January. Fortunately, that one is a pretty clean first draft. It needs the usual (for me) things added to it–antagonists motives and a stronger presence of the antagonist, setting descriptions, etc.–but I think the draft will stand pretty well without major plot changes. At least until after I get a few reader reactions.
  6. If I just get an itch to start something new, I’ve got the outline for THE SHAMAN’S CURSE/MAGIC’S FOOL (I don’t know which title I’ll choose for the third time around) to play with.
  7. I also really need to use this time to set up a marketing plan for the things I’ve e-published. Something I really should have done first, I know. But I know me and I knew I wouldn’t do it without some skin in the game. Now that my head’s not completely in the first draft of THE BARD’S GIFT every time I sit down at the computer, maybe I can make some headway on this. I’m going to have to start laying out concrete, short-term goals to get it done. Marketing was never my favorite subject.

Well, that ought to be enough to keep me out of trouble for a while.

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If you’re here looking for my GUTGAA Pitch Polish entry, go here.

I’m within sight of finishing the first draft of my YA alternate history, THE BARD’S GIFT, probably next week. So it’s time to look up and start thinking about what I’ll work on next, while the first draft cools a bit.

I have plenty of choices. Revisions to MAGE STORM are certainly at the top of the list. I have another story in first draft that I need to get back to, BLOOD IS THICKER, the sequel to BLOOD WILL TELL. And there are a couple of short stories that I need to polish up. I have a pretty good idea what to do with all of those stories. And that’s certainly enough to keep me busy until I can go back to work on THE BARD’S GIFT.

But, even though I may not start working on it yet, there’s one more story I’ll at least be thinking about as I try to figure out what to do next. This story was my first completed novel (if you don’t count the thing I wrote in college–and I don’t). In that incarnation, as THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, I thought it was a mainstream fantasy. Now, that version has so many serious flaws, I’m not even going to try to list them here, but, in spite of those flaws, I still love the characters and the whole arc of the story (which was always intended to be a series).

Therefore, last year about this time, I started a rewrite, this time as middle grade. I called it MAGIC’S FOOL and had even started the sequel, MAGIC’S APPRENTICE. The original story had to be changed, of course. Some elements had to be dropped and in order to tell a complete story in about half the length I had to choose a different central conflict. I like the results and was planning on going back for another round of revisions and then polish it up.

That was until WriteOnCon, where I found out that agents and editors don’t want stories with main characters betweeen twelve and fourteen years old. Bummer. My main character in MAGIC’S FOOL was thirteen. (He had started out as fifteen in THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.)

So now, I have to go back to the drawing board and decide what to do with this story. It’s not an easy choice, like MAGE STORM, in which I can easily change or delete a couple of elements and make the protagonist younger, say around eleven. Thirteen was already pushing the limits on just how young this character can credibly be.

So, as far as I can see right now, my choices are:

  1. “Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead.” Just ignore this age limit or maybe delete the one or two references to the protagonists age and go ahead with it as it is. This feels a little like trying to swim upstream (even more than is normally the case).
  2. Keep the story as it is now (more or less) and just make the main character a bit older. Go back to fifteen as he was in the original. To do this credibly, the story would have to be expanded by about half again as much (from around 50,000 words to somewhere around 75,000 words). There are things I could expand. There are also a couple of subplots that could easily be added–and which would add depth to the overall plot. I’d be betting that agents and editors really mean it when they say they want boy YA stories.
  3. And the third possibility would be to go back to the original story line and central conflict. I’d still have to rewrite it, of course. That would actually be better and easier than trying to revise it. This version has what may be a more satisfying central conflict. That’s a draw, frankly. Now, I could still go two ways with this. I could still try to make it YA. There really aren’t any plot elements that are inappropriate for YA, although I might handle one of them a bit differently. Or I could just leave that alone and let it be a mainstream (adult, but not in a sexy way) story.

I’ll be giving this some thought as I work on the other revisions I’ve got stacked up.

 

 

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This last week has not been a very productive one. There are a couple of reasons for that.

On one hand, I’m just a little bit stuck on my current WIP. It’s a problem I anticipated, but it’s still a problem. THE BARD’S GIFT is about Astrid, a shy girl who finds that she’s been given the gift of storytelling–but the gift comes with a catch. Sometimes, even when it embarasses her or when people don’t want to listen to her, she’s compelled to tell a particular story. It’s potentially a very powerful gift, but not a very comfortable one.

Well, the problem with this story is that I have to put in those stories that she tells, which is almost like stopping the flow of the main story and writing a short story in the middle of it. That’s proving a little more difficult than I anticipated.

By preference, I’d like to have Astrid start with traditional stories, then maybe start finding that the story she has to tell has some variations from the traditional story, and then telling entirely new stories. This is an alternate history, so that means I need to find a traditional story from her culture (Norse or Icelandic) that fits with that point in the story. I have some more research to do. The books arrived yesterday.

Now, there are a couple of ways I could deal with this. I could just go around and come back to fill in the story. Or I could work on something else while I figure out the story Astrid needs to tell. I have a novella “The Music Box” that needs work before it’s ready for e-publishing and a short story “Apocalypse Cruise” that might be worth revisting because I might have figured out how to address a couple of its issues. The problem with that is that it typically takes me a day or two to really switch stories in my own head.

The other reason I’ve been having trouble with my writing this week is interruptions. They are, I think, going to turn out to be good interruptions, but I’m going to need to find a way to deal with them without losing productivity.

If you’ve ready my “About Me” page, you know that I take care of my mother, who has advanced Alzheimer’s disease. For several years, Mom attended an adult day care run by the Salvation Army and I had my writing time worked out around that. Last year, that day care closed and Mom had a one-week hospitalization. For someone like Mom, an event like that often results in a drop in functioning. Mom was no exception.

So, for the last year, I’ve been basically going it alone with Mom at home 24/7. Now, I’m deluged with potential help. Mom’s doctor switched her over to the home care portion of her HMO, which means nurses will come out to her instead of me having to try to get Mom back and forth to the doctor (not a smal task, believe me). Great. The home care people suggested that maybe she should be on hospice. In the last week, I’ve had the home care nurse, a social worker, another nurse to draw a test sample, and the hospice intake person out. And the hospice people are coming back today. I’ve not been very successful switching back and forth between these roles.

The house is a mess. I’ve never been a great housekeeper. It’s just not where my interests lie. I can always find something more interesting to do–like getting lost in my current story. But it finally does reach a point where I have to stop and deal with it. Those efforts usually run aground in the clutter.

But now I need to find some documentation. And so far, I haven’t been able to. (I have found some other things that I’d misplaced, but not what I’m looking for right now.) So, I’m going to have to start attacking the clutter and the semi-hidden stacks of paper lying around this house.

Looks like I’m going to have to make a plan. I might even *shudder* have to make a schedule.

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Almost a month ago, I posted this set of priorities:

  1. Finish the revision to “The Music Box” and decide what to do with it.
  2. Get ready to query FIRE AND EARTH.
  3. Start THE BARD’S GIFT.
  4. Revisions to MAGIC’S FOOL.
  5. Prepare BLOOD WILL TELL for e-publishing.

I’m doing pretty well on these goals.

  1. I’ve finished the revisions to “The Music Box” and have it out to one reader. I’ll probably seek more readers at the beginning of the month, and then decide what, if anything, I need to change before e-publishing it. There simply isn’t any other market for a romantic fantasy novella. I’m also waiting to hear about a novelette, “Becoming Lioness”. It’s currently out on submission and I expected to hear back almost a month ago. Maybe that’s good news. If not, I’ll be e-publishing that one, too.
  2. I’ve now sent out nine queries on FIRE AND EARTH and gotten one request for a partial.
  3. I’ve started THE BARD’S GIFT, but only barely.
  4. I’ve just about completed the revisions to MAGIC’S FOOL. I’ll be looking for new readers soon.
  5. I haven’t yet done anything about preparing BLOOD WILL TELL for e-publication.

So, here are my current priorities:

  1. Keep querying FIRE AND EARTH.
  2. Complete the revisions to MAGIC’S FOOL and find a couple of new readers to see if I’ve solved the problem of the slow beginning. The revision should be complete by the weekend.
  3. Mark up the revision notes for the last segment of BLOOD IS THICKER. That’ll only take a couple of days at most. I’m not ready to actually start on the revisions, yet, though.
  4. Then I’m going to concentrate on getting BLOOD WILL TELL e-published. That’ll also involve getting way more serious about some marketing.
  5. And once all of that is out of the way, I can go full bore on the first draft of THE BARD’S GIFT.
  6. I’ll probably tinker with the first draft of MAGIC’S APPRENTICE during any slow spots on THE BARD’S GIFT.

That’ll do for at least the next month, don’t you think?

 

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When I look ahead, I’m feeling a little scattered, so it’s time to lay out a plan again.

E-Publishing:

  1. “Heart of Oak” is out. I’ve made four sales so far–two on Amazon and two on Smashwords. Not exactly setting the world on fire, but then I haven’t done very much to try to promote it, either. Actually, “Heart of Oak” is likely to be part of the promotion when I eventually get BLOOD WILL TELL out.
  2. “Becoming Lioness” is another novelette, currently out on submission. I should be hearing in the next week or so. If it comes back, it’ll be my next e-publishing venture.
  3. “The Music Box” is a novella I had shelved because it’s really much more romance than fantasy. The speculative element is very slight and, in fact, you could remove it altogether and the story wouldn’t be noticeably changed. But I’ve always liked it anyway, so I keep coming back to it. So, I’m halfway through a revision right now. I’ll probably try to get a critique or two. Then I’ll either submit it to the same market that has “Becoming Lioness” now or just e-pub it.
  4. All this leads up to e-publishing BLOOD WILL TELL probably at the end of April or the beginning of May. It’s ready to go except for the specific e-publishing formatting, but that’ll be more complicated than for the shorter works. One or more of the shorter works published in advance of this will probably then be used as giveaways to help pomote the novel.
  5. I’ll need to make the revisions to BLOOD IS THICKER, the sequel to BLOOD WILL TELL, so I can e-publish this sometime later this year.
  6. Then I’ll have to write the third book in the series BLOOD STAINS, so that I can e-publish it no later than this time next year.

Traditional Publishing:

I haven’t given up on this.

  1. I’m still querying MAGE STORM, at least until I get FIRE AND EARTH (formerly SEVEN STARS) ready to query.
  2. I need to finish up the last little details to get FIRE AND EARTH ready to start querying, probably next month. I think the query’s good–for this pass anyway. Experience tells me I’ll probably do a revision or two during the querying process. I do need to polish up the synopsis. I’ve got some feedback coming in on the first chapter. I’ll need to give that a shine and also make one more pass through the whole thing before starting to query.
  3. MAGIC’S FOOL is out for critiques now. I’ll need to make revisions to that, too, when all the critiques come back.
  4. I’ve started work on MAGIC’S APPRENTICE, sequel to MAGIC’S FOOL, but I’ll probably be setting this aside, soon. It really doesn’t make much sense to devote a lot of time to the sequel before I even start querying the first book.
  5. I’m just about ready to start work on the first draft of THE BARD’S GIFT, my young adult alternate history (with dragons).

All right. No wonder I’m feeling a little scattered, is it? Now all I have to do is prioritize. For the moment:

  1. Finish the revision to “The Music Box” and decide what to do with it.
  2. Get ready to query FIRE AND EARTH.
  3. Start THE BARD’S GIFT.
  4. Revisions to MAGIC’S FOOL.
  5. Prepare BLOOD WILL TELL for e-publishing.

That ought to keep me busy for the next couple of months.

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