#MondayBlogs Indie Author Resources Blog Fest

indie-resources-blog-festI happened to stumble across this blog fest last week so am doing a quick shout-out post for the benefit of other indie authors who might be looking for some of these resources.

I’ve worked consistently with several people I would recommend as professionals in the following capacities:

Editor: Dionne Lister

Copy Editor: Josef Harvey Brummeyer

Cover Design: Gayla Drummond

Honorable mention goes to Rebecca Dickson, who is going to be stepping up to the editorial task for my next book and has been responsive and gracious in all her email communication in the process so far.

Bleak House

Worrying doesn't take away tomorrow's troubles, it takes away today's peace.This year’s Wisconsin winter has infected my attitude this week: Bleak. The horrible thing I was pussy-footing around last week took on reality. Although I had an almost immediate job interview after having been laid off at the end of the first full week of January, this past week reinforced the worries and odd responsibilities joblessness brings to a family. Some of the hoops I’ve had to jump through even remind me of the legal tangles of the Dickens story that inspired the title of my post.

So I’m sharing this week’s image as a reminder to myself. It’s an interesting mash-up of Corrie ten Boom’s “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength,” and Leo Buscaglia’s “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” However, apparently it has its own creator: Dale Partridge. In fact, he has a whole post with three key recommendations to help untrain your mind from its inclination to worry. And his site has a bunch of other useful reminders of how to find happiness in your life, so is worth exploring further.

I will grant myself the week of depression I just lived, and be happy I managed to turn in all my classwork on time. The weather was also above 30F two of the days last week, so we got out for two walks of a total of 4.13 miles.

I also managed to release the novelette that hadn’t even been part of my original plan for this year. It was even exciting to watch as it picked up sales faster than any previous release I’ve yet had.

All that to say… apparently I can’t write new fiction from that uncertain mental space. At least I couldn’t last week. I’ll be trying again this week. (And… if anyone knows of an open position for a project manager, I’m in the market and available on short notice.) In the meantime, check out how my fellow ROW80ers are doing with their goals.

Release Day: A Trick of the Tail

A Trick of the TailNew story release days are always fun–especially when they hadn’t been part of the original plan for the year. So consider this my bonus present to you: A plot bunny gift that almost wrote itself and brought me back to the scifi/romance genre that’s so fun for me to explore.

:)

In case you missed it earlier this week, here’s the blurb:

In 2078, Earth was invaded. After the Fall stories document that time.

Sienna was trying to find a refuge away from Earth that would be safe for both her and her unborn child.Then she mistook a Siamet for a Katarr.

Zaun was doing his part to build the Resistance when a nasty trick lands him in bed with Sienna.

Overcoming language and trust obstacles is the least of their worries when their survival is on the line.

Novelette with a word count of 10,200.

We’re still working on getting it cross-posted on Smashwords, etc., but Amazon jumped on their process and kicked off my day in high style.

UPDATE: Now also on Smashwords.

Cover Reveal: Trick of the Tail

A Trick of the TailLast week turned out to be a terrible, horrible, very bad week for me and thoroughly derailed all of my writing plans. But Sunday I got good news. I HAZ COVER!

So I’m sharing it with you.

:)

I did manage to do all my school work, and have a glimmer of hope on the horizon, but in my current state of superstitiousness… I’ll save any discussion of that until I have more than just a glimpse of what the future holds.

As I’ve mentioned before, this particular story had not been in this year’s plan, so represents a whole new direction for me. It’s still going through final revisions, but I have a draft blurb, and a tentative publication date of Friday. Tell me what you think:

In 2078, Earth was invaded. After the Fall stories document that time.

Sienna was trying to find a refuge away from Earth that would be safe for both her and her unborn child.Then she mistook a Siamet for a Katarr.

Zaun was doing his part to build the Resistance when a nasty trick lands him in bed with Sienna.

Overcoming language and trust obstacles is the least of their worries when their survival is on the line.

Novelette with a word count of 10,200.

Is this a story you would want to read?

This week, I hope to get back on track. I did at least get to take a 2-mile hike yesterday for the first time in a month, and, as mentioned, finished all my assigned school work. I would like to add another 10K words to my Red Slaves story this week to make up for what I missed in the storm that was last week.

In the meantime, check out how my fellow ROW80ers are doing with their goals.

Trying Something New

"You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew." -Albert EinsteinClass and the new ROW80 round begin at the same time for me tonight: midnight. It’s been lovely not to have class. I actually wrote, revised (and revised and revised!), and edited a surprise story in the break. Clocking in at just over 10K words, the novelette is a new offering in the Katarr After the Fall universe, and my first attempt at playing by somebody else’s world-building rules.

It was surprisingly fun, and despite the number of changes I had to make to ensure my story was consistent with those rules, I would do it again. It was a useful exercise in changing perspective at a point in my Red Slaves story where I was feeling stuck.

Depending on how long it takes to get a cover, Trick of the Tail should be available within the next two weeks.

:)

However, this once again shoves back my timetable for finishing the Red Slaves series. I’m beginning to wonder whether I have a block against writing to an outline (as broad and vague as that is), or just have trouble writing a story where I already know the end, … or maybe I just don’t want to write this story about Anne and Ivan and the rest of the crew. Who knows. But I’m tied to my editor’s calendar, too, so I’ll just have to power through.

And that encompasses the motto for my goals for this round–and the rest of the rounds this year while I’m finishing my MBA. POWER THROUGH. So by mid-March, when this round ends, I should have:

  1. Finished and released the final Red Slaves book. (That means I need to write another 45K words and get them properly edited and revised in the next six weeks.)
  2. Completed all assignments for class and turned them in on time.
  3. Figured out some kind of alternate exercise plan while we’re essentially house-bound for what has already been a harsh winter, and committed to it at least twice a week.
  4. Continued with at least weekly blog posts.
  5. Written 5K words for super-seekrit project #2, and written another 10K words for the release slated for July.

That puts me at 60K words of fiction over the course of the round–a measly 750 words per day. Given that I was able to rock over 2K words per day while class was on break, that doesn’t sound unreasonable; given my challenges with managing that many words per WEEK last round… these goals depend entirely on the paper-writing and reading expectations for my new class. It also depends on the impact of my first family vacation in more years than I want to reveal. ;)

So I’m beginning my round’s goal-setting with some open questions, but will be working hard to keep them on track regardless, as I’m determined to stay on track with at least 3 releases per year to keep my author career rolling. Check out how my fellow ROW80 challenge participants are setting their expectations. I’ll be back next week to report on my progress again.

The Road Less Traveled

"Two roads diverged in the wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." -Robert FrostI’ve had a lovely 5-day staycation… that ends tonight. If you’ll remember, last week I had thought to start a micro-NaNo effort to push further on book 3 of my Red Slaves trilogy. The sharp-eyed among you will note that I have made progress–though only a fraction of what I’d intended to accomplish on that story.

Instead, I’ve been noodling on two other stories that have captured my interest. I’ve added status bars for both of them to my sidebar, as I’ve made significant headway on each. I’m quite happy with Trick of the Tail, in fact, and think I might be able to finish the first draft for it this week. It’s a novelette set in the Katarr universe that gave the name to my publishing house. I was honored when Gayla asked me to contribute a story there, and handed me a raft of world-building notes as well as an idea for a story that needed to be told in that context. I’m hoping pursuing this option gives the well-established fan-base for that universe a gateway drug for my other stories.

;)

My plan, in taking this divergent path, is actually in keeping with Dean Wesley Smith’s advice, brilliantly summed up by Karen Woodward in a year-old post about advice to indie authors. (It’s worth a read if you haven’t been following all of DWS’ posts.) Essentially: Stay more focused on new words of fiction than on promotion. The corollary not mentioned in that advice is that if you can work your fiction into a series so readers have time to grow to love the world you’re writing in, you have a built-in audience and a much easier point of access for your later work.

In fact, DWS recently posted his year-in-review summary, which reinforced my appreciation for the indie path I’ve chosen: I have both the control and the freedom to pursue these tangents as they become worthwhile options. I’ve put significant work into building a network of trustworthy fellow travelers, and learning more about my craft, but my primary goal and focus will always be on publishing quality work that becomes a sought-after and trusted brand in its own right.

So I will continue to work on Fire to Dragon later this week, but am thoroughly enjoying returning to my pantsing roots as a short-term palate-cleanser to make my push to completion for the bigger work a little more fun. Technically, this is the (overdue) final check-in for the last 2013 ROW80, and next Sunday kicks off Round 1 of 2014, wherein we state our goals, etc.

In terms of the goals I’d set at the outset (1K words per week, 1 blog post per week, 5 walks per week, and all classwork as assigned, on time), I missed the word count by at least half, but still managed to produce, revise, and release Hallow’s Eve Triptych during this round. I also beat my 1 blog post per week goal, with a handful of bonus posts. Exercise started out strong, but derailed in November with illness and the onset of arctic weather. And the class… I think the professor decided he couldn’t let a student finish the whole class with a 100% grade, so I lost 10 unexplained points in the 27-page final I turned in. I’m still maintaining a straight-A average, which still has me shaking my head.

So I’m generally satisfied with my progress. I just need to defend my fiction-writing time more vigorously to make sure I’m able to stay on track with my goal of three releases per year. We’ll see whether I revise my goals at all for the next round. In the meantime, check out how my fellow ROW80ers did on their goals.

Breaking Rules Like an Artist

"Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist." -Pablo PicassoI had planned a heavy dose of writing my first week of school break, right…? Guess how many words I wrote last week? 743. That’s a far cry from the 15,000 I had planned to produce by now.

<headdesk>

On the other hand, I’m super-proud to announce the successful completion of my editing job: Gayla’s Something to Curse About went live today, and seems to be picking up steam over in the UK to match the series’ book 1 performance. It’s quite a thrill to be involved in something that is starting to see some commercial success… But I need to learn the rule about not being distracted by someone else’s shiny objects…

:D

The good news for my goals and plans: Tomorrow is my Friday at my day job. I get a whole 5 days away from the office, and have minimal plans to leave the house or be disturbed by guests, family, or other distractions. It’s entirely possible for me to catch up with myself if I can find the focus I was able to dedicate to this past weekend.

;)

So I’m going to wish you and yours a happy holiday that lets you break some of those pro rules and grow into your inner artist. And I will once again point you to the rest of the ROW80 crew to help cheer them on as they face the end of another round’s goals.

Dreaming

"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway." -Earl NightingaleAnother class bites the dust… and I’m halfway through my MBA program. And I just completed all the courses required to finish the marketing concentration. Through week 7 grades I even managed to maintain my 100% average, so even if I completely bomb my last assignments (which doesn’t seem likely), the lowest I’d get would still be a high B–its own surprise.

It seems like it’s been forever since I started and I have forever to go… but based on how quickly 2013 flew by, I’m guessing I’ll be done with these classes sooner than I expect. Then I really won’t have any excuses to avoid producing my daily word count.

This week, I got caught in the flight of fancy that is Jasper’s Tale, and wrote 340 words to get it well underway. In between the major research of what turned out to be a 27-page paper for my final, it occurred to me that was probably not the best focus for me. According to the KKP future release plan, the final installment of my Red Slaves trilogy is coming out in February. As that story has languished at 5,958 words for … a while … that dose of reality slapped me upside the head.

This being the time to plan, and report on our plans, I’ve decided that the 3-week span before I face another class WILL be productive. I WILL finish writing Fire to Dragon in January so it can be edited and out the door on time. Editors book up quickly, you know?, so I must put myself on a timeline. From a practical perspective, that means the next three weeks each need to have at least 2,000-word production per day.

{deep breath}

This is like belated, concentrated NaNoWriMo. I can do this, right…?

We’ll see.

Meantime, I’m breathing a sigh of relief at the break in my class schedule, as well as a deeper sigh of relief that our car insurance reimburses for towing, after the adventure my Thursday became. And whoever Earl Nightingale is, he’s a genius for reminding me that time passes, there’s no need to let it pass without some dreaming. Right now, my dream is to continue with the three releases per year rate of publishing, which means I better be in the habit of major word production on a regular basis to avoid letting that dream drift to dust.

In the meantime, check out how all the other ROW80ers are doing with their goals.

Death and Rebirth

The quieter you become, the more you can hear." -Ram DassAmazingly, I succeeded in dragging myself through the week after returning from my latest trip to visit my mom without having to take off any additional time–and getting some things DONE. Like posting our old iPhones for sale on Ebay. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to have something up on auction and having a trustworthy intermediary handle the financial bits so strangers don’t have a problem trading significant sums for valuables. (For anyone who’s looking, the 4S is still counting down…) I managed to submit the billing for some of our freelance work. I even edited the first chapter of Gayla’s Discord Jones book 2, so she could add it to the back of book 1 to remind people … it’s coming SOON. I even finally got the paperwork to reduce my MBA from a double concentration to just the marketing concentration that I will have completed after next week, so there were a lot of administrivial tasks to take care of.

On the writing front, I got myself organized for next year. I updated my spreadsheets to include 2014 options, and opened up new MyWritingNook documents for … THREE new stories. Turns out… I’m now aiming to release FIVE stories next year. I had planned on three: The final Red Slaves story (which got a few half-hearted edits this week); a follow-on to Wytchfire (because it’s earned out already and seems to have found some popularity! Thanks!); and another plotbunny that has captured my attention that I’m calling The Builders. After I turned in that list to Gayla, we discussed the KKP group project, After the Fall. For some reason, based on a similitude to how I started Wytchfire, I have now inherited story notes for another story in that series, and spent a few hours plotting out how it fits into the AtF world. It will be a completely different kind of stretch for me to rely on someone else’s world-building, but the story should be a lot of fun, and has successfully grabbed my attention to the tune of several hundred words. KKP is also going to try again for an anthology, this time in the Sword & Sorcery category. Once again I have a plotbunny–this time from the perspective of a House Brownie who will be caught between an evil sorceress who’s the house’s new owner, and her step daughter, a secret white witch. I’m thinking a different variation on a fractured fairy tale like Cinderella told from the perspective of the Brownie caught in the middle. So I wrote the first paragraph of that story too.

:D

I suspect all this creativity was spurred by being away from the family noise of our trip last week, prompting the inclusion of the quote above: “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” It’s certainly an interesting phenomenon to note the explosion of creative possibilities after your life shrinks back down to its more accustomed outlines.

:)

I think all that adds up to my 1,200-word goal; if not, I’m still counting it as a win, since I managed to be so productive despite an average of six hours a night of sleep. I also turned in all my school work, and even took a walk in the frigid air, so I’m counting this week as three for three.

I have even been celebrating and helping Gayla carefully track exactly how popular Cordi has become in the UK. It’s thrilling to watch those numbers climb reliably–and yesterday marked a record for single-day sales for Gayla. I’m so honored to be participating in the ride even so sidereally, I had to give her a congratulatory call late last night. Amidst all that happiness, I was very sad to note the passing of Nelson Mandela. He lived a rich 95 years, and should be considered not only an emblem of hope and idealism, but also for the amount of good a single individual can accomplish, living conscientiously. It gives me a different kind of goal to aim for. (And brought its own oddity of an explosion of search traffic to my blog as people tripped over my July post and one of Mandela’s key quotes about always returning to fight the good fight.)

So once again, I’m staying up way too late, but I’m jazzed about the possibilities in the new year. I hope all the other ROW80ers are too, as we wrap up this round and get ready for the next one.

Holidays and Working

"A mind that is stretched by new experience can never go back to its old dimensions." -Oliver Wendell HolmesI’m writing, tonight, from my mother’s house, a several-hour flight from home. The house remains in a state of upheaval, as we work to get her settled in a functional, cozy space that meets her needs. Unfortunately, that means we’ve had contractors hovering, adding insulation, tile, lights, electrical outlets, and all manner of other small improvements. It also means I’ve been spending a lot of time sorting through her stuff to find appropriate spots for things, hanging pictures, and running back and forth to Home Depot, where, I swear, she would benefit significantly from some kind of frequent buyer program.

:D

All this to say… I’ve been working hard. Just not at all at writing. While normally no new words for the week would be a very sad place for me, it confirms my wisdom in not having actually attempted NaNoWriMo this year–though I will count myself as an effective cheerleader, as both the people I was … “encouraging”… made their word counts a few days early. (Congratulations, Gayla and Alicia!)

:)

I also got to catch up with a lot of family I don’t usually get to see. Which gave me plot bunnies and other new story ideas. (Sorry, folks, the adage about writing what you know has an awful lot to do with the emotional truth behind an interaction–even if you like to noodle in a world where magic is a palpable thing.) ;)

I also turned in all my class work. Astonishingly, I’m two weeks from the end of this class, and somehow have managed a 100% on all my assignments. Either I’ve figured out the system and am really working it… or … dunno… this is an online class… it’s hard to imagine what else could be tipping the scales this way. In any case, while it’s gratifying to imagine that for once in my life I might be absolutely perfect at something someone else is judging, I’m staying focused on my goals. For next year, that will mean finishing this MBA, releasing three of my own, stand-alone stories, and participating in an anthology. There’s plenty of writing in my future so this break, while physically exhausting, was emotionally satisfying in a different way, and let me count my blessings in a visceral, in-person way.

:)

I hope now that I’m past the Hallow’s Eve Triptych release, and have had this kind of break, I’ll be able to re-focus this week, and get back on track for finishing the third Red Slaves story. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, check out how the other ROW80ers are doing.